So, very sick family ensured that I would miss SurvivorCon. I can’t tell you how saddened I am about that, especially since it sounded like such awesome fun. Honestly, I was kind of depressed all weekend long, thinking about the gaming coolness I was missing. In order to try to make myself feel better, and maybe get some kind of gaming/fantasy fix, I decide to crack open my copy of the Sword and the Sorcerer, a super-cheesy fantasy film from the 80s.
I couldn’t finish it. Not at all. I got about 30 minutes in and then just had to shut it off. I remember it being cheesy, but it was beyond that. Yes, it was bad. Really bad. Can’t enjoy it on any level bad.
It’s funny, because I re-watched Krull a couple of years back and still enjoyed it. Of course it’s not very good. I’m not going to say it was bad, because that is now reserved for the Sword and the Sorcerer, but of my nostalgic 80s fantasy movie trips, it was one of the better ones.
The best of them is Dragonslayer. It doesn’t have the level of action and adventure that most of the others have, but it has a much stronger story, characters, and a kick-ass Dragon vs. Wizard showdown at the end. It really built up to its climax. And you know what? Vermithrax Pejorative still stands up today as a great movie monster.
Ladyhawke would be the best, except for that goddamn, stupid synth-pop soundtrack. Seriously, who the fuck thought that was a good idea? Well, I suppose it could be done, because I actually really like Toto’s soundtrack for David Lynch’s Dune.
Stop laughing. It’s good.
Shut your stupid face.
Anyway, the Alan Parsons Project is apparently no Toto . . . or really a soundtrack artist of any note. Ladyhawke has a great story, amazing acting, wonderful characters, and some cool action. It would be the absolute pinnacle of 80s fantasy, but I can’t get through the fucking music.
Can we get a cut of Ladyhawke with a new soundtrack? Please?
And I can’t talk about 80s cheese fantasy without Hawk the Slayer. If you are a fantasy RPG geek like me, and you haven’t seen this, find it and watch it. It is bad, but bad good. It is what I thought the Sword and the Sorcerer would be. It is stupid, but the action is great and the inspiration for gaming is soaked into it. The mindstone sword, the repeating crossbow and the dwarf with a whip all way out-cool the silly, three-bladed monstrosity Talon gets.
And where are the cheesy fantasy movies these days? Sadly lacking, I’m afraid. I can think of two off the top of my head that I will watch again, and have watched a couple of times each.
The first is the Scorpion King. This is as close in spirit to the 80s fantasy movies I loved as a kid as I expect anything is going to get. It also has a much better cast and much better production values than the vast majority of the 80s movies. Dwayne Johnson AKA the Rock has real screen charisma, and I hope someone figures this out and starts using the guy.
The second is Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. This is so much better than that absolute piece of shit Dungeons & Dragons by Courtney Solomon that it actually allows me to forget the incredible hackshittery of the first movie. D&D2 actually understands that D&D is about a group of characters, each a specialist with specific skills that are called upon during the adventure. It also threw in tons of references us D&D geeks would catch. Like Hawk the Slayer and Krull, it’s not great, but boy does it scratch that fantasy itch.
Given the current state of film technology, I would have hoped that the Lord of the Rings movies would have birthed another renaissance of cheesy fantasy movies, but no such luck–unless I’m just missing them all.