Director – Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep)
Starring – Marc Singer (Eagle Eye), Tanya Roberts (That 70’s Show), and Rip Torn (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story)
Release Date – 1982
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
When I was a kid I loved all movies. I grew up on a healthy does of Air Bud, Space Jam, Heavyweights, random westerns my father would watch, anything on the Sci-Fi Channel at my grandmothers, and Night of the Living Dead. Around this time I rented the fantasy adventure film Beastmaster and fell in love with it. Every weekend when I didn’t rent a Sega Genesis game I would always rent this, Conan The Destroyer, and Jason Goes to Hell. Those movies was watched so many times when I was little I could quote them from beginning to end.
That changed with the coming of the PSone and DVDs. When those came along I forgot all about my VHS collection and renting others from the local video store. I was definitely not the only one because soon after all those shops went out of business. A few months ago the folks over at Umbrella Entertainment released the film on blu. I couldn’t pass that up and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The movie follows Dar, a man who was removed from his mother’s womb and placed into that of an ox by a disfigured witch. The witch then goes into the woods and removes the baby from the ox to mark him and then sacrifice him. A poor villager just happens through the woods late at night with his trusty weapon and kills the witch before she can kill the infant. The movie then fast forwards a few years and the peasant is training the young boy how to use a sword. While in the woods practicing another villager is attacked by a bear and it is revealed that Dar is able to communicate with it telepathically. Dar’s foster father makes Dar promise not to tell anyone of what happened. The film then jumps forward again to Dar, who is now an adult, working in the field. His village is then attacked by the Junn Horde.
The Junn Horde, a group of savage warriors, is looking for Dar because it was foretold he will prevent their ruler, Maax (Torn), from ruling the people. After his adoptive father and everyone in the village is murdered by the Junn Horde, Dar sets out on a journey to kill those responsible. While on his journey he comes across a black tiger, a hawk, and two ferrets that he is able to communicate with, and more often that not, help him out of many sticky situations. When nearing the city of which his father was king, Dar comes across a nude slave girl swimming in a pond. She is then taken by the Junn Horde and moved into the city. Dar then enters the city to see the girl with other slaves and Maax sacrificing a small child. Deciding that the sacrifice was not enough, Maax then chooses another one to throw into the fiery pit. However, Dar’s hawk picks up the child and flies it to freedom. The majority of the film is small fight scenes, horrible dialogue, and then Dar gets his revenge.**Spoiler alert**
After going so many years without watching this movie and finally getting to see it again I surprisingly still like it as much as I did when I was little. However, I did notice a lot of things I did not when I was little. Now I noticed that the lore in this flick is borrowed from the mythology in other cultures and civilizations. The three witches are similar to the Graeae seen in the Greek mythology.
The acting in this one is solid. I really enjoyed the cast for the most part. Marc Singer struggles in some scenes with finding the right emotions but that doesn’t take away from his overall approach to the character. I did struggle with Tanya Roberts emotionless performance. Marc Singer struggled at times but Roberts just didn’t give a shit. The supporting cast really gives the film it’s all and those scenes truly benefit from their hard work.
The story for this one is great. I love how it incorporated different mythologies and legends into a solid story. I also like the meshing of fantasy and horror which isn’t done all that often especially in the 80s when Conan was reigning supreme. Some of the scenes are a little slower than others but these films are crucial to the story. I love the writing and how ambitious it is even though there is some issues with plot holes.
Finally, this film isn’t a super bloody one but there is some great practical effects. The kills in this one is what you would expect from sword and the sandal tales with little effects but the effects is applied to creatures and people. The vampire bat people in this film was responsible for so much of my imagination when I was a child. I absolutely loved their look and it has stuck with me for years. Overall, Beastmaster is a classic fantasy adventure film by one of the greatest directors in horror. The film is fun and full of action. This release from Umbrella Entertainment is a must.
The Saga of the Beastmaster Featurette