Red Sonja (1985)

redsonja_4Red Sonja (1985)
AKA Kalidor

Starring Brigitte Nielsen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, Paul L. Smith, Ernie Reyes Jr., Ronald Lacey, Pat Roach, Terry Richards, Janet Agren, Donna Osterbuhr

Directed by Richard Fleischer

Expectations: Lowest of the low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
onehalfstar


Over the course of your journey through cinema, you’re bound to watch your share of thrilling adventures. There’s also a good amount of entertaining misadventures, but even the most careful of viewers will eventually run into a “disadventure.” Red Sonja is unfortunately one of the latter variety, and it is a rather bad one at that. It’s sad, too, because it starts out with such promise. Opening with some quick text about how Red Sonja is on a legendary quest of revenge, visions of the incredible revenge wrought by Arnold in Conan the Barbarian filled my mind. This is exactly the wrong thing to do if you actually want to enjoy Red Sonja, because absolutely nothing in this film is anywhere close to the original Conan film. Well, the production design is pretty good, but it’s still a couple of steps down.

Ugh, where to even start? There’s so much wrong here; I feel like I’ve been confused and blinded by the horrors I’ve just witnessed. Painful as it is, after thinking about all the bad elements I have to say the one that annoyed me the most was the character of Prince Tarn. It’s going to be hard to relate why I didn’t like him without the whole thing coming off as “Will hates kids,” or at least “Will hates kids in movies,” but honestly I wanted to strangle this little pompous kid. It’s frustrating too, because Ernie Reyes, Jr.’s martial arts are actually really great! He could have been a fun, interesting character, but instead he’s a whiny kid who’s always yelling and putting everyone down. Ugh. If nothing else, haters of this kid will get some entertainment out of him being tortured by a villain, and later Arnold picks him up one-handed and shakes him.

Continue reading Red Sonja (1985) →

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

conan_1Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, Ben Davidson, Cassandra Gava, Gerry Lopez, Mako, Valérie Quennessen, William Smith, Luis Barboo, Franco Columbu, Leslie Foldvary

Directed by John Milius

Expectations: Extremely high.

fourstar


Conan the Barbarian opens with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” A far better actor than many give him credit for, Conan the Barbarian provided Arnold Schwarzenegger a chance at destiny. The films leading him to the role of Conan were of varying quality, but the fires of Pumping Iron or The Jayne Mansfield Story tested, trained and forged the steel of his resolve like the steel of the sword that is forged during Conan‘s opening credits. These experiences shaped Arnold into the hulking beast of a man awaiting his rightful place in the spotlight of Hollywood’s explosive action films. He seized this opportunity like a champion, delivering a muscular, vengeful performance that continues to resonate over 30 years later. Conan the Barbarian is a stunning achievement, and one of my favorite films.

Conan the Barbarian tells a very simple tale, but like all great fantasy stories, there is a focus on grand adventure that sets Conan apart from other films of its vintage. Watching it this time, it reminded me a lot of Richard Donner’s Superman, in that it takes a story that many would have made into a trashy genre film and treats it with respect and verisimilitude. Conan is not a B-Movie with swords, it’s an epic journey of revenge across the wide plains of Hyboria.

Continue reading Conan the Barbarian (1982) →

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)
AKA Transmutations, The Hunter

Starring Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Cec Verrell, William Smith, Rory Calhoun

Directed by Donald G. Jackson & R.J. Kizer

Expectations: High. With a name like Hell Comes to Frogtown, it has to be good.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


The term cult classic gets thrown around a lot, but more often than not, the films referenced just don’t deserve the moniker. Hell Comes to Frogtown, however, is a true cult classic. Starring Rowdy Roddy Piper and Valeria from Conan the Barbarian, Sandahl Bergman, the film plays out like a wild, testosterone-fueled, post-apocalyptic male fantasy. It never betrays its B-movie roots or pretends to be something other than super-fun trash. Instead directors Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer put the pedal to the metal and go full-bore into the oblivion of Frogtown.

Roddy Piper plays Sam Hell, a man with a high sperm count in a very infertile world. The governmental department Med-Tech places a C4-laced chastity belt on Hell and contracts him to enter Frogtown and save a group of nubile women taken hostage by the Frog leader, Commander Toty (pronounced Toady…get it? He’s a frog!). Along for the ride are Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) and Centinella (Cec Verrell), a pair of Med-Tech operatives tasked with keeping Sam Hell safe and ready to procreate.

Continue reading Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,592 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
The Films of Jackie Chan
The Shaolin Avengers (1976)
The Black Tavern (1972)
The Silver Fox (1968)
The Fugitive (1972)
Shaolin Martial Arts (1974)
Have Sword, Will Travel (1969)