Another feature of...
Over the message board and via e-mail, a number of you have written with generous assessments of our work and to share jokes or observations about that various movies weve reviewed. Having read all these missives, Im pleased to report that our audience members tend to be smart, insightful and possessed of a witty but seldom mean spirited sense of humor.
Obviously, I get a lot of satisfaction from reading and responding to these notes. The only occasions when I get a little nervous receiving them is when people write in to nominate movies to be reviewed. This is because I feel like, if I dont sit right down and write about that film immediately, the reader will feel like Im blowing him or her off.
Of course, sometimes the suggested flick doesnt grab my fancy. Maybe I thought the film was merely lame, rather than truly Bad. Or maybe its a comedy. I hate bad comedies! Other kinds of movies are funny because they fail to do what theyre trying to do. Films that try to scare, or enlighten, or make us cry, and fail miserably at the task are funny. Bad Comedy, however, is Anti-Entertainment. Watching a guy who thinks hes a great actor but who sucks is funny. But watching a guy who thinks hes funny, but isnt (see any Pauly Shore movie), now thats just torture.
This isnt to say that I havent gotten some fine suggestions, and taken them to heart. Its just that theres, well, "The List." Anyone whos suggested a flick to me has probably had it waved at them. The List is the roster of movies that I intend to do articles on. So far, it has largely remained the same size, and I generally have enough projects lined up to cover roughly two years. So even if I decide to do a suggested film, it can conceivably take me up to two years to get to it. And, again, the person who suggested it might think that I ignored him. So I just want to assure everyone that I do keep track of all suggestions.
Anyway, to get to the point in my typically long winded fashion, films I havent been planning to review seldom jump ahead in line. Generally, upon finishing an article, I walk into my video room and examine the Kens World Candidate Shelf. Then I just pull whatever movie grabs my fancy. Or sometimes there is a film I want to get to that I dont own. Then I rent a copy or access one through the public library system (this is preferable, as I generally get to keep the movies longer).
In any case, it takes a lot to grab my attention. So let me relate a weird and wonderful event. I was recently channel surfing and came across a film so instantly and obviously atrocious that it demanded my immediate regard. As a bonus, it was a sword & sorcery flick. This constituted virgin territory, article-wise. It was being shown on the Sci-Fi channel, so keep an eye out. Itll undoubtedly be appearing on Mystery Science Theater 3000 sometime soon.
The Sword & Sorcery genre traces its roots back to the Italian Hercules and Hercules manqué flicks of the 1950s. These were known as Sword & Sandal movies. They featured beefy heroic types fighting top-heavy evil temptresses, papier-mâchè monsters and despotic tyrants (and, of course, bad dubbing). As a popular foreign action genre, they were eventually superceded by Spaghetti Westerns & Kung Fu flicks.
Eventually, however, a young Arnold Schwartzenegger starred in a similar film featuring the most famous of all barbarian anti-heroes: Conan. Conan the Barbarian was somewhat ponderous, but successful enough to spawn both a sequel and a series of low budgeted rip-offs. Thus, for a while, the Sword & Sorcery genre flourished, until it died from the usual plethora of awful flicks overloading the market.
Many of these flicks were, like their ancestors, made in Italy (see the Gor and Ator pictures). The same locations that worked so well in the 50s were available, and crews and such were cheaper than their American counterparts. So hire an American star for the home market, then ship them off to Italy. Such Italian flicks are recognizable by their traditionally bad dubbing as well as the inevitable appearance of midgets.
You might think that the last remark is sarcastic, but its a known fact that there hasnt been an Italian genre flick made in the last thirty years that hasnt included at least one midget. In American exploitation flicks, naked breasts are known as the cheapest special effect. In Italy, its midgets. Amazingly, though, they didnt run to Italy to make this movie. Instead, they ran to Argentina. Still, the plethora of little people and dubbed dialog indicates that they cribbed heavily from the Italian model.
The star here, as we learn from a credit that appears just as the film starts, is B-Movie mainstay Bo Svenson. Despite the fact that his name appears above the title, you can tell that Svenson, no stranger to lame films, is horribly embarrassed to be here. Sometimes a good actor seems to give an intentionally bad performance in order to alert the audience that they know theyre in a piece of crap. For instance, Michael Caine in The Swarm and On Deadly Ground.
Svenson, lacking the talent to wink at the audience this way, instead just largely refuses to act. The phrase 'phoning in his performance fails to cover it. Svenson sometimes seems like he can barely summon the energy to even utter his lines. And again, considering the immense range of schlock that Svenson has appeared in, this is quite a statement. Maybe hes just getting old and tired, and wondering how he ended up starring in garbage like this in order to make the mortgage.
We open in a medieval fortress. Its nighttime, and a robed figure strikes a gong. Unfortunately, this proves not to be Chuck Barris ending the movie (if youre too young to get that joke, dont worry about it). Murkily, we sort of see a torch carrying procession entering the forts gate. Close-up shots reveal that there are more extras here than youd expect. Thats because this is stock footage from a more extravagant (if still extremely cheesy) film.
The gong is struck again and we cut to some kind of large stone pendant, featuring a shining triangle shaped mark. This is being observed by a woman who has evil sorceress written all over her. Suddenly, back at the pendent, cartoon effects are used to beam in a guy, like on Star Trek. Luckily, in case were confused (a good bet), a narrator comes on to explain: "It was an Age of Magic." Gee, thanks for the background info. (Need I note that none of this opening footage has anything to do with the rest of the film?)
"An Age of Sorcery," the narration continues, rather redundantly. We cut to a slew of stock footage, here representing, I guess, the minions of this films villain oppressing the people, or whatever. (Embarrassing credit moment: We see that the films score was co-written by James Horner, who composed the score for Titanic.) Showing a certain lack of finesse, the footage obviously comes from several different movies, with mismatching costuming and such. Even I, not exactly an aficionado of the genre, seemed to recognize footage from at least four or five different movies.
The films magic totems (every S&S flick has them, stealing the ring concept from J.R.R. Tolkein, the godfather of the genre) are now introduced. Rather unimaginatively, these consist of a "Great Sword of Power" and a "Ring of Magic." Somehow, I dont think anybody stayed up all night thinking those up. Per usual, these are powerful relics of the past, having been used in ancient times to defeat evil wizards from the other movies shown in stock footage. Afterwards, the Sword was lost (uh, oh, I smell a quest!). However, the Ring, a gaudy trinket featuring a silver dollar sized green gem, was saved. And for a time, Peace ruled the Land...
We cut to a Kings court, of a noticeably cheaper quality than that featured in some of the stock footage. But then, one of the purposes of stock footage is to show expensive stuff filmed for other, bigger budgeted movies, and thus make your film look more, uh, epic. Unfortunately, this is usually obvious to the viewer, and so seldom works. It instead makes the current productions cheapness all the more noticeable.
We see a couple of bit players flailing around with swords. Simon, a young fellow of perhaps fifteen, enters. Accompanying him is a slightly older (I think) young woman, Aura, whos obviously a princess. "Your friends fight well," she inaccurately notes. Either that, or this is the kind of place where I could grab a sword and instantly become one of the greatest warriors of the land. A little expository dialog informs us that the lad is a magicians son, that Aura expects to marry him, and that he feels hes too young yet. (Id say!)
To shut her up (thanks, kid!), Simon performs some magic. To our eye rolling delight, the magic energy is indicated with cheesy green animation rays, as it is throughout the film. Simon uses the eldritch forces he summons to turn a stone gargoyle into a Muppet. Well, more accurately, he transforms it from a Muppet without a hand inside of it into one with a hand inside of it.
These awe-inspiring high-jinx are interrupted by the appearance of one of the most comical beasties Ive ever seen. This is Gulfax, Simons pet and an obvious Chewbacca rip-off. Gulfax looks exactly like a hundred dollar mascot costume from an underfunded theme park called Yeti Land. And, of course, he communicates in the usual Chewbacca Rip-off inarticulate grunts, sounding somewhat like Cousin Itt had he grown up and developed a deep bass voice.
Like Lassie before him, Gulfax has come to inform Simon that somethings wrong. Simon checks in with his father, Wolfrick, the court magician. (Wolfricks chambers come complete with a grate in the bottom of the wall, allowing atmospheric tendrils of dry ice fog to roll across the floor. Oooh, mystical!) Wolfrick declares that theres a great Evil present. Then he dips his hands into the free standing birdbath in the center of the room, activating its green cartoon magic. Of course, this device allows one to stare at stock footage.
We cut to our first close-up shot of Wolfrick. In a moment sure to inspire spontaneous guffawing, we see that hes wearing an amazingly shoddy ersatz beard. This is accompanied by gray makeup in his hair to make him appear older, but which is equally transparent. (Man, this flicks a gold mine!) Anyway, in the Birdbath he sees stock footage soldiers attacking a stock footage town. People scream. Vegetable carts tip over. Chickens fly. (?) "The Castles under attack," Wolfrick notes.
Among the bad guys is an evil looking fellow whom the camera keeps cutting to, so I assume that hes the villain of the piece. The battle scene features an impressive number of extras, but is filmed in a careless and confusing fashion. In short order, the bad guys have entered the Castle. (Hey, isnt the point of a castle to function as a fortress type of deal? I guess they really should have closed the exterior doors when they saw they were being attacked. I mean, thats really lax training.)
We see amongst the defenders a guy who must be the King. This is supported by the fact that he wears a crown and manages to mow down attackers despite the fact that he barely seems able to wave his sword around. Meanwhile, Princess Aura is being tossed into a dungeon. The King enters Queen Udeas boudoir, where we learn that shes in league with the bad guys. Somehow the King knew this, and went to confront her.
This brings up the films inept editing, which gets especially egregious later in the picture. There are many instances when we go from one scene into what appears to be the middle of the next scene. Its like when a film breaks and is spliced back together, and you jump forward fifteen seconds. So if my description becomes confusing at times, that just means that Im doing a good job of depicting the film.
Also in the Queens bedroom is Shurka, the evil dude we saw earlier (told ya!). He kills the King with red cartoon magic, so I guess that red cartoons are evil magic and green is good magic. Or something. Meanwhile, bad guys are about to break into Wolfricks chambers. Simon wants to stay and fight, but his father orders him and Gulfax to go.
Wolfrick gives Simon the Ring of Power, which he identifies as the source of all his power. Then, in spite of having given Simon the source of all his power, he waves his hands and teleports Simon and Gulfax to safety. Unfortunately, proving himself the biggest doofus in Sword & Sorcery history, Simon allows the precious ring to fall off his hand before hes beamed off (!).
The door to the chamber explodes inward in a cloud of, unsurprisingly, dry ice fog. Shurka enters with (yes!) a midget in a little ogre suite, featuring a bat face with little tusks. Shurka is looking for the Ring of Power, which Wolfrick is unaware is still in the room. (Somehow it fell into the mouth of a gargoyle, and is thus partly hidden.) In spite of the fact that he no longer has the source of all his magic, Wolfrick engages Shurka in a magical battle. This scene painfully (and none too wisely) calls to mind the similar sequence in Roger Cormans The Raven.
Simon and Gulfax, off in the woods, are watching the battle on the surface of a local lake. (Magic apparently allows you to turn any watery surface into a de facto TV set. This is why you should never insult a wizard while hes using the washroom.) In another comical continuity error, we see that while we are watching the battle right side up, from Simons position it would be upside down. Apparently, the kid hasnt quite gotten this 'magic' thing down yet. Needless to say, Shurka emerges triumphant, because if he didnt, the movie would be over. And while Simon doesnt say so, I think we can all safely assume that he vows to avenge his fathers death. Because if he didnt, well, you know.
Shurka is next seen looking from a parapet at some further stock footage, indicating that his villainous reign has begun. Udea, meanwhile, is less than pleased that Simon has escaped, as hes obviously going to overthrow them by the end of the picture. Although she doesnt, you know, phrase it quite that way. Also, she calls Simon the "offspring of White Wizardry." Why White Magic is green isnt explained. (Presumably, the red magic is Black Magic.) Shurka, however, maintains that Simon represents no threat without the Ring. This is odd, as the Ring remains hidden, and he has no reason to think that Simon doesnt have it.
Simon and Gulfax, meanwhile, spot some of Shurkas men in the woods. Theyre abusing somebody, pulling the guy along behind their horses. The soldiers, in turn, see Simon and give chase. The less than fully competent twosome immediately run into a booby trap (an apt phrase, in this case) and are hauled up inside a net.
Their cries are heard by a nearby warrior (Svenson). Seeing goons pushing around "a mere boy and his furry whatchamacallit," he of course intercedes. Because if he didnt, the movie would be over. He gives the soldiers a chance to split, but, naturally, they attack instead. Soon theyre all dead, although Id say its more because of their ineptitude than because of the guys rather clumsy fighting skills.
Having been freed, Simon is shocked when Gulfax reveals that their savior is the legendary Kor the Conqueror. Kor, however, isnt interested in helping Simon. This leads Gulfax to mutter something presumably uncomplimentary. "The same to you, buddy!" Kor replies. (Aside from being an Age of Magic and Sorcery, its also apparently an Age of Anachronistic Speech Patterns.) Simon ends up questioning Kors reputation as a brave warrior, and yada yada, Kor ends up joining the team.
Shurka and Arcasia are magically watching these events. That night, Simon decides to try blinding Shurka. Casting a long distance spell, he manages to overcome Shurkas attempts at defense and destroy the All Seeing Bird Bath. This spouts water like someone tossed an M-80 into it, then springs a leak.
Shurka is royally pissed at being beaten by this kid. (How, by the way, did Shurka defeat Wolfrick, an experienced wizard, if he cant even beat a kid a hundred miles away in a forest somewhere? And for that matter, if the Ring is so powerful that it would allow Simon to defeat Shurka, why didn't Wolfrick use it to do that in the first place. I know, I know, because then the movie wouldn't have happened. Like that's a bad thing.) Shurka takes his anger out on, yes, a midget whos failed to find the Ring. A burst of cartoon magic and the fellow disappears. Hazah! Shurka then calls in another midget and tells him to continue the search.
Off in the woods, Kor is making Simon practice with weapons. Kor himself is lazily napping. This is humorous. Simon ends up wandering off into the forest (proving, again, that he's no braintrust or anything), whacking at branches with his dagger. Shurka, meanwhile, has apparently fixed the Magic Birdbath, and watches Simon as he walks ever farther from camp. Suddenly, Simon looks up to see a henchguy blocking his way and demanding the Ring. Simon protests that he doesnt have it (yeah, good idea to give Shurka that info).
The guy tries to kill Simon, chasing the kid around the woods for a good, long time. This makes him look rather less than awesome. OK, get ready for a confusing patch, here. Simon finally trips, and his dagger imbeds itself in a tree. (But not before turning itself into a short sword, and one with a completely different shape of hilt. I guess that were not supposed to notice.)
Simon hears his fathers voice, like with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Following this, the dagger that turned into a short sword turns into the Sword of Power (which was supposed to be missing oh, never mind). The Voice tells Simon that his opponent is a phantom. So Simon removes the Sword and fights him (?). Guess who wins? (Lets just say that the movie isnt over.) The phantoms body disappears, and Simon finds himself holding his dagger again. Was it all a dream?
Kor and Gulfax are looking for Simon. As they talk, Gulfaxs head moves in such a way that we can see a gap between the suits headpiece and the bodysuit. This, as you might imagine, rather reduces our ability to suspend disbelief. Still, I havent actually seen the suits zipper yet, as with the infamous polar bear suit from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Kor calls Gulfax furball. Comedy! (Jerry Seinfeld, watch out!)
Simon, meanwhile, comes across a mysterious woman in the forest. (Sword & Sorcery films invariably feature the cast having non-plot oriented adventures as they continue on whatever quest theyre on. This is known in the movie business as padding out the running time.) As shes attractive, any fan of the genre will immediately recognize that shes some kind of mystical being attempting to lure Simon to his doom.
The woman offers, basically, to take care of all of Simons, er, needs. Simon, being a callow youth, decides to follow her. She takes him to a dry ice fog enshrouded clearing where various chicks are attending to pale, lifeless looking men. Simon ends up on a couch, as the mystery woman pours him a glass of wine.
Simon, unsurprisingly, ends up drugged. Then he has a vision. (Or something. Just go with it.) Its nighttime, at what appears to be the fort from the title credits. Theres a human sacrifice, or something, going on, and a big stone eagle is cascading green cartoon magic. Meanwhile, Mystery Woman tries to lure Simon to the Dark Side, more or less.
As a side note, green magic here is supposed to represent Black Magic. I guess that I gave the film too much credit when I assumed that they actually went to the trouble to color code the types of magic. Alternatively, another explanation is that the movie that they took this stock footage from didnt color code its magic, and the producers just didnt care if it violated their little color scheme.
Simon calls on the powers of Light, and summons forth a sort of sponge rubber flying Lion-Bat that cant move very much. (Hey, cmon, I didnt make this thing, Im just describing it.) This flies around outer space (?). Then another apparition appears, a womans head with a half-lizard face. This apparition, the evil one, of course, shoots magic beams that cause explosions. The largely immobile Lion-Bat glares at her, and she glares back, and the lion-bat shoots out green magic rays, and the Woman/Lizard-Head screams and explodes. Im pretty sure that this whole sequence is the climax of some completely different movie. Its too complex and makes too little sense here to explain otherwise.
With this triumph of Goodness (or whatever the heck it was), Simon awakens. This is odd, as it had the exact opposite effect on yours truly. At this, the Mystery Woman turns into an Insect Woman. (Yeah, sure, what else would happen?) This beastie looks like a really, really good Mighty Morphing Power Rangers monster, which isnt intended to be much of a compliment.
Kor just happens to walk in at that moment. Looking completely blase about the whole Insect Woman deal, Kor nonchalantly tosses Simon his dagger. Insect Woman stands there and lets Simon stab her a half dozen times, then keels over. Do I even have to mention that she turns back into her human form in death?
Back at the Castle, Shurka is bitching again. "They killed her!" he cries. When Udea asks him what he pouting about, he responds, "Acrasia! My Insect Woman!" He also complains again about how well hidden the Ring is, even though it didnt appear to be well hidden at all, when last we saw it.
Simon calls forward a vision of Aura onto the waters of a lake. Kor wanders by and Simon asks if he has anyone special, to which he answers no. Simon notes that he must be lonely, and Kor gruffly replies that Simon talks to much. This is characterization. Sure, Kors a great warrior, but when will he find true love? Wow, it really makes you think, doesnt it? Well, it makes you yawn, anyway.
We soon see some of those great warrior skills in action. Hearing horses, Simon asks, What is it? "Riders," comes the brilliant response. So they take off. Then a hand picks up Kors discarded wineskin. Its a mystery dude with a big tin pot on his head, someone who apparently has a grudge against Kor.
That night, Simon wakes Kor up. Hes recognized the area, and knows that four great warriors were once buried there. He figures that he can summon them from the dead and use them against Shurka. Kor tells him to let sleeping corpses lie and goes back to sleep. Simon, however, is enamored of his idea and goes into the grove to put his plan into effect.
The four rotting warriors, who appear to have been buried only in a thin layer of pencil shavings, have soon roused themselves. However, they dont especially enjoy being brought back to decrepit life. They decide to kill off Simon, so that they can go back to sleep (something Id been wanting to do for about half an hour).
Kor pops up at the last minute and hacks at them for a bit. Then the foursome walks into some quicksand and returns to the earth. None of this, of course, has anything to do with the rest of the film. Still, when you have almost eighty minutes to fill, you do what you have to do.
Back at the Castle, we see that Aura has been moved back into her bed chamber. Shurka is standing nearby, obviously hitting on her. Aura, of course, is less than pleased by his attentions. "You have spirit," he observes. "I like that." You spout cliches. I like that (it makes my work easier). Shurka splits to meet with the Kings Council, now assembled in the throne room. There, the advisors admit failure in finding the Ring.
Shurka confers with his little ogre dude, who believes that theyre lying. Shurka calls one of the four over. Then he turns the other three into mice (this is so boring, they dont even bother to animate any magic into the shot). The ogre, apparently having read Puss n Boots, trots over and mashes them into the carpet. Hmm, I wonder if thatll come out with a little seltzer water?
Well, time for some more time wasting adventures. While wandering the woods, Simon & Company come across a Gnome (played by, yes!, a midget) being harassed by three little Lizard Men (played by, yes!, three midgets). Apparently frightened by the fact that Kor can hold his sword in his hands, as thats about all he does, the three run off. The happy Gnome, whose name is Hurla, invites our Heroes into his little magic cottage.
It turns out that the cottage and its little patch of land are protected by a magic wall.' Said wall is conveniently invisible, leading one to wonder if it is primarily intended to keep out mimes. Unfortunately for Hurla, he had been captured by the Lizard Men before reaching its safety. Kor, among whos comedic qualities is that hes an alcoholic, is blissed out to find that Hurlas well contains fine wine rather than water.
The humor' continues when the foursome enters the little cottage and Kor is forced to drink the wine out of a teeny little glass. Here we find that Hurla is the legendary Forest Wizard, and that hes supposed to be a hobgoblin. Which he clearly isnt, hes a gnome. The Lizard Guys were more like hobgoblins. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Hurla also has a grudge against Shurka, who had sent the Lizard Guys to knock him off. Gee, will he join our merry band?
Hurla uses his mystical powers to show our heroes more stock footage, indicating that the power of Good is waning. The footage comes complete with its original dialog, indicating an entirely different plot (assuming one is kind enough to say that this film has one). Plus, this allows for a little more slaughter of the innocent footage without the burden of additional financial outlay. Arent we lucky?
The Lizard Guys return. Rather than just staying inside the magic wall, Kor goes out to confront them. But it turns out that this time they brought a really bogus looking twelve foot relative with them. This fellow reminds me of nothing so much as the Giant Electric Penguin with Tentacles that Scott of the Antarctic fought with on Monty Pythons Flying Circus. And somehow it manages to sneak up on Kor, so that he doesnt notice it until it's standing right in front of him (shades of The Last Dinosaur).
So the battle proceeds in a fashion clumsy even for this film. This is dictated by the fact that they cant show the purportedly giant foe in the same shot as Kor (they apparently didnt have the budget for blue screen effects). Kor immediately loses his sword (Conan the Barbarian, watch out!), and yells to Simon for help. Simon replies, as he has before, that he cant summon magic without a source to help him. This in spite of the fact that weve seen him do that exact thing about half a dozen times by now. Continuity apparently isnt the hobgoblin (or gnome) of the small minds that made this picture. Anyway, Hurlas land is itself magic, so this allows Simon to simply make the giant go poof.
Kor thanks Simon, but Hurla points out that his greatest test is yet to come. Yeah, Id hope so. It only took him one second to eradicate the giant. Id assume Shurka, who managed to defeat his powerful wizard father, would require at least two or three times that amount of effort. Hurla decrees that he and Gulfax will stay behind, but that they will appear when Simon needs them most. (Gee, how exciting. And may I point out that while Gulfax is an eight foot tall Yeti guy, he does absolutely nothing other than stand around and make nonsense sounds. Cmon, dude, how about a little head bashing?)
As they leave, Hurla tells Gulfax (well, us, really) that their route will take them through Suicide Cavern, which feeds on fear. So get ready for some more excitement. Sure enough, when they enter the Cavern, eerie music starts. Our heroes are soon confronted by, wow, superimposed wailing ghost figures, with sheets and everything. Kor manages to defeat this awesome menace by singing a merry song, and getting Simon to sing along. Since the Cavern, as we were told, feeds on fear, this saves them. Man, that was epic!
Having survived this monumental test, Kor exits the Cavern, which proved to be about fifteen yards long. Whereupon hes immediately captured by the guy that found his wineskin earlier. (Dont remember? I wouldnt worry about it.) They take him away, without even bothering to look for Simon. Shurka, however, sees him over the Magic Birdbath, and sets a trap for him.
Shurka uses Auras voice to lure him to a part of the cave where theres a painfully phony screeching bat on a wire to chase him. I guess that the bat is big, or mean, or something, because Simon runs from it. Then he runs into a toothy felt monster head, but he ducks and the bat on a wire crashes into the toothy felt monster head and they fight or something and Simon escapes. Indiana Jones, look out!
With his latest trap eluded, and Simon getting ever closer to the Castle, Shurka is panicking about finding the Ring. Meanwhile, Shurka informs Udea that her status is his kingdom is rather diminished. Finally, one midget admits that he found the Ring, but wont tell Shurka where. Rather than torturing him or anything, Shurka just makes him disappear in another burst of cartoon magic.
Kors captures are preparing a big kettle for some evil purpose, presumably to stew Kor in. Kor himself is tied to a tree, with a small branch comically brushing his face. Simon pops up in the bushes behind him. Rather than free Kor, Simon acts aggrieved that Kor didnt tell him the truth about this guy that captured him (Kor said he didnt know who the fellow chasing them was).
It turns out that he has been chasing Kor for some time, ever since Kor refused to marry the guys sister. At this, his captor removes his helmet, revealing himself to be a Cyclops dude with tusks. Why one of these things, whatever they are, would want to marry a human is left unexplained. Wouldnt they find us as hideous as we find them?
Sure enough, Kor can either wed the sister or end up in the pot. "Do we marry you," Cyclops inquires, "or marinate you?" (Ha-ha.) Cyclops pulls on his cheek, leading Kor to quip, "Didnt your mother ever tell you not to play with your food!" (Oscar Wilde, look out!) Happy with Kors choice, Cyclops walks away to look over the preparations. Simon takes the opportunity to untie Kor, then follows his instructions and takes off.
Cyclops Guy comes over to take care of Kor, who throws dirt into his, er, eye. One purportedly slapstick scene later (including, I swear, a cowardly guard who runs away in sped up footage, like on The Benny Hill Show), Cyclops ends up in the pot. We then see the sister, who looks vaguely like a Cyclops version of Miss Piggy. Needless to say, this comedy relief scene is easily the unfunniest portion of the film.
Kor catches up with Simon, whos still whining about Kors having lied to him. So Kor has to kiss the little bastards ass to get him to shut up. They end up hugging, but since this wasnt filmed in front of a live audience, were spared that inevitable "Awww!" noise. Anyway, that boring scene over with, we continue on with the film.
Now close to the Castle, Simon is amazed to see a gigantic waterfall. "This used to be a little stream!" he notes. So, wait, let me get this straight. Shurka can create Niagara Falls out of more or less thin air, but he fears our young punk hero? Yeah, right! (Not to mention why he created the falls, or even how. I mean, cmon, even magic must have conservation of energy rules. And wouldnt this have rather large effects on the local ecosystem? I hope he filed an Environmental Impact Study with the EPA.)
Inside the Castle, Shurka is using a medallion on a chain to put Aura into a sleep-like trance. Personally, I think itd be easier to show her any five minutes of this film. Less effort, same result. Udea walks in, enraged that Shurka is tossing her over for Aura. She orders the guards to arrest Shurka, only to find that they now obey him rather than her. This doesnt surprise me overmuch. If I had to choose between taking orders a bitchy babe and a guy that materializes waterfalls out of thin air, Id probably make the same decision.
Meanwhile, Simon is still examining the waterfall. Apparently, the idea is that Shurka created it as a kind of super-moat. This is never explained, but its the only thing that (sorta) makes sense. Simon trots over to Kor, whos building a raft, which Simon deems too flimsy for the job at hand. Suddenly, a shout is heard, and we see a woman being dashed away in the waters currents. Kor, the big lug, jumps in to help. A close up of the bobbing woman reveals her to be topless, an odd touch in what is otherwise, more or less, a kids film.
As suddenly as she appeared, the woman disappears, and Kor is forced to return to shore. However, as he and Simon return to the raft, they find a mermaid (!) sunning herself on the rocks. She identifies herself as Linnea, Mistress of the Falls. Wow, mythological beings were really efficient back then. Shurka has no sooner created a waterfall than it is assigned a Resident Spirit. Oh, and as usual with mermaids, Linnea sports long hair that falls rather strategically across her chest.
Linnea has tested Kor by pretending to be a drowning victim. His attempt to save her, despite the danger to himself, has earned them safe passage across the waters of the fall. So saying, she creates a cartoon rainbow that spans the waters. This, we are led to believe, will somehow ensure their safety. Hey, at this point Ill swallow anything, if it gets the movie over with. Of course, filming scenes on water is both difficult and expensive, so they basically skip showing us their passage.
Inside the Castle, Shurka is presiding over a royal feast. Aura continues to cast him dirty glances. Nearby, we see Udea secured to a wall. Outside, Simon and Kor have crossed the waters as promised, and Simon is glad to find Gulfax on the other side. (I dont know why, since he doesnt do anything but stand around and grunt.) So the stage is set for the film's pulse pounding climax.
They enter some tunnels that run beneath the Castle, and have soon made their entrance into the dungeon area. Gulfax smacks a guard, the first time hes actually done anything. Sure enough, fulfilling yet another hoary cliché, they free the captives so that they can aid in the final epic battle. It's weird. Think about the kind of places that medieval dungeons were, and the kind of treatment that prisoners were wont to receive there. Despite this, Ive yet to see a single film where released prisoners were too weak to battle the Evil Kings professional armies, and, in fact, overcome them.
Meanwhile, the Ring is finally found by, yes, a midget. Considering the size of the room, the size of the Ring, and the emphasis that Shurka attached to finding it, its a little difficult to believe that its only been found now. But still, isnt it exciting? Will Simon manage to procure the Ring before its brought to Shurka? Im all atwitter!
Answering our question, the midget finds the door blocked by Simon and Gulfax. The Ring in soon on the hand of its rightful owner (assuming that he doesnt lose it again). As he dons it, cartoon sparkly effects indicate that its been fully activated, or whatever. Now properly equipped, Simon leaves to complete his business.
Shurka, meanwhile, makes twin announcements: Udea is to be executed, and Aura is to be his bride. However, before the first of these tasks can be taken care of, Kor enters the room. He does a Columbo-ish, sorry to interrupt you shtick. Shurka orders his men to seize him. Kor lures Shurkas troops out into the courtyard, whereupon they are set upon by the freed prisoners. This results is what I expect was meant to be a battle royale, although a more appropriate description might be battle banal.
Shurka wanders out to his favorite parapet to watch the, uh, action. Udea, whos been freed by yet another midget, follows. Shurka zaps them, presumably to tie up some loose ends before he gets killed. The battle continues, and unsurprisingly, the tide soon turns against Shurkas forces. Shurka watches this and does squat, until Simon appears in the courtyard. Then they engage in about the lamest 'magical duel that the human mind could conceive. Shurka teleports around through the cutting edge technique of turning the camera off and turning it back on after the actors walked away. The rest of the fight consists of Shuka and Simon firing cartoon bursts of light at one another. Wow. Awesome.
This tedious grand finale runs a little over a minute, and ends with Shurkas death (duh). Simon then finds Kor leaving, because, you know, his job here is done. Simon asks him to stay, Kor explains that he must be moving on, they hug, and thats pretty much it. (Except for the fact that, oddly, Shurkas murderous bat faced ogre has been adopted by Gulfax.)
Where, youre probably not wondering, where will Kor find adventure next? Well, it wont be in the purported sequel (!), Wizards of the Lost World II. Given the information I gleaned from the Internet Movie Database, this film shares neither characters nor actors with the first film. In other words, they made a completely separate, unrelated film, and decided to give it name recognition by tying it in to this dreck. Presumably, this ratcheted up the video sales, if nothing else. So, caveat emptor, dudes.
Review by Ken Begg