#993 Dragonslayer (1981)

The eighties marked a huge evolutionary step for art of movie effects, that hadn’t really come that far from the stop motion used in the 1933 King Kong. And once that train started rolling we were presented throughout the decade with some absolutely mind blowing effects work pioneered and engineered by some very talented people, compared to which a plethora of the later cheap computerised effects have fared the test of time generally speaking much worse.

A great portion of this breakthrough is to be credited to Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), founded in 1975 to create the effects for the Star Wars movie series. Dragonslayer was the first movie outside Lucasfilm Ltd using their services, and the results are so stunning that one could argue the creature seen here is still the best, lifelike dragon seen on the silver screen to date.

I did not care for the sorcery bits of Dragonslayer much, but they do give a good opportunity to showcase some of the nice effects. The movie would go on to get nominated for the Academy Award for best visual effects, only to lose to Raiders of the Lost Ark – another 1981 title featuring the effect wizardry of ILM.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#868 The Barbarians (1987)

Barbarian Brothers aka Peter and David Paul made some splashes in the bodybuilding scene back in the 80s as the strongest twins of the world. Also known for their showmanship, they soon made their way to the movies and finally starred in their own movie in 1987, aptly named The Barbarians.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: As a movie The Barbarians is without merits. The twins can’t act their way out of a paper bag and lack the charism of big action stars of the era. With that out of the way it has to be said there are tons of other entertaining aspects to the film. Besides the obvious tongue in cheek goofiness the cinematography, set and costume design are all professional work despite the tight budget. Eva LaRue as the heroine and Sheeba Alahani as the evil sorceress in her only feature film role are the highlights of the movie and both perform in their roles much better than the movie deserves.

The Barbarians is a goofy, inane, totally 80s take on the sword & sorcery genre – and guilty pleasure in its very finest form.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 81%

#858 Willow (1988)

You have to excuse me for having always mixed up Willow with Ridley Scott’s Legend; another mid-80s fantasy movie with stunning, faerytale like visuals. While Willow might not be as beautiful a movie, it’s still stunning to look at and the groundbreaking special effects by ILM still look mostly impressive, despite their age.

Story-wise there isn’t anything extraordinary going on here: Your usual fantasy stuff with evil queens, dwarfs and dragons. But it’s the way that the director Ron Howard manages to tell the story that makes it truly captivating. Young Warwick Davis makes for a terrific, unlikely hero of the story, and although Val Kilmer at first seems to overact the role of the mischievous thief, he soon grows on to you.

Fantasy movies are not my cup of tea, but in Willow’s case, the end result is just much too charming to pass by with just a shrug.

80’s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 84%

#643 Sorceress (1982)

Starting from very weird dubbing to sub 60’s style special effects, there’s very little to like about Sorceress: It is noticeably bad even midst other Sword & Sorcery movies, a genre known for some notoriously awful stinkers.

It starts weakly and yet somehow manages to get even less entertaining by the minute. Limited camp value and numerous tits on screen really don’t make it worth one’s while.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 8%