#1455 Hercules (1983)

The only reason I was looking forward to seeing Hercules was seeing Lou Ferrigno, who here in his peak physical condition arguably out-performed Schwarzenegger himself.

An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.

Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 58%

#1437 Sorceress (1982)

Anyone reading the blog will know I’m not too big on the sword & sorcery genre as I find the movies not only utter nonsense, but also pompous and extremely cringe inducing.

Sorceress definitely has all the warning marks of a stupid fantasy movie written all over it, and to for a period of time most of my low expectations were met. A story about two fighter sisters, wizards and other mythical creatures is plagued with bad effects and other disappointing choices, and it was especially the badly masqueraded faun that really rubbed me the wrong way.

But it was towards the end of the film as the fighting started that Sorceress redeemed itself in an unexpected way: the movie has a very strong video game look and feel to it, and I’m willing to bet that it served as an archetype for a number of 80s video games, and despite the overall clumsiness I did find myself entertained in the final boss fight. Some good looking shots there as well!

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 62%

#1130 Ladyhawke (1985)

Sad news hit us this week with the news of Rutger Hauer passing away at the age of 75.

To commemorate him I watched through Ladyhawke, a fictitious fantasy tale taking place in the 13th century. It was only too bad that pretty much the only interesting bit for the movie was Mr.Hauer himself, and I really didn’t find other aspects of the movie that interesting.

Shot in location in Italy, the damp and drafty atmosphere did not lure me in, and although I’m not a fan of sword and sorcery movies, I wished the movie had had some more interesting fantasy element to it than the dodgy shapeshifting to animals, like the landmark movies Willow or Legend did.

The movie does have a strong fan base that really seem to dig it, so if the genre interests you, you might still find something here to love.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 51%

#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%