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 we’ve reviewed. Having read all these missives, I’m 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 don’t sit right down and write about that film immediately, the reader will feel like I’m blowing him or her off.
Of course, sometimes the suggested flick doesn’t grab my fancy. Maybe I thought the film was merely lame, rather than truly Bad. Or maybe it’s a comedy. I hate bad comedies! Other kinds of movies are funny because they fail to do what they’re 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 he’s a great actor but who sucks is funny. But watching a guy who thinks he’s funny, but isn’t (see any Pauly Shore movie), now that’s just torture.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten some fine suggestions, and taken them to heart. It’s just that there’s, well, “The List.” Anyone who’s 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 haven’t been planning to review seldom jump ahead in line. Generally, upon finishing an article, I walk into my video room and examine the Ken’s 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 don’t 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. It’ll undoubtedly be appearing on Mystery Science Theater 3000 sometime soon.
The Sword & Sorcery genre traces its roots back to the Italian Hercules and Hercules manquÃˆ flicks of the 1950s. These were known as Sword & Sandal movies. They featured beefy heroic types fighting top-heavy evil temptresses, papier-m’chÃ‹ 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 it’s a known fact that there hasn’t been an Italian genre flick made in the last thirty years that hasn’t included at least one midget. In American exploitation flicks, naked breasts are known as ‘the cheapest special effect.’ In Italy, it’s midgets. Amazingly, though, they didn’t 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 they’re 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 he’s 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. It’s nighttime, and a robed figure strikes a gong. Unfortunately, this proves not to be Chuck Barris ending the movie (if you’re too young to get that joke, don’t worry about it). Murkily, we sort of see a torch carrying procession entering the fort’s gate. Close-up shots reveal that there are more extras here than you’d expect. That’s 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 we’re 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 film’s villain oppressing the people, or whatever. (Embarrassing credit moment: We see that the film’s 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 film’s 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 don’t 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 King’s 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 production’s 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, who’s 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 magician’s son, that Aura expects to marry him, and that he feels he’s too young yet. (I’d 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 I’ve ever seen. This is Gulfax, Simon’s 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 something’s wrong. Simon checks in with his father, Wolfrick, the court magician. (Wolfrick’s 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 there’s ‘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 he’s 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 flick’s 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 Castle’s under attack,” Wolfrick notes.
Among the bad guys is an evil looking fellow whom the camera keeps cutting to, so I assume that he’s 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, isn’t 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, that’s 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 Udea’s boudoir, where we learn that she’s in league with the bad guys. Somehow the King knew this, and went to confront her.
This brings up the film’s 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. It’s 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 I’m doing a good job of depicting the film.
Also in the Queen’s 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 Wolfrick’s 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 he’s 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 Corman’s 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 he’s using the washroom.) In another comical continuity error, we see that while we are watching the battle right side up, from Simon’s position it would be upside down. Apparently, the kid hasn’t quite gotten this ‘magic’ thing down yet. Needless to say, Shurka emerges triumphant, because if he didn’t, the movie would be over. And while Simon doesn’t say so, I think we can all safely assume that he vows to avenge his father’s death. Because if he didn’t, 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 he’s obviously going to overthrow them by the end of the picture. Although she doesn’t, you know, phrase it quite that way. Also, she calls Simon the “offspring of White Wizardry.” Why White Magic is green isn’t 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 doesn’t have it.
Simon and Gulfax, meanwhile, spot some of Shurka’s men in the woods. They’re 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 didn’t, the movie would be over. He gives the soldiers a chance to split, but, naturally, they attack instead. Soon they’re all dead, although I’d say it’s more because of their ineptitude than because of the guy’s rather clumsy fighting skills.
Having been freed, Simon is shocked when Gulfax reveals that their savior is the legendary Kor the Conqueror. Kor, however, isn’t 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, it’s also apparently an Age of Anachronistic Speech Patterns.) Simon ends up questioning Kor’s 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 Shurka’s 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 can’t 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 who’s 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 doesn’t 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 we’re not supposed to notice.)
Simon hears his father’s 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? (Let’s just say that the movie isn’t over.) The ‘phantom’s’ 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, Gulfax’s head moves in such a way that we can see a gap between the suit’s headpiece and the bodysuit. This, as you might imagine, rather reduces our ability to ‘suspend disbelief.’ Still, I haven’t actually seen the suit’s 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 they’re on. This is known in the movie business as ‘padding out the running time.’) As she’s attractive, any fan of the genre will immediately recognize that she’s some kind of mystical being attempting to lure Simon to his doom.
The woman offers, basically, to take care of all of Simon’s, 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.) It’s nighttime, at what appears to be the fort from the title credits. There’s 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 didn’t color code it’s magic, and the producers just didn’t 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 can’t move very much. (Hey, c’mon, I didn’t make this thing, I’m just describing it.) This flies around outer space (?). Then another apparition appears, a woman’s 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. I’m pretty sure that this whole sequence is the climax of some completely different movie. It’s 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 isn’t 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 didn’t 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, Kor’s a great warrior, but when will he find true love? Wow, it really makes you think, doesn’t 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 Kor’s discarded wineskin. It’s 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. He’s 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 don’t especially enjoy being brought back to decrepit life. They decide to kill off Simon, so that they can go back to sleep (something I’d 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 King’s 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 they’re lying. Shurka calls one of the four over. Then he turns the other three into mice (this is so boring, they don’t 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 that’ll 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 that’s 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 who’s ‘comedic’ qualities is that he’s an alcoholic, is blissed out to find that Hurla’s 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 he’s supposed to be a hobgoblin. Which he clearly isn’t, he’s 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. Aren’t 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 Python’s Flying Circus. And somehow it manages to sneak up on Kor, so that he doesn’t 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 can’t show the purportedly ‘giant’ foe in the same shot as Kor (they apparently didn’t 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 can’t summon magic without a source to help him. This in spite of the fact that we’ve seen him do that exact thing about half a dozen times by now. Continuity apparently isn’t the hobgoblin (or gnome) of the small minds that made this picture. Anyway, Hurla’s 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, I’d hope so. It only took him one second to eradicate the giant. I’d 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. C’mon, 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 he’s immediately captured by the guy that found his wineskin earlier. (Don’t remember? I wouldn’t 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 Aura’s voice to lure him to a part of the cave where there’s 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 won’t tell Shurka where. Rather than torturing him or anything, Shurka just makes him disappear in another burst of cartoon magic.
Kor’s 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 didn’t tell him the truth about this guy that captured him (Kor said he didn’t 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 guy’s 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. Wouldn’t 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, “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to play with your food!” (Oscar Wilde, look out!) Happy with Kor’s 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, who’s still whining about Kor’s having lied to him. So Kor has to kiss the little bastard’s ass to get him to shut up. They end up hugging, but since this wasn’t filmed in front of a live audience, we’re 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, c’mon, even magic must have conservation of energy rules. And wouldn’t 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 it’d 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 doesn’t surprise me overmuch. If I had to choose between taking orders a bitchy babe and a guy that materializes waterfalls out of thin air, I’d 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 it’s the only thing that (sorta) makes sense. Simon trots over to Kor, who’s 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 water’s 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 kid’s 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 I’ll 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 don’t know why, since he doesn’t 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 he’s actually done anything. Sure enough, fulfilling yet another hoary clichÃˆ, 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, I’ve yet to see a single film where released prisoners were too weak to battle the Evil King’s 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, it’s a little difficult to believe that it’s only been found now. But still, isn’t it exciting? Will Simon manage to procure the Ring before it’s brought to Shurka? I’m 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 doesn’t lose it again). As he dons it, cartoon sparkly effects indicate that it’s 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 Shurka’s 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, who’s 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 Shurka’s 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 actor’s 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 Shurka’s 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 that’s pretty much it. (Except for the fact that, oddly, Shurka’s murderous bat faced ogre has been adopted by Gulfax.)
Where, you’re probably not wondering, where will Kor find adventure next? Well, it won’t 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.