Wednesday, May 16, 2018
I have always appreciated the movie The Beastmaster. I didn't realize until recently that it was directed by Don Coscarelli, the director of Phantasm and one of my all-time fave movies Bubba Ho-Tep (more on that tomorrow).
When I went to see The Beastmaster in the theaters, I knew I liked the look of Marc Singer in the title role, his physique was exactly what I wanted to see on Conan. Conan the Barbarian had recently been released and Arnold had made his muscular mark on that role, one which I always thought was too large. I've changed my mind a bit on that, but the lithe Singer was more like the early comic Conan than was Arnold and that I liked a lot. Also this movie features the fetching Tanya Roberts, fresh from her Charlie's Angels role and in this one deliciously topless for a blazing moment.
The story is derived sort of from the work of Andre Norton, though as I understand it, the changes made were so extensive that she removed her name from the project. The movie is really nothing like the exciting Norton books, which deserved a movie of their own.
The villain in this one is played by Rip Torn who does his usual bravura job of chewing scenery in grand fashion. The movie is a well-paced adventure with lots of magic and witchery to make it work. There are a few large-scale battles, one the sacking of Dar's hometown and later the seige of the city. The enemy is the Jund, underdeveloped barbarians who just seem to thunder across the landscape in impossible clouds and create mayhem.
The Beastmaster is very much a product of its time, but also has a timeless quality which allows it to be watched with aplomb many years later. There were two sequels, coming many years later, but they are not remotely as charming as the original, not in the least.