Youtube Film Club – Sorceress (1982)

Weirdly, all this stuff is in the film

Weirdly, all this stuff is in the film

Misleading title alert! While “Sorceress” is a cool enough title for a film, there are no sorceresses in it. There’s a bloke who does magic, and two barbarian heroines, but that’s your lot.

Jim Wynorski is both a hero and a villain for us at the ISCFC. Hero because he made a heck of a lot of entertaining low-budget monster movies; and villain because those entertaining movies stopped around the turn of the millennium and turned into dreck, plus his attitude to women might reasonably be said to be somewhat behind the times – watch “Popatopolis” if you’d like any further evidence. He got his start thanks to the great Roger Corman, this is his first credit of any sort and although he only wrote it, the template for his later career is there.

 
There’s a whole heap of fantasy names at the beginning, so I’ll put them all up here, and you can refer back to this paragraph if you get lost. A guy called Krona is a sort of good wizard; someone called Kalgara is an evil deity; a fellow called Tragon, who looks awfully similar to serial killer Peter “The Yorkshire Ripper” Sutcliffe, is a bad wizard; and there’s a couple of twin babies called Mara and Mira. Tragon wants to sacrifice one of the babies, who he fathered, in order to…definitely something to do with Kalgara.

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After being sure to let everyone know that girl babies are literally the most pointless thing in the world, Tragon gets killed (but he has three lives, because of course) and Krona rescues the children. But not for long! Because he’s got important stuff to go and do, he just gives the babies power to be the most awesome warriors ever – the power of “The Two Who Are One” – and packs them off to his old friend Dorgon to be their foster-dad. The film really kicks off 20 years later, when they’ve grown up into Playboy Playmates Leigh and Lynette Harris, and when their village is raided by the troops of the freshly resurrected Tragon.

I don’t just want to recap the film for you all, but this scene has a lot of oddness about it, so allow me to linger. The troops slaughter all the villagers, but Mara and Mira are saved thanks to their bad-ass fighting powers, plus a very late assist from barbarian Valdar and his satyr sidekick, who had previously been ogling the ladies as they swam naked. Even later is Krona, who turns up after everyone is dead. Thanks for that lifetime of protection you promised them! Tragon is all hot and bothered about “The Two Who Are One” as well, despite all that stuff happening after he died the first time. Unless it just means they’re twins?

Anyway, they swing by the nearest town to pick up Valdar’s friend Erlick, who’s the main romantic lead in the movie – despite being of normal height, Valdar is the spitting image of every fantasy dwarf you’ve ever seen – and then set off for Tragon’s castle. They make half an effort to pretend the twins are boys, but the wardrobe department puts them in skirts and makes sure we can all see their huge breasts, which may have given the game away.

There’s twists and turns aplenty on their way to the castle. The two girls have been brought up totally innocently, so don’t know about the difference between men and women; there’s the jolliest group of sacrificial virgins you’ve ever seen; and…well, another scene I need to describe in a little more detail. One of the twins and Erlick are captured and brainwashed, and there’s a whole thing about how he needs to impregnate her for some sacrifice or other. But the twins are linked, so what one feels the other feels, and while we don’t get the love scene, we see the other twin writhing round on the floor in orgasmic bliss while a dwarf and a satyr look on. Valdar realises what’s going on, and seems incredibly proud of his friend’s sexual prowess – weirdly so, in fact.

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Add on to all this one of the strangest climactic battles I’ve seen in a long time and the battle of the two gods in mid-air, and you’ve got a recipe for huh? It’s a feast of terrible acting (half the cast are dubbed, and the extras seem like they’re working at gunpoint), crappy special effects and exactly the sort of film you’d expect to have two Playboy models starring in it. Oh, and topped off with a wonderfully sexist coda!

The director, Jack Hill, had his name taken off this film after feeling Corman treated him like garbage – refusing his one casting request and drastically cutting the special effects budget- and this was his last ever film. Still, Quentin Tarantino has helped bring his name out of purgatory in recent years and he’s still fondly remembered for his 70s blaxploitation films.

Despite all this, the film was a big hit, although watching it now I’ve got no idea why. It’s a right load of old rubbish, is what I’m saying. If you want a sword-and-sorcery film, heck, even if you want one with Jim Wynorski involvement, then Deathstalker 2 is the way to go. I’d only recommend this if you were some weird completist for every film starring a Playboy playmate.

Rating: thumbs down

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