This is as close to a classic as the swords-and-sorcery genre has, I reckon. Better than the first film in every way, a great central performance, not quite as much unnecessary nudity as the first (which, considering the director, is a minor miracle), and real genuine laughs, both in the script and in the performances.
Deathstalker is a really weird name for a wisecracking thief-with-a-heart-of-gold (mercifully, the film acknowledges this), but the way they incorporate the name of this sequel into the film is hilarious – the baddie says “I’ll get her and Deathstalker too!” (BOOM, film title appears on screen). He’s doing his thieving thing when he happens upon the young beautiful Reena the Seer beaten up by some goons outside a bar. He doesn’t seem desperate to endear himself to us with his first line – “Normally, I don’t mind seeing a woman get beaten” but he rescues her anyway, and she spins him a tale, of being cloned by the evil wizard / super-swordsman Jarek, how she’s really called Princess Evie, and how there’s riches beyond the dreams of avarice if he can help restore her to her throne.
They pop into the same bar Reena was thrown out of, and this is where eagle-eyed viewers will start having fun. The first two Deathstalkers were made 4 years apart, so viewers at the time wouldn’t have noticed them just using a load of footage from the earlier one in this; and there are some extremely bored-looking nude dancers added to the mix. Now, if you’re a nude dancer in a bar and a massive brawl breaks out, tradition dictates you duck behind some furniture and occasionally bash someone over the head with a bottle – what you don’t do is just carry on dancing, with the same bored expression on your face. Ah well, they can’t all be winners.
Deathstalker and Reena head towards the castle, with your typical medieval fun along the way, which for some reason includes zombies, some of whom didn’t bother getting dressed in medieval style clothes at all. My favourite bit is when he’s captured by a town full of women, whose menfolk have died fighting Jarek. Do they use him as a sex slave? Nope, they accuse him of crimes against womankind after his reputation preceded him, set up a wrestling ring and have him take on Queen Kong in a fight to the death. THEN the ruler of the town uses him as a sex slave.
You don’t need me to tell you how the rest of the film goes, but that’s not why you’re here. Seeing Jim Wynorski’s name attached to a fun, well-made, cheap-and-cheerful film with jokes and a great atmosphere around it is odd, and makes me even sadder at the garbage he’s been churning out for the last decade or so. This is the film that “Your Highness” should have been, with a main cast who barely bother pretending they’re in the olden days, laughs that come from something other than insults, a lightning quick pace and a fun series of fights to keep the excitement levels up.
It’s not perfect, by any stretch. John Terlesky as Deathstalker is great; and Monique Gabrielle (making her second ISCFC appearance, after being the nude lady in “Amazon Women On The Moon”) does surprisingly good double duty, which makes her subsequent career in porn even sadder. But most of the rest of the cast is pretty wooden, even if sometimes that woodenness helps the comedy along.
If you love taint-shots, then this is the film for you. Luckily, it’s not just for taint-lovers, and this ought to be much better known than it is. The DVD is worth buying as well, for an absolutely top-drawer commentary, full of jokes and self-mockery.
Rating: thumbs up