Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm seeing double!! More VHS cover art fun!

Behold! The beauty of VHS!

I recently acquired two sword and sorcery titles for my collection and upon receiving the second one, made a very interesting discovery. Now as you know I love good cover art and both of these titles have that but what really stands out to me is the fact that they are so very similar. The titles in question are Barbarian Queen (1985) released by Vestron Video and Amazons (1986) released by MGM/UA Home Video. 

What struck me as I opened the package containing Barbarian Queen was the fact that there were five scantily clad women represented on the cover art, one which seemed to be deemed the head amazon warrior. I thought it looked extremely familiar so I went to the shelf and pulled down the MGM VHS of Amazons and yes! Almost the same exact cover art. Five scantily clad amazon warriors with one represented as a head warrior. Isn’t that nifty? I had to wonder if they were released close together and sure enough they were. 

Barbarian Queen was released shortly after the success of Deathstalker (1983) and stars Lana Clarkson who portrayed Kaira, an Amazon warrior. Amazons was released a year after Barbarian Queen in 1986 so it looks as if someone was cashing in on the whole sword and sorcery craze which was made very popular by the films Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Red Sonja (1985). 

As I compared the artwork I found an even more interesting little tidbit. The head warriors look pretty much the same in the face! At this point I was getting my geek on. Seriously though look at the screen shots (even though they are a bit blurry). Each warrior is wearing very similar head pieces but the facial features are exact. Barbarian Queen’s head warrior looks to be a little more psychical than the head honcho of Amazons but both are of course dripping sexuality which is the main draw to these exploitative action films right?.......riiiiiiiight. 

Sexy lady one
Sexy lady two...they look the same to these eyes!
So after finding the artwork rather interesting with look alike head warrior princesses surrounded by scantily clad beautiful warrior women, I decided to dig a little into the production of the films themselves to see if there was a connection. Low and behold there was! I really shouldn’t be surprised either to be honest. I mean really, who has made a career of ripping of popular films, making them for next to nothing as far as money spent is concerned and make a decent profit from it? None other than the man with a film career that reads like a rap sheet/grocery list. The man who has probably employed more big name stars before they were stars. Who is the purveyor of cheap B films you may ask? None other than Mr. Roger Corman!!

HA HA! All the way to the bank baby!

Barbarian Queen was filmed in Argentina through Corman’s production company Rodeo Productions in Buenos Aires. Amazons was also filmed in Argentina but the production company info is sketchy. I haven’t had a chance to watch either one since I just recently acquired them but hopefully with a viewing of each I might be able to shed some light on that subject. My cheapyBmovie-sense tells me that they were both filmed in the same locations, by the same production company and funded the same wallet which belongs to Corman. 

So there you have it. My indulgence into exploitation films leaves me with more useless knowledge that I can spew forth when the moment arises. And that usually isn’t very often……which is why I have this blog so that I can spew forth the knowledge and give you, my trusted reader, some info you really don’t need but hell isn’t that reason you keep tuning in?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Iron Warrior (1987)

Do you like Sword and Sorcery films? Do you like to see muscle bound heros saving damsels in distress? Do you like action and adventure? That is great because Iron Warrior has all these things and more including bad acting, ridiculous dialog, plastic weaponry and bizarre scenes that make you scratch your head and wonder just what the hell is going on?

Iron Warrior features film hero Ator (Miles O’Keefe), who first made his appearance in Ator: The Fighting Eagle (1982) and The Blade Master (1984), returning in this third film of the series. Italian director Joe D’Amato helmed the first two films but bowed out on making a third; supposedly since there were no plans on a third Conan film, in which these films rip off, D’Amato said forget it. This time around the action is handled by director Alfonso Brescia under the pseudonym of Al Bradley. 
Miles O'Keefe ready for action!

Apparently Mr. Brescia decided to throw out any character back story from the first two films and go off on his own by starting Iron Warrior out with a prologue that has Ator having a twin brother named Trogar (not to be confused with Trogdor ( Trogar is kidnapped by Phoedra, an evil witch. Phoedra is confronted by Deeva and brought to trial over the kidnapping. Here Brescia not only decides to rip off Conan the Barbarian but also Superman II, a scene complete with spinning hula hoops and faces of a “jury” chiming in with Pheodra’s punishment. Her punishment is that she is banished for 18 years and her power of death is revoked….no more license to kill, much like Timothy Dalton. So in those 18 years she develops Trogar into the Iron Warrior (complete with shiny skull mask and Destro outfi)t. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this out within the first ten minutes of the film.

*Gasp* Another Ator film!?
Eighteen years later Pheodra shows up at the king of Dragor’s castle and introduces her warrior who proceeds to kick everyone’s butts. The king is captured but his daughter, the lovely Princess Janna (Savina Gersak) escapes. Ator, who is wandering around the land, finds her and decides to help her defeat Pheodra and regain her rightful place in the kingdom. Along the way Ator does battle with the Iron Warrior but never seems to defeat him. Each fight ends in kind of a draw and the final battle is pretty…..well….lame to be honest. Here of course Ator discovers he had a twin brother. What a surprise!

Destroy G.I.Joe!!!

Iron Warrior is a true spectacle to behold to be honest. The movie makes no sense whatsoever simply because for some reason there are a lot of stylish surrealistic sequences that seem to be placed at random throughout. In one scene Janna and Ator are trying to cross a rope bridge. Minions of the enemy are on the other side and cut the ropes (ala Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). They climb up to the other side only to meet the Iron Warrior face to face. Ator finds it necessary to jump and they soon find themselves swirling around in mists and colors and waking up in a cave…….what!!? There is also another odd ball scene but this one is very, very short and actually is pretty cool. Janna has some type of out of body experience in which her red swirling clothes are transformed green and she is knelt down as we see her father materialize above her, crucified by spears. An interesting little shot reminiscent of the crucifixion of Christ. Don’t excited though because this is the only few seconds of the film that actually grabbed hold of my attention and turned by brain on.

I love your braids.....what kind of conditioner do you use?

Brescia also incorporates more Indiana Jones fun by having Ator and Janna chased by a giant boulder through a cave. I’m guessing he was a big fan? There is also a lot of 80’s type MTVish stuff going on in this film. Princess Janna looks like she should be singing for Scandal with her rooster hairstyle, multi-colored eyebrows and standout rouge makeup. Ator, for some unknown reason, wears a French braid pony tail throughout the entire film, not to mention his spandex legwear which is screaming the era this film was made. Throw in the plastic swords and fall apart castle structures and you have 90 minutes of pure cheese!