I’ve been having trouble trying to define, in one sentence, what qualifies a film for this label. I felt like just saying what that judge said years ago when asked to define obscenity: “I know it when I see it.”
I’ve ultimately narrowed it down to this: Trashterpiece Theatre reflects films that go beyond guilty pleasures. For example, they could be:
* Highly watchable exploitation movies
* So-bad-they’re-good B-movies
* Mainstream movies that are delicious junk food for your brain
In short: They’re great movies to watch, but may not be great movies per se.
Our inaugural film for Trashterpiece Theatre: 1982’s The Sword and the Sorcerer.
The city of Ehdan is ruled by merciless King Cromwell (legendary character actor Richard Lynch), but there are plans for a rebellion led by Lord Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale), Ehdan’s rightful heir. However, Cromwell thwarts the rebellion, captures Mikah, and throws him in his dungeon.
To rescue Mikah and revive the rebellion, his sister Alana (Kathleen Beller) hires Talon (Lee Horsley) and his band of mercenaries. Armed with a kick-ass, three-blade sword (whose outer blades shoot from the handle), Talon accepts the mission with one demand as payment: Anna must sleep with him after he rescues Mikah.
Talon also has a personal interest in the mission: Many years ago, Cromwell killed Talon’s father, King Richard (Christopher Cary) and took over Richard’s kingdom.
Director Albert Pyun’s track record of bad films has few equals (see a partial list of his films in this article), yet he delivers The Sword and the Sorcerer with all the intentions of a big-budget spectacular – from the opening sequence setting up Talon and Cromwell’s grudge to the fantastic free-for-all finale at Cromwell’s castle.
Horsley plays Talon with a swagger that falls somewhere between John Wayne and Errol Flynn. He’s unrepentant in his words and actions, yet you root for him as the film’s hero.
The dialogue is delightfully cheesy, filled with campy humor and smirk-worthy one-liners – including many innuendos about men’s swords (their size, raising them, etc.)
To the film’s credit, David Whitaker’s triumphant score adds some integrity to the melodramatics, and there are many elaborate sets that occasionally give the film a feel of epic scope.
Watch for supporting roles by Murphy Brown’s Joe Regalbuto as one of Talon’s mercenaries, and Night Court’s Richard Moll as a brutal sorcerer.
After the end credits, the film announces the adventure will continue with Tales of an Ancient Empire, a sequel that’s “coming soon.” Well, I guess 28 years still counts as “soon” because Pyun is currently (finally!) filming the sequel, starring Kevin Sorbo, Christopher Lambert, and Horsley. (Follow the film’s production at its official site.)
The Sword and the Sorcerer is a delicious slice of ‘80s Velveeta, complete with everything your inner 14-year-old boy could want: swords, sorcery, boobs, gore, action, and adventure. It’s currently out of print, so your best bet is one of the links at the bottom or pray for a DVD/Blu-Ray re-release when Tales of an Ancient Empire comes out. Either way, this Trashterpiece is worth seeking out.
Will your kids want to watch it?Given my earlier reference to your inner 14-year-old, it’s probably safe to say that younger boys will want to watch The Sword and Sorcerer if they see the poster or any clips online. But despite the cheese factor of the film, it has a lot of unsavory content that younger viewers shouldn’t see: an attempted rape, soldiers burned alive, stabbings, impalings, torture, crucifixion, random nudity, and both hearts and tongues torn out. It’s bloody good fun, but use discretion around kids and young tweens.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?This really feels like one for you to enjoy with other male brethren, but in a group environment I bet she could get caught up in the fun.
The Sword and the Sorcerer
* Director: Albert Pyun
* Screenwriters: Tom Karnowski, John Stuckmeyer, Albert Pyun
* Stars: Lee Horsley, Kathleen Beller, Simon MacCorkindale, Richard Lynch, Richard Moll
* MPAA Rating: R
Buy The Sword and The Sorcerer (DVD) at Half.com >>
Buy The Sword and The Sorcerer (VHS) at Half.com >>