December 5, 2009

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

WITH THIS REVIEW COMES a new segment at FilmFather: Trashterpiece Theatre.

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.

You think that’s bad? You should see what they did the M, C, and A guys.

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 >>
Buy The Sword and The Sorcerer (VHS) at >>


Albert Pyun said...

Hi FilmFather!

This is the infamous Albert Pyun. I wanted to thank you for selecting The Sword and the Sorcerer to inaugurate your Trasherpiece Theater label. Its quite an honor and there's no junkier guilty pleasure debut to be sure.

I'm hoping Tales of an Ancient Empire can follow proudly those such big cheesy footprints. It will be unleashed April 24. 28 years to the day of TSATS's release.

Enjoy your best to young Dash. Please keep him away from my cinematic horrors until he is suitably prepared.

Albert Pyun

Bob Ignizio said...

This is one of my all-time favorite sword and sorcery movies. I saw it when it first aired on The Movie Channel, so I was probably 13 or 14 at the time. Finally watched it again years later when Anchor Bay released the now out of print DVD, and it was just as enjoyable. As Joe Bob Briggs would say, it delivers on the three "b"s - blood, beasts, and breasts. But on top of that, Horsley makes a fun anti-hero, the production values are pretty good, and the story is everything you want if you were a Dungeons & Dragons addict like I was at the time.

JLG said...

I can't believe THE Albert Pyun just commented your post... the same day you posted it no less.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Again you go and choose another one of my favorite little gems. I always associate it with the start of home videos and pay TV. Me and my friend must have either rented it (since they were over 100 dollart to buy) or watched it on pay tv a dozen or more times. I watched it about a month ago and it really stands the test of time.

Kathy B. said...

Wow !! I'm impressed !! Albert Pyun. Was that not the best birthday gift???

Keith said...

Hey there. How are you today? I hope you've been enjoying the weekend. Take care. Have a great week ahead. Cheers!

Gemma said...

OMG---You are definitely a celebrity in the blogosphere! How do these directors, etc. know when you post? They must be followers? Your words obviously mean something to them. How great! Congrats, FF.

Free Movies said...

This is one of my favourite movie. I watched this movie online. I think i watched it 4-5 times and always liked equally.

FilmFather said...

Mr. Pyun,

I'm honored and humbled that you visited my little corner of the blogosphere. As several of the men who commented after you can attest, TSATS was a semi-forbidden treat for young teens like us back in the '80s as we discovered the film on cable channels like The Movie Channel and HBO.

And I'm glad you're honored to have TSATS as part of my Trashterpiece Theatre segment. It was meant as such.

Best of luck as you finish production on Tales of An Ancient Empire. I'll mark my calendar for April 24!

aka FilmFather

Geof said...

The great Albert Pyun commented on your blog! How awesome is that? And he has a great sense of humor, which always scores points with me!

I remember watching this one when I was a youngin'. Really surprised to see a sequel coming all these years later, but hey - why not? Poor Sorbo. Never could get out of the typecast of the Hercules/medieval role, but acting beats digging ditches for a living. Please more Thrashterpiece Theater!!

Keith said...

Thanks for the great advice you left me at my blog. I appreciate it very much. I hope you've been having a wonderful week. Cheers!

Josh Lipovetsky said...

FilmFather, amazing job as always. I wish you the best of luck in your blogging future. You have picked a great niche, and you are a real standout in your industry. Congrats on the comment by Albert Pyun!

Thanks again!
Josh Lipovetsky.

rob! said...

Lee Horseley was in this? Who knew "Matt Houston" was ever in a movie??

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Hey Lee Horseley was suppose to be the next Tom Selleck if we were ever needing a replacement.

Geof said...

The next Tom Selleck? Guess that's why Tom kept his 'stache for so long.

Jeff Allard said...

Way to spotlight one of the greats of the early '80s - and way to get a shout-out from Albert Pyun! Now that's awesome! This was a favorite of mine on HBO back in the day and I was happy to find, when I rewatched it on DVD awhile back, that it still held up for me.

Anonymous said...

My oh my! It has been 30 years since I've seen this flick ... what an absolute treasure it is, to see it once again. You'll see it trashed in the day of 2010, but what all the hating people want you to know, is how horrible the picture was. The point, is that the film was extraordinarily made ... and that is what matters for its time. In todays world, it is redundant and beyond obsolete, but during the time it was fashioned? It was a masterpiece for its era and thus should be understood by such ... if you're outside its era, and thus (shall I say todayish?), then so be it. It's a wonderful film for its time.

StuartOhQueue said...

Fun and fun. I was probably a little hard on the picture but I'll hold by my word count. I did consider it for my gourmet cheese award.

As a crapsterpiece, or "Trashterpiece," epic the film succeeds by and large. It's good to note that we both relished in the over-the-top original soundtrack.

The Sword and the Sorcerer 1982 said...

This was one of the scariest movies I saw when I was young, and one of the best adventure movies. I must recommend this movie to everyone who love watching movies.


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