Adventure movies with strong heroes were nothing new even in the beginning of the 1980s, but the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan in Conan the Barbarian in 1982 has brought a fresh air for the exploitation genre worldwide – and for us, movie fans, a new genre: sword & sorcery.
Italian takes on it would need separate reviews (and there will definitely be some), but today we’re gonna have a look at at Conan’s American cousin – Deathstalker.
Things you might already know
A brain-child of Howard R. Cohen (1942 – 1999), who was also responsible for cult classics Vampire Hookers, Death Force, Barbarian Queen(and the sequel, Barbarian Queen 2), and also sequels to Deathstalker (Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell and Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans), it was produced by the exploitation king Roger Corman and directed by James Sbardellati (under the pseudonym John Watson).
Sbardellati has only two titles under his belt as a director, Deathstalker and a 1988 movie Under the Gun with Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones and Vanessa Williams, but he kept himself busy as Second Unit/Assistant Director (and judging from his profile, he had his hands in many professions relating to moviemaking).
Yep, what about the movie? Well, folks, the movie is a teenager’s wet dream. We’re talking T&A, man! And the first boobie is just a few minutes into the film – and it’s definitely not alone!
Anyway, I am going ahead with this, so let’s get back.
The story is so straightforward you’ve read it many, many times. An evil sorcerer has usurped the throne and a young hero is here to dispatch him to where he belongs. Sounds familiar? Thought so.
Opening sequence brings us some guy with kidnapped young woman, the kidnapper is attacked by some gnomes with swords and axes, but thankfully, Deathstalker is here to save the day. Well, sort of.
Oh, by the way, our blonde hero is actually not that much of a hero. He thinks only about his needs, so when he and Oghris, the warrior he saved from a bunch of villains, met a mysterious hooded female warrior Kaira (who can’t hardly swing a sword, but hey, this is a low budget movie), he doesn’t hesitate much to have a nice softcore time with her. It helps, of course, that Kaira wears only G-string and a cape.
Together they go to a tournament given by Munkar (and he has a very clever evil plan in mind with this), and as a side-plot, Deathstalker meets the kidnapped princess Codille, who he later wants to save (you will know why, and it’s not because his father asked).
Plenty of T&A and fights later, our (anti-)hero wins the day. And the princess. Because, you know, it’s an old school fantasy adventure flick.
Let’s have a look at a few of the actors now.
Deathstalker is personified by Rick Hill, who you might remember from Warrior Queen, Dune Warriors or Cyborg 2 (which, as we kindly remember, has brought us young Angelina Jolie and her boobies) and he returned to Deathstalker universe in the 4th (and so far, final, because one never knows) installment, Deathstalker IV: March of Titans. He’s an author and also produced and directed a TV documentary Tvography: Lee Majors – Hollywood’s Bionic Hero.
The main female character is supposed to be Princess Codille, with a striking resemblance to Barbi Benton, once famous for living with Hugh Hefner and being featured in his Playboy magazine. Also an actress in various TV shows, fans of older horror movies might remember her from X-Ray. She has finished her acting career in 1987. And yep, we have a chance to see her assets as well.
Oghris was saved by Deathstalker from a band of attackers, but alas, things are not as they seeem. He was played by Richard Brooker, fans of Friday the 13th franchise might know he’s played Jason in Friday the 13th: Part III.
Another interesting character in the movie was Lord Munkar, the evil sorcerer. Bernard Erhard has lent him his looks and he looked nicely evil indeed. Erhard did act in some TV series and did voiceovers for animated series, but I’ll be honest with you, I am not familiar with these titles.
But the star of the movie was indeed female warrior Kaira, who was played by Lana Clarkson. Oh my goodness! Deathstalker was her 2nd movie credit and I am pretty sure she was noticed! Yep, one can’t forget her bare chest, no way, José! Good thing about her, she also played in similar flicks – Barbarian Queen, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 2 and Barbarian Queen 2: The Empress Strikes Back. Unfortunately, she was murdered in 2003 by music producer Phil Spector. What a loss.
You really need to ask? Simple story, wooden acting, low budget but plenty of T&A. Hell yeah, it’s good!