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SF & Fantasy Sunday: The Sword and the Sorcerer February 4, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Action, Fantasy , trackback

‘Twas a time of sorcery and adventure, a time of strapping heroes with floppy hair and big swords, ‘twas…the early eighties! Fantasy movies of the sword and sorcery variety had their heyday then, with Conan and his wannabes hacking their way into theatres.

The Sword and the Sorcerer is Conan Lite, a barbarian on a budget. Its cheap production allowed it to reach cinemas ahead of the film that it was aping, if only by a few weeks. Whereas Milius’ Conan was an epic spectacle, The Sword and the Sorcerer was about making a little go a long way. In the director’s chair for the first time, Albert Pyun made probably the best film of his career, but with a career that includes Brain Smasher… A Love Story and Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon that’s not really saying much.

The film makes up for what it lacks in class with copious amounts of bloody violence and female nudity. It also has some decent effects work (for the budget) with the demon Xusia an unpleasant looking villain.

Lee Horsley doesn’t have half Arnie’s muscles and plays the part of Talon more like Indiana Jones with a sword than Conan. Perennial bad guy Richard Lynch is the evil usurper Cromwell, while Richard Moll plays/voices Xusia (he only appears in the make-up in the opening scene). Kathleen Beller is the princess who needs rescuing, because this kind of film has to have one. No nudity from her sadly, she keeps her bits covered up (nice butt though).

This is fun flick if you’re in the mood for some mindless B movie nonsense. Unfortunately the sequel, Tales of the Ancient Empire, promised in the closing credits, never materialised, surprising as the film was a big hit, taking as much at the US box office as Conan and costing a hell of a lot less.


1. ghost of 82 - February 4, 2008

I watched this on video back in the ‘eighties. I remember quite enjoying this cheap and fun fantasy, it’s sense of fun was refreshing after the seriousness of the CONAN movie, it had more of the excitement and humor of the CONAN comics of the time. Anyhow, my mate got a copy on DVD in a bargain bin somewhere a few months ago and we gave it a go. It was awful, hasn’t aged well at all, whereas I can always watch CONAN and enjoy it. Half-way through SOTS I had to stop the film and give up, I could bear no more. Some films just have their day and they are done. This is one of them.

2. Mike - February 5, 2008

According to AICN Tales of the Ancient Empire is actually rumoured to be filming as we speak…


As ghost says, though, I imagine Sword and the Sorceror to be far more turgid seeing it now than back when I was 13/14, and it was of course ace. If I remember rightly, this is the one where the film opens with Xusia’s ‘revival’ - a suitably gory sequence and actually quite unnerving at the time. I also recall a bit where Talon just happens to collapse in on a harem, which is exactly what would happen in any teenage lad’s fantasy movie in his head…

3. Ian W - February 6, 2008

Thanks for the comments. It’s funny that you both enjoyed the film at the time but don’t (or don’t think you would) enjoy it as much now, as I didn’t like it when I first watched it back in ‘82 or ‘83 (even though, as ghost says, it captures more of the spirit of the Conan comics) but can appreciate its cheesy charm now.

Got to admit I’d be interested to see Tales of the Ancient Empire, but I’m assuming they’ll recast Talon as Lee Horsley is a bit too far over the hill now.

4. anephric - February 7, 2008

This film is terrific. It’s a shame the DVD looks so lousy (that said, it could well be it was filmed badly in the first pace).

What strikes me most about TSatS is that, for the most part, it comes across as the sort of flatly-filmed, family-friendly cheap romp you might see on TV on a Sunday afternoon, and then out of leftfield there’s some fairly gory effect, or Talon swinging through the window into a room full of naked busty stunnas (my favourite bit).

Anyway, great entertainment. Great soundtrack, iirc too. Richard Lynch is a great villain in this, as always.

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