A little early this week, but I’ll be on vacation by Friday…
Conquest (1983 : Dir. Lucio Fulci)
This is movie I really need to watch again some time. It was so dream-like that I can barely remember which parts were in the film and what are embellishments of memory.
The director of many great splatter films takes a stab at the sword & sorcery genre. Really more like taking a bashing, a decapitation, several eviscerations, and a thousand Atari 2600’s worth of special effects at a barbarian movie. It’s based on no particular sword & sorcery tale, but has archetypes of many; in fact if James Mal’s excellent phrase “unholy goulash” has any application in film, this is one.
We have what seems to be a more civilized nation sending a champion with a magic bow to a more primitive land where, if I am remembering this right, a witch is worshiped by gnoll-like monsters and controls the populace by sheer terror. Early on the gnolls rip a woman in half, very graphically, and bash open a man’s head, very graphically. Lucio Fulci is most famous, after all, for movies like Zombie aka Zombi 2, a movie that features buckets of blood and gore, and an infamous shark vs. zombie fight scene. So if you think you might enjoy zombie vs. shark, you will like Fulci’s other films. There is a certain amount of brain-eating, of course.
If Conquest could have kept up the pace of its first ten minutes or so, it would be a classic on a par with Conan the Barbarian (which, love it or hate it, has some great scenes). Instead, Fulci decides fantasy = acid trip and the film has eerie, dream-like cinematography, surreal dialogue and action sequences, and a barely intelligible plot. But if it is delirious, it is also deliriously fun. Old-school D&D players will appreciate the remorseless barbarian Mace and the remorselessly brutal story that (minor spoiler) kills off major & minor characters with barely a thought. There is a dungeon-like setting around the middle of the film, too. And the witch-queen, who wears nothing but a mask and a snake for most of the film. Nice.
The FX are hokey, certainly.But hey, 1983. This is an Italian knock off of a B-film. So you make allowances. Wolfmen, zombies, and other monsters harry our heroes, the archer above and Mace the barbarian (who wields a silly nunchaku made out of stone or something, see the poster at the top of this post!). You might see the “twist” at the end coming a mile away, but the whole thing is a guilty pleasure. Also, the cinematography is seriously weird and occasionally gorgeous.