Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sword and Sorcery Movie Trends - Quantity and Quality

Movie Queue: The last few years I have been capturing lists of forthcoming Sword & Sorcery movies (Link to IMDB :Sword and Sorcery: Past and Future Listings).  Moving beyond that, in an attempt to capture a list of  past Sword and Sorcery movies, I assembled a Pinterest Board.    

This exercise made me realize that I had missed seeing Roger Corman's 1980's Cult Classics movies: DeathStalker I,II,II, IV, the Barbarian Queen I,II, and the Warrior and the Sorceress (there are even more, most merely recycle footage). Amazon has a collection deal, in which I can get 4 of those.  Would it be worth my time/money (6hrs/$18USD) to complete this gaping hole in my life? How essential are these B-movies toward developing a well-rounded S&S groupie? I have since ordered the movies...and will be watching them soon...more on that below.

Therapy: I had turned to the Sword and Sorcery group on Goodreads for some biased advice.  There author Bruce Durham directed me toward a great website that details what elements Sword & Sorcery movies are expected to have, and has a great list of movies listed by release date.  To see the trends over time I graphed a histogram:

Quantity - Movies per Year


Quality

Trends: The trickle of movies in 1960's and 1970's was notably composed of Ray Harryhausen's classic clay-mation masterpieces (Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad movies). The trends show clearly how John Milius's 1982 "Conan The Barbarian" movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, inspired a lot of others; it had followed closely on the heels of "Clash of the Titans," Ray Harryhausen's last animated masterpiece.  Some featured new perspectives, like Excalibur, Fire and Ice, and Legend...and were good enough to enhance, not dilute, the genre (another blogger tackled the 1980's category thoroughly-link).

Unfortunately many "Conan clones" generally lacked in quality.  Well actually, even Arnold's next Conan film, "the Destroyer" was more cheese than it was entertainment...and the 2011 Conan reboot with Jason Momoa (which, despite a good performance from Momoa) had a blatant disregard for basic story-telling.  The 2010 reboot of Clash of the Titans and its sequel 2012 Wrath of Titans were lackluster (a third film is in development, for what that is worth).  So with all this, should we have hope that quality fantasy will return?

Future of Hope: Yes, fans should be hopeful.  Peter Jackson's excellent treatment of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in 2001 seems to have sparked another surge.  With the excellent translation of George Martins Game of Thrones on HBO (being a series and not a movie, that is not captured in the graph), Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy in progress, a live action version of Fire and Ice in the works, and even a sequel to Solomon Kane brewing...we have reason to beleive that the portfolio of Sword & Sorcery movies will grow in quantity and quality.  In fact Dealine.com reports that "Legend of Conan ~2014" intends to redeem Conan's credibility:
"There are no plans for Momoa to return. Morgan said that in his mind,The Legend Of Conan not only skips over that film, but also the 1984 sequel that Schwarzenegger starred in. The direct link is to the original, which was directed by John Milius from a script he wrote with Oliver Stone."
Deathstalker: Anyway, as we await new flicks, I find myself checking out the old ones I had missed.  I do not expect much. There is a stunningly hilarious and through review of the Deathstalker series on cinemassacre.com from 2010 (embedded video below). It dissects the absurdity of the series, even going as far as to quantify the ratio of fight scenes to women's breasts shown per movie.  Of course, I have not seen the movies yet, but have just received them by mail and I am mentally prepared now.  What is sad is that many of these had great covers by artist Boris Vallejo, which promised to deliver serious Sword & Sorcery.  Great marketing I suppose.
Boris Vallejo covers for the Deathstalker Series


Posted on: March 12, 2010 | Views: 4,509 | Comment

James Rolfe enters a twisted, chaotic world of darkness from legendary schlockmeister Roger Corman.