Deathstalker (1983)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/6/18
Cast: Rick Hill, Barbi Benton, Richard Brooker, Lana Clarkson, Maria Fournery

A ridiculous fantasy romp full of sex and violence, where muscleman Deathstalker (Rick Hill) is sent on a quest to bring together three objects of elemental power and overthrow the evil wizard, Munkar. After obtaining a magic sword that makes him invincible, Deathstalker heads to Munkar's fortress with fellow warriors Oghris (Richard Brooker) and Kaira (Lana Clarkson) under the guise of participating in a competition that Munkar is sponsoring. As an added incentive, Munkar offers the beautiful princess Codille (Barbi Benton) as a prize to the winner. Naturally, Deathstalker prevails and renounces the ultimate power, letting Munkar be judged by the people he subjugated.

It's a pretty awful film, but it's also exactly what I needed to see at the time. Rick Hill is a terrible actor, but he's appropriately buff and has an undeniable pretty boy charm. He's also a dead ringer for He-Man, and it would have been fascinating to see him in "Masters Of The Universe" (1987) instead of Dolph Lundgren. The film is shockingly bloody and gruesome in parts, but it never lingers on the gore. The other visual effects are terrible and the puppetry is downright embarrassing. Of course, the cheesy dialog and pathetic attempts at humor don't help any. The bold and adventurous music score helps make up for the low production values, but where the film really shines is in its gratuitous nudity, which was unapologetically prevalent in the 1980s. In that regard, the film plays out more like a soft-core porn film than a sword-and-sandal fantasy adventure. Lana Clarkson's warrior woman character is inexplicably topless for the entire film, with the exception of a couple of laughable pasties that she wears at Munkar's feast. A girl has to be modest for special occasions, I suppose. Barbi Benton gets topless as well, and there are dozens of half-naked harem girls running around in the background. Maria Fournery is especially attractive, and it's a shame we don't get to see more of her character. Naturally, the film's attitudes towards women are appalling and they're constantly being bullied and mistreated. I suppose the slave girl archetype is a hallmark of the barbarian warrior genre, and something that appeals to the testosterone fuelled young male target demographic. I must confess that I find it a guilty pleasure from time to time, depending on how it's handled.