Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Sword and the Sorcerer

Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Sword and the Sorcerer - 1982, Rated R
By Tom Doty

Long before Peter Jackson made Fantasy films cool, with his adaptation of "Lord of the Rings," fans had very little (outside of some awful spaghetti efforts starring Miles O'Keefe). Outside of the first "Conan" film this Canadian effort was probably the best sword flick going in the days of disco and hair don'ts.
The opening scene is a corker and right out of a "Dungeons and Dragons" Module. A boat alights on a fog-encrusted island. The name of this piece of real estate turns out to be 'Tomb Island." So named because it contains a crypt where an evil wizard (Xusia) has been laid to rest. His resting place is carved out of rock and bears the faces of his victims who immediately re-animate and begin screaming out a dire warning that our shadowy characters ignore.
Turns out that the group is lead by an ambitious fellow named Cromwell and he aims to bring Xusia back to help him wipe out King Richard who has successfully repelled Cromwell's advances. Xusia is more demonic in appearance than human but that doesn't bother the ambitious Cromwell. Together they beat the snot out of Richard's army.
Cromwell turns out to be even more evil than Xusia and decides to stab him in the heart before he has regained his strength to the point that he's a viable threat. Meanwhile Richard's son, Talon, decides to join Daddy in his final stand but arrives too late to help him. He then decides to get back home and protect his mom but he is, once again, too late and only gets there in time to see her head bounce off of the edge of Cromwell's blade. The film, thus, does a fine job of setting up Cromwell as the man to beat but now things slow down.
The middle portion of the film sags a bit as we jump ahead eleven years and see a grown up Talon come back with his band of mercenaries. They are promptly enlisted to help a brother and sister try and over throw Cromwell. Things start to pick up as we meet Cromwell's new number two, Machelli. He is a perfect match for the big Ceel as he is adept at playing both sides of a conflict. His machinations set the plot in motion and, eventually, bring Talon and Cromwell together for an action packed finale.
This one has a lot going for it and that starts with the liberal gore effects. This is miles away from a PG-13 fantasy effort when it comes to the carnage and the ladies who tend to appear in various stages of dress or undress. Heads get lopped off and noses gets ground against blade sharpeners as director Albert Pyun tosses in a ton of the red stuff. He also enlists a top-notch cast that's headlined by the burly Lee Horsley (TV's Matt Houston) as Talon. Horsley has a great time here and his character is so tough that he prefers to pulp his opponents with his bare hands until the final duel when he picks up his dad's three bladed sword.
The villains are perfectly cast as well and are led by veteran tough guy Richard Lynch, as Cromwell. Lynch was the go- to guy for villainy in the 80's and faced down everyone from Al Pacino (Scarecrow) to Chuck Norris (Invasion USA). George Maharis is also good, and very oily, as the two timing Machelli. Keen eyed viewers will tumble to his real identity quickly but he's still fun to watch. You also get brief, but very evil, appearances by Richard Moll (Bull on TV's "Night Court") as Xusia and Robert Tessier (The Deep) as Cromwell's torturer/dungeon manager. The film ends with a promise for a sequel (Tales of an Ancient Empire) that was actually filmed last year. Director Pyun returns alongside Horsley and a new cast of tough guys that include French tough guy Christopher Lambert (Highlander),American rough guy Kevin Sorbo(TV's Hercules),and Val Kilmer (who may not be that tough but is apparently rough to work with according to several film makers).
Best Line: " Now I poke you with my dagger."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.