Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Bad Movie Blogging

Okay, to be honest, I know I ought to have a post today. But Monday is my first day of classes (I have a good mix if you're curious: Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Public International Law, Problem Solving and Dispute Resolution, and Criminal Procedure) and nervousness has wiped all topicality from my brain.

On the plus side, I did watch some wretched movies (and some good ones) with my good friend Matt (hereafter known as "Matt") so I do have SOMETHING to comment on. We rented the entire run of the Critic (excellent, naturally), two Poirot movies with David Suchet (though much to my irritation, the box for Peril at End House had Hercule's Christmas inside instead. I've only ever played a game version of End House and for the life of me couldn't see, in that case, how Poirot managed to prove anything. I've wanted to read/watch a version whole and see if it makes more sense that way), some version of Flash Gordon we haven't watched yet, the Cube, and Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans which stars a Penthouse Pet of the Year.

Naturally the one I'm blogging about is Deathstalker II.

We knew it had to be "good" from the cover. Two very Conan-esque halfnaked people with weaponry. By the way, there's no way our hero Deathstalker is remotely as built as the man on the cover. Just saying. The Penthouse girl might be that built (especially if she's a stripper. All jokes aside, I'd be afraid of pissing off a stripper. The kinds of routines they have to pull off with ten inch stiletto heels on? Totally builds a LOT of muscle) but she's never quite that badass.

We also knew it had to be good because the sci-fi section (as always a catch-all between genuine science-fiction, fantasy, horror that actually involves thinking, and utter crap) only had the sequel. For some reason, I've found that if a video store only has number 2 to what looks like a horribly crappy movie series, it usually means it's incredibly joyously and irreverently bad.

The movie starts out with a man who is later revealed to be Deathstalker stealing something from some scantily clad evil Queen. He's kind of scruffy but not bad looking, with horrible flippy seventies hair. I actually thought this was a replay from an ending scene of the last movie because the bit closes out with her snarling "I'll get my revenge in Deathstalker II!!!"

Matt says she actually said "I'll get my revenge AND Deathstalker, too." I honestly think my version makes for better dialogue, but who knows.

Deathstalker is a charming sort of gentleman who manages to lure many many attractive women characters to him without having one single redeemable quality of his own. Well, to be fair, he'll defend a woman from a bunch of jackasses who are trying to beat her up but only after being remarkably dismissive and assholish to her first. He spends most of the time fighting really poorly, being remarkably stupid, acting like a jackass, attracting beautiful women, and well. That's about it.

The other main character is the Penthouse Pet girl (Monique Gabrielle is her name, because I feel bad for relegating her to one particular career move), who actually plays two characters. The first is "Evie" a runaway princess. As all great actresses, Ms. Gabrielle takes great risks in this performance by way of wearing a burlap sack and allowing her hair to become limp and stringy. The second is the evil sorcerer created clone of Evie who gets to be all primp and polished. This allows Ms. Gabrielle to showcase her acting range from "whiny" as the real Princess Evie to "petulant" as the clone.

Okay. I should stop being mean. Deathstalker's actor (John Terlesky) really isn't any better. And all things considered, I actually don't tend to hate Evie as a character, which is remarkably rare for this type of fantasy movie. I do think she's whiny and not that bright, but honestly, she's LOADS smarter than Deathstalker himself. (She actually knows to duck and hide behind things during a bar fight rather than stand there screaming pointlessly.)

As an example of how stupid Deathstalker is, he SEES her dragged out of a building by guards screaming "I'm a princess, you know!" And still doesn't figure out that the princess in distress in her "vision" was her. And then later blames her for keeping it a secret from him.

Oh and he also says this CHARMING line of dialogue: "Ordinarily I don't mind seeing a woman get a good beating if she deserves it."

She wins my affection however mostly for the part where Deathstalker introduces himself to her and she gives him a bemused look and asks if that's his first name or last name. He of course acts like that's a stupid question. But honestly, I'd ask the same thing. That's a really stupid name.

Of course, as is customary in any crappy fantasy movie the villains are genuinely awesome. They include the evil wizard Jerak, who's kind of got a poor man's David Bowie thing going on, and actually stabs a henchman while talking to him via a floating pool. I don't approve of gratuitously killing henchmen (which this joker does a lot), but that was kind of awesome.

There's also the Queen from the opening: Sultana. She has the advantage a bikini mostly. But I liked her anyway, mostly for her interactions with the one-eyed henchman guy who's name I can't recall.

One-eyed henchman guy was awesome, especially when he takes a good five minutes describing every member of his gang of cronies who have very impressive resumes and all die in less time than it takes to introduce them.

I don't honestly remember much of the real plot. I vaguely remember Amazons putting Deathstalker on trial for crimes against womanhood, with trial actually meaning wrestling match with very large woman complete with wrestling ring and Rocky music.

There may have also been a death trap involving a pendulum swinging toward Deathstalker's private parts, but that might also have been my cheerful fantasy.

Ooo, nope, according to the review I googled, that actually happened. I KNEW there was a reason I liked Sultana. Here's the review I found if you actually want to know more about the plot: He also helpfully denotes all the stolen lines/materials. Apparently this Deathstalker is actually more enlightened when it comes to women than the previous. That's good to know!

By the way, it occurs to me that I've probably spoiled everyone who reads this blog considerably as Evie is pretending to be a Seer named Reena (I think she made some prediction or other and that's why she was thrown out but much like the whatever-it-was that Deathstalker stole from Sultana, it never really mattered after that point) but well...seriously, I have no guilt about that. It's a craptastic movie. You don't get protected from spoilers for craptastic movies. Besides, she announces she's a Princess in the first scene she's in!

Also for the record? There are no Titans. I'm annoyed by this.

...I wonder if the video store has Deathstalker III.


  • At August 25, 2008 10:28 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I DO hope that you and Matt made sarcastic remarks throughout the entire's so much more bizarre that way.

    Maybe Death is his first name,a nd Stalker is his surname? According to Dorothy Sayers, Death is one of Peter Whimsy's middle names.

    Also, I think that Sultana is a type of fruit, possibly raisins.

    This sounds like the perfect movie for a rainy day, provided there is a lot of salty snacks present.

  • At August 25, 2008 1:11 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I've read the Simon Green book series they didn't at all try to base this off of. Its his last name. His first name is Owen. No really...

  • At August 25, 2008 7:07 PM, Blogger googum said…

    "One eyed henchman"? Is that a metaphor for something?

    Actually, I'm envious, because I don't get to watch enough B-movies these days. It's like missing a vitamin: you can live without it, but you don't feel your best.

  • At August 25, 2008 7:07 PM, Blogger googum said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At August 27, 2008 1:00 AM, Blogger D. Huston said…

    They have an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that features the third Deathstalker (Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell). Different actor, but it's a fantastic MST, well worth checking out if you can find it.

  • At August 28, 2008 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah, one of my favorite B-movie series as well.

    You'll have a hard time finding Deathstalker 3, though. Unless it's the MST3K version. Out of the 4 Deathstalker movies, 3 is the only one that didn't get rereleased on DVD when New Horizons put most of their "classic" fantasy flicks out in DVD form.

    Why? Well, I could cynically say that it's the only one that doesn't feature a major scream queen/Playboy Playmate/Penthouse Pet in a major role and that it has the least amount of gratuitous sex out of all the Deathstalker movies... but honestly? Even compared to the rest of the series, it is bad.

    Accents come and go at a whim. The princess in Deathstalker 3 makes Monique's whining seem tame by comparison. And the bad guy - while getting points for reading the Evil Overlord List and dressing himself in lavender silks and white furs rather than black leather armor - is laughably hammy.

    You should track down the DVD double/pack of Deathstalker 1 and 2. The Deathstalker 2 DVD actually comes with a director/actor commentary featuring both the guy who played Deathstalker AND the actress who played Sultana.

    They make fun of the movie too and reveal that the reason why most of the movie is so jokey and bad is because they literally made up most of the dialogue on the set. Apparently the script they got was so horrible and the studio they had to use so in Argentina so crummy, that they convinced The Powers That Be to let them make a spoof of Conan movies rather than playing it straight. Apparently the guy who played Deathstalker based his character around the concept "What if Bugs Bunny were Conan?"...

    And yes - this Deathstalker, while making jokes about women being beaten (I am fairly certain he was mocking the guards for picking on a skinny, umarmed woman and not genuinely encouraging them) is a lot more enlightened than the first Deathstalker who was... well, think Conan as written by Robert E. Howard. The first movie opens with some bandit getting ready to rape a peasant girl, getting attacked by beast men and getting saved by Deathstalker... who then kills the bandit himself and also gets ready to have his way with the terrified peasant girl after untying her.


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