Pretty creepy title for a historical film and one that doesn't exactly mean much if you ask me, although there is plenty of both onscreen so...I prefer 'The Rose and the Sword' which was its alternative title for a time. The story is apparently left over script from the Verhoeven directed Dutch TV series 'Floris' so one could almost say its the movie adaptation of that show.
Gotta be honest I thought this was a fantasy film as this is the first time I've ever seen it, so yes I got it wrong again. This is actually a historical 15th Century Italian period set...errrm hack n slash film? rescue film?...errrr wait, coup d'Útat film? black plague film?? oh geez. OK OK its a film which involves a lot of rape and pillage with the onset of the black plague and a bit of a rescue somewhere at the end...kinda.
The story revolves around a band of medieval mercs led by Rutger Hauer who were evicted from a city they had just helped siege. The owner of the city, and feudal Lord, promised them looting if they get his city back, but he lied. They get their own back by robbing the rich owner, generally killing his entourage and accidentally taking his sons bride to be. The mercs haul up inside a castle they overthrow and end up defending it from the Lord, his son and their troops.
So this being a Verhoeven film I'm sure you're expecting blood and guts...well as I said you get it. Its in no way as violent as other future films from the Dutch director but its most certainly much darker bleaker and more controversial. The main factors in this film which will shock are the out and out rape sequences of the young bride to be Jennifer Jason Leigh. The male members of the merc team take turns raping her in full view I kid you not, a most unsettling thing to watch I must admit. Not only this but the main character played by Hauer also rapes her but to soften the blow she pretends to enjoy it, this eventually leading to feelings for the character.
This opens up various quandaries for us the viewers as you don't know who you're suppose to be rooting for anymore. The city Lord is obviously untrustworthy because he betrayed the mercs in the first place. His son is also as ruthless as he is but he shows signs of devotion to Leigh's character, but surely Hauer's character is suppose to be the roguish dashing hero? well I guess not. He's certainly dashing in his elegant period set attire, much style and pomp in abundance with those blue eyes and blonde hair, but he kills, he rapes, he pillages and steals. It is indeed the Lords son and surprisingly the Lords honest respectable Commander that you end up getting behind, although it takes most of the film.
Throughout the film there are many slightly unsettling things that take place. One such seen is the birth of a baby to Hauer's character which died in the womb. He merely crams it into a small wooden barrel and they bury it without much thought or ceremony. Its a very harsh scene which is swept aside very quickly just as the characters do in the story. Another is the 'romantic' sequence between Leigh's bride and the Lords son. Only Verhoeven would think to set this kissing scene beneath the dangling rotting bodies of two hanged men. Yeah sure its in the countryside and very picturesque but wow! really? kinda odd.
The band of mercs are a truly disgusting bunch, they have little worries and merely go around killing robbing drinking and raping. The band is made up of a few males including Bruno Kirby and Brion James plus a few women too, one of which has her young son alongside her watching it all. I suppose it is based around semi facts, I don't know but I'm sure back in this era many things happened that today would be seen as horrendous. But back then life was cheap, many people were extremely poor, didn't know any better and didn't live very long anyway, not that that's an excuse really but times were very different.
This film confused me really, it felt very grotesque in places but almost like a fun swashbuckler in others. The use of modern day profanity didn't seem accurate to me and while the high level of nudity is typically Verhoeven, it does add to the realism but also feels a bit too much at times. Also some of the cast like Kirby didn't quite look right in this era and that big siege tower seemed ridiculous. How on earth did they build something that big and mechanically impressive so fast?!.
It all looks great visually and pretty realistic with some nice locations used. At the start Hauer looks badass with his rag bandanna and that sword he wields but alas his character doesn't retain that heroic badassery. Hauer's ragtag team of mercenaries repulse you and in the end you feel they get their comeuppance, including Hauer. The finale is worth the wait but don't expect too much. One thing is for sure, with all the visuals of nudity, plague and chopped up plague ridden dog meat, it will put off eating meat for awhile I reckon. Verhoeven knows how to grab your attention...as if you didn't already know.
Bit of a forgotten Hauer cult classic this with your typical popular post apocalyptic world where only the strong survive. Haven't seen this in many many moons and it wasn't quite as cool as I remember it but still decent, the plot has now been copied over and over by many films since but as this was back in 89 it feels like its one of the first, almost.
An Aussie flick so you would be right in thinking there's a touch of 'Mad Max' in there but there's also a lot of classic barbarian type stuff and strong Roman Gladiator themes too, you wonder if Scott took inspiration perhaps. 'The Game' itself is kinda odd and simply revolves around sticking a dogs skull on a stick in the opponents half, like a touchdown really, whilst you batter your opponents half to death to protect yourself and your players. Dog skulls because they eat dogs in the future, why use them for this? who knows.
Of course there is more going on when you scratch the surface, literately. Deep underground (because the surface has been ravaged by war) there are affluent rich folk living in complete luxury that run a much bigger harder league of the game called 'The League'...imaginative huh. Down there the players are treated like real stars with wealth and fame but the risks are greater...well life threatening (duh!). The aim of many players is to get into this super league, of course good old Rutger has already played there and survived.
When you watch the game I did kinda get the feeling in reality it wouldn't last more than 5min or less but artistic license is in heavy use of course. The actual games aren't as violent as you'd think with minor blood and not much carnage, the film is quite tame really now but back in the day it was suppose to be pretty brutal.
Hauer is perfect for the role as the quiet brooding leader 'Sallow' and Delroy Lindo impresses in a surprise if slightly racially cliched role. Overall the whole team are all pretty good in all their stereotypical post apocalyptic attire along with manly battle scars. The Aussie outback also adds to the inhospitable atmosphere and really gives this adventure a nice bleak barren feel as you would expect.
Nice ending which isn't totally predictable...if you watch the uncut version, the US version was cut for some reason. Personally I prefer the film title 'Salute of the Jugger' as it offers a bit more mystery, what the hell is a jugger? dunno but it sounds kinda neat doesn't it.
Rick Hill is back! in this adventure he is up against an evil Queen with plans to rid the land of all the mightiest warriors.
Whilst the competition is in full flow the evil naughty Queen is killing off the warriors one by one (getting them drunk first) so there are none left to rival her. Of course she has forgotten how utterly cool and invincible 'Deathstalker' is and his overly tanned new buddy.
This is probably the second best of the tetralogy after the original film in my opinion. The plot and action is still as you would expect and nothing special but the humour is much better this time. Hill is clearly enjoying himself this time round, he's more buffed and his wig looks better hehe his new warrior friend also adds to the laughs. The guy is almost like an early Dwayne Johnson type sidekick.
Its all still highly cheap and cheesy but by now it would be wrong to change that. Every cliche in the low budget barbarian book is used all over again, blonde women are good, brunettes are bad, lots of tits and ass on show, soft core sex scenes at times and all wizards/wise men have long 'Merlin' type beards. Loved the stone slaves used by the Queen, some dazzling makeup and acting on show there I tells ya.
Still can't work out why they use the exact same archive footage from the previous films. The exact same reels are used! plus it still shows the previous characters that have been killed off!. At least use footage that doesn't show previous characters or footage not used before geez!. Anyway its all hokey as hell but you can forgive that, cult status has been gained somehow and Rick Hill is the man.
Look at the poster for this film, its damn cool with a really hot barbarian female, aggressive and looks like some old Amiga computer game box art. Remember the old classic computer game 'Barbarian'? I wonder if they got their box art ideas from these films and the poster art?. Now I look even the font on the text is similar for both, curious.
Now watch the film and you notice some slight differences with what you may have been expecting. Not that you really should be expecting much with this franchise. The cheap cheap low budget sequel to the first film really does earn the label of B-movie in every aspect.
The first film was reasonable but this is dire. The main lead looks the part but acts like a buffoon in lame attempts of badly executed humour. The continuity is gone as 'Deathstalker' is now a different younger actor, not that continuity was probably high on the directors list...or your expectation list either.
As before there are plenty of topless females running around, this is fine hehe, its just a shame they are all running the flimsiest sets you have ever seen. The comedy is in watching the bad acting against the homemade sets, just like good old Ed Wood.
Of course you can't really knock such a film as it was never meant to be a serious major production, although there is care involved clearly. Its nowhere near as good as the first and that was average at best, they actually use many old clips from the first film to flesh out this one. Bad move when you see the characters from the first film, ones that were killed even, errr did anyone check that?.
Mann's second film and a controversial adaptation of Wilson's novel that didn't go down too well with either the audiences or the author. The film isn't particularly bad but there is obviously allot of hack editing going on and much of the original plot has been ignored or cut.
On the visual side the film is really quite cool looking, it almost looks like an early MTV rock video, the effects (for the time) were pretty swish and do hold the tone of the film together. There is a lot of visual flair going on here which is one of the films saving graces.
Another plus point is the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, as you would expect their usual blend of futuristic, electronic, ethereal and spiritual sounds is quite unique and very uplifting to listen to. The only problem is this lovely soundtrack doesn't really fit this film, a lot of tense moments don't really come across as I suspect they should have whilst the music floats in the background, you would expect to hear a score like this for a film like 'Blade Runner'.
The film is also confusing and unexplained, the original novel is straight forward but the film is a mess. The evil entity that is released seems to be angry at the Nazi's for killing 'his people' so I'm guessing it was a Jewish entity? and if it wants to kill Nazi's why not let it?. We also don't find out where the entity comes from, what it is?, what's its purpose?, who is 'Glenn'?, what is 'Glenn's' story? etc...
This isn't really a horror in my eyes, there isn't much blood or gore and its not scary in the slightest, it comes across as a slightly adult version of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' really.áThe entity or demon is a bit comical to be honest, should of been kept unseen really, shame as the sets, lighting and camera work all play well to set the mood.
I think first time viewers who have not read the novel will struggle with many questions but the blend of gothic horror set amidst WWII will keep most entertained and interested as it is well crafted. The cast of big names in early roles also works in the films favour, check McKellen in a 'pre-Professor X' type role and Gabriel Byrne as the sadistic German SD Officer SturmbannfŘhrer.