Showing posts with label Sword & Sorcery & Cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sword & Sorcery & Cinema. Show all posts

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Camelot (1967)

Camelot (1967)
At the risk of sounding really old, I adore Camelot.  Back when I was young I ended up with a second bout of chickenpox.  My parents had a laser disc player back then and this one of the movies they had. I think I watched it a dozen times.  Not a lot of choice really, but it was still good.  I can still recall all the songs.

I have to admit I often judge my Athurs, Gueneveres, and Lancelots based on the examples set by Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, and Franco Nero.  Let's be honest. Vanessa Redgrave is adorable here.  I am not 100% convinced that she did not contribute to me having so many blue-eyed, redheaded characters.

Arthur's meeting with Guenevere is one of my favorites. And I fully admit I still hum "Camelot" whenever I watch another movie about Arthur.

The story here follows, more or less, the T.H. White "Once and Future King" novel.

Arthur's conversations with "Jenny" are really fantastic. I mean the attitudes are more modern, but that is fine since the setting is more Ren Faire than post-Roman Britain. I find Richard Harris' Arthur enthusiasm infectious. 

Also if you ever wanted a better depiction of an AD&D Paladin then you can't do much better than Camelot's Lancelot. The scene where Lancelot is jousting with Sir Dinadan, accidentally mortally wounds and then heals him has stuck with me for years as the example of laying on hands.  I can't help but think this is what Gygax had in mind when he wrote the Paladin class.  

The movie does drag on a bit, it is nearly 3 hours, but I am hesitant to suggest any cuts. 

The scene where Lancelot rescues Guenevere is both profoundly heroic and profoundly sad at the same time.  Give this to Richard Harris, he makes you feel Arthur's pain. 

Arthur, "For what? Revenge. The most worthless of causes."

I might lack the historical gravitas of Excalibur and have nearly nothing in common with real history but I don't care.  

Much like reading Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, I think this is a must-view for any fan of the myths and tales of King Arthur.

Gaming Content

Nothing directly here save what all the tales of Arthur can give us.  BUT given the musical nature of this movie, it does make me wonder if a game where everyone is a bard might work.  Lusty Month of May indeed.

This Lancelot, maybe more than any other, is a great example of a Paladin in D&D.

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

The tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has been so deeply embedded in our society that retellings are not just inevitable, they are ubiquitous.  Among those, there are going to retellings that differ from the classic, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory retellings.  Some might even improve on the tales.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), is not one of those.  It's not that it takes so many liberties with the tale, that is expected.  It's the liberties are fairly nonsensical and some are just bad.  For starters, while Charlie Hunnam is ok as Arthur, he is really much too old for the role.  

Jude Law reunites with his Sherlock director Guy Ritchie and gives us a decent enough Vortigern, but I felt he wasn't really giving the part all he could.  

Supergirl's Katie McGrath appears as Elsa, Vortigern's wife, making this her second dip into the Arthurian legends. She had played Morganna in "Merlin" (I'll be getting to that soon).  

Djimon Hounsou appears as Sir Bedivere. Frankly, I enjoy every role he has played, but I felt he was phoning this one in. I also felt Eric Bana was miscast, but honestly, I am not entirely I have seen him in anything that I liked him in.  Even his Nero in Star Trek seemed a little off to me.   

The movie feels like it has too much "Games of Throne" or "Vikings" envy.  To that end, Aidan Gillen appears as Sir William, but all I could see was Little Finger. At least he was using his real accent here. 

Of course, there were other things I could pick on, like there being Vikings in Britain at all at this time, or even Chinese people at this point; figuring this was between 550AD and 1040AD.

There is more, but not enough to write about, to be honest.  Interestingly enough my wife, who doesn't care for the King Arthur story, really likes this one.  

What good can I grab from this?  Well, I liked Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as the Mage, Merlin's apprentice.  I always felt Merlin needed to have a couple more apprentices.  I'll also talk about this when I discuss "Cursed."

Gaming Content

Back in Jr. High, I was playing in a D&D game (Basic/Expert) set in Medieval Britain in the time of Arthur.  Of course, as most Jr. High games in the early 80s were, this one devolved rather quickly on who was going to kill Arthur and claim Excalibur as their own.  I grew tired of that campaign rather quickly and instead wanted to play in Middle Earth.   

But ever since then I have been very, very curious about the RPG Chivalry & Sorcery.  Seeing ads in Dragon Magazine only added to the mystery of the game.  I am going to have to spend some time with that.

Another bit of content, something that I think comes for the later retellings of the Knights of Camelot, is the notion of the New Religion (Christianity) vs. The Old Ways (Paganism).  We saw this in Excalibur and it was a central focus of The Mists of Avalon (which I also hope to talk about).  This movie did not feature it all that much, but the thought was still there.  I like this sort of interaction and love putting it into my games when I can.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Excalibur (1981)

Excalibur (1981)
Let's be honest. Few tales grab the epic feel of Fantasy RPG as well as the tale of King Authur, and few retellings of King Arthur's tale are as epic as John Boorman's Excalibur

Excalibur (1981)

Ok. So it's not perfect in its retelling of King Authur's tale, nor is it a great representation of say Dark Ages, post-Roman-Britain arms, and armor.  But it is still a fun movie with some seriously epic scenes and moments.

First, let's take a moment to appreciate this cast;  Nigel Terry as King Arthur, Nicol Williamson as Merlin, Nicholas Clay as Lancelot, Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere, Helen Mirren as Morgana, Liam Neeson as Gawain, Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon, Corin Redgrave as Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, and Patrick Stewart as Leondegrance.  Seriously.  It would have been enough for me just to have Helen Mirren as Morgana. Everything else is just gravy. 

Rewatching it now, after a lifetime of reading and rereading various tales of King Authur, I am pleased with how well this one holds up.  I do recall there being a bit of gore, but it was more than even I remembered. 

Watching this now makes me want to do a "King Authur" film fest.  There are a few really great ones and a few terrible ones. But all the same, it would be fun.

The tale is largely what we all know, but that doesn't make it less fun.  On the contrary, it makes even more enjoyable at times because you are expecting certain things. 

I think Nicol Williamson might very well be one of the best cinematic Merlin's ever.  Not just in the look and manner, but pretty much everything he does. Equal parts wizard and fool. Perfect as the advisor to a King. 

Authur: No riddles Merlin, a simple "yes." That really frightens me. 

The exchange between Merlin and Morgana at Authur's and Guenevere's wedding imprinted so deep on my unconsciousness that I don't doubt that my fascination with pagan witches wasn't intensified 100 fold here. Also, my enduring love for Helen Mirren certainly began here.  

Helen Mirren
Can you really blame me?

Ultimately King Authur, like most Celtic stories, is a tragedy.  The betrayal of Lancelot, the birth of Modred, the Quest for the Grail. 

Merlin: A dream to some. A nightmare to others!

While the first half is much better than the latter half, the return of Lancelot to Authur's side is one of the great and saddest cinematic moments in Authur's tale. 

Yes.  An Authurian filmfest is in order.

Gaming Content

Again, are you serious? 

One of the best bits, for me, was the Charm of Making, spoken in old Irish (sorta).

Anál nathrach,
orth’ bháis's bethad,
do chél dénmha

or

Serpent's breath,
charm of death and life,
thy omen of making.

Great stuff really.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Pathfinder (2007)

Pathfinder (2007)
I have been wanting to see this one for some time now.  My wife and I have been on a Vikings and Norse Mythology kick for a while now and we both like Karl Urban. So I thought tonight was a good night for it.

I mean I had heard it was not great, but I wanted to see it for myself.

So from the start, there are some issues here.  There were no horses in America during the Viking era and the Vikings certainly didn't use them.  Nor was chain mail as depicted here used.  So yeah, this 

Karl Urban stars as "Ghost" a Viking boy, left behind after a raid. He is raised by the locals and has built a life for himself.    Fifteen years later the Vikings return and kill everyone except for Ghost, who is out hunting. Ghost watches them kill his father, and he attacks, killing many of the Northmen, called "The Dragonmen" by the Native Americans.

Ghost finds the other tribe, the one with Pathfinder and his daughter Starfire and warns them of the Vikings. 

The villagers leave and Ghost prepares to fight the Vikings.  There is a battle and Ghost kills a lot, but the braves from the village come back and they are slaughtered. 

The Vikings capture Ghost, Starfire, and Pathfinder.  They draw and quarter Pathfinder and force Ghost to show them where the next village is. He does so to protect Starfire.

All the Vikings are killed. Starfire becomes the new Pathfinder and Ghost guards the coast, watching for more invaders.

So yeah. It was not great.  My wife called it "Dances with Vikings."  I think that is being overly generous.  Clancy Brown is in it, but you can hardly tell. 

Gaming Content

This movie came out in 2007 around the same time as the Pathfinder RPG (2009).  I always conflated the two even though I was aware of the differences.  Though part of me would still like stat up the Pathfinder movie with the Pathfinder rules. 

The Vikings in this are more like Orcs than they are like Ragnarr Loðbrók. With their centuries too early arms and armor, this actually has more in common with Pathfinder the RPG than it does with the historical Vikings.  Their armor looks like they got from a GWAR yard sale.

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

Green is the color of the devil.

Looking over my plans for a new Darklord and some other ideas I went search for a very specific sort of movie. I wanted something set in the Dark Ages, I wanted it to involve a witch, and a normally innocent person turning to evil, or at least revenge.

I got a few hits, but the one that keep coming up in various permutations of my searches was the Japanese Animated feature, Kanashimi no Beradonna, also known as La Sorcière, Tragedy of Belladonna, and Belladonna of Sadness.

The movie takes place in an undisclosed time and place, but it is obviously some sort of feudal time.  Though we later learn it was medieval France, it could be anywhere.  Jeanne and her husband Jean have just gotten married and the Lord of the land demands jus primae noctis since Jean can't pay all his taxes.  That night Jeanne is brutalized and she returns home bloodied and bruised. While her husband wants her to forget Jeanne has visions of a phallic-shaped devil that promises her power in return for just small things.   She hesitates at first but soon succumbs to the little monster.

Soon Jeanne has power. Her husband is elevated to tax collector, though when he can't collect all the taxes the Lord chops off his hand.  As she grows in power her devil grows in size. Soon Jeanne is the true power in her village.  When the Lord returns from a war he seeks to arrest Jeanne, but she flees into the forest where she lives for a while.  The villagers start to die from the Bubonic plague and it is Jeanne that saves them with her magic.  They celebrate by throwing a huge orgy.

Jeanne runs afoul of the Lord and his wife again. She manages to get the wife killed when a young page comes to her for a love potion for the Lord's wife. The Lord offers to marry Jeanne but she refuses, claiming she wants everything he has.

She burned at the stake but as she looks out at the onlookers she sees their faces turn into hers. Knowing they sympathize with her.  The narration tells us that Jeanne's spirit lives on in the women of France and they will rise up to eventually overthrow the monarchy in the French Revolution.  It is implied that she is reborn as Liberty in La Liberté guidant le peuple

This was not like any anime movie I have ever seen before.  Check out the trailer for it.

The artistic style is not what many consider "anime" and there is almost a Ralph Bashski psychedelic about it.  The story is of course quite sad. Jeanne never has a choice in her actions, but at least she makes the best of them and she is defiant even to the point she is burning on the stake. 

Articles keep calling it "X" Rated. But that really is sensationalism.  Yes, there is a rape in the beginning, but it is all done in metaphor. Ok. Graphic metaphor.  The trailer has a lot of nudity in it, but that might be every cut in movie.  No, where this movie is the most disturbing is the violence perpetrated on Jeanne (and some to Jean) and how she reacts to it all. 

There is a lot to process in this movie, to be honest. I am severely disappointed I never saw it before this.  

Gaming Content

Would Jeanne be a Darklord? I am not sure, she doesn't seem to live up to the evil witch she is described as or thought of by others.  Instead, she becomes something else. Liberty if the movie is followed.  But there are moments when she could have turned a lot more evil.  I would have a very difficult time blaming her to be honest. 

I do like the subtle seduction the little devil does. As she grows in power, so does he.  This would be a good Warlock Patron.   

There is more I would love to do with this. I think I am going to need the BluRay. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Frankenstein

May has been split between two themes for me.  We started off with Sci-Fi month with a bunch of reviews on sci-fi games and movies and I ended with a week-long journey back to Ravenloft with the new 5e Ravenloft book.

What movie could I watch that would cover both halves of this theme?

Well really there is only one that could do it proper justice and I have a LOT of choices of that one.

The story is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  The movie is...well there are a lot of them.

While Frankenstein, or as it properly titled, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was written by Mary Shelley and published in 1818 when she was only 20 years old.  

While it is a horror novel and a Gothic and Romantic Horror novel at that, it really is more properly one of the very first Science Fiction novels published. Jules Verne and H.G. Welles were not even alive at this point.  They might be known as the fathers of Science Fiction, but the mother of Science Fiction was a teenage girl and one of the most prominent feminist icons of her day.

So suck it up. Science Fiction was created by a teenaged feminist.

Currently, there are over 70 movies featuring Frankenstein and/or his monster. And those are just the ones I have access to on the Internet, there are likely even more.

No way am I going to watch them all tonight!  That would be a good October Movie Marathon month. But here are some I have seen in the past.

I am surprised by what is not on my list.  Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh is one of my favorites and the closest we have seen to Shelley's book.

Maybe a Frankenstein Movie Marathon is in order after all!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Forbidden World (1982)

Forbidden World
More Roger Corman fun! This one is a repeat from an October Horror Movie Marathon from 2018.

If I had thought about it I should have done this as a double feature with last week's Galaxy of Terror.  I think a lot of the starship interiors were reused. The movie starts with some starships attacking another ship. A robot (straight out of Star Frontiers by the look of him) wakes up the commander out of cryosleep to deal with them.   After the battle, we learn that the captain, Mike Colby played by Jesse Vint, has been asleep so long his son is older than he is now.  Also, he has been re-routed to the planet Xarbia which Colby thinks is a joke.  It is an experimental research station and something got loose. Something they call Subject 20. June Chadwick stars as Dr. Barbara Glaser, who is best known from V and This is Spinal Tap. Dawn Dunlap also stars as Tracy Baxter.  Dunlap is better known as "Laura" from the quasi-erotic film of the same name when she was only 16 and from Corman's Barbarian Queen

Another Corman recycle are the two suns rising on the planet. Same shot is used in The Warrior and the Sorceress.  Wonder if it is the same planet? What happened to it I wonder. I was already running low on water in David Cardine's time.  Maybe it died out leaving only the Proto B bacteria the scientists are studying. 

So we have a mutant monster in a lab out in space.  What can go wrong?  Well, I sure you can guess.  The movie is not great, but it is also not really terrible. Like a lot of Corman's stuff, there is a core here, a kernel of a really good idea here.  This movie very, very effectively combines "Alien" and "The Thing" into one movie and puts the whole thing on a station in space.   It is Corman, so yeah the women take off their clothes at the drop of a hat. They also run around in high heels and shower together. The future is weird. 

The movie is fairly uneven, going from the tension of the escaped mutant in one scene to everyone turning in for the night in the next. 

The monster picks people off one by one, you know like a monster will. Until we are just left with just Tracy and Mike.  Though the idea of feeding the monster a cancerous tumor to kill it is a novel one. 

It was a fun flick, but I got really tired of Tracy's screaming in the last half of the flick. 

Gaming Content

Same as you get from Alien or The Thing.  Hunt the monster before it hunts you. I suppose that I will have to do a "monster is loose in a research facility" adventure at some point.  But I would need to make it different than either "Ghost Ship" or the "Ghost Station of Inverness V." This would have to be a flesh and blood abomination. NOT just an alien, but a creature of humankind's hubris.

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Something a little different tonight, an 80s sci-fi horror movie with a solid Sword & Sorcery feel to it. It's from Roger Corman, so I guess that is not a huge surprise.

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

This movie has everything! My favorite Martian Ray Walston, Erin "Joanie" Moran, Grace Zabriskie, Sid Haig, pre-Freddie (and really young looking!) Robert Englund, a space witch, tentacle rape monsters! Wait. What was that last bit again? Another Roger Corman offering. I have to admit the cast is something else really. 

The movie starts with the crew of our spaceship, the Quest, headed to planet Morganthus by the order of some mysterious dude called "The Planet Master." We never see his face due to the glowy red energy around it. He is playing some game with our Space Witch. Our pilot, Captain Trantor (Zabriskie) was the only survivor of some famous disaster that has left her a little worse for the wear.  We learn Alluma (Moran) is a psychic sensitive and she detects no life on the planet they all but crash land on.

The Quest crew investigates a crashed ship, the Remus, where all the crew seems to be dead. Soon the first crew member, Cos, is killed by some sort of monster with claws.  The crew looks for more survivors and finds a really creepy ass pyramid.  The mission Commander, Ivar, is lowered into the pyramid but he gets attacked by some blood-sucking tentacles.  Quuhod (Haig) is killed by one of his own crystal throwing stars.  Dameia (played by Taaffe O'Connell), in one of the most controversial bits in the movie, is attacked by a giant maggot/worm/tentacle beast who manages to get all her clothes off before it rapes/eats her.  

We find out that Core, the cook (Walston) is some sort of spy. He had been in the disaster the Captain had been in.  She seems to be hallucinating an attack.  We next see her trying to leave the ship but she bursts into flames.   The remaining crew regroup and head back to the pyramid.  They get separated, of course, and picked off one by one until only Kore and Cabren remain. We learn that Kore is really the Planet Master and this pyramid is part of a game. Cabren manages to kill Kore, but becomes the Planet Master in his place.

I'll give the writers credit, there is some background going on here.  I am not sure that it all translates well on the screen though. I like the idea of the pyramid causing fear, but there is no reason why The Master/Kore would actually be interested in it. 

The movie has a solid Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) feel to it. No surprise really, James Cameron served as Production Designer and Second Unit Director on the film would five years later direct Aliens. 

But, and let's be honest here, the movie is not good. I am not sure why we never saw it then but Erin Moran is terrible in this. Taaffe O'Connell is in it only so she can take off her clothes.  Even mainstays like Robert Englund and Sid Haig are wasted here.  Ray Walston and Grace Zabriskie were obviously here for the paycheck.

Gaming Content

The idea of entering an ancient and abandoned pyramid is as old as...well, the Pyramids.  This one just happens to have a sci-fi horror feel to it.  There are a lot of ideas I could steal for BlackStar. Watching this after reviewing Stars Without Number I am more convinced now that my BlackStar game must have psionics. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Rogue One (2016)

So I heard that not a lot of people like this movie. Which I find confusing.  I saw it the theatres and it was a fun popcorn flick (which is what all Star Wars movies should be) and I enjoyed it.  So I decided to go back and watch it again. This is the first time since it was out.  I figure since "This is the May."

Rogue One (2016)

So this is taking place just before the events of A New Hope.  We are introduced to Galen Erso played by the always wonderful Mads Mikkelsen. He seems to be on the run from the Imperial Army, but they don't want to kill him.  He hides his daughter, Jyn (Felicity Jones) but the stormtroopers kill his wife.  Jyn is later found by Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker who it woefully underutilized here.

Fast forward a few years and work continues on the almost complete Death Star.  Orson Krennic, who grabbed Galen, is the Director of the Death Star development and it seems that Galen is head of the weapons division, the Death Star's super laser.   Saw Gerrera is now a rebel extremist (I think his name is supposed to be connected to Che Guevara).  There is an Imperial cargo pilot, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), who has defected and is looking for Saw. He has information about the Death Star from Galen and he is trying to get it to Saw on the Jedi holy planet of Jeddah. 

The rebels hear of this and decide they need to get to Saw themselves but they need Jyn Erso to do it. Jyn, now a young adult, has been arrested for a number of petty crimes and is currently on a prisoner transport. She gets busted out by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2SO (played wonderfully by lan Tudyk) and they head to Jeddah to talk to Saw. 

Lots of things happen including shooting up a bunch of Stormtroopers, finding Saw, running into a blind Force monk (Chirrut Îmwe) and his blaster rifle-wielding best friend (Baze Malbus) played wonderfully by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen respectively.   They all get together, learn of the plans for the Death Star and of the secret weakness planted there by Galen Erso.  The same weakness that Luke will exploit in A New Hope.  I actually think it is rather brilliant.  Plus it does something truly great. Anytime you see Mad Mikkelsen in a movie you naturally think he is the bad guy, and he could have been here, but instead, he is a flawed man trying to do something good.

We get to see the Death Star operate on low power when they destroy the temple on Jeddah and even a CGI Tarkin played by a CGI Peter Cushing.  It's a little jarring, but not bad.  The one of Carrie Fisher seemed more unreal to me. 

Really that is the best part of Rogue One, everyone is a little bit flawed. Saw is an extremist, Jyn doesn't care, K-2SO is an asshole, Bodhi is kind of a coward. But they come together wonderfully to get the Death Star plans and transmit them to the Rebel Alliance.

They get to the base with plans, the attack goes south of course and everyone gets killed, even our stars.  Though that is not where the movie ends. We now follow the plans as they are transmitted from the communications tower by Jyn, to a rebel ship where they are downloaded onto a disk and everyone is running away from the oncoming attack by Darth Vader.  Vader proves here why he is the most feared person in the Galax by mowing through armed rebels like they were nothing.  We would later see Luke do the same thing to Death Trooper Droids in the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian.  The moral of this? If you are in a hallway and there is a Skywalker at the other end you are doomed. 

The movie ends just as a New Hope is about to begin.  All our heroes are dead which makes for a downer for a Star Wars film, but the perfect lead-up to the "new hope" the Rebels now have. Plus this movie is every bit like the Magnificent Seven or the Dirty Dozen.  This reminds us that war is going on and not everyone will survive.

What I don't get is why do people not like it.

I think it is great and enjoyed even more on my second watch. There are lots of fun Easter Eggs like the two aliens that accost Luke in the Mos Eiley bar, to Donnie Yen as one of the Guardians of the Whills, to Anothy Daniels and James Earl Jones doing the voices of C-3PO and Darth Vader. We even got Genevieve O'Reilly back as Mon Mothma. She played a younger version in Revenge of the Sith and now 11 years later she looks even more like Caroline Blakiston in Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars Novel

The above was written for the Star Wars novel back in 1977.  I remember reading it and wondering what the hell "Whills" were.  Thanks to Rogue One I know a bit more.  Also, I feel that the last line, while about Luke, Han, and Chewie could have just as easily been said about Jyn and Cassian. 

So I wonder why it is that people didn't like this movie.  

You can't blame the plot holes (every Star Wars movie has them) or the fact that everyone dies.  No I think it is, and this is because I see Star Wars fans online, because the hero of this tale is a woman.

There are a lot of misogynistic Star Wars fans and they just can deal with characters like Jyn or Rey.  

But that is a discussion for another day.

Gaming Content

I have heard it said that Rogue One is an example of everyone's WEG Star Wars RPG game. The characters are all practically RPG characters really and the situation; break into an Imperial data storage and steal some plans, sounds like an RPG session. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars Movie Poster
For my next S&S&C, I want to get to a movie that is Sword & Sorcery (and D&D) to its very core, even if most people consider it a sci-fi movie.

Star Wars (1977)

I have said it before that Star Wars (A New Hope) is the perfect Dungeons & Dragons movie.  We have a hero, a villain, a princess (who is also a hero), an old wizard, a rogue, an impenetrable fortress (the Death Star), war, magic (tell me to my face the Force is not magic) and a quest.  There are sword fights, monsters, and interesting locales. It is D&D in all but name.   They even meet the rogue in a bar! 

Sure it is another retelling of the monomyth or The Hero with a 1,000 Faces.  That's why it works so well.

I loved everything Star Wars growing up too.    I still have a couple of Boba Fetts (one I had to save proof of purchases for, one I bought) sitting on my desk.  I went from being a hard-core fan to a more relaxed one.

Not only was it out at the same time (more or less) I discovered D&D. It became so much a part of my experiences as a kid that is hard to tease out where one influence begins and the other ends. 

This is also one of the reasons I like the d20 Star Wars game over the West End Games d6 one.  For me, Star Wars and D&D are the same.  If I were to run a Star Wars game it would be with the d20/ D&D 3.x rules.

It should also be no surprise that Star Wars movie posters are the only movie posters hanging in my game room/office.

Star Wars Movie Poster

Empire Strikes Back Movie Poster

Return of the Jedi Movie Poster
 

Gaming Content

Are you serious?  You have the Internet, right?

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Beowulf (2007)

Beowulf (2007)
"I am Beowulf, I am here to kill your monster."

Moving outside of the 80s and the Swords & Sorcery flicks of old to a newer (but still 14 years old) flick.  The big All-Star Robert Zemeckis and Neil Gaiman version of Beowulf.

I figure since all month is about monsters, let's go with one of the most famous monster-hunting tales in the English Language.  

Now let's be upfront about this.  The movie takes some liberties with the source material.  But I don't feel they are undue liberties.  Beowulf at its heart is a tale of good vs. evil, man vs. monster, and in some ways the Pagan world vs the Christian one.   That at least has always been my take on it.

When I first saw this movie it had been years since I had read Beowulf.  I remember it was stuck in the back of a bunch of myths and legends of Greek and Norse myths. The way the book was structured I thought there was a chronological progression of them; the Greek, then the Norse then Beowulf. And there was, to a degree, but not in the way I was thinking about them.  This is a topic I am going to come back to later.

Beowulf (2007)

I imagine that most people reading my blog have some passing familiarity with the story of Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's Mother.  Today though I am talking about the movie. 

Overall I like this particular version of the story, I am not sure I am 100% happy with the animation though. It reminds me a little too much of Shrek.  Now that would be a movie, replace Grendel with Shrek. Might have been an improvement over the whinny Grendel we get here.  This guy is supposed to be a fearsome demon-like monster.  Not an overgrown kid that can't sleep because his neighbors are partying too hard.  Though getting Crispen Glover to play Grendel was inspired.  Still, there is a bit of an Uncanny Valley to all of this. 

Still though, what a cast!  Anthony Hopkins as King Hrothgar likely his audition for Odin in Thor.  Ray Winstone as Beowulf cuts an imposing figure, but I can't help but think the role would have been better served by the likes of Sean Bean.  John Malkovich as Unferth is woefully underused but still manages to chew up the scenery.  The one though that got everyone's attention was Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother.  Changing her from an ugly monster that was worse than Grendel to a succubus-like seductress was an interesting choice and one I still think works.  Robin Wright plays Queen Wealtheow as a more or less older Princess Buttercup. 

The creatures; Grendel, his mother, the dragon, and the sea monsters all look fantastic. The movie makes the idea that Grendel and his mother are demons. Likely playing into the idea of Pagan vs. Christians. 

Much like the epic poem, the parts leading up to Beowulf's and Grendel's fight and right after it are the best parts.  Afterward, it kind of drags a little for me.

Neil Gaiman wrote the script and did a really good job. 

Gaming Material

I have been posting my Beowulf gaming material now for some time. My two biggest are the Aglæca and Trolla.  This though is another example of something I started thinking more and more about when working on The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition,  a game of fighting demons and other monsters against the backdrop of the rise of Christianity and the decline of Paganism.  Would be a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Clash of the Titans (1981, 2010)

Double Feature!

Clash of the Titans (1981)

I can't talk about monsters all month and NOT pop in the stop motion masterpiece of Clash of the Titans.

If you come to this blog I have no doubt you know this move and this story.  So instead lets talk about the production.  Let's get good look at the casting for the gods. Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Claire Bloom as Hera, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Maggie Smith as Thetis. Seriously these WERE the gods in 1981. Add in relatively unknown (pre L.A. Law) Harry Hamlin as Perseus and the captivating Judi Bowker as Andromeda then our cast is set.  Throw in some Burgess Meredith for comic relief and a bunch of Ray Harryhausen stop motion creatures and you have a classic.

I am not sure if Medusa was ever depicted as a half snake-woman before this movie, but she sure was after it.  Maybe more so than anything outside of Tolkien has left it's stamp on D&D more than the Greek myths and no movie did as much as Clash of the Titans.  Even people that have never seen the movie know "release the Kraken!"

The film almost has a Disney quality to it with it's score and cinematography. Cinematographer Ted Moore had worked on a lot of 70s Bond films and two of the Sinbad movies, the spiritual forefathers to this one.

Re-watching now (and again) the story holds up and the special effects are more charming than dated. Even Bubo was less annoying in reality than in memory. 

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Ok. The Greek myths endure because they are stories that can be told and retold again and again.  A remake then should always be welcome.  And on paper this one sounds good.  First lets look at our Gods again. Liam Neeson as Zeus, ok do we even care who else is playing the gods at this point?  Ralph "Voldemort" Fiennes as Hades.  Luke Evans (Dracula Unbound, The Hobbit) as Apollo, Danny Huston as Poseidon and Alexander Siddig (Deep Space Nine, Game of Thrones) as Hermes. Ok so, this is all good.  Sam Worthington as Perseus. Ok a good actor, but lacks a certain Harry Hamlin-ness. Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, also good.

Plus we know the special effects were going to be better since this was the new age of CGI.

And...yet it all falls so flat.  Zues' "release the Kracken" doesn't have Sir Laurence Olivier's gravitas and we know Liam Neeson can deliver a line.  Hades...exactly WHY was Hades here anyway? The rest of the gods were blink an you miss them.

The Kracken was underwhelming, but still fun.  Medusa, well. Actually I liked this one. While the first medusa was a spectacle of stop motion puppetry the new one with the face of supermodel Natalia Vodianova seemed more human. It also was one of the first certainly not the last time the story made you feel properly sad for Medusa.  But that is topic for another day really.


The movie is all glitz and spectacle and no heart.  The sign where they toss Bubo from the original movie aside might have felt funny, but it is a good example of the entire film.

Still for a popcorn flick it is fun.  You can even see this as a prequel of sorts to the Greek gods in Wonder Woman.

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Game Material

Pretty much the entire movie to be honest. The original is so deeply imbedded into the DNA of 80s roleplaying it would be hard to tease out today what came from the Greek myths before this movie vs. after.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Beastmaster (1982)

The Beastmaster (1982)

Another one that made it's presence felt in many D&D games at the time.  In fact, I can think of about 4 or 5 different beastmaster classes off the top of my head now.

It has been forever since I have seen this one, so lets see what we have here. 

We have a young Rip Torn as our bad guy Maax ("May Axe").  Some scantily clad witches tell that King Zad's unborn son will kill him. One of the witches is none other than the future Mrs. Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones. 

The witches transfer the unborn baby to a cow. Here they attempt to sacrifice him but are stopped by Ben Hammer. He takes the baby to raise as his own. 

Soon young Dar shows a strong affinity to animals. And sooner again we have older Dar in the form of mulletted 80s stalwart Marc Singer.  But he gets no time to enjoy it when his village is attacked by Rip Torn's men.  Maax sees Dar's brand from the witches but before he can get him Dar's dog drags him to the wilderness.  Dar returns to his village (seeing out of the eyes of an eagle) only to find everyone dead.  Even his dog died trying to save him.  

We get an 80s training montage of Dar training and learning how to talk to animals, including some ferrets.  Mind you we are now a half-hour into the movie and Singer's most significant dialog has been with the ferrets. 

I can say it is much slower than I remember, but not as cheesy.  Oh, it is still cheesy, but not as bad as I remember.  I think I was getting it confused with some Roger Corman flicks.  Credit to the movie, they use a lot of real animals and Marc Singer seems really comfortable with them.  Today they would just use CGI.

The Beastmaster may have supernatural powers but that doesn't mean he isn't above using them to steal (the now sadly late) Tanya Robert's clothes or scare her a bit with his lion. 

There are some cool winged "bird-men" or something, but Dar doesn't fight them.

Dar finds a city "Aruk" with a ziggurat (a model, but not a bad one) and the road is lined with dead people long before the same was seen in Meereen in Game of Thrones.  Rip Torn is here sacrificing children but Dar saves one with his eagle.  An effective scene, it would have been better if the eagle had saved the child and tore out Rip Torn's eyes or something, but we still have an hour to go.  Plus Dar returns the child, so I guess the eagle was busy.  Pretty solid good vs evil lines are being drawn here. 

John Amos shows up as Seth.  He appears to be some sort of Monk.  This is one of the roles he took after Good Times.  I always like John Amos, he should have been a much bigger star than he was.  

The undead guards are kind of cool too. Even little Kodo got to be a hero in the end. 

This was much better and more fun than I recall, to be honest.  Nice to have this kind of surprise really

Gaming Content

Lots really.

Ring of Scrying. This ring has an eye set into it like a gem.  Any spellcaster that can scry (Magic-users, witches) can see through this ring using a scrying medium such a pool, mirror, or crystal ball.  Witches will give these to servants and cowans so they can literally keep an eye on them. Damage to the ring though will damage the witch viewing through it.

Beastmaster classes. I covered these a while back in a Class Struggles.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Dragonslayer (1981)

Dragonslayer (1981)
Since April is Monster Month here I thought it might be fun to check some monster-themed Sword & Sorcery & Cinema movies.  Up first is a classic and premiered at the height of the 80s fantasy craze. Here is 1981's Dragonslayer from both Paramount and Disney.

We are introduced to one of the most famous dragons outside of Westeros or Erebor, Vermithrax Pejorative.  Though he is mentioned among the dragons in Game of Throne's first season.  

The movie is a little slow, but on par with what was normal at the time.  Peter MacNicol is fine as the apprentice turned dragonslayer Galen, but I can't help but think if someone else would have been better in the role.  Caitlin Clarke was great as the girl pretending to be a boy Valerian.  She returned to theatre work after this and this was her only major role.  She sadly passed of ovarian cancer in 2004.

Sadly the movie under-performed in the box office and some of the reviews were not great, but the movie was fun then and to be honest the effects have held up well enough.  It has achieved "cult movie" status and that is not a bad thing.  It certainly is a great one to have on a Dragon-themed movie night.

The effects are good and the director gets away with a lot of "showing less is more."  We only see bits and pieces of the dragon until the very end when it is most effective. Sure some of the stop motion looks very stop motion-y, but Vermithrax still looks like he could go toe to toe with Smaug or Drogon.  I really can't help but think that this dragon wasn't at least some of the inspiration for the DragonRaid game

The musical queues in this are pure Disney so they are also very effective. 

Gaming Content

Now THAT is a Dragonlance! The Sicarius Dracorum really shows that a spear, or a lance, is the best weapon for fighting a dragon.  The forging scene where Galen heats the metal with magic is really one of the best.  If you are not forging your magic weapons like this then you are missing out!

Caitlin's dragon scale shield, while less theatric, is just as magical. 

I am sure there are those that will nitpick that the "dragon" only has two legs and not four, but I can't get worked up over that. He is still a fantastic dragon.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

Another fairly notorious one.  I can recall gamers in my Jr. High talking about how to stat up the sword from this.  The start of this one is fun, love the wall of screaming faces.

Among others, this features Richard Lynch as Titus Cromwell the evil king (naturally) and Richard Moll as Xusia the evil sorcerer.  On the side of good, we get Lee Horsley as Prince Talon just before he became Matt Houston and Kathleen Beller, the future Mrs. Thomas Dolby*, as Princess Alana.

I only mention her as the "future Mrs. Thomas Dolby" because that was my first real knowledge of her, on the cover of his "Aliens Ate My Buick" album.  

So let's get to this!

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

So Richard Lynch summons Richard Moll to help him fight King Richard (Christopher Cary).  Of course, no sooner had he got help from the sorcerer Xusia, Cromwell kills him. 

We also get our first look at the ridiculous three-bladed sword. It can cut, slice, and fire blades! 

Eleven years later Talon (now looking like Lee Horsley) comes back home to avenge his father and mother. 

There is a bit with Manimal I mean Prince Mikah played by Simon MacCorkindale and George Maharis, a long way from Route 66, as Machelli.  We also get another showing of S&S&C MVP Anthony De Longis appears as Rodrigo.  

I have never watched it all the way through.  I honestly could never get past the sword firing blades.  Watching it now I remember why.

The prince is rescued but they fight their way out. There seems to be a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark envy here; Talon's escape could be taking place in Cario, Egypt. 

Talon fights Cromwell only to have Xusia come back.  I have to admit Xusia's return is kind of fun, it would have been better if they hadn't telegraphed it. Xusia and Talon fight over who gets to kill Cromwell.  Talon kills the sorcerer and then he and Cromwell fight.

Not a great movie but a cult film all the same. I know a lot of people love it, but I could not get into it in the 80s and didn't do much better now.

Gaming Content

Seems fitting seeing how they call out D&D on the poster and there is not a dragon to be found in this.

The Triple-Sword.  This sword is +3 to hit and damage.  On striking it does 3d6+3 points of damage. 
The sword can launch one of two of its outside blades doing 1d6+3 damage.  Its range is 30/60/120 feet.  Reattaching a blade requires one round in which the wielder cannot attack. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)
Time for a rather notorious Sword & Sorcery & Cinema choice.  Another Roger Corman flick and it stars David Carradine as Kain, a holy warrior.  Not to be confused with Kwai Chang Caine, a monk.  But you know, it works here so let's go with it. 

The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

Well. We have two suns, so that is a cool thing.  I wonder what else we are getting double of? 

Caine, er rather, Kain comes to a village with one well and two warlords protecting it.  Each keeps the other from controlling it.   Kain kills the guards.  Not 10 mins in and we have both gratuitous violence and nudity.  Right on time Corman.

The movie is a retelling of Yojimbo or A Fistful of Dollars or Red Harvest.  This doesn't make it less enjoyable mind you, the story is pretty classic.  Kain plays the two warlords, Zeg (Luke Askew) and Bal Caz (Guillermo Marín) off of each other well.  

María Socas plays Naja the Sorceress (not the one on the poster) and spends most of her time topless.  Yeah, we are not dealing with a top-tier studio here.   Anthony De Longis is also in this as Zeg's captain Kief.  He was a familiar face in a lot of 80s movies. 

The two fools, Blather and Gabble, make fairly decent enough goblins.  Burgo, the Slaver, appears to be some sort of lizard man.  There is even a little bullywug looking creature that Bal Caz has.

Kain goes back and forth between the camps killing as he likes and is getting paid by everyone.  He is the most self-actualized mercenary adventurer on film. 

I'd like to know what the writer was thinking with the dancer at 55 mins in.  No, the dancer, Cecilia Narova does not look like the poster girl either.  She is a brunette.  I'd also like to know about the stinger that came out of her...navel, was that it?  I'd love to blame Corman for this one, but I don't think I can.

If you have seen any movie, ever, you know how this ends really. 

Maybe all these Sword & Sorcery movies all take place on the same world. 

Gaming Content

Sacred Sword of Ura

This looks like a sword of sharpness or a vorpal blade.  The blade is much lighter than one would expect from steel.  Only the Sorceress of Ura knows the secret of how it was forged. It is a +3 sword and can cut through an anvil, but not leather armor apparently. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Hawk the Slayer (1980)

Hawk the Slayer
Ok. Confession time, and this might get me kicked out of "I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters."

I have never seen "Hawk the Slayer." 

Not even once. That is until today.

Hawk the Slayer

Well, it has Jack Palance chewing up scenes like he always does. A funky post-disco soundtrack that is so 1980 it makes me want to find a pair of roller skates.   But it also features the recently late William Morgan Sheppard as Ranulf. Patricia "Magenta" Quinn as a sorceress.  And Christopher Benjamin (Jago from Doctor Who). So certainly an interesting cast.  

The "Adventuring Party" is made up of Hawk  (a fighter or ranger), Ranulf an old fighter, Gort (a giant), Crow (an elf), Baldin (a dwarf), even a sorceress. I have to admit they are kind of fun.

With some of the music and scenes, there is a solid spaghetti western feel to this. 

Jack Palance must have had the time of his life with this.  Overacting. Running around like a Ren Faire Darth Vader.  The dynamic between Hawk, Voltan, and Eliane is not entirely unlike that of  Sergei, Strahd, and Tatyana. 

The movie is fun, if predictable. But not exactly a classic really.  Sorry, Tim

Though I can see why everyone wanted a sequel, but I think it works best as D&D inspiration.  The characters would make fun NPCs for anyone familiar with the movie.

Gaming Content

Elfin Mind Stone and Mind Sword - this sword has the ability to detect the thoughts and actions of anyone the wielder is fighting against. This translates to a +4 to hit and a +3 to AC and even allows the wielder to fight in conditions that would otherwise blind them.  It can cast light once per day.  The wielder of the mind sword can summon the sword to hand at will.

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Barbarian Queen (1985)

Barbarian Queen (1985)
Roger Corman.  

What can I say about Roger Corman?  Well, to be honest, I am a huge fan. Sure his movies are schlock and represent some worst D-level movies and it is obvious that most of his casting choices were based not on the actress's ability to act but rather their willingness to take off their clothes.  But all that aside Corman is praised for his ability to keep a tight production schedule, find people that are willing to work with him again and again, and keep a film under budget and on time.

There are also many, many modern directors that have worked with him and praised his work. Directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, and James Cameron. Ron Howard has been praised Corman's work on many occasions.  He has over 400 producer credits and 56 director credits. 

Corman is only the EP here, but there are plenty of similarities between this movie and Viking Woman from 1957.  

Barbarian Queen (1985)

Barbarian Queen is a fairly typical fantasy fare.  A barbarian queen, Amethea (played by the late Lana Clarkson who was killed by Phil Spector) is due to be married to Argan (Frank Zagarino) when her village is attacked by raiders. People are killed and others taken as slaves.  Amethea and her friends Estrild (Katt Shea, who is likely the best actress in the bunch), Tiniara (Susana Traverso), and former victim Taramis (Dawn Dunlap) seek to free their people including Amethea's fiance.  They meet up with Dariac (Andrea Scriven in her only role), a young girl who lives with the local rebels who enlists the barbarian's aid. 

The first part is an excuse for some gory fights and a bunch of topless barbarian women running around or getting captured.  I'll the movie credit, it does like to show the barbarian women as being strong and powerful.  

Our big bad guy is Arrakur (Arman Chapman), he captures our heroines and threatens them with torture and death. 

Argan manages to get his fellow gladiator-slaves to join him.  The movie gets to the big fight and then just ends. Must have run out of money.

The movie is not terrible, it is just also not good. It could be the spiritual godmother to Xena: The Warrior Princess.  Though that Boris Vallejo movie poster is actually the best part of the movie.

Katt Shea is fun to watch really. She looks like she is having the best time of her life acting in this. 

Gaming Content

There is a torture chamber that would be good dungeon dressing. I like the idea of this being a "Queen needing to rescue the Prince" for once.

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)
Working on something here that might become a regular feature.  I love movies. One of my first semi-professional gigs was writing movie reviews.  So really this is just me getting back to my roots.  My reviews, such as they are, will be like my October Horror Movie reviews, though I am likely to provide a little more detail since I doubt that any of these movies need to be protected by spoilers.  Also, I want to talk about any potential game material from the movies.

So let's start this with a movie from deep in the recesses of my mind and see if it lives up.  A special nod to Tim Knight over at Hero Press for reminding me of this cinematic gem. 

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

I remember this one from first aired on TV back in 1981.  I remember the next day at school all the D&D guys (we had multiple groups going on back then) were talking about a "heartbow" for their characters. 

The movie starts with a long voice-over about the 12 warring clans and a world "that was or will be."  Anyway our story focuses on Toran of Malveel (Lane Caudell) the son of King Brakus (George Kennedy) is out hunting with his archery master Mak (George Innes) who wields "Elbe" the Heartbow, when he encounters Estra (Belinda Bauer) a sorceress (or seer, or witch) who is promised to kill Toran for what his grandfather did.

This one features Star Trek DS9's Marc Alaimo (Sandros), who, along with Victor Campos (Slant) might be the only decent actors in the bunch. Not only that but the script is fairly non-sensical. Game of Thrones it is not.

Anyway, Toran manages to get himself exiled. This turns out to be a good thing since Sandros betrays the king to Gar, the Draikian (Kabir Bedi), the leader of the Snake-men. But not before Toran can be blamed for his father's death.  Toran leaves his father to find the wizard Lazar-Sa, the only one that can help him become king.

Toran and Mak head out to find the wizard.  Of course, Mak isn't going to make it so the Heartbow is given to Toran.  The scene is different than I remember it, but not too different. 

Toran eventually encounters Slant (Victor Campos), a thief and opportunist.  Anyway, we hear from Lazar-Sa and he directs them to the first of three tests.   

The movie never really picks up at any point and ends with Gar getting a glove that is the evil equal of the Heartbow.  None of that I recalled. 

The ending isn't really an ending and sets up a series.  Lazar-Sa isn't found (there were three tests right?) and...well that is it really. 

Gaming Content

Well. The obvious is the Heartbow, but I'll get to that soon.  It is nice to see snakemen here, orcs are so over used.  Snakemen are fun and are always good for bad guys.  Plenty of  stats for them but I think that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea does the best with them.  The snakepeople remind me a bit of the Duran Duran video Union of the Snake

Elbe The Heartbow - In D&D 4 or 5 this would be a masterwork bow that you would need to "Attune" too in order to use.  In other D&D it just means you have a limited number of such powerful items you can use (the limit is three in D&D 5).  Elbe can convert any arrow to a magical bolt of energy. 

In truth, go see Tim Knight's post, he details all the magic items in this failed TV pilotmovie better than I am here. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!