Within the world of film, there are very few things quite as perfect of an experience as sitting down to watch a double feature. However, the one thing that fits that bill have been the recent double feature releases coming out of Shout Factory, and their rather fantastic collection of classic Roger Corman pictures, the Corman’s Cult Classics Collection.
The latest member of that family is the newly released double feature including the 1984 film, The Warrior and the Sorceress, and the 1985 feature, Barbarian Queen. And yes, those are the film’s real titles.
Personally, prior to jumping into the world of Corman thanks to this series of Shout Factor releases, I wasn’t the keenest fan of the B-movie universe. Not one for schlocky dialogue and even more so effects, this series has not only truly opened my eyes to the world of B-movies and where they’ve come from, but just how truly creative and inventive those behind the films have been, given their respective constraints.
And then there are releases like this one.
This release starts with The Warrior and the Sorceress, a David Carradine style ode to Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. And yes, that will be the last time those two films are ever put in the same sentence. The film follows Kain, played by David Carradine, who attempts to set two rival warlords, Zeg and Balcaz, against one another. The film takes place on a planet known as Ura, and our lead is joined by the bare breasted sorceress named Naja.
While I personally respect the film for taking a sword-and-sorcery take on the classic film Yojimbo, the film doesn’t truly succeed where I previously thought films found in this collection have. There are little cues here, particularly involving the quirks that Kain has, that pay honor to the classic film, but to me, the film ultimately fails in how it brings the narrative to screen.
Seemingly steeped in obnoxiously cartoonish nudity (Total Recall’s three-boobed-gal just not doing it for you? Watch this for the four breasted exotic dancer that finds her way into this film), and even less interesting acting, the film lacks the visual inventiveness of something like Battle Truck and the pure fun that something like Galaxy Of Terror oozes in every frame. David Carradine is fine here, but this isn’t the go to performance for the actor in this series of DVDs, and is far from worthwhile in his overall canon.
Directed by John Broderick, the film is ultimately a charming, if wholly uninteresting take on the story of Yojimbo, which finds itself standing deep in the shadow of something like Fistful Of Dollars. It’s a fine addition to any Corman fan’s collection, but lacking the charms of previous releases (Death Race 2000 is still the best film I’ve seen in my trip through the series), the film is ultimately flat, which for a genre of film, is a deathblow that can’t be recovered from.
Standing opposite Warrior is the female led fantasy film, Barbarian Queen. Starring Lana Clarkson (in her biggest role up to her murder in 2003 by Phil Spector), the film follows Amethea, The Barbarian Queen, whose village is raided by troops who kidnap her sister, and kill or enslave any and every man. Not too keen about letting this happen, Amethea teams up with the various surviving female warriors, and vow to take revenge on those who have wronged them.
The film clocks in at just 71 minutes, and with the first hint of nudity roughly 37 seconds in, this film is the cinematic manifestation of the concept of visual and narrative economy. The briskest watch you’ll have all day, the film is relatively non-stop in both its action and narrative, and while it may not ultimately be an interesting or thought provoking narrative, there is something to be said for a film that is so over the top in every aspect. For a Corman film, this one directed by Hector Olivera, the equivalent of a worthwhile narrative is chucking in as many half naked women as humanly possible. If that is something that intrigues you (and the 14-year-old boy inside me is raising his hands in agreement), this is going to be one hell of a film. That said, personally, I found it relatively stale, and while it is the true one to watch in regards to this double feature, it’s ultimately more interesting in its female led cast, than in the narrative itself.
While women in Corman releases are often objectified, there has always been this air about them, that is full of strength, or as much as humanly possible given that they are asked to get naked more often than actually act. It’s an interesting concept; a female-led Roger Corman production, but it’s ultimately a failed final product.
Most of these releases have been absolutely fantastic, not only for their fun and engaging feature films, but for the massively extensive special features that fine them tagging along. However, the main problem with this release is that it lacks any special features. For two films that could have used those supplements (I’m thinking a making of for Warrior and a feature on the female cast of Barbarian Queen) the lack of any sort of features make this release hard to truly recommend. The films are interesting historical pieces, but without that extra push given to most of these previous releases by the rather fantastic special features, it’s hard to recommend handing over your money, when it could go to something like Galaxy Of Terror or Forbidden Planet, both far more extensive releases.
That said, if you are a fan of the previous releases, then this is one that you’ll pick up no matter what. If you can find this one to rent, send it to the top of your queue, but otherwise, this one may be ultimately worth skipping.
Welcome to a distant world of exciting battles, exotic women, mystical secrets and evil wizards in The Warrior And The Sorceress. Kain (David Carradine) is the last survivor of a mighty warrior tribe. Once an exalted warrior-priest, Kain now wanders the planet Vra as a mercenary sword-for-hire. In the small village of Yam-A-Tar, he finds two vicious clans struggling for power and becomes embroiled in the treachery and battles, the mighty wizardry and rampant debauchery.
On the eve of her wedding, Amathea (Lana Clarkson) sees her world dissolve: her groom imprisoned, her village razed, and her friends attacked and slaughtered. Becoming the Barbarian Queen, she vows revenge and retribution. Along with her female warriors, she entices and then destroys her adversaries. Barbarian Queen also stars Katt Shea (Psycho III) and Dawn Dunlap (Forbidden World).
Both films feature a new anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78:1) and theatrical trailers.