Hawk the Slayer (1980)

Terry Marcel also was behind Prisoners of the Lost Universe, The Last Seduction II and Jane and the Lost City (he was also A.D. on The Pink Panther series of films, as well as Straw Dogs) but today, we’re going to discuss his 1980 sword and sorcery epic Hawk the Slayer, which predates the Conan ripoff film cycle.

The wicked Voltan (Jack Palance, who is amazing in everything he did, no matter how silly the films get) murders his own father (Ferdy Mayne, who we all know and love from Night Train to Terror) over the magic of the last elven mindstone. Before he dies, the old king gives his son Hawk (John Terry, who was on TV’s Lost) a magic sword that responds to his mental commands. Our hero then promises to kill his brother in revenge.

Soon, though, Voltan has taken over the country. An injured soldier named Ranulf (W. Morgan Sheppard, who is also in Elvira: Mistress of the Dark) is taken in by the nuns of a convent who heal him but can’t save his hand. But Voltan soon descends on the convent and takes away their Mother Superior and Ranulf seeks Hawk to stop his brother.

Soon, Hawk learns of his new quest from a sorceress (Patricia Quinn, who was Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and gathers his friends: Gort the giant (Bernard Bresslaw, who would go on to play a similar role in Krull), Crow the elf and Baldin the whip-wielding elf. Even though they raise enough gold to pay for the ransom on the nun, Hawk knows that his brother won’t live up to his word. After all, Voltan killed Hawk’s wife Eliane (Catriona MacColl! Holy cow! The star of City of the Living DeadThe Beyond and The House by the Cemetery!).

You can also watch out for Roy Kinnear (Henry Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as an innkeeper and Patrick Magee (Tales from the CryptAsylum) as a priest.

The five warriors decide to attack Voltan and Hawk succeeds in killing his nephew Drogo (Shane Briant, who is in Lady Chatterley’s Lover), but Baldin is horribly wounded after one of the nuns turns heel on our heroes. Finally, Hawk gets his revenge, but an evil spirit brings Voltan back, so Hawk and Gort travel to find him. The battle isn’t over…and sequels called Hawk the Hunter and Hawk the Destroyer have been teased for years.

British kids who grew up in the 80’s LOVE this movie. For example, Simon Pegg worked plenty of references to it into the TV show Spaced. And The Darkness song “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us” has Drogo’s line “I am no messanger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!” in its lyrics.

This film is more influenced by Star Wars than Conan. Will you enjoy it? How do you feel about Krull? Because this movie feels so close to that one — except this one has a magic sword and that one has the Glave. Also, this movie has a great shouted line that makes me laugh every single time: “The hunchback will have something to say about this!” And an elf that talks like a robot, which makes no sense. Oh yeah — and Jack Palance being as over the top as it gets!

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