Deathstalker (1983)

My wife thinks that the only reason they made sword and sorcery movies was to basically make porn. She doesn’t realize that in 1983 the porn industry was in its VHS heydey, with films finally showing up in video stores. And that the internet didn’t exist, so for teenage boys that wanted to see some flesh, the only choice they had was to find a Penthouse magazine in the woods, sneak some Cinemax After Dark or watch these movies. Or be like me, someone that watches them specifically for the sword and sorcery!

The first of four films about the Deathstalker character, this movie is all about a quest to find a chalice, an amulet and a sword, two of which are held by the wicked sorcerer Munkar. Oh yeah — and when we meet our hero, he’s easily killing monsters and humans alike, they making out with a tied up woman. Because hey, he’s Deathstalker. You got a problem with it?

Deathstalker finds the sword first and frees the thief Salmaron, who goes with him on his quest. On the way, he learned about Munkar’s tournament to see who will inherit his kingdom from Oghris. There are about ten sex scenes before we get there, so my wife might be right about this porn theory. One of those sex scenes is between female warrior Kaira and Deathstalker. Kaira is played by Lana Clarkson, who was in the two Barbarian Queen films, but is perhaps better known for being shot and killed by Phil Spector.

The real reason for the tournament is that Munkar wants to take out any threat to his competition. To get them weakened, he invites them to drink and have sex with any of his harem girls before their fights, including Princess Codille (Barbi Benton, who was never a Playmate of the Month, but dated Hugh Hefner and was on the covers of the July 1969, March 1970, May 1972 and December 1985 issues, as well as being in layouts in December 1973 and January 1975).

Munkar is a tricky one — he sends one of his guys made up as the Princess and she fools Deathstalker until he finds that meat. That said, our hero is somewhat woke and doesn’t kill the assassin. The killer pays back that kindness by killing Kaira. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the long transformation scene where a dude changes into Barbi Benton while his penis goes back inside his body, resulting in great pain. It goes on. And on. And then some more. Also, there’s a weird puppet creature that Munkar has, along with a tattoo on his bald head, that likes to eat the eyes of teenagers. So there’s that.

The day of the tournament — please nobody yell Mortal Kombat or Enter the Dragon or Kickboxer or Bloodsport — Salmaron is trapped in the harem (not a bad thing) and Oghris is forced to fight Deathstalker. During their fight, Oghris says that they are friends and demands that our hero leaves. Instead, they fight and Oghris has the chance to kill him, but fights fairly and loses. Our hero responds by saying goodbye and killing the guy! What the hell, Deathstalker?

That would have been a better final battle than Deathstalker against an ogre, but that’s what we get. After all this work and this whole movie and all the sex, Deathstalker doesn’t want any of the magic stuff. He just destroys all of the objects of power as Salmaron leads a harem rebellion. Our hero throws Munkar to the people who rip him to pieces.

Deathstalker isn’t a great hero. He doesn’t have a great quest. He just randomly kills people who have shown him kindness and he throws all the objects of his quest away at the end because he must be some kind of nihilist. But this is one movie that’s all about the journey and not the destination. After all, there’s a great scene where the ogre hammers a man into pulpy liquid while an entire family eats a picnic lunch and cheers him on. Seriously, that scene alone earned this movie most of its decent score. And hey, if you want to see 1980’s breasts and beasts, it’s there for you.

You can watch it on Amazon Prime or get it on a Sword and Sorcery four movie set from Shout! Factory.

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