June 29: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is sword and sorcery! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.
Loosely based on the stories of the Paladins — the twelve fictional knights of legend who were the foremost members of Charlemagne’s court in the 8th century — especially the epic poem Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, Paladins is less Conan than most Italian sword and sorcery movies.
Like Yor Hunter from the Future, this was an Italian TV miniseries edited down into a movie for U.S. audiences and by that, I mean people like me staying up at 3 AM and watching HBO.
Bradamante (Barbara De Rossi) is a woman with an invincible suit of armor that comes to save her — like literally, it rides in, a haunted suit of armor, after she’s nearly assaulted in a waterfall which proves that yes, this is an Italian movie.
She gets caught between the Christians like Orlando (Rick Edwards) and the Moors, which include Isabella (Tonya Roberts), Ruggero (Ronn Moss, Rowdy Abilene from Hard Ticket to Hawaii) and Ferrau (Tony Vogel).
Now, Moors are supposed to be the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta. Let me tell you, in no way does the Bronx-born Roberts seem like she fits in. Moss is also as blonde as it gets, so…yeah.
How else do you know this is Italian? Just look at the supporting cast: Bobby Rhodes as a mercenary. Leigh McCloskey from Inferno. Al Cliver. Hal Yamanouchi as a samurai. Famous Zombi zombie Ottaviano Dell’Acqua listed in the credits as rapist.
Yes, it sure is an Italian movie.
Director Giacomo Battiato usually stayed away from the kind of movies I watch, so this is the first time I’ve encountered his work. I am frankly shocked that this wasn’t a Cannon movie, because this feels like something they’d pick up.
There are some great costumes in this, like Ferrau’s bird-themed armor. It’s pretty much less hearts and more swords, non-stop combat as if it wanted to be Excalibur instead of Ator. It also looks like a big movie thanks to Dante Spinotti, who would leave Italian exploitation behind and make Hollywood magic in films like Manhunter, The Quick and the Dead and L.A. Confidential.
Trigger warning: this has five attempted rapes, including one by a wizard, one by an invisible man and the other avoided by Ferrau’s bird-shaped codpiece is too rusty to come off.
As far as I know, this has never come out in the U.S. on disk. You can find it on YouTube but if you’re the kind of viewer that needs a perfect print, I got really bad news for you.