The Beastmaster (1982)
There is not much I can say about the original Beastmaster movie that will do its awesomeness justice. What I can say is "URRRAHHH!" which for the uninformed, is the call of the hawk.
Anyone who had cable in the '80s had a chance to bask in the glory of Marc Singer's beastmastering and Tanya Peters' red-haired boobs. The story goes that Dar was kidnapped as a fetus from his mom and dad, King Zed, by evil dude Maax (may-ax) and his hot-bodied underweared witches. Before one witch can kill baby Dar (who was transferred to an ox belly and then birthed) unnamed Farmer guy kills her and saves Dar. He then raises Dar and hilarity ensues. Ok not really, but they do realize Dar can communicate with the beasts and then years later their village is destroyed by Maax's mens, the Juds. Dar survives though, through the help of a beast ally, and sets out to take vengeance on Maax (played by Rip Torn, by the way).
Along the way he meets hottie Tanya Roberts and bad dude John Amos, both end up helping him in his quest against Maax and his hordes. He also meets hawk worshipping monster people and insane death guards. As one might expect, Singer and his band of heroes win, and Dar learns of his heritage. He however decides not to be king and remain master of the beasts. He relinquishes control to his now revealed younger brother, Tal.
Director Don Coscarelli's movie rules in a cornball adolescent macho way. It definitely has it's flaws, but they don't detract from the fun. Plus Tanya Roberts shows boob. The sequels, however, are like someone shit on your favorite pizza right as the delivery dude delivered it. You were so excited to have a still hot bite of your favorite pizza, but yeah, there's shit on it now.
That same year Tanya Roberts did a Beastmaster inspired pictorial in Playboy!
Trivia: In Japan, The Beastmaster was known as the The Miraclemaster!
Almost 10 years later, thanks to the original's popularity on cable, producers thought, "Hey! Let's squirt out a new Beastmaster for cable!" But this was a time before SyFy and the massive run of made for cable fare, so Through the Portal of Time's theatrical release became a formality really, the step before the step they wanted. Ok the movie:
First off, HOW IS PODO ALIVE? He was totally sacrificed for the greater good in first movie. It might have been kodo who died, I cant tell the difference, and if they are Podo and Kodo's kids from the first movie, why are they named Podo and Kodo?? But this is the point you realize this movie is going to be an unwelcome addition. Actually, before that when you see Marc Singer's awful wig, that's when you probably should have known. So anyways, Dar is again fighting a bad dude, this time his name is Arklon, played by Wings Hauser.
Dar escapes his opening encounter and meets a weird swamp monster who after trying to kill him, sees the brand on his hand (oh yeah, the witch branded him as a baby before trying to kill him) but he has two startling revelations: This swamp monster is related to Dar AND Dar has an evil twin brother! I know what your thinking, Arklon, right? Yeah everyone was. And you don't have to wait until the final act for me to confirm your thoughts.
So back to Arklon, whose witch friend, Lyranna, says she discovered a parallel world through a rock formation called LA and has observed them for some time to learn they have a NEUTRON BOMB! So many questions already, like how did she discover this portal, how does it work, why does Lyranna wear so much makeup when makeup doesn't exist in this parallel world? If I were Lyranna, I would say eff off to Arklon, who just slaps her around, and just go live in LA, who cares about getting his approval when you can go to a Milli Vanilli concert, am I right??
So we're then seeing life in 1991 LA, where a police chase gets underway with cutie pie Kari Whurer, who is an idiot here by the way, or at least she's written that way. She unwittingly discovers the dimensional portal when she neglects to hit her brakes and drives though a brick wall, and then the cops follow her! This whole scene is retarded, but we do get another brief but memorable Robert Z'Dar sighting! "YOU shall remain silent!!"
Biggedy boom, Dar meets up with Jackie (Wuhrer) and seems totally fine with her 1991 weirdness. Biggedy boopedy Boom everyone goes back through the portal so we can have dumb fish out of water humor with Dar, Arklon and Lyranna, man, I really get tired of that "WHAT'S A TV?!" and people-cheerily-exclaiming-new-swears-they-learned humor. Singer is overall pretty boring in this flick too, so Uncle Phil steps in to handle some biz and make shit fun again.
Not only does this movie reject some basic logic of the first, no one's decision making abilities are up to snuff here. As a kidnapping victim, Whurer helps Arklon and Lyranna discover new fashions. Of course.
I couldn't help but think of the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie while watching this; it's basically the same thing. This movie spirals into greater levels of absurdity, almost parody, like those dumb Epic Movie or Date Movie turds. this could easily have been Barbarian Movie. The most ridiculous part? Arklon manages to go to a zoo, when his twin brother is the damned BEASTMASTER! Good one dude.
Admittedly, I do kind of enjoy this movie on a different level than the first. It tries way less, which is what made the original so endearing. It was sincere in it's efforts, while here, everyone just wanted to hit paydirt on cable again. I might also enjoy this a bit because it's co-written by Jim Wynorski, whose brain is full of baby farts. There's apparently a "Making of the Beastmaster 2" on the original home video release of this, which I would love to see. Has anyone seen it?
Hold onto your loin cloths! They're at it again! Dar returns, and so does Tal, his brother from the first played by Casper van Dien! And a new, Seth, played by Tony Todd aka Candyman. He also has a new, different Ruh, his tiger who changed in the first two and is a lion in this adventure. The professor from TMNT 2 (David Warner) in it as evil sorcerer, Lord Agon, looking for the eye of Braxus, a mystical amulet thing that will give him the power of an ancient god.
The whole middle is pretty boring, if not more earnest than part 2, but Dar meets various new buddies and baddies, but I couldn't get into this middle section; it's just too by-the-book yet underproduced to make it fun. I think this was intended to be a TV pilot, at least that how it's supporting cast appears to be scripted, which by the way, the script sucks. There's so much bad dialogue, "You're not going to trust her are you? She knocked you down!"
So finally Lord Agon gets the eye, releases Braxus, and the fun begins! He ends up getting possessed by Braxus and turning into a lizard man! Jesus! I think the costume was recycled from that show Dinosaurs. You be the judge:
Braxus eventually falls for the old throw "the amulet over your head and then get stabbed in the back trick," and Dar throws him in a fire pit. Yay!
This was followed by a Canadian produced TV series for SyFy (then Sci-Fi) that developed kind of a cult following as I understand it. I mean, I don't understand it, it looked awful. I would really love a kick ass Beastmaster video game instead of movie mediocre film and TV, though. You play as Dar and have to chop shit up and throw people in fire pits, banging hot chicks along the way. And get Marc Singer to voice it, I hold no grudges after the last two movies, so I think he should end his run as Dar in a sweet game. Now make it happen.
As a final treat if you've managed to read this far, you'll find both out of print scores for the first two films below. The first is by Lee Holdridge and second by Robert Folk. I can't recall where the first is from, but the second from cinemageddon's fine vaults, so thank you to the original sources of these!