Directed by James Sbardellati. Starring Rick Hill ("Deathstalker"), Barbi Benton ("Codille"), Richard Brooker ("Oghris"), and Lana Clarkson ("Kaira"). Rated R.
Source: Region 1 DVD (Shout! Factory)
Running time: 01:19:55
Country: Argentina, USA
Picked by venoms5
DEATHSTALKER was sort of an ambitious project for producer Roger Corman at the time; not in terms of budget and style, but because he shot it in Argentina as opposed to the Philippines, which is where he made a lot of movies for cheap in the late 70's and early 80's. Not sure where the movie stands amongst its fellow Sword and Sorcery movies of the 80's as far as when it was made or how important it was to the genre, but DEATHSTALKER is usually one of the first titles that comes up when people talk about the cheesy 80's Sword and Sorcery movies that tried to capitalize on the success of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and the like.
DEATHSTALKER kinda opens up like a Western, introducing the eponymous character as a mysterious drifter of sorts. His tendencies to be a womanizer are established right away when he saves a damsel from being gang-raped by a group of leprous villagers and proceeds to seduce her when it's all said and done. Without much build, Deathstalker meets up with a witch, who dumps some rather confusing and incoherent information in a brief exchange with our hero. The gist of it is that Deathstalker needs to acquire three objects - a sword, a chalice, and an amulet - in order to gain power, stop Lord Monkar's reign of terror, and rescue Princess Cordille.
"Join three things separate to be the power."
"The power will come to he who becomes a child."
Whatever, just bring on the titties and bad boob-jobs already.
While on his journey, Deathstalker acquires a group of allies, two of whom are lone warriors who are on their way to enter a tournament being held by Lord Monkar. The point of the tournament is to determine the most powerful warrior in all the land and who will inherit Monkar's kingdom. It's revealed early in the film, though, that the tournament is basically Monkar's way of getting all of the warriors who pose a threat to him to kill each other. Besides, Monkar possesses supernatural powers and is apparently immortal, but I guess the warriors competing in the tournament are too dumb to realize that he won't be giving up his throne anytime soon. In fact, Deathstalker himself questions the logic behind the tournament, which is one of the few occasions where he acts as the voice of the audience by questioning and speaking out against certain things in the film that would normally be ignored.
When Deathstalker and his band of misfits finally make it to Monkar's castle, you'd think it were a brothel. Naked women everywhere being manhandled by drunken warriors. Mud wrestling! This part of the film is a highlight and it pretty much sums up what DEATHSTALKER is all about. Gratuitous tits and ass, a weird group of characters (including a large man with the head of a pig) getting out of control and brawling, and, most importantly, (in true Corman fashion) stretching a dollar; it's like the filmmakers had this nice set built, and so they crammed as many actors in there as they possibly could and took full advantage of it.
I'm not familiar with lead actor Richard Hill, but he's pretty good in this as the lazy hero who eventually realizes his potential. He looks and sounds like Peter Weller on steroids. Other cast members include former Playboy playmate Barbi Benton as Princess Cordille and Lana Clarkson as the well-endowed warrior who joins up with Deathstalker at the beginning of the film and pretty much spends the entire movie topless or with pieces of black fabric barely covering her nipples. If the name doesn't Lana Clarkson doesn't sound familiar, do a little research on musician Phil Spector and his current incarceration for murder. It should also be noted that DEATHSTALKER looks really good despite its B-movie budget. According to either the producer or the director on the commentary track of the Shout! Factory release, Corman was given funding all at once for a total of five Sword and Sorcery movies, and most of said funding was put into this particular film.
With DEATHSTALKER, there's not a whole lot in the way of storytelling. Everything in the film seems to be an excuse to set up more female nudity and clumsy-looking fight sequences. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but people should keep it in mind when watching it. For what it is, DEATHSTALKER delivers the goods: silly gore, body oil, sword-fights, and plentiful nudity.