DVD Review: Deathstalker



Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Sword and Sorcery Collection

Shout Factory



Deathstalker is a completely uninhibited take on the sword and sorcery fantasy genre.  From  start to finish, the film is filled with graphic, gory violence and naked women.  It’s kind of like Spartacus: Blood and Sand, but with far weaker characterization and plotting.

Deathstaker isn’t much of a hero.  The movie starts out with him encountering a thief being chased by some sort of monsters.  Deathstalker kills the monsters, then the thief, then to top it off he tries to rape the woman the thief was holding captive but she gets away.  That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie, both in terms of content, and characterization.  There’s not a lot of respect show for women in the movie.  Whether that’s intended to depict the barbaric nature of the world the story takes place in, or is a reflection of the mindset of the movie’s producers, I don’t know.

Deathstalker is asked by a deposed king to kill the wizard, Munkar, who stole his throne and save the princess.  DS refuses, on the grounds that helping people is stupid.  Luckily for the king, an old witch woman tells DS that Munkar has some magic items and that by taking posession of said items, he can become all-powerful.  This appeals to DS, so he sets off right away.

The witch woman occasionally does voice overs giving DS advice, one of which is to choose his allies wisely.  F#@k that, Deathstalker just takes the first three people he runs across.  The first is a decrepit creature from a cave that turns into a middle aged man once exposed to sunlight, the next is a warrior who is slightly less rape-y than DS himself, and the third is a warrior woman who fights topless for no reason.

DS and his ‘allies’ never form a relationship, they’re just kind of in the same room together.  What’s worse, they contribute nothing at all to either the plot or the mission.  In fact, they kind of get in the way.  I think their only real purpose is to provide more opportunities for sex and violence.

DS and company enter a tournament held by Munkar, the winner of which is to become his heir.

When considering a movie like this, you have to take into account its intentions.  The movie promised ample nudity and violence, and it delivered.  The plot was thin, but comprehensible.  The FX were adequate to tell the story.  The acting was wooden, but considering the characters are supposed to be uncivilized barbarians, I guess that works.

The DVD from Shout factory, which includes four films across two discs (including Deathstalker 2) is quite good.  The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen and comes with a commentary track.