Roger Corman’s Cult Classics
Sword and Sorcery Collection
Barbarian Queen Amathea is preparing for her wedding when her small, grass-hut village is raided by Roman soldiers. Most of her subjects are killed, while the rest are taken for use in the gladiator arena or the harem.
The story bares a striking resemblance to the historical story of Boudica, the British tribal queen of the Iceni, who fought against the Roman occupiers. Really, by just changing the names, this movie could have claimed to be a historical epic and gained a little credibility by osmosis; but that wasn’t their intention.
This movie is all about breasts and swords, and both of those are well represented in the film. After the raid, Amathea heads out to find her people, picking up a few swordswomen along the way, including her sister, Taramis. Taramis seems to have suffered some psychological damage as a result of being taken.
Barbarian Queen makes a lot of gestures towards female empowerment, what with its warrior women taking up arms to save their loser men, but there is also a lot of abuse towards women. The entire female cast is captured and sexually assaulted at some point int he movie. Some people argue that scene like that are intended to show women fighting back against their oppressors, but I think it was more likely just an excuse to show them topless.
One thing I’ve noticed with all these sword and sorcery ‘B’ movies is that the sword fighting always suffers. They don’t really have the budget to train the actors in sword technique, or to incorporate many FX like blood spurting or body parts flying off, so we end up with a mob of people flailing fake swords and hitting each other without causing noticeable injury. The exercise gets tiring pretty fast, which is unfortunate since it’s always the climax of these films.
The plot of Barbarian Queen is competent. The protagonists have a goal, they collect the various components they need to accomplish said goal, and then they put their plan into action. The characters are not developed much. Lana Clarkson, as Amathea, is sufficiently queen-like in her barring and delivery. Dawn Dunlap, as Taramis, plays the disturbed young lady well enough.
The DVD from Shout factory includes four films across two discs. The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and looks fairly good.