Saturday, January 31, 2015

Slayer Cake

I don't think I heard about Dragonslayer (1981) when it came out. Maybe it was promoted as a kids movie (it was produced by Disney), maybe just didn't get a big release. I came across it via podcasts again, like Film Sack. I got the idea that it was the usual sword and sorcery thing, but with a little extra oomph.

It starts with a delegation of villagers begging wizard Ralph Richardson to help slay a dragon. He agrees to go but before he even starts he lets himself be killed by a thuggish soldier. It is up to his apprentice Peter MacNicol and elderly servant, character actor Sydney Bromley, to fulfill the quest.

Now, MacNicol has a doughy face and curly blonde wig, and looks like a Richard Simmons imitator, but he does a pretty good job as an apprentice wizard. He's boastful and dramatic, but he is willing to fight dragons and can actually do magic, even if he's a little dim. For example, he doesn't notice that one of the villagers is a a cute girl, Caitlin Clarke, until they go skinny dipping together. Sorry if that's a spoiler, but she was wearing makeup, didn't anyone notice?

Actually, the underwater nude Clarke (and/or MacNicol, if that's your fancy) are the reason many young people loved this movie. The dragon is usually the other favorite bit. I thought it was a bit stiff - a big mechanical puppet, where a stop-motion dragon might have had a bit more personality. The dragon spawn were also a little ... muppety. They were in a really gory scene, which makes it even more incongruous.

In the end, this was pretty much the usual sword-and-sorcery fare, The Magic Sword with a better budget, plus a little nudity and gore. But that's not so bad. Besides, I really think they got the magic across better than most of these. So if you like this kind of thing, check it out.

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