video box for Sorceress claims it to be "An epic adventure of swords
and sorcery in the ultimate cosmic struggle!"
enough, especially if for each adjective you substitute the word "Crap".
starts with your typical wizardly despot, Traigon (Roberto Ballesteros)
tracking down his wife in the wilderness. Seems that Traigon needs his
firstborn child to sacrifice to the god Caligara to keep up the equity
on his soul or something, so wifey split immediately after the birth.
Adding to Traigon's trepidition is the fact that he's the father of twins,
and it's important that he figure out which one was the firstborn while
the planets are still in alignment. Thus, one of his men gets out "the
talon" and proceeds to "Make sure you will never birth another!"
lady is made of sterner stuff, however, and the torture only causes her
to cry out to her god, Vitahl (spellings of all crap fantasy god names
approximate) until an unarmed man appears: the legendary warrior Krona
(Martin LaSalle). So legendary that he doesn't need to carry a weapon...
he simply kills the first soldier Traigon lobs at him, takes his
weapon, and proceeds to slaughter the rest of Traigon's troops.
that sounds exciting, doesn't it? If the choreography were more skillful
and not accompanied by Hanna-Barbera sound effects, it might have been.
uses his power of illusion (meaning green glowing cartoon eyes are superimposed
over his) and the mighty Krona might be doomed, if not for Traigon's dying
wife, who skewers the sorcerer with a spear. One catch: Traigon has three lives, and will return in twenty years. The mortally wounded woman makes
Krona swear to protect her children, which he does gladly, swearing to
teach them warrior ways so they may kick daddy's ass when he comes back. "But..." gasps the expiring mom, "They are girl children!"
such sexist blather, Krona lays his hand upon the children, causing them
to glow blue. This has the effect of:
- Magically teaching them all his martial arts
- Linking them psychically, making them "The Two Who
- Causing the viewer to think, "Just when I thought
the green eye thing was cheesy.."
then drops the twins off at the hut of a disciple, asking the man and
his wife (who was already rocking a cradle) to bring up the girls. "Certainly,"
boasts the woman, "I am so full... I can nurse three as well as one!" And then Krona is off, to do, um, legendary warrior things.
years later ... it's always twenty years later in these things, isn't
it? Blame mythology... Twenty years later, Traigon does the Bad Penny
thing and returns to our picture in a cheap cartoon effect, greeted by
his faithful minions: Princess Hottie (Never truly caught her name, but
if she's not played by Ana De Sade, that's a travesty of justice), soldier
types who look like they were costumed by Ming the Merciless, and a guy
in an ape suit. Traigon immediately gives them their homework: "Bring
me The Two Who Are One!"
immediately, your brain is strangling itself with questions:
- Given that Traigon has been gone for two decades,
what have these minions been doing in the meantime? As usual, one
may assume they have been grinding the faces of the poor, but the
ringleaders don't look much over twenty themselves... particularly
Princess Hottie. How has this cult a) remained in power; b)
even know who Traigon is, anymore?
- How does Traigon know that his errant daughters were
dubbed The Two Who Are One by Krona? Does cable in the Great Beyond
only get The Sorceress Channel?
- Why am I still watching this?
answer to the last question is fortunately quick in coming, as we discover
that The Two Who Are One have grown up into twin Playmates Lynette and
Leigh Harris, and they are skinny dipping. Well, they're supposed to be,
but the bathing suits are pretty obvious through much of this sequence,
until they pause to contemplate the person on the shore, at which point
their nay-nays are on full display.
person on shore is nothing less than a satyr... Pando the Goat Boy (David
Millbern), who communicates in nothing but bleats. The Two Who Are One
urge him to join them in the drink, an offer which Pando seems to appreciate.
The Two Who Are One grow puzzled at a certain portion of Pando's anatomy,
wondering what use that thing between his legs might be. "Perhaps it's
a horn!" one decides, with the other inquiring, "How would he attack
with it?" Taking no chances, they get out of the water and kick Pando's
ass. Talk about mixed messages...
Pando goes crying - well, more appropriately bleating - into the woods,
The Two Who Are One get dressed in what is supposed to be men's clothing,
but would not fool even the least observant Shakespearean extra. The dressing
part is good, as the head of the Ming Cavalry is currently demanding their
foster father hand over The Two Who Are One while his troops kill Mom
and Sis, torch the farm... you know, bad guy stuff. What they call a number
7. Foster Dad responds by whipping out a set of nunchaku (exactly where
are we again?) and whacking bad guys, until he too is cut down. The Two
Who Are One run to the farm in slow motion and glow blue again. Significance?
Perhaps they had another couple of bucks left over in the FX budget.
head of the Ming army, Khrakannon (Tony Stevens) , seeing two glowing
people running toward the carnage, makes the logical leap that these might
actually be The Two Who Are One and shouts, "Get them! And a slow death
to the one that harms them!" proving that he may be able to put two and
two together, but his tactical skills suck. After The Two Who Are One
waste the first wave of soldiers (which they now know are not allowed
to harm them - thanks a lot, Cap'n Shouts-too-much), and an arrow whizzes
past the shark fin on his helmet, Khrakannon immediately screams, "Kill
them!", a dramatic about-face which spotlights his anger management issues,
which will prove to be the character's defining trait.
major result of this is that The Two Who Are One proceed to kick even
more stunt man butt, and Khrakannon, beating a bad guy retreat, gets an
arrow in the back. But as he is a Featured Bad Guy, he is only winged,
and plays possum in the grass while the next astounding thing happens.
Next Astounding Thing is the Viking that comes out of the woods, followed
by Pando. This fellow is Baldar of the Mark (Bruno Rey), whose first line, "Good fight, lads!" proves him to not only be the worst dubbed
character in the movie (and the competition is quit stiff), but also nearsighted
(or maybe he is a Shakespearean extra) and a total wuss. The way
his entrance is shot, it looks like he was hiding behind a shrub the entire
time the family was massacred and the The Two Who Are One were playing
Extreme Hacky-sack with the bad guys.
course, this sets off another whole list of questions:
- What is a Viking doing in what appears to be a Middle
Eastern Bronze Age milieu? We know he is a Viking, because has that
horned helmet and he says things like, "Done, by Ragnarok!"
Which is an odd thing to say, even for a displaced Viking. I mean,
I get rather purlple when I speak, but I don't end sentences with
sayings like "by Doomsday!" or "by the bodacious ta-tas
of Michelle Bauer!"
- Though I may start.
- And what is a satyr, a Greco-roman mythical being,
doing in what appears to be a Middle Eastern Bronze Age milieu?
- For that matter, what is a Viking doing traveling
with a satyr in what appears to be a Middle Eastern Bronze Age milieu?
- Wouldn’t a movie about how a Viking and a satyr came
to be traveling companions in a Middle Eastern Bronze Age milieu be
much more interesting than the tripe we are watching?
- Answer: it would
not have the Harris Twin’s exposed nay-nays in it, so it would never
who should crop up at this point...The Two Who Are One were apparently
hiding in the Middle Eastern Bronze Age equivalent of Grand Central Station...
but Krona, who has had an encounter with several cans of Streaks-n-Tips
since the last time we saw him. He apologizes for arriving late, fills
in The Two Who Are One on their backstory, gives them their Deus-Ex-Machina
codeword "Vitahl", and then jumps into the family’s funeral
pyre. Lucky bastard. He gets to leave the movie. Baldar and Pando, having
been given no other purpose in life by the writers, decide to aid the
twins in their quest for vengeance.
this end, they wind up in a Middle Eastern Bronze Age city where they
witness a thief having his hands cut off. "It’s Traigon’s law,"
says whoever is doing Baldar’s dubbing, causing The Two Who Are One to
fly into a rage. Baldar urges calm, and tells them he needs to find a
friend of his who can give them the lowdown on what's happening in Traigonland.
And he knows just where to find this friend.
to the interior of a den of vice (wow... more scantily clad women! Who
could have predicted this?) where Baldar’s friend, Erlik the Naked (okay,
he’s just known as Erlik the Barbarian, but Barbarians aren’t exactly
known for their sartorial splendor) is cheating at dice. This of course
leads to a barroom brawl, after which our heroes retire to Erlik’s room
so the "lads" can wash up (Erlik is at least as blind as Baldar).
This, one assumes, is because we haven’t seen the Harris Twins’ nay-nays
in fifteen minutes or so.
the writing in this travesty has any claim to fame at all, it’s in scenes
like this. For some reason, The Two Who Are One’s foster parents took
Krona's warning that the Ming army would be looking for two girls rather
to heart, and never even talked with them about the birds and the bees,
or, more cogently, the difference between boys and girls. When the increasingly
uncomfortable Baldar and Erlik assure them that they are girls because
"You’re certainly not boys," the naked women innocently ask,
"Are you sure?"
subject is tabled for later discussion while the menfolk (and Pando) go
out to troll for information. Unfortunately, one of the scantily-clad
babes from Erlik’s favorite place lures The Two Who Are One out with the
old "Your friends need help!" ploy (didn’t that idiot foster
father teach them anything?) and Khrakannon’s troops capture them
with a large net. This leads up to a sequence where the bad guys cost-effectively
figure out which twin is which by dropping some Wooshing Powder
(now in convenient liquid form!) into a brazier and then shoving one of
the twins’ face into it. When the patently empty brazier does no harm,
this one is identified as the firstborn, and a collar is locked around
just when I think I finally have a way to tell one twin from another,
Baldar and Erlik hop in and rescue them. Their retreat is covered by Pando,
whose bleating panics every horse that even thinks of pursuing them (and
I know how they feel). Our heroes then decide to hide in The Forbidden
Forest, because no one will follow them in there, it being Forbidden and
is not without resources, however. Princess Hottie’s pal, the Ape Suit,
offers to bring in The Two Who Are One if he can have the non-sacrificial
one. Meanwhile, in the Forbidden Forest, Baldar is clumsily trying to
explain the Facts of Life to The Two Who Are One. "Do you know where
babies come from?" "Yes, we were left at our parent's home by
Krona." Pause. "You know where baby goats come from,
right?" "Yes, but those are animals!" Heavy sigh.
komedy is interrupted by the arrival of an entire herd of Ape Suits, who
assault the camp with coconuts full of laughing gas. (I cannot make up
stuff like this) While everyone is making with the ha-ha, Ape Suits carry
off The Two Who Are One and (for some reason) Erlik. Baldar manages to
put an arrow in the butt of the Ape Suit carrying the non-sacrificial
Twin, but that just leads to more helpless laughter.
The score thus far: Traigon has his firstborn and Erlik. Baldar and the
secondborn are outside the city trying to figure out how to rescue them.
And Pando... ah, who cares. Pando is likely off doing something disgusting.
employs his spin doctor skills with the Firstborn, claiming she’s been
fed a pack of lies, and man, is he glad to see her. While she is being
pampered, Khrakannon reveals to Traigon that a pair of loaded dice were
found in Erlik’s stuff. Traigon’s Law, as we have seen earlier, is the
envy of many a government that only claims to be tough on crime. The penalty
for cheating at dice? Impalement.
is the scene that most people carry with them from this movie. Well, that
and the disturbing Goat Boy, but this is, um, memorable, to say
the least. Erlik, even more naked than usual, is tied around a greased
pole above a newly whittled stake, which is pointed right up his cat flap.
When the tiny platform he is standing on is kicked away, he begins a slow
slide down the pole to lasting unpleasantness.
for those of us squirming in our seats, Ape Suit notices a necklace in
Erlik’s discarded effects that marks him as a member of some particularly
old royal family (to be fair, the script actually alluded to this earlier).
By a remarkable stroke of luck, if the Firstborn mates with Erlik, the
sacrifice will produce added bonuses, like frequent flyer miles or an
electronic organizer. So Erlik is spared the indignity of some white pine way up the bum.
Firstborn and Erlik are given "Soma... the nectar of the gods",
which not only makes them remarkably malleable to commands, but also extremely
horny. While Erlik and firstborn do the wild thing, of course, the second
born, back at the camp with Baldar and Pando, starts writhing and moaning,
because they are, after all, The Two Who Are One. "It’s my sister!"
"What’s wrong? Is she being tortured?" More moaning and writhing.
"No," muses the Viking, "She’s not being tortured..."
Moaning and writhing reaches a crescendo. "Why, it must Erlik!" After things reach an *ahem* climax, there is peace for a minute,
and some palpable relief on the part of Baldar (and the audience). Then
she moans once more, "Oh, not again!" "Now I know it’s Erlik," quips Baldar.
- Disturbingly enough, this begs the question of exactly
how Baldar knows this is Erlik. We’ll settle for a simple "Because
it is komedically appropriate", because the alternative is just
too unsettling to contemplate. Speaking of which...
decides he wants to join in the party, but Baldar intercedes, saying "She
is under my protection!" (Baldar says this a lot, though he never
seemed to officially offer, nor be asked for this protection) The distraught
Goat Boy kicks dirt on the writhing Secondborn and sulks off into the
woods. "Let me know if you find a cold river," says Baldar,
as the girl continues to, yes, writhe and moan.
praise the Bad Movie Gods... move on from there, as Baldar and #2 infiltrate
Traigon’s lair, only to be confronted by the hyp-mo-tized Erlik and #1,
who refuse to help their friends, and Traigon, who drops the Viking and
extra twin down a hole and drops a boulder on them. This ticks off Ape
Suit, who, as you recall, was promised #2 in exchange for capturing the
Firstborn. Traigon, being the Bad Guy, is particularly unsympathetic to
Ape Suit’s plight, so the cheated chimp picks up Baldar’s dropped sword
(actually, I think it was originally Erlik’s) and heads out into the night.
attention, because this is going to get complicated. Baldar and #2 find
themselves wandering through the catacombs beneath Castle Traigon. Erlik
prepares to sacrifice the Firstborn, with the Soma insuring that both
of them are really into it, if you catch my drift. A flock of "sacrificial
virgins" appear to drop huge urns of Wooshing Powder into some
fires. And somewhere, somehow, Pando is frolicking with three nereids
(or at least women wearing Greek garb, equally out of place in this Middle
Eastern Bronze Age etc.), only to be interrupted by Ape Suit presenting
him with Erlik’s sword. Marshalling both of his neurons, Pando begins
marching through the countryside, Erlik’s sword held high. I think we
are supposed to believe that this somehow rouses the countryside to rebellion,
but in truth, it just looks like all the livestock in the region start
following Pando and the herdsmen come after, curious as to exactly where
their flock may be going.
the catacombs, Baldar and #2 are assaulted by zombie warriors, and only
#2 remembering the sacred codeword saves the day. Chanting "Vitahl!
Vitahl!" not only breaks the spell holding Erlik and her sister in
thrall, but also causes Vitahl to manifest itself. And Vitahl... is a
that is doing a serious disservice to Muppets in general. Vitahl is, however,
definitely a lion puppet with bat wings and an almost expressive
face. Not about to be left out of the Crappy Gods sweepstakes, Traigon
sacrifices Princess Hottie instead of the Firstborn, causing Caligara
to crop up. So, if just any attractive woman would have done, what’s with
the decades-long search for The Two Who Are One? Oh, right. The electronic
organizer. I forgot.
is represented by a floating head; some uncredited woman, half of whose
face is covered by makeup. Caligara immediately starts spitting green
cartoon beams at the ground. We are not sure why, except to tear open
a hole so Baldar and #2 can climb out and join their firends. They are
followed by the hordes of zombies, who do not prove to be a problem, since
they all immediately light on the heretofore superfluous sacrificial virgins
and carry them off. Baldar quips again, "Been buried for a thousand
years... you know?" (yet another cinematic scar inflicted on anyone
who has seen this movie).
still four against Traigon’s army (who number at least ten), - who should
enter but Pando, flocks of goats, and a bunch of peasants who then proceed
to mill aimlessly about the courtyard. Perhaps one thinks to bop a passing
soldier on his helmet with one of those wooden rake things, but I wouldn’t
be willing to bet on that. The Muppet God lays some cartoon lightning
on the Bobblehead God, who blows up like the Death Star, only crappily.
it’s time for Traigon to run crying into his sanctum, where Erlik and
Khrakannon have a final sword fight. It’s pretty short, as Erlik plays
on Khrakannon’s anger issues by doing his imitation of Fin-Head’s mother:
"Arf! Arf arf!" Oh, that wily Barbarian! Exit Khrakannon, still
does his usual (and refreshingly under-employed) green-eyed illusion bit,
but before he can slay Erlik, gets two arrows in the back from The Two
Who Are One. Traigon actually appears to be rather proud of his daughters
as he expires (but it remains unsaid that he’s got one life left, and
will be back in another twenty years... apparently no one was under any
illusion that there would be a sequel).
the peasants have apparently bored the soldiers to death. The zombies
are not an issue, having simply been written out of the script. Erlik
appears, an arm around either twin. "Isn’t one enough for you?"
asks the Viking. "Hey, Baldar!" responds Erlik the Naked, "These
two are one!" Hearty Laughter! The End! Praise Vitahl!
I realize there are those of you who will say, "I have to see
this." Well, more power to you, I suppose. It's not the worst movie I've seen. The acting is frequently credible, if not outstanding.
The Harris twins are better than they need to be, Erlik and Hottie are
okay, Khrakannon chews every piece of scenery twenty times before he swallows,
and Pando... well, I guess Pando is pretty much the perfect oversexed
Goat Boy. All in all, though, they are still in a movie that should have
the end credit "Filmed entirely on location on Planet Suck".
Even the sound works against them, as the purloined score starts and stops
fitfully, as if a phonograph needle were dropped on a record at random,
then immediately jerked off because it was the wrong spot in the music.
And the dubbing makes the imported 60s Hercules peplum movies look
like they were filmed in America with flawless sync sound.
yes, it goes down hard. This is the kind of movie that leaves you acutely
aware that you just ground away 90 minutes of your life watching it. What
goes down even harder is the fact that the director was one Jack Hill.
You know, Jack Hill. Coffy. Foxy Brown. Spider Baby. Swinging
Cheerleaders. Switchblade Sisters. The man makes good exploitation
movies, the type that makes you want to search out more. What happened
madness of filmmakers in the early 80s is well-documented. In 1977, Star
Wars had proven that genre pictures could make big, big money, but
there was also a general suspicion that science fiction was just about
played out, and the search was on for the next big magic money-making
genre blockbuster. A fair amount of cash was bet on John Milius' production
of Conan the Barbarian. Enough that a lot of studios followed suit,
and the floods came: Beastmaster , Sword and the Sorcerer,
Deathstalker, The Barbarians... and far be it for Roger Corman
to sit out a possibly lucrative trend.
was lured to the project by the promise of vast infusions of money, necessary
for a spectacle described as "An epic adventure of swords and sorcery
in the ultimate cosmic struggle!" There were problems with this, however:
it was, after all, the early 80s, and something called home video was
really starting to whittle into the theatrical dollars. The budget for Sorceress kept getting slashed, the locations moved to Mexico,
absolutely no name actors were employed (and when, in 1982, you
couldn't afford Jack Palance for a day or two, you know the money ain't
there). And hey. Roger Corman was the producer. The man's parsimony is
the stuff of legend. He had already recycled the space dogfight scenes
from Battle Beyond the Stars in a half-dozen movies, and since
he couldn't use them here, he recycled the film score instead.
was already on a downhill track; his previous movie, Switchblade Sisters
had been a box office disappointment, and seeing what became of Sorceress,
he removed his name from the credits (except in the capacity of producer)
and quietly retired from the film trade, to concentrate on writing and
you likely know, Quentin Tarentino is a great fan of Hill's, and his Rolling
Thunder Pictures brought Switchblade Sisters back in a very real
way; Hill is getting more respect now, and is apparently about to embark
on another movie project. I wish him luck... Sorceress should not
be any man's swan song, by the bodacious ta-tas of Michelle Bauer!
maybe I won't start saying that.