Director: Chuck Vincent
Pompeii: August 22, 79 A. D.
Our film opens with a royal caravan slowly creeping across a field, when suddenly, it's attacked by
bandits. The guards attempt to ward off the robbery, but to no avail, as they are quickly
cut down by the bloodthirsty thieves. Just as it looks as if all hope is lost, the royal
ambassador, Berenice (Sybil Danning), emerges from the caravan, sword in hand, and deftly
disposes of the criminals with her steel blade of justice. On second thought,
"deft" may be a strong word to describe Berenice's sword skills. A more accurate
description maybe "clumsy," and "implausible," but I digress. So then,
under the stern vigil of Sybil Danning, the caravan continues on their way.
Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, a fresh supply of slaves have just arrived, much
to the disdain of the townspeople, who (half-heartedly) cry out, "Whores, get outta
here." To be honest, they seemed more bored with the situation than actually
outraged. So, the captives are then herded into a warehouse, and the slave auction begins.
The auctionees are stripped, hung by their ankles in chains, and swung back-and-forth in
front of the prospective buyers as they bid. Now, before you feminists get all riled up,
let me add that they did this for both the women and men. The producers of Warrior
Queen just want you to know, they are an equal-opportunity
offender. Anyway, the majority of the slaves are brought by Victo, a one-eyed
entrepreneur, who runs the local brothel.
Suddenly, a fervor in the streets draws the auction participants outside to witness the
arrival of Marcus, the requisite gladiator hero. And you know he's the hero, because all
the women (half-heartedly) cry out to him, "Marcus, I love you," and blow kisses
in his general direction. That, and I think I may have also saw a cue card somewhere with
the words THE HERO printed in bold, and a big arrow pointing to Marcus -- but it might
have been subliminal.
To bring the excitement to a fever pitch, the aforementioned royal caravan arrives, and
the Royals are greeted by Clodius Flaucus (Donald Pleasance), the...*snicker*...ruler of Pompeii. Flaucus
escorts Berenice and her entourage to his palace, where they have prepared a magnificent
feast in their honor, with entertainment including: armwrestling (to the death!), a guy
holding a torch in front of his mouth and spitting fire (say, he stole that from Gene
Simmons!), and Rome's favorite pastime where all party attendees get a net, a flock of
doves are released, and then they get to -- CATCH THE BIRDS! You know, Donald
Pleasance may be somewhat of a ham, but he sure knows how to PAR-TAY! Unfortunately, none
of Flaucus' wildman antics impress Berenice, and she excuses herself from the festivities,
much to his dismay.
Meanwhile, at Victo's brothel, mass fornication is afoot. Victo calls forth Vespa, his
prized new slave, and takes her to see Chloe, the senior slave, who will help nduct her
into the "organization." Then Goliath, the evil gladiator, arrives. The
prostitutes don't like Goliath because of his apparent mistreatment of the women.
Naturally, since Vespa is the naive, good-natured, new girl of the bunch, he chooses her
to satisfy his wanton needs (i.e., to "do it"). Luckily, before he can get down
to the satisfying, Marcus and Berenice show up (for no apparent reason) and stop Goliath
(via a good butt-kickin'). Berenice then takes Vespa to the side, tells her to keep a stiff upper lip, and leaves.
The next day, after a huge gladiatorial extravaganza, a victorious Marcus pays
for the "services" of Vespa, and they go off for a romantic rendezvous in the
woods. Before the "services" can be "rendered," however, Marcus is
tricked into investigating a disturbance in another part of the woods, and once Vespa is
left alone, she is immediately attacked by Goliath and his gang. But once again, Berenice
unexplainably appears, fends off the attackers, and saves Vespa's bacon for the second time in two days.
At the following gladiator tournament, Marcus confronts Goliath, and they fight to the
death. (I won't tell you who wins, but I'll give you a hint -- it isn't Goliath.) Then,
unexpectedly, unexplainably, but yet mercifully, Mount Vesuvius erupts, destroying
Pompeii (but unfortunately missing most of the principal characters), and ending this
tragedy -- which brings forth the following questions:
What exactly was Berenice doing in Pompeii? It was obvious that she wasn't enjoying her
stay. It appeared that Clodius was expecting her, and doing his best to impress her, but what exactly was her
function? And how did she become such a fierce (ha!) warrior?
How did Berenice always know when (and where) Vespa was in trouble? Did she consult her
psychic friend? And why did she care? Why did she bother saving her from Goliath at the
brothel, and yet still leave her there? If you are going to save somebody, shouldn't you
remove them from the establishment which induces harm? I don't know, maybe I'm just being
There seemed to be a long-standing feud between Goliath and
Marcus...so, what the heck was it? Why did they seem to hate each other? What was the
background of this historic rivalry? It's this crazy new concept called character
And finally, why does Donald Pleasance have to act like such an idiot? Well, I guess I
can't necessarily blame the movie for that.
Though it may be redundant, allow me to summarize my thoughts by telling you not
to see this movie. It is an exercise of sheer boredom and incoherency -- not to mention a
test of my patience.
- The stunning scene where we get to see Clodius flail around like a moron trying to
catch doves for Berenice's amusement. Does Donald Pleasance have no shame? Sorry, stupid
- The "thrilling" gladiator combat! One contest has the opposing factions
tied to their respective stone columns, then they each take turns throwing a razor sharp
discus at each other (ala "Xena: Warrior Princess"), and after each throw, they
have to walk around the column, making their leash shorter, thus making it harder to dodge
the lethal projectile being hurled at them. This particular scene also shed light on the
fact that the ancient Roman's innards distinctly resemble spaghettios. I guess the gore
used in the film wasn't factored into the budget, and they had to make do with whatever
was on hand (or at the Lunch Wagon). And if you do happen to watch this film (fool!), be
sure to pay attention when Goliath takes out a heckler in the crowd -- funny stuff.
Another exciting contest has the gladiators swinging from ropes back and forth from
platform to platform, punching each other with nail-covered gloves. Whoever falls first
meets the spikes layering the bottom of the pit. Unfortunately, my favorite gladiator
spectacle, the one where the contestant tries to make it through a rigorous obstacle
course while the opposing gladiator shoots tennis balls at them, was not featured in
The establishing shot of Warrior Queen. Notice I didn't say "one of
the" establishing shots -- for this is the only one! I must've have seen these
particular mountains about half a dozen times throughout the course of the film. Why?
What's the significance? I DON'T KNOW!
- Remember the huge gladiatorial extravaganza I referred to earlier? I may have
been pushing the envelope a bit with the word "huge." The only people who
actually attends this event are the principal characters. The roaring crowd was supplied
by stock footage from, seemingly, another film. A "stock crowd," if you will. A very
obvious stock crowd.
One fascinating feat the filmmaker's successfully pulled-off was filming
an orgy sequence completely void of anything erotic. Amazing. Another interesting
aspect of this scene was the snake-dancing number a la From Dusk 'Til Dawn. The difference
being, the girl performing the dance is not Salma Hayek. Not in the least bit. I've seen
episodes of "Hee-Haw!" that are more erotic.
Be sure to look for the random midget during the orgy scene, as well.
Like the one in Shaolin Deadly Kicks (Flash Legs), he provides absolutely nothing to the
story. His only function is to sit atop a stone column, in the middle of the brothel, and
laugh hysterically for no apparent reason. The only time his presence is acknowledged by
another character is when his hysterics get a bit out of hand and Victo gives him a little
smack on the face. So, I'm assuming the midget was added as a novelty -- because, as you
well know, short people are FUNNY! Why? Because they're SHORT!
- The devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius! Actually, it's more like devastating,
grainy stock footage of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (or a close facsimile thereof). And
it's during this eruption that Chloe, instead of trying to escape, returns to the brothel,
and defiantly stands her ground as the building collapses on top of her; for as well all
know, a good hooker goes down with the whorehouse. A stirring testament to the power of
the human spirit; Upon my initial viewing, a single, solitary tear came to my eye.
Doesn't appear to be available at Amazon.com.
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman