Yet another classic from my youthful days...whenever this film came on cable...it was like the call of the mythological sirens luring me to my brainless doom. This film flopped at the box office, but had a huge impact on television. TBS aired the film so often that it was dubbed "The Beastmaster channel." Never again in the future of fantasy films will a guy with a sword and a bag of ferrets be so friggin cool!
Directed by Don Coscarelli... (horror buffs know him as the man responsible for the "Phantasm" film series)....it's the tale of Dar (Marc Singer from V the classic alien invasion series) who as an unborn infant...was magically teleported into a cow's uterus by a witch. The plan was to sacrifice Dar so that his father King Zed would have no heir...and the evil priest Maax (pronounced may-axe..and played by Rip Torn) could take power with his ultimate cult of evil. (I guess kings never had secret service protection back in the day) Dar is saved however....and taken in by a bunch of kind villagers. Sounds like the typical fantasy crap right?....Ah....but the plot thickens.
You see...because he was born from a cow's womb...Dar grows up and finds out that he can communicate with all creatures in the animal kingdom telepathically....it doesn't make any sense...but come on...it's fantasy! After years of living peacefully, Dar's village is attacked and destroyed by a race of barbarians known as the Jun-Horde...that wouldn't you know...is controlled by Maax. Dar survives the massacre because the movie would just end if he didn't...and sets out on a quest for revenge and possibly a reclamation of his birth right.
Along the way he befriends a hawk, a couple of ferrets, and a black dyed tiger. Each of them contribute to the smiting of evil. The hawk can scout out miles ahead....and he can link up and see through its eyes. The ferrets can sneak around and steal keys from clueless guards...and the tiger can kill, eat, and shit out on a log anybody dumb enough to fuck with a tiger.
He meets some human allies as well.....the warrior Seth (John Amos from Good Times) and his young friend Tal (nobody special)...who happens to have some family ties with Dar. Throw in sexy red headed Kiri (Tanya Roberts..from that 70's show) who knows how to break into Maax's castle....and you have a youself a nice little fantasy fondue.
This movie had this kind of dark cool vibe to it. Rip Torn was a menacing villain.....there were witches that could walk up walls and turn dudes into evil leather clad S&M zombies by shoving glow worms in their ears. Our heroes also had to deal with the barbarian Jun army and these strange winged monsters who could snare a person...eat them...and crap them out into green foam. All worthy adversaries for Dar to go up against.
Marc Singer does the job well as Dar. He buffed up for the part and has cool 80's feathered hair. Along with his trusty sword and animal companions...he also has this razor boomerang thingy that he tosses around and causes mayhem with....I always wanted one...but they never had them at K-mart.
"The Beastmaster" rises to the cream of the fantasy crop. Easily one of my favorites that I enjoy even as an adult. Don't stick this one in a cow's womb and sacrafice it to your evil diety of choice...it's surprisingly good fantasy fluff!