Friday, December 28, 2012

AMAZONS


Alejandro Sessa, 1986
Starring: Penelope Reed, Ty Randolph, Danitza Kingsley, Joseph Whipp

This is the last of the Argentinian sword and sorcery films -- a genre unknown by many but loved by some -- produced by Roger Corman and H├ęctor Olivera. I expected little from Amazons, but have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it is low budget and practically everything about the film is unforgivably cheesy, but it is also surprisingly entertaining. The closest thing I can compare this to is Jack Hill’s Sorceress (1982), a movie I actually really love, mostly because it is so dumb you can’t help but enjoy it. There is a certain joie de vivre about both films, despite or because of their absolutely stupidity. The Amazons themselves seem to be right off the set of Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983) or Deathstalker II (1987) and there are a lot of typical sword and sorcery tropes.

Amazons was directed by the competent Alejandro Sessa, who produced a variety of sword and sorcery movies, including Deathstalker (1983), The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984), Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985), Barbarian Queen (1985) and even Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), though the latter is probably best ignored. Ozone, I ask you? Anyway, Amazons is about what you would expect. A tribe of scantily clad women warriors are attacked by an evil wizard. One of the Amazons, Dyala, has a vision about a magical sword, which is the only thing that can defeat him. She is sent on a quest with the daughter of a family rival, Tashi, whose mother orders her to kill Dyala and take the sword when their quest is complete. Will Tashi’s family loyalty win out over her love for her tribe?

Written by Charles R. Saunders and based on his story “Agbewe’s Sword,” which was part of a 1979 anthology Amazons! Interestingly, this collection was edited and mostly written by women and features primarily female protagonists, a first for the genre. I don’t think this is still in print, but the editor, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, also edited the interesting looking The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era

The plot of Amazons is typically convoluted and makes no sense. For example, why would Tashi’s mother use Tashi to get revenge? She’s the Amazon general and certainly has enough power, authority, and skill to carry it out herself. Instead, she betrays all of the Amazons to make an alliance with the evil wizard. Because that makes sense. The fight scenes aren't all that great, but we’re basically at the end of sword and sorcery month, so what did you expect? I hope the answer is topless ladies, because that’s all you’re going to get, though this isn’t quite as sexy as Deathstalker. There is one softcore sex scene, though there are many boob shots and a fair amount of violence.

There’s also a lot of the expected ridiculousness, including a traveling cage of women slaves, a werelion, a human sacrifice, etc. The acting is absurd, though all the actors take themselves very seriously, which helps with the humor. I have to recommend Amazons, but only to sword and sorcery fanatics. Fortunately there’s a DVD from Concorde/New Horizons, though it’s pretty basic.

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