Lucio Fulci, 1983
Starring: Jorge Rivero, Andrea Occhipinti, Sabrina Siani
Though this can be said about many of Lucio Fulci’s films, Conquest is absolutely not like anything else. It may have borrowed a few things from Conan the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, peplum films, and Quest for Fire, but it goes so far off the deep end that I can’t rightfully compare it to any other sword and sorcery movies. A young man named Ilias is given a magic bow and journeys to another land to find the evil sorceress Ocron, who has a tribe of cavemen convinced that she is the goddess of the sun. She has a vision of a faceless warrior with a bow and arrows and sends a pack of wolfmen to hunt him down. Ilias is saved my Mace, a lone warrior who has a close friendship with animals. They are repeatedly attacked by Ocron’s wolfmen, who eventually capture Ilias. Mace rescues him and eventually agrees to help Ilias defeat Ocron, even though he does not believe they will succeed.
I don’t even know where to start. This insane Spanish-Italian-Mexican co-production could not have been made by anyone but Fulci. For fans of his horror films, there are some telltale signs: a catchy, if predictable score from Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti, plenty of gore, including a zombie attack, a few really disgusting moments involving infected pustules, and a woman being torn in half by Ocron’s wolfmen. The wolfmen, by the way, appear to be wearing wookie costumes. There is also a lot of nudity. A lot. In addition to a few cave women, Sabrina Siani (Ator the Fighting Eagle) plays Ocron nearly in the nude. A gold mask covers her face for the duration of the film and she wears a sort of loin cloth. Most of the time she rolls around, masturbating with a variety of snakes. It's not really family-friendly.
The effects are all pretty silly, but some moments are a little creepy, namely the weird rock-men that try to capture Mace and the swamp zombies that he fights. Speaking of Mace, there are definitely some surprises where he is concerned, including the Mark of Eibon (from The Beyond), which is drawn on his forehead, though I guess it’s supposed to be a scar. He’s played by prolific Mexican actor Jorge Rivero (Rio Lobo, Evil Eye, Priest of Love) who does the best he can with the role, but if you’re expecting a lot of acting chops out of this film, look elsewhere. Fulci regular Andrea Occhipinti (New York Ripper, A Blade in the Dark) is well-suited to the role of Ilias, who looks more like he belongs in a Greek mythology-inspired peplum than in a caveman/sword and sorcery film.
There are a lot of completely absurd elements: a plant that shoots poisonous barbs, Ilias’s bow that first shoots arrows but later activates to shoot laser beams, dolphins saving Mace from a watery doom, and so on. All of these things probably sound fabulous, but keep in mind that Conquest is surreal, disjointed, otherworldly, and utterly Fulci. If you like his other films, definitely watch it. Probably the most difficult thing to get through -- other than the inane plot, complete disregard for narrative structure, and strange pacing -- is the cinematography. Fulci wanted things to look hazy and dreamy, but it just looks like lube is smeared over the camera lens.
There’s a nice, if basic DVD from Blue Underground that includes two trailers and still galleries. It seem insane to recommend this, but I do, wholeheartedly.