Friday, December 14, 2012


Ralph Bakshi, 1983
Starring: Susan Tyrrell, Maggie Roswell, William Ostrander, Stephen Mendel

The kingdom of Icepeak is waging war against the world, sending glaciers further and further towards the kingdom of Firekeep. The evil Queen and her son Nekron ignore requests for peace or compromise and soon kidnap King Jarol’s daughter, Teegra. She manages to escape from the band of barbarians taking her to Icepeak and meets Larn, whose entire people has been killed by Nekron. Teegra and Larn try to find their way back to Firekeep, but are caught again by the barbarians. A stranger, Darkwolf, intervenes to save them and takes Larn to destroy Nekron once and for all. 

I'm sad to say it, but Fire and Ice is one of my least favorite sword and sorcery films. I watched it for the first time this week and was sorely disappointed. I wanted to include it because it's a collaboration between the renowned Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta, but it represents what I consider to be the worst elements of fantasy and sword and sorcery films. 

First and foremost, which I already mentioned in my review of Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), is that I hate films with tribes of humanoids running around in loin cloths, communicating in grunts and kidnapping scantily clad barbarian babes. This film is full of them, putting Nekron as the lesser villain in the face of his humanoid henchmen. I find this an incredibly distasteful, basically racist plot device. The second strike against Fire and Ice is the total lack of characterization. I was completely uninterested in anyone in this film by the halfway point. While Nekron and Darkwolf both had promise, this was utterly stripped from them by the script. 

The third and final element is the treatment of Princess Teegra, whose lack of clothing was more appropriate of softcore attire and felt demeaning. I love a lot of porn and erotica films and generally don’t feel like a woman’s attire makes much of a statement about how the film treats women. In this case it’s almost like they made a list of offensive things and then added them into the script. Teegra is a completely worthless and uninteresting character. 

This cult animated film is a collaboration between two famous figures in ‘80s fantasy fandom. Ralph Bakshi created of a number of well-known animated films for adults like Fritz the Cat (1972), Wizards (1977) and Lord of the Rings (1978), while Frank Frazetta is one of the most celebrated fantasy artists of the last century. His iconic Conan paintings influenced the entire '80s fantasy film genre. I assume if you’re reading my sword and sorcery series, no explanation is needed. They used rotoscoping to give Fire and Ice a realistic, but specifically Frazetta look. On this point it completely succeeds and benefits from Bakshi and Frazetta’s constant involvement in the production. Written by Conan comic writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, I sadly have nothing good to say about the script. It lacks the humor, adventure and intelligence of much of Marvel’s Conan

Blue Underground put out a great two-disc DVD full of special features, including a feature length documentary about Frazetta, Painting With Fire. There’s also an audio commentary with Bakshi, a making of feature, more featurettes, a trailer, etc. The single disc DVD doesn’t have the Frazetta documentary. I wish I could recommend this, but you're probably better off watching Deathstalker II

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