Monday, December 24, 2012


Héctor Olivera, 1985
Starring: Lana Clarkson, Victor Bo, Susana Traverso, Dawn Dunlap

"No man can touch her naked steel!"

If you were to scrape the absolute bottom of the barrel of U.S.-Argentinian Roger Corman produced sword and sorcery films, there you would find The Barbarian Queen. As Red Sonja was to Conan, The Barbarian Queen is a spin-off of Deathstalker, meant to capitalize on Lana Clarkson’s role as the bare breasted, no-shit-taking warrior accomplice and lover of Deathstalker. Clarkson’s character here is a scantily clad warrior, but otherwise bears no connection to the superior Deathstalker.

On the day of her wedding, a barbarian queen’s village is attacked by a band of marauding Roman troops, who rape her sister and kill or enslave her subjects. The queen, Amethea, and two of her warriors set off to rescue her sister and her husband, both of whom are imprisoned by the leading centurion. After killing a number of soldiers and infiltrating the city, they are captured. One of Amethea’s companions is raped, the other is killed and Amethea is tortured on a rack and then raped. She is eventually rescued by some local rebels, who join her in her quest for vengeance. 

I made it clear that Deathstalker has silly dialogue, a lousy script, absurd acting, cheap effects, and so on, but The Barbarian Queen makes Deathstalker look like Academy Award material. It takes out 90% of the action and replaces it with women being degraded in a variety of ways, rape being the most popular. One of the classiest lines of dialogue is surely, “Nothing like a virgin to brighten a man’s morning.” Followed closely by, "If it hurts, you have only yourself to blame."

This is more of a barbarian film than sword and sorcery, as it lacks the latter, but it’s so preposterous I had to include it in my set of sword and sorcery reviews. It contains a lot of genre tropes: scantily clad women, battles, an entire village being massacred, a revenge plot, etc. And some stern sounding guy with an eye patch. 

"Let me see you. With your clothes off."

I don’t know if I can say that Héctor Olivera does his best directing here, but it’s certainly better than his other sword and sorcery film, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985). He also produced Deathstalker, The Warrior and the Sorceress and Amazons, so he has plenty experience with lousy, low budget trash.  I don’t think I can recommend The Barbarian Queen, but you could certainly make a fun drinking game out of it. The film is utterly ridiculous and has some of the most absurd dialogue in the entire subgenre. It’s certainly funny, but none of the humor is intentional. Regardless, Lana Clarkson is beautiful and gave it her all. If it is worth watching at all, it is so because of her. It’s very sad that she will mostly be remembered for her murder at the hands of slime ball producer Phil Spector. At least there is a great scene where her torturer tries to rape her and she gets some serious vaginal revenge. 

“There are no little girls anymore.”

If you’d like to punish yourself with The Barbarian Queen, it is part of the excellent Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Sword and Sorcery Collection, which also includes Deathstalker, Deathstalker II and The Warrior and the Sorceress

There is a sequel, Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1989), which doesn’t have a goddamned thing to do with the first movie. There is no empress in the original film, so I’m not sure how she can strike back. The only thing linking the films together is Clarkson and another scene of her being tortured on a rack. 

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