Deathstalker (1983)
By: James Gillett on September 5, 2009  | 
Jigsaw Entertainment (Australia) Region 4, PAL 4:3. English DD 2.0. 76 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: James Sbardellati
Starring: Rick Hill, Barbi Benton, Richard Brooker, Lana Clarkson
Screenplay: Howard R. Cohen
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Rotten YouTube
Deathstalker (Rick Hill), a Conan-esc warrior in an unspecified medieval fantasy setting, quests to destroy a much feared evil sorcerer and rescue the king's kidnapped daughter. Along the way he'll have to gather the three powers of creation - a chalice, an amulet, and a sword – in order to defeat his advisory and rid the land of evil once and for all.

He'll also have to grope many a breast...

In the opening scene, after despatching a group scummy goblin like humanoids, which in turn saves a young scantily clad woman, our hero approaches her, pulls down her top and proceeds to feel her chest area. Moments later, a man suddenly appears out of nowhere and asks for the hero's name, and the distraction allows the girl to escape. Upon discovering her absence, Deathstalker turns and sighs 'This isn't my day'.

What more is there to say? That opener perfectly encapsulates the films tone and tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Deathstalker. To put it simply, it's a low budget, trashy Conan rip-off with a predilection towards gratuitous tit shots and random battles, with a hero who might as well be a villain. Nothing really makes sense (a fact best accepted early) instead it's all about set-pieces, with a plot that's just a rough guideline to facilitate random encounters and hammy effects.

Indeed your enjoyment of Deathstalker will undoubtedly be dependent to your tolerance for bad filmmaking, shoddy editing, terrible makeup and all round lacklustre (if mildly amusing) performances. It's a B movie though and though, so consider yourself warned. If that all sounds good and dandy, and you can endure all for the sake of some silly exploitive nonsense, you're in for a cheesy fun time, at least for the most part.

The main criticism to be levelled at Deathstalker (apart from its technically inept execution) is that it tends to lose its way towards the second half and never fully recovers. Despite the novelty of its constant gratuities, it all becomes a little dull (a crime for this kind of B movie) only to end rather anticlimactically.

Never fear, for there are still some oddities to enjoy, like a random puppet creature who lives in a little chest and chows on fingers and eyeballs. It's moments like these that keep this film amusingly entertaining. Also a curiosity is a large pig-man that looks like something out of Duke Nukem 3D, and fits completely in harmony with the tone of this strange little movie.

Trivia Bits: Screenwriter Howard R. Cohen later wrote and directed Deathstalker IV and also scripted Deathstalker III and Barbarian Queen.
Presented in 4:3 (despite the back cover stating it's a 1:85:1 16:9 transfer) Deathstalker looks like a bad VHS rip with some pixilation thrown in for good measure. It's really an atrocious looking print, and one that constantly reminds you you're watching a cheap budget-priced disc.
A fairly flat Dolby Digital 2.0 track that can be best described as functional.
Extra Features
Nothing to report. The menu looks like it was created in around 5 minutes on a cheap consumer application and features only a scene selection.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Deathstalker isn't strictly a good movie, but there is some fun to be had, especially for those who can't get enough of trashy low budget Sword & Sorcery fair. Others might do better checking out Conan: the Barbarian or even The Beastmaster instead. Unfortunately the disc is rubbish, with the only positive being the wonderful cover art by Boris Vallejo. Hopefully fans will get a decent remastered widescreen version soon, as this release is a complete shocker.

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