Barbarian Queen (1985)
Release Date: April 26th, 1985 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Hector Olivera Actors: Lana Clarkson, Katt Shea, Frank Zagarino, Dawn Dunlap, Susana Traverso, Victor Bo, Andrea Barbizon
arbarian Queen” never really had potential. It was made to be an exploitive swords and sorcery revenge tale, complete with gratuitous nudity, generic fight scenes, savage villains, and semi-erotic violence against women. It stars many of the same actors from “Deathstalker” (1983), along with quite a few repeat behind-the-scenes filmmakers. What it’s missing is the sorcery, the fantasy, the creativity… and the fun. For some reason, it also lacks any humor. Maybe the colorful poster art by Boris Vallejo is the best thing about the film.
In classic exploitation fashion, “Barbarian Queen” opens with a rape scene. Taramis (Dawn Dunlap) is attacked outside her village by a group of Viking-like warriors, who proceed to kill, capture, and burn down the huts of the unsuspecting townspeople. Taramis’ sister Amethea (Lana Clarkson) is about to be wed to the muscular Argan (Frank Zagarino) when the strike occurs. He’s imprisoned and forced to become a gladiator slave while she makes a daring escape into the wilderness.
Amethea joins forces with two other survivors: Estrild (Katt Shea) is the unnecessarily girly one, even though she can handle a giant sword with ease, and Tiniara (Susana Traverso) is the one with the perfect makeup, despite constantly engaging in hand-to-hand combat (miraculously, they all manage to keep themselves fresh and rosy even after torture and fighting). The trio journeys to the castle of King Arrakur (Arman Chapman), a merciless leader who continues to rule the neighboring territories with ambushes and enslavement. Along the way, they meet up with a band of rebels and the brave young girl Dariac (Andrea Scriven), who guides them through underground caverns into the kingdom, where they’ll be repeatedly captured and freed, and where they must rally a final showdown that will make Arrakur pay for his 20 years of injustices. Perhaps the evil ruler shouldn’t keep so many angry, escape-ready, overthrow-prone musclemen gladiators in his realm at all times.
Also known as “Queen of the Naked Steel,” this contemptible mess features amateurish music by James Horner, pitiful dubbing (which hardly matters considering the childish dialogue), and despicably cheap sound effects. It sounds like “Mystery Science Theater 3000” has already had its way with the film. It also doesn’t help that the acting is unarguably pathetic. Most of the conversations are delivered slowly and unnaturally, as if being read from a teleprompter by an illiterate, while all of the battle sounds and cries are reminiscent of vintage arcade game noises and taunts.
It starts in what seems like the middle, and ends in what seems like the middle. Even the action is dull, as every swordfight is blandly choreographed. With corny mythology, plenty of blades to the reproductive organs, absurd torture devices (the silliest of which is a metal glove precariously dangling above Amethea’s nipples), orgies, and a few large-scale battle scenes (included just for the sake of calling the film a swords and sorcery epic), “Barbarian Queen” is ultimately just poorly constructed rubbish.
– Mike Massie