Deathstalker II (1987)
Release Date: November 11th, 1987 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jim Wynorski Actors: John Terlesky, Monique Gabrielle, John La Zar, Toni Naples, Maria Socas, Dee Booher, Carina Davi
he first “Deathstalker” was no classic. Instead of following up with the few parts that did work, “Deathstalker II” (with a working title of “Cazador II” due to its Argentinian originations and an unofficial DVD title of “Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans”) decided to abandon everything and start anew, replacing the occasionally amusing lead character with a completely hammy, grinning idiot. The new Deathstalker (John Terlesky) is a mighty warrior, renowned throughout the land as a master thief, independent swordsman, and notorious womanizer. He joins up with Reena the Seer (Monique Gabrielle), an oracle who predicts he will voyage on an important quest that will be remembered throughout the ages – right alongside the likes of Conan. Her character tries to provide comic relief, but the jokes and the delivery are so monstrously pathetic, it ruins any chance of being genuinely funny – except for the humor found in filmmaking that’s so bad it’s mildly entertaining.
Meanwhile, the evil sorcerer Jarek (John La Zar) has magically created Princess Evie, an exact duplicate of Reena (who was once the princess of the city of Jafeer), cloned to usurp the throne. For some reason, Evie must feed on the blood of young men – and she places their contorted, disembodied faces on her enormous headboard. Chin the one-eyed assassin (Marcos Wolinsky) has hired a team of elite butchers to hunt down Deathstalker, including the hilariously adjective-filled lineup of Crazy Alto Rango the Mad Prussian, Ed “The Head” Shamanski (part time consultant to Attila the Hun), John “The Baptist” Bombaso (drowning is his specialty), Nick “The Crippler of Cashmere” (his name says it all), and Buddy “Footstool” LaRosa (only recently dismissed by Ivan the Terrible for excessive brutality). Of course, this violent group doesn’t stand a chance against the prince of thieves, always able to outwit his opponents with snappy comebacks. And Sultana (Toni Naples), a wicked sorceress that just wants revenge against the man that’s always getting in the way of her conquering, approaches Jarek to help with the demise of Deathstalker, specifically after his gang of hired killers can’t finish the job. During the odyssey, Deathstalker will escape booby traps, fend off the walking dead, battle royal guards and spell-casting assassins, and combat an all-female Amazonian tribe.
“I’ll have my revenge… and Deathstalker too.” This contemptible speech cues the “Deathstalker II” logo, made more foolish by the character actually saying the title. Other absurd quotes include: “Ordinarily I don’t mind seeing a woman get a good beating if she deserves it,” and “Deathstalker? Is that your first name or your last name?” What a hero. This loose sequel also reuses a lot of footage from the first film, including the mud fight and the Gamorrean Guard-like pig soldier, along with obviously similar costumes. Even one background character, Wolinsky, makes a reappearance, playing a similar knave with a different name – presumably unable to get a job doing anything else. Unfortunately, the producers chose Terlesky and Gabrielle, the two actors least likely to ever be believable in a swords and sorcery barbarian epic.
The film contains cheesy rock music, pitifully synthesized sound effects, badly choreographed fight scenes that are so amateurish they appear as if intended to be in slow motion, groaning zombies, midget abuse, dubbing so dreadful it appears as if the original, serious words were altered to be purposely silly, laughably nonsensical dialogue with terrible acting to match, and much less nudity than the predecessor. Adding to the mediocrity is “Live Entertainment Nitely” written on a tavern entrance and the phrase “for cryin’ out loud,” which feel carelessly anachronistic. And yet, it seems pointless to criticize a film for small errors when the low budget and ridiculous nature of the story and characters make the whole ordeal a moviemaking joke – never more apparent than when outtakes roll during the end credits.
– Mike Massie