Amazons (1986)
Amazons (1986)

Genre: Action and Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 15 min.

Release Date: October 29th, 1986 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Alex Sessa Actors: Windsor Taylor Randolph, Penelope Reed, Joseph Whipp, Danitza Kingsley, Wolfram Hoechst, Jacques Arndt, Charles Finch, Frank Cocza, Mary Fournery, Noelle Balfour

 


 

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n a dark and stormy night (suggested via sound effects, as there’s no visible weather), the black-cloaked, evil mage King Kalungo (Joseph Whipp, the only actor here who can act, if only because he doesn’t take his role seriously) conjures dark magic to invade a village that neighbors the forest. As soldiers engage in combat, lead Amazonian warriors Dyala (Windsor Taylor Randolph), General Tshingi (Danitza Kingsley) and her daughter Tashi (Penelope Reed), and many others worry about their lack of magical capabilities, wishing that a legendary lost sword and its wielder might return to save the day. But in its absence, they must take a sacred Spirit Stone from the temple and deliver it to the Queen of the Emerald Land (Annie Larronde) for safekeeping.

“Take them to the gates; impale them upside down.” Once the village falls to omnipotent lord Kalungo’s marauders, a surviving squadron of female fighters uses an underground tunnel system to flee into an enchanted grove. As Kalungo summons the otherworldly priest Balgur (Frank Cocza) to begin his final assault on the kingdom, Dyala and Tashi are tasked with venturing through demon territory, scavenger outlaw camps, and cannibal country to retrieve the mystical Sword of Azundati of the Shining Cave, which has appeared in a vision, and could save them all from Kalungo’s massacres.

With a “The Sword in the Stone” vibe, Dyala is the only one destined to uncover the powerful weapon. But the fantasy adventure notes stop there; everything about this Z-grade Roger Corman production is painfully deficient. The photography is primitive, the costumes are pitiful, the armory is flimsy (the shields are tinfoil-covered discs), and the acting is just stale recitations of bland dialogue. There are frequent battle scenes, but these are similarly coated in shabbiness, thanks to poor choreography and even worse hand-to-hand combat skills. Most of the action is laughably unconvincing.

Of course, the cheesiness doesn’t stop there. A lioness transforms into a woman (Akam, played by the perpetually naked Fabiana Smith) through a couple of still shots rather than actual special effects; Dyala rolls around on the ground, groaning almost erotically as a boa constrictor hangs playfully around her neck; and reptilian slave traders ritualistically sacrifice young women to a gooey tree monster. Although a few of the concepts hold moderate amusement, the execution is so inferior that the not-so-epic quest is mostly just boring.

As with many of Corman’s Argentinian peplum (or sword-and-sandal) pictures, “Amazons” boasts a wafer-thin story, recycled footage, and plenty of nudity from a cast of chesty blondes (Reed in particular always seems to have a freshly oiled cleavage). But the flesh on display certainly isn’t enough to save the film from its depressing paltriness (despite the budget allowing for the use of a real lion). Still, it’s good for oodles of unintentional humor (the climactic showdown is unexpectedly hilarious for all the wrong reasons), and it runs a mere 75 minutes. “Someone is killing my tree!”

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10