Ator the Fighting Eagle (1983)
Ator the Fighting Eagle (1983)

Genre: Adventure and Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: March 11th, 1983 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Joe D’Amato Actors: Miles O’Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, Ritza Brown, Dakkar, Laura Gemser, Edmund Purdom, Chandra Vazzoler, Nat Williams, Jean Lopez, Olivia Goods




ccording to legend, in the Age of Darkness, the Kingdom of the Spider shall last 1000 years – and the people shall suffer for that same period, toiling as slaves in the Valley of the Shadow. And despite the potential for a child to be born with the power to overthrow the Spider King, the evil leader will forever reign supreme. This intricate myth, chronicled in an opening narration, is particularly silly, considering that most saviors are prophesied to succeed – not to fail.

When a child is indeed born bearing an ancient mark that spells disaster for Dakkar, the High Priest of the Spider (the actor’s name is also credited as Dakkar, which bizarrely means he’s playing himself), soldiers are dispatched to murder the infant before he can reach manhood. The townspeople are in a panic, with the merciless Black Knights indiscriminately slaughtering any baby they can snatch from wailing waifs. But the exiled Griba the Avenged (Edmund Purdom) saves the child, hiding him away with simple villagers until he can grow to be a mighty warrior, named Ator (Miles O’Keeffe), who can topple the oppression of the Spider King.

It’s not long before further legends are spelled out via cryptic narration. And these are equally as confusing and nonsensical. But nothing is quite as hysterical as the dialogue, which is likely badly translated on top of the fact that it’s mediocrely dubbed. “Why can’t we marry?” inquires Ator to Sunya (Ritza Brown), the girl with whom he was raised. “Ator, we’re brother and sister,” she responds. After a slight pause, he exclaims, “I’ll talk with our father.” Eventually, Ator’s adoptive father reveals that the boy is not his real son, though that wouldn’t have stopped Ator from pursuing an incestuous relationship. Later, when Ator inspects Griba’s trove of armor and other trophies taken from his felled enemies, Griba comments, “That belonged to Chung the Terrible. I defeated him in combat during the assault on the City of the Winds, which was governed by the notorious Seven Siamese Sisters.”

As a painfully low-budget swords-and-sandals adventure, the film strives to include plenty of battles (the kind that are slow, as if a mere rehearsal of the choreographed movements, and full of high swings that cut the air well above the opponent), medieval weaponry, and tarantulas to crawl all over the lead villain, along with the frenzied sacking of Ator’s village, the kidnapping of his bride, training montages, and even a bear cub pet. Plus, there’s a blonde warrior girl, Roon (Sabrina Siani), who belongs to a tribe of shapely Amazon women. And when they capture Ator, they stage a contest between themselves to see who will have the honor of mating with the fine specimen they have acquired. “Are you ready to perform the duty that is my right?”

Though it’s meant to be something of a He-Man rip-off, “Ator the Fighting Eagle” (it’s never mentioned why the lead role would have that nickname) could have done well with greater exploitation elements. It’s an incredibly tame take on wicked tyrants, muscular fighters, scantily-clad warrior women, and seductive sorceresses (fortunately, Laura Gemser as a sparkly witch is on the right track of sleaziness, though she caresses a snake more than the lover she entrances). Even the moments of combat manage to avoid spilling blood.

At least the costuming isn’t bad, with ornate armor (a mix of all sorts of ancient influences, pieced together from every random prop the filmmakers could uncover) and furs adorning even the background characters, while a humongous spider monster is amusing in theory (but not entirely in execution). The anticlimactic and mild nature of every confrontation soon becomes downright boring, however, resulting in one of the weakest of all peplum pictures. And the uncredited closing titles theme music, sung by Simona Pirone, is outrageously cheesy. But what’s most inexplicable of all is the fact that this was followed by three sequels: “Ator 2: The Blade Master,” “Ator 3: The Iron Warrior,” and “Ator 4: Quest for the Mighty Sword.”

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10