Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1992)
Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1992)

Genre: Adventure and Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 20 min.

Release Date: July 28th, 1992 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Joe Finley Actors: Lana Clarkson, Greg Wrangler, Rebecca Wood, Elizabeth Jaeger, Roger Cudney, Alejandro Bracho, Cecilia Tijerina, Orietta Aguilar, Monica Steuer

 


 

P

rincess Athalia (Lana Clarkson) doesn’t want to become a lady, but her handmaiden insists upon grooming a proper royal. When Athalia learns that her more permissive father, the beloved King Ico, was lost in a recent battle, she witnesses chief strategist Ankaris (Alejandro Bracho) and his primary guard Hofrax (Roger Cudney) seize the throne. Ankaris also demands that Athalia reveal to him the secret of the scepter, a bit of magic entrusted to her alone.

As there was no body of the king found on the battlefield, Athalia refuses to cooperate, and is imprisoned for her troubles. Although she’s nearly tricked by the new ruler’s evil, bratty daughter Tamis (Cecilia Tijerina), who hopes to possess the magic scepter for her father, Athalia not only escapes the embarrassment of kissing the little girl’s foot and becoming her slave, but she also manages to avoid the hangman’s knot by overpowering her execution escort to flee into the woods. There, a band of rebels (mostly warrior women) plot an overthrow of the corrupt kingdom – and all they need is a new leader.

The story picks up so quickly that it feels like a direct sequel to a television series episode. But this second “Barbarian Queen” movie merely borrows the name and a few returning players; none of the characters or scenarios are continuations of the 1985, low-budget, swords-and-sandals, exploitation venture. It’s a little confusing, considering that the production design in general (including the ill-fitting costumes, acceptable sets, and cheap props [such as a scythe that a farmer holds backwards as he charges into battle]) looks exactly as it did before. It’s as if the filmmakers decided to shoot a follow-up, but changed the names at the last minute due to some copyright issue.

It hardly matters. The proceedings barely pass as a movie. It’s little more than an opportunity for people to dress up as knights and Amazons, and to engage in pitiful duels. Punches are thrown extra wide, while swords miss their mark by several meters (or pass ungracefully under an arm) or never make contact with another edged weapon at all. But a barrel of water is dumped onto the ground just seconds before two women grapple, resulting in a mud-wrestling match, while Lana’s breasts (and those of her opponent) conspicuously pop out of her dress (as well as on numerous other occasions, especially when she hefts a sword). Were it not for this gratuitous nudity, there might not even be any entertainment value for the softcore crowd.

Background characters can barely muster any enthusiasm, lines are delivered without emotion, the dubbing is noticeably off, and the dialogue is alternately obnoxious and unintentionally funny (during a rape scene, a peasant woman is told to “take it like a man”; “What an awesomely disgusting sight,” exclaims Hofrax as he tears off Athalia’s bodice). Several characters are probably intended solely as comic relief (such as the clumsy Noki, played by Elizabeth Jaeger), but it’s difficult to be certain, considering just how flat many of the jokes fall. Additionally, the simplest of details are too much to work out, such as tying up a man’s hands, or tormenting Hofrax when he’s captured by the rebels (his golden cape is teasingly fingered by a young woman’s dirty hands, before Athalia threatens him with sexual advances).

The special effects are also hilariously bad to match. Plus, despite running less than 90 minutes, the plot crawls along, unsure of how to keep the repetitious actions interesting. But perhaps most ludicrous – and indefensible – of all is that Clarkson ends up strapped to a torture rack, topless, yet again (twice, actually), to duplicate the only memorable scene from the first “Barbarian Queen.”

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10