Bloody Fantasy

Friday, March 13 – Monday, March 16, 2015

With the new season of Game of Thrones about to premiere on HBO, we hark back to the olden times of the early 1980s when a surge of adult-oriented fantasy epics descended upon movie theaters. Possibly sparked by the project that would eventually become CONAN THE BARBARIAN, Hollywood (and it’s schlocky cousins) went on a swords and sorcery bender that rivaled the attempts to cash in on the sci-fi craze caused by Star Wars. Between 1980 and 1982 alone, Time Bandits, Heavy Metal, Clash of the Titans, Beastmaster, the four films included in this series, and a slew of other rip-offs were all released. For this series, we focus on four titles that share a commitment to a pure fantasy setting and a prominence of “mature themes” (aka boobs & blood). EXCALIBUR, the first of the four to be released, is the most serious and, consequently, the grimmest in its fantasy. DRAGONSLAYER, coproduced by Disney, skews younger but still brings a tone of realism to its magic. CONAN THE BARBARIAN is excitingly pulpy and carries the weird pagan heft of the original Robert E. Howard stories. And then there’s THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, undoubtedly a knock-off, but its schlockiness brings a sense of looseness and humor that the other three sometimes lack. All four have become cult classics in the years since their release and watching them again on screen is a real treat.

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Conan the Barbarian

The Sword & the Sorcerer