With the success of such films as Hawk the Slayer (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982), and Krull (1983) fantastical and mythical movies of sword and sorcery enjoyed an hitherto unseen commercial success in the early 1980’s. The cycle wasn’t to last long, but proof of its appeal was confirmed when the Italian’s got in on the act with a series of low budget rip offs such as the Ator series (1982, 84, 86, and 1990), Lucio Fulci’s dreadful Conquest (1983), and almost unwatchable crap like Throne of Fire (1983). As an index of box office appeal and success there was none greater in the 1970’s and 1980’s than the inevitable cycle of cheap Italian imitations. In many ways Ladyhawke (which strolled to No 1 in last month’s film review poll) is one of the most atypical of the cycle. There is no doubt in my mind that it would not have been made, were it not for some of the films previously mentioned, yet in an act of craven gutted cowardice, the filmmakers behind it chose to jettison the violence, and the special effects in favour of a soporific, sickly-sweet, saccharine, gag-inducing romance aimed at teenage girls. This is low calorie sword and sorcery (the sorcery element is also non-existent), but the filmmakers and producers are not beyond drawing from the genre (or should that be jumping onto the bandwagon) in order for their sugar coated medieval yarn to appeal to the widest audience. I can only imagine how mystified and disgusted male sword and sorcery fans were when they went to see this in theatres back in 1985.
© Shaun Anderson 2012