The Beastmaster

To help me through a sleepless night recently, I turned to an old favorite, the 1982 action/fantasy movie The Beastmaster. A very silly entertainment, starring Marc Singer and his fabulous physique (he’s in nothing but a loincloth for most of the movie) and big smile, plus a sizable cast of animals. One take, with Singer in fierce mode:

From the Wikipedia site:

The Beastmaster is a 1982 fantasy film directed by Don Coscarelli and starring Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, John Amos and Rip Torn. The film was marketed with the tagline “Born with the courage of an eagle, the strength of a black tiger, and the power of a god.”

The story in detail (I wouldn’t ordinarily post so much plot description, but this is so wonderfully preposterous that I couldn’t resist):

The Beastmaster tells the story of Dar (Marc Singer), the royal son of a king named Zed (Rod Loomis) who was stolen from the womb of Zed’s queen (Vanna Bonta) by a witch under the command of vicious high-priest sorcerer Maax (Rip Torn). A poor villager saves Dar from being sacrificed and raises him as his own son, teaching Dar how to fight and witnessing the boy’s ability to telepathically communicate with animals.

Their happiness is destroyed when their village is attacked by the evil Jun horde, a race of fanatic beast-like warriors controlled by Maax. Dar, the only survivor of the attack, vows revenge and journeys to his father’s former kingdom to destroy Maax. On the way he befriends and teams up with an eagle, to whom he gives the name Sharak, a black tiger he names Ruh and a pair of thieving ferrets he calls Kodo and Podo; meets a slave-girl called Kiri (Tanya Roberts) and encounters an eerie half-bird, half-human race who totally ingest human prey, leaving only the bones. These bird men worship eagles, and when they see that Dar commands Sharak, they give him an amulet which will let him request their aid.

Zed is imprisoned in the central pyramid of the city, where Maax exercises total power and demands children to be sacrificed to his god. Dar and Sharak save the child of townsman Sacco from sacrifice. Dar learns that Kiri is Zed’s niece and that she is being prepared for sacrifice in a temple. On the way to rescue her, he teams up with Zed’s younger son Tal and his bodyguard Seth (John Amos). Together they save Kiri and return to the city to free Zed from the pyramid. Zed, who has been blinded, is mad for revenge; he rejects Dar as a “freak”, and orders an immediate attack on the city that fails utterly. Maax is about to sacrifice Kiri and Zed when Dar reappears and frees Kiri. He fatally wounds Maax, but Maax has enough strength left to kill Zed. Maax is about to kill Dar, when Kodo leaps onto Maax and they fall to their deaths in the sacrificial fire. The Jun horde attack the city, but are defeated after a long fight. The bird-men consume the last of the Juns. Dar sets off into the waste with Kiri, Ruh, Sharak and Podo (who has given birth to two baby ferrets) on the path to new adventures.

… The film spawned two sequels: Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), and the made-for-television Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus (1996), followed by a syndicated television series.

And that’s just the high points. I haven’t mentioned the green luminescent slugs or the tar pit that surrounds the village (and eventually yields a kind of Götterdämmerung scene).

4 Responses to “The Beastmaster”

  1. nelsonminar Says:

    You might enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of The Beastmaster, starring David Hasselhoff. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqlhIRLjvmc

  2. Xopher Says:

    oh, Arnold. How Clay snorted, when I spent perfectly good money to secure a copy of this picture on laserdisc…

  3. Ian Says:

    Just to take the geekdom to the next level, the “central pyramid” you refer is called the Temple of Ar, Ar being the god Maax serves.

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