Although fantasy films have been produced more or less steadily since the 1940s, the 1980s saw an unprecedented explosion of such movies, slashing and bashing their way out of our cinemas and video players and into our hearts. Monsters & Mullets is Pornokitsch's ongoing project to review each and every 80s fantasy film we can get our grubby little mits on, and rate them according to various incredibly empirical metrics including, of course, the number of monsters and mullets each movie features.
There was a brief moment, a fleeting few seconds during the first ten minutes of the sci-fi/fantasy mashup/horror that is Krull where it seemed that the film might actually do something interesting, possibly even unique. I sat up straighter, brushed the cat off my lap, and started paying attention. Alas, all that promise was destroyed within about 8 seconds. (I'd go back and time it, but that would mean watching even a fraction of this movie again, and I'd rather eat my own tongue.) Ultimately Krull exceeded all my expectations - but not the good kind of expectations - and earned itself a spot at the (very) low end of the Comprehensive Monsters & Mullets Awesomeness Spectrum.
The film opens with the usual ponderous voiceover narration, some stentorian male voice droning on about prophecies and ancient enemies. See, there's a bad thinger, a giant rock (inhabited, as it turns out, by a giant fish-man and some squigly, screaming tentacle-worms wearing cyborg suits). The giant fish-man is some kind of evil space monster with serious imperial intentions, and he and his army of squiggly tentacle-worms fly around space in their giant... rock and land on planets and conquor the planets and then fly off to other planets to do it all over again. Wash, rinse, repeat: you know the epic fantasy villain drill by now, don't you? Anyway, Fish-Man lands on planet Krull and begins the process. Unfortunately for Fish-Man, Krull happens to be the home of said portentious prophecy, some garbled nonsense about how a prince and a princess from warring kingdoms will unite and have a baby who will eventually rule the galaxy.
Following an endless effects tracking shot of the giant rock flying veeeeerrrrryyyy ssslllloooowwwllly through space and landing on Krull, we cut to the one building we will ever see on the entire face of the planet, throughout the entire movie: a castle stuck out in the middle of a field. The severely corsetted Princess Lyssa and be-bearded Prince Colwyn have decided to get married, bless them! Their respective fathers aren't so happy about it, but whatever. Three-quarters of the way through the marriage ceremony (which involves Colwyn dunking a torch into a bucket of water, and Lyssa sticking her hand in the water to pull out a palmful of fire, which she is then supposed to pass to him - incredibly, this will become important later on), the cyborg-worm monsters attack and kill everyone. Everyone, of course, except for our dear princess, whom they spirit back to their giant rock home.
You wouldn't know it from the movie, but according to Wikipedia the Fish-Man has heard of the prophecy and decided to marry the princess himself so that it's his son who will eventually rule the galaxy. Anyway, Lyssa spends the rest of the movie running around inside the giant rock and arguing with Fish-Man about the importance of love.
It was that moment, when the cyborg-worms killed everone including Colwyn, that I thought we might just have an uncrowned 80s fantasy-film classic on our hands. Was all the prophesyzing a clever misdirect? The first few minutes some sort of brilliant red-herring?
Sadly, no. Ynyr the Old One (that's really his name) wanders onto the scene and saves Colwyn's life. The namby-pamby little brat passed out from a scratch to his shoulder. What a hero! What follows is a very long, not at all complicated series of events wherein the two collect a merry band of ragtag convict followers, including a young Liam Neeson and a young, dubbed Robbie Coltrane, and try to locate the giant flying rock, which changes location once every 24 hours. First, of course, Colwyn must outfit himself with the expected epic weapon, in this case the "glaive," a kind of knife-edged, five-pointed boomerang he can apparently control with his mind. Don't get excited, though; Colwyn will never ever use this weapon when it could save the lives of his friends, instead using it as a drill to saw through a door to get to his affect-free princess at the movie's climax.
Meanwhile, nearly everyone else in his party of 20-odd men are dead by the end of the film, many quite horribly. The noble cyclops has been squashed to death, Ynyr was chased down by a gigantic spider and then, literally, watched the sands of his life-essence run through his own fingers, the ancient blind seer-mage was strangled and drowned in a bog, and all the other merry convicts who make up Krull's fleet of redshirts were shot, skewered, or drowned.
Eventually Colwyn defeats the Fish-Man by reuniting with stupid Lyssa and realizing that they are powerful together because they love each other. They complete the aborted marriage ceremony from earlier, she passes the flame back to him, and he uses it to blowtorch the fuck out of the bad guy. They collect their greviously wounded friends and beat a hasty retreat as the giant flying rock (inevitably) collapses around them. Hooray, the end!
Fine, the movie's not a total waste of time. The fire-mares, horses that can run so fast their hooves catch fire, oh and also they can fly, are sublimely ridiculous. And, in the movie's one really interesting and affecting scene, Ynyr has to crawl through a giant cobweb to talk to his ex-girlfriend, and they share a tender moment about love and lost youth. Before, of course, dying horribly. Also, there's a giant spider that bounces when it gets angry, which is brilliant. The score is by James Horner, fresh off his success scoring The Wrath of Khan, so we're okay with it. And the scenery (Krull was filmed in Italy) is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Monsters: 1 giant spider, 1 Fish-Man, 1 cyclops, multiple fire-mares, and multiple screaming, squiggly tentacle-worm cyborgs.
Mullets: Multiple partial, but no complete mullets.
Victims & Whores: 1 victim (kidnapped princess), 1 whore (who then becomes a victim when Fish-Man kills her with, oh, the force or something), 1 random extra woman who serves Liam Neeson dinner. They probably cut the scene where she dies horribly.
Awesomness Quotient: So slender it doesn't cast a shadow.
Comprehensive Monsters and Mullets Awesomeness Spectrum Placement: Between The Sword & the Sorcerer and, I don't know, maybe Red Sonja.