True story: there has been a single, inevitable, universal response to "I'm going to watch and review every '80s high fantasy movie I can find!" "All right," people say, "but when are you going to watch Hawk the Slayer?"
So it was that Hawk the Slayer achieved an almost mythical status in my mind. It became the ur-film; the uber film; the one film to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Naturally, it was the film with which Pornokitsch chose to ring in the new year. Yes, we invited several friends over, invented a drinking game, and watched Hawk the Slayer between the terminal minutes of 2010 and the stacatto bursts of blinking Christmas lights and distant fireworks that ushered in 2011. (And for about 45 minutes on either side.)
And did Hawk the Slayer hold up? Yes, my friends. Hawk the Slayer held up very well. Very well indeed.
Before we get started, some information you must know. Hawk, our hero, is played by
John Terry. John Terry was thirty years old when Hawk the Slayer was released. Hawk's villanous elder brother, Voltan, is played by Jack Palance. Yes, that Jack Palance. The Jack Palance who was born in 1919. And was, therefore, sixty-one years old in 1980.
Right. Just something to keep in mind.
The film opens with an old man being scenery-chewingly Palanced to death by his elder son. Anyway, before he croaks, the father bequeaths his magical fist-handled sword (yes, really) to his second son, Hawk. Hawk vows vengance. Voltan runs off to induldge himself in a little mischeif and mayhem and general villany - villany which includes kidnapping an abbess and holding her for ransom, for whatever reason. (Because it's evil!) There's some boring plotty stuff intercutting the villany, but all that really matters is that some guy survives being Palanced and rushes off to find Hawk.
Hawk is incensed - incensed! - by his evil brother's nefarious Palancing. A not-at-all-hot woman, sorceress throws a magical hula-hoop over him which he uses to collect a ragtag group of allies. These allies are, according to IMDB (I swear this is how they're credited):
As JRR Tolkien fidgets uneasily in his grave, Hawk and his merry band of fantasy do-gooders (and their magic weapons, of course) jaunt off to save the abbess, fight the Palancing blight, and avenge Hawk's be-dead-enated dad. Also, as it turns out, Hawk's wife, whom the Palance had a little crush on and accidentally Palanced to death after she knocked one of his eyes out with a burning log. Oopies!
A final fight at the abbess' convent results in loads of bodies, a heroically self-sacrificing (unnamed) nun, a heroically self-sacrificing Baldin, Dwarf, and the promise that the lords of the underworld will bring Voltan back from the great beyond, to Palance us all again.
We're still waiting.
Hawk the Slayer is justifiably famous for its weaponry. If you can't concieve of anything more awe-inspiring than a fist-handled sword - well, go rent Hawk the Slayer right this instant. Crow, Elf has got a magically repeating bow! And Baldin, Dwarf wields a magical whip! And, the fine folks over at Wikipedia tell me, Gort, Giant carries a "mighty mallet." Oh, it is a mighty mallet indeed. Indeed. You can get a taste of a typical Hawk battlescene right here:
But what Hawk the Slayer is most justifiably famous for, of course, is Jack Palance. What he's doing in this film, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure he didn't know, either. But bless him for it. He swaggers and spits his way through veritable forests of mediocre production values, ridiculous plotting, horrific acting, terrifying makeup and worse special effects; every scene he's in glows with celestial light, and every scene he's not in makes the birds fall dead from the sky. (At left: Palancing.)
Now, of course, I had the advantage of Hawk the Slayer. I saw it as it should be seen: surrounded by friends and three sheets to the wind. Under these conditions, Hawk the Slayer is Unmitigated Awesomeness. As such, my next post will be a M&M extra, the Hawk the Slayer Drinking Game. Until then!
Monsters: One tallish actor (Gort, Giant); two smallish actors (Crow, Elf and Baldin, Dwarf), and Jack Palance.
Mullets: Hawk himself had a fairly sprightly mullet. There were a few others scattered about, as well.
Hookers, Victims & Doormats: No hookers, but loads of victims (dead nuns, one dead wife) and one doormat (woman, sorceress).
Doesn't Anyone Think This Shit Through: I was possibly a little too inebriated to notice any uncomfortable subtexts, aside from the fact that only one female character in the entire movie had a name.
Comprehensive Monsters & Mullets Awesomeness Spectrum Placement: A first! Hawk the Slayer scores pretty low, but Jack Palance is so damned brilliant that he manages to break away and nab his own spot way up by Awesome. Palanced in your face.