The Beastmaster

March 21, 2017 at 2:06 am (9 Heads, Beastmaster) (, , , )

The Beastmaster – 1982 – United States

In a sorcerous ritual, a human baby named Dar is birthed from the womb of a cow. He grows into a young warrior with a telepathic connection to animals. After barbarian raiders destroy his village, he sets out for revenge. Along the way, he befriends a falcon, a black tiger, and two super-cute ferrets called Kodo and Podo. With his sword, collapsible boomerang, and animal menagerie, he frees a city enslaved by an evil priest and finds true love.

The Beastmaster is an epic adventure in a barbaric world. The characters, sets, costumes, and situations continually reinforced the setting’s wild ruggedness. Dar crosses craggy mountains and dusty plains before arriving in a monolithic city (complete with a ziggurat). He battles berserker “Death Guards”, witches with beautiful bodies and saggy old faces, and moth-men with acid secreting skin. In this perilous land, the dominant religion demands the sacrifice of children.

Charismatic Dar and his animal friends inject fun and humor into the bleak setting. Dar meets his girlfriend after ordering his ferrets to steal her clothes while she bathes. He further impresses her by pretending to battle his own tiger. Dar is also joined by a warrior-monk with a wry sense of humor and a spunky young prince.

Beastmaster has a lot of animal actors. Dar’s tiger, falcon, and ferret interact with him constantly. There is also a bear, a mule, lots of horses, and a dog that can play dead really well. The live animals are never replaced with puppets. I read a filmmaking book claiming that dealing with animals is one of the greatest challenges on set. If that’s true, then Beastmaster is all the more impressive for it.

Rating: 9/10 Shrunken Heads. Beastmaster was directed by Don Coscarelli who also directed Phantasm (1979). I love him!


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