Barbarian Queen

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“Not exactly family viewing, yet energetic in a dumbly fun way. Lana Clarkson, RIP…”

With the untimely death of Lana Clarkson (legal advisers suggested we not use “murder by a crazed record producer”), this takes on a certain poignant quality, especially when she uses lines like, “I’ll be no man’s slave and no man’s whore.” Clarkson pioneered sword-swinging feminism well before Xena, and while no-one is going to mistake this for high art, it gallops along at a fine pace – lasting barely 70 minutes, it could hardly do otherwise.

Clarkson plays Amathea, whose wedding day is rudely interrupted when her village is burned and groom (Zagarino) captured into gladiatorial slavery. She sets out to rescue him, along with sidekick Estrild (Shea, who’d go on to direct Poison Ivy), and traumatised sister Taramis (Dunlap). Sneaking into the villain’s city, she teams up with the local rebels and convinces the gladiators they have a chance at freedom. They also get get caught and tortured. A lot. Chuck in numerous rape scenes and you wonder what audience it’s aimed at. But the heroines are better than you might expect; despite some 80’s hair, there are some convincing bits of action, in particular a fight by a river. Amathea’s method of convincing the torturer to free her is also unique in cinematic history, as far as I’m aware (if I’m wrong, please, let me wallow in my ignorance).

Producer Corman continues his ability to find cheap talent, though the “destined for greater glory” name is heard and not seen – the music comes from Christopher Young, who’d go on to score films such as The Shipping News. James Horner’s Battle Beyond the Stars work also crops up, but when you write for Corman, you expect this kind of thing.

Dir: Hector Olivera
Star: Lana Clarkson, Katt Shea, Dawn Dunlap, Frank Zagarino

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