Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #73: Amazons (1986)

High adventure in progress.

This wildly entertaining sword and sorcery flick, like most of them, comes to us from the dark and time-fogged forests of the 1980s. Under the supreme command of dread mogul Roger Corman, a screenplay was commissioned to Charles Saunders, who based his script off a short story he wrote for an anthology called, coincidentally, Amazons!. So that Amazons! was apparently the first significant anthology of fantasy works using female protagonists and written by a mostly female cast of authors. You'd expect, then, that the Amazons under review is an interesting feministical text where warrior women fight for equality and independence in a harsh and largely masculine world, right? Well yeah you get that. Only with boobs. Lots of boobs. This is a film, after all, and it is common knowledge that only films with boobs do well. I remind you of Titanic.

If you've seen as many 80s sword and sorcery movies as I have, you might recognise these common links:

  • There will be a scene where a woman takes off her top.
  • There will be a scene where women are swimming naked in a river and are being watched by drooling pervs.
  • There will be a scene with sex in it.
  • It is made in Argentina.
We will not be given armour or be clothed against the elements.

Amazons is of course about a tribe of warrior women. They are under the command of a queen who rules over a kingdom currently under siege by an evil wizard named Kalungo. When I hear the name Kalungo I can't help but imagine a cute baby elephant, a born in captivity type that's maybe the result of a worrying but in the end rewarding pairing. Not so much a demon-enslaved lightning-throwing sorcerer. After doing some quick online digging, however, I find to my shame that a kalunga, or calunga, is a Brazilian descendant of runaway slaves. The word can mean many things, and is oddly enough used both as a derogatory racial label and as a byword for someone who is famous or important. Go figure. Charles Saunders is African-American, and I wonder if the link here is merely coincidence or some interesting subtext.

Oh, right, the movie. So anyway the amazons need to quite obviously find a magic sword since it's the only thing that can stand up to Kalungo's evil magic. Two amazon babes are sent on the quest, and it's hilariously wonderful. It's great fun to watch people use prop weapons they've never handled before. Especially when they haven't been given much supplementary training. You're basically given a bunch of calendar models who drill practice their spear maneuvers with 'What if I really hurt someone?' hesitance. A real winner's attitude on the mock-battlefield. Sword duels can sometimes look half-decent, but largely possess a 'What am I doing?' grace that lends the whole production metric ass-loads of charm.

So: A fantastic watch with friends. Can't get enough of this stuff.

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