You can never accuse us of not mixing things up a bit here at the Horror Hothouse! Curse of the Dragon Slayer is a sword and sorcery flick with a heavy debt owed to one JRR Tolkien.
In the best traditions of epic fantasy, the movie opens with a bold statement scrolling across the screen to tell us that the Shadow Cabal, an Orc cult, are after resurrecting Goth Azul, the Undead God, and unleashing all kinds of nasty stuff upon Earth. To do this they need the usual collection of mystic artefacts, You get the picture: blood of this, bone vessel of that sort of thing, everything a demonic Nigella would need to get cooking!
Fortunately for us humans, elf assassin Nemyt (Danielle Churchran) shoots down a dragon riding orc messenger and gets to team up with Keltus the Wanderer (Richard McWilliams) a Knight of the Ruling Order and rogue orc Kullimon the Black (Paul D Hunt), as they hunt down the artefacts and attempt to prevent Goth Azul’s come back tour. Along the way we meet gun toting dwarves (don’t ask me why they are the only elvish people to have invented gun powder), river monsters that would make Jeremy Wade break out the brown waders, a goddess and some very hot and quite wicked mermaids. There’s also a lot of acrobatic fighting and the odd bit of gore.
So, essentially what we have here is a fantasy A-Team (or a cut down Dirty Dozen?) off on an epic quest movie. Aside from, Nemyt’s elf ears, which were a bit too much like a cute little piggy’s, the fantasy creature costumes, prosthetics and make up were all pretty good for a low budget movie, even if Keltus had a far too contemporary haircut. The limited amount of CGI special effects were a bit Mega Shark, especially underwater. As these sort of things go its OK, but overlong. Some judicious trimming with the editor’s scissors really could make a very big improvement.
Derivative but fun nonetheless Curse of the Dragon Slayer gets a big 444/666
I read a lot of sword and sorcery in my teens, it went along with listening to Hawkwind! My recommendations would be:
Robert E Howard’s original Conan the Barbarian stories. Disregard the Hollywood blockbusters, where the screenwriters have chosen to mostly ignore Howard’s masterfully dark storytelling, packed with terrible creatures both human and paranormal. Howard was a friend of dear old HP Lovecraft and his influence clearly shows in tales like The People of the Black Circle (1934)
Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, A kind of antidote to the muscular hero typified by Conan Lieber’s antiheroes were the huge barbarian warrior Fafhrd and his devious sidekick the Gray Mouser. The story where they cheat death The Sadness of the Exceutioner (1973) is a particularly fine example of Leiber’s intelligent wit.
Michael Moorcock’s tales of Elric of Melniboné: The albino weakling Prince Elric derives strength from his enchanted black blade Stormbringer. The price is the soul of every life the blade takes. Who is the master man or blade? An Elfin prince who turns against his own people in a world full of mad gods, elemental spirits, dragons and even the odd werewolf, Elric is just one aspect of the Eternal Champion in Moorcock’s multiverse.
Review by Simon Ball
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