My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on two films in the Sword & Sorcery genre.



Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Okay, this was surprisingly good. It seemed to come and go at the time of its release but SOLOMON KANE is not an ordinary 21st century Hollywood entry in the Sword & Sorcery genre.

Other than the unnecessary CGI at the beginning and ending of the movie, KANE is shockingly grounded, practical, and dark. Some critics called it “bleak”. It is and I love it for that. It doesn’t try to get cutes-y like a lot of these fantasy films. It establishes a brutal, blood-soaked world and sticks with the grim tone from beginning to end. In that sense, it’s a far better Howard adaptation than Momoa’s CONAN, placing it probably as the second best film made of the S&S master’s literary work.

And I love everything about the look of this picture: the rain, the mud, the sets, the wardrobe. It’s fantastic to look at. Thankfully it’s also filled with some pretty solid performances, led by James Purefoy who should probably be a bigger star than he is. I hadn’t thought of him before but he’d be perfect for Westerns…

Watched on Tubi.



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I like this cheap, CONAN rip off a lot more than I should. The Roger Corman produced Sword & Sorcery movie that spawned many sequels has something to it, a primal vibe that makes it a true guilty pleasure.

After a slow, silly start, DEATHSTALKER gets quite fun at about the halfway mark. As soon as the heroes get to the bad guy’s castle, the movie descends into pure pleasure. Violence and nudity fill the screen like a twelve-year old boy’s dream. In that way, DEATHSTALKER is a more honest take on the Sword & Sorcery genre, actually living up to the pulp literature which is way wilder than any of the movies that have been made (including the Milius CONAN) and their visceral, unforgettable covers. Along with FIRE AND ICE, it may be the most true entry in the genre, though certainly not the best.

It did make me wonder while watching if anyone is still making films like this? Movies full of boobs and blood have gone out of style. Is anyone producing exploitation films or have they completely gone out with change in our culture? I discussed this with my girlfriend, theorizing that films like this were once a way for young men to see things they couldn’t when porn wasn’t easily accessible. Now it is. You can find it literally whenever you want. Did that kill the skin flick? Or was it the direction our country/culture has taken in recent years?

I will admit… I miss the existence of films like this but if I made one, it would be quite controversial. Isn’t that weird to think about?

Watched on Tubi.