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The Beastmaster

USA 1982
Directed by
Don Coscarelli
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3 stars

The Beastmaster

This sword and sorcery fantasy love-child of Dr Doolittle and Conan The Barbarian is an action-packed 80s muscle-bound frolic and fun for all  the family. The Beastmaster is a wholesome version of the often-bloodthirsty genre, the addition of cute animals aiding and abetting our heroes only adding to the guileless excitement. You can’t help but cheer on the ferrets as they save the day.

Warrior Dar (Mark Singer) is on a quest for revenge. The evil sorcerer, Maax (Rip Torn), killed his parents and Dar wants to see him dead. Teaming up with slave girl, Kiri (Tanya Roberts), and hunter, Seth (John Amos), the trio head into the wilderness aided only by Dar’s extraordinary gift of communication with the animal kingdom.

A read-through the credits of Coscarelli's film reads like a who’s who of 80s cult heroics. Marc Singer, best known for his role of Mike Donovon in the 80s sci-fi mini series, V, plays Dar and Tanya Roberts of Charlie’s Angels and A View To A Kill fame, is the nubile love interest, Kiri. Director Don Coscarelli will be familiar to horror fans as the man who gave us hooded dwarf aliens, Angus Scrimm, and flying killer spheres in Phantasm.

The cast are obviously having great fun with the roles and Coscarelli holds the romp together with tongue firmly in cheek. One of the main downfalls of many sword and sorcery films is the po-faced delivery. The Beastmaster avoids this pitfall and is a rip-roaring adventure from beginning to end. The other bonus of fantasy films of this era is the use of physical effects. No need for CGI animals here, just well trained performers. It helps sell the slightly ludicrous conceit that The Beastmaster is in tune with the animal kingdom and makes the film even more enjoyable.

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