Thursday, 6 August 2015

Kull the Conqueror (1997)

A sword and sorcery movie that really wants to be another CONAN, or at least one of its imitators from the early 1980s, KULL THE CONQUEROR is getting a new UK DVD release courtesy of Fabulous Films.
After a curiously anachronistic-sounding voiceover and some even more curious soft metal rock music over the opening titles we get introduced to Kull (Kevin Sorbo), merrily whacking at people with his axe as he auditions for a place in the king’s army (I think). He takes on General Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith) and his enormous blonde mullet, only for the two to be interrupted by the news that the king has gone bonkers and is killing all his heirs. Kull arrives at the palace in time to be pretty much randomly handed the crown and is made king. 

You too can be king and wear this pot on your head
Needless to say, the general and a bunch of British character actors including non-singing evil wizard Ed Tudor-Pole and Douglas Henshall are soon plotting to usurp Kull’s place on the throne by resurrecting ancient sexy witch Akivasha (Tia Carrere). Soon she’s put Kull under her spell and bumps him off. Somehow he survives and has to travel with dull and listless harem girl Zareta (Karina Lombard) and her trippy priest brother Ascalante (Litefoot) aboard the boat of everyone’s least favourite Bette Davis impersonator (Harvey Fierstein). They need to find the breath of Volka to defeat Akivasha and etc etc.

KULL THE CONQUEROR is one of those movies with the potential to make one weep for what could have been. Everyone is trying terribly, terribly hard. The production design and costumes are great, as are the makeup effects by ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS’ Gianetto De Rossi, and while the acting isn’t great on the whole it’s entirely acceptable for this sort of thing.

But there’s something very important missing, namely a guiding hand to make all of this work, give it a good sense of pacing and paper over any cracks. And that just doesn’t happen. The script by Charles Edward Pogue (allegedly author of one word in the final screenplay of David Cronenberg’s remake of THE FLY) takes far too long to get going, and director John Nicolella seems happy to let things meander along to no great purpose. 

        Even an hour in, when the plot finally has a direction, we’re still stopping for ‘comedy’ interludes. The quest itself has a distinct lack of peril and incident because there just isn’t time after all the faffing about. Joel Goldsmith manages a reasonable attempt at being Basil Poledouris with the music, but every now and then it’s as if a WHITESNAKE tribute band has run into the recording studio and taped over some of the score. 

If you’re a fan of sword and sorcery, KULL THE CONQUEROR will give you a rainy afternoon’s worth of entertainment. In the grand scale of these movies, one sadly has to place it just above Joe D’Amato’s ATOR THE FIGHTING EAGLE and way, way below Michael J Bassett's far superior and unjustly neglected Robert E Howard adaptation SOLOMON KANE. Fabulous Films' DVD has nothing in the way of extras. 

Fabulous Films are releasing KULL THE CONQUEROR on Region 2 DVD on Monday 10th August 2015

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