Beastmaster could be a missing book of the Old Testament—why yes, it’s that stupid. It also continues to charm me two+ decades later with its top-to-bottom shoddiness and its brief exposure of Tanya Robert’s beautiful 80’s rack, which really makes it totally superior to any of that creation-whale-hydromanipulation shit.
Beastmaster is the tale of an oil-slathered fuckboy Dr. Doolittle named Dar that was incubated inside of a cow with the Pagan result of being able to control…Beasts, asshole. His stupid tiki-village is destroyed by the arbitrarily marauding Jun Horde, so he sets off on a journey to avenge his people, especially his father, who put up the worst homeland defense since the Maginot Line. Along the way, Dar recruits a strike team of animals that end up being perfectly suited for a myriad of dire tasks and the noble John Amos who apparently squeezed himself into the same leather singlet that Grace Jones donned in the second Conan film, even inheriting her wooden staff because black warriors never get to wield magnificent Caucasian-forged steel—pretty much the prehistoric equivalent of a shitty seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Damn, damn, damn.
I think Dar’s first companion is some raptor—his “eyes”–but the bird proves to be the most useful later, like anybody fucking cares—my favorite bird contribution is Dar’s communication squawk which sounds like the noise an unattended-to Downy would make prior to flapping off of a tall structure. tlineNext, he gets some thieving weasels that he names Frodo and Dilbo or something—never let a guy named Dar give you a name—he carries them in a purse–they are his Jews. Then he saves a Black Tiger, laughably dyed with barrels of Ronnie Reagan’s surplus Grecian Formula 44—the Tiger is his strength, but I don’t remember it doing much besides mauling a few Hare Krishnas that inexplicably welcome melee combat with a 500 pound razor-tipped cat. There may have been other support animals present, but they were not apparent onscreen, so I will assume they kept Dar’s mood elevated by occasionally skittering across his prostate gland.
So they’re off to fight the wizard, Maax, who is in league with the Jun Horde that wrecked Dar’s thatch-town and trampled his pussy dad. Maax inhabits a ziggurat in the middle of the set leftovers from Mos Eisley and ritually sacrifices local children by body-slamming them into a flaming pit, a practice that inspires no civil unrest—to the film’s credit, we actually get to see a youngster die as such, flaunting cinematic balls I never anticipated. Maax also turns townspeople into raging S&M gimp warriors by putting slugs in their ears, but I have yet to understand the tactical benefit of such a force, considering they kill indiscriminately, in fact, I think their entire body count could be chalked up to friendly fire, much like Operation Desert Storm. A trio of butterface witches, kidnapped from Clash of the Titans (and one is Gretzky’s wife!), run the surveillance and evil advice department for Maax and besides “Dye of the Tiger,” provide a stark reminder that the FX budget of Beastmaster probably involved the entire staff being inverted and shaken for change.
Dar secretly arrives in the enslaved town during a community-building child fire. A cute Aryan girl is chosen for the honor this time. She is ripped away from her shrieking parents and hauled up the pyramid. Maax babbles some benediction and then gorilla presses her over his head. Dar squawks, ornithologist eyes roll, commanding his perhaps two-pound avian friend into action. I cannot describe what happens without immediately thinking about a Monty Python conversation about coconuts, swallows and weight ratios, but just as the kid starts to slide towards the fire and Maax is about to speed things up with a quick staff shove, the fucking bird snares her in its talons and flies off. I can believe in magic, Beastmastering and all manner of dumb fantasy shit, but why couldn’t the bird just have fluttered around and distracted Maax, forcing him to drop the kid who would then quickly flee in the disarray? Suspension of disbelief is fine if some context exists that supports it. Leading up to that moment, the concept of lift had seemed concrete, but after, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Tiger turned into a zeppelin by holding its breath.
Some other shit happens with a deposed King and an Underwear Prince Heir, but it sucked and pedo jokes are so played out—thanks a bunch, Catholic Clergy. Dar rescues Tanya Robert’s perfect tits. Marmots get chased by berserker Rob Halfords and one sacrifices itself in a Secret Service-style “Noooooo…” when every good guy suddenly decides to ignore Maax because he was presumably defeated by being gut-shanked with a letter opener. As Dar pumps up the crowd, Maax charges him from behind, dagger in hand. The ever-alert weasel performs the Order Rodentia equivalent of dunking from behind the three-point line, lands on Maax’s back and nibbles him into his own sacrificial fire–naturally since he was a wizard, we are treated to some fromage pyrotechnics to certify his magicalness…thank God that this is the last time I have to write “Maax.”Beastmaster affords us a delicious dual climax. With the evil dictator ashed, the villagers prepare to defend the city against the reprisal of the Jun Horde. Traps-of-the-day are laid, including the ubiquitous cunningly-concealed-pit-of-flammable-goo. The attack comes, Underwear Prince takes an arrow, John Amos savages people with his stick, Dar’s gonads thankfully remain in his fur speedo, etc. After defeating the Jun leader with the lamest slow motion jump kick in film history not courtesy of Van Damme, the good guys find themselves hopelessly surrounded. This is when the bird’s utility peaks. Out of nowhere, these giant, bird-idolizing flesh bats pop up. They have the charming ability to hug you in their scrotal arm flaps and digest you in place, an adaptation that large Americans will doubtlessly develop in the not-too-distant snack future. They liquefy the Juns and all is well.Prince Tighty-Whitey is installed as King despite Dar having done every fucking thing AND having legit hereditary claim and the wise and mighty John Amos is debased and given some token job as the head of the Army, meaning he is essentially in charge of himself because I don’t recall there being any Army to speak of. As for Dar, in a move contrary to every nuance of his appearance, he leaves with the woman—by the way, she’s his cousin. To heal our hearts from the heroic sacrifice of Ferret#2, we see a fresh litter of bastard weasels poke their heads out of his purse as he, his Kentucky Bride and tiger look off into the infinite possibilities in the distant horizon…Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time!Beastmaster holds a dear place in my heart, being one of those ridiculous movies that you stumble upon, and then excitedly say “Oh shit! Beastmaster!” only to have your girlfriend immediately realize that you are clearly, not the one for her. While so many other films have lost their gleam with the death of childhood, Beastmaster remains a fun movie to rot in front of because it never pretends to be anything but top-shelf hokey. Sadly, in this day and age, a titular Google search will probably lead you down a taboo path resulting in a mad scramble to douche your cookies. Watch Beastmaster and enjoy a rare film that is both crap, brilliant and is, amazingly, barely insulting to its audience.
Grade: Five Catherine the Greats out of Five