The Film: Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans
The Principles: Starring John Terlesky, Monique Gabrielle, John Lazar, Toni Naples and Maria Socas. Directed by Jim Wynorski.
The Premise: The mighty barbarian known as Deathstalker helps out a fair maiden named Reena the Seer escape from some goons in leather masks intending her harm. She reveals to her rescuer that she’s actually Princess Evie and a dark sorcerer named Jarek has created an evil clone of her in order to seize control of the kingdom she once ruled. Together they must journey to the wizard’s stronghold, encountering many dangers along the way that include: swarthy pirates, flesh-eating zombies and a tribe of hot-yet-lethal amazon babes. Will Deathstalker defeat Jarek and restore the lovely Princess to her rightful throne?
Is it any good?: It’s an incredibly entertaining B-movie midnight snack that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous Deathstalker or any of its subsequent sequels. It plays like an Airplane styled parody of Conan the Barbarian with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek throughout, never once taking itself at all seriously. Add to that tons of scantily clad, totally hot 80s babes with enormous hair, gratuitous T & A, campy humor, ridiculous action, zombies and female mud wrestling (?) all set to a synth score that sounds like Alan Howarth composing while under the influence of whiskey and Quaaludes. What more do you want in a movie?
The wacky plot concerns Deathstalker (John Terlesky) and his exploits with a cute little oracle named Reena the Seer (portrayed by former Penthouse Pet Monique Gabrielle), who he helps out of a jam when some ruffians in a pub attack her. Our hero proclaims, “Normally I don’t mind seeing a woman get a good beating if she deserves it…” and fights the armored thugs off. This sets him on a mission in which Deathstalker discovers that an evil sorcerer named Jarek (John Lazar) has created a duplicate of the sexy blonde psychic, who in reality is Princess Evie, ruler of a far off land. The Evie clone eats young boys in order to maintain her looks and wants to consume her original so she can become the one and only Princess. Both Evil Evie and Jarek are helped out by a smoking hot, black leather clad warrior babe named Sultana (Toni Naples), who has a score to settle with Deathstalker following an opening scene robbery that our hero commits making her utter the incredible line, “I’ll have my revenge, and Deathstalker, too!” – at which point the title card Deathstalker II pops up amidst a fiery background of cheesy awesomeness.
Jovially directed by B-movie maverick and Roger Corman film school alumni Jim Wynorski, the man responsible for such VHS classics as: The Lost Empire, Chopping Mall, The Return of Swamp Thing, Sorority House Massacre II, 976-Evil II, Munchie, Dinosaur Island and Ghoulies IV to name but a few. The exploitation master has always worked in a myriad of genres and he tears the living shit out of this one. Deathstalker II is easily the best of the series and contains all of the filmmaker’s staples, including lots of really attractive, big-breasted women who occasionally pop their tops, making Wynorski’s work here kind of like an odd mixture of Russ Meyer, John Carpenter and the Zucker brothers.
Is it worth a look?: This low budget sword & sorcery epic is a ton of fun from start to finish. It’s filled with silly one liners, boobs, action, violence, purposefully “bad” acting and is a hilarious send up of the genre that makes one helluva kickass midnight movie to be enjoyed with a pack of rowdy friends looking for some late night junk food for the brain.
Random anecdotes: One common thread amongst the Deathstalker series was that each film’s VHS box art was beautifully painted by master fantasy artist Boris Vallejo. Each cover is remarkable, but the one he did for Deathstalker II is my favorite. I love the colors and the fact that the lead actor in the movie looks nothing like the illustration of him in the poster. It’s sublime.
Cinematic soul mates: Deathstalker, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, Barbarian Queen, and Yor, the Hunter from the Future.