Friday, September 25, 2009

Lucio Fulci's Conquest (1983)

Title: Conquest (1982)

Director: Lucio Fulci


After Conan the Barbarian was released in 1982, its success spawned a whole slew of immitations. Often times, these imitations would pale in comparison to John Milius's excellent fantasy tale. Amongst the american imitators the most prominent one in my book is Don Coscarelli's The Beastmaster, which is a fun little movie on its own, but is basically the same movie, same plot, but with a guy who talks to animals and a far smaller budget. In the Italian film market, many more cheap imitations of Conan the Barbarian emerged. Lucio Fulci, being one of the most prominent b-movie directors from Italy did his own cheap imitation of Conan. The result was Conquest.

Story is almost non existent, but essentially, what we have here are two guys living in a barbaric caveman like fantasy world filled with all sorts of weird creatures. Life is savage in this strange land, so these two guys team up to face the world together. One of them, Ilias, is a skinny wimpy looking dude, but apparently he is the son of a Zeus-like God who gives him a magical crossbow. The other guy is a Conan like barbarian who goes by the name of Mace, cause you know, he uses a nun-chuck kind of mace to protect himself from his enemies. Also, he almost always answers in monosilabic words, saying everything he has to with as little words as possible. Meanwhile, in some other part of the land, an evil sorceress queen who goes by the name of Zora has a vision in which this faceless warrior with a magical crossbow is going to destroy her. So she sends out her minions to try and stop him.

This is just another run of the mill Italian rip off, and trust me, there were many of those! What Fulci did was, he gathered all these elements from a bunch of previously released American fantasy films and went his own way with it. So what we have here is a jumbled mess of film that incorporates elements from far better films of its genre, all of which had bigger budgets then this one. Ill mention just how many films Conquest was a rip off of, just so you get an idea. First one in the line is Beastmaster. Why? Because Mace, the super tough dude who looks an awful lot like Arnold Schwarznegger, can communicate with animals! He talks to eagles and dolphins! We get elements from Conan the Barbarian, because Mace looks like a cheap imitation of Schwarzneggers Conan. You know the kind. A big tough muscular dude who doesnt say much and wont think twice before cracking your skull in two. Another thing we get from the Conan the Barbarian is the evil Queen who belongs to some sort of snake worshipping cult, just like Thulsa Doom did in Conan the Barbarian. Also, the film is centered around revenge. Same as in Conan, the evil snake worshipping cult kills the good guys family and destroys his village, so he has to go on a revenge spree. The cavemen on this movie look and even act exactly like the cavemen in Quest for Fire. And to top things off, this movie also rips off Clash of the Titans because one of its main characters (Ilias) is a son of a Zeus-like God (just like Perseus in Clash of the Titans), and even gets a special weapon from this God to aid him through his quest. So as you can see, this isnt exactly the most original of films. Fulci just fed off a bunch of other films.

Problem is, that Fulci ended up taking elements from films that had a far bigger budget then the one Conquest had. So what happens is, this film ends up falling short in the make up effects and visual effects department. What you end up getting is a cheap, laughable version of all those other films that I mentioned before. Biggest problem for me is that Conquest ends up being boring as hell. Why? Well, its normal in a fantasy film for characters to go from battling one monster to the next, and this happens on Conquest. Ufortunately, the monsters arent all that impressive. Its just guys in really cheap monster suits. Over and over again. And what happens when the good guys fight these men in monster suits? Not much, basically the same thing you see in all these cheap Italian films: people hurling each other through the air, fighting and wrestling for a couple of minutes until the good guys beat them. So its that kind of a film. No budget? Well, just get a bunch of guys to fight and wrestle each other on the screen for a while, then move on to the next boring ass fight.

"But its a Fulci film!" you say. Yeah, its a Fulci film. But you have to remember, Fulci didnt always hit the mark with his films. He has quite a bunch of just plain bad films on his resume. In my opinion, he was better off directing horror films. Fulci did fill this film with more gore then you'd normally get on a fantasy flick. The first few scenes open up with a Werewolf Clan (yup theres a werewolf clan on this film!) tearing up a native into shreds. Its a pretty graphic sequence, where each werewolf takes there favorite limb and rips it right off! Sadly, the movie does not maintain that level of entertainment all through out. It was just an amusing way to open up the film. And then there are some scenes that will really test your patience! There was this one scene where Mace is being crucified by these monsters (yeah, same way Conan was crucified in the tree of woe) and then while still crucified falls into the ocean. He is under water for far longer than it is humanly possible! More than ten minutes pass before he reemerges from the water. And this happens because he telepathically asks these dolphins to help him out! Fulci decides to show off this nifty footage of dolphins swimming left and right and it gets so freaking annoying! One starts feeling like "get to the fucking point goddamit!"  Its that kind of a movie. This being a Fulci movie, zombies make it onto the film somehow, and this being a Fulci movie, we gets tons of naked women all through out the film, and I mean lots. Dont have a budget? Just get every actress to appear topless! Guys will no doubt show up to see the movie that way. Gotta say, the actress playing the villain was hot as hell. Kudos to Fulci for choosing hot babes for his flicks, it helps alliviate the pain of being bored to death.

I guess you could say Conquest is an amusing film in the sense that its so stupid and silly, that you cant help but continue watching. Its what held me through till the bitter end. I wanted to see where Fulci could take this film. Turns out, Fulci could take this movie really really low! Try this one on for size: the main character uses a magical crossbow that shoots a lazer like arrow that devides in the air and hits all of your villains at once! Why didnt this guy use this magical crossbow earlier in the movie?? Funniest part is when the guy calls up the arrow (cause you know, you just gotta call up your weapon so it comes to ya!) it flies to him across the skies and lands right in his hand! Funny, funny film. If your in the mood for a cheap laugh, by all means, pop this silly fantasy film in your dvd player. Not Fulcis best thats for sure, but it just might entertain ya with its silly antics and its cheap ass effects. Oh, wait, did I mention the terrible dialog? Well, I just did. You've been warned!

Rating: 2 out of 5


Mr. Fiendish said...

Damn dude! I was gonna put this on my next update on wednesday! lol

I actually like this more than the movies it was trying to rip off, but hell just read my review on wednesday when it's put up

Franco Macabro said...

Okay, Ill check out your views on it, but it doesnt change the fact that I thought it blew chunks!

No way is this movie better then Clash of the Titans, or Conan The Barbarian! Its not better then Quest for Fire, and its not even better then Beastmaster.

No freaking way man! Its just boring...its so obviously having a battle with its budget limitations...

I did find it a "fun" watch, but solely because of its cheapness, silliness, and stupidness...thats the only reason why I stuck with it all the way to the end. Though in some parts, I was struggling to hit that fast forward button!

Mr. Fiendish said...

well... not Clash of the Titans.. but yea I liked it more than Conan and Quest for Fire, which is like the cure for insomnia for me. I loved the cinematography and the imaginative monsters, I like the cheap-looking werewolf soldiers and the funny 80's animation fx. but you know me, I like Doris Wishman movies

Franco Macabro said...

Its just that I hold Conan The Barbarian (not the Destroyer!) in very high regard. To me its Arnold Schwarzneggers best film ever, John Milius direction is flawless and he just made Robert E. Howards barbaric fantasy world so believable.

And then theres Conans themes, thats what I like about it, it actually has something to say. As opposed to Fulcis Conquest which is just about two guys wandering through the world, and then a with that wants to kill em...thats it! At very best, it can be considered a revenge tale...but thats it. Conan is layered.

But yeah, I get it, you enjoy B movies a whole lot, I do to, I mean I enjoyed this one to some extent. But I cant say I put it above the films it was trying to rip off.

I mean, just cause it was so blatantly ripping off other movies it goes down a couple of notches for me on the cool-o-meter. But like I mentioned on the review, it was a "fun" and amusing watch. But nothing Id give more then a 2 out of 5.

Reina said...

of course...i didnt watch this movie,but i did glanced at the tv while you were watching it...and the seconds i got to see suckedddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ahahahahahahhahahaha..of course, you know that! ;)...

Franco Macabro said...

Well, you dont really like B-movies at all..I mean, I can enjoy them on a certain level, I mean they are fun! Thats all I want to see sometimes, just a fun movie!

This movie, conquest, no matter how silly it was at times was fun to watch. Precisely for its b-movie charms.

Troy Olson said...

(just stumbled across this post and thought I'd comment)

My brother and I watched this several years back and ended up getting through it in about 20 minutes, ff'ing through the boring parts to get to parts that looked interesting. So all I really remember is a woman getting drawn and quartered, the werewolf scene you mention, and metric tons of fog. I guess Fulci decided that he could hide a lot of the bad sets by obscuring the whole thing in a blanket of fog.

But yeah, this sucks. Any chance you've seen MURDER ROCK? It's another hilariously awful Fulci.

Franco Macabro said...

Sorry I took so long to reply Troy, but no I've never seen Murder Rock, in fact, I've yet to check out all of Fulci's non horror films, Im really curious for that western he did Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or something like that?

I mean, this movie isnt complete thrash, its got a bit of a charm to it with its cheesiness, and stupidness, it would make for a night of harmful stupid fun.

Thanks for commenting Troy!

MB said...

Late to the party, but I need to inject some much needed historical perspective.

Firstly, The Beastmaster was never an imitation of John Milius' Conan the Barbarian. The movies were in production VIRTUALLY at the same time. Conan was released in May of 82. Beastmaster only came out three months later. Beastmaster was based on very different source material, had nothing to do with Robert E. Howard. Coscarelli wouldn't have had access to Milius' script or seen his rushes, so to call it an "imitation" is disengenuous.

Secondly, Milius Conan isn't particularly faithful to the source material, although still entertaining.

Thirdly, Fulci's knockoff is loads more entertaining.

Franco Macabro said...

Hi MB and welcome to the party, it's never to late here on The Film Connoisseur! I always check out comments on older reviews.

To reply on your comment, The Beastmaster and Conan sharing similarities isn't a far fetched idea. Studios sniff each others scripts and then produce similar movies because they smell success down the line.

What happens is a studio is making a big film, others studios know it and think it will be a huge hit, so they produce similar themed films to ride on the success of the other. Sometimes they are released around the same time or months apart, sometimes they rush to release their film before the big budget production they are trying to immitate, in this sense trying to "steal the thunder" from the bigger budgeted production.

This was the case with Deep Star Six and Leviathan both being released before The Abyss, a similar film they were trying to rip off.

I know Conan and Beastmaster are from different source materials. In that respect, as you mentioned, Millius wasnt entirely faithful to Robert E. Howards novels, but Coscarelli wasnt faithful to Andre Norton's novel either, in fact, according to Coscarelli himself, he changed the story from his source material substantially, probably because he knew that Conan was in production, or the studio knew, or somebody knew it.

Most of the time screenplays do the rounds through different studios for years before they get greenlit, and this type of thing happens. In Conans case, they'd been trying to get it made for a long time going as far back as 1975.

The script for Conan for example was written by Oliver Stone circa late 70's, possibly 1979. So yeah, that script was flying around Hollywood for a while, in fact, the idea for the film was rejected by various studios.

So even though Beastmaster was released only a few months apart, I am certain the idea was to ride on Conans success.

Conquest is incredibly entertaining and funny, same as Beastmaster is, I enjoyed both of these films and recommend them as funny, campy fantasy films.

But to say these films aren't rip offs isn't entirely accurate either when it is so obvious that they are, especially in the case of Conquest.

Elwood Jones said...

I've got this one on my Amazon rental list, and even though you highlighted how awful it is, I still strangely want to watch it....guess I'm a gutton for punishment.

Great review

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Elwood, the film is still enjoyable when watched as a b-movie, cheap rip off type of deal, it makes for a fun watch seeing Fulci trying to make his version of Conan and Clash of the Titans, hope you enjoy it!


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