Thursday, January 13, 2022

Rogues in the House: Deathstalker 2!

You won't find this level of beefcake ...
Any fans of this fun podcast, the only program wholly dedicated to sword-and-sorcery? I’m one of them, and tonight I get the pleasure of guesting on an episode.


The topic? Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans.


Somehow I had never watched Deathstalker 2. I look back upon my many years of renting the most exploitative videos I and my high school buddies could find, idle time spent scrolling YouTube, the additional (painful) video research I conducted for Flame and Crimson, and I wonder how this one eluded me. The only explanation I can come up with is that Deathstalker 1 is so outrageously awful, near irredeemable, that I wanted no further part of the series. 


In addition, I’ve consciously avoided the S&S films of the 80s. It got too depressing to see a subgenre that gave us Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, The Dying Earth, Conan and Kull, Elric, etc. handled so badly on the silver screen.


But, in recent years I’ve made peace with sword-and-sorcery films. I view them now as a cornball corner of pop culture history to enjoy as guilty pleasures. And, I’m already glad I got the opportunity to guest on Rogues because Deathstalker 2 is fun. Sword-and-sorcery fans will find their subgenre treated with about as much subtlety and reverence as Animal House did for undergraduate education. I would describe it as objectively a bad film, but subjectively awesome. It knows what it is, and while not a true parody like Men in Tights for example it is entirely a tongue-in-cheek take on S&S. 


Make no mistake, this is by any measure a bad movie. Really bad. The acting is below the level of a soap opera, the plot barely a thread, the script full of holes, and the sets and props are cheap and flimsy and entirely recycled. It lacks proof of having been backed by anything resembling a budget; in fact, there really wasn’t one. If there was, it was spent by the cast and crew in Argentinian dive bars. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s a poor man’s Army of Darkness.


You can currently find Deathstalker 1 and 2 on Tubi, a free movie service. My advice: Skip the first and head straight to the sequel. And look for our insights and analysis of this fine film on an upcoming episode of Rogues in the House.

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