Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Thor the Conqueror

Director: Tonino Ricci as “Anthony Richmond”
Writer: Tito Carpi
Producers: Roberto Poggi, Marcello Romeo
Cast: Conrad Nichols, Christopher Holm, Maria Romano
Year of release: 1982
Country: Italy
Reviewed from: UK video (Apex)

One of the cheaper, more obscure examples of the sword’n’sorcery genre which flourished in Italy in the 1980s, Thor il Conquistatore starts with five minutes of warrior, wife and wizard walking across the hills to the strains of hugely inappropriate martial music. Eventually, the wife (Malisa Longo: Reactor) gives birth to a baby, the wizard holds it aloft to show the gods - and an arrow goes ‘thunk!’ right into it! It’s a hilarious, pythonesque scene.

Bad guy Gnut (Raf Baldassarre, who was in a whole string of pepla, spaghetti westerns and gialli from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s) kills warrior and wife but wizard escapes with baby, which apparently is only wounded. Warrior’s sword turns into snake and slithers away.

Fast forward 25 years and we find the baby all grown up in the shape of Thor (Luigi Mezzanotte), destined to be the mightiest leader ever - just not in this film. He’s all rippling six-pack, fur boots and Neanderthal grunts. The wizard is apparently Etna the bird-man, who can transform himself into an owl, and who wears six-foot shoulder-pads in his human guise. Rather curiously, Etna narrates the ensuing story from within the scene, in the past tense, like a dark ages Rod Serling.

Thor goes on a quest to find his father’s sword. Along the way he fights and kills various primitive tribes, sparing only the warrior virgin Ina (Maria Romano: Women’s Prison Massacre), whom he first enslaves then falls in love with. By the end of the film, she has born him a son, he has found his father’s sword, and Gnut is dead.

One for Italophile completists only, this is neither exciting enough nor bad enough to generate any interest. Only Etna’s outrageous shoulder-pads raise a smile. The fights are limp, and the plot is barely there at all.

Writer Tito Carpi was also the man behind the ‘scripts’ of Ultimo Mondo Cannibale, Tentacles , a bunch of Sartana/Django flicks and the deliriously bizarre The Atlantis Interceptors. Cinematographer Giovanni Bergamini also lit Cannibal Ferox and was camera operator on the original Django, The Humanoid and Exterminators from the Year 3000, while make-up artist Pietro Tenoglio’s other credits include Anthropophagous, Stagefright, Frankenstein all’Italia and Stuart Gordon’s The Pit and the Pendulum and Castle Freak.

MJS rating: D

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