Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Barbarian Dr. Doolittle, or Thoughts on Marc Singer in The Beastmaster

Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli of Phantasm (1972), John Dies at The End (2012) and Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), The Beastmaster (1982) had his biggest budget and holds up surprisingly well after 30-some years.  Canadian actor Marc Singer, most remembered for the original V series and also cousin of Bryan Singer (yes, the Keyser Soze, X-Men, House Bryan Singer) stars as Dar, the loincloth obsessed barbarian who can communicate with his animal buddies Sharak the Eagle, Kodo and Podo, a couple of ferrets, and Ruh, a black tiger (that looked suspiciously like a regular tiger spray-painted black).
Tanya Roberts from A View to a Kill (1985) and also many classic TV series including Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, portrays Kiri, the scantily clad slave girl (it was the 80’s, a less complicated decade).  Professional Scowler Rip Torn, hidden under the weight of an amazing bird beak fake nose plays Maax, the evil high priest who stole the unborn Dar from his mother, killed his adopted father and his dog, and burned down his village.  Pretty typical stuff in barbarian times.  You know Rip Torn from Coma (1978), Robocop 3 (1992), his portrayal of Zed in Men in Black (1997) and Freddy’s dad in Freddy Got Fingered (2001).
Moody and atmospheric, with high production values and impressive fight scenes, the movie succeeds both as an adventure and a slice of 80’s cheesecake where Tanya’s Robert’s nude scenes actually have to compete with Marc Singer in a loincloth.  There are also some darker horror elements, because Don Coscarelli can’t help himself, including buxom witches with ancient crone masks, brain worms, and the crowd favorite, the bat-men who digest their victims by wrapping their wings around them. 
Released same year as Conan the Barbarian (1982), the film suffered from the inevitable comparisons.  And to be fair, the plots are thematically similar; village slaughtered by an evil warlord’s death cult, and the only survivor goes on a hero’s journey looking for revenge and redemption.  However Marc Singer wasn’t what the 80’s were looking for.  With a dancer’s body closer to Bruce Lee than Arnold’s game-changing Mr. Olympia physique, he enjoyed moderate success on the small screen in shows like the aforementioned V, Dallas, and Highlander while Arnold went on to you know, become Arnold.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4 volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…