Growing up in pre-Internet days, Marc Singer was always "that guy from (the original) V" while the stunning Tanya Roberts was one of the last, true Charlie's Angels (and, almost certainly, my first red-haired crush).
Little did I realise at the time that they both had a whole 'nother life in the fantastic swords and sorcery flick The Beastmaster.
Singer is the barbarian Dar, born with the supernatural ability to communicate with animals and see through their eyes (if he concentrates hard enough), whose home village is razed by the Jun horde - a merciless army of killers working for Maax (Rip Torn), the high priest who has seized control of the land.
On the path to revenge, Dar - and his animal companions (a couple of ferrets, an eagle and a black-painted tiger seemingly masquerading as a panther) - meets up with 'slave girl' Kiri (Roberts), warrior Seth (John Amos) and a young boy called Tal (Josh Milrad), all seeking to free the land from Maax's cruel grip and restore Tal's father Zed (Rod Loomis) to the throne.
Along the way there's all sorts of hijinks with a variety of humanoid monsters (including a trio of hag-like witches working for Maax; leathery-winged beasties that envelop their victims in their wings and suck their skin, innards and muscles off; and the insane, rampaging death guards), plenty of fighting, some decent (for the '80s special effects) and a surprisingly complex plot (or maybe I was just distracted by Tanya Roberts).
The Beastmaster even manages to throw in a couple of false endings, so that just when you think Maax has been beaten and all is right in the world, the Jun horde come riding back over the horizon and our heroes have more troubles on their hands.
And Dar is an interesting barbarian - although clearly inspired by Conan (as all barbarian movies were in the '80s), he isn't superhumanly strong, has a soft side (he cries when Zed calls him a coward and kicks him out of their gang - and at that stage he doesn't even know Zed is his true father) and clearly loves his animals (he won't leave the temple dungeons until he has found his ferrets).
Of course, it still has its odd moments - such as the scene where Dar and Seth rescue Kiri and some other girls from the priests who are taking them to be sacrificed. Our heroes only actually liberate Kiri and nothing is ever said or done about the other girls who were, presumably, eventually taken off to be sacrificed anyway!
And then, of course, there's the scene near the start where one of the hag-witches walks into the king's bedchamber at night with a cow - I'm calling "magic spell" on that one, though, otherwise it's too bizarre for words (especially given the wonderfully revolting sorcery that follows).
However, so well made and well paced - under the direction of co-writer Don Coscarelli (who also directed the four highly-regarded Phantasm movies and Bubba Ho-Tep) - that even at just under two hours duration, The Beastmaster never outstays its welcome.
A rampaging form of undead creature that is created by torturing a man to the point of insanity, then securing a leather full-face (gimp) mask and sharply-studded leather gauntlets on him, before introducing a glowing green leech in his ear that not only kills - and then reanimates him - but causes his eyes to glow green as well.
Unless controlled by a powerful, evil sorcerer, a death guard will simply try and batter to death all living beings in his immediate area - and isn't above chasing down any who attempt to flee.
Att: 2 (spiked gloves, 1d4+2)
Saving Throw: 14
- Undead Immunities: Immune to sleep, charm, fear and similar spell effects. Will always fight to the death.
- Mighty Strength: A death guard is capable of smashing down a normal, locked door on a roll of 1-4 on a d6, and may try once a round to do so.
Ointment Of Restraint: A blue, glowing liquid that, when poured across the neck of a sleeping or prone victim, will keep them magically pressed down on whatever surface they have their back against for (1d6 x 10) minutes. The ointment somehow affects the localised gravity and short of god-like strength is impossible to break free from for the duration. Luckily, not only is it very rare, but tends to come in small vials that only hold (1d3+1) applications.