Keltus (Richard McWilliams), loyal ambassador of the ruling Order, is reluctantly forced to team up with cursed elf bounty hunter Nemyt (Danielle Chuchran) and exiled orc warlord Kullimon The Black (Paul D. Hunt) in his quest to prevent the evil Shadow Cabal from freeing Goth Azul, God Of Death, from the underworld.
The Shadow Cabal (aka Saga: The Curse Of The Shadow) was funded through Kickstarter at the end of 2012 and released last year, but I've been a bit slack in catching-up with some of my Kickstarter reward DVDs of late.
Put together by Arrowstorm, my favourite low-budget producers of fantasy B-movies, The Shadow Cabal is thematically reminiscent of my beloved '80s VHS sword and sorcery movies thanks to its primary reliance on practical effects (CGI is sensibly limited in its use, and al the better for it).
|Steampunk Dwarves -|
Just Say No!
I'll be honest here and admit I don't particularly like mixing steampunk with fantasy, so I'm glad (as far as I am aware) that this is the only Arrowstorm fantasy that commits this "offence".
I know it sounds a bit strange when talking about a fantasy movie, but I just find steampunk anachronistic to the genre; for me it kills the mood and takes you out of the moment because it is so distinctly "steampunk".
The Shadow Cabal isn't one of Arrowstorm's stronger outings (and not just because of the steampunk dwarf), but it's still leagues above the majority of CGI-heavy monster flicks that The Asylum and their ilk churn out for the SyFy Channel, as Arrowstorm takes care to craft interesting and textured worlds in which their adventures unfold.
They are true practitioners of the "iceberg" approach to storytelling, while we only see a small fraction of the world of The Shadow Cabal on screen, there is the inescapable feeling of it being part of a much larger, just off-screen, setting.
|Hot Elf Chick Alert!|
However, The Shadow Cabal doesn't shy away from its use of monsters which range from the usual horde of orcs to dragons and a demonic avatar of Goth Azul, via an undead mob (led by a zombie minotaur), evil mermaids and a giant underwater snake. So there's plenty for gamers to sink their teeth into.
Probably the most interesting aspect of the story is the "death curse" put on Nemyt right at the start that not only brands her - against her will - as a member of the Shadow Cabal, but is also slowly turning her into an undead creature.
If, like me, you regard Hawk The Slayer as the epitome of fine sword and sorcery movie-making (and like to see adventurers wandering through mist-shrouded forests), then there's plenty for you to enjoy in The Shadow Cabal, but I'd suggest you also track down some of Arrowstorm's other films to get a better sense of their body of work.