A new planet moves into our solar system and four scientists (two couples) are sent to explore Planet Nova. In between romantic interludes, the cast faces an iguana masquerading as a ... See full summary »
Bert I. Gordon
In 1692 a young girl in Salem, Massachusetts, accuses several residents of being witches, and they are burned at the stake. In 1980 a young woman who is a descendant of the accuser finds ... See full summary »
George, the son of the sorceress Sybil, has been watching the beautiful Princess Helene from afar and is very much in love with her. When she is kidnapped by the evil wizard Lodac, the king her father announces that she will be given in marriage to whoever rescues her. The first to volunteer is Sir Branton who expects to undertake the task alone. George, over his mother's objections, also decides to save her and is accompanied by six ancient knights. The journey is perilous with Lodac placing a series of challenges before them. Many in the group do not survive but George must eventually face Lodac's greatest challenge - his dragon. Written by
Powerful fantasy storytelling, despite an ultra-low budget
THE MAGIC SWORD (1962) is a fantasy film that enthralled me as a child when I sat in a Bronx theater with a packed house of kids on a summer afternoon. We talked about it for days afterwards and acted it out in our street games. As a grown-up, when I returned to it on TV, I may have found some of the effects less than convincing, particularly the dragon, but I still found the film quite engaging and consistently memorable. The images have a bold graphic quality reminiscent of the best comic book art. Each shot cuts right to its essential information and uses whatever low-budget means at the filmmaker's disposal--make-up, costumes, color, lighting, simple optical effects--to make the image stand out. In addition, there are strong performers on hand who have a kind of comic book/fairy tale aspect to them, e.g. Estelle Winwood, as the hero's spell-casting guardian; Basil Rathbone, as the sorcerer villain; and Vampira as a beautiful woman the knights meet on the road, who turns monstrous at a moment's notice.
The film is not afraid of grotesque imagery and doles it out in small, effective portions. As an adult I was struck by the horrific nature of some of the images, e.g. the withered old hag that Vampira turns into; the acid pool that yields up the skeleton of a victim who'd fallen into it just moments earlier; the burned, reddened skins of two of the knights as they're caught in some kind of intense sun ray. But as a child, I wasn't frightened by these images; they helped make the story more believable and more involving. Filmmaker Bert I. Gordon (THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN) was not afraid to show us the dark, gruesome side of this mythical tale. He wasn't trying to shield the kids in the audience the way bigger-budgeted Hollywood films of this stripe would have at the time (e.g., Harryhausen films like SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER). There was an honesty to Gordon's approach that I think we, as kids, even without being able to articulate it, appreciated and respected. As an adult, I can't get this film out of my mind, while more recent spectacles like the overstuffed LORD OF THE RINGS are but a dim memory.
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