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Infamous Italian movie maker Joe D'amato (known for many porn films along with horror movies like "Trap Them and Kill Them" and "Buried Alive") tried his hand at a sword and sandal flick. At parts this movie could be mind numbingly boring and at others quite entertaining. That is to a certain extent of course. It wasn't too bad a movie, but not too good either. Look for delicious Laura "Emanuelle" Gemser in a supporting role as an evil Sorceress.
Miles O'keeffe as Ator, Joe D'amato behind the wheel...what can go wrong? Great sets, great fights, great story and epic as hell.
Conan the Barbarian you could say was at the top of the pile of these derivative sword and sorcery enterprises that were being churned out in the early 80s and the main influencer for these films. "Ator" was at the very bottom of the pile and was a quick cash-in on the former by notorious director Joe D'Amato. It's quite bad. More so in a banal and simple-minded way, this is unforgivable. What happens is second-rate and hasty in its execution and with little fun attached to it. A bemused Miles O'keeffe plays the title character and goes about things in a rather laborious manner (uneventful journey with plenty of strutting and flat sword choreography) although there are some amusingly terrible dialogue exchanges (the heart to heart talk about love with romantic interludes), a lousy twist and a battle scene with a slow moving gigantic spider but other than that not much to recommend. It's just risible more so than thrilling. Oh I did forget something the bear cub. I don't know what it had to do with anything, but its presence was a welcome inclusion.
That's all I can really say about this film, that it's better than it's sequel. Actually, this isn't all that awful, but it's not all that good, either. While the sequel was sickening and dull, this one manages to entertain us with it's amazing badness. The movie is pretty bad, but that's just it, it's not totally awful like some other Italian muscle-man epics. Many types of these films were released by Italian film makers in the early 80's, whether they were successful or not I don't know. To summarize: This movie is bad, but more watchable than other films of it's type.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ator: The Fighting Eagle is nothing more then a laughably lame,
second-rate, knock-off of Conan the Barbarian, one of several from that
era and somehow this accidental comedy of a movie would spawn at least
The film stars Miles O'Keefe in the title-role of Ator (i.e. discount Conan), who is marked from birth with a sign, which falls in line with the movies illogical and nonsensical story-line, which entails him (once he's grown into manhood) as it is predestined, to become the conqueror of "the ancient one" and as prophesied if Ator were to slay this ancient dude and end his 1,000 year reign, a new era of peace and happiness would befall the realm. Described that way the movies plot sounds fairly straight forward, however if you try to follow this movies plot, which I would not recommend doing, as it just seems lessen the fun of this schlocky-ham-handed-B-rate-barbarian-spectacle. In other words when watching this mindless tromp through ancient times, just sit down and turn off your brain and enjoy the ridiculouslessness of it all. Because as you'll no doubt see Ator: The Fighting Eagle (even it's title doesn't even seem to correlate to anything relevant to it's plot) is a movie that's rife with plot-holes and loaded with illogical situations, not to mention the movies corny special effects and numerous, tepidly-staged, action sequences.
Let me briefly go into description of Ator - our mighty hero in the movie. Miles O'Keefe is a guy who evidently had some bodybuilding in his background and thus has a ripped, though not heavily muscled, physique (he's no Arnold) and looks to be well over six-feet tall. So far he sounds like he fits the role, but then there's the fact that he's more of a metro-sexual, sissy-pants, then a believable screen hero. Then we have his costume (the wardrobe department has to take some of the blame on this one), when Ator makes his first appearance he's wearing this ridiculous looking, fur-lined, get-up that also has lots of frilly fringe. Cringe. He also has white flowers weaved through his hair, which throughout the movie qualifies as an anachronism, our hero's hair; because where in a medieval world did Ator get his Aqua Net.
The villains of this schlocky mess of a movie are just as lame as the hero, especially the bald black guy whose decked out in studded, black leather armor (standard issue among medieval villains), who has an infatuation with Tarantula's and who is also in the habit of wearing heavy amounts of golden eye-shadow....... sound cringe-worthy? You'd be right. Then there's yet another villain, whose grand plan further undermines the movies already flawed logic and cliché-ridden plot, but seeing as how Ator is a poorly made fantasy film / barbarian-adventure-romp it doesn't really seem to matter whether it's story makes sense or not. It's my suggestion that you suspend any inkling of disbelief (which you'll undoubtedly have) and simply relish all the unintentional humor Ator brings to your screen. Because, Yes, this movie is a bad as looks.
Which brings me to another point that doesn't bode well for Lord Ator, which is the fact that the image quality of this movie (or lack of it), no matter whose copy you're watching, always looks flat-out terrible. It's image is beset with several significant problems, which range from it's faded, washed-out, color, to it's weak contrast levels; which looks especially bad whenever there's a scene involving a low-light setting and seeing as how nearly half the movie takes place inside a series of caves, you can expect to see lots of washed-out blacks and an overall heavily marred and hazy image quality - which proves to be so bad in certain places that it's to the point of distraction. Though I doubt it, Ator: The Fighting Eagle looks as if it were a movie that was shot directly to VHS tape - because that's just how bad it looks.
The films production values are another mark against it, what a joke, with it's lame small-scale sets, goofy-looking costumes, deplorable FX, etc and when you add everything up it all make for a very cheap and amateurish looking movie. But if there's one category where Ator doesn't come up on the short-side of - it's tail, for Ator's a real cocksman in this movie; starting with a young women who he thinks is his sister and yet wants to marry her anyway (so pitch in a hint of incest). Then there's a blonde-headed amazon on horseback not far in, which eventually leads to a whole tribe of amazonian warriors (they fight over him in order to earn the privilege of mating with him), then further on there's a wizardly seductress whose aching for some action with Ator.... and well I've lost count, but I think there's one more romantic interlude near the end.
If there's one scene that's a stand out, not because it's actually good, but because it's a showcase of terrible FX. Near the end through the black magic of "the ancient one" there's shape-shifting in the air, so beware! What you can expect to see is a big phony-looking spider, but in reality it's just a badly made puppet, that looks about as realistic as drugstore-brand Halloween decor (or maybe some crap bought at Spencer Gifts, after the holidays when their trying to off-load their seasonal merchandise at a steep discount). Which is no surprise really, because "big scary spiders" always look phony in old movies, always.
So in the end, if you want to see a pathetic Conan The Barbarian rip-off settle down and put on Ator: The Fighting Eagle and afterwards if you still somehow find yourself craving for more Ator movies, Miles O'Keefe starred in at least two sequels - and in one those movies Ator, our dear, sword-swinging, barbarian, friend - goes hand-gliding!
Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
After his village members are slaughtered and his love kidnapped, Ator (Miles O'Keeffe) must travel far to battle the High Priest of the Spider (Dakar).
When people ask me why I enjoy watching bad movies, this bit of dialogue from this film comes as a perfect example:
Ator: I love you.
Sunya: And I love you.
Ator: Why can't we marry?
Sunya: Ator, we are brother and sister.
Ator: I'll talk with our father.
You know, it's really hard to judge a film like this. I mean, it is a very bad movie full of awful acting, silly special effects, lousy direction and it rarely even looks like a "real" movie. Yet, at the same time, the film is so campy and silly at times that it's hard to hate the picture too much. Not only is it hard to hate the picture but it's also so campy that you might find yourself enjoying it somewhat.
With that said, there's no question that there are all sorts of problems with this film and heck, you could argue that there are countless problems with the entire sub-genre. There are many laughable moments throughout the film including that dialogue I highlighted but O'Keeffe was obviously hired for his looks here as his acting isn't all that memorable. Ritza Brown is at least good eye-candy and Dakar is over-the-top enough to where you can laugh and enjoy the performance. Laura Gemser appears briefly as a sex object.
Director Joe D'Amato was obviously working on a small budget and it shows throughout the picture but I will say that the final ten- minutes are actually entertaining and good. Well, as least they are until we get to the stock footage and the awful closing song. ATOR, THE FIGHTING EAGLE isn't a masterpiece, a good film or even a fair film. It's a bad movie but it's campy enough to where you can get some laughs from it.
"Ator, The Fighting Eagle" is an early Conan ripoff from the prolific
and usually enjoyable Italian schlock director Joe D'Amato. While the
basics are in place here (swords, sorcery, and that's about it), the
execution entirely misses the mark. It's hard to describe what exactly
it is that is so off-putting about this film, probably because there is
not a whole lot going on IN the film. The titular character is
portrayed as weak, and not in the sense that it is part of his
personality or backstory. He avoids most combat by simply running away,
which is absurd (no D'Amato pun intended) considering what makes these
types of flicks so enjoyable are the battles. The villain is about as
threatening as the stupid skunk-striped bear cub that runs and grunts
it's way through the movie by Ator's side, dying almost immediately
upon being confronted and showing almost none of the tyrannical traits
his cult is supposed to exhibit.
Sabrina Siani is hot as Roon, if that's any consolation, but it only brings me to my next point: This film is basically FAMILY FRIENDLY. There is no gore, no nudity, and basically nothing else that makes films of this caliber a treat. The dialog, weapons, scenery and characters are cookie cutter and mostly formulaic, which is the biggest shame. Even the giant spider is a disappointment and is disposed of with little effort in one of the only actual battles of the whole movie. There is no tension, no dramatic build toward the climax and no real reason to care about any of the characters. Foremost, don't even get me started on the awkward and blatant incest sub-plot.
I want to like this movie. I really do. But, unfortunately, I just don't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mighty warrior Ator (woodenly played by Miles O'Keefe, who's all
flowing long hair and well sculpted muscles) must rescue his beauteous
(semi)sister Sunya (foxy brunette Ritza Brown) from the vile clutches
of evil high priest Dakar (wildly overplayed with deliciously hammy
brio by Dakkar of "Zombie" and "Dr. Butcher M.D." fame). Feisty Amazon
thief Roon (luscious blonde Sabrina Siani) and a cute'n'cuddly bear cub
help Ator out.
Boy, does this hilariously horrendous honey possess all the right wrong stuff to rate highly as a real four-star stinkeroonie: We've got clumsy (mis)direction by legendary sleazemeister Joe D'Amato (who also wrote the patchwork script and did the polished cinematography), dodgy dubbing, erratic pacing, hit or miss acting, ineptly staged action scenes, lovably rinky-dink (far from) special effects (you can clearly see the obvious wires manipulating the legs of a giant puppet spider!), a derivative plot that slavishly (and shamelessly) imitates the story from "Conan the Barbarian," and even a hideously sappy soft-rock theme song mewling away over the end credits. Edmond Purdom adds a touch of class as helpful and vengeful mentor Graba while delectable Euro soft-core goddess Laura Gemser has a small, yet neat role as wicked and powerful sorceress Indun. Carlo Maria Cordio's robust score hits the rousing spot. An absolute crummy hoot.
"Break out the Kleenex!" I said to myself, ready to watch a Joe D'Amato
film starring Laura Gesmer and Sabrina Siani, and all set to pass out
from exhaustion around the fifteen minute mark, just like when I
watched D'Amato's 'Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals'. Then I noticed
it was a PG film, but my disappointment was short lived as I discovered
that the guy prancing around looking like Ghengis Khan was actually
Edmund Purdom, mister Movie Gold himself. I almost needed those Kleenex
right there and then!
Purdom's never been in a bad film, be it 'Pieces', 'Don't Open Till Christmas' or '2019: After the Fall of New York', and here again he picks a winner, another Italian sword and sorcery film that's low on sense, but high on stupidity.
Miles O'Keefe (with a great hair-metal do) is Ator, son of some guy who tried to bring down the Spider King, brought up by step parents, with a bear for a sidekick and a sister he wants to marry. The high priest of the Spider or something, Dakkar (from Zombie Flesh Eaters), kidnaps Ator's sister and it's up to Ator and his mentor Ghengis Purdom to do...things!
Ator, his bear and newly acquired, violent sidekick Sabrina Siani, set off on many adventures to get Ator's sister back, be it meeting enchantress Laura Gesmer (with clothes!), or enduring the least eventful zombie attack in history, or robbing a whorehouse and killing the customers for no reason at all, or for stealing from blind people and killing them too, on and on and on until Ator faces off with the bad guys, one of which has had the stupidest plan I've ever heard in a long time and that's saying something.
Top it all of with a battle involving an extra from The Giant Spider Invasion and you've got yet another IQ dissolving serving of Italian madness. It doesn't top Fulci's Conquest (whereupon viewing Conquest does result in a feeling that Sabrina Siani has sucked all you brains from the top of your head), but Ator's daft enough to make the grade! Love that end credits tune too!
And lo, trash director Joe D'amato did witness the success of mighty
warrior Schwarzeneggar as Conan and did cash in on the great Austrian's
success, fashioning a film in its image. And that film was called Ator,
and it's star went by the name of Miles O'Keeffe.
It was written that O'Keeffe, as Ator, would defeat the evil Spider King and his ten loyal henchmen whilst on a quest to save the woman of his dreamshis sister! Travelling through lawless, cursed lands, accompanied by a blonde tribeswoman and a fearless bear cub, Ator doth battle with slow zombies and blind warriors, explore the Volcano of Shadows to find the Shield of Mordor, and finally defy the wrath of Dakkar, defeat his evil minions, and battle a giant, ancient arachnid.
A predictably dumb barbarian flick from Italian trash director D'amato, Ator, The Fighting Eagle is complete cobblers from start to finish, but oh so entertaining: a welcome appearance from sleaze goddess Laura Gemser, some unbelievably funny fight scenes, and plenty of crappy dialogue make this cheapo fantasy crap difficult to dislike.
I've not seen the MST3K version of this film, but it's hard to believe that anything could be much funnier than Ator, The Fighting Eagle in its original incarnation.
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