Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982)
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Now I admit this is a bad film, but thats why its so good. Never have i seen such a bad film.
This is a must see. I give it 9/10.
This is not a good movie. However, that should not discourage you. If you can accept it's badness, you will enjoy it. It is so terrible that you can sit back and laugh. The furry boots, the chest armor that looks like a large dinner plate, the fact that he wants to marry his sister... Miles O'Keeffe kinda looks like an out of work porn star.
If you enjoy really bad movies, this is a must see; one of those few gems that is a funny-but-not-supposed-to-be-funny movie.
2) A fantastic drinking game
Regarding the first point, did it ever occur to anyone else that the authors of the script could have simply made Ator fall in love with somebody else from the village and avoided the issue of, you know, Ator marrying his SISTER? If you haven't seen the movie, a bit of explanation is in order: Ator has been adopted by a family in order to disguise his regal bloodline, and somehow manages to fall in love with his adoptee sister as he grows from a baby into a Fabio-esque stud (complete with a forcefully hairsprayed mane of golden curls). He gets by the whole "incest" thing on a technicality, but doesn't one think that he'd probably have discounted his sister as a potential mate at age five? The whole thing smacks of subliminal messaging on the part of the writers of the script to me. "Look! Ator marries his sister," they're saying. "Write your congressman, and send him a copy of Ator: The Fighting Eagle!" Note that the writing team are a male/female pair...
As for the drinking game, it's really simple: Take a sip every time you see Ator's bear cub, and a shot every time the bear does something to assist Ator. If you adhere strictly to these rules, you will not finish this film before you die of alcohol poisoning. This bear cub does far, far more than either Ator or Roon throughout the course of the movie. And he's so loveable! I started cheering for the bear - and the bear alone - half an hour into the film.
Like the title says, if you can get this movie for four bucks, I highly recommend that you pick it up. It's not unbelievably horrible, like "Reborn From Hell: Samurai Armageddon" is, but it's a docile, friendly sort of awful. And really, what else could one ask for?
This is an interesting entry in the sword and sorcery genre in that it's screen violence is extremely mild in comparison to many of it's brethren. In fact it comes across in many ways as a sort of Conan for a younger audience. This is even more surprising considering that it was directed by the late, great Joe D'Amato, -an incredibly prolific director who is probably best remembered for filming both some of the most notorious 'video nasties' around and a very long list of porno films!
So what of the quality of the film itself?
Well, actually it's rather good in fact!
The numerous challenges that Ator faces as the film progresses, are each like miniature stories within themselves so the proceedings luckily never get dull. One particularly effective scene for instance, involves Ator and his sword swinging female companion being pursued by an undead army who are accompanied by an ever present and ominous fog (obviously inspired by John Carpenter's film) Another (this time rather amusing) scene has Ator actually battling his own shadow! But the very best bit is at the films climax when Ator battles a rather embarrassing looking giant spider which flails around in much the same manner as a fish out of water!
What can I say - the film is certainly no masterpiece, but it IS great fun!
So the Protagonist, Ator, has this mysterious vanishing birthmark. The birthmark is sign that he will kill "the spider" because he is the son of some guy. Despite there being NO introduction to "the spider", it kind of catches you off guard, and because there is some other bad-guy that plays with spiders, you are led to think this guy is in fact, "the spider". But you are wrong, there is some giant spider.
So it begins with Ator being given to a family to keep him safe. Ator and his sister are in love, and want to marry, ans upon finding they aren't blood related, they have a marriage. Ator's bride is taken away, so he quests to find them. He learns the mad battle tactics, gets captured by women and used as a sex-slave, and is tricked by a witch. All these finally lead up to the ending.
In short, The movie is poorly acted, very poorly scripted, the directing is mediocre, the special effects lack in every way, the budget greatly effects the scenes of the movie, but the fight sequences are awesome. I recommend this movie to anyone looking for a comedy, rather than an action movie, because I was laughing for 50% of the movie.
Some people blame Ator for being just a simple Conan rip-off which I by no means can agree with. Ator is a much more "human" barbarian than Conan and is always struggling with moral dilemmas. He's for instance deeply in love with his own sister and where Conan probably just would say "thumbs up" and go for game, Ator on the other hand struggles with his emotions. Eventually he finds out he was adopted as an infant. That makes a marriage between him and his sister possible.
However, Ators bride is captured by the evil Spiderking and then the saga begins.
This is the origin of Ator (which sounds funny since this is technically the first movie, however, most of us know Miles O'Keefe from the Mystery Science 3000 episode of Cave Dwellers, a.k.a Ator 2). Most of us will remember this movie from the various flashbacks in Ator 2, a.k.a Cave Dwellers.
In the first five minutes of the movie we are assaulted with a long, boring narrative that doesn't make a heap of sense. This is followed up by dialog like :
(Minion) Lord, the sign is in the sky.
(Dakkar) What are you saying foooooollll ??
(Minion) The animals cry out and the wind, the trees, the mountain. The earth trembles like a virgin being drawn to the nuptial bed, and the sky is the color of flame, my Lord.
(Dakkar) ..... .... (LINE !!!!)
This is followed up by some more pointless plot points, dialog and fights scenes that look like the Bionic Man was choreographing. One of my favorite scenes is invention of ballet during the wedding scene. It was a modern dance interpretation gone completely wrong. The other scene is a look at our hero, who is a peeping tom pervert.
This is definitely for fans of Deathstalker, Red Sonya and the Barbarian Brothers. If you like your sword and sorcery lite, crunchy with a side of Jack Daniels, then this is the movie for you.
And what was up with that bear ? It was in more scenes than Miles O'Keefe. I guess they were trying to rip off of the Beastmaster as well.
There's an amusing wedding of brother and sister, this guy Greba who mainly scowls and moves back and forth from scene to scene. I mean, c'mon, when he goes to get the baby, it's the theatre of the mute! There is no crying, pleading, rage; more kind of like 'So long and thanks for the kid!' Who can imagine that village raid attack can be so boring? This is plentiful in this adventure. On the bright side, there's warrior women, good eye candy, and proof that shooting in forests and mountain areas is great because it doesn't COST anything!! Who are you going to pay, Mr. Squirrel? Now, he should've been in this movie!
All in all, Miles O Keefe has been quoted as being good humored; he supposedly even liked the MSTing of Cave Dwellers. Also, the movie is done very seriously which makes it even more kampy fun. Watch it for laughs or for the effect of coma inducing meds.
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!
* 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.
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.
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.
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!