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Italian sword and sorcery epic from splatter director Lucio Fulci loosely inspired from the Hercules mythos about two warriors on a quest and a vengeful demon who throws all kinds of nasty creatures along the way to fill scenes of gory violence. Written by
If there's any movie Lucio Fulci made that inspires equal love and hatred, it must be this, the director's lone fore into the Sword and Sorcery subgenre. The general opinion of its detractors seems to be that "Conquest" marked the beginning of Fulci's descent into both commercial and artistic mediocrity, and while the former may be true, I'm not understanding the latter. In light of what Fulci's work aspires to be, "Conquest" can in many ways be seen as a culmination of his style, and if your best criticisms of the movie are that it's "plotless and cheap," I wonder why you're watching a Fulci movie in the first place.
Sure, the plot is a rudimentary blob that in the end amounts mostly to characters wandering back and forth as an excuse to get them into perilous situations involving traps and monsters, but Fulci's visual sensibilities are positively ON FIRE here, so much so that the limitations of the story become pretty much inconsequential. They take a back seat to the otherwordly mythic fantasy environment that Fulci is able to create with the most frugal materials. It is the foreboding fog-shrouded swamps, ancient stone temples, grotesque creatures and lurid-colored alien skies that will linger in the mind as the work of an artist who clearly has an eye for distinctive visuals. You could only accuse this of being a movie derivative of "Conan the Barbarian" if you completely ignored this aspect of it, because I can't think of another film that looks anything like this.
Other aspects of "Conquest" work to its advantage in subtle ways. The spare, monosyllabic dialogue helps to create the sense of a primitive and brutish world and the minimalist pulses of Claudio Simonetti's electronic score mesh well with the stunning visuals. Bizarre details - the villainess' gold mask and fascination with snakes, the enchanted bow that glows blue, the dolphin rescue - border on the surrealistic. The effect achieved, at least to this viewer, is hypnotic. I find myself wondering how so many filmmakers today, when they are given all the resources in the world and can't give us one interesting thing to look at, can be treated so leniently by critics who would jump on the bahnwagon to slam Fulci without a second thought.
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