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In ancient Pompeii, slaves are bought and sold for household chores and sex. A mysterious queen moves among the elite, meantime secretly helping the slaves to escape. Eventually her life is also in jeopardy, and as the volcano erupts she and the slaves attempt to escape while being chased by the military... Written by
Basically WARRIOR QUEEN is Joe D'amato, Harry Allan Tower & Chuck Vincent's version of CALIGULA LITE. I'm giving it a lower score than I might normally because of how downright mean-spirited of a little movie it is. Cult favorite Sybil Danning plays a visiting Roman empress to Pompeii who sits around yawning & looking bored while local Nero type Donald Pleasance hams it up as an insane, debauched, filthy, sadistic pervert ruling over Pompeii with a reign of terror that would have made Saddam Hussein blush. The film is cheap, sleazy, voyeuristic, under-written, over produced, filled with confusing distractions, sexual violence, rotten music, absurd lighting and costume design by a 12th grade home economics class doing a project on Toga Trash.
And yet it still has something going for it, probably the resemblance to an actual Peplum film centered on court intrigue, heroism in the Arena, forbidden love for a comely slave girl, a vengeance that has waited as long as an Ernesto Gastaldi plot development, and a genuine sense of helplessness for those who are not of the elite ruling class. All of these themes were of course explored under the cold, clinical light of an actual X rating by CALIGULA, and while this film is definitely cashing in on the whole Debauched Roman History genre it serves a role that CALIGULA could not in it's complete form, which is to appear to be actual mainstream entertainment. WARRIOR QUEEN is far less bloody, sadistic, lacks the actual hardcore sex inserts and ends a hell of a lot quicker. If someone was wanting to maybe get warmed up for CALIGULA this would be a good starter: If you like what you see here go for the gusto, and if not you're only behind on life by another 79 minutes.
A lot of fuss is also made over the 'unrated' version, which I happened to have, and aside from some obscured male genitalia in the big orgy scene there really isn't much here that is beyond a current-day MPAA R; The board may just have objected to the tone of the film in 1987. with the 'unrated' version is sort of a marketing ploy to sell rental tapes of a version that's about 90 seconds longer. There's a pretty good Snake Dance scene (always gotta love those) and some OK gladiator battle footage, but by the time they roll the stock shots of the volcano erupting at the end I was about done with this myself. If you want a perverse, overtly violent and sexualized Peplum but do not want to subject yourself to three hours of Macolm McDowall urinating on screen, here you go.
4/10: And yeah, the box cover is better than the movie.
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