Tag Archives: magic

Conan the Destroyer (1984) | Richard Fleischer



Power-hungry Queen Tamaris of Shadizar (Sarah Douglas), who offers Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) a bargain. Taramis will resurrect his dead lover Valeria upon completion of a special mission. He is to assist with the protection of her niece, a young virgin princess named Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo). Jehnna travels with her bodyguard Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), to venture into the mystical castle to retrieve a key in the form of a magic jewel called the Heart of Ahriman that, by prophecy, only someone who bears the distinctive mark like Jehnna can touch. This key will unlock a fabled horn that promises to bring the dormant ‘dreamer god’ Dagoth to the mortal realm.  The twist is that, at the end of the quest, Jehnna is a sacrificial offering to Dagoth, and Conan and his friends shall die as well.  These friends include the great wizard Akiro (Mako), the agile warrior Zula (Grace Jones), and Conan’s comical sidekick, Malak, the thief (Tracey Walter). Richard Fleischer directs.


Fire and Ice (1983) | Ralph Bakshi



This animated story involves a fantasy world imagined before the last ice age, featuring human civilizations and exotic dinosaurs coexisting. It is a time where the lands are divided among two factions, the evil Ice Peak sorcerer warlords, Queen Juliana and her wicked son Nekron, leading an army of ape-like subhumans, and the goodly Fire Keep clan led by King Jarol. The ice clan’s Nekron is using his telekinetic powers to send giant glaciers out to freeze over the rest of the world, forcing the good humans to set up camp near the volcanoes.

Our main hero is vengeful Larn, the survivor of North Village from one of Nekron’s glacier attacks that takes out his people. Jarol’s beloved teenage daughter Princess Teegra gets kidnapped from Nekron’s subhuman minions. Teegra manages to escape and runs into Larn, and the two form an instant romantic bond. As King Jarol sends his son Taro and his men to seek a peaceful solution, Larn makes his way to Nekron’s abode, joining forces with a mysterious warrior named Darkwolf, who also is traveling to the Ice City to thwart the Ice Lord’s wrath.

Ralph Bakshi directs. Frank Frazetta co-produces.


The Black Cauldron (1981) | Richard Rich & Ted Berman



1985’s THE BLACK CAULDRON represents Disney at its nadir as an animation studio, resulting in a box office failure and years of obscurity.  It’s first PG-rated animated feature struggled to find an audience clamoring for its dark and violent tones.  However, it has garnered a significant cult following over the years, with its tales of swords, sorcerers, and black magic-infused battles brought to life with stunning visuals that incorporate the studios first forays into computer-generated elements into its hand-drawn animated cels.  Does it deserve obscurity, or is it about time to reappraise a hidden gem in Disney’s vast and storied filmography?


Xanadu (1980) | Robert Greenwald



The much-maligned 1980 musical gets re-evaluated in this podcast review.  Olivia Newton-John plays a muse who is sent to earth to inspire a struggling artist (Michael Beck) fulfill his dream of starting a roller-disco club with a retired construction magnate (Gene Kelly).  Newton-John and pop group ELO deliver a powerhouse soundtrack in this visually impressive first effort from future political documentarian Robert Greenwald.


The Dark Crystal (1982) | Jim Henson & Frank Oz



Jim Henson conceived of this elaborate realm of fantasy in which two competing races vie for the destiny of a faraway planet, as the evil Skeksis try to thwart the Gelflings of prophecy from uniting the planet yet again and bringing equilibrium to life there for those enslaved.  This imaginative film had been a disappointment on early release but has gained a rabid following among fantasy fans.  Frank Oz co-directs this film done entirely with puppets, and is a rare film that doesn’t a human character in sight.


Labyrinth (1986) | Jim Henson



Jennifer Connelly is cast in one of her first starring roles as Sarah, a teenage girl who has grown tired of her stepmother and father leaving her home alone to babysit her infant brother, Toby.  In a bout of exasperation, she wishes him away, and inadvertently summons the vain and moody Goblin King of myth, Jareth (played by David Bowie), who kidnaps the baby and steals him away into his fantasy realm.  There, the baby boy remains hidden in a dangerous castle in the middle of an ornate labyrinth. If Sarah wants a chance at getting the brother she really didn’t want to go back, she must traverse the enigmatic trail before midnight, or the Goblin King gets to keep Toby forever.


Ladyhawke (1985) | Richard Donner



Set in France during the Middle Ages, Philippe ‘The Mouse’ Gaston, a convicted pickpocket escapes from a castle dungeon only to get involved in a bitter feud between the powerful, scheming Bishop of Aquila and two lovers, a former captain of the guard named Etienne of Navarre and a lady named Isabeau d’Anjou, who were cursed with dark magic when the Bishop, who also fancies Isabeau, finds out of their union.  The spell transforms the knight into a wolf by night, and the lady into hawk by day, and they can only see each other briefly in human form at dawn or dusk.