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.
The story involves Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a farmer who dreams of becoming a sorcerer’s apprentice among the Nerwyns, which are a race of little people. One day, he encounters a baby who has washed onto the riverbank near his farm. The baby, who we come to learn is named Elora Danan, is a Daikini, a race much larger than the Nerwyns, but Willow’s brethren don’t think it’s a good idea to keep her. The evil-witch Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) has minions, including her warrior-princess daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) and vicious skull-faced warrior General Kael (Pat Roach), actively searching for this baby smuggled out from under her nose because she may be the prophecy foretold to end her reign, a child with a special mark upon its arm. Willow accepts the mission to return the baby back to the first Daikini he meets, with a few other Nerwyns in tow.
Along the way, they encounter and recruit that first Daikini, Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), a skilled but down-on-his-luck mercenary, who agrees to take the baby for release from capture. THe Daikinis are in the midst of a war with the legions on Bavmorda’s side, putting Elora’s fate in jeopardy should they fall short. However, Willow gets another directive from a fairy to find the good witch on a remote island. With Madmartigan and a couple of Brownies, who are from a human-like race even smaller than the Nerwyns, only nine inches in height, Willow seeks to find a way to protect the baby. Ron Howard directs this story by producer George Lucas.
Taimak stars as a young African-American Harlemite who is a devout student of martial arts. He lives kung fu, breathes kung fu and is so entrenched in the ways of the kung fu warrior, he stands out in his predominantly Black community for his lack of hipness and Asian-tinged wardrobe (he even eats his movie popcorn with chopsticks). He is sent out into the world from his master teacher to reach the final level of his training to become a true kung fu master, involving a golden amulet and a master named Som Dom Goy. Meanwhile, his quest is detoured by constant disruptions by a neighborhood bully, Sho’Nuff. who, along with his gang of thugs, are terrorizing the neighborhood. Leroy also gets embroiled with an even bigger bad guy, amoral record producer Eddie Arkadian, whose quest to get his girlfriend’s video played on the hottest music show on TV hosted by singer/VJ Laura Charles causes them to get physical. Leroy becomes Laura’s reluctant bodyguards, and the sparks between them suggest that they might have something more going on.
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?
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.