Saturday, August 15, 2009

Conquest (1983)
ITALY/ SPAIN/ MEXICO --- fantasy

Dir: Lucio Fulci

In my opinion, there were really only three master filmmakers in Italian cinema. Mario Bava, Jacques Tati, and Sergio Leone. Italian cinema is full of genre pieces that have glorified the exploits of their homelands myths such as the Hercules films and sand and sandal gladiator pics. And rightly so, what better kind of film to make to take advantage of the locale. American westerns were made for the same exact reasons. This following film comes at a time when that genre had subsided in Italian cultural popularity, who were used to leeching a genre and doing it to death. Versatile director Lucio Fulci, a basterd step-child of the aforementioned auteurs of Italian cinema, decided to cash in on the international success of CONAN and it's many American copycats. However, he missed the mark big time.

"Conquest" takes place in a distant unknown time period which looks perhistoric one moment, and in the next in the time of Grecian myths. This isn't specified, what is important for the audience to know is the story involves a young hero, named Ilias (you can make connections to the Iliad if you like) who is equipped with a magical bow by villagers. The problem is, besides having a convulted plot, the writers didn't consult any Joseph Campbell inferences here about a boy on a quest. They pretty much just throw the kid out there and say go find yourself. In the meantime, we are shown an evil sorceress with a full metallic face mask and pretty much nothing else, has a premonition of her death by the hands of a boy with a bow. That boy is Ilias, and she dispatches a species of dog soldiers who look like they're wearing $1.98 werewolf costumes to find him. When attacked by the soldiers, lucky for Ilias beefy hero archetype named Mace, comes to his rescue.
As Ilias and Mace bond, he leads him to a village of what looks to be a tribe of neandertals. The ravaging dog soldiers attack the village and kill the love interest of Ilias. I'm going to stop right here, because the rest of the film for me is simply not worth reviewing. I will sum up some of my feelings. Swamp zombies wearing white Hefty cinch-sack garbage bags attack Mace, decapitations galore (in full Fulci style), and the appearance of another villian clad in a suit of bathroom tiles. All to the funky score that sounds like it was put together by a bunch of street performers. This film has made me laugh more than a comedy. Fulci really missed the mark with this one.