Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thor and the Amazon Women - 1963

This is the film that was made back to back with Taur the Mighty, the film which I spoke of in my review of The Galaxy Invader.  Since I could not find Taur the Mighty online, I settled for the sequel, Thor and the Amazon Women.  You see, even though the first film is called Taur, the character is actually named Thor.  It's confusing, but it's mostly due to bad translations, copyrights, and what-have-you 60's thinking.

This is my first review of what is called the sword and sandal sub genre of action adventure films.  This is one of those genres that you either love or hate, there's not a lot of middle room.  As a genre, it's interchangeable with martial arts films in that both genres reuse stereotypes and plots and character devices time and time again.  But the difference for me is of course the settings and the talent level involved.  I love martial arts films because of the kung fu, and the stunts.  Also, the Asian charm and the values present are stronger I think.  These sword and sandal flicks, usually filmed in the middle of some empty desert and featuring talentless actors, are much less entertaining in my opinion.

The core to a sword and sandal movie is the main character:  the beefy muscled up dude usually supposed to be Hercules, or Hercules' son, or Samson or Thor or Sinbad or Maciste, the list goes on and on - this guy is a moral good guy through and through.  He usually helps out desperate villagers, a good king, or something similar.  He has to have a worthless sidekick, get kidnapped, resist the temptation of an evil queen or sorceress who wants to fuck him, and then in the end rescue his sidekick, some damsel in distress, and wrap the plot up in like 2-3 minutes.

Other recurring themes are (more) guys in tiny clothes who are oiled up and bulging with muscles, plenty of horses, bad guys who are sadistic and cruel beyond reason, and plenty of fire.  Especially when these films were being made in Italy it seems as if there is an abundance of fire everywhere.

In this installment of the Thor 2 part series, Thor and his black sidekick Ubaratutu stumble upon a land that is ruled by evil Black Queen.  Black Queen has overthrown the male government and instituted a matriarchal society that keeps male slaves.  Black Queen also makes her females fight to the death in a regular fashion, granting the one who wins 20 victories freedom and command of her armies.  Yamad and Tamar are two female dissidents who do not like this matriarchal society and are plotting to overthrow the Black Queen.  When Thor gets captured by Black Queen and she marries herself to Ubaratutu, they get thrown in to suffer various bad fates as well.

It all comes to head in an actually pretty neat ending.  Thor has to prove his strength by going up against 101 women in a tug of war type contest over raging flames, while Tamar battles resident women champion Ghebel (who only needs one more victory to get her freedom).  The ending is the only part that actually has tension and good editing, it's a long build up story line for the maybe 5 minute ending.
He can best 101 women, but can't break the ropes holding his arms in this scene...

This movie appears to have some bad editing, or missing footage.  Often, some parts of dialogue are chopped off, music chopped off, and it all looks pretty bad.  There are not a whole lot of locations to speak of, but generally things look okay enough and the production value evens itself out.  The actors are decent enough too, typical in their overacting, and with a pretty bad dub job, but that comes with the territory.

I liked the totally un-subtle racist and masochistic views present in the movie, as they add some needed comedy (even though they were not filmed to be comedic for the most part).  There is a heavy presence of how a society "should be" aka run by men, and one of the women even says she needs "a man who is stronger than I".  The end goes on and on about the need for men to run society and it's pretty fucking stupid and laughable.

I am not the biggest fan of this genre as I've said, but at least this movie was not confusing like some of these types of films.  It takes a while to get anywhere, and the pacing is slow and tedious.  Everything that happens you can definitely see it coming a long way out.  Nothing to watch over and over again, but if these types of films are what you like, this one is another entry into the long list of cannon fodder sword and sandal flicks you can watch when you want to be mildly entertained and put off your suicide by 90 minutes.

One and a half stars

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