Tonight was the season finale of Game of Thrones season 4. It was another great piece of storytelling that managed to juggle several subplots and giving each one their own time to shine.
The latest “Guilty Pleasure” is the 1980 epically mind-numbing fantasy film Hawk the Slayer starring the great Jack Palance in the the villainous role of Voltan the evil elder brother to the film’s title character, Hawk the Slayer. This film is in the other side of the quality spectrum of tonight’s Game of Thrones season finale.
Hawk the Slayer was part of the 80’s flood of sword and sorcery films that included such titles as Conan the Barbarian, Beastmaster and Ladyhawke. To say that this film was bad would be an understatement. Yet, I’m quite drawn to it whenever I see it on TV. In fact, it was on syndication that I first saw this when I was just a wee lad. I might have been around 9 or 10 when I came across it halfway through.
Maybe it was the fact that I was just discovering Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but this film spoke to me. It had that timeless story of brother against brother. The evil tyrant with legions of evil ne’er do wells against a small band of class-specific heroes and rogues. I mean this had it all. We had the hero of the film who I would probably place in the swordsman class. Then we had Ranulf with his repeating crossbow that would be the band’s rogue. Of course, there’s Gort the giant with his mighty hammer and Baldin the dwarf skilled in the art of the whip. But the one character that really shouted RPG for me throughout this film was Crow the Elf who could fire his bow as fast as any machine gun I’ve ever seen.
I think it’s very awfulness is why I keep returning to it whenever I see it on TV. The acting is atrocious with special effects that even in 1980 would be seen as laughable. The characters themselves were so one-note that one wonders if the person who wrote the screenplay was actually a trained monkey. Yet, the film was fun for all those reasons. It’s one of those titles that one would express as being so bad it’s good. Even now, with childhood several decades past, I still enjoy watching Hawk the Slayer and always wonder when they plan to get the sequel set-up and made.
Oh, the synth-heavy disco-fantasy-western soundtrack was also something to behold.