With the phenomenal success of Conan the Barbarian, a wave of sword and sorcery themed films soon followed, hoping to cash in on the trend. From Krull to The Beastmaster to The Sword and the Sorcerer, the genre seemed to rule the cineplexes and drive-ins, with literally dozens of similar films popping up worldwide. Now, thanks to the fine folks at Blue Underground, one of those international gems has been dug up and polished off for a new audience; Lucio Fulci's impressively bad La Conquesta!
Meet Illias (Occhipinti), a noble warrior entrusted with the task of destroying an evil that has taken over his land. Armed with his trusty magic bow, a boot full of arrows, and a sunny disposition, Illias is almost immediately dispatched by a pack of crazed beastmen, but is rescued by the enigmatic Mace (Rivero). Mace is a hybrid of Conan's Barbarian, Marc Singer's Beastmaster, and Ricardo Montalban in Wrath of Khan. He also wields a mean mace, hence his name. When Mace sees Illias's bow, his pre-historic mind is blown, and he offers to help him complete his quest in exchange for a tutorial in the fine art of bowmanship. Illias agrees, seeing as how he'd most certainly die on his own, and the pair wander off into Southern Italy in search of the evil naked sorceress Ocron (Siani). Along the way they tussle with zombies, battle ice monkeys, and are even rescued by the odd dolphin or two. It's a truly awful film, and I loved every minute of it.
Lucio Fulci's oeuvre is filled with fantastically bad films, and Conquest is one of the worst of the lot. It's also hilarious and tremendously entertaining. Fulci shoots the whole film as though he'd dipped the lens in Vaseline, bathes almost every scene in orange light, and fills his sets with more smoke than a French disco. There are moments where one cannot even be sure what they are looking at, let alone understand any of it. The smoke and the glare and the greased lenses actually help Fulci hide some of his budgetary restraints (like the laugh-out-loud funny beastmen costumes, those ice monkey things, and the hawks suspended on strings) but, at times things are so bright and foggy that it actually looks as though it were shot on the surface of the sun.
Fulci was always a freak for the atmospheric, and there's enough "atmosphere" here to choke a mountain gorilla.
When things get dull, Fulci tosses in buckets of gore, and some of the most impressively sadistic death scenes this side of The Beyond. From a woman literally being torn apart, to Ocron's penchant for smashing open heads and eating bits of brain, this is one of Fulci's goriest. Hell, there's even a scene where Mace finds and "injured" hawk covered in what appears to be a gallon of Kayro syrup and bits of brain. After a toweling off, Mace releases the bird into the air to fly off with the rest of his flopping rubber friends.
If blood's not your thing, there's also a healthy amount of skin, with Ocron constantly going about topless, as well as a bevy of pre-historic babes running around in various states of undress. Mace and Illias even make a booty call to a pair of mud covered extras from Quest for Fire (with remarkably good teeth.).
Blue Underground present the film uncut and in a gorgeous 16x9 widescreen transfer, with a booming Dolby 2.0 soundtrack that fills the room with the film's gloriously cheezy synth soundtrack. The extras a bit slim, with only a pair of trailers (watch the international one and wait for the inexplicable last moments, then roar with delight!), poster and still galleries, and a text Fulci bio.
Conquest is one of those films that really merit the ol' cliché of "having to be seen to be believed". It's truly an uncompromisingly awful movie that is so bad that it is funnier than anything I've seen in recent memory. One would think this would merit a bad rating, but, quite the contrary; it's entertaining as all get out.
Fulci fans will want to pick this up just because it really is one of his most extreme films, but fans of Euro-Sleaze in general should consider Conquest a mandatory purchase, as their collection (and, perhaps, lives) will not be complete without it.