Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans (1987) — Prince of Skeeves

“Deathstalker? Is that your first name or your last name?”

Justin’s rating: Not the hair!

Justin’s review: While I have no strong interest in reviewing the other three films in the Deathstalker series, I’d been told a number of times that Deathstalker II was a must-see. This Roger Corman-produced flick was one of 10 that he had made down in Argentina way, taking the traditional Conan the Barbarian template and turning it on its ear. But there was something deliriously unhinged about the second entry of this series, where caution was thrown to the wind and a subversive parody was born.

Deathstalker (John Terlesky) is a thief who knows only a few things very well: Leather must be worn tight, girls kissed hard, and ancient temples raided for all the shinies. He gets mixed up with a loud and constantly whining girl named Reena (Monique Gabrielle), who claims to be both a seer and a princess. You see — and follow me closely here — an evil swordsman named Jarek used Reena’s soul to create a vampiric doppelganger named Evie to steal the throne. So Reena’s on the outs and needs a scoundrel to help her get back what’s hers.

One thing is apparent from the first scene, which is that Deathstalker II takes none of its material seriously. In fact, everyone’s tongues are so firmly in their cheeks that I’m surprised they can talk, what with the broad humor, slapstick setpieces, groan-worthy puns, and contemporary references. It actually accomplishes what I thought was impossible: Making a sword-and-sorcery flick incredibly enjoyable.

Seriously, this one is a total hoot from start to finish. After completely trashing a bar set, Deathstalker agrees to take Reena back to her homeland. It won’t be easy, though, because they’re chased by a gang of bandits, fight off a graveyard of zombies, and enter into a wrestling match with a giant woman.

Absolutely nothing here is original, and that’s part of the charm. It’s all-out, aggressively unoriginal as everyone smirks, grins, and quips through these familiar beats. But there’s something refreshing when a movie has no shame even when it really should. Director Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall) wasn’t out to make a good movie, just a stupidly cheerful one that would keep audiences happily entertained. And to that I say, well done.

Didja notice?

  • We now return you to Deathstalker and the Temple of Doom
  • These bad guys look like they’re little kids wearing jammies and capes
  • Love the soundtrack!
  • She’s a princess, a seer, and an oracle. Way to give your whole resume in a half-minute!
  • The pig guard eating the pig head
  • “Do the words ‘walk east until your hat floats’ mean anything to you?”
  • Deathstalker really loves flinging tables
  • Man, they really trash that bar
  • So they duck into a hut and Evie’s already prepared dinner?
  • Evie’s seeing stone is a doorknob
  • Witches, dragons, and ogres cut down on the tourist trade
  • Conan name drop
  • His name is “Buddy Footstool?”
  • That’s a whole lot of explosive arrows
  • You can stab someone through an oracle portal
  • Every villain is able to introduce himself via hologram to the hero. You know, if this was a scifi flick.
  • The little person with the lute has the creepiest grin
  • “Trial?” “Trial?” “Trial!”
  • And now for a totally-not-out-of-place wrestling match
  • “Our lovemaking tonight may spawn generations of leaders to come”
  • I’ve always wanted to get caught in a net trap
  • Resurrections are best done with strobe lighting
  • Wow, a James Bond quote

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