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It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Ator, the Fighting Eagle

ATOR, THE FIGHTING EAGLE (1982). Directed by Joe D'Amato. Starring Miles O'Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, and Edmund Purdom.

Sorry, I'm pressed for time right now, so this review will be even more perfunctory than usual...
Remember the MST3K episode "Cave Dwellers," starring Miles O'Keeffe as the mighty warrior Ator? Remember that convoluted, expository backstory of Ator's previous adventures? ("Tolkein couldn't follow this story!") Well, that infodump consisted of footage from this, the first movie in the series...and now that I've seen the whole thing, I can tell you it wasn't any easier to follow in its expanded form.
The most interesting element of Ator, the Fighting Eagle occurs at the very beginning, as a stentorian narrator informs us of this medieval world's domination of the Spider God, and the prophesied coming of the great hero Torin...then, the narrator pulls the rug out from under us by informing us that Torin failed. Guess it wasn't such a great prophecy after all. (Many movies have a twist ending, but this is one of the few with a twist beginning.) However, the narrator continues by explaining that Torin "cast his seed upon the wind" (ewww!), resulting in a son, Ator. Hopefully things will work out better this time.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
It's hard to fault Miles O'Keeffe for the Ator this point in his career, he wasn't expected to be any more that a handsome slab of beefcake, and he fills the role with suitable charisma. (It wasn't until later that he was called upon to display any actual talent.) Sexploitation queen Laura Gemser (the Indonesia-born star of director D'Amato's notorious Black Emanuelle series) makes a brief appearance as a seductive sorceress (well, seductive until her true appearance is revealed)...somehow, I can imagine Gemser being more embarrassed by this movie than by all her more explicit work. However, the true embarrassment falls upon Edmund Purdom, a gifted British actor whose film career began promisingly with roles in such major pictures as Joseph Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar, but eventually drifted into Italian potboilers. In most of his B-movies, no matter how cheap, Purdom did his best to lend the pictures some dignity and gravitas...but he makes no such effort here, simply going through the motions as Ator's mentor, whose sinister side is so obvious that his eventual betrayal carries no dramatic weight. Purdom simply glowers behind his enormous Fu Manchu mustache, as if hoping that he won't be recognized.



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