Every week, I scour Netflix for a movie rated at one star and put it in my queue, suffering through it for your entertainment so that you don’t have to. In the past, I’ve taken on anime cancer demons, softcore Iraq War porn and racist ventriloquism, and now it’s time to do it again.
TIME BARBARIANS (1992)
Starring: Marc Singer’s Cousin’s Best Friend’s Personal Trainer’s Roommate. Special Guest Captions by Worst Of Netflix Caption Contest Winner C.J. Lowery!
I’ve discussed the art of the cinematic ripoff before here on the Worst of Netflix–most notably when I sat down with Transmorphers last week–and my understanding has always been that the idea is to rip off, if not a good movie, a successful one. Doing a low-budget, slapped-together knockoff of a movie that’s already kind of a low-budget slapped-together knockoff just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like writing fan-fiction for someone else’s fan-fiction. It’s something crazy people do.
Which brings us to 1992’s Time Barbarians, a time-traveling fantasy epic that has the exact same plot of 1991’s Beastmaster 2: Through The Portal of Time. There are a couple of crucial differences, however, mostly revolving around the way that the producers replaced “hero who can talk to animals” with “lots of rape.”
Standing in for Marc Singer this evening is Deron McBee as Doran, a barbarian king that leaps into action in a film that plays like someone threw a bunch of Forgotten Realms novels into a blender and strained out the cliches: There’s a Star Warsy opening crawl (G-12) that tells the story of a time of “scorcery” when a loincloth-clad hero (B-12) led good-hearted bararians who have mastered the bikini but not the wheel (I-44) to battle evil with the power of a Magic Amulet (O-2) but was unfortunately menaced by a guy wearing black armor who commanded slightly more barbaric barbarians (N-21).
Hey! I got Cliché Bingo!
Doran himself would represent the Free Space: A Conan analogue so shameless that he not only uses a RenFaire version of the “Conan the Barbarian” prop sword for the first half of the movie, he is also compared to Conan by other characters in the film. The only things that set him apart are blonde hair, fight scenes that involve him constantly thrusting his sword out of frame because the producers were too cheap to spring for blood effects, and the fact that he wears a harness that combines with his well-defined pecs to give him a better rack than Red Sonja.
After an opening sequence that’s basically just LARPing for ten minutes followed by a makeout session, the good people of Lowbudgettia predictably meet their downfall thanks to a woman. In this case it’s Doran’s wife Lystra, with whom he entrusts the Magic Amulet about five minutes before she’s raped and murdered by the evil, ponytailed Mandrak, who loses a hand in the scuffle, thus proving that the filmmakers were equally adept at ripping off Conan, the Beastmaster, and the Gor novels.
Once he’s got the wish-granting amulet, Mandrak, fearing that Doran will kill him in revenge, decides not to just wish for Doran to die, or to be invincible in battle, choosing instead to wish for “the thing I have always desired,” which—for reasons that I cannot even begin to comprehend—is to go to Los Angeles in 1992. I assume that Mandrak might just be a big NWA fan who wanted to catch the group in the days before they split thanks to Eazy-E’s beef with Ice Cube, because that is literally the only reason I can think of for this plot development. He doesn’t even wish to get his hand back, and since the producers are too cheap to spring for any effect (or even a long-sleeve shirt that he could pull down), he just wears a black glove like Luke Skywalker and tries not to move it around too much.
Doran, after a minor detour that involves a group of barbarians that worship a hole in the ground and an oversexed witch with hair that’s more Glamrock than Gandalf, follows him into the future and has the good fortune to arrive right in front of reporter Penny Price just as she’s about to–what else?–be raped. Penny looks exactly like his recently deceased wife because, of course, they’re played by the same actress, and while you’d think that would mitigate the creepiness of her coming out of the shower to seduce him right after he tells her all about his wife who died about eighteen hours previous, it doesn’t. Still, out of all the stuff Doran does in this movie, that actually is exactly what Conan would do.
Eventually Dar–sorry, Conan–sorry, Doran hits Mandrak and his sidekick (who bears a strong resemblance to Charlie Day in a Batman trucker cap) hard enough that everything works out okay, and while that’s boring as all hell, it does involve a scene where Doran, who has been carrying Mandrak’s severed hand around for a good eighty minutes at this point, uses it to pimpslap Mandrak with his own hand. That alone almost redeems the entire movie, but really, the keyword there is “almost.”
In addition to the terrible story, terrible acting, terrible effects and terrible everything else, the production values are pretty lousy, but to be fair the low sound quality might’ve been an attempt to disguise the constant high-pitched whine of Robert E. Howard spinning in his grave. As far as sword-and-“scorcery” epics go, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the infinitely superior Beastmaster 2.
And yes: That is definitely the first time anyone has ever used the phrase “the infinitely superior Beastmaster 2.”
|Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer from South Carolina. He briefly attended USC before he dropped out to spend more time with Grand Theft Auto, and his career subsequently took the path that you might expect from someone who makes that sort of decision. He blogs at http://www.the-isb.com and creates comics at http://www.actionagecomics.com.|