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 this week, it’s high fantasy! By which I mean fantasy you’d have to be high to enjoy.
WIZARDS OF THE DEMON SWORD (1991)
Starring: Former impotence-cure infomercial pitchman Lyle Waggoner.
About once a year, I’ll be seized with the uncontrollable desire to get back into playing Dungeons and Dragons, which I attribute to a cosmic mix-up that sees the other Chris Sims (who designs roleplaying games for a living) spending every April slumming his way through his Netflix queue while thumbing through a stack of Batman comics. I actually do like the game, but usually it’s just a passing fancy. This time, however, my life as a freelance comedy writer has left me with neither the spare time nor the four friends necessary, to exorcise the feeling, and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting progressively more obsessed with things like Charisma Bonuses and Pit Traps that deal 2D6 Damage on a failed Reflex Save.
Clearly, something had to be done.
That’s why I decided to try a little negative reinforcement by subjecting myself to the worst sword-and-sorcery epic I could get my hands on. Thus: Wizards of the Demon Sword, a movie that contains exactly one wizard and exactly zero demon swords.
Quite possibly the only fantasy movie ever made by people who were too cheap to buy elf ears, Demons of the Wizard Sword spins the epic tale set in the far-off land of Los Angeles County, specifically the same square mile of desert that played host to W.A.S.P.’s immortal video for “Love Machine.” Seriously, there’s still tire tracks from Blackie Lawless’s motorcycle in half the shots.
In any case, the movie follows Thane of Hoxbridge as he attempts to rescue Fake Kim Cattrall from the evil wizard blah blah magic knife blah blah blood of a pure-hearted blah blah blah. The summary that Netflix offers lists this movie as a spoof, but it’s pretty clear watching it that it’s only a spoof half the time, a sure sign that the producers filmed a few scenes and then realized that the only way to save it was to spin their ineptitude as comedy.
And brother, is it inept. I’ve seen movies before where people had a hard time pretending to get shot, but I think this might be the first one where someone has to pretend to be hit with something another character actually throws at them and misses, owing to the fact that the filmmakers hadn’t heard of a little thing called “the second take.” The fight scenes are similarly haphazard, with stuntmen tripping over “dead” comrades and, at one point, Thane spinning around to face down an opponent and just stopping cold because the other guy had yet to hit his mark.
And then there are the dinosaurs.
I’m going to assume that the dinosaurs–filmed on different film that looks like it’s from a different decade, with stop motion animation that’s slightly less convincing than a third-grader’s diorama–were added in to bump up the film’s hilarious camp value. Not for nothing, but when your movie also features a “hilarious” scene in which women are sold into rapeslavery that goes on about three minutes past “really uncomfortable,” it might take a little more than banging a couple of clay velociraptors together on Super 8.
The major problem, though, comes from the evil wizard Khoura, as played by Lyle Waggoner:
Waggoner’s actually the most enjoyable part of Swords of the Demon Wizard, but not for any good reasons. Admittedly, he’s the best actor in the production by far, but he’s also the only wizard I’ve ever seen to have a fresh late-’80s trim perfectly lacquered to his head, and he somehow manages to deliver lines like “My dear, I am Eternal Damnation!” with the same sort of affable twang that you’d get if he was doing a cookbook on tape for someone’s grandma. He’s the most likable character in the movie by far, which makes it a little hollow when Sir Douchealot and Lady Strumpetina finally kill him off at the end, slamming it into the end credits as soon as possible.
Actually, you know what? I’m changing my mind: The fact that Lyle Waggoner uses his friendly, slightly Southern accent to invoke the name of the Dark God Zaktar is the one bright spot in this thing, and it ain’t his fault nobody else lived up to it.
So instead, I’m putting all the blame on this guy:
The reasoning here should be pretty obvious.
|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.|