Viking Night: The Beastmaster
By Bruce Hall
April 26, 2016
I've spoken before about what a slippery slope it can be to try and recapture your childhood, as opposed to just keeping it in perspective. Every now and then I am overtaken by a wave of nostalgia, and I get the urge to surround myself with something familiar. Something I grew up with. I suppose this is a very human response, most commonly exhibited in times of stress - or as I like to call them, “evenings." Many is the time, over the years, when I decided to binge watch one of the classic TV shows of my youth. I always tell myself that it will be a cathartic act of renewal. Instead I end up finally being able to finally see, with the benefit of years, the true effect of cocaine on the entertainment industry in the 1980s.
The A-Team. Knight Rider. The Dukes of Hazzard. MacGyver. All beloved television shows from my youth, and I actually got to enjoy them AS part of the demographic. That's probably part of what made the shows so much fun. At a time in life when most of us are still developing our sense of identity, I had shows that felt like they were aggressively made just for me and my friends. And by that, I mean “stupid, horny 12-year-old boys to whom the concept of a grown man in leather pants giving orders to a talking car, or a team of escaped paramilitary convicts operating openly in Los Angeles seems plausible.”
Smash cut to me, today, sitting on my living room couch, sad. Needless to say, those old shows don't always age well. It didn't help that they were made at a time when the industry finally figured out how to create superficially appealing content for kids (violent, sexually suggestive toy commercials), which meant I couldn't have stopped watching even if I wanted to. I was destined to remember it all fondly! But the lack of any competition to the networks at the time meant that quality could, and did, tend to take a back seat. Looking back, I know that these shows are shit, and and that any attempt to revisit them in their original form (or with Liam Neeson) will lead to nothing but pain and suffering.
So believe me, I knew what I was getting into with The Beastmaster. The last time I saw it, when I was in high school, I remember thinking it was awesome (it was not). Marc Singer was awesome (he was not). The dad from Good Times was awesome (he...was, actually). The Beastmaster may also single handedly be responsible for the “ferrets make good pets” cult that swept through my friends at the time. Well, ferrets are cute. And they are also smelly, bitey, awful little things. Likewise, The Beastmaster has an absolutely kick-ass one sheet that is oddly reminiscent of the superior one from Conan the Barbarian.
The Beastmaster does not smell, or bite, except in the figurative sense. But it is absolutely an awful little thing, and it's telling that John Coscarelli has never made a movie that I liked. I concede to you now that The Beastmaster was, in fact, awful in ways I hadn't even anticipated or remembered. But don't worry, I don't WANT to be negative. I'll just very gently, very professionally tell you how much I hate this stupid fucking movie.