Lucio Fulci's Sword & Sorcery Epic is as Trippy and Bizarre as You'd Expect, and it's Great
While legendary Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci is mostly known for delivering some killer classics within the horror genre, he would sometimes dive into other genre's, like this Sword & Sandal's fantasy from 1983, a year after directing two of his most well known classics (Manhattan Baby and The New York Ripper). I was convinced to give this one a shot by a buddy of mine, even though I had never even heard of it until now. While certainly not one of Fulci's more well-known films, and not an easy film to come by generally speaking, I was lucky to discover that Blue Undergrounds 2016 DVD release is pretty affordable and to date, the best release you're going to find of this. So let's dig in.
A young man, armed with a magic bow and arrow, joins forces with a barbarian outlaw and embarks on a mystical journey to take down an evil sexy witch who plans on stealing the magical bow and arrow for evil.
First thing's first. Conquest is hot garbage. It's the kind of film you could easily tear and pick apart, with plenty of issue's we could spend hours going over. But guess what? You don't go into these for high art. You dig into these Italian Trash films because they're fun, and that's exactly what you get here. A fun, glorious, trippy ride that seems to throw so many random sequences together that you never know what will happen next. What Conquest lacks in budget, director Lucio Fulci more than makes up for in visual brilliance as he makes this Sword & Sorcery epic look unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Filmed entirely through a lens filter that gives the film an eternal hazy quality (sort of like a soap opera), Conquest is chock full of nudity, gore, swords and sorcery, and enough WTF? moments to make you question your sanity. Yet despite, or perhaps because of all of these things, Conquest still manages to entertain in a way I hadn't expected. For a guy who's made a name for himself in the horror genre, his ability to turn the Sword & Sorcery genre on it's head is impressive to say the least.
But make no mistake, Conquest is not a good film, not by any stretch of the imagination. It's a fun film, made all the better with Fulci's very special brand of filmmaking and some pretty outstanding visuals to boot. It's in all of it's low-budget unintentional campiness that makes it a great slice of 80's unhinged goofy weirdness. Throw in a ton of nudity and some out of left field gore, and you have one of the most original barbarian films I've ever seen. I can certainly understand why people might not like it, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It carries a very specific quality that I wish most of these low-budget genre films would possess. But it's definitely an acquired taste. It almost reminded me of a live-action version of Bakshi's Fire and Ice.
Ultimately, Conquest makes no apologies. It's crude, violent, magical, sexual and utterly silly, yet so much fun and strange at the same time. There are some truly outstanding moments full of impressive eye candy, mixed together with some surreal, bizarre, fantastical moments that only Lucio Fulci could conjure up. It is what it is and whether you love or hate it, you can't say that it wasn't fun.
How to see it:
Currently there's no HD or Blu Ray release of this here in the states, and boy could it ever use a solid cleanup job. The best version we have over here would be Blue Undergounds 2016 DVD release, and really, that's not saying much.
Because of Fulci's strong use of filters throughout, the picture is hazy, grainy and of really poor quality - almost as if you're watching it on VHS, especially in the night sequences. Yet it's still just a tad better than VHS quality. Here's to hoping someone will give this a proper restoration and new transfer some day. If there is any film from Lucio Fucli's cannon that could benefit from a strong new transfer, it would be this one. I would also love to hear about some of the history regarding this film, like what his inspirations were when making it, and how the hell they came up with this crazy story to begin with.