“The Black Fortress…where does it rise?“
My relationship with the 1983 film Krull is an odd one. I didn’t actually see the film when it was first released in theaters but my parents bought me the Atari 2600 game that tied into the film because I was enthralled with the movie. I also had a cousin who saw every single fantasy and science fiction film that hit theaters during those days and she bought me the Parker Brothers Krull card game because she knew that I would love it. Thanks to the video game, I had a basic understanding of the film’s plot. The card game featured some amazing artwork and made me long to see the film. For whatever reason, my parents didn’t take me to see the movie and when it was eventually released on VHS, I didn’t get to see it until I spent a summer at my sister’s old apartment in Alexandria in 1993. The local Blockbuster had a copy of the movie so I rented it and watched it over and over again.
I love this movie. Yes, I know that it isn’t necessarily the greatest film to ever hit celluloid, but there is something extremely appealing about this movie. It basically takes Star Wars, a film that fuses fantasy with science fiction elements, and leans harder on the fantasy aspects. There’s a battle in a swamp, an oppressive army of soldiers known as Slayers who have laser firing weapons, a Cyclops, a massive spider web, fire mares (more on this later), and a cast loaded with characters that all deserve their own action figure in my opinion.
In the film, Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) is about to marry the beautiful Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) in order to unite their respective kingdoms in order to battle the invading Beast and his Slayer army (Slayerrrrrrrrrr!). Instead, the wedding is interrupted by the Slayers who kill Colwyn and Lyssa’s fathers, kidnap Lyssa, and cause general disarray. Colwyn manages to survive the attack and is aided by Ynyr (Freddie Jones). Ynyr tells Colwyn that the Beast can only be defeated by using the Glaive, an ancient and powerful weapon. Colwyn rounds up a few less than respectable outlaws to aid him on his quest, and the film plays out as a traditional fantasy questing film with a slight twist at the end. I won’t say what that twist is, but I will say that it sort of dismisses the necessity of the Glaive.
In any case, I love this film. It’s clunky but the music and special effects are very well done. The cast is loaded with popular British actors, some already established and others that would go on to bigger and better things. American Ken Marshall portrayed Colwyn and he has had a prolific career on television in guest starring roles. He also portrayed Marco Polo in the 1982 miniseries of the same name and guest starred on shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Baywatch. Much like Marshall, English actress Lysette Anthony has had a long and successful career that saw her in many supporting and guest roles. Alun Armstrong portrayed the bandit named Torquil. His career includes roles in major films such as Sleepy Hollow, The Mummy Returns, Eragon, and Van Helsing. He has also had a very successful career on television. Bernard Bresslaw, who portrayed the Rell the Cyclops, was already well known as a member of the Carry On comedy team in Britain. He was no stranger to science fiction or fantasy, however, as he had already worked on Doctor Who.
The two actors that most viewers these days would recognize are Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane. Both of these actors had relatively small roles in Krull, but they would both go on to have massive careers, especially Neeson. Coltrane is probably best known for his work in the Harry Potter films as Hagrid and his work in James Bond films. Neeson has done everything from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to the Taken franchise to cult films like Darkman and Disney films such as the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Like I said earlier, I loved this film entirely based on how much I loved the Parker Brothers card game and the Atari 2600 video game that I was given by family. The cards were amazing and the video game hooked me with the fire mares, horses that ran so fast that they would actually catch on fire and leave a trail of flames behind them. The Beast’s castle, which doubled as a dematerializing spaceship, would randomly appear across the surface of the planet and the only way that Colwyn and his friends could get to the castle before it moved again was by riding the insanely fast fire mares.
So is Krull worth a look? It is in my opinion. It’s not a brilliant film but it is a fun adventure to watch. Plus, it’s pretty cool to see Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in two of their earliest roles. Give it a shot. I don’t think that you’ll regret it.
I want to give props to the Pop Ninja Podcast for their most recent episode that brought up Krull. That episode triggered so many memories for me that I had to blog about it. Be sure to check out their podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks for reading my post. See you again real soon!