What can you say about a movie like Deathstalker? Of course it’s trash, but the question is, is it entertaining trash? The answer to that is, well yes, sort of. If you’re in the mood.
This 1983 production from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures was part of the mini-boom in sword & sorcery movies that followed in the wake of Conan the Barbarian. Corman followed his standard operating procedure of the time, taking the basic sword & sorcery formula and adding lots of gore, lots of sex and lots of nudity.
The plot involves some wandering warrior type, known as Deathstalker, who is informed by an old witch that he has a Destiny. He has to find a magic sword, and then other magical items. He will also have to defeat a powerful and evil wizard, who is also the king. The wizard-king has arranged a contest of martial prowess for the the mightiest warriors in the region. They’re led to believe that the winner will inherit the kingdom, but the evil wizard-king simply intends to destroy them all as threats to his power.
Deathstalker accumulate a group of side-kicks, including an amazonian warrior who always fights topless. I guess it distracts her opponents fairly effectively. In fact she seems to prefer doing most things topless.
The wizard-king has figured out that Deathstalker is his biggest threat, so he sends his best assassin to eliminate him. He transforms the assassin into the likeness of the princess Codille. The princess is played by former Playboy Playmate Barbi Benton. One assumes she got the part because of her willingness to take her clothes off. It certainly wasn’t for her acting ability. But then no female member of the cast manages to keep her clothes on for more than a few minutes at a time.
There’s lots of mayhem, and the plot contains most of the elements you would expect, as far as I could make out. Plot coherence wasn’t really a priority here. And perhaps you might not have been expecting the naked mud wrestling. It certainly adds a much-needed touch of class.
The sets and costumes are passable for a low-budget movie. The fight scenes are gory but not overly inspired.
The acting is the kind of bad acting you only really get in a bad 80s straight-to-video movie (I actually have no idea if this one ever got a proper theatrical release but it’s definitely straight-to-video quality). If I tell you that Barbi Benton acquits herself quite respectably by comparison with the rest of the cast you’ll have some idea how awful the acting is. Although perhaps I’m being unfair to her - being a nude model doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of acting talent. The rest of the cast have no excuses however.
I guess what you have to ask yourself is - how much do you enjoy low-budget 80s schlock? If you can treat it as a silly but fun popcorn movie it’s entertaining enough. As much as I adore trash cinema this one this one just didn’t quite do it for me. It’s certainly not for a lack of trashiness. It was more a certain lack of fun.