After Star Wars proved so popular and financially successful, it seemed that everyone wanted to be next. The result was not always pleasant, but it made for one of the weirdest eras of cinema as several studios released some of the weirdest science fiction and fantasy films this side of Zardoz.
One of the strangest films from my childhood has to be Krull. A British fantasy film with the trappings of Lucas-ish sci-fi opera, this movie bewildered me as it seemed to be part of a larger story. But there was no series of novels, no original version from the 50’s, no 2000 AD comic strip to hunt down… just Krull.
The story goes that Krull was intended to be a big budget Dungeons and Dragons film which makes a lot of sense given that the RPG was at the height of its popularity at the time. However, there were problems with the rights leading the filmmakers to figure out their own story, one that is so bizarre that even the trailer hints at a completely different premise.
At the time, this flick filled the void left between bigger budget epics with actual toy tie-ins, and provided some much-needed material for backyard play. Although I do recall reading about a kid who thought that he was the hero of Krull and whipped a pair of scissors through a window. You never can tell where a movie will take you, I guess.
Beginning where many fantasies end, with the wedding of our hero and lady in distress, the evil forces of ‘The Beast’ arrive and kidnap the damsel from our hero’s arms. The Beast is the kind of monster that fuels a thousand nightmares. A giant claw, red-rimmed rheumy eyes and an open mouth full of fangs. His shocktroops consist of weird white-clad creatures called Slayers who appear to be almost bug-like in their behavior… but not much is ever done to explain what they are all about, kind of like the stormtroopers from Star Wars whom I had thought were robots when I first saw them.
Far-out visuals, neat characters and a cool weapon
Distraught, our hero Colwyn finds guidance from a wise old man who leads him to finding the ‘Glaive,’ something like the weapon that we would see many years later in the Blade movies, only it’s magical. The Glaive could easily be one of the coolest fantasy weapons out there. I vaguely recall a similar attempt involving a gigantic sword that shot one of its four blades out, but that was far too goofy.
Joining forces with a giant, shape shifter and a band of thieves and brigands, Colwyn embarks on the impossible task of defeating the Beast and retrieving his bride. Alongside the far greater number of opponents, the problem lies in the fact that the Beast’s lair moves freely as the sun rises. This involves seeking out the assistance of mystics and seers, magical horses and many other ideas that make this movie seems like a fever dream.
The visuals and ideas come so fast and furious but are accompanied by such wild action sequences that it kind of works. It’s like saying ‘we’re going to confuse you, but it won’t be boring.’ Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, Colwyn loses his Glaive in the Beast’s hide and uses mystical flame granted to him from his wedding ceremony to defeat the monster. Only the British could think up such an odd resolution.
Krull was full of great British actors as well (including Liam Neeson a young Robbie Coltrane), making the colorful characters that much more interesting.
The tie-ins were few, including a disappointing video game and a couple of comic books. A world full of so many bizarre ideas should have spawned a million spin-offs but instead all we got was the one movie. Far too weird to remake, I wager it will stay that way.