Released by: Scorpion Releasing
Released on: June 26, 2012.
Director: Joe D’Amato
Cast: Miles O’Keefe, Edmund Purdom, Laura Gemser, Sabrina Siani, Dakkar
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When Joe D’Amato’s awesome Conan The Barbarian rip off begins, we witness the birth of Ator, the son of a mighty warrior named Tauren who has made it his mission to lay waste to the evil Spider Cult that dominates the landscape he and his people live in. Tauren is killed by the Spider Cult, but Ator grows up fast and hard, proving to be a warrior as mighty as the man who sired him. This upsets the Spider Cult for obvious reasons – they want to hang out with their tarantula friends and bring about the rise of their giant spider god and they know that Ator, being of Tauren’s stock as indicated by a hereditary tattoo, will do all that he can to prevent this.
So as Ator wanders around whatever barbarian age it is that this movie takes place in, the members of the Spider Cult are soon out to get him – in fact, they tried to get rid of him as a child but he was hidden away for safe keeping. At any rate, he’s a grown up now (and played by Miles O’Keefe) and he’s about to marry this woman named Sunya (Ritza Brown), who happens to be his sister. What? The Spider Cult shows up to trash the wedding, Sunya gets kidnapped and promised to the giant spider god, and Ator gets pissed off enough to grab a sword and head out, accompanied by a ridiculously cute bear cub, to save his beloved. Along the way he meets a martial arts master named Griba (Edmond Purdom) who teaches him the ways of the fist, and then sends him back on his way only to see him kidnapped by a tribe of lovely Amazon women. They bind him and then battle one another for the right to mate with him, but all he wants to do is kill the spider god and save his sister so he can marry her. A woman named Roon (Sabrina Siani) wins the right, but instead of riding his dong, she frees him and then accompanies him on his quest. Before Ator can find and defeat the high priest of the Spider Cult (Dakkar), he’ll go to bed with a strange witch with big hair (Laura Gemser) and fight some guys in the Land Of The Dead but it all comes out in his favor once he finds a magic shield in a cave, the kind of magic shield that can give a man just the advantage he needs when it comes time to battle a giant spider god…
The best way to describe this one is goofy. Pretty much everything about this movie can be described with that one single adjective. Miles O’Keefe wandering a barbarian land in a loin cloth trying to act? Goofy. Sabrina Siani playing an Amazon woman in fur boots looking like she walked off of a Lee Aaron album cover? Goofy. Dakkar letting tarantulas wander over his bald head? Creepy, but also goofy. A giant spider-web made of rope? Definitely goofy. The giant evil spider god? The goofiest of all! Throw in some random footage of volcanic eruptions, a baby bear wandering companion that’ll make you think of Shaft and his canine pal from Shaft In Africa and an incestuous subplot that may or may not have been lifted from Star Wars and you’ve got Ator. Given that this is a Joe D’Amato movie (here writing and directing under the alias of David Hills for some reason, the gratuitous Laura Gemser cameo makes sense but what’s with her hair? Everything about this movie, set in a land before times, screams mid-eighties fashions and you know as you watch it that there’s no way this movie would look the way it does were it to be made in any other decade.
Again, given that this is a Joe D’Amato movie, Ator does actually look pretty good. It’s well shot and makes use of some great locations and given that D’Amato did his own cinematography on this production, it’s all framed quite nicely. The effects, on the other hand, are as bargain basement as they come but that just adds to the movie’s ridiculous charm. Ator The Fighting Eagle evidently did well enough that when Conan was brought back for Conan The Destroyer, D’Amato brought his creation back for The Blade Master – a 1984 film in which O’Keefe reprises his role. O’Keefe would play Ator a third time in 1987’s Iron Warrior, made without D’Amato, but he would return to direct 1990’s The Hobgoblin, the fourth and final Ator film with the character being played not by O’Keefe but by Eric Allen Kramer, the prolific American TV actor best known on the silver screen for playing Little John in Robin Hood: Men In Tights. If you’ve ever wanted to tie in the films of Mel Brooks to the films of Joe D’Amato, now’s your chance.
Ator The Fighting Eagle arrives on DVD courtesy of Scorpion Releasing in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen and by and large it looks pretty good. Some day for night shots early on look off but that’s no fault of the transfer. Mild print damage is there throughout the movie, but the key word there is minor. Compared to previous full frame releases Scorpion’s disc looks quite a bit better with pretty decent detail and good color reproduction.
The Dolby Digital Mono English language track is fine, offering up clear dialogue without any problems. The score sounds good, the effects are fine and the levels are well balanced. There aren’t any issues with hiss or distortion to note and overall the movie sounds fine. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.
As far as the extras go, Scorpion have included some trailers for other titles available now or coming soon, menus, and chapter stops. As this is the inaugural entry in the Katarina’s Kat Skratch Cinema line, basically the action movie version of the Katarina’s Nightmare Theater line, the disc also comes with an optional intro/outro from Katarina Leigh Waters, who offers up some trivia about the picture and gives us some info on the cast and crew… when she’s not battling a giant spider. It’s humorous and goofy and fun – and those who won’t like it have the option to watch the movie without it. Likewise, the cover art is reversible, so you can display it with or without the Kat Skratch Cinema banner up top.
The Final Word:
It might be a bit light on extras but Scorpion’s release of Ator The Fighting Eagle is otherwise pretty solid. As to the movie itself, is it wrong to call this one a camp classic? Not in this writer’s opinion. The movie is awful in pretty much every way but just try not to have a good time watching it. When entertainment is what matters, Ator comes out on top – here’s hoping we see the other three films in the series arriving sooner rather than later.