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Film: Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans

The second of the movies in the Deathstalker Series, this film is known as "the funny one". Or at least "the one that was trying to be funny on purpose".

Filmed on the cheap in Argentina in 1987, Word of God has it that the script the cast and crew had to work with was absolutely terrible ... even by the standards of this sort of movie. There was also the problem that their studio lot was surrounded by a highway AND an airport - the noise of which made shooting during the day all but impossible. Finally, the studio lot reportedly contained more garbage and tire-fires than the landfill next door.

Faced with all of these difficulties and left with only two weeks to finish the film, director Jim Wynorski decided to just have fun with it and created an Affectionate Parody of all the cliches of the sword and sorcery genre. Much of the film was heavily improvised, with Director Wynorksi and actor John Terlesky writing out a broad outline based in equal parts on the original script and Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The plot centers upon Princess Evie, who has been forced off the throne by the Evil Sorcerer Jarek and his Dark Chick Dragon Sultana. Replaced by a vampiric Evil Twin, whom Jarek controls from behind the scenes, Evie is forced to adopt the persona of Reena The Seer in order to lay low while searching the neighboring kingdom for a hero who can restore her to the throne. She sets her heart on Deathstalker after he saves her from the local guards and he is quickly won over by her assurances that great treasure and fame await him if he travels to the next kingdom over. Along the way, they encounter gangs of Professional Killers, an Amazon Brigade that wants Deathstalker's head for his crimes against women and an army of zombies.


Tropes:

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Deathstalker has to contend with one of these in a sealed tomb.
  • Affectionate Parody: The movie does take every cliche of High Fantasy and runs wild with them.
  • All Amazons Want Deathstalker: Averted and Then Played Straight. Deathstalker is put on trial by local Amazons for his "crimes against womanhood". None of them finds his attempts at flirting amusing at first but after he wins his Duel to the Death, the amazon queen takes a liking to him and starts planning their wedding for the next day.
  • Amazon Brigade: The local tribe of Amazons put Deathstalker on trial for his womanizing ways.
  • Anachronism Stew: Numerous examples, but all of them are justified by The Rule of Funny.
    • The Amazons have a modern wrestling ring and - for some reason - ring girls with clearly printed cards for announcing the rounds.
    • One of the gang of murderers recruited by the pirate Chin to kill Deathstalker claims to have worked for five years under Genghis Khan (11621227 AD) and as a part-time consultant to Attila The Hun (406453 AD). This despite some seven centuries passing between the death of the later and the birth of the former.
    • There's another member of Chin's gang who was reportedly dismissed by Ivan The Terrible (1530-1584 AD) for excessive cruelty.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Evie at the end, when she becomes Queen.
    • Also, when she gives Deathstalker his reward for helping her, making him a real Prince (Of Thieves).
  • Back from the Dead: Sultana is resurrected by Jarek, after Deathstalker kills her.
  • Big Bad: The Evil Sorcerer Jarek.
  • Bugs Bunny: John Terlesky freely admits that his idea for the character of Deathstalker was based around the question "What if Bugs Bunny were staring in a Conan the Barbarian movie?"
    • The direction and dialogue reflect this, with there being extreme close-ups on Deathstalker as he says says YIPE!, Mother! and Me and my big mouth!
  • But Now I Must Go: Sultana leaves partway through the final battle. Literally, she tells Jarek that she's done working for him and just walks out of the castle.
    • Word of God has it that the actress playing Sultana had an earlier flight than the rest of the American cast and they couldn't think of any other way to get her out of the movie without killing her (which they had already done once!) so they just decided to let her get fed up and leave. Because it's funny!
  • Cassandra Truth: Evie is rescued from a gang of ruffian guards by Deathstalker after delivering one of these to the local king.
    Reena The Seer: In my kingdom, a man would delight to know that his wife was with child!
    Head Guard: But not by another man.
  • The Cavalry: The Amazons.
  • The Chosen Zero: Deathstalker. He isn't incompetent but he is a Grave Robbing Handsome Lech and a Jerk With A Heartof Gold, who doesn't act like The Hero.
  • Covers Always Lie: While the Boris Vallejo artwork is quite good, the Barbarian Hero and Amazonian Beauty on the cover do not look anything like Deathstalker and Princess Evie.
  • Crystal Ball: Evie does have a crystal she uses to see the future, but it's not a perfect sphere.
    • Actually, Word of God says that it was a crystalline doorknob.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Evie. She's not much help in a fight, to put it politely.
  • Dark Chick: Sultana.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jarek.
  • The Dragon: Sultana.
  • Duel to the Death: Deathstalker is forced to fight the amazons' champion as part of a trial by combat, for his crimes as a womanizer.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Deathstalker.
    Reena The Seer: Deathstalker?!
    Deathstalker: Uh-huh.
    Reena The Seer: Is that your first name or your last name?
  • Evil Sorcerer: Jarek.
    Reena The Seer: The princess is being imprisoned by Jarek, The Evil Sorcerer!
    Deathstalker: Are there any other kind?
  • Evil Pays Better: Sultana's apparent motivation. Deathstalker does try to talk her over to the side of good at one point, but says the money is so much better working for the bad guys.
  • Evil Twin: Evil Evie - the magical vampire clone of Princess Evie created by Jarek.
  • Executive Meddling: On the commentary track on the DVD, Director Jim Wynorski points out several pieces of Stock Footage from other fantasy movies which were edited into the final cut of the movie without his permission. Chief among these were scenes from the original Deathstalker which were used to pad out the two tavern scenes.
    • As was footage of a topless belly dancer in the first tavern scene. The dancer is clearly not on the same set as the rest of the actors.
  • Fainting Seer: Evie plays at being this in order to sell her story to Deathstalker. She is not amused when he steps over her to get out of her hut to get at this Princess she was just talking about.
  • Grave Robbing: Deathstalker takes a break from the Noble Quest to indulge in this.
  • Handsome Lech: Deathstalker, naturally.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Averted. Deathstalker plays at being this when he confronts the guards harassing Evie, but his sympathies are clearly with her.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted, to the point where some exterior scenes are difficult to see because of a lack of light. Reportedly most of the outdoor scenes HAD to be shot at night, due to the noise generated by a nearby airport during the day.
  • Honor Among Thieves: Deathstalker does have a code of honor, at least so far as helping helpless women and not killing except in self-defense is concerned.
  • Humans Are Ugly: Brought up in the exchange between the two orc-like guards, escorting a poor unfortunate to feed the vampiric Princess Evie, as they leave the room.
    Guard One: Did you see the face on her?!
    Guard Two: Too bad. Nice body, though!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Deathstalker plays at being this but his "one rescue per day" policy for helpless maidens is more of a guideline than a rule.
    • He also saves Evie from Sultana, after seemingly abandoning Evie because she lied to him about who she was.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Deathstalker. He puts the quest to rescue a princess on hold so that he can loot a tomb, on the odd chance it might have something valuable inside it.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot of the humor depends upon it.
  • Loveable Rogue: This version of Deathstalker, who is more of a Dungeons & Dragons style Rogue than a Barbarian Hero.
    Reena The Seer: Oh, so you rob from the rich and give to the poor?
    Deathstalker: No, I rob from the rich and pretty much keep it.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Jarek raises a whole cemetery in an effort to kill Evie and Deathstalker.
  • Oracular Urchin: Evie in her guise as Reena The Seer.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: Evie is, by her own admission, not a very good seer. The only thing she seems able to foretell consistently is unavoidable bad news.
    • Avoidable bad news, it should be noted, eludes her completely. In one instance, she is able to accurately foresee three out of four things about the road they need to take. There's only one detail she gets wrong - that there will be no surprises on the journey. Cut to the two of them, trussed up on poles like game animals, being carried off by Amazons.
    • There's also the Cassandra Truth example above, where she foretold that the queen was pregnant... but not by the king.
  • Pungeon Master: For an Evil Sorcerer, Jarek is surprisingly fond of puns. For example, he informs Deathstalker, caught in the midst of breaking into a mausoleum, that "Grave Robbing caries a stiff penalty". He also tells Deathstalker that he's arranged a pressing engagement for him... just before the Advancing Wall of Doom starts to close in.
  • Rule of Funny: Used to justify 95% of the movie. At least.
  • Screw This! I'm Going Home!: Sultana literally walks out of the final battle, having suddenly become fed up with Jarek for no readily apparent reason.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous.
    • Deathstalker quotes Bugs Bunny quite frequently.
      Deathstalker: I shoulda stood in bed.
    • The theme from Rocky plays as Deathstalker enters the ring to face the Amazons' champion.
    • At one point Deathstalker is locked in a deathtrap that threatens to cut him in two and has the following exchange with Sultana.
      Deathstalker: You don't expect me to talk?
      Sultana: No. I expect you to die.
    • Deathstalker is assured that if he helps Evie, he'll wind up in the legends "right up there with Conan".
    • The pirate Chin was named in honor of the character Chin Ho Kelly from Hawaii Five-O, and Sultana greets him with the same line used frequently in the show.
    • Having stabbed Sultana to death a few scenes ago, Deathstalker is surprised to meet her alive and blurts out, "I thought you wuz dead." Sultana replies, "Not hardly," in a shout-out to Big Jake.
      Sultana: Talk to me, Chin. What have you got for me?
    • A signpost that Deathstalker and Evie consult for directions to her country has markers pointing to other imaginary lands such as Cimmeria, Freedonia, Altair and Lemuria.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Deathstalker and Evie stumble a signpost that gives directions and mileage for various destinations, but the one they need has been broken off the sign.
  • Spikes Of Doom: An Advancing Wall of Doom sprouts these after Deathstalker taunts the Evil Sorcerer, asking why he couldn't come up with anything better than "the old crushing wall routine".
  • Stock Footage: Several brief scenes from the original Deathstalker are used to pad out the tavern scenes.
  • Title Drop: Almost. "I'll have my revenge...and Deathstalker too!" Cue title card.
  • Word of God: Director Jim Wynorski did a commentary track on the DVD, where he explained that a lot of the problems with the movie - and ultimately the decision to shoot the movie as a comedy - were due to a poor script and the set looking like a landfill.
    • They also had to shoot most of the exterior scenes at night, due to the noise generated by a nearby airport and freeway during the day.

DeathstalkerFilms of the 1980sDeathstalker and the Warriors from Hell

alternative title(s): Deathstalker II Duel Of The Titans
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