Sorceress has the dubious honor of being the first of many Heroic Fantasy films produced by Roger Corman in The '80s to capitalize on the popularity of fantasy films in the wake of Conan the Barbarian.
Filmed in Mexico by Coffy and Switchblade Sisters writer/director Jack Hill, he claimed to have taken inspiration for the basic story from The Corsican Brothers and wrote the script with future Chopping Mall and Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans writer/director Jim Wynorski.
Sorceress is historically notable as Wynorski's first professional screen writing credit and Hill's last film. Reportedly Hill and Corman argued over the budget for the film, with Hill claiming Corman failed to deliver the money promised for filming. Coupled with the shooting made more difficult by flooding and a fire, Hill refused to work with Corman again, demanded his name be taken off the picture and retired from film-making afterward.
The plot centers on Evil Sorcerer Traigon, who in order to maintain his powers has to offer up his first-born child to his demonic master. His wife has other ideas, however, and escapes after giving birth to twin girls, a complication that momentarily stalls Traigon since he can't tell which child is the oldest and he can't just sacrifice them both, for some reason. The twins, Mara and Mira, are entrusted to the loyal warrior Krona, who promises to keep the girls safe, raise them as his own children and teach them the art of war.
20 years later, we discover that Krona elected to raise the girls as boys and that they have grown up into Playboy Playmates Leigh and Lynette Harris. Despite growing up on a farm, they've never learned the difference between boys and girls and, more disturbingly, nobody doubts their word that they are two burly farm boys until they take their shirts off! Left all alone in the world after Traigon killed their adopted family, The Twins fall in with a Barbarian Hero named Elrick (not THAT one!), a Viking named Valadar and a satyr named Pando who help them to avenge their families, not knowing that they are plotting to kill their birth father!
This film provides examples of:
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Robert Ballesteros plays antagonist Traigon both when his daughters are newborn infants and then two decades later, after they're aged up. Both the actresses (twins Lynette and Leigh Harris) are only two years younger, which is glaringly obvious in the film. This might be due to his magic keeping him young: that's not shown though.
- Action Girl: The twins both have been trained as warriors. Both of them are good with a sword. Also, their mother stabbed their father to save them from him, so perhaps it runs in the family.
- Always Identical Twins: Mara and Mira are completely identical to each other. They were played by real identical twin actresses, Playboy Playmates Leigh and Lynette Harris.
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: Mara and Mira were raised as boys for protection against their own birth father, who wanted to sacrifice his firstborn. Due to this, both of them wholly identify as being male initially, completely oblivious that it might be otherwise (somehow, they don't even know their anatomy is female). Even by the end of ths film it's still not clear if they see themselves as men, women or something else.
- An Arm and a Leg: Multiple characters lose arms or hands. One as punishment for theft, most in sword fights.
- Archnemesis Dad: Traigon is the mortal enemy of his daughters Mara and Mira, since he plans to sacrifice the eldest for power.
- Arrow Catch: The twins do this while fighting Traigon's mooks.
- Coordinated Clothes: Up until near the end of the movie, the twins dress exactly alike.
- Covers Always Lie: Both the original film poster and the video box art. One depicts a Sexy Scandinavian blonde in a Chainmail Bikini, while the other shows a sultry brunette in a thong. Neither of these women appear in the movie, nor does any woman resembling a sorceress.
- Deal with the Devil: Traigon made one with the evil god Caligura for more power-he has to sacrifice his own firstborn. It doesn't deter him in the least.
- Evil Sorcerer: Traigon, so much that he planned to sacrifice his own child for power.
- Fanservice Extra: The scantily clad dancers, some of whose breasts come out from their very sheer clothing.
- Happily Adopted: The twins were raised by a loving peasant foster father whom their birth mother entrusted them with.
- Human Sacrifice: Traigon promises his oldest child's soul for mystic power.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Both Mira and Mara are completely ignorant as to why Pando is so interested in watching them bathe... and what that strange horn between his legs is!
- Internal Reveal: The audience knows Traigon is the twins' father right from the beginning. Mira doesn't though until much later. It's left unclear if Mara ever learns.
- Loveable Sex Maniac: Pando, a satyr and peeping tom who's nonetheless on the good guys' side.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Traigon tells Mira his name when she's brought before him. She reacts violently, knowing that he's the one who killed her mother, but then is shocked when he reveals that he's her father.
- Mama Bear: The twins' mother not only refuses to tell their father which was born first so he can't sacrifice his firstborn, but stabs him with a magical spear after he's wounded her, resulting in him being banished for twenty years, before dying of her injury, after putting the twins in a peasant's safekeeping. By doing so she saves them both from him.
- Ms. Fanservice: The first time we see Mara and Mira grown up, they're Skinny Dipping. Later they take off their shirts innocently, and Mira is shown partly topless once more.
- Naive But Skilled: The twins are great warriors but they've never left the farm they grew up on. They're ignorant as to how the world works... and as to the physical differences between boys and girls.
- Never Trust a Title: There isn't a single sorceress in the whole movie. Instead, there's the main villain, a sorcerer (though the title could be interpreted as an alternate spelling of "Sorcerous").
- Offing the Offspring: Traigon planned to sacrifice his own firstborn to gain magical power, though his wife had other ideas. She gave birth to twins, and prevented his plan by concealing which was born first. He later captures them years after they were put in hiding, and tries to again.
- Patricide: Mara kills Traigon, her birth father, in the finale.
- Raised as the Opposite Gender: Mara and Mira are brought up as boys, a deception which continues until the girls are 20 years old, since having been raised male they truly identify that way at first. Apparently the opposite idea never even occurred to them, or was brought up by any other person until they met Baldar and Erlick. They're even oblivious to the physical differences of the sexes. Even by the end of the film it's not really clear that either of them grasped it, and they may still identify themselves as male.
- Recycled Soundtrack: James Horner's music from Battle Beyond the Stars turns up again in an unrelated Roger Corman production.
- Skinny Dipping: The twins are engaged in this when we first see them as adults.
- Sorcerous Overlord: Evil sorcerer Traigon rules over a domain where from what little we see executions and torture of his citizens are ubiquitous. He plans to gain further power by sacrificing his firstborn child.
- Succubi and Incubi: Pando is a satyr, but he certainly looks and acts like a traditional goat-legged demon.
- Sword and Sorcery: The film is another Conan imitator, with the twist that it takes much inspiration from The Corsican Brothers, featuring twin sisters raised as boys who have to prevent their own birth father, who's an Evil Sorcerer, from sacrificing the eldest to gain more power from his master, a dark god.
- Synchronization: As in The Corsican Brothers, when one twin feels physical pain, so does the other. The same principle applies to sexual pleasure, as well...
- The Talk: Baldar tries to explain where babies come from to the twins, as they somehow don't know. It's revealed they believe they're given by a god. Although aware where baby animals come from, they don't know this applies to humans.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Erlick's apparent reward for helping the twins.
- Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Mira is deeply dismayed when Traigon, who killed her mother and foster father, reveals that he's in fact her birth father.
- You Killed My Father: The twins Mara and Mira swore revenge on the evil sorcerer who killed their mother and foster father (but don't realize that he's actually their birth father). At the end, Mara succeeds in killing him.