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Film / The Beastmaster

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"The courage of an eagle, the strength of a panther and the power of a God. The epic adventure is back like never before!"

A 1982 fantasy movie from Don Coscarelli, starring Marc Singer in the title role, that became best known for its repeated late-night airings on cable, in particular TBS and HBO throughout the 80s and 90s. note 

Maax is a twisted cult leader out to steal the throne of King Zed. Banished by Zed for his treachery, Maax sends one of his three witches to steal Zed's unborn son, ripping him right out of his mother's womb with magic and placing him in a cow's womb, and cutting him out of the cow. Before she can finish the job, a brave hunter kills the witch and rescues the young boy, naming him Dar. Dar and his adoptive father find out at a young age that Dar possesses the power to communicate with animals. When Maax sends his horde of thugs to wipe out Dar's peaceful village, Dar sets out to defeat Maax using his powers and avenge his people and foster father.


Marc Singer returned as Dar in two sequels, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991) and the Direct-to-Video Beastmaster 3: The Eye of Braxus (1997). In addition, there is also a re-cast television series that qualified as a somewhat vindicated-by-reruns show.

The Beastmaster has examples of:

  • Animal Eye Spy: Dar is able to see through his animal companions' eyes. Useful for scouting/spying in general and in the middle of a fight when his own eyes are damaged at one point.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The fight with the Jun leader is definitely the toughest challenge Dar has in the film.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Jun leader's staff, which can come apart and be swung around like a kind of goofy flail. It looks impressive, but proves pretty useless in practice.
  • Badass Bystander: Dar's future adoptive father. With a dash of Badass Normal. He's nothing more than a simple farmer, but when he comes upon one of Maax's witches about to sacrifice the innocent baby Dar, he promptly opens up a can of whoopass on her to save the infant, culminating in shoving her into her own campfire.
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  • Barbarian Hero: Dar
  • Battle Butler: Seth, formerly the captain of King Zed's guards turned protector of his (as far as he knows) only son Tal. Although disguised as a mere pilgrim, he's quite handy with a quarterstaff and isn't to be underestimated.
  • The Beastmaster: Guess
  • Big Bad: Maax, the Evil Sorcerer terrorizing the land.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Bat People, when they show up at the end in time to save the city.
  • Butterface: The witches in the original movie have extremely sexy bodies and horrible melted faces.
  • Celebrity Paradox: The second movie shows just how silly it is to avert this trope. As Dar is in a car driving down the street, they pass a movie theater that is debuting Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. Dar is as confused as the audience.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The medallion the winged creatures give to Dar. He uses it to ask for their help against the Juns at the very end.
  • Covers Always Lie: Noriyoshi Ohrai got a bit carried away. This movie is not as awesome as it looks.
  • Cult: Maax leads what appears to be a perversion of the local religion. He seemed to be in good standing with King Zed until he started wanting to sacrifice children, so he allied himself with the Jun Horde and took over.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The bat people (who get a Big Damn Heroes moment when they show up at the city just in time to make a difference)
  • Decapitated Army: Inverted. The Juns, evil barbarians Maax allied with, come to attack the city after he dies. It's then inverted again after Dar kills the Jun leader in single combat, and they still refuse to retreat.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: You'd think Maax dying would signal the end of the movie right? Wrong. There's still the Jun Horde and their ferocious leader to contend with.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Death Guard who follows Dar and Kiri up the air shaft ends up taking a pretty impressive tumble. Maax himself later takes a (far shorter) header into his own sacrificial fire pit.
  • Distressed Damsel: Kiri, despite supposedly being part of a warrior sect.
  • Doomed Hometown: Dar's adopted village, which is destroyed by the barbarian Juns at the beginning. Dar is the sole survivor, and swears vengeance.
  • Dull Surprise: Dar's reaction to seeing the man he just tried to rescue getting dissolved into a skeleton by one of the winged creatures.
  • Elite Mooks: Death Guards, insane warriors with spiked gauntlets and leather masks who protect Maax's pyramid. Fortunately for the good guys, despite their ferocity, they're not terribly intelligent, and can't seem to distinguish friend from foe. The only people they kill are Maax's other Mooks (despite one's repeated attempts to kill Kodo and Podo).
  • Evil Is Hammy: The evil god Braxus in the third film, as well as Maax himself, who really relishes his job as an evil cult leader.
  • Eye Scream: A twofer. Maax's witches use a ring with a real human eyeball to spy on the heroes. To prevent further eavesdropping, Seth drives a flaming brand into the ring's eye, in a particularly nasty scene. At the same time, the left eye of the witch who was using the ring starts bleeding.
  • Fan Disservice: All over the place, but particularly with the grotesque witches.
  • Fish out of Water: The key premise of Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time; Valley Girl meets Barbarian Hero in a fantasy world, and Barbarian Hero teaming up with Valley Girl in Real Life.
  • Groin Attack: A few times, but in particular there's a scene where Kodo is about to get killed by one of Maax's guards, so Podo bites the guy in the nards, complete with an audible crunching noise.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Dar definitely has the hots for the redheaded Kiri.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dar's pet dog is hit with an arrow during the attack on his village and uses the last of his strength to drag him to safety. Kodo also attacks Maax and causes him to fall into the sacrificial fire pit. Unfortunately, Maax takes Kodo with him.
  • The Horde: The Jun Horde, the barbarians who Maax allies himself with, and who destroyed Dar's adopted village.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: You might expect Maax's name to be just pronounced like "Max", just with a longer vowel sound, but it's actually pronounced "May-ox".
  • Jerkass: King Zed towards Dar, until he realized he's the son he lost. But then Maax kills him, spoiling any potential reunion.
  • Job Title
  • Karmic Death: Maax, who falls into the fire pit he threw children into earlier.
  • Kissing Cousins: Dar and Kiri are in love with one another. One problem. Kiri is Zed's niece, which makes her Dar's cousin. This doesn't prevent them from smooching up a storm at the end (Although it's possible she's his niece by marriage to his second wife).
  • Loincloth: Dar's standard dress.
  • Mage in Manhattan: Arklon in the second movie.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The second movie reveals that Arklon was this to Maax, and after the latter gets eliminated, Arklon steps in and conquers the world (or at least a good chunk of it) himself.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Kiri, being played by Tanya Roberts and all.
    • Lyranna in the second film starts out as this, though changes into a more modest outfit when she and Arklon travel to Earth.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: Maax orders the witches to magically transport unborn Dar from his mother's womb into a cow's, then brand and murder him once he's born. Rather than subverting the prophecy that Maax would die confronting Zed's son, this may actually explain why Dar can communicate with animals - he was born from one - and thus, why he had his beasts' help even unto Kodo's Heroic Sacrifice in defeating Maax.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Sadly averted. Sultan, the tiger who played Ruh in the first movie, died two years later due to being poisoned by the dye they used to make him appear black. As a result, the sequel featured a tiger without dye.
  • Noisy Nature: Kodo and Podo are ferrets. Ferrets don't make anything approaching the sounds that the animals in the film make.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The subtitle of the sequel is Through the Portal of Time despite the fact that Kyranna explicitly states that it's a dimensional portal and no time travel is involved.
  • Pet Gets the Keys: The Beastmaster's ferrets steal a key and slip under a door to get it to him when he is trapped in a cell.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Dar commands his ferrets to steal the clothing (if it can be called that) of a nubile bathing beauty, luring her into the woods so he can pretend to scare off his own panther in a not-so-elaborate plan to seduce her.
  • Rasputinian Death: The Jun leader, who must be related to General Kael from Willow. Stabbed repeatedly, impaled on his own bladed staff/flail weapon, and he still refuses to die. He finally bites it when Dar flings him into the flaming moat.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The ferrets Kodo and Podo, hands down.
  • Rightful King Returns: Subverted a bit, Dar hands the job to his younger half brother Tal rather than take the throne.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Zed is shown to be a pretty proactive king. After learning his high priest intends to start sacrificing children, he personally busts into Maax's chambers to give him a dressing down and banish him.
  • Scary Black Man: Seth in a thong. Fortunately he's a good guy.
  • Secret Legacy: Dar is secretly the long lost son of King Zed.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Kodo and Podo's kids.
  • Staircase Tumble: Quite a few bad guys tumble quite spectacularly down the pyramid steps as Dar fights his way through them to reach Maax at the top.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Dar has his hawk companion rescue a young child from the evil priest's sacrificial fires and flies her away to safety. The priest, after a second of thought, cries out that this is indeed an omen that the deity wants child sacrifices.
  • Surprise Incest: The Love Interest is the cousin of the the hero's younger brother. Whether the couple are actually blood relatives, and to what degree, is not made explicit; the implications are not explored in the film
  • Too Dumb to Live: The heroes find out Maax knows of their surprise attack. Seth tries to talk King Zed out of leading the attack, but he wouldn't listen as he wants revenge for the loss of his son. The resulting Curb-Stomp Battle happens between scenes.
    • Then there's the guy Dar frees from the cage at the winged creatures' lair. Instead of remaining by his rescuer's side, the man freaks out and runs away... right into the waiting embrace of one of the creatures. Oops.
  • Villainous Rescue: The bat people as mentioned under Dark Is Not Evil. Although they will eat random people, they rescue Dar in a Big Damn Heroes moment because he is a Beastmaster and therefore commands the hawk whom they worship.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Played straight in the second movie, but justified; Arklon can Mind Rape locals on present-day Earth to gain knowledge of how society works. Dar is every bit the confused hero, prompting both the police and animal control to come after him.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Kiri is supposed to be one.
  • Weasel Mascot: Kodo and Podo. It certainly helps that they're adorable.
  • Wicked Witches: Their faces aren't much to look at but they certainly have nice bodies.
  • With Great Power: Dar's adoptive father gives him a speech along these lines, insisting that the gods have chosen him for something special and that he must use his powers for the greater good.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The unborn Dar's abduction, the witch using a hot metal rod to brand the newborn with the sign of Ar, and child sacrifices. 'Nuff said.


Example of: