80s Fantasy Movie Review: “The Beastmaster”


Yet another epic movie poster. This one looks an awful lot like a Star Wars poster.

I embarked on a quest to watch through Tor’s list of 80s Fantasy. I have only seen an embarassingly small number of the movies on that list, and have decided to rectify that! Next up is “The Beastmaster,” a highly controversial and still well-loved flick. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Master of the Beasts

“The Beastmaster” is a movie I have heard people rant and/or rave about for some time. In my viewing of it it was… uneven.

The plot was, in a word, microscopic. The Beastmaster has some special skill thing of communicating with animals and so he goes on a quest to be a voyeur over some women and get revenge kind of. Also he has a sword that looks cool but that he doesn’t use very much. Oh, and ferrets are his secret (and best) weapon. It’s not entirely clear–ever–how the different plot details interweave (or if they do) and why various things happen. There is also no real sense of a wider world beyond what you see in the movie. No lore seems to be in the background. What you see is what you get.

There was one scene that had a hint of mystery, and that was the place of the birdmen or whatever they are supposed to be called. They looked more like weird bats to me, but I don’t think the movie’s lore will be very picky either way. There was something there that could have made an interesting tidbit of story but instead we have pretty much no words spoken and they just happen to show up to help save the day at the final battle. Why? I don’t know, because the Beastmaster has an eagle animal companion or something.

The scenes with the animals were interesting and at times pretty cool. But I couldn’t get over it: I think there has to be something said about the treatment of animals in this movie. Honestly, it was tough to watch a few of the scenes with the ferrets. I mean this wasn’t computer generated stuff–they just almost let some poor ferret drown. It turns out the eagle was also dropped out of a hot air balloon because it wouldn’t fly how they wanted it to, and the tiger they painted black for some reason died due to the paint they used on it. Not a very solid track record.

There was also some unnecessary nudity again. I might come off prudish for pointing this out so much, but 80s fantasy flicks sure liked to have nudity, apparently. I just think that it doesn’t add anything to the film and is a bit vulgar. It didn’t help that the Beastmaster was highly exploitative in his own treatment of women. Oh well, it would be hard to expect more from a guy who abuses animals for a kick.

“The Beastmaster” was okay. It had some entertaining moments, but it didn’t have the feeling of a larger world that other, better films on this list have had.

The Good

+Cool concept
+Neat-looking sword featuring lots of sword waving

The Bad

-Animal abuse
-Unnecessary nudity
-Drawn out for too long
-Microscopic plot

The Verdict

Grade: C-  “Some good ideas and a cool sword waving around aren’t enough to overcome the weirdness, lack of plot, and animal cruelty found herein.”


J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.