Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format war, the motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about.
Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD.
Title: Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus
Genre: Low Budget Sword & Sorcery
Tagline: A legendary hero. A battle beyond imagination.
Released by: MCA Universal Home Video
Director: Gabrielle Beaumont
Plot: Dar, the warrior who can speak to the animals is back! This time he assembles a team to rescue his brother from the clutches of the evil Lord Agon, a sorcerer who wants to use an ancient amulet with incredible power to plunge their world into eternal darkness.
Thoughts: Last week I re-visited Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, the insane sequel to Don Coscarelli’s original 1982 cult masterpiece. For many years I thought that there were only two films in the series, but one day I was picking through some old videos on sale for a buck each at a closing shop and voila, there it was: the final chapter in the trilogy, Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus. I finally had my first viewing the other night and I’ll just start out by saying, it’s the not-so-epic conclusion that we neither needed nor deserved.
Dar (Marc Singer) the Beastmaster is asked by his brother King Tal (Starship Trooper’s Casper Van Diem) to join him in a battle against the evil sorcerer Lord Agon (A slumming David Warner), who wishes to obtain a precious jewel “eye” that will give him unspeakable power. But Dar feels his place is in the wilderness with the animals, so he politely refuses his sibling’s request. King Tal was given the sacred “eye” amulet by their father before he died, so to insure it doesn’t end up in the crazed warlock’s hands, he gives half of it to Dar for safekeeping. Well he should’ve given him the whole damn thing folks because right after the Beastmaster leaves, Lord Agon’s Crimson Warriors attack the King’s base camp and kidnap him along with the precious jewel.
I just want to point out here that in the last sequel we discovered that Dar was the brother of the film’s villain, a Dark Lord played by Wings Hauser. In this one he has another brother who’s a King. What a weird family!
Now Dar, along with his warrior friend Seth (The Candyman himself, Tony Todd), a hot blonde amazon chick named Shada (Sandra Hess) and his loyal animal buddies (the lion, the hawk and the two ferrets – Podo and Todo), must all journey to the warlock’s compound, rescue the King, retrieve the other half of the amulet and defeat Lord Agon and his army. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there are a lot of confusing double crosses and re-teamings along the way. Eventually, the group hooks up with a witch and a caravan of carnival gypsies (that includes an eager clown on stilts) who promise to get them past Lord Agon’s gates, but they’re tricked and Dar is captured by the Crimson Warriors.
Back at Lord Agon’s stone crib, King Tal is tortured by a cheap looking rubber-monster-tree-thing, while Dar is left alone to die in one of those Bond villain set-ups. You know, where he’s suspended over a lava pit by a rope that’s slowly being cut by a blade, and the bad guys are so confident he’s going to die they just leave him there alone. No guard. Nothing. Well, Dar escapes and of course every single character we’ve met from the beginning converges on Lord Agon’s chamber where he’s used the power of the jewel to release Braxus, a slimy monster god that means serious business. There’s a final battle between them all. Guess who wins?
Okay, so this is my least favorite in the series for sure. The original Beastmaster is a very fun, cool little sword & sorcery flick. Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time is an incredibly campy and totally unnecessary sequel, but it’s entertaining for both of those reasons. Beastmaster III tries to return to the flavor of the first one (no time traveling), but lacks the edge and talent of Coscarelli. The storyline is simplistic, but there are a LOT of new characters with different agendas going on that makes things a tad muddled at times. Also, if you’re going to go back to the original, we need some tits and some blood. Beastmaster III is as homogenized as an episode of Xena. The special effects are also very, very bad and not in a good way. The monster looks like an angry Teenage Mutant Turtle. So, this was not the ending to the series I would have liked to see. I think they should have gone even more whacky and over-the-top with it than the last one. This is just bad. It did however make me appreciate The Dark Knight Rises even more. It isn’t easy wrapping up a trilogy.
Behold! The trailer en espanol!!!