The Beastmaster (1982)

beastmaster poster 1982 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10


Story goes on too long and underdeveloped

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Beastmaster

Studio:  Leisure Investment Company/Beastmaster NV/ECTA Filmproduktion

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 16, 1982

MPAA Rating:  PG

beastmaster dar marc singer black tiger

I’m all about the beasts

The prophecy that the prince of Aruk will killed the high priest Maax (Rip Torn) leads Maax to take a desperate attempt to keep the kingdom for himself.  When the prince escapes death, he is raised with no knowledge of his past and the discovery he can communicate with animals.  As Maax’s power spread across the land, Dar (Marc Singer) finds his people menaced by Maax and decides to avenge them with his abilities.  Team with ferrets named Kodo and Podo, a tiger named Ruh, and an eagle named Sharak, Dar sets out on a quest to stop Maax once and for all…and the arrival of a slave girl named Kiri (Tanya Roberts), the prince Tal (Josh Milrad), and his bodyguard Seth (John Amos) could be the means to free King Zed (Richard Loomis) and the land.

Written and directed by Don Coscarelli (with additional writing by Paul Pepperman), The Beastmaster is an action-adventure fantasy.  The film is loosely based on the 1959 novel The Beast Master by Andre Norton.  The film was originally released to poor reviews but gained a cult following after repeated plays on cable television.

beastmaster dar set tal marc singer john amos josh milrad

I know we just showed up but can you take us with you? We’ll be your best friends!

I didn’t have cable so I didn’t see The Beastmaster as much as many of my friends who have more nostalgia for the film.  I do love Don Coscarelli movies however and The Beastmaster is a weird combo of Coscarelli’s odd scripts with a Conan-esque sword and sorcery mix.

The film is rather typical of these type films.  You have a prince with a destiny and a bit of a Moses story.  The movie has a lot of actions, a couple of quasi-monsters (I wish the evil creatures were cooler…but I do like the bat/bird men).  The problem is that the film has a big lead up to a battle with Maax…and then the movie goes on for another twenty minutes.  It feels like the extra battle is unnecessary and drags the film out.

Marc Singer isn’t the typical fantasy hero.  He isn’t a hulking character though he is fit, and he is an odd action star in that sense (child star Billy Jacoby plays the younger version of him).  Tanya Roberts (who posed in Playboy to promote the movie) is also rather typical as the “hot” sword and sandals character.  John Amos and Josh Milrad are added into the story too late (but they are good additions).  Rip Torn has a lot of fun as the crazed kid killing sorcerer out to control the land.

beastmaster maax king zed rip torn rod loomis

If I sacrifice this guy, can I get out of this movie?

Unfortunately, sword and sorcery films often have a cheapness to them.  There is generally a lot spent on sets (if anything), and The Beastmaster has a few decent sets, but nothing that matches the opulence of some of the bigger sets from something like Conan the Barbarian.  Some of the animal stunts are decent and you got to get bummed for the tragic Kodo.

The Beastmaster is fun, but don’t go into it expecting to be amazed.  It is like a Roger Corman movie that is better with a group and isn’t to be taken too seriously.  Despite this, it is a watchable movie and it has that fun, 1980s vibe to it.  The Beastmaster returned in Beastmaster 2:  Through the Portal of Time in 1991 and it also was used for the basis of a TV series Beastmaster which was syndicated from October 9, 1999 to May 13, 2002.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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