Fantasy Movies Part Two: Hidden Treasures

In the last post, we had a look at the best of the worst – movies in the fantasy genre that are examples of so-bad-it’s-good…or just plain bad. But that is only part of the story. Even though the genre has a whole has a rather spotty record when it comes to cinematic adaptations in the pre-Lord of the Rings area, there are some cases where filmmakers have gotten it right. Some of those movies remain well known to this day – movies like Labyrinth (a failure at its release, today acknowledged as a classic) Big Trouble In Little China (“Terrific, a Six Demon Bag! Sensational, what’s in it Egg?”) and of course, Conan the Barbarian.

But there are other fantastickal gems that have fallen through the cracks. Movies that are remembered today only as cult classics, or forgotten entirely. Hidden Treasures, whose awesomeness has been hidden under the passage of time and the passing of memory.

Hawk the Slayer (1980)
A cult classic if there was one. According to the Guardian, it “…kicked off the cinematic sword and sorcery boom that would give us Excalibur, Conan, Dragonslayer and Willow..” Supposedly there is a TV show in the works.

Zardoz (1974)
Back in the golden age called the 70’s, there was someone who thought that a giant flying stone head screaming, “The gun is good! The penis is evil!” while vomiting a stream of assault rifles, a post-Bond Sean Connery in a red nappy, all in a post-apocalyptic setting, was a surefire hit. They don’t make movies like this anymore…but sometimes you’re glad that someone did.

Ladyhawke (1984)
Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick, mixed with a soundtrack that mingled proggy synthesizers with Gregorian Chant. It doesn’t get more 80’s than this.

Excalibur (1981)
Not exactly a hidden treasure (it was a hit when it came out) but for my money the best cinematic depiction of the Arthurian legend in the last forty years.

Fire and Ice (1983)
A rotoscoped masterpiece, directed by Ralph Bakshi and featuring art by Frank Frazetta. Supposedly there is a live-action remake in the works.