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Conquest (1983)
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by Jack Sommersby

"Another Lucio Fulci Stinker"
1 stars

Oh, I can think of worse things to suffer through than this, but I'd be hard-pressed at coming up with one that's as titanically terrible-looking.

That Italian master of gore Lucio Fulci, perpetrator of such gag-inducing garbage as Zombie, The Beyond, Manhattan Baby and House by the Cemetery, has switched genres with the medieval fantasy adventure Conquest, and it's horrendously bad. It would've been nice had he succeeded in trying something new, like he did with the fine 1975 western Four of the Apocalypse, and while the movie is bad in some reasonably interesting ways, it's still borderline-unwatchable. One can start with the atrocious lighting by cinematographer Alejandro Ulloa, which looks like a gauze pad was covering the camera lens throughout filming: incredibly soft-focused and oftentimes impenetrable, you can hardly make out the goings-on; and with a heavy barrage of smoke employed in several scenes, the visual-impairment factor is multiplied. Filmed on the coast of Sardinia, Italy, Conquest could've been shot in a filthy latrine and I doubt you could tell much of a difference. Clearly Fulci was after a distinctive "look," but even after the movie is over you're still scratching your head at the visual interpretation he was after; and because he decided to shoot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio he's deprived us of his one commendable attribute, that of canny widescreen composition. (His serial-killer tale The New York Ripper may have been unintentionally laughable in several spots, but at least it was interestingly framed.) Then again, even the most dazzling visuals couldn't redeem the idiotic story it took three screenwriters to concoct. It has something to do with a brash young warrior named Ilias (vapid Andrea Occhipinti) brandishing a bow-and-arrow that unleashes bright-blue projectiles that glow in the dark, who goes up against the always-topless sorceress Ocron (wooden Sabrina Siani) who wears a gold mask and slinky G-string and writhes in ecstasy when her pet asps slither over her body. Ocron answers to the powerful Zora (nondescript Conrado Somllatin), though we see very little of him, but we do get plenty of Ocron's creature assassins that look like a cross between Kubrick's 2001 apes and Star Wars's Chewbacca. On Ilias' side is Mace (not-bad Jorge Rivero), a naturalist who prefers animals to people and tutelages Ilias on the finer points of survival. And it all culminates in a series of incomprehensible action sequences that have all the technical prowess of an Edward D. Wood production.

Obviously Fulci is going for a kind of zenith-level outrageousness, but his handling of the dead-on-arrival material never really cuts loose. He takes the solemn dialogue scenes far too seriously, as if we could actually give a damn about either the protagonist or antagonist; and because the scenes have all the momentum of an ice floe we're left to suffer through paper-thin exposition and flat characters who are never larger-than-life, which they absolutely need to be to be to rise far and above all the hokum. Fulci indulges in his usual brand of blood-spurting, but it's not likely to satisfy gorehounds because they're poorly juxtaposed and barely visible. There's potential in some creatures introduced late in the game with booming voices and spiderweb-like-covered bodies, but like everything else Fulci doesn't know what in the hell to do with them. The production design doesn't offer anything viable, just dullish cave interiors and boggy seaside beaches, and the music score is electronic-keyboard mishmash that's never tonally in-synch with what it's overlaying. Lacking the energetic colorfulness of Albert Pyun's The Sword and the Sorcerer and near-brilliance of Ralph Bakshi's animated feature Fire and Ice, the movie is all-thumbs, as if someone had dared Fulci to make something this startlingly inept with a straight face. (It's hard to believe studio executives saw dailies of this production, otherwise they would've pulled the plug or replaced its director quicker than you can say "you'll never work in this town again.") Conquest lacks atmosphere and tautness, with the scenes building to nothing in particular. I think the moviemakers are making some kind of half-assed statement that animals are more noble than mankind what with the character of Mace, numerous shots of hawks soaring high above the violence, and a school of dolphins chewing through the ropes of a wooden cross Mace has been tied to and thrown into the sea. But these trite metaphysical overtones are laughably out of place in a cinematic endeavor that goes for one cheap effect after another minus a consistent viewpoint that would give the proceedings some gravitas -- we're watching ill-defined hodgepodge thrown together with the thought and deftness of a rummage sale. Quintessentially inane and across-the-board inept, Conquest does the seemingly impossible in making you look back at John Boorman's catastrophic Zardoz with newfound respect.

The DVD from the good folks at Blue Underground has been given as good a transfer as possible, but those hungering for a bountiful array of special features will be disappointed.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7361&reviewer=327
originally posted: 04/01/13 09:57:50
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User Comments

11/09/13 boner the barbarian jacks head is up his ass. this is a classic. 5 stars
7/09/09 mr.mike I'm only recommending it to fellow Fulci-philes. 4 stars
3/28/08 Pearce Better than the Sword & the Sorceror, anyway 3 stars
10/15/06 Jack Sommersby Horrendously bad with not a single redeeming value. 1 stars
7/30/04 joe blow tripply, surreal, hazy dreamscape/nightmare 5 stars
8/19/03 josue villanueva campos thats a original epic history 4 stars
6/04/03 Charles Tatum Fulci sucked 1 stars
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  06-Apr-1984 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2004



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