Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II

(Dir. Charles B. Griffith 1988)

Hilariously bad.

My guess is that this film was made by idiots, because it would take an extraordinary team of geniuses to make a film this awful deliberately.

Supposedly, many people enjoy bad films, even when they know that the films are bad. I don't. This film is the glorious exception. Whereas many films are just bad and boring, this one transcends its incompetence, and presents the viewer with a spectacle of such consistent and unremitting low-quality, that one is left fighting for breath. You will be astounded that anyone capable of taking the lens cap off the camera could have considered this film worth making. This is definitely a film to be watched with many friends, and several beers.

The genre is "fantasy" of the swords and sorcery type. The plot is the usual: boy becomes wizard, joins a small party of heroes to defeat the local evil sorcerer-ruler. This is near enough the plot of all fantasy films. Powerful rulers who use magic are always evil. What sets this film apart from the tedious mass, though, is that it is enlivened throughout by jaw-droppingly abysmal dialogue, costumes, incidents and effects.

This film cannot be spoiled by "spoilers". Indeed, the best way to appreciate it is to spot as many atrocious things in it as you can. Here I present some of the things to watch out for, and doubtless you and your ale-soaked friends will spot many more.

The pitiful shack in the middle of the woods, which on the inside looks like a studio set, and turns out to be the local tavern.

The bartender, clad in black, with a big ornate black sword on his back, who at first claims to be a "simple bartender" as he polishes a leather tankard, but who then starts a fight in his own tavern, before admitting that he is a "hero" (yes - that's actually the word they use!)

The villainous sorcerer, with the terrifying name of "Veneer" whose dialogue for almost all of the film consists entirely of demonic evil laughter. This man is pointlessly evil. For instance, he forbids his own population from drinking from the well. WHY?

The appallingly-costumed guards around the well, who carry swords in their hands at all times, because they lack scabbards, and who fight with the speed of a pouncing limpet and the wit of kapok.

The well itself, which consists of a stone wall encircling some water. The water actually comes up to the rim of the well-head, suggesting that the local water-table is three feet above ground level.

The gladiators fighting inside an arena which is simply a high wooden fence enclosing a circle of ground. Why are they fighting? No one can see them.

The "hero" they happen across in the well-lit dungeon, who, on being freed from his bonds, finds his sword nearby on the floor. This man rescues three girls from a cell. These all look like cheer-leaders and all have shampooed and blow-dried hair, as well as zips up the backs of their dresses.

The fight between two monsters. Each is rather obviously a man in a costume. One clue is the bare arms revealed occasionally during the struggle, as the make-up doesn't go all the way up the actors' arms, and the sleeves of their shirts are rather short. Both monsters drop dead simultaneously, without a mark visible on either.

The moment when it is suggested that the heroes incite revolt. Immediately, the scene cuts to some footage, very obviously taken from another film, of many people fighting each other apparently at random.

The shop which has a window, but no door. The "merchandise" is a few paltry things on the windowsill. Saving on building a door, the scene cuts to the interior.

The "secret passage" which is huge, easy to find, and leads straight into the dungeons of the villain's stronghold.

The moment when the villain has magically adhered some people's feet to the floor, and he gloats and walks not just to within easy punching distance of them, but actually between them, and within punching distance of both.

I have not seen Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, but it seems to be in a similar league of inspired dreadfulness. I believe that there was even a third in this series of films. I am agog at the brazen cheek of anyone who could commission a follow-up to this film with a straight face. If these films were commercially successful, it was not because their makers knew what they were doing.

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