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Friday, 14 August 2015

Top 10 (+1) Reasons Everyone Should Love "Hawk The Slayer" - #FanFridays 2

Welcome to this week's Fan Friday. This post came about because of a conversation my sister and I were having last weekend and laughing about Hawk the Slayer. Hawk was the film that began the 80s craze of fantasy movies and it is utterly awesome. However, please be aware that some of this post is made with my tongue firmly in my cheek ;)

Top 10 Reasons Everyone Should Love Hawk The Slayer

Hawk the Slayer is a low budget, somewhat cheesy fantasy film released in 1980 and it is the epitome of a classic. Everyone should see it at least once and here are my top 10 reasons why everyone should love it like I do.
  1. Awesome Special Effects
    Here we have a film made long before CGI and the special effects are on the interesting side. Think seventies Doctor Who with a bigger budget - the effects are clever, but just a little primitive. As Soph mentioned when we were having our chat, a lot of the effects probably wouldn't be used today, not because they are too down market, but because they are too 'high tech' for a sword and sorcery movie.

    Example one - the glowing spinning hoops the sorceress uses to send Hawk to find his friends. These look like they should be in Star Trek rather than Hawk the Slayer.

     Example two - the glowing flying ping pong balls. They are supposed to be fire bolts, but they're definitely glowing balls :)
  2. Fantastic Dialogue
    I love fantasy movie dialogue because no matter how great some of it is, there are always those moments where exposition is required or something has to be explained and it gets awkward. I'm really not sure why since sci-fi seems to manage it okay when it has to do some of the same things, maybe it's just because there are so many more sci-fi movies than sword and sorcery ones that they don't all fall into the same trap.

    It starts as it means to go on with the longest I'm-dying-but-I-have-to-pass-on-this-knowledge-before-I-go speech ever :). The best bit of it being:

    "Quick, the coldness of death is in my limbs."

    Then there is the way the dialogue is delivered, with EMPHASIS on ALL the IMPORTANT words - Jack Palance as Voltan is especially good at this.
  3. The Whispering Delivery
    Apparently anyone of a magical disposition cannot speak above a whisper, good or evil. 
    I can only assume that if a sorceress or wizard speaks too loudly then their magic will get out of control and destroy something. At least that would explain the correlation.

  4. The Elf from the "William Shatner Spoken Record" School of ActingDon't get me wrong, I love Crow the elf (Ray Charleson), he's awesome, but clearly Charleson was going for other-wordly and hit speaking like William Shatner on his dramatic speaking over music records. I think it's great that in this movie they tried to make species different. It's creative, especially without synthesizers and post production to help, but sometimes it sounds just a little silly :).  I have to admit, I always used to fancy Crow ... okay, I still do, there, I admitted it.
  5. For the Fun of Spot the Actor
    Hawk the Slayer is one of those British productions where you get to play, spot the British actor that shows up in everything made in the UK, be it Annette Crosbie as the Abbess so you'll be wondering where Victor Meldrew is hiding, or Brenard Bresslaw as Gort the Giant so you expect Kenneth Williams to leap out of the shrubbery at any moment.
    If you are familiar with British television of the 80s and 90s and British films like Hammer there probably isn't a face in the cast you won't recognise. It always gives me a warm feeling inside when movies have casts like that. I come over all nostalgic and it makes me smile.

  6. Turkles
    My favourite relationship in the whole film is between Gort the Giant and Baldin the Dwarf. This is a film set up just like any Dungeons and Dragons quest and, of course, that requires the two members of the party who are best of friends and yet antagonists as well. This is Gort and Baldin. Gort is the big, strong, but not so bright giant and Baldin is the quick witted, somewhat unscrupulous dwarf, and really they both have hearts of gold. Baldin cannot get the better of Gort in strength so he does it with wit.

    This gives us one of my favourite scenes, about Turkles. Baldin goes to eat his sweet treat of "The finest sugared Turkles money can buy" and, Gort, of course wants him to share, until Baldin tells him what they are.

    "What is it you call them? ... Lizard's eyeballs." Is delivered with absolute perfect timing. Of course they're just sugared nuts.
  7. The Iconic Music
    Hawk the Slayer is a western wrapped up in a sword and sorcery package and it has the music to go with it. If I go "Dun, nun, nun, nun, nun, nun, naaaaaw," can you all hear The Good the Bad and the Ugly in your head. Hawk has music like that, just a little more on the fantastical side. I love the music from this movie, it has everything; exciting moments, tension building chords and an iconic twiddle every time Hawk takes on a baddie.

  8. The Plot from Every D&D Quest Ever
    This is the original D&D quest movie. You have Hawk, the good brother and Voltan the evil brother.
    Hawk inherits the ancient power from his father because Voltan is a bad, bad guy, as well as winning the girl, which sets them against each other and turns Voltan completely evil. Of course there was a prophecy saying Voltan would turn out to be a bad egg, so he really didn't have much of a chance. I'd feel sorry for him, except he has no redeeming features.

    Voltan does something bad, so Hawk has to help and to do that he needs his friends (who he's clearly been on lots of quests with before, but we never find out what) and you have a human, a dwarf, an elf and a giant all working together to make the world a better place with the help of a mysterious sorceress.

    It really is a classic and I love it.

  9. The Amazing Scenery
    So Hawk the Slayer was filmed in the UK and you can tell :). It uses a lot of British woodland for its settings and a lot of dry ice to make it look a little alien. Unfortunately there's really no dressing up a UK wood on a grey day and making it look anything like a UK wood on a grey day, even if you add dry ice in the pond and a poor lonely python on the tree. It was a nice try though ;).

    I think they must have gone through more dry ice than an A Level Physics teacher on crack.
  10. The "Automatic Weapons"
    It there is one thing that is utterly awesome it's the weapons. Normal bows and crossbows and normal swords just aren't good enough for our party on their quest.

    The instigator of the quest is Ranulf (Morgan Sheppard) and he only has one hand, but that's not going to stop him. Nope, he has a semi-automatic crossbow.

     Then there is Crow, who is a semi-automatic weapon all by himself - he uses a normal bow, but he is supernaturally fast. He can also leap into trees and run with surprising speed.

     Then, last, but not least, there is my favourite - The MindSword. This is Hawk's weapon and the ancient power he inherited. It has a hand on the end of the hilt that opens to grip the last elven mindstone which gives it its power. This is the Jedi weapon of swords and will come to Hawk's hand when he summons it. I loved this sword the first time I saw it and I still do. It only makes it better when you realise that a lot of the summoning scenes were done by throwing the sword at the actor and then just slowing it down.
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+1 There is going to be a sequel! Finally after 35 years they are planning on doing the sequel. The original film didn't do as well as it should have because the distribution company collapsed before it reached America so the sequel was shelved back then, but now it is back on the cards. This is a great article in the Guardian all about it: Hawk the Slayer is back - and he's brought his mindsword.

Someone has kindly put the best bits together on Youtube :)

And here's the real trailer:

I make no excuses, I just love this film and I think everyone else should too. It's fun, it's cheesy and Jack Palance chews the scenery like no one else. This is a classic and I want everyone to watch it.

Have you seen Hawk the Slayer? Did you love it? What is your favourite sword and sorcery film?


  1. My husband loves this film, although I don't think I've ever watched it. Maybe I should... it would make him happy :-)

    1. It is so much fun - it should be titled something like "MyFirstD&DQuest" - I love it. And making your hubby happy would be a bonus :D

  2. A fun movie that I watch whenever it comes on again. Memories come flooding back as your list progresses - fav being Bernard Bresslaw. Also pleased they are making a sequel, and even more so that Terry Marcel is helming it. When I worked in film industry, I remember plotting with Terry Marcel over making a thriller with mythological undertones... but the drawback was the filming in South Africa. But maybe anywhere can be made to look like Crete.

    1. I utterly love Hawk the Slayer for many more reasons than I listed. It makes me so happy to watch it :)

      Many great films have been made with scenery that doesn't even passingly resemble where it's actually supposed to be ;)


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