Directed By: Joe D'Amato
Starring: Miles O'Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, Ritza Brown
Tag line: "A magical power was destined to fight at his side"
Trivia: The film was hastily shot, edited, and released in an attempt to cash in on the success of Conan the Barbarian
It’s no secret I occasionally enjoy the odd pile of cinematic crap, especially when it borders on the idiotic, something that, at the very least, makes it a fun watch (The Crater Lake Monster leaps immediately to mind). Joe D’Amato’s 1982 fantasy flick, Ator, the Fighting Eagle, had the potential to be such a film. But it isn’t. It’s just….bad!
Ator, the Fighting Eagle takes place during the Age of Darkness, a 1,000-year period when “The Shadow of the Spider” is the law. But according to an age-old prophecy, the “seed of Torin” is destined to free the land from the spider’s oppression. Sure enough, the film kicks off with the birth of Ator, son of Torin, who is so feared by the High Priest (Dakar) of the spider’s tomb that he attempts to kill the infant Ator, a plan that fails when the child is rescued by the warrior Griba (Edmund Purdum). Ator (Miles O’Keefe) grows to be a strong and able man, yet when his sister/wife Sunya (Ritza Brown) is kidnapped (and his village destroyed) by the soldiers of the spider, he sets out to exact revenge. Joined in his quest by a beautiful bad-ass (Sabrina Siani) and a baby black bear, Ator comes face-to-face with the Ancient One, hoping to fulfill his destiny and end the spider’s centuries-long reign of terror.
With several scenes set among ancient ruins, Ator, the Fighting Eagle isn’t a bad-looking film, and the legend of Torin and his heir is palpable enough to keep hope alive early on. Yet even by fantasy standards, Ator is pretty ridiculous. For one, the High Priest, played by Dakar, gets a bit too much pleasure out of having tarantulas crawl around on his bald head. By the menacing score, I assumed this was designed to show how evil he was, but instead, he looks like a pervert with an arachnid fixation. And the dialogue? A guard rushes in to tell the High Priest that Torin’s son has been born, nervously exclaiming, “The sign is in the sky! The earth trembles like a virgin being drawn to the nuptial bed!” Aside from this unintentional hilarity, Ator also suffers from a number of weak battle scenes, a preposterous twist at the end, and a creature (the aforementioned “Ancient One”) that’s so pathetic, it’ll have you rolling on the floor. Director D’Amato freely admitted Ator, the Fighting Eagle was a low-budget rip-off of John Milius’ 1982 action/fantasy blockbuster, Conan the Barbarian, yet there were a few obstacles he simply couldn’t overcome: 1. Miles O’Keefe is no Schwarzenegger, 2. Dakar is no James Earl Jones, and 3. a spider is a poor substitute for a giant snake.
Did I mention Ator, the Fighting Eagle is bad? Well, it bears repeating.