Directed By: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Jorge Rivero, Andrea Occhipinti, Conrado San Martín
Tag line: "In a place beyond time, comes a terrifying challenge beyond imagination!"
Trivia: The working title of this film was Mace the Outcast
In an effort to give their 1983 movie Conquest a dreamlike quality, director Lucio Fulci and his cinematographer Alejandro Ulloa tried everything from soft focus to fog machines to shooting through gauze. Unfortunately, the desired effect backfired, and instead of a surreal fantasy / adventure, Conquest is a muddied, blurry mess.
After receiving an enchanted bow from his ghostly ancestors (or maybe they were Gods? Who knows), one that harnesses the power of the sun, the warrior Mace (Jorge Rivero) sets off to defeat the evil (and always topless) Queen Ocron (Sabrina Sellers, who wears a golden mask, and little else, the entire time). With the help of her Wolfman army, the Queen attacks local tribes, killing its citizens before drinking their brains (to gain their knowledge… I think). Along the way, Mace meets up with Ilias (Andrea Occhipinti), a fellow warrior who joins him on his quest.
That’s about it, really. Yes, I know: the plot is paper-thin. What’s more, Conquest is, at times, downright silly (the arrows that shoot from the magic bow are almost like lasers, which split off and fly in a number of directions whenever its fired). But, then, what ‘80s fantasy isn’t a little goofy (Yor, the Hunter from the Future, The Sword and the Sorcerer, even Conan the Barbarian had moments of unintentional hilarity)? No, the real problem with Conquest is the look of the film. The opening sequence, where Mace receives his bow, was shot in double exposure, yet it didn’t bother me because I figured this scene required an otherworldly feel. Alas, things never get any better; the battles are often confusing because we can’t make out who’s fighting who, and even when characters are sitting around talking, they’re surrounded by what seems to be an eternal haze (in a few scenes, it’s obvious the sun is shining brightly, and there’s not a cloud in the sky, yet on the ground, there’s fog as far as you can see).
Fulci does try to liven things up with his patented flair, meaning plenty of gore (during an attack, a tribal leader’s head is split open with an axe, exposing his brain; and a woman is torn in half when two Wolf men pull her legs in opposite directions) as well as a little sex (at one point, Ocron masturbates with a snake). There’s even a sequence with what appear to be zombies, which crawl out of a lake and attack Mace unexpectedly (they aren’t as gooey as they were in Fulci’s Zombie, but these undead creatures are definitely in an advanced state of decomposition).
With Fulci at the helm, and elements that were more adult-oriented than your typical Sword and Sorcery ‘80s fare, Conquest had the potential to be a bit of cheesy fun. It’s too bad that, more often than not, I couldn't see what the hell was happening.