One of the greatest sword and sorcery fantasy movies of all time! This is one of my top three films from this genre and it was very hard to remain objective about a film I enjoyed so much as a kid. Krull pulled from some great influences and that is more apparent than ever in 2016 as I’ve just recently watched it again. It “borrows” freely from Tolkien, Greek and Arthurian mythology and Star Wars. Even with all the borrowing of themes for this 80’s sci-fi / fantasy cult classic it was hard for me to not have some genuine affection towards this film. Seeing this film in the 80’s as a young boy just sparked that already intense drive I had for my wild imagination for the fantasy realm. Though this film is starting to show it’s age in places, Krull overall is a very well-made film, and far from one of those cheaply made knock-offs that showed up in the wake of the fantasy, sci-fi, and sword & sorcery era of film making.
What’s notable about Krull, is the genre mixing as it draws from the fantasy / sci-fi films mentioned before with all the swords, castles, epic battles, and beasts but it, for the time period had some great laser and lighting effects. From start to finish this film brings us an epic adventure of good vs. evil and it was never a dull moment to watch. Krull opens with what seems to be a gigantic ship travelling through the dark of space, but this ship is in fact, the Black Fortress.
This ship is, in fact, the Black Fortress, a massive stronghold for the Beast and his army of Slayers. This ship touches down on the planet Krull which opens our story for a great battle of good vs. evil like most of the great fantasy films. We have a hero of the story, a prince named Colwyn who is about to wed a fellow kingdoms daughter, the princess Lyssa. During the wedding the Beast sends his Slayers to attack the castle where the wedding ceremony was being held to take the princess and bring her back to the Beast in the Black Fortress.
Soon after the battle a very old wiseman named Ynry from the mountains traveled down to find prince Colwyn, and together they head off to rescue the princess from the clutches of the evil beast. Sounds like an epic story of fantasy proportions right? Along the way Colwyn and Ynry amass a band of allies to help with their quest. This band of allies is a rag tag group made up of a wizard named Ergo the Magnificent who can’t get a spell right to save his life. Then you have Bernard Bresslaw who played the melancholy Cyclops and then you have a band of outlaws in which we get to see a very young Liam Neeson make his third film appearance.
Krull is a film that shines and comes to life in individual scenes rather than as a whole, nevertheless this film is full of quite captivating designs and special effects. Colwyn’s Glaive weapon, which he retrieves from a pool of lava, is one of the most iconic sword and sorcery weapons of all time.
The Slayers, are one of the best parts of the film, though they are silent other than a horrific scream they emit when killed they make a mark onscreen for a foe. Their laser spears and ominous silhouette of armour, and the worm-like creature that erupts from them when they’re defeated, make them far less derivative than they may otherwise have been. In fact, one of my enduring memories of Krull from when I was a child was just how scary it could be. There’s a great, tense scene set inside the lair of a giant spider, and a creepy sequence in a swamp, where a the Seer is taken over by a shape-shifting clone with black eyes.
The Black Fortress was full of great set designs like moving floors, and that mainstay of action fantasy, walls that sprout spikes. It’s in Krull’s concluding act, as Colwyn and his loyal band fight their way through the Fortress, that the film becomes most exciting. With the 70’s and 80’s being the grand era of sci-fi and fantasy themes, Krull is no stranger to this theme as it had some fantastic photography, and set locations to bring all this fantasy to a very fond place in our hearts.