Deathstalker 2 (1987) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski), Junior and Tuna

Oh, sure it is an abysmal movie, but a little bit of genius went into it.

Have you seen "The Producers"? The premise is that some Broadway producers have to create a guaranteed flop in order to avoid paying back the investors, because they have sold out several thousand percent of the play. If they have a hit, they have to pay back several dollars for every one they make, but if they can create a flop, they get to fly to Rio with all the extra money they raised, and nobody will ever be the wiser.


Monique Gabrielle - topless, and in a tiny thong

several topless extras

Maria Socas in a transparent nightie

So they set out to find the worst script ever, hire the worst director, cast the worst actors, attempt to bribe the NY Times theater critic, etc. They end up with "Springtime for Hitler", which is practically a love-poem to Hitler. 

Only one problem - they did so many things wrong that they turned it into a cheesefest, and the audience loved it, thinking it to be a masterful parody.  

In a sense, the grade-z sword and sorcery movie, Deathstalker 2, followed the same formula, and achieved a similar result. Somewhere along the line, director Jim Wynorski must have realized that there was no way to make it good, so he set out to make it as bad as possible. There is a lot of sense in that. If you can't get explosions to look good enough to seem real, you should make them bad enough to look funny, and that's what Wynorski did. 

Then he hired Monique Gabrielle, arguably the worst actress on the planet, and not only gave her one role - but TWO, allowing her to do the distaff version of the Prince and the Pauper. The subtle shadings she brought to those parts can be seen in the two images below.

Wynorski's next stroke of genius was to cast John La Zar (remember him in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?) as the evil dude. La Zar isn't a bad actor. In fact, he's by far the best actor in the movie, although that didn't take much, because the second best was the female wrestling champion known as Queen Kong. But La Zar's bad guy character is not exactly Darth Vader in the menace department. Let's just say he is a tad light in the loafers, if you catch my drift. Most people expect their Sauron to be a little more butch. This guy makes Richard Simmons and Rex Reed seem like Vin Diesel and Charles Bronson.

Then the director figures, oh, hell, we don't have realistic period props, and we can't afford them, so let's just use modern stuff. Therefore, the medieval bad guys drink their beer out of A&W Root Beer glasses; the wrestling match takes place in a modern ring with "card girls" and 20th century cars parked in the background; the signs say things like "Open 24 hours"; and everyone hangs out in strip joints and watches nude mud wrestling.

Stir in a bunch of evil dwarves, Halloween-store costumes, and bad guys who talk like Long John Silver. Choreograph some fights, but do not tell the extras which side they are fighting for, nor how to hold their weapons. Add in a bunch of reasonably entertaining lowbrow humor on the same level as Mel Brooks' "When Things Were Rotten". The result: an often hilarious movie, which competes with such classics as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Hell Comes to Frogtown for the honor of being the most genuinely entertaining, yet truly bad movie.

Oh, one thing.

None of these comments apply to the other Deathstalker movies. They kept trying to be serious, and are awful.

I'd suggest it for rental only. There are two serious weaknesses which should prevent you from purchasing the DVD:

  1. Unfortunately, unlike Hell Comes to Frogtown, which is on DVD in a gorgeous widescreen transfer, this puppy is no better than VHS quality, and is too dark.

  2. It's a little light on the nudity, especially among the lead actresses.

Junior's comments in aqua:

I've said it before, but in my mind, no other "genre" of B-movie better represents the 80's straight-to industry than the "Deathstalker" type films. Muscle bound dudes with furry boots and huge swords chasing barely dressed, and often nude busty bimbos. Oh Yeah! I think I'll pull out the "Miami Vice" soundtrack tapes, slick back my hair, put on my aviator shades, and wear my shoes without socks! Personally I miss these films. I'm tired of the modern B plots of masseuses and elite special forces, and gun-toting karate babes. Since the 90's have been about reviving the 70's, hopefully the new millennium will see the return of the me decade. (Actually, I believe the 80's was supposed to be "the Al Franken Decade", but that's another story...)

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Scoopy praised Deathstalker II (1987) as a thoroughly enjoyable, intentionally bad film. I agree completely with the intentionally bad, but did not personally enjoy it. It could be that I was humor challenged today, but I found the dialogue, which would have been more appropriate to a western, annoying. Monique Gabrielle was in nearly every scene  shrieking "Stalker" or "Guards" depending on which persona she was at the moment. They should have had much less screen time for her, or fewer clothes most of the time. A running gag, where everyone she encountered ripped off her clothes, would have helped.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen, dark transfer

  • Full-length director commentary (!!!)

This is one case where I agree with the low IMDB score.

To make matters worse, the DVD is horrid, clearly mastered from a work print. The transfer is filled with scratches, and a lot of dirt and chips. It's also very dark.

Exposure comes from  Monique Gabrielle (T & A), Maria Socas (T&A in flimsy nighty) and several unknowns.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews


The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.7. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is ... well, it depends. If you view it as any legitimate genre, it is an F. However, there are F movies with no entertainment value (Island of the Dead, e.g.), and then there are F movies which are a delight to watch. I consider this in the latter category, which would make it a C+ if you grant "pleasurably bad movies" as a separate genre. (Tuna says: C- for bad movie value, D- for Sword and Sorcery)

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