BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Beastmaster: Limited Edition 4K UHD (1982) - Blu-ray Review

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The Beastmaster

Love it, hate it, or just leave this crazy fantasy flick alone, there’s no denying that The Beastmaster, directed by Phantasm’s Don Coscarelli, is a certified home-run when it comes to B-minded sword-and-sorcery romps.  Magnificent muscles?  Check.  Nudity?  Check.  Magic?  Check. Beastly shenanigans? Check.  Cheesy dialogue and effects?  Check and, yes, check.  Ferrets?  Check. 

Wait. What?

"might be all sorts of ooey gooey cheese, but that’s why we continue to love it"


That’s right, thanks to two lovable and thieving ferrets that Dar (an almost convincing Marc Singer) names Kodo and Podo, The Beastmaster goes down in film history as the only Harryhausen-styled epic to star ferrets, who - let’s be incredibly honest here - manage to steal the entire film away from under Singer, a naked Tanya Roberts (who is an incredible vision as she emerges from a crystal clear lake), an eagle named Sharak, and a black panther Dar dubs Ruh.  

And then there’s the diabolical plans of Maax (Rip Torn), whose army of batwing-hatted henchmen destroy Dar’s home, kill his father, and murder his dog, all while being aided by three naked witches or something bizarre like that.  NONE of those performances top the roles the ferrets play in this take-it or leave-it cheesefest that posits Simi Valley and some shoddy-looking models for a Bronze Age backdrop.

But, make no mistake, The Beastmaster is a complete success at what it sets out to do with its fantasy tale and, at the end of the day, the film remains extremely watchable and downright entertaining as Coscarelli and cinematographer John Alcott (Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Terror Train) sell willing audiences a wild narrative that mixes Conan the Barbarian with an element of Dr Doolittle and, truthfully, the duo come out looking like champs alongside Dar himself.  The Beastmaster

Co-starring John Amos (Coming to America), and Rod Loomis (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure), The Beastmaster is a familiar tale of loin-clothed good battling bozo-styled bad that inexplicably works and becomes essential entertainment.  That's right.  I said it, you don't grow up until you get the opportunity to watch Singer fling his father's kapa around a time or two as he finds himself on a path to defeat Maax, who has been plotting this guy's downfall from the very beginning.

You see, Dar should have been killed.  Even before the main adventure unfolds, Maax attempts to thwart his birth and his eventual “beastmaster”telepathy by murdering his parents thanks to a Macbeth-like warning from some shapely witches.  But that attempt at Dar’s life is stopped by a villager (Ben Hammer) who takes the baby and raises him as his own in the village of Emur, which - after a bear showdown to demonstrate Dar’s ability to control animals - is where the violence starts. 

Poor Dar. His journey will take him all across the sands of time until he is face to face with a very paranoid villain.

The Beastmaster continues to engage audiences and, especially for young boys, convince them that they are watching something they shouldn’t be as boobs bounce around freely, a kid is just about tossed into a toasty pit of flames as a sacrifice to a God named Ar as Maax looks on, and the meathead that is Dar battles rather large bats and a crooked crew of green-eyed villains. 

And now, with this release from Vinegar Syndrome, The Beastmaster gets the respect it so richly deserves (although, all those late-night HBO showings helped) courtesy of a complete 4K restoration from a pristine print discovered in the Warner Bros archives.  The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray includes a feature length making-of documentary, a 40-page bound book, and a stunning new case designed by Earl Kess which houses the discs and the book within.

The Beastmaster might be all sorts of ooey gooey cheese, but that’s why we continue to love it.

5/5 beers

The Beastmaster

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
Available on Blu-ray
- November 24, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

When he was a baby, Dar (Marc Singer, TV's 'V') was cursed by an all-powerful wizard named Maax (Rip Torn, Men in Black) to prevent him from rightfully ascending as the leader of his people. But the curse left him with a unique gift: the ability to telepathically communicate with all forms of animal life. But when Maax all but wipes out his tribe leaving Dar to fend for himself, he begins a quest of vengeance, accompanied by his animal friends, to Maax and end his reign of terror and violence. 

Directed by legendary genre filmmaker Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) and co-starring Tanya Roberts (Sheena), John Amos (Coming to America), and Rod Loomis (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure), The Beastmaster is a thrilling mix of fantasy, action, and adventure, with touches of horror. Photographed by Academy Award winning cinematographer John Alcott (Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange) and featuring incredible production design by Conrad Angone, Vinegar Syndrome Ultra brings The Beastmaster to 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray in a brand new 4K restoration!

Video:

Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm interpositive, The Beastmaster looks almost brand new again.  The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is a thing of rugged beauty. Newly restored from its original 35mm camera negative, there is a new depth to much of the film which reveals just how cheap the shoot was. Doesn’t matter, though, this restoration is a thing of beauty.  Black levels are strong, too. Grain has never looked this inviting. The details through this feature are simply scrumptious. From fabrics in the jackets of the actors to the facial imperfections of the football helmets on their heads, this AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) 1080p transfer gets the look right.

Audio:

A DTS-HD Master Mono Audio track provides the only source of sound for all the sword-and-sorcery shenanigans.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is an archival commentary track with Don Coscarelli & Paul Pepperman which is fantastic.

Special Features:

The amount of care and hard work that went into making this release possible is all due to Vinegar Syndrome’s ongoing effort to shower praise on B-grade classics and it shows here with lavish details that one cannot mistake for a money grab.  This is quality work and we love it.  

  • Region Free 4k Ultra HD / Blu-ray combo
  • Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm interpositive
  • 4k UHD presented in HDR
  • Limited edition VSU magnet clasp hard case containing a Slipcover and a 40-page bound book
  • Newly produced multi-part feature length making-of documentary
  • Reversible Blu-ray sleeve cover artwork

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

5/5 stars

The Beastmaster

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
118 mins
Director
: Don Coscarelli
Writer:
Don Coscarelli, Paul Pepperman
Cast:
Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, Rip Torn
Genre
: Adventure/Fantasy
Tagline:
The epic adventure of a new kind of hero.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't move. The beast is fierce. But if we show no fear, we might escape."
Theatrical Distributor:
MGM
Official Site:
Release Date:
Aufust 20, 1982
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 24, 2020.
Synopsis: When he was a baby, Dar (Marc Singer, TV's 'V') was cursed by an all-powerful wizard named Maax (Rip Torn, Men in Black) to prevent him from rightfully ascending as the leader of his people. But the curse left him with a unique gift: the ability to telepathically communicate with all forms of animal life. But when Maax all but wipes out his tribe leaving Dar to fend for himself, he begins a quest of vengeance, accompanied by his animal friends, to Maax and end his reign of terror and violence.

The Beastmaster

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