Deathstalker IV is the startling conclusion to the Deathstalker/Barbarian Queen saga. Deathstalker is played by Rick Hill, reprising the role he helped create. Rick Hill is easily the best Deathstalker in that he can act and shows something akin to (dare I say it) skill when it comes to swordsmanship and fighting. He is also the first Deathstalker since himself in Deathstalker I that is not totally scrawny.
We see the triumphant return of the opening monologue in Deathstalker IV. You know the story: "It was an ancient time of warlords and legend and elves, where evil and pestilence and plague and orcs and wizards, well evil wizards, roamed the countryside feeding off of the fear of the innocent. An evil sorcerer king wizard ruled... etc."
This movie clocks in at about 85 minutes which isn't all that amazing considering that almost the entire movie is made up of cut scenes from the first three Deathstalker movies and the two Barbarian Queen movies. The monologue goes on about a hero and his friend, showing scenes from Deathstalker III. Apparently Deathstalker lent his magical sword (suddenly after four movies it is magical) to his friend (the one with the beard from DS3) and now he wants it back. They also show a cut scene of some warlords burning a hut. It is the hut burning sequence from Barbarian Queen I. I don't think they ever counted on me coming along and watching all these movies twice each within a week. If I hadn't I probably wouldn't have been able to detect this.
So this princess is coming along and she gets attacked by these weird guys who seem to be wearing chewbacca masks. Deathstalker of course pops out from behind a tree and starts being all dashing and clever which mostly involves him calling them "cats." This whole scene is accompanied by probably the most inept Deathstalker soundtrack yet. Somehow I take nothing away from the composers called upon to write a score for a movie like this. I'm sure they get the call from the producers and immediately press the 'record' button as they hang up the phone then power up a Casio keyboard and just start plugging away, fiddling and practising scales until they have about an hour or so of music, then get back to their actual work. Click here to hear the touching "Rape Theme" from Deathstalker IV.
After Deathstalker rescues the princess he takes her into a cave. They begin talking and having a touching moment when all of a sudden a bear pops out from behind a rock and says: "Raaaaaaar! You'll never get our of here!" Then runs out of the cave, knocking over some rocks that seal the cave shut. The amazing thing is that Deathstalker and the girl were in the cave for about three minutes before the bear even did anything. What was he doing? He must have been sitting behind a rock thinking, "Hmmmm. Let's see... I'll start off with 'Raaaar!' that should scare them. Then I'll close with something ominous like 'You'll never get out of here!' Oh boy... Okay, here goes nothing." Click here to hear it for yourself. Deathstalker seems mildly annoyed by this. "Never," as stated by the bear lasts approximately a minute and forty seconds.
It turns out the princess was on her way to see her sister fight in a special tournament. Now that her sister is dead she decides to fight in her place and of course Deathstalker decides to fight as well. The tournament is being held in some beautiful queen's queendom. But they suddenly discover that the queen is making all the fighters drink wine all the time. Deathstalker and the princess are suspicious of the queen and start snooping around to get information about her, the wine and the tournament. In the wild drunken orgy scene that inevitably occurs we see leftover gammorrean guard masks from Deathstalker II being used.
Deathstalker and the princess decide to enlist the help of a straight-edge fighter to help them figure out what the queen's game is. He's not your average barbarian. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, claims he "won't touch mutton," and doesn't rape women... hell he won't even have consentual sex! In a world overrun by barbarians and warlords and legend he sets a moral standard for all to follow.
The princess then tells Deathstalker the story of how her mother and father were killed and she was driven out of her kingdom (presumably the queendom they're in... maybe a different one, who knows?). This story is highlighted with clips from Barbarian Queen II showing Athalia as her mother and the evil king (Athalia's enemy and in no was husband) as the king. Then they show the king fall to the floor with a sword through his chest. Of course, having just seen Barbarian Queen II twice we know that that king took his own life after accidentally killing his own daughter. Of course I guess it could be a different king has the exact same ridiculous fake beard.
They finally get to the bottom of the Queen's savage plot. Her plot is to turn all the fighters into an army of stone soldiers. Most of them are the mercenary type and could probably be convinced to join her otherwise but she elects to forceably enlist them into a much slower army of stone soldiers. Everyone has their preferences.
In the stunning climax we see Deathstalker and the Queen battle inexplicably with magic, mostly forcing each other against walls with invisible magical beams and then making a fire appear in the center of the room. After all this Deathstalker feeds her her own poison and in a rather poetic flash of quality throws a single rose onto her dead stone form.
At long last! A Deathstalker movie cover nearly matches the build of the actor. The conclusion of this series was well worth the wait.
Deathstalker is looking for Aldilar (apparently that guy with the beard from Deathstalker III). But there was no one named Aldilar in DS3, so what gives? Why reuse the footage of the guy with the beard from DS3? Surely this film could just as easily have used the guy with the beard that played Aldilar in this movie for the flashback scene. Or in a worst case scenario they could have found some one else with a beard.
As you can see the match is close but lends a certain amount of confusion to the plot. Now we are left wondering if the hero, Deathstalker, is a liar, has a hazy memory or is just plain crazy.
A Special Relationship
The relationship between Deathstalker and his newest honey is a special one. We've seen Deathstalker with a wide array of different women in the four movies but none has seemed to capture his heart quite like Princess Dionara. The two seem to be going "steady" and are constantly hugging and kissing like a happy couple. Usually Deathstalker has sex with a girl and hangs out with her reluctantly for the rest of the movie and at the end you get the vague impression that they may "live happily ever after" but nothing too strong. In this movie you get the idea that Deathstalker is finally ready to settle down. It's love at first site! After the princess's sister dies she ends up having sex with Deathstalker. Apparently the death of her sister is yesterday's news... or at least earlier the same day's news.
I guess it should be mentioned that Paul and I felt Deathstalker looked a bit like a muscular version of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Regretfully we only noticed this at the end of the fourth movie and therefore missed the opportunity to spend the entire series calling him "Bill Nye the Deathstalking Guy."
In one of the more touching scenes in modern cinematography, Deathstalker has a talk with the princess. He asks her why she wants to compete in the tournament coming up. "I want to fight in the tournament to win," she explains. "What do you want to win?" he asks. "I don't know," she responds. "Whatever the prizes are!"
Click here to hear for yourself.
Strangely throughout the movie there is the appearance of these men with cat heads. They aren't the good guys or the bad guys, they are just a part of society. I estimate that 1/28 people in this movie is on of these creatures. This is alarming because it's the same ratio as in dragonball Z where 1/28 people is just a bear that wears human clothing and works in human society. Is there a connection between the two? I do not know. I simply find the ratio just small enough to be disturbing. If it was 1 : 1 ratio it could be overlooked but 1/28 (or a 1 : 27) ratio of these creatures to humans is just odd. This world must be better than ours. Women couldn't even vote in America until 1920 and they make up 1/2 the population... imagine if there were cat people in America! What would happen? They wouldn't be voting anytime soon, I can tell you that.