Friday, December 10

Some quick thoughts on Ironmaster (La guerra del ferro - Ironmaster) (1983)

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The elders of a primitive tribe that speak near perfect English wring their hands over who will be the heir to their leadership, either the strong Ala (Sam Pasco) or brash Vood (George Eastman). During a battle with rock slinging mud savages, Vood sees his opportunity to take the reigns by braining the leader with a stone axe. The brutal act is witnessed by Ala who confronts the murderer. In the ensuing fisticuffs, Vood inadvertently kills the oldest member of the tribe and is ran off for his crimes. 

Upon his exile, a great volcano erupts and Vood comes across a crude iron blade from the ashes created from the event. The vengeful mortal realizes he wields the greatest weapon on Earth, conquers his previous tribe, and starts overthrowing all in his wake with the new implement capable of shattering both wood and rock. Ala becomes the new exile and must find a way of stopping Vood, despite befriending a defenseless pacifist clan.

Umberto Lenzi's Ironmaster is awful, even for a cheap sword-and-sandal, but worth seeing for the endearing off-kilter stupidity baked into its era's parasitic Italian cinema. Sam Pasco's Ala, in his only screen credit (outside of gay porn), looks like a bodybuilder version of The Room's Tommy Wiseau with blond locks. Joe D'Amato regular George Eastman as Vood might be featured more here than the hero and wears a horribly unconvincing lion head killed upon first retrieving the blade. Genre scarlets Elvire Audray (Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story) and Pamela Prati star as Ala and Vood's women respectively. Audray exhibits the fact that even neanderthal women wore mascara and lipstick. Prati is sluttier, and even though there's no intentional nudity, she wears such a skimpy halter top that her boobs pop out every time she tries to run (well, prance). There's even an instance of continuity of the actress beginning to run with them bouncing out and later still "revealed" upon reaching her destination. A defeated William Berger appears as the pacifist tribe leader looking a bit like Bruce Glover.

Then there's a bunch of little instances you'd only see in a Lenzi film. The morning after the volcano, Vood digs into what should be molten Earth at ground zero and snatches up the iron hunk that should also be flesh-meltingly searing with all the heat reaction of a freshly toastered Pop Tart. The basic skill of ironwork and sword forging seems "ironed" out literally overnight as Vood's brotherhood cranks them out with the unexplained convenience of modern blacksmith tongs.

The humans battle against groups of hairy man-apes that unfortunately don't wear anything--even underwear. Some grotty cave-dwelling plague victims with open sores also attack Ala and that's about as far as the blood quota pushes aside from a few badly executed slashes. Then there's the requisite stock footage of lava eruptions and high school science class volcano miniature. Guido and Maurizio de Angelis provide an unusually throwaway score with the main theme sounding like a cross between spaghetti western and Egyptian-tinged barbarian dirge. Strangely, the bulk of the feature was shot in Custer State Park in Custer, South Dakota. That explains the inexplicable presence of buffalo herds. Perhaps Lenzi thought the audience would mistake bison for mammoths? Finally, animals lovers be warned, Lenzi can't help himself, a boar and lion appear to have given their lives for this masterpiece.

So Ironmaster definitely doesn't live up to its disproportionately fantastic artwork, when do they ever, but it's good for a chuckle or two. The twenty-five-year-old American National Enterprises/Prism Entertainment VHS is colorful but cropped to full screen from its original 1.85:1 ratio. It's watchable with the compromised framing only evident in a few shots. A good ten minutes of A.N.E. video trailers, including Ironmaster, run before the feature.
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1 comment:

Eerie Erik said...

I have a wierd feeling that I would absolutely love this movie. It is after all kinda hard not to enjoy anything with George Eastman. That picture of him on the back cover alone makes me need to see this.

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