St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

“The Lords of Magick” (1989)

The Lords of Magick title card

Ye Olde Englishe with American accents! Magic zaps! Medieval twinks! Grown men in nappies! The Lords of Magick has it all. This direct-to-VHS release from 1989 is… puzzling at best. On one hand it’s too racy for kids (you’re gonna see some man-flesh, heads-up), but on the other hand it’s so mind-numbingly stupid that the only adults who could enjoy this were dropped on their heads at a young age. Strap yourself in for some diabolical magick (with a K — it’s like magic, only more edgy).

A computer-generated VHS casette

In case there was any doubt where this came from, it’s a video capture from VHS. This opener is a 100% cast-iron guarantee of GOOD TIMES.

Magick lightning

We open with the Bad Guy, who dresses all in black, has fabulous eyebrows, and does a lot of cackling, as he breaks into a castle and kidnaps a princess. Because we’re all five years old, apparently. He gets to zap a few people along the way with his force lightning and his laser eyes.

Two rather twinky magicians.

Our protagonists, Michael and Ulric Redglen, get stripped shirtless and brought before the king, because that’s the way he likes ’ em. It transpires they’re magicians — sorry, magickians — who are in hot water because they practiced necromancy to bring the king’s suspiciously camp bestie back to life. In exchange for a pardon they promise to save the princess from the evil clutches of whatsisname. The bad guy. Look, I can’t keep up with this shit, let’s just call him Darth Vader.

A badly superimposed face of the bad guy.

The bad guy’s primary magickal ability seems to be superimposing his face on stationary objects. He and everyone else appear to be Americans laying it on a bit thick with the “dost thou” and the “wouldst ye”. Buuuut then I’m a big fan of the 1996 Gulliver’s Travels starring Ted Danson, so I suppose I can’t get up on my high horse about Americans doing the olde timey Englishe.

The Redglens molest a woman in 80s leg warmers.

The magickians track Darth Vader to the present day and start looking for the princess, who’ll they’ll recognize by a birthmark on her tit. So of course they go around molesting every woman they encounter, including the ones in wonderfully ’80s leg-warmers. So these are our good guys now, the rejects from grope-aholics anonymous.

There’s a ton of movies that involve old-timey characters traveling in time to the present day. Off the top of my head, there’s Les Visiteurs (1993), Hocus Pocus (1993), and Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis (1988). All of them are obliged to do That Scene where the old-timey characters see a car for the first time, and Lords of Magick is hands-down the worst. They gloss over some bits, and the bits they do cover are so asinine. This movie just doesn’t seem to know what a joke is. They’re trying to be funny, but it’s like the script was written by a ten-year-old, and not a sophisticated ten-year-old either, one of those Mormon ten-year-olds who’s lived their whole life in a basement in a cult compound where they’re not allowed to eat candy because sugar is an instrument of the devil.

Michael Redglen zaps the bad guys with his hands
Pew pew pew pew!

The magickians get into a scuffle with a gang and bust out some wicked moves. Check out those laser fingers!

Some bozo wearing jorts.

The magickians team up with this modern-day bozo who is entirely naked save for a pair of very tiny jorts. The only thing this movie has going for it may be the amount of man-flesh in it. It is curiously lacking in tits, which is rather a nice change, so maybe there was a gay gaze on the production team that just decided some manly thighs and some hairless chests would give this movie the little frisson it needed.

Darth Vader's mummy.

They find Darth Vader, who has turned into a mummy, but he won’t stay dead for long.

Darth Vader and Ulric Redglen in a mirror.
Don’t forget to pack your ANGRY EYES!

Ulric decides to nab himself a hooker, but while he’s freshening up Darth Vader appears to him in the bathroom mirror and possesses him.

Ulric wearing a nappy.

Ulric then goes to join the hooker in bed, and he decided this ensemble was the sexiest thing he could wear. It’s a nappy. Clearly it’s a nappy. I dunno, maybe he’s into that kind of thing. I’m not here to judge. Oh hell, of course I am, what the actual fuck?? That actor must have felt like a complete berk walking onto the set wearing that.

Darth Vader turns into a tiger.

There’s an epic TEN MINUTE showdown between Michael and Darth Vader with more zaps than you ever could have thought possible. Then Vader turns into a tiger and Michael turns into a bird, and it’s… it’s a lot. You can’t fault them for not being ambitious, I suppose.

The Skinny

A skull with human eyes.

“I’ll tell thee what…”

When I’m watching something bad I’ll usually wonder what could have been done to fix it. Sometimes all you’d need is some editing (usually slashing the runtime of the film) to turn a turkey into something acceptable. This, though… This is a wreckage of a movie. Every aspect of the production is execrable, from the writing to the acting to the direction. I have a huge tolerance for low-budget movies so I’m not here to shit on films for not having any money, but they could have done so much better with what they had. What were they thinking? How did this even get made? Who looked at this and thought, “Aw yeah, nailed it.” It’s stunningly awful, and for that it deserves some points. You think it’s easy to make something this bad? It’s not, and so in its own strange way this stands as a kind of masterpiece of cinematic disasters.