This is, quite possibly, the perfect movie. Not that it’s especially good mind you, in fact quite the opposite. But Krull is the perfect movie in much the same way that watermelon Jolly Ranchers have the perfect flavor: it’s completely unrealistic but very enjoyable if you accept it for what it is.
Line up every cliché from every swashbuckling sci-fi sword-and-sorcery adventure quest fantasy flick and set them to an overeager symphonic score and you’ve got Krull. This movie has it all:
- Swords vs. lasers.
- Two suns, just so you don’t mistake the breathtaking landscape of planet Krull for the Italian Alps.
- A handsome young prince with a persistent grin.
- A cantankerous wiseman.
- A bumbling wizard for comic relief.
- A motley band of likable ruffians with stylish battle axes, to be bumped off one by one throughout the course of their adventures.
- The few ruffians whose names we learn get tragic death scenes and last words, the rest just croak for croaking’s sake. They may as well be wearing red shirts.
- A cyclops.
- A dangerous quest to save a princess, which is in turn made up of no fewer than five mini-quests.
- Hand-animated morphing, circa 1983.
- Efficient expositionary dialogue. You learn everything you need to know in the first seven minutes. After that it’s all about the questing, baby.
- Faceless enemies with bad aim.
- Not only can’t they aim, but they’re easily dispatched by heros (and make a wicked screech when they die).
- Full-scleral contacts.
- Sidekicks galore. Even the sidekicks have sidekicks.
- The consoling phrase “we’re your family now,” a surefire comfort for any child suffering the recent loss of a loved one.
- Stretch pants.
- A giant spider.
- Flying horses. Flying Clydesdales, even.
- A magic shuriken-cum-boomerang, a mythical weapon which can only be wielded by a prophesied warrior (the aforementioned prince, natch).
- He mustn’t use it until the time is right. When is that? “You will know.”
- A vaguely Gigeresque monster in inexplicable soft focus.
- Flames shooting from fingertips. Sweet.
- Rock climbing.
With a menu like that how can you go wrong? Pretty easily, it turns out. Krull flopped at the box office, having the misfortune to release within weeks of “Return of the Jedi” in the summer of 83. It later went into heavy rotation on HBO where I watched it at least twice a week during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, planting Krull firmly in the nostalgia centers of my brain.
In the years hence it has languished in obscurity, all but forgotten by nerdkind. But I sincerely believe this movie deserves cult classic status. Sure it’s hokey and derivative, the special effects are cheesy and dated even by 1983 standards, the performances by the largely unknown cast are shallow and uninspired, and the story is generally plodding and highly predictable. But, come on, it’s got swords and lasers! A giant spider! QUICKSAND! ‘Nuff said.