The Big List of 1980s Barbarian & Fantasy Movies

December 23, 2011

Dim the lights, please…

(This post is mostly just a list. Want some recommendations?  Check out my post about The Most Interesting 1980s Fantasy Movies in the World.)

This blog is about fantasy jungles and I’ve posted about many jungle movies from the 80s, but hardly any fantasy flicks from the same era.  I’ve decided to fix this problem with this one long post about fantasy movies from that legendary decade, and a few from the late 70s and early 90s.

It’s called the “Big” list instead of the “Master” list because there are so many obscure and foreign fantasy movies that I’ve never heard of and will likely never watch.  Some on this big list are also in the science fantasy or post-apocalypse genres, but with definite fantasy elements.  There’s probably some borderline and multi-genre movies that I’ve missed and some I’ve left off on purpose, such as the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies.

Warning…many of the movies listed hear are low-grade trash and so-bad-they-are-funny.  They may be stupid, but “we can laugh as we watch it and appreciate its existence as a cultural artifact.”

To make the list a little more useful, I’ve divided it into sub-categories to show the chronology and relationships between them.  The first couple categories dip back into the 70s.  Prior to these, worthwhile fantasy cinema was mostly limited to Harryhausen, Fantasia, Wizard of Oz, and a few others.  In that sense, these were a prelude to the tidal wave of fantasy movies that were to come in the 80s.  First up are Terry Gilliam’s dragon comedies…

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
  • Jabberwocky (1977)

The next category consists of animated features that bridge the gap between what came before and what came after…

  • Wizards (1977)
  • The Hobbit (1977)
  • Lord of the Rings (1978)
  • The Return of the King (1980)
  • Heavy Metal (1981)

The “Why did they choose such puny and dorky-looking actor to play the leading dude?” category.  Nonetheless, I like these…

  • Excalibur (1981)
  • Dragonslayer (1981)
  • The Sword & the Sorcerer (1982)

The dragon slayer looks like Richard Simmons

The “It’s all about the ranged weapons” category…

  • Hawk the Slayer (1981)
  • The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (aka The Archer and the Sorceress) (1981)

The “Gosh, they’re big.  Are they real?  I’m talking about the monsters, of course” category…

  • Clash of the Titans (1981)
  • Sorceress (1982)

The missing link is…

  • Quest for Fire (1981) is a pre-Conan the Barbarian caveman movie without the brawny barbarian conventions, so I’ve included it here instead of in the caveman/barbarian section below.  It has a sense of realism that almost removes it from the fantasy genre altogether.  But I saw it reviewed in an old fantasy gaming magazine one time, so it’s worth mentioning here.  I’m not including Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) on this list, though.  Sorry.

That brings us to the vanguard of barbarian cinema…

  • Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  • Conan the Destroyer (1984)

It’s good to be king

( This list will now go off on a barbarian tangent for awhile, and return to “other fantasy” further down the post.)

The original Conan movie is the main reason why many of the following movies exist.  A direct descendant is She, starring Sandahl Bergman, co-star of the original Conan.  Very little, if anything, to do with the H. Rider Haggard book, but great stupid post-apocalypse fun and it kicks off a category of barbarian movies with women as the primary protagonists…

  • She (1982 in the UK, 1985 in the US)
  • Hundra (1983)
  • Red Sonja (1985)
  • The Sisterhood (1988)  (The closest Cirio Santiago came to a barbarian movie, previous mentioned here)

Those four are the halfway decent entries in the “barbarian women” category.  Hundra probably deserves to be placed in the next category, but the Ennio Morricone score and the bull-worshipping cult keeps it up here with the big girls.  The next four are the regrettable “barbarian women” movies, though they have their moments…

  • Amazons (1986)
  • Golden Temple Amazons (1986)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Barbarian Queen 2 (1992)

The following movies straddle the line between the caveman and barbarian genres, but what’s the difference?  What is it about 1983?

  • Yor, the Hunter from the Future(1983)
  • Ironmaster (1983)
  • Thor the Conqueror (1983)
  • Conquest (1983)

Yor lands a critical on the Darth Vader-esque minion.

There are several series that are categories of their own and extended into the 90s…

  • Deathstalker (1983)
  • Deathstalker 2 (1987)
  • Deathstalker 3 (1988)
  • Deathstalker 4 (1991)
  • Beastmaster (1982)
  • Beastmaster 2 (1991)
  • Beastmaster 3 (1996)
  • Gor (1987)
  • Outlaw of Gor (1989)

And one last series:  The Ator trilogy starring Miles O’Keefe.  These are some of the best Italian movies in the genre, and by “best Italian movies” I mean “laughably bad but strangely fun”…

  • Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982)
  • The Blade Master (1984)
  • Iron Warrior (1987)

Here’s the bottom of the barbarian barrel.  Three Italian jobs starring Sabrina Siani and Pietro Torrisi…

  • The Invincible Barbarian (aka Gunan, King of the Barbarians) (1982)
  • Barbarian Master (aka The Sword of the Barbarians, aka Sangraal, la spada di fuoco) (1982)
  • Throne of Fire (aka Il trono di fuoco) (1983)

These three are pretty bad and only for completists, stalkers, and cultists.  Here’s why:  Perhaps the only reason to watch them is Sabrina Siani.  S. S. is the feisty small-chested swordskitty in a genre that typically features double-Ds.  She was also in a couple movies listed previously, Conquest and Ator, the Fighting Eagle, which I’d recommend over these three Siani/Torrisi flicks. (Throne of Fire is very interesting though!)

Watch Ator if you want to see the “best” fantasy movie in which you can see Siani’s golden locks.  Ator, the dude, is sporting an impressive mane too.

Watch Conquest if you’re mostly interested in Siani’s boobs and don’t care to see her head, as it’s covered in a Destro mask the entire time.

The “Barbarians come to a city near you” category…

  • Highlander (1986)
  • Masters of the Universe (1987)
  • Time Barbarians (1990)

Some more barbarian movies that don’t fit into the above categories…

  • Fire and Ice (1983)  Bakshi is back, and he’s brought Frazetta.  Nice jungle…previously mentioned here.
  • Revenge of the Barbarians (aka When the Raven Flies) (1984) is more of a viking drama than a barbarian action flick, but it has “barbarians” in the title so here it is.  Other Viking/Norse movies to be aware of from this era are The Norseman (1978),  Pathfinder (1987) (not to be confused with Nispel’s Pathfinder from 2007) and Erik the Viking (1989).
  • The Warrior & The Sorceress (1984)
  • Altar (1985)  “The Turkish Conan”
  • The Barbarians (1987)
  • Quest for the Mighty Sword (aka Ator IV, aka The Hobgoblin) (1990) is the lost fourth installment of the Ator series, but it doesn’t count because Miles O’Keefe is nowhere to be found.

Now let’s return to fantasy movies outside the barbarian sub-genre…

The “Is it D&D?  Nope” category.  Many gamers dislike Mazes and Monsters but it’s far-out entertainment to me.  Check out the Mazes and Monsters Retro Clone RPG at the Blog of Holding.

  • Mazes and Monsters (1982)
  • The Dungeonmaster (aka Ragewar) (1984)

The “Castles and Aliens” category…

  • Krull (1983)
  • Star Knight (aka El caballero del dragón) (1985)  Klaus Kinski alert!

Krull has some excellent visuals, especially in the Black Fortress

The “Rutger Hauer with a sword and a castle and a blonde” category…

  • Flesh+Blood (1985)
  • Ladyhawke (1985)

The “Fairy Tales and Romance and such” category…

  • Hearts and Armour (1983)
  • Legend (1985)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)

Every decade sees the release of at least a couple dreadful movies connected to the Arthurian legends.  Excalibur was previously listed and is pretty good.  Sword of the Valiant is ok, but some of those later ones are unwatchable…

  • Sword of the Valiant (1984)
  • Merlin and the Sword (1985)
  • Merlin of the Crystal Cave (1991)

The “Terry Gilliam 80s fantasy” category.  Brazil may be too much in the sci-fi future genre to truly fit here, but it would be hard to leave it off a list of “Terry Gilliam 80s fantasy” movies…

  • Time Bandits (1981)
  • Brazil (1985)
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

The “Little People” category isn’t very big…

  • Willow (1988)

Hmmm, it could be argued that Willow is a “barbarian movie”, but I don’t think of it as one

Though most 80s fantasy movies are entirely juvenile in a sense, some were made specifically with an eye towards a younger audience.  There’s some animated features…

  • Faeries (1981)  I had never heard of this before Jeff Rients recommended it be listed here.  Watch all 24 minutes of it on youtube.
  • The Secret of NIMH (1982)
  • The Last Unicorn (1982)
  • The Flight of Dragons (1982 in UK, 1986 in US)
  • The Black Cauldron (1985)

…and some “into the land of make believe” movies…

  • The NeverEnding Story (1984)
  • The NeverEnding Story 2 (1990)
  • Mio in the Land of Faraway (1987)

…and a couple of made-for-TV Star Wars specials with a strong science fantasy feel to them…

  • Caravan of Courage (1984)
  • The Battle for Endor (1985)

…and some kids movies that took footage from non-kids movies…

  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989)

…and a couple Jim Henson productions…

  • The Dark Crystal (1982)
  • Labyrinth (1986)

I like the look of this jungle in Dark Crystal

David Bowie is the ultimate Labyrinth Lord

There’s also a slew of 1980s Asian productions that have fantasy elements, but I don’t know much about them.  Maybe someone more knowledgeable about these can list some in the comments.  Some that I’ve seen are Zu Warriors of Magic Mountain (1983), Duel to the Death (1983), and Burning Paradise in Hell (1994).  Some anime also fits here, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Record of Lodoss War (1990), and Ninja Scroll (1993), but again that’s not an area that I have watched much of, so will leave it for others to examine more thoroughly.

Some late additions to the list:

  • The Dark Planet (1989) by Richard Corben
  • A Nymphiod Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990)
  • Lords of Magick (1989)
  • Lionheart: the Children’s Crusade (1987)

Also, I was completely unaware that Lou Ferigno was anything other than Hulk:

  • Hercules (1983)
  • Adventures of Hercules II (1985)
  • Sinbad of the Seven seas (1989)

Know of any 80s fantasy movies that I’ve missed?  Let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

59 Responses to “The Big List of 1980s Barbarian & Fantasy Movies”

  1. Excellent list. I kept scrolling looking for Krull. Lord, the impact that movie had on my DM.

    I’m going to put a link up for this page on Eternal Keep for folks stuck without a game that was planned. Let them indulge in some guilty pleasures to assuage their loss of game play for the evening. 🙂

    Happy Hollerdays!

  2. jrients said

    I see you’re willing to go into the 90’s here and there. I feel like as a D&D type resource you should list at least 2 movies from the 70s: Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Jabberwocky. Also the short (30 min IIRC) 1981 CBS cartoon special Faeries should be listed with Last Unicorn, Flight of Dragons, etc.

    • dpbrandt said

      Good call on those 70s movies. I originally left them off because they were too early, but they make for a good “prelude” category, like the animation category. And Holy Grail’s 1974 release date is a nice coincidence with the debut of D&D. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. […] That sums up the movie well.  Of course, it’s all about the treasure.  The jungle and caves were ok, but the real highlight of the movie is the grating music and grunting jungle natives.  There’s even a High Priest and Priestess that shoot lightning from their hands.  A borderline candidate for inclusion on the Big List of 1980s Fantasy Movies. […]

  4. […] is a borderline candidate for inclusion as a precursor on the Big List of 1980′s Fantasy Movies.  Most of the “natives” in this one are samurai ghouls led by a green-skinned tyrant […]

  5. […] borderline candidate for inclusion on the Big List of 1980s Fantasy Movies […]

  6. Ken said

    Great list of movies here. Brings back a lot of good memories. I remember watching all of these movies!

  7. Conan was my favorite Barbarian of all times, hands down!

  8. Willow was too nice to be considered a Barbarian movie

  9. Yea, but willow was without a doubt a barbarian in terms of being from the wild. Doesn’t matter what you say.

  10. […] watch this first? It’s the most like a 1980′s barbarian fantasy movie, until the women find the “war wagon” in the tech weapon […]

  11. “The Big List of 1980s Barbarian & Fantasy Movies Fire in the Jungle” was indeed a
    remarkable posting. In case it had a lot more pics this would
    definitely be quite possibly better. Cya -Andra

  12. Hey man awesome list. I’m trying to find a “barbarian” themed movie i saw when i was a kid (in the 80s). The only specific thing i remember though, was a part where the hero and his “girlfriend” are trapped laying on top of each other on a kind of a table, pinned down (like a sandwich) by a giant pointy thing. He’s on top of her and the giant pointy steel thing is pressed against his back, thus pinning them both down. Does this ring any bells?

    Cheers

    • dpbrandt said

      Hullo, thanks for stopping by. I think the movie you are looking for is The Invincible Barbarian (aka Gunan, King of the Barbarians) (1982). Easily the best scene in the movie!

  13. Anonymous said

    You rule. Thank you.

  14. […] “The Big List of 1980s Barbarian & Fantasy Movies” is the most popular post on this blog.  It’s just a list with very little commentary, so I figured it was time to recommend a few. […]

  15. Anonymous said

    Thanks for the list..I’m searching for movie where the heroes using a magic bow and shoot a magic arrow..I don’t know the name of the movie..I think the movie was from 1980s. Thanks…

  16. frank said

    I heard about a movie from a friend. He said the title was something like anna, queen of knives. I`ve searched for it without any success. Have you heard of it?

  17. C G said

    1978’s “The Norseman” comes to mind. 11th c. Vikings go to North America and tangle with the natives. Fun fact: From the same tiny firm that produced The Legend of Boggy Creek http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078007/

  18. Bradford said

    You left that early 80’s barbarian movie were in the beggining this bad guy raids a village then cuts this pregnut woman’s stomach. That lady has 2 sons who try to get revenge(one blonde hair brother and one dark hair) black hair brother tries to go after the bad guy and his army and get his head cut off and put on a pig pull and other brother finds his head on it and cries. Then gets revenge and kills the bad dude with the long hair and mustache. Crapy sword also

  19. Maybe someone can help me,i was looking for a (maybe, i can’t remember, 80’s movie)
    Is about knights, and battles among them.
    I really don’t remember anything about the story, but what i remember very well, is that some character looks for a magic Jewel (or Stone) which when you put it in the mouth turns you invisible.
    I also kind of remember that the stone/jewel is found on a statue’s mouth

    thannk you 🙂

  20. […] File Name : The big list of 1980s barbarian & fantasy movies | fire in Source : fireinthejungle.wordpress.com Download : The big list of 1980s barbarian & fantasy movies | fire in […]

  21. i noticed you did not have legend there

  22. Big D said

    That’s about as comprehensive a list as I’ve ever seen. There’s about a dozen there i need to track down and see. Thanks

  23. me said

    I think you missed “wizards of the demon sword” but it’s from 1990 , “ironmaster” a caveman film, “tunka el guerrero”.

    Maybe also Golok Setan it’s Indonesian but maybe too much martial arts? There is definitely the “conan” influence though.

  24. Maalstrom said

    Hi Thanks for the list – brings back many fond memories – I’m trying to find out the name of a fantasyesque film that I can;t remember the name of – it wasn’t good but was brilliantly awful and it’s driving me potty. The plot was about two twin sisters separated but rejoined later on in the film and who had a sword fight towards the end whilst linking arms. I think the phrase “we are the two who are as one” or something equally awful was proclaimed. If anyone can advise I’d be very grateful.

  25. Tim said

    I’m looking for a movie where the bad guy takes the castle, the princess hires a swordsman (and his team) to get it back, and his payment is 1 night with the princess (which naturally offends her until the end). That’s all I remember. Does that ring any bells?

  26. Jerky Pants said

    Circle of Iron

  27. Lisa said

    I’m just going to put this out there in hopes someone can help. I’ve been trying to find a movie (possibly TV movie) from the late 70’s/early 80’s. I believe the main character is a woman, and she rides a beast (possibly dinosaur). I don’t remember the plot, but there is a scene where she fights another person in a cave. There is snow, and I believe the movie is her first name. She wears furs. I know it’s not a lot to go on, but I know it’s not any of the Conans, Red Sonja, Sorceress, etc. I’ve searched so many titles, (even Nympho Barbarian bla bla who rides dinosaurs, which it’s not). Help help HELP! It’s so obscure, but I remember watching it on Betamax along with Supergirl and The Dark Crystal, so I know the time period is right. All suggestions are welcome!

      • Lisa said

        Not Hundra 😦

        I’ve been thinking more about it, and I think she could have been caveman/barbarian cross. I’ve been racking my brain about what I can remember. I definitely remember the fight in the cave, with another woman. Im pretty sure she wore bones, or a bone necklace. I don’t remember any blatant nudity, because I would have been between 5-7 when I watched it. And it was a movie I watched everyday on a loop with Supergirl. And I think the movie was the woman’s name, or that she was maybe a princess or queen? It would be nice if I could remember more of the plot, beast-riding-princess-cave-woman-in-the-snow-and-caves isn’t very helpful LOL. I’ve gone through list after list, and watched trailers of every movie listed on racked and IMDb and wiki, I’m almost 100% certain it wasn’t a theater released movie…it’s becoming a mild obsession at this point. But every suggestion is still welcome.

    • nimravidae said

      I’m not sure if it fits your description precisely but have you checked out Clan of the Cave Bear? The main character is a orphaned cro-magnon girl named Ayla. She’s trying to fit in with a neanderthal clan and has to fight to establish her place among them. I vaguely remember more details that seem to line up… something-something about interacting with a huge predator, feuding with the clan leader, wandering around the mountains in furs?? Not sure, my brain might just be optimistically filling in the blanks at this point, haha. Anyway this movie tries to do more of a Quest For Fire thing and aims for speculation rather than pure fantasy, but it definitely has the feel of a cheesy, dramatic barbarian movie sometimes!

      • Lisa said

        Darn, no. That one stars Daryl Hannah. Thanks for the suggestion though! I’m still searching, and starting to wonder if it was a made for tv movie that happened to get taped when vhs first made a debut. It’s been a frustrating search LOL

      • nimravidae said

        FFFF, curses! Well, the quest continues but you’ll track it down someday!

      • Lisa said

        At this point I’ll project it on a loop on my grave if I ever do find it! Sheesh!

  28. Greg said

    I’m looking for the movie with the berserkers

  29. Anonymous said

    im looking for a movie where it kinda reminds u of a barbarian conon type hero w blond hair, he has to undergo three trials one where he fights these cave people (?) kinda reminds me of tribal people he easily challgenes leader he wins laugh at them and gets info and leaves, he then meets a man in a boiling pot in the middle of desert and he laughs at him and leaves as well then he meets a blind man whom teaches him not to ask so many questions or something hahah he finally finds the guy hes looking for he has him stay the night w this woman who seduces him and he wakes up to her crucified hahah can anyone help?

  30. Shane said

    Im trying to find an older warrior-barbarian style movie from the early 80s that had a green guy who wore a vest and I recall him pouring gun powder from a leather pouch.
    Seems like he was assisting the main character…
    Does this ring a bell to anyone.
    Seems only my brother and I have seen this film when we were young.

  31. nico said

    trying to remember a barbarian movie from the 80’s or so. it wasnt really a classic but i liked it when i was young. used to watch withy classmates. title is “Barbarian Revenge” or so. stars three good guys, a giant, one who could turn into fire or he cd get into fire without getting hurt and the turn was good with water or so not really sure. they rode on horses. I know my clues are not enough but wd appreciate if u helped me out. please help me.

  32. Jeremy Giddings said

    Nice list. Looking for a movie from my childhood. Might have watched it on The Sammy Terry show. I remember a magical sword with 3 blades. The extra blades were used as projectile weapons. And maybe a sorcerer with reptilian features. Any ideas?

  33. Jason Tremper said

    I am looking for a movie that has a character who i think was green and used a large blowgun or something to shoot these red pods. I wish i had more information.

  34. i am looking for a movie in which hero acts as one eyed, female lead will easily falls asleep and wakes up only if someone touches her

  35. Ryan said

    Hi! I found my way to your site as i was trying to find an 80s fantasy film. I only have vague memories of it but what i remember is that it had a sorceress and she had this power where she is able to capture the face of young men and put them on her bed’s headboard which had a lot of faces. I hope you can help me identify this movie. Thanks!

  36. Jedispawn said

    Tales of Narnia BBC

  37. john said

    I’m looking for a barbarian type movie, possibly mid-80s to early 90s where the hero fights some sort of dragon or snake-like creature.
    The fight takes place somewhere underground in a mazy cave.
    The hero manages to hide in a hole in the ground, while the dragon / snake pursues him.
    As the creature passes him overhead, he slits open its belly and i believe there was a decent amount of gore and guts involved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s