Archive for Barbarian Queen

Sword and Scandal

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , on April 15, 2009 by dcairns


I have an unfortunate habit of saying things when I watch the news. A newsreader was interviewing some “expert” about the legacy of music producer Phil Spektor, in the wake of his conviction for murdering B-movie queen/escort Lana Clarkson by fatal gunshot, and …

NEWSREADER: “What is the sound Phil Spektor will be remembered for?”

ME: “Bang!”

I now apologise for that joke. I actually picked up a Lana Clarkson movie for a pound a while back and was going to review it last summer, but there wasn’t that much to say. BARBARIAN QUEEN, produced by Roger Corman, is so nakedly and unpleasantly bad, not only does it make working as an escort seem like a step up, career-wise, it makes getting shot in the head seem like a step-up, career-wise.

Now I apologise for that joke. 


The fiendish torture device — a glove on a string — which makes no sense and looks like it would be more annoying than agonizing.

BARBARIAN QUEEN is a fairly rancid bit of s&m-inflected sword and sorcery baloney, (slogan: “No man can touch her naked steel.”) shot in Argentina, with American accents all round. The men look and act like bodybuilders, the women look and act like centrefolds. It’s cheap-ish, which is another way of saying that it’s expensive enough to have been good, had script or direction applied the least bit of imagination or sympathy or energy or humour to the creative aspects of the show. Director Hector Olivera apparently served on the jury of the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, which boggles and re-boggles my mind. Hector the director, who displays bare competence in aiming the camera at the action from a distance that roughly makes sense, contributes nothing in the way of artistry or visible enthusiasm to the proceedings. I guess if the movie you’re making is basically rape-revenge, rape-revenge, rape-revenge, that will tend to breed a contempt for the audience. The idea that they might deserve or appreciate anything better than shit might actually seem blasphemous in such circumstances.

(The ever-avuncular Roger Corman, it seems to me, must have a rather more sinister side than appears in public, given the squalid and misogynistic bent displayed in so much of his work from the 80s.)

Clarkson, a 5,11 bombshell known to cliche as statuesque or possibly Amazonian, is a perfectly good actress and gives of her best. She also seems to have been an all-round good person, volunteering weekly at an AIDS charity. It upsets me that she’ll be remembered for BARBARIAN QUEEN and Spektor will be remembered for some of the finest popular music of the sixties. In a well-ordered universe, she would have had his career, or else she would have got to kill him. This just isn’t fair.