Clip loaded arrows? Check! Muppet puppets with solid ogre faces? Check! Jack Palance in a low spot taking a solid paycheck? Check! A welcomed but limited use of Patrick Magee (isn’t he always!)? Check! A post-Hammer Shane Bryant saying lines like “I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!” Check! If you were to ask me, and I know you didn’t, Hawk the Slayer checks more boxes of awesomeness than some other sword fantasies of recent years (that’s right, suck it Great House of Lannister).
It would take a NASA scientist with a doctorate in Quantum Theorem to figure out what this movie really is. Is it a sword and sorcery adventure? Is it a Spaghetti Western with axes? Is it an Italian version of Lord of the Rings? Well let me settle this in one simple statement: This movie is the best movie you have ever seen!
When I was eight years old I got a few baby teeth pulled, and going next door to the local drug store to get some baby aspirin, I rummaged through a (wait for it… wait for it…) beautiful filled dump pile of previously viewed VHS movies, fresh off the stores home video rental shelf. In the middle, buried behind a VHS of Telfon and Deadly Prey was the greatest VHS box cover art of all time (I DARE you to deny it!). Immediately I could care less if I was drooling bloody cotton balls from my mouth. As I sat with a bowl of ramen noodles, Hawk the Slayer played on our 1987 box set and I was transported to a different world. A world where the guy from City Slickers was a villain and the Dad from Lost was the hero. What more do I need to sell to you before you stop reading and buy this gem? A small person and a Giant goof with each other over food? Check! A slave master dies from a mace mallet? Check? William Morgan Sheppard? Check (and I mean DOUBLE-CHECK!)
Director Terry Marcel, who went on to give us classics like The Last Seduction II, did a solid job with the direction, especially what he was given. It could not have been easy dealing with Fake swords, puppets, horses, and Jack Palance, but he did, and honestly, create a great Spaghetti Fantasy (he just might have created a whole new genre!). The actors also had a good time and I feel they knew what this was, but I will say even if Palance only did it for the money, he cared enough to give us all the goods, especially slicing bread with a sword!
You can find this little green gem on a very pricey DVD on amazon, streaming services like TUBI, and was even recently riffed by Mike Nelson and the gang as well. There is no Region 1 Blu-ray either as of this posting, but why would you want that! Do what I did. Go get some teeth pulled, whip up some ramen (and yeah, go ahead and drop an egg in there and some spice), and dig through a flea market bin for that clam-shell analog masterpiece. Check!