Friday, March 23, 2012

War Goddess

Directed by Terence Young.
1973. Rated R, 105 minutes.
Cast:
Alena Johnston
Sabine Sun
Angelo Infante
Rosanna Yanni
Fausto Tozzi
Ángel del Pozo
Lucianna Paluzzi
Rebecca Potok

Every now and then, the search for the terrifically terrible bears fruit. Mind you, it’s rotten fruit but that’s the point. Terence Young’s War Goddess is one such piece of deliciously digusting cinema. Who the hell is Terence Young? I dunno, but he directed and splattered his name across the title. Okay, any of you geniuses that actually know who he is, just play along. Anyhoo, War Goddess is a sword and sandal less-than-epic of the female persuasion. It is about the mythical Amazons, a race of almost entirely self-sufficient warrior women. The way the story shapes up, they’re barely more than a stone’s throw from Ancient Greece. During battle, they dress up like Romans, for some odd reason, and kill a lot of men. In fact, we open on one such battle.


First we see some not-so-gritty battle featuring the ladies slaying random enemy dudes. This culminates in Antiope (Johnston) killing some poor schlub with a sword through the gut. Not content with merely ending the man’s life, she then beheads him. By the way, this is not 300 styled one swipe decapitation. She must hack at this guy’s throat a couple dozen times while conversating with a fellow Amazon. Nice.

Next, we’re treated to a lengthy athletic competition the warrior babes are holding. There’s a little archery, some obstacle course and soon we realize that the winner of this whole thing will get to be queen for the next four years. After eliminating competitors all along the way, the final and deciding event is held. What is it? Wrestling, of course. Our final two ladies, Antiope and her arch-rival Oreitheia (Sun), strip down to just their shoddily made bikini bottoms, oil themselves up and get to grappling. I’m not making this up. Anyhoo, Antiope wins, gets the crown from her predecessor like she just won the Miss America pageant and immediately starts changing rules. She wants to go back to the days of strict discipline and conditioning. She says they’ve gotten soft and fat. Soft? Doesn’t look that way, but okay. Fat? Definitely not. Every one of them that I could see probably went back to their modeling careers after shooting this movie. Just saying.


Earlier, I stated the Amazons are “almost” entirely self-sufficient. Turns out they do need men for one reason, and one reason only: procreation. To that end, they pay the Greek army to come over for a few nights of baby-making. Any male infants are immediately discarded into the wild. Lovely. As part of the new Queen’s strict anti-male policy, the girls recite a chant about how disgusting men are while performing the act. Lo and behold, Queen Antiope goes against her own rules and falls in love with her sperm donor, Theseus (Infante). He’s being all incognito, posing as a captain in the army but he’s really the King of Greece. He wants to integrate men into their society and also falls for her in the process. Almost forgot: he’s married, but his wife is oddly cool with the idea of her hubby going off to use his sword on the Amazons.

Naturally, there’s some betrayal, war games between the Amazons and Greeks and some actual war, too. And just in case the semi-nude wrestling scene at the beginning wasn’t enough, we get a fully buck-nekkid wrasslin’ scene near the end between the same two women. Even better, or worse, depending on your point of view, this fight ends as one has the other pinned and they stare into each other’s eyes, then…BAM, we cut to a scene of the higher up ‘Zons holding a meeting. Our two combatants are holding each other and acting like they’re a little more than friendly all of a sudden. Hmm, something tells me we’re missing some footage here. That’s entirely possible. I neglected to mention that before the movie even starts, an apology flashes across the screen for the poor quality of the print because it was cobbled together from several sources.


If you can’t already tell, WG is bonkers from start to finish. Made during the grindhouse glory days of the 1970s, it has all the tenets of the exploitation genre: unintentional humor, bad dialogue, worse acting, laughable action and never more than a few minutes pass without the appearance of a naked body. Oh, it also has a decidedly anti-feminist ending which is actually a direct contrast with many of the most popular explotation flicks. I don’t know who this Terence Young guy is, but he’s served up a doozy with this one. The name sounds familiar, though. Let’s see what the trusty imdb.com has to say about him. The first thing I notice is that our flick actually has an Italian name: Le guerriere dal seno nudo which literally translates to “The Bare Breasted Warriors”. Makes sense. Woah, woah, woah! Really? In the decade or so prior to this movie, our boy Terence directed three of the most beloved Bond flicks of all time: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965). Wha-wha-what happened? How did he end up doing this schlock? Wow, that’s just icing on a cake that’s so bad it’s awesome!

MY SCORE: -10/10

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