Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Given the path of his career, it's still difficult for me to imagine a point where anyone saw Peter MacNicol as a potential action star, even one so far in over his head as Galen. In the 1981 fantasy film, MacNicol stars as a sorcerer's apprentice who takes on the responsibility of vanquishing a dragon after his master (Ralph Richardson) is killed. The film, relying on practical effects (including life-size segments of a giant mechanical dragon), the use of version of stop motion known as go motion, and dozens of matte paintings, holds up fairly well today. And the film's dragon remains one of the favorites ever put to film by both fans and other filmmakers, including Guillermo del Toro.

Re-released on DVD and Blu-ray, the film has been remastered. New extras include commentary from director Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro, original screentests, a featurette, and the film's trailer.

We get several aspects of classic horror and fantasy here, including a weapon forged by magic, an evil monster faced in its a dark lair, and the locals sacrificing virgins to the dragon to placate its hunger. MacNicol is an odd choice for hero, but that's the point of the film that also strays away from genre staples going for a grittier and more down-to-earth feel for a fantasy tale. For female characters we get the willful Princess Elspeth (Chloe Salaman) and one of the locals (Caitlin Clarke) who hires the sorcerer while hiding her sex to avoid being fed to the dragon. Although the film lost money during it's initial release, Dragonslayer was a hit with critics and it has continued to build a fan base over the years becoming a cult classic.

[Paramount, $17.99]

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Dragonslayer
  • IMDb: link

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