The Beastmaster (Big Sky Video) (1982)
Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Animation
Audio Commentary-Don Coscarelli (Director) & Producer (Paul Pepperman)
Gallery-Photo-Production Stills; Behind The Scenes
Gallery-Original Production Art; Posters & Advertising
|Year Of Production||1982|
|Running Time||113:34 (Case: 116)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (66:04)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Don Coscarelli|
Big Sky Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The story follows Dar (Mark Singer), the son of King Zed, and heir to the throne. Dar has a difficult start to life, being ripped from the belly of his mother by an evil witch in the service of the dark priest Maax - pronounced May-Ax - (Rip Torn sporting a large prosthetic nose) and placed in the womb of a cow. Rescued just short of being sacrificed, Dar is raised in a far-off village, never knowing of his heritage. As he grows, he finds that he has an uncanny ability to see through the eyes, and control the thoughts, of animals. When his village is completely destroyed by the barbarian horde - the Juns - and everyone killed (well, apart from him of course), he sets out for bloody revenge, and picks up his trusty travelling companions along the way - two ferrets, a black lion, and an eagle. During his travels he meets the lovely Kiri (Tanya Roberts), and his fighting accomplices Seth (John Amos) and Tal (Josh Milrad).
The Beastmaster is obviously B-grade, but it lacks a lot of the corniness associated with other B-grade fare while at the same time managing not to take itself so seriously as to become pretentious. The feel and effect of the film, all achieved for a budget of $4.5 million US - small even in 1982 - is remarkably epic. This is helped by an almost universally successful use of sets and special effects. There are a few effects that are, shall we say, not too good, but in general the achievement for the age of the film, and its budget, is exceptional. The sets are huge and really help add a presence to the movie - a feeling that the environments are really there, not just propped up for the time it takes to get the shot.
The performances are probably the weakest aspect of The Beastmaster. Mark Singer is definitely not the greatest of actors, while in other circles it has been said that the entire film was created around how good Tanya Roberts looked in a loin-cloth, although she at least displays more than one emotion. Rip Torn seems to be enjoying him self as the evil Maax, and John Amos is good value as the mentor to kings, Seth. One of the classic lines of cinema is "never work with children or animals", and while there are no pesky little kids to be found here, there are a large number of animals. Almost all the animals pull off their roles without fault, which is an extremely impressive effort when it is taken into account that most of the animals used were not trainable, and were simply acting to "find the food" prompts.
The Beastmaster is a cult classic. It will never have the following or appeal of the more well-known (and better) Conan: The Barbarian, nor the ready audience afforded Lord Of The Rings, but for those who find its charms sufficient, it will bring a consistent smile.
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
Sharpness is extremely variable, with some shots being nicely sharp and well defined, while others are very soft. Complicating the issue, there is a very large helping of grain with this movie, and while it is usually kept in check, there are occasions when it goes through the roof. Easily the worst instance is the first one, from 10:54 to 11:04, but there are a number of other bad instances. Shadow detail is not as variable - being quite consistently poor. It is occasionally difficult to make out action in the dark as any of the areas away from the light are simply swallowed by shadow. There is no low level noise.
Colours are a little washed out, tending towards the orange, but given that the movie was filmed in the desert during the day, and almost exclusively by firelight at night, the sandy hues are quite reasonable.
Compression artefacts are rarely a problem, with the only real issue created by the extreme grain from 10:54 to 11:04 where the grain causes severe pixelisation, but this is not really the fault of the compression. One advantage of the overall softness of the image is that there is absolutely no aliasing at all, leaving all straight lines free of the dreaded "jaggies". Film artefacts are another matter, however, appearing constantly, and often quite obviously (such as from 88:53 to 88:55, and at 58:00). They can be distracting at times, but again they are down to the obviously poor state of the source material. It is just a shame that economies of scale (this movie is never going to be a best-seller) will keep this sort of film from ever undergoing a full restoration.
The subtitles are generally accurate, well paced, and easy to read.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 66:04 between chapters 16 and 17. While not placed as well as could be, it doesn't break any dialogue, and is good enough.
There are two audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 5.0 (also at 448 Kbps).
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, which is an especially good effort given the age and nature of the film. Audio sync is generally good, although there are a few occasions, such as at 3:16, when it becomes a little suspect. These are few and far between, and pose no distraction.
The score is credited to Lee Holdridge, and is a solid, if not spectacular, effort. It is well suited to the setting and genre of the film, but does seem to be limited in scope, consisting of only a few themes repeated often enough to make them familiar after only one viewing.
Surround presence is actually quite good, delivering a number of directional effects, as well as consistently carrying the score. They even get used on occasion for ambient noise.
The subwoofer is not quite so well supported, with the soundtrack lacking bass in general, although it still gets enough information to rumble along thanks to the score.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is good for the age and genre of the film - which means that compared to recent films it is quite poor, but is still very watchable.
The audio quality is extremely good, presenting a wide soundstage, and making use of many directional surround effects.
The extras, although a little limited, are still extremely good for the low-profile nature of the film. They are interesting, and the commentary is one of the best out there.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)|