Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


Cinema Monolith: 6/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 6.1/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4

Released on July 29, 1983
Rated PG
121 minutes

Directed by Peter Yates

Written by Stanford Sherman

Cast: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annis, Alun Armstrong, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Liam Neeson, John Welsh, Graham McGrath, Tony Church, Bernard Archard, Robbie Coltrane, Lindsay Crouse (voice)

It’s not often that I can go into a first-time viewing of an ’80s science fiction film and not know one thing about it—actors, director, screenwriter, subject matter, iconic scenes or shots—but I did just that with Krull, a 1983 sci-fi/fantasy yarn that I’d discovered was a childhood favorite of my blogging friend Stu, over at The Last Picture Blog. His recommendation was convincing enough to prompt me to purchase the film, which for better or worse was paired with Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and available at the suspiciously affordable price of five bucks.

I’d always thought this was some sort of battle-heavy space actioner, with marauding aliens at war with humanoids for no other reason than their time-worn hatred of each other, but this was instead a medieval search-and-rescue tale set entirely upon the scenic, landscaped surface of a peaceful, distant planet. An all-powerful creature known as the Beast lands his tree-stump-like craft on the planet and sends his army of ‘slayers’ to invade a wedding ceremony between the prince and princess of rival kingdoms, whose kings hope to form a friendly alliance. The princess is kidnapped and both kings are killed, leaving the prince to journey to the Fortress and rescue his bride, and defeat the dreaded beast Krull.

Well, wait a minute. After all these years I’d assumed that Krull was the name of the alien overlord, and throughout the film I kept wondering why he was referred to only as the Beast, and nothing more. Was it a plot twist or reveal we’d find out about later in the story? Nope…it took a search on-line for me to discover that Krull was actually the name of the planet! What the hell! And throwing more confusion into the mix was the synopsis on the disc case, which stated, “…where a horrific, omnipotent Beast is the ruler. This is the planet of Krull!” See what I mean? When Zsa Zsa Gabor tells you she rules a planet of women, she doesn’t mean the planet is named Women, for chrissake!

Anyway, beyond that confusing case of misdirection, I will admit that I rather enjoyed the film, in all its cheesy, lame-effects, early-’80s splendor. Yes, the ‘damsel in distress’ storyline is as old as time (and parallels to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were more than obvious), but the romantic in me still got a kick out of watching a guy facing insurmountable odds to save the woman he loves, and doing so amidst the most gorgeous location scenery I’ve ever seen in a film of this type. And though the leads were unknown to me, it was fun to spot a young Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in early supporting roles, and a surprise to find that Peter Yates was the film’s director.

However, at over two hours in length, Krull might’ve benefited from some judicious editing and trimming, making those talky lulls between action scenes less of a slog to get through. Still, I’d say it was more entertaining than most reviews would lead you to believe (I thought the ‘widow of the web’ spider scene was outstanding in so many ways), and worthy of a look if fantasy adventure films are your thing. And of course, no discussion of Krull would be complete without mentioning the mystical Glaive, the boomerang-like weapon with starfish arms and five retractable blades that our prince wields against the Beast. As deadly as it looked, I just wish it was featured more prominently than it was.  (6/10)

18 comments on “Krull

  1. geelw

    Hey, I have that same budget disc, but I got it for Spacehunter (which I saw way back when it was released and liked. I think I saw Krull in a theater as well, but I got more fun out the the silly arcade game than I did the film).


    • Todd B

      I think I skipped Spacehunter when it was first released simply because I wasn’t interested in seeing Molly Ringwald traipsing around the galaxy, but I promise to now give it a look sometime soon. However, I draw the line at watching Ally Sheedy journey to the far side of the sun!


      • geelw

        This was her second film, so she wasn’t yet that John Hughes gal everyone fell head over heels for a year later. That said, her performance is kind of space valley girl with street smarts (space smarts?), but don’t go in expecting anything but a fun flick with some comic overtones and budget effects (but the vehicles are nice and chunky).


      • Todd B

        Well, as long as it’s fun, I’m all for it…and I’m just now finding out that it was originally released in 3-D. Not that it matters to me NOW, but it’s good to know.


  2. The Monolith returns! And with a film I too have ignored all these years but low and behold, it’s on the shelf here in the vault picked up in a lot I purchased last year. Guess I should take the time to give it a go and see if the Liam guy looks like an action hero in the making.


    • Todd B

      I’m back! Just my second review since February…ouch! Looking forward to reading your ‘take’…and seriously, I don’t see that Neeson guy ever going anywhere beyond supporting roles in medieval fantasy films.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dracula

    And I thought the Monolith had collapsed! That last CD made the walls come tumbling down. JCM.


    • Todd B

      I once saw the Journal of Clinical Microbiology live in concert…they opened for Heart at Irvine Meadows.


      • Dracula

        I think their drummer passed away several years ago from Krull disease.


      • Todd B

        Brought on when he was bitten by a giant cave spider.


  4. I’m off the reservation for a few days, World Cup, tears or smiles tomorrow lol.
    I know there’s no interest Stateside hehe. I’ll be back to read this soon, LOVE this film.
    Little titbit, my old man once played golf with a cyclops! Good to see you back posting. 🙂


    • Todd B

      No problem, Mikey…come back and check things out after Colombia takes it all! 😉 And…if your father had bowled with a Krullian king, then I REALLY would’ve been impressed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Krullian King incident was a back street poker game that went extremely aloof, he runs for the door every time it gets mentioned! Back sometime in the early 80’s Bernard Bresslaw turned up at a local golf course with comedian celebrity golfer Jimmy Tarbuck. Dad tells me they had banter and beers after but he might be covering for that infamous poker game!

        Krull has always been a childhood favourite. The sets are divine, especially inside the moving the fortress. Yes totally agree the spider web scene is outstanding. So many British household actors pop up with David Battley (Willy Wonka fame) adding the comic relief and Carry On’s Cyclops Bernard Bresslaw breaking your heart. Freddie Jones and Alun Armstrong are always great and as you say good to see young Neeson and Coltrane.

        It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours but yes sir, it could do with a little snipped off the sides to give it a punch. Yeah it might be cheesy but it has a good heart and Lysette Anthony 80’s hair do is perfect throughout hehe. Great pick and you know what I really fancy watching it again very soon.

        PS haha I don’t believe I ever knew that about the title.


      • Todd B

        Ha, so you thought ‘Krull’ was the name of the villain as well, eh? Thank heavens I’m not alone! Neat story about your dad, too…I’d say Bresslaw’s cyclops character was my favorite in the movie. And I didn’t realize Battley was in Willy Wonka; had to go watch a clip just now to see what part he played. In fact, check out this clip; the ending is worth the price of admission.

        And I actually had written in my notes that Krull ‘had it’s heart in the right place’, but I couldn’t find a good spot for it, so I left it out. Hope to see a review from you sometime soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HAHA that ending of the clip, I wasn’t expecting that at all hehe. He was a brilliant quirky actor. Willy Wonka is one of the sweetest films. We were brought up on everything Roald Dahl.


      • Todd B

        Yeah, that clip must’ve been from the director’s ‘apocalypse cut’! And I’ve read a handful of Dahl’s children’s stories, but I’d have to say his best is the pre-school adventure yarn You Only Live Twice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I never! I never knew Roald Dahl had worked on the Bond screenplay or even that Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dahl did the screenplay for that too. Doesn’t take much to go down the rabbit hole. Thanks for the carrot 🙂


      • Todd B

        See? Visiting the Monolith can be educational as well as entertaining! And…you’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

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Movies Reviewed: 227

From the Monolith: 125

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1920s – 0
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