How many lasers is too many lasers? Well if you’re writer, director, producer, editor and visual effects wizard, David Marsh, then the answer is clearly, “What do you mean by too many lasers?”
THE LORDS OF MAGICK
USA, 1989, David Marsh
Lords of Magick is a fantasy film about two optimistic sorcerer brothers from Ye Olden Times. Ulrich (Mark Gauthier) is brave and experienced in the ways of the world; his brother, Michael (Jarrett Parker) is naïve and pure. You can tell this because Ulrich has a cool sounding name and a beard, and Michael has a nasty blonde curly mop of hair and looks like he only drinks milk. Ulrich teases Michael about his inexperience before taking him to the local ale house to get him drunk and laid. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t follow that route and they just have a good old sing song instead until a gang of army thugs crash the party and arrest them both for witchcraft. Upon being brought to face the King (John Clark), they’re tried for the kidnapping of Princess Luna (Devon Pierce, as Ruth Zakarian).
However, the brothers convince the king that he’s mistaken and that the actual kidnapper was in fact the evil sorcerer Salatin (Brendan Dillon Jr.), who’s travelled through another dimension to hide. The King sends the two inept sorcerers to find Salatin and rescue the princess. So off they go on their adventure, travelling through time and space to… modern day, Los Angeles. **cue a sudden burst of urban funk**
The sudden shift from period piece into fish out of water action comedy was unexpected and briefly supplies some laughs. Naturally the two brothers struggle to adapt to their new surroundings. The local authorities keep trying to arrest them, cars just confuse them and the temptations of women in high-waisted jeans continually lead them into trouble.
Between shouting at cars and attacking an innocent, boom-box listening pedestrian, they find themselves in all kinds of trouble with the police. These confrontations are made all the more amusing that they’re shooting in broad daylight around real pedestrians that have no idea what’s going really going on. To make matters worse, the Princess can only be identified by a birth-mark on her breast which leads to all kinds of insane, blouse-ripping shenanigans involving our heroes and a plethora of innocent women.
Before long they’ve made enemies all over the city but are lucky enough to befriend a novice magician who agrees to escort them around the city and to help them avoid trouble. He’s not very good at this though and the three of them are being attacked by all kinds of stuff including a possessed car and, in one of the film’s best scenes, a zombified army of 80’s punks! During this prolonged battle sequence there are lightning bolts being fired everywhere and there’s even a motorcycle jousting match. It’s too inept to be exciting but this is definitely the kind of crap I love to watch so I was all over it.
After around an hour of this nonsense, everybody agrees that they are getting no closer to rescuing the Princess and decide to split up. Obviously, with the team split up they become vulnerable and, within minutes, Ulrich is seduced by the hookers of LA.
Despite not being impressed by his offer of 12 shillings, a lady agrees to take him home but before he can get laid he is disrupted by a vision of Lord Salatin in the bathroom mirror. In his moment of weakness, he is seduced by the promise of great power to join the evil wizard. As complete 180’s go, this one is as unbelievable as they come but this is a pretty boring movie and now the stage is set for a showdown of epic proportions so I just went with it.
And what a showdown it is. 15 minutes of non-stop shouting, lightning bolts, bizarre green screen effects, fireworks, zombies, hundreds of cardboard boxes and a lifetime’s supply of dry ice as Michael tries to defeat Salatin while defending himself against Evil Ulrich.
Some of the effects work and editing is so bad by this point that I didn’t have a clue what the hell was going on but the sheer ambition and scale of the final battle is as impressive as it is inept. The execution is terrible but it’s still probably the best cinematic wizard battle I’ve seen, if only for the sheer length of it. The dedication to using every bad effect over and over again without any sense of shame is simply wonderful. You won’t care about what’s going on but you will enjoy watching it.
If I could describe The Lords of Magick in word, that word would be “crap”. It’s cheap and poorly written; the acting is atrocious; the soundtrack is mind-numbing; and to cap it off, it lasts for an insane 1 hour and 45 minutes – and it even has the brass balls to tease a sequel during the end credits. So while it provides plenty of laughs, it’s not nearly engaging enough to hold your attention until the end. I’ve watched this twice now and I still can’t figure out why it exists. It isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it’s not far off either.
The Lords of Magick is sadly only available on VHS, and even sadder, it’s not that cheap.