The last film of the Ator trilogy (things  get a bit complicated so it can also be considered a third of the quatrology) Ator: The Iron Warrior is what I would consider the most mind boggling of the bunch. While first two films: Ator The Fighting Eagle and Ator: Blade Master  were relatively straight Italo-Sword and Sorcery films (made by Joe D’Amato  just in time to cash in on the whole Conan The Barbarian craze of the 80’s).

D’Amato being a true cinema exploitator in heart  gave up on the further sequels when he found out there will be no Conan 3. So, the third Ator was instead directed by Alfonso Brescia (under the pen name Al Bradley) who changed the direction of the franchise into a more art house and psychedelic territory- sometimes to it’s own detriment.

 

 

Film begins with young Ator playing with his twin brother Trogar (this of course completely contradicts the story of him being adopted as a baby). Trogar ends up kidnapped by an evil redhead witch Phaedra. Now, next thing we know Phaedra ends up imprisoned for her crimes (I’m guessing not just the kidnapping because they sentence her to 18 years).  Also sorcerers hold her in a hula-hoop shape prison while they announce their verdict. I guess magic hula- hoop is the only way to contain a powerful witch (you learn something new every day).

This looks suspiciously like a 80’s synth- pop video!

Now, from the exchange between Phaedra and the good witch Deeva (black lady with a giant hair, previously seen in The New Barbarians) we learn that one of the twins was prophesied to protect the future of newborn princess Janna (so Sleeping Beauty kind of a deal?)  Anyway, 18 years later Phaedra returns without an ability to kill but with a mysterious warrior dressed in red and black with a metallic skull mask to do her biding. Who could that be? I wonder…

Once released Phaedra‘s fist order of business is to destroy the life of the young princes (Savina Gersak, a famous Yugoslav actress at a time) as much as she can. I also noticed that princess has one eyebrow colored in red– I guess that was the style at a time? She starts by making a scene in the court and the princess even treats her kindly! That doesn’t really stop her thou. Iron Warrior makes an epic entrance and starts destroying everything and everyone on his way. Princess somehow manages to run away but the King ends up speared six ways ’till Sunday.

 

 

Ator ( now with a darker and braided hair and wearing something that looks like a medieval version of a Mad Max costume) aimlessly wandering the lands  finds Princess Janna and saves her form the evil dwarf- like creatures  and confronts the mysterious Iron Warrior for the first time. Fight ends in a draw.  He decides to help Janna defeat Pheodra and regain her rightful place in the kingdom. Phaedra keeps performing her tricks like placing an impostor claiming to be Janna’s father, the deceased King or trapping them in a haunted castle.

I especially like the part when he throws a spear at him, and he catches it and throws it back…

Eventually Ator and Janna manage to find sorceress Deeva in her cave and she sends them to an island that has risen from the waves. There they must locate a gold chest, but Phaedra tricks Deeva, imprisons her and  then takes her place. Two of them don’t really figure out the switcheroo, at least not in time.  When Ator finally figures out that something is terribly wrong he goes on offensive and kills almost the whole army of the Kingdom. Witch just keeps pranking him and after his mighty sword proves ineffectual he decides to switch things up and sticks a torch in her mouth!? Didn’t see that one coming!

Take that you evil witch!

Now, when it seems that he finally saved the day Ator frees Princess Janna (yes, she has a habit of being captured all the time ), and she hugs him but then she does that evil stare into the camera, like she is possessed or something. That kind of faux- horror ending just seems out of place in a story like this.

She’s evil, EVIL!

Verdict: Now what Brescia does manage to achieve is the strange dreamlike atmosphere that is omnipresent in the whole movie . And it’s usage of strange angles and  frequent use of  slowmotion are somewhat ahead of time. Unfortunately, bizarre editing will often leave you scratching your head wandering what the hell just happened so any moments of actual excitement are few and far between.

Aftermath: D’Amato was by all accounts displeased how Ator 3 turned out and he publicly said that he doesn’t consider it a part of the series. So he personally took back reigns with the Ator 4 aka Son of Ator aka  Quest for the Mighty Sword and that movie is fascinating story all by itself. Noted for the absence of series lead Milles O’Keefe (replaced by his “son”, burly Eric Allan Kramer) but also for it’s usage of a Hobgoblin costume taken directly from the set of the infamous Troll 2! If fact that prompted the movie to be released as Troll 3 in Germany making it unlikely sequel of two different franchises! You don’t see that happening every day.

This will show everybody!

Thanks and acknowledgments: This is dedicated to our German friend who keeps reading and supporting (especially our Sword and Sorcery posts), people like you make it all worthwhile.

 

 

 

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