Produced by Roger Corman and directed by Jack Hill (under the pseudonym of Brian Stuart and the last film he's directed to date), 1982's Sorceress follows two twins, Mira and Mara (Leigh Harris and her twin sister Lynette respectively) who, as children, were to be sacrificed to the dark god Caligara, worshipped by their father, Traigon (Roberto Ballesteros), a sorcerer. Before Traigon could off the infant girls, their mother basically kidnaps them and takes them off into the wilderness to learn the art of battle under the tutelage of Krona (Martin LaSalle). As they grow older, and shapelier, they develop a reputation in the area where the locals refer to them as ‘the two who are one' (it seems that they're empaths or something, they can feel what the other twin is experiencing).
Eventually, after an early and entirely unnecessary but no less scintillating skinny dipping scene (that sets the stage for what's to come and quickly establishes the twins' sex appeal), the girls meet up with a barbarian named Erlick (Robert Nelson) and a red haired, bearded Viking type named Valdar (Bruno Rey) who comes complete with a creepy, somewhat dim-witted faun (he looks like the Greek god Pan) named Pando (David Millbern under some really bizarre makeup appliances). Traigon hasn't faded away, however. He knows those girls are still out there and still wants to sacrifice them to Caligara in exchange for evil powers. As he and his minions close in on the group of heroes, the girls frequently get naked, Pando makes for weird comic relief and the battle between good and evil will wage.
Presented here in its longest known form (it runs eighty-two minutes), Sorceress isn't meant to be taken all that seriously. It ups the sexploitation angle inherent in the casting of two twin Playmates by using the empathetic angle… at one point while one of the girls is making sweet love, the other moans and groans and writes around feeling it. The dialogue exchanged between she and her male companions is definitely tongue in cheek and there's a lot of bits and pieces that are equally goofy throughout the movie. Double-entendres are prevalent and there's a very playful tone not only to the way that the characters interact with one another but in the very tone of the movie itself. Don't go into this one expecting dark fantasy or anything all that intense, because you won't get it but if you're in the right frame of mind and can enjoy some sexy ladies, fantastic (if obviously low budget) practical effects work and some fun characters then this movie is a kick.
Brisk in its pacing and ridiculously colorful in its design, this is a gaudy looking film in the best possible way. Colorful costumes are plentiful and the effects work, all pre-CGI era of course, do not lack in charm or creativity. As the movie builds towards its conclusion, Traigon really ups the ante in terms of his efforts to kill off the twins and as such, his use of black magic plays a bigger part in the movie. Before it's all over we will witness our heroes and heroines do battle not only with a Ray Harryhausen inspired army of skeleton soldiers but also a giant flying lion!
All of this gets wrapped up in a score courtesy of James Horner (yes, the same James Horner who won an Oscar for his work on Titanic!) which would seem to borrow liberally from his score for Battle Beyond The Stars made for Corman two years earlier.
Sorceress arrives on Blu-ray in 1.78.1 widescreen in a very nice AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Detail is very strong throughout and the image is quite clean. Grain is obvious in some scenes, as it should be, but outside of a few white specks here and there, there isn't much in the way of print damage to note at all. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, never too pink or too orange, while black levels stay strong. The disc is well authored and there are no obvious problems with either compression artifacts or noise reduction and the image is free of aliasing and edge enhancement. All in all, this is a nicely detailed and very colorful transfer.
The sole audio option on the disc is an English DTS-HD 2.0 track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The quality and clarity of the mix is quite good, with easily discernable dialogue and properly balanced levels. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note and there's an appreciable amount of depth to the more action intensive scenes. There is, however, a slight audio synch issue noticeable throughout the film. Some will be more susceptible to this than others but it's there. Other than that, the audio is fine. According to Scorpion Releasing, they were told by the lab it has to do with bad post dubbing since everyone was dubbed in this film.
The bulk of the extras on the disc is made up of four interviews, the first with the film's producer, Roger Corman, who speaks for roughly six minutes about his involvement on the picture, its merits and both Hill and Wynorski's work. Special effects artist John Carl Buechler spends fifteen minutes in front of the camera talking about his work on the picture, what was involved in some of the more effects intensive scenes and more. Jim Wynorski, no stranger to the Corman barbarian movie universe, talks about writing the picture and how the movie turned out for ten minutes or so while, last but not least, post production supervisor Clark Henderson shares his side of the story in regards to what was involved with putting the movie together in post. Combined, these basically work as one solid featurette detailing the production from a few different angles. The stories told here are pretty amusing but also fairly interesting and they do a fine job of detailing not only the film but the era in which it was made. Although Hill is not interviewed here, his involvement is discussed. Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing properties, static menus and chapter selection.
It might goofy from start to finish but Sorceress remains a really fun mix of Conan The Barbarian inspired sword and sorcery action, gratuitous and completely unnecessary (but wholly welcome) T&A, and cornball comedy. If that sounds like a recipe for a good time at the movies to you, by all means, check it out. The Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing does have a slight audio quirk but the transfer is excellent and the extras are strong. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.