1982 - 83m.
I thought this one was a sure thing. A script by Jim Wynorski, effects by John Carl Buechler, Jack Hill at the helm, and scantily-clad blonde twins in the lead roles of a New World picture should equal one of the greatest cult movies ever made but sometimes even the best ingredients do not make a delicious meal. In the case of this movie, something was clearly missing... a budget. Although Hill was used to working on a shoestring, the sword and sorcery subgenre generally works better when there is some money thrown at it. The way that low-budget filmmakers could get around this was either by downplaying the sorcery (Barbarian Queen) or having a charming lead character (Deathstalker, The Sword and the Sorcerer). Sorceress doesn't follow these suggestions and ends up being more like Lucio Fulci's Conquest than the pinnacle of the subgenre that I was expecting.
The movie opens with an evil sorcerer name Traigon (Roberto Ballesteros) on the hunt for his firstborn child that he must sacrifice to maintain his power. It turns out that he has twin daughters and they are rescued by a good sorcerer named Krona who pledges to take care of the children and turn them into great warriors. Traigon disappears but promises to reemerge in the future. Time passes and the twins (Leigh and Lynette Harris) are now beautiful young women and are introduced bathing naked in a lake. They have been sheltered in the care of a farmer and believe that they are men so they do not understand why a pervy satyr who is spying on them has a third "horn" between his legs. Traigon's men show up and we learn that the girls indeed have learned some sick fighting skills but hit the road when their home and caregivers are murdered. They meet up with a Viking named Valdar (Bruno Rey), a rogue named Erlick (Roberto Nelson), and Pando (the relentlessly baying satyr), and go on a journey to destroy Traigon or die trying.
This was Wynorski's first script that was made into a movie. Although it is ambitious, it is lacking in the character department and suffers from being more complicated than it needs to be. As mentioned earlier, movies like this rely on likeable lead characters and although they twins are okay, the movie needed the character of Erlick to be more of a cool-guy centerpiece rather than a stock supporting character or it needed the twins to be much more cocky to carry the movie. The result is that the characters all come off as being a little bland and there is nobody to really root for. Wynorski corrected this in Deathstalker II with much better results. The story becomes somewhat lost in the final act resulting in an ending that falls flat as I was expecting the twin warriors to have a grand battle against evil but instead a cheesy lion appears in the sky and shoots things with 80s laser effects that simply don't hold up. I was left feeling disappointed and also wondering why the picture is called Sorceress when there is not one of note in the movie.
On the plus side, there are some cool effects from Buechler with some great looking skeleton zombies that show up as well as the satyr who looked good as long as he didn't open his mouth to bleet or play his pan flute. I also quite liked the Harris twins as they were happy to bare their breasts and worked well together in their roles. They had appeared in Playboy as well as the wonderfully sleazy I, The Jury and then disappeared without explanation. It's too bad because it seemed like they could have easily been regulars on the b-movie circuit along with Lana Clarkson, Monique Gabrielle, and others like them. All in all, I don't mind Sorceress as it has a few cool moments as well as the twins' twins but it is missing some key elements that prevent it from being the classic it could have been. It sounds like Hill and producer Roger Corman were at odds over casting and budget restrictions from the start of the troubled production leading to Hill's name being removed from the credits and Corman recutting the film. This was unfortunately Hill's last film as a director. It's too bad that the man responsible for Switchblade Sisters, Foxy Brown, and The Big Doll House had to have such a disappointing swan song. (Josh Pasnak, 3/16/16)
Directed By: Jack Hill.
Written By: Jim Wynorski.
Starring: Leigh Harris, Lynette Harris, Roberto Nelson, Bruno Rey.