2012 Film Challenge #3 - Kull The Conqueror

It was the golden age of video. Our local (Pick A Flick – gods amongst men – upon whom later) had a three for two offer going. You rented two videos and got the third free. We watched a lot of videos, my brother and I: We watched a lot of videos.

The thing is, whilst we'd watch almost anything, by and large all of these videos were a product of their time. They were the sort of films which could be showed to future generations in order to explain as to exactly what the 90s were like.

I'm getting increasingly nostalgic for the 90s. They're often remembered as quite a boring decade but, by jove, compared to these days, they were so beautifully innocent.

Now, don't get me wrong, Kull The Conqueror isn't a good film by my or anybody's standards. However, I've watched it twice over the past few days and I can't shake this feeling:

This is exactly the sort of film that we might have once taken home from Pick A Flick.

We never did, of course (you wouldn't be reading this, if we had! It wouldn't count as a fresh film for inclusion in my challenge). But we watched what felt and feels like thousands of films like this.

It's a brash, camp, unashamedly naff nineties source & sorcery & sandals & swords gay comedy epic.

Kull The Conqueror becomes king somehow, and sets about freeing slaves and that. This upsets a lot of people, so they resurrect an evil sorceress to destroy him. But then she acts the dreadful turncoat and decides to populate the world with her demon brood. So suddenly Mr. Unpopular Barbarian King is indispensable. He has to get some god's breath to put a stop to all this. Or something.

Look, I didn't pay too much attention to the plot. After two viewings, it's still the case that all that matters is the amount of old-fashioned nostalgic fun to be had.

It's Fifth Element. It's Demolition Man. It's Xena Warrior Princess. It's Robin Hood: King of Thieves. It's Judge Dredd. It's dated terribly and, as such, it's essential viewing for you, me and everyone.

Case in point? The new warrior king Kull has a eunuch attendant who wears make-up and sort of blunders his way through everything.

I've not seen such a comedy sidekick since Steven Brand in The Scorpion King. And that was ten years ago.

Watching this film, you can sort of feel your horizons contracting. They really don't make them like this any more. And, whilst some would emit a snarky “good!” at this, I couldn't disagree more.


  1. It's a brash, camp, unashamedly naff nineties source & sorcery & sandals & swords gay comedy epic.

    And that's the major problem, considering this was ostensibly an adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Kull stories. They were incredibly dark and grim, laden with symbolism and commentary on civilization and barbarism, and expertly written short stories. Imagine if the The Lord of the Rings trilogy ended up like 2000's Dungeons & Dragons: that's pretty much exactly what happened to Kull.

    While I hold no ill-will towards campy, fun Sword-and-Sorcery in and of itself, it has become the default for Sword-and-Sorcery films, to the point where even serious takes like Conan the Barbarian get confused with the silly peplum like this.

    Frankly, if they just named it something other than Kull, I might not hate it as much as I did. As it is, it's just a long episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

    1. One man's warm nostalgic glow is another man's shameless scourging of the source material. It takes all sorts, it seems.

      Where might be a good place to start with the original stories? I've read a lot of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion books recently, so I feel like I'm in a good place to begin.