B-Movie Inspirations: Barbarian Queen (1985)

Rated R


Once again, I delve into a movie from the vast library of Roger Corman; another fantasy adventure starring Lana Clarkson (from Deathstalker) and a whole cast other women in various stages of undress. Master of low budget and reuse, Corman as producer reused much of the set from Deathstalker, as well as costumes I recognized from other of his fantasy outings.

This time; however, the director tried to pass all of this as real history – Ancient Rome to be exact.  I had to read the description of the movie in IMDB to get that because there was little mention of that in the movie and if you missed that, you would have simply guessed it was a generic low-fantasy setting.  However, the costumes looked nothing like what I know is Ancient Rome and the weaponry was also not of that time period.  It is a pretty sad attempt at a historical setting.

Moving past that, you run into a lot of the standard problems a movie of this caliber has –bad acting, bad fight choreography and bad plotlines.  And, of course, as with what seems like all of Corman’s fantasy films, it is chock full of bare breasted and scantily clad woman.  This is definitely not a family friendly film.  It has considerable violence, a few rape scenes and a lot of nudity.

Barbarian Queen is of course a Conan the Barbarian-knock off with a female lead, Amethea (Lana Clarkson).  She is apparently the Barbarian Queen, although she is neither a barbarian nor a queen.  Amethea and her faithful band of female warriors go on a quest of revenge and rebellion in this cheesy sexploitation fantasy/historical fiasco of a movie.

The movie opens wasting no time to show the nudity as we meet our heroine prepping for her wedding with her blushing groom, Argan (Frank Zagarino), who is one of the most monotone actors I have ever seen.  Their wedding bliss is interrupted by a raiding parting of bad guys.  The village is all but wiped out, leaving a small handful of women alive.  Women, children, and elderly are killed while many of the strong are captured and taken as prisoner.

You learn later that they are to be used in the gladiatorial games of the local “Roman” leader, Arrakur (Arman Chapman).  Arrakur is a tyrannical leader/king/governor of the region and he holds celebrations that involve gladiatorial games every year.  The women he takes are gathered in a harem for gladiators and I assume, other high profile revelers.  This, of course, is plenty of opportunity for gratuitous boob shots.

Our illustrious hero Amethea sets out to find our captured love, Argan, who is slated to be a gladiator in the games.  She and a her three lady friends travel across a wilderness to Arrakur fortress (which looks somewhat familiar to the fortress in Deathstalker).  Along the way, they meet another group of people that are the remainder of another village, and they have a connection to the resistance or rebellion against Arrakur.  A young girl in the group leads them to the fortress where they meet more resistance fighters and find Argan and other gladiators.

This eventually borrows a page from the story of Spartacus, where it says the worst kind of slave rebellion you can have is one lead by gladiators – warriors bread to fight.  The rebels attempt to team up with the slave gladiators and despite some treachery in the ranks, being captured and recaptured a couple of times and a disturbing bondage scene with a creepy torturer with freaky glasses, are able to overthrow the tyrannical Arrakur.  Sorry if I gave away the ending in this one, it is just not worth your time.

This was a very shallow and poorly written storyline as little more than a simple excuse to show off as many pairs of boobs as they could.  But despite that, as an RPG game master, this movie had a few things that could be used as inspiration.

  • Rebel Alliances:  Under a tyrannical rule, there are always those that wish to resist.  Maybe they are disorganized and just need a leader.  Maybe they lack the resources to resist.  Maybe they are infested with turn coats and spies loyal to the tyrant that need to be purged.  There are always those that wish to resist.  A courageous party just has to seek them out subtly in a tense environment of the tyrant’s rule.
  • Spartacus Syndrome: If a tyrant has slaves and some of those slaves are gladiators, there is a good chance some prefer freedom over the treatment they are getting.  It all depends on how well the gladiators are treated, however.  A party looking to overthrow a tyrant such as this will need to really dig deep to find the disgruntled gladiators in the bunch in order to spark the flame of rebellion.  If the party is able to gain even a few of the gladiators on their side, they could prove to be invaluable as they are warriors trained and bred to fight.

This movie did not have a whole lot else.  It was pretty weak in general.  Perhaps one of the weakest I have seen in the Corman line up.