So here we go, my top five overlooked genre films:
First off, yes this film is an obvious knock off of Conan the Barbarian. The '80s seemed to be filled with sword and sorcery titles that ranged from clever ones like this to weaker ones like the Deathstalker films (although as a 13-year-old boy, there is a LOT to love in Deathstalker II). Beastmaster was actually popular enough to spawn multiple sequals and even a TV show (which yes, was an obvious knock off of Hercules and Xena). Basically you have a barbarian who can talk with the animals. Bad guys destroy his village and then he fights back. The premise is simple, the cheese factor is high, but the movie is definitely a classic.
I'll be honest, a big part of why this film is on the list is my wife - she totally loves this movie and is completely frustrated by the fact that it's not available on DVD. The only version we have available is on a Betamax Cassette. Basically this film pairs up vampire films with rock 'n roll musicals, and the result is pretty great. The movie takes a pretty standard story - Guy (Ralph) meets girl, guy turns out to be vampire/rock 'n roll star, both guy and girl are part of a curse that involves a pirate and a murder with a ham bone - and then takes the story in a new direction. The music is pretty great and there is a stand-out performance by Toni Basil as the Vampire's mother.
This movie simply rocks. Take a group of small-town kids and pit them against some of the scariest monsters from Universal pictures - Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, and even The Creature from the Black Lagoon (who was sadly lacking from Van Helsing). The kids are all late Elementary / early Junior High (Middle School) age, and as their town begins to fall under the control of these monsters, they fight back in a number of very clever way - rather than going for the cute but over-the-top, Home Alone approach, these kids came across as realistic and relatable. Plus, I do owe my favourite movie line from the '80s to this film - Wolf Mans got Nards!?!
Imagine psychics who can enter your dreams and kill you there - kind of like Freddy Krueger, but with government funding behind them. The film focuses on Alex, played by Dennis Quaid, who is forced to join a university project which is working on giving people the ability to enter the dreams of others. Alex is gifted at this, and eventually finds out that the funding behind the project comes from an agency who wants the subjects to become assassins. The dream imagery for this film is fantastic, and the action is pretty darn great.
Seriously, if you haven't seen Krull - I don't even know what to say. It's great, it is one of the best examples of Science Fantasy I've ever seen on film. I want to talk more about it, but if you haven't seen it, I'll just have to wait. Go. See it. NOW!