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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Ironmaster (1982)

[4.0 turkeys]

People scream a lot in this movie. They scream in fear, which is understandable, but they also scream for no particular reason as well. In fact, they often scream when screaming is counter-productive, such as when they are trying to sneak up on a wild boar.

This movie is about a primitive tribe of people who cast out a man named Vuud for murdering their leader. Vuud wanders around for a bit, then he stands right at the base of a volcano as it erupts. There is a ridiculously long scene of the volcano erupting, which consists solely of National Geographic footage of an erupting volcano and shots of Vuud and the rest of the tribe looking restless. It's obvious that the producers of this movie wanted to get the most out of the stock footage they bought, so they use every single frame they paid for, which is approximately ten minutes' worth. So we get ten minutes of the volcano erupting and everyone looking restless, which is nine and a half minutes too much.

After the volcano finally stops erupting, Vuud discovers a piece of iron that has conveniently flowed into the shape of a sword. He tries to pick it up, but the metal is still far too hot and he gets burned. He strikes the metal with a rock twice, which cools it down enough for him to pick it up. He then takes the metal staff back to the village. There, he confronts the new leader, Ala, defeats him in combat, and takes over the leadership of the tribe. Ala is cast out, and he runs away defeated. Somewhere in here Vuud meets up with a woman whose purpose in the movie is shaky at best, but she nevertheless hangs around for the rest of the film.

While Ala is on the run, we get our first buffalo scene. Actually, there were some random shots of the buffalo herd before this, but this is the first time any of the cast members encounter the buffalo. The buffalo are in this movie for one reason only, and that's because someone said, "Oh cool, buffalo!" while they were shooting on location, and they decided to incorporate them into the script. It is for this reason that whenever anyone goes anywhere, they have to pass through this herd of buffalo to get where they are going. I think what happened is that the director just decided to shoot every single member of the cast interacting with this buffalo herd, on the off chance that they could fit it into the movie somehow. Trust me, they did.

Meanwhile, back at the tribal village, Vuud and the gang are making more swords. For those of you who don't know, here is how you make a sword: First, heat up some iron over a campfire that couldn't possibly be hot enough to melt iron. Second, pour the molten metal into a trench in the rock of your cave, and wait approximately ten seconds for it to harden. Third, take the new sword out of the trench and dip it in water, then beat it three times in exactly the same spot with your makeshift hammer. Fourth, polish your new sword lovingly with a rock. Not only is every single step of this stupid process flawed in some major way, the people who made this movie compound the problem by showing Vuud and his buddies making swords in this ridiculous manner no less than three times.

Ala gets chased by some extras from Planet of the Apes and finally ends up at another village. The peacenik who leads this village won't listen to Ala, so of course Vuud overruns them (with much screaming) and Ala has to run away again. Vuud kills a bunch more people (I'm not sure why he doesn't realize that if he kills the entire village, there won't be anybody left to do his bidding) before going back to his village to wait for Ala to come out of hiding so that he might kill him too. Ala eventually gathers some people, takes over the peacenik's village again, and invents the next superweapon to defeat Vuud, namely the bow and arrow.

This movie tries so hard to be good, and yet it shoots itself in the foot at every turn. I love movies like this -- you know everyone involved was trying their absolute best to make this movie great, and yet they failed so completely that you have no choice but to laugh long and loud at their attempts. You are flogged so hard and so often with the central message of this movie ("weapons are bad") that you end up having the exact opposite opinion at the end of the movie. All in all, a near-classic.

Scene to watch for: Tie between "Lion falls from tree" and "Pan up from dead body to show whole tribe standing there."

Best line: "You won, Ala, but one day there will be another Vuud."

Things that make you go "Huh?": Hitting things with a rock cools them down.

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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