Today I watched Lucio Fulci’s Conquest (1983)
Aside from the revered spaghetti western, there are two genres that stand out to me in the history of Italian film, decadent Giallo horror and low budget Peplum fantasy. This film combines those two genres into one very strange whole in which our bow armed hero Ilias explores a misty landscape infested with black magic. In this strange land all live in fear of a sorceress and her wolf-man soldiers who have everyone convinced that it is only her power which allows the sun to rise. She had a dream that Ilias and his magic bow would come and end here reign so she has her minions hunt for him. They almost get him too if it were not for the timely intervention of Mace, a powerful outlaw warrior who saves and befriends Ilias. Now together they must face the evil sorcoress’ many powerful minions as she will stop at nothing to prevent her own doom.
Conquest is quite the odd movie in how it combines the lurid imagery of Fulci’s more recognizable horror work with fantasy tropes. Of course being a Fulci film there are zombies and gore galore, which lends the film a visceral edge which pushes it comfortably into the realm of horror. Furthering the nightmarish delivery here are the hazy visuals and pounding synth rock score which blend together to make this film quite a trip. It creates a psychedelic and nightmarish world to draw the horror from, which is felt in the inhospitable atmosphere. Furthermore I quite liked the monster designs here, as obviously cheap as they are, they still showcase a lot of creativity and add to the genre mashup in making this quite a fresh flick.
The other element that stands out in this film is it’s looseness with the idea of a main character. For the first half it is quite obvious that Ilias is our hero as the film only really gets into his mind, but once Mace is introduced he handles much of the action. Later Ilias is even put out of action from poison while Mace looks for a cure. When I think about it it also becomes apparent that Mace is also the one with a real character arc, going from a misanthrope to heroic warrior, whereas Ilias is always a bit of a hero. All of this just furthers the strange and disorienting bad trip elements of this film which is blessed by it’s odd delivery and non-standard pacing. While it will most certainly not ber for everyone, I would still recommend checking out this crazy flick. 4/5