1980s Fantasy Film Festival #3: “The Beastmaster” (1982)

Interestingly, however, while there is that brief moment of gratuitous, straight male gazey female nudity “for the guys,” what really stands out more to me is the non-stop parade of homosexual male gaze throughout the film (not to mention the aforementioned gay subtext that appears over and over again). There was, of course, an element of this with Ahnold in Conan the Barbarian, but somehow, Dar manages to feel more consistently nude on screen, besides the miniscule, hardly-worth-mentioning covering of his groinal area.

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Casual Fridays

Casual Fridays

Oiled up and ready to go.

Oiled up and ready to go.

This is some non-stop, glistening, 1980s manflesh on display, which I’m sure was thrilling to the young gay men at the time, getting the chance to feast their eyes on…all of that, especially at a time when cinema was so relentlessly straight and closeted. Of course, I’m sure some women appreciated it too, but the depiction feels decidedly queer, particularly given his affinity for/connection to the animals, a more stereotypically feminine trait. There is something both indescribably camp and deliberately jarring about an otherwise very masculine, muscular hunk who also gently carries two ferrets–with whom he has conversations–around with him in a leather purse, not to mention his big black cat, which was actually a Bengal tiger rather poorly dyed black.

A man and his cat.

A man and his cat.

Sad sidenote: apparently, the tiger died two years later, which seems to have been the result of continued, prolonged exposure to the black dye, which is why, in the two sequels and on the spin-off TV series, they changed Ruh to a regular Bengal tiger.

In the film itself, the male ferret sadly dies, however he kills Maax in the process, and so it’s at least a noble sacrifice (not unlike the dog who drags Dar to safety when his village is attacked near the start of the film). And later on, the female ferret is revealed to have given birth to two babies…which I can only imagine happened within Dar’s pouch while he was making out with his cousin. By the way, Maax’s prophecy was totally wrong after all. Dar didn’t kill him. A ferret did! Imagine all of the trouble he could have saved himself.

Closer, let me whisper in your ear...

Closer, let me whisper in your ear…

Really, though, I mock because I love. Or at least strongly like. This really is an extremely entertaining film. Silly as hell, naturally, but well-paced, at times genuinely inventive, and weird as all get-out. Oddly, it’s also the first one so far that feels like an almost competent film, for what it is.

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Author: Robert Berg

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