Archive for miles o’keefe

Film Review: “Ator the Invincible” (1982)

Posted in action/adventure, fantasy, film, reviews with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by worldofmatmos

In the months following John Milius’ awesome fantasy opus Conan the Barbarian that made the shirtless, bulging pectorals of future California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger famous in the title role, Italian director Joe D’Amato (aka David Hills) decided to rip-off the Austrian-born juggernaut’s character with his own brainchild – Ator.

Starring Miles O’Keefe in the first of what would go on to spawn two sequels throughout the ’80s and into the early ’90s, with its sequel becoming a favorite of Mystery Science Theater fans everywhere, Ator the Invincible sets up the origin story of Ator and his destiny to fulfill his place in a long-winded prophecy about “being the one bearing the mark of Taurin, who will destroy evil” and, well, you know the rest.

So of course, baby Ator must be whisked away from his mother and taken into hiding by the warrior Griba, who will eventually train young Ator into the shirtless, bulging-pecs-of-a-warrior Miles. Ator is taken to another village where he is given to a family to raise as their own. I’ve seen better storylines from my D&D buddies back in high school, but I digress.

This typical fantasy premise is simply regurgitated by the filmmakers, and their lack of production values make it almost unbearable to watch…almost. Personally, I can watch the worst-of-the-worst cinematic trash with utter geeky delight, but I’m sure that many will have pressed stop on the DVD player by this point due to the inane dialogue and “action” sequences that feel as though they were shot and cut by a blind kid.

The production itself is ridiculously cheap-looking, so much so that one winces at the myopic “vision” of its director. D’Amato believed that he had a commercial success on his hands and that Ator would be amongst the ranks of other great fantasy films. Sadly for him, his career has become but a footnote of B-movie history and the laughing stock of audiences; the mere mentioning of his name in any opening credits elicits guffaws from audiences familiar with his work. For the obvious reasons (lack of money, poor script, poor production values, rushed schedule, etc.) D’Amato & company churned out a lackluster film from an actually not-so-poor story. Albeit an unoriginal one, Ator could have been even worse. The story is at least coherent, and has all of the familiar elements to make up a good fantasy-adventure.

Onscreen, the actors ham it up as best they can, such as Dakar (yes, his real name) playing Dakkar the tarantula-clad High Priest of the Spider delivering his [dubbed] heavy and menacing baritone with Shatner-esque timing. The British character actor Edmund Purlom, who once played a role in Joseph Mankiewicz’s Julius Caesar, is here as the warrior Griba, but he is no Obi-Wan Kenobi. Then there is Ator’s love interest and sister (eeew…well, not his real sister, but the girl he grows up with as his sister, whom he marries) Sunya, played by Ritza Brown. I kept wishing that she had been killed off so as not to endure her atrocious acting. Overall, Miles O’Keefe does a decent job with Ator, and pretty much has to carry the film himself, and given with what he had to work with, it’s quite a feat.

If you love cheesy 80s fantasy films, please check out Ator the Invincible as it is highly entertaining and will provide a great less-than-90-minutes of schlock-filled fun. This is still one of my favorites of the era, and one that I believe even warrants a remake. Also, if you get the chance, look for the Ator sequels as well. I picked my copy up in the $1 bin at Wal-Mart, and although my wife hates that I waste my time watching these movies, she understands that is my guilty pleasure. Now indulge yourself with some Miles O’Keefe action as…ATOR!

Ator the Invincible Trailer:

Ator the Invincible 2 (aka The Blade Master) Trailer: