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  Ragewar Ah, The Old Science Vs. Magic Debate
Year: 1984
Director: David Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, etc
Stars: Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing, Gina Calabrese, Don Moss, Cleve Hall, Kenneth J. Hall, John Carl Buechler, Blackie Lawless, Chris Holmes, Randy Piper, Tony Richards, Phil Fondacaro, Sal Fondacaro, Eddie Zammit, Mack Ademia, Felix Silla
Genre: Horror, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Paul Bradford (Jeffrey Byron) is a computer whiz who has been troubled by strange dreams recently; take tonight, when he imagined following a lady in red (Gina Calabrese) around an apartment complex until they ended up on a bed together. Just when things were getting interesting and all her clothes were off, a group of zombies shambled in through the door and abducted the woman, leaving him bereft and waking up with a start. His day to day job sees him repairing technology, helped by his inventions such as his glasses which he can speak to and display pertinent information on the lenses, but what use is science against the sorcery of Mestema (Richard Moll)?

Following that OK? Ragewar was renamed The Dungeonmaster for the American market to cash in on the popularity of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, though it resembled that less than a collection of random scenes connected by dint of the fact they featured the same pair of performers. They were Byron and the actress playing his girlfriend Gwen Rogers, Leslie Wing, who he was forced to rescue from the clutches of Mestema (who naturally, over-Mestema-tes his chances) when the wizard spirits them both away to his realm to see if Paul can succeed in the seven challenges he has set up for him - meanwhile, Gwen remains chained to a rock. Cheers.

If that sounds like a loose way to set about a fantasy movie, well there was a lot of that about in the eighties, especially if you ventured into a video store to rent something for the weekend, and much of that was down to Charles Band, the brainchild behind this little item. More than anything, this came across as a showreel for Band and his associates, so you had each segment exhibiting what the seven (!) directors believed were their strengths, though they were not really household names for the most part, or at all, in fact. For fans of this sort of thing, you would recognise the name of stop motion animator David Allen, and more prominently, practical makeup man John Carl Buechler.

It was Buechler who often gave Band's material their signature effects and creatures in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, and here was no different, displaying his cheap and cheerful (and rubbery) wares that would pepper genre cinema for decades. While his biggest gig was Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood in 1988 which was scuppered when all his careful efforts were trimmed to secure an R rating, he was probably on safer ground with the likes of the Band studios like Empire who were happy to make his efforts the highlights of the low budget movies that featured them. In this case, you had the likes of zombies, a demon puppet not unlike one of the Ghoulies, a werewolf and a "Cave Beast" for the viewer to feast their eyes upon, all looking fairly similar as was the Buechler manner.

But it was the obvious enthusiasm for his gallery of monsters that made his work so endearing to a certain type of horror fan, one who was perhaps more forgiving than the mainstream audience, and therefore a mark of quality for anyone who wanted to seek out a cheapo horror flick to while away an hour and a half. Although this one didn't even make the eighty-minute mark, and the end credits must have lasted ten minutes in themselves, a neat trick to pad out the length of exploitation movies for the video age designed to fool those who make a point of checking the running time on the back of the box. Anyway, the closest thing to stars Ragewar had were the heavy metal band W.A.S.P. who appeared in a segment, playing away, to menace Paul as one of the computer game-like levels of peril he had to get through to best Mestema (who calls him X-Calibr8 for some reason). Despite the variety of adventures on show, they were all very derivative of established styles, so you had to be very tolerant to succeed with this. Music by Richard Band and Shirley Walker.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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