Hawk the Slayer,
is a low-budget, B-movie easily described as terrible, cinematic rubbish. Its wooden acting, matte paintings, and indiscriminate use of fog machines adds charm to a script a 13 year old boy, with a icosahedron clutched in his fist, could come up with. Perhaps, we should look away and not be hypnotized by hula hoops and glowing ping pong balls. Cover our ears for we may be seduced by its discotheque-flute soundtrack. Can we shake off the many one-liners that borders between clever and dimwitted? It’s a movie we can all laugh, even cry, together.
I must have been 13 or 14 years old when I was first introduced to Hawk the Slayer. I don’t remember how, but it was during the days of the VHS where video rentals were everywhere, including grocery stores and the gas station. Yes, we were part of the Dungeons and Dragons crowd and this movie spoke to us. Though the influences of Star Wars are evident, there were not too many D&D, sword and sorcery movies to be found in 1980. It’s a movie we empathize with. Partially because, deep in our hearts its a type of movie we would have come up with if he had to pull together a budget, talent, and story. The heroes are not super. The plot is not elaborate. The one-dimensional characters is nothing less than we expect. Its moments of absurdity makes Hawk the Slayer demand attention, like Jack Palance’s over-the-top performance.
True, the movie has problems, lots of problems. But it does right the things it needed to do. With a minimalist approach, seen in other low-budget productions, it follows the narrative only enough. The dwarf is shorter than most. The giant is taller than most. The elf is a master with the bow. And the magic-user throws a couple a spells including a hand full of ping-pong balls. It doesn’t need to rely on special effects where absurd editing will do.
Hawk the Slayer is not a great movie in the same way many of us are not great. Any of us can be that generic hero-of-the-day. Few names are as generic as “Hawk” or “Crow”. It may be presumptuous to think we’re Gandolf. But any of us can be that “woman” and shoot silly string at the nearest opponent. It’s a movie for oppressed geeks where the bullies lose. It’s a catharsis of acceptance regardless of our social status and popularity. It’s a movie we love anyway.
I don’t know how many articles I can write, but it deserves a few. It deserves to be in our Hall of Favorites.