Summer Camp: The Campy Movies of My 80’s Youth, Installment #1

They eighties were FULL of ridiculous, campy movies in every style and genre. This week, I’m reaching back into my younger days to revisit and review some of my favorites from the early and mid-eighties. It was really hard to scale this list down to ten movies because there were so many good candidates (at the end, I may post an honorable mention list). Full disclosure: every movie I talk about this week I watched at least a dozen times so, no matter what I say about them now, I apparently fully enjoyed them at the time. Let’s get going with the first two movies!

#1 – The Beastmaster (1982)

Synopsis: The Beastmaster, a young hero with the ability to communicate with animals, vows to avenge the death of his father in this sword-and-sorcery adventure. During his quest for the villain responsible for his father’s death, he overcomes numerous challenges and finds romance with a slave girl.

Biggest Star(s): Rip Torn (Men In Black), Tanya Roberts (That 70’s Show)

My Take: There were a spate of these types of movies in the early 80’s after Conan The Barbarian found success in ’82. Most of them were terrible and this one is proably the best of the “also rans”. This one was a little darker than the rest (I mean…it has a child sacrifice scene). The monster/creature concepts were on point, though.

High Point: The Winged Devourers, John Amos in a loin cloth, gratuitous Tanya Roberts (we’ll leave it at that).

Low Point: A tiger painted black to resemble a panther instead of an ACTUAL panther, bloodless sword fights.

#2 – Krull (1983)

Synopsis: At a time that belongs to neither the past nor the future, the planet of Krull, a world populated by creatures of myth and magic, faces annihilation. Slayers, alien beings commanded by the seemingly omnipotent Beast, are everywhere, and only one man can oppose them. Prince Colwyn must journey to a faraway cavern to recover the mystical Glaive, a key to extraordinary powers required to defend his world.

Biggest star: Liam Neeson in a minor role.

My Take: I call this one Star Wars meets Robin Hood meets King Arthur. It had such potential but really falls short. A good deal of it was filmed on sound stages and you can tell by the clunkiness but you have to be impressed with the swamp quicksand they pulled off in a soundstage setting.

High Point: Cyclops and watching that character act as if he really could see despite the facial prosthetics, playing the actual arcade game.

Low Point: The Beast. Of all the things the things they spent their “effects” money on, it wasn’t one of them and should have been.

About Eric Vardeman 115 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (

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