#16. Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell


16. Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell (1988) - Season 7, episode 703

 "This movie is like playing Doom when there's no monsters or opponents."

Some guy named Deathstalker has to do something or other and save whoever.
Famous for:  
The guy in the bat helmet.

"I'm a bat. Squeak squeak."

"You would tell me if I looked silly in this, wouldn't you?"

Who are we? BATS!
What do we want? INSECTS!
When do we want 'em? RIGHT NOW!

My favorite riff:  Oh, man, so many great riffs in this episode. It's hard to pick just one. Especially with the goofy-ass swordfight at the end that Mike and the Bots just shit on for twenty straight minutes.

"Well, this movie made it possible for two more actors to put stage fighting on their resume."

"It was a good idea to film the walkthrough."

"Trash talking wasn't very good yet. All you could say was "Ahhhhh!!! Arrrrrrh!!!""

However, if there's one riff that I will always remember from this episode, it's the one that pops up because the editing is so spazzy. And because characters will just randomly appear in scenes and disappear from other scenes, without warning.

At a crucial moment in the film, Deathstalker just randomly shows up in Troxartas's window. With no explanation.

Which leads to one of my all-time favorite MST3k riffs...

"You clever bastard. So the editor's working with you!"

Comments:  Deathstalker isn't the best episode of MST3k. But it IS what I would consider one of the most well rounded episodes of them all. In fact, this is probably the perfect episode if you wanted to introduce a friend to Mystery Science Theater, and show it to them for the first time. I know I've already said that about a bunch of other episodes, but this is the one that I use whenever I introduce somebody new to MST3k these days.

Deathstalker is right there in the perfect sweet spot between comedy, and camp, and crap.

"Well, let's see how long these accents last."

"Wow, he's Hasselhoffing it BIGTIME."

The reason I use Deathstalker as my introduction episode is because there's not a single point in this movie where the riffing actually lets up. Seriously, there's not even one. It's solid, funny riffing from the opening credits right up to the closing credits, and the pacing is incredible. When you finish watching Deathstalker, you feel like you've been laughing for hours. 

I'm not kidding about this. I had one occasion a couple of years where I was laughing so consistently throughout this episode that at the end, my jaw actually started to get sore. MY JAW ACTUALLY STARTED TO GET SORE. Name another TV show where you laugh so often that your jaw gets sore.

[When the guards are burning a particularly stiff corpse]
"Wow, rigor mortis. (laughing) They must have pounded pieces of rebar through her body."

"Never show the audience the inside of your hero's mouth."

"It's hard to look menacing when you're dressed like Maude."

I don't have a whole lot to say about this episode other than that.

It's just a crappy old 80s sword and sorcery movie with nothing especially outstanding about it, other than the riffing. Oh, and other than the fact that they really didn't even TRY to make it much of a period piece. They just figured the audience wouldn't notice blatant little anachronisms like this...

"They missed on the haircuts by roughly twelve hundred years."

Oh, and did I mention the bat helmet?

They really should have made more jokes about the bat helmet.

"Uh, do those flap? Or are they just attached?"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  You're in luck, because I've got three.  

The first thing I love is the fact that the bad guy in this movie is named "Troxartas." But Mike and the Bots keep calling him "Trucks Artist." Which leads to riffs like Deathstalker telling Trucks Artist, "Hey, after the swordfight, can you paint my van?"

I don't know why I find that so funny. I just do.

Trucks Artist

The second thing I love about this episode is the running joke that everyone just eats potatoes. Which doesn't seem like it's going anywhere for most of the movie. Except then Mike caps it off with the most AMAZING Ore-Ida potato joke right at the end.  

Seriously, this riff is a thing of beauty.

[Deathstalker is looking at the corpse of his girlfriend for one last time]

"Well, I have to say. She was All-Righta."

And finally... I love the fact that the actor who plays Troxartas basically just makes up his own rules of grammar. And he's always putting punctuation breaks in his sentences, like he's fucking Christopher Walken.

Which leads to this riff, where Servo finally calls him out on it.

Troxartas:  This has. Nothing to do with. Being rich!

Tom Servo:  I put the. Beats in my own. Script and I'm sticking. With them!

Trivia:  By the way, here's some fun history about this movie.

When it first came out, Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell was originally just known as Deathstalker III. And the reason I know that is because the movie that preceded it (Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans) is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of all time.

I've owned a copy of Deathstalker II on DVD for years. I even wrote about it once on a webpage called "200 Movies That Deserve More Love." I also did a podcast about it once on a movie podcast I run called Staff Picks. It's one of those dumb little B-movies that I've always just loved.

Deathstalker 2. If the guys who made Airplane! made a sword and sorcery movie.

The first and original "Deathstalker" came out in 1983, and it was a big bowl of nothing. It was a blatant ripoff of Conan the Barbarian, and it probably went straight to video. And fuck it, nobody cared.

And then four years later, in 1987, the producers decided to make a Deathstalker sequel. Only this time, they hired a director (Jim Wynorski) who was known for making goofy horror/comedies, not serious sword and sorcery epics. His most famous movie prior to Deathstalker II was a goofy 80s horror classic called Chopping Mall.

So Wynorski agreed to make Deathstalker 2. But at the same time, he had conditions. And his conditions were... basically... "Okay I'll take your money, but fuck it, this time around, Deathstalker is gonna be a comedy." And that's exactly what he did. Deathstalker II is one of the goofiest and most strangely entertaining B-movies you are ever going to see in your life. It's so goofy, in fact, that at certain points in the movie... the actors literally CRACK UP AND BREAK CHARACTER. And because Wynorski didn't give a shit, he actually left them breaking character in the film.
So anyway, there's your backstory. Deathstalker I, boring. Deathstalker II, goofy camp classic. And then along comes this movie, Deathstalker III. And... well... this time around, the producers decided to play it straight again, like they did with the first one). So we wound up with this boring piece of shit. And of course Mike and the Bots give it the savaging that a piece of shit like this deserves, and I'm glad that they did. 

There's no other way I can say this. Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell is a great episode.


Back to Mario's Top 50 MST3k Episodes