Film Corner: DragonSlayer & Attack of the Gryphon

Thinking about marathoning the free dragon movies on Amazon Prime because the alternative is depression naps. CURSE OF THE DRAGON SLAYER is still my favorite and a good fantasy movie if you're looking for a GoT palate cleanser. MYTHICA is good if you can look past the infuriating treatment of disability in 4 and 5.

Ok, let's try DRAGONSLAYER. Amazon Prime says: a king has made a pact with a dragon where he sacrifices virgins to it, and the dragon leaves his kingdom alone.

I have questions, like "Why does it have to be virgins" and "how do you determine the presence of a socially constructed state".

Oh my god, the opening has birds in cages squawking and Cookie is losing her shit looking for them birds.

I feel like maybe there was a prequel to this that I missed. Either that or we're just really committed to letting the audience sink or swim.

Oh bless me, there's some good writing. What's that doing here.

Bold move to replace the likable old wizard with the annoying young apprentice.

It always irks me when the sacrifice is someone society values (white, blond, attractive, etc.) and this is honestly why I wrote TANGLED NETS to be about healthcare and classism and how the poorest would be paid to take the sacrifice's place. At least this one tied the sacrifice in with a tax credit for her dad, so that's something! A lot of movies don't even do that.

Oh god bless her, she's actually trying to get free. Like, not ineffectually! Who put realistic lady responses in my movie. Oh my god, this actress is just RUINING her hands trying to get free but it's so realistic and I've never been so tense in my life. I'M ROOTING FOR YOU, GIRL. YES OMG YES SHE DID IT YES RUN GIRL.

Well, that ended badly but she put up more fight than most damsels. Good on you, kiddo. If that chick had been in the Princess Bride, she'd have just stabbed the shit out of everyone like I wanted, but I digress.

I'm having a lot of feelings about this one character who is clearly a girl who has disguised herself as a boy, but I'm not ready to state them as yet. Aw, fuck, they did the reveal by having the hero come upon her whilst naked and bathing. I haaaaaate that trope so much. It's transphobic and gross.

....80s twist: the naked hero swam right up to what he ***thought*** would be a face full of naked penis. Like. Huh. And I'm struck by how much casual homophobia we have in our movies these days, with the constant "no homo"ing. In this case the hero swam right up to the "guy", all friendly like, and nearly drowned himself when the body didn't match his expectations. Still not good!!! But he seemed to think the dude needed a naked dude friend? Idk, pals.

He was all ""HOW'S THE WATER, MY FRIENDO, oh my stars and garters!" But it doesn't make ANY sense because if you're deep undercover as a "boy" so as not to get dragon-eaten, you'd just forgo naked bathing and sponge-bath in your tent.

Hey, why does a dragon who demands virgins mean "girls", actually? Boys are virgins too. IS THE DRAGON SEXIST OR IS SOCIETY.

"If you're rich enough, your name never goes in the lottery." Oh-ho, they ARE gonna go there! Good, I approve, I have very strong feelings on this topic.

Oh god, there's a whole implied tradition of girls being raised as secret boys so they can't be lotteried and this whole thing is just begging for a trans author to DRAW SOME PARALLELS about being raised to pretend to be a gender you're not.

"Girls" makes more sense than "virgins" anyway, because if you disincentivize virginity, folks will just lose it or lie and say they have. THERE IS NO PHYSICAL TEST FOR VIRGINITY.

God, all I REALLY want in life is for someone to let me make one of these lush green 80s fantasy movies but with trans people. The 80s had COLOR. Green so bright it'd blind you. Sun streaming through the trees with AGGRESSIVE beauty. Nights of blue. You could SEE THINGS. I can't see anything in GoT screenshots, they all look gray and soggy.

Everyone seems very alarmed that the guy they brought to slay the dragon is... trying to slay the dragon. I chose to believe they've figured out this kid is just a fool apprentice and they don't want him to die needlessly.

Well, that's clever! Don't need to kill the dragon if you collapse the mountain on him.

Well, she could not WAIT to get into a dress and tell everyone she's a girl, and once again I really wonder what this could've been in the hands of a trans woman author? I feel wistful. I wist. It's not even like she's doing it to stake a claim on Hunk Hardslab; he has been adorably relegated to entertain the children with slight of hand. Nope, she is just SO FUCKING TIRED of being misgendered.

(I do absolutely like that they put him on babysitting duty instead of being like, "you're our new king, please marry my daughter". They're grateful AND they still know he's an apprentice who can't find his ass with two hands.)

One of the background villagers is doing the exact Joey "How YOU Doin" face. But Hank Hardbottom is gonna get there first. They're playing Ren Faire music so he can dance with her and I'm excited to tell you that this weekend I'm going to my FIRST REN FAIRE, and WITH A GIRL, and I'M GOING AS A RAKISH PIRATE. I have a HAT.

"Wait, suddenly there are Christians?? I...what?? Why are there Christians in my fantasy movie this is like if Willow suddenly started talking about Jesus of Nazareth.


Distressingly, I sympathize with the evil king whilst still disagreeing with him.

Oh no, the princess thinks she's not immune from the lottery.

She has a name, I repeat, we have two named women in this movie.

....I think the Christian priest is Emperor Palpatine????????? Aw, man, he just can't get through a movie without having his face melted off, can he.

Pretty uncharitable for the dragon to assume the rockslide was the humans' doing.

OH GOSH, Valerian is demanding to be allowed into the lottery because "I'm no different from any other girl" my trans heart. God, she could so easily be a trans girl character?? Just edit out the bullshit bathing scene and have her come out in her dress the moment it's "safe" from the dragon, then refuse to go back in the closet when it's not.

YES, I don't know how she did it but she did it, Princess Elspeth is our sacrifice.

I love her oh my god.

What is this what. Are we doing a two for one martyr special.

Oh jesus fuck me, poor Elspeth. That's gruesome.


I am both genuinely enjoying this Dragonslayer movie AND hoping they made a @RiffTrax of it.

Valerian would make such a better protagonist than Hank Pigglywiggly.

And there's an utterly unnecessary 80s movie eclipse, for no reason!!

Well, that was certainly a movie and honestly utterly amazing.

I will admit I was hoping for something BAD to watch and mock, so in that sense it was a failure but I forgive it. What else is on Amazon Prime. Attack of the Gryphon looks promising.

ATTACK OF THE GRYPHON says: "In a mystical land torn apart by civil war, a warrior princess must team up with a rival warrior prince--" Ah, shit, I read that THREE times and thought it was a rival PRINCESS which would've been so cool.

Anyway, they have to kill a magic guy who controls a flying death beast, yada yada. I really thought I was gonna have fantasy sapphics, you know.

Delphi and......Lockland?

The woman is wearing armor that looks like real armor, so that's nice. Everyone else is.....acting.

Oh god, I really like the armored woman. Her dad is also awful, so that's nice.

Princess Amelia and Prince Seth, got it. I'm pulling for you kids, on account of you both seem to be pretty genre-savvy.

He kinda looks like the Han Solo expy from Spaceballs? Just so we're all on the same page about Prince Seth.

The bad guy has bikini babes in improbable leather bras, so it's one of THOSE movies.

Oh god, the special effects are just DELICIOUSLY bad, a sock puppet would be more realistic and menacing. The bikini babes are that very special type of sexy henchman: capable of helping you weave complex and delicate spells but unable to understand basic English when they need to seem foolish for the audience.

"Where will we find you?"
"At the castle of our ancestors!"
"At the Castle Vallon?"

The Queen seems REALLY JAZZED to be sending her son on a hopeless quest, and that's a nice change from usual I guess? Dad is like "I don't relish sending my only son to his death, is the thing." Mom is like "HE'LL BE FINE. Probably. Hurry up, mommy and daddy need some alone time, sweetie."

We have:
- completely unnecessary eclipse
- liquid in a vial (basilisk's tears) a la Galadriel's light of whatever that was, to be used later

Did NO ONE think of the obvious civil war solution of marrying Princess Amelia to Prince Seth.

Amelia and her father have abruptly swapped character motivation notes and my head is spinning.

Oh, Seth also has a necklace with a magic ring. I don't know why. They haven't explained it yet. Maybe they think Tolkien references are mandatory?

Every scene transition is accompanied by an old timey map and I both love and hate it.

Seth and David and Vallon. I....wish to speak with the name manager.

The evil sorcerer is actually very affectionate with his brides and gryphon, and I've yet to see any evidence that he'd be a worse ruler than the rest of these goobers. I don't ask for a lot? Just have him cackle about, like, deforestation and capitalism or something.

Why is Princess Amelia personally stitching up prisoner Seth's wounds, why doesn't she have people for that.

Aren't they
Their, like, granddads were brothers.
So. Uh.

I love when fantasy movie people are in a hurry but they just stroll at mall-walker speeds.

Prince Seth is leaning into the Spaceballs rogueish grins.

They're making out and as much as I like these two kids, I still can't help but feel we skipped a step somewhere. OH WELL.

I do not like how Amelia has shed armor as she falls in love, literally "softening". Armor isn't bad on women!! It's very good actually!

Way to go, Amelia! She told the boys that if they fought over her (macho posturing) she'd kill whichever one of them struck the first blow. AND SHE MEANT IT.

Oh, wait, I was wrong; they're not closely related. The timeline was longer than I realized. It's not MY fault they didn't give me a tidy "XXX years ago" scroll.

Princess Amelia is pregnant after one night with Seth Sexbody, so mark that off your bingo cards, my loves.

She also wasn't allowed to do much during the finale, so I'm pissy about that.

Eh, I've seen worse.

I'm 98% certain that his mother's gift of basilisk's tears was never used, which seems odd considering she can SEE THE FUTURE.

Ok, I have slept on it and have returned with editor's notes on these movies.

DRAGONSLAYER, we need to see the dragon speak English. When a dragon doesn't talk, the audience has to wonder if this whole virgin thing was really necessary or if it would've been happy with a nice flock of fat sheep.

One girl every six months is not a good meal. It only works as a symbol of submission. So we need some kind of reasonable assumption that the dragon demanded that submission, otherwise the humans look foolish for not trying the sheep thing instead. The Greeks got around this with THEIR "girl chained to a rock" stories by having the gods inform their priests who needed to be sacrificed, but your pagan European setting doesn't have that excuse.

I would also prefer Elspeth live, so I'm going to suggest that the king shows up to save her and HE gets eaten instead. That's a suggestion, not a mandatory change.

GRYPHON, the scene where Amelia's men ask Seth his intentions towards her, and Seth mocks them into a duel which Amelia breaks up....doesn't further character. We already know Amelia is fighty, Seth is smirky, and the Locklanders mistrust him. Instead, consider letting Seth answer the damn question.

For one, it's a practical political move in character to not piss off your future wife's honor guard. For two, he could then rogueishly sing Amelia's praises while she gets increasingly embarrassed. For three, this would help the audience understand whether there's more there than physical attraction, which seems important if we're gonna root for these two kids to walk down the aisle together.

A lot of people make the mistake that "rogue" means refusing to cooperate, but a really GOOD rogue can infuriate people while doing EXACTLY as they were ordered. For character studies in this, see: Catra.


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