Right about now, you’ll start to notice a late night theme in my “Awesome B Movie” recommendations… I saw “The Deathmaster”, late one night when I was all of 7 or 8 years old. On local TV it went by another name, which I don’t recall. As this movie ended, I was terrified (remember I was maybe 8 yrs old). I could not move or leave the couch, and thusly had to wait for dawns first light, so I could move about freely, to make sure all the doors were locked. That said, “The Deathmaster”, is probably only for the truest most diehard fans of the genre (like myself). ‘Cause trust me, if you go around recommending The Deathmaster or showing it to people, they will be like, “what the hell is wrong with this guy” (or girl). Not because your demented, but because it’s a “bad” movie. I say NOT!
Todays audience wants either, yawn, “The 300” (2006) or what ever they can get on their iPod for entertainment. But let me tell you something, the 70’s was an amazing decade for films, and shouldn’t be dismissed so easily.
So here we have the late great Robert Quarry playing Khorda. Khorda finds his way to the local hippie commune and kinda moves himself in and takes over. He slowly positions himself as their cult “leader”, (I believe Quarry’s character and the premise is very strongly based on Charles Manson and his followers) and begins to “clean” them up. No more drugs, booze, everyone’s now doing cleanses, and eating fruit. Basically, he’s cleaning up his food, and getting ready for the all you can eat buffet.
Now, our protagonist, Pico (Bill Ewing) is the only one not falling for Khorda’s charms, and is trying to save his girlfriend Rona (Brenda Dickson). Now the 2 are fighting for Rona’s eternal soul.
The film in my opinion, is dark and very low budget, even for the ’70’s standards. The only script to ever be written by R.L. Grove, is smart and strong. The general themes still hold up even today. Director Ray Danton would later go on to direct a lot of episodic tv, including Magnum PI & Cagney & Lacey amongst others. Also of interest, John Fiedler of “The Bob Newhart Show” and the voice of Piglet from “Winnie the Pooh” has a rather big part in “The Deathmaster”.
As for Robert Quarry, he met his own Deathmaster in 2009 at the good age of 83. His other work in the vampire genre are “Count Yorga, Vampire” (1970) and “The Return of Count Yorga” (1971).
In summary I had lost this movie and could not remember the name for decades, but it always haunted me from childhood. One day, while skimming through DVD’s at Best Buy, I found it! I couldn’t believe it, but I actually found it! Yes, this has become a cherished member of my DVD collection (with a commentary track by Quarry himself)! This is truly one of my favs. So my recommendation, make this a double feature with “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” (1973) turn out the lights, and dig yourself in for a mini marathon night!
I took the liberty to put in the trailer for Count Yorga Vampire!