I am an absolute sucker for cheap blu-rays. I’m also a sucker for bad movies. These two things came together last month when I ordered the “Retro VHS Style” version of Krull. I had never watched Krull before. It has something of a poor reputation, so I wasn’t expecting much, and it absolutely blew away my expectations. Krull is actually a really good movie, maybe even a great movie.
Here, dear reader, are seven reasons why you should watch Krull!
1. The score is magnificent! Krull’s soundtrack is an early James Horner work. He would go on to provide the memorable music for Aliens, The Rocketeer, and a small indie film, Titanic. Horner’s Krull score is suitably epic and moody. Good music always enhances the quality of a film, and Horner classes Krull up considerably. Go to the handy YouTube link above to sample it, and I guarantee you will FEEL high adventure oozing out of your speakers.
2. Great movies have great openings. James Bond knows this. Indiana Jones knows this. The beginning sequence of Krull is downright amazing. Just a few moments of background and exposition are under our belts when the royal wedding is interrupted. An army of Slayers arrives to attack the castle. The next few moments, where the Slayers inevitably whittle down the defense of the good guys, are SO GOOD. The whole scene feels like something right out of an old serial, and I mean that in a good way.
3. Krull has fantastical elements that blend sci-fi and fantasy together. The resulting feel is quite unique. There was a glut of swords and sorcery stuff in the early 80s. Any trip to your local video rental store in the 80s likely had an entire section devoted to the genre: Conan, Beastmaster, Dragonslayer, and many more. Krull leans heavily into fantasy, but also has an actual spaceship in it. Plus lasers! And when swords clash, they shoot red sparks. It feels very Barsoom (if you’re cultured) or He-Man (if you’re REALLY cultured), and I love it.
4. The Slayers are TOTALLY RAD. These are a race of aliens who serve The Beast (the big baddy) as troops! The design of the slayers is amazing. Instead of generic dark armored thugs, or knockoff stormtrooper types, Slayers have weird horns and a sleek, rounded helmet. Their swords shoot lasers, which seems like a really good thing to do. Best of all, when a Slayer dies, a weird alien brain-worm thing crawls out of the helmet. WICKED!
5. The Black Fortress is a wonderfully imposing evil lair. The home of The Beast arrives from outer space, and spends the movie teleporting from one location to another to make attacking it just that much harder. When the heroes finally arrive and fight their way inside, we are treated to some of the most memorable sets I’ve ever seen. The interior of the Black Fortress has this delightfully alien look to it. Everything is organic, like you are walking through a huge creature’s skeleton. The effect is very creepy.
6. It has Hagrid and Qui-Gon Jinn in it! Yes, you heard that correctly. Both Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson appear in Krull. Both appear to have just started shaving around the time of filming. (Not really, but they are very young!) Both men have speaking parts, but small ones, appearing as members of a band of… uh, bandits. They do pretty well given the constraints of the roles.
7. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop with this: Krull feels like a magical place. Fairy tale wonder and evils exist here. What we consider fantastical creatures or plot points are commonplace here. Our heroes encounter crystal spiders hiding cursed witches and fire horses that can run leagues and leagues in one night while on their journey. The hero’s weapon, the Glaive, has to be retrieved from a river of lava. The legend of the Glaive is so much like Excalibur it hurts. The world-building here is top-notch.
I really loved this movie. Is it perfect? Of course not. It’s slow in places, and about a half-hour too long. There are too many characters; the magician is particular is irritating. Overall, I quite enjoyed Krull. It was worth every penny of the $7 I spent to own it.