krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
After taking in another episode from the latest official DVD collection with the traditionally "difficult" "Castle of Fu Manchu" (the DVD included a bonus feature about how the "Cinematic Titanic" Mystery Science Theater performers, more or less, reunited before that project to appear in an "interactive movie"; I was thinking it amounted to one of those "we might as well put something on this disc too" extras until it was mentioned how Joel Hodgson wanted to have a "Fu Manchu moustache"), I headed off to the fourth season and "The Magic Sword." ("Can slice a tomato so thin you can see through it.") It's another movie from the prolific Bert I. Gordon, and our heroes aren't pleased to see his name in the credits. As for what's brought to the screen this time, though...

Sir George (played by a young Gary Lockwood, which inspires an "Open the pod bay doors, HAL!" quip early on in the "riffing") is in a melancholy mood, which might have something to do with him being twenty but still being stuck with his foster mother, the witch Sybil (played by an old Estelle Winwood, who manages to distract Crow from his previous attachment to Kim Cattrall). While spying on the winsome Princess Helene via a magic pool while she's swimming in a different, probably not magic pool ("Gidget goes to the Renaissance festival!"), George happens to see the sorcerer Lodac (played by Basil Rathbone, who's appeared in his own share of more distinguished movies) abduct her and threaten to feed her to a dragon. Sybil won't let George leave until he's twenty-one, but does indulge him so far as showing off the enchanted steed, armour, and sword he'll get then. It so happens the sword can open and shut things, and George puts this to good use by shutting up Sybil in the magical cellar; he then more or less thaws out six magically preserved knights (each from a different country and with the affected accents to prove it) and heads off to the rescue.

Sir Branton, whose own interest in Princess Helene seems less noble, accepts George's offer of help with great reluctance, and the knights ride off. ("This may be a quest, but it's kind of fun, isn't it?") A series of curses (apparently seven in number, although the count gets kind of vague) whittles them down, occasionally taking a few knights at once ("I'm tired of the whole sword-id affair!"), and Branton manages to betray George even as Sybil gets out of the cellar ("Tonight, on Tales From Lucy's Crypt.") and accidentally disables the magical qualities of George's equipment. George struggles on nevertheless only to be imprisoned by Lodac (who double-crosses the traitorous Branton), but a cage-full of "little people" (in contrast to the familiar giant beasts seen earlier) escapes through sheer accident and cuts him loose. George charges to Princess Helene's rescue as the double-headed dragon threatens her, and in the nick of time Sybil shows up and manages to remember the incantation to restore the magic to George's sword, then steals Lodac's magic ring and changes into a panther to maul her magical adversary. George and Princess Helene get married, and just to cap off the happy ending George's knight companions are restored to life. ("Can't we do anything without your friends?")

Both "inside" and "outside" the movie our heroes wind up admitting things are pretty good for a Bert I. Gordon film. It's still very possible to point out the qualifier, of course, but things are quite amiable throughout. The "host segments" include one with Joel, Gypsy, and Crow dressing up as a medieval king, princess (and/or unicorn) and knight; Tom Servo is a serf and lectures them about how the Middle Ages weren't that great until Crow tilts at him with his lance, quipping "Serf's up!"

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