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Hundra (1983)


Filmed back-to-back with the better known — and better titled –Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, Hundra is a recursive adventure tale in the Conan mold with a quasi-feminist take on the whole ‘sword and sorcery’ thing.

Laurene Landon is Hundra and she makes for a striking action lead. Leggy and fierce, it’s no surprise she’s got a strong cult following. When a tribe of Amazons is all but wiped out by rampaging men, Hundra takes on the savior mantle and heads out into the big, very bad world to be impregnated and continue the tribe. Followed by her giant dog, Beast, Hundra stumbles upon a village run by chauvinist pigs. There, it’s a battle royale of the sexes as Hundra must overcome some truly bull-ish men and fulfill her destiny.

Director Matt Cimber (best known for several blaxploitation flicks and the eerie Witch Who Came From the Sea) does a workmanlike job, Hundra certainly has a strong ‘barbarian’ look to it: lots of leather, blood-spattered steel, desolate landscapes, misty forests, and Viking horned hats. But it’s also got its tongue firmly planted in its hairy, meat-eating cheek. Hundra spouts women’s lib (‘No man will ever penetrate my body with his sword or himself.’), poses, and enthusiastically cuts men to pieces. Too bad there isn’t really a plot to go along with all the shenanigans.

Landon is a veteran of several quirky Larry Cohen flicks (Full Moon High, The Stuff) and she assays Cohen’s brand of humor here. She does her own stunts and makes for a believable Amazon but doesn’t play every scene straight. Landon’s clearly in on the joke with Cimber and her performance gives the film a great, snarky edge that it almost doesn’t deserve.

While Hundra practically vanished after a short theatrical run (studio troubles), ‘Xena’ ran with the same theme and made mint more than a decade later. True, Conan was a big enough hit that a cavalcade of these barbarian films flooded the market. Hundra is surely one of the better ones, but it’s still no lost classic. Hundra is cheap, terribly acted, and entirely entertaining — the word romp never fit so well. (Oh and a slumming Ennio Morricone — yeah, he just won an Oscar — provided the score.)

Two discs await you if you purchase Hundra on DVD: The feature includes a commentary track, making-of featurette, and cast and crew bios. The second disc is Morricone’s score for the film on CD. A bonus comic book is also included.