Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990)
Ator III: The Hobgoblin
Ator l'Invincible
The Hobgoblin

Nomination Year: 1992
SYNOPSIS:  Okay, here goes. The baby Ator is heir to some throne or other. Ator's mother, despondent over the death of her husband, wishes to kill herself, so she goes to an evil gnome for a draught of poison. Instead, the gnome gives her a potion that makes her horny, and takes advantage of the situation. The gnome raises Ator in a cave and hides from him his birthright: The Mighty Sword. Years later, Ator, now a man, searches the cave and after two or three false starts eventually finds the Mighty Sword. He kills the gnome and sets off to find his fortune. Ator liberates a treasure from a cave and learns the location of a beautiful trapped Amazon princess. He rescues her and they team up with a guy who can throw razor-boomerangs. Eventually, the Amazon gets kidnapped by an evil wizard with a gnome of his own. The wizard has this thing for dipping people in molten gold and making statues of them. Can Ator and Boomerang Guy save her? Of course, but not easily.

Confused yet? This entire thing is not easy to take. Most of it has the feel that they were writing on the fly. "What should the characters do now? Heck, let's just shoot it!"

Oblivious

"We Can No Longer Afford All These Extras -- You Twelve Go Home"
Guards are chasing Ator and Boomerang Guy through the villain's castle. The guards are right behind their quarry...at least in one shot. In the next shot, they're a bit farther away, but not so far as to be out of sight as the heroes round a corner at an intersection fourteen feet in front of them across an open battlement. Yet, inexplicably, the platoon commander stops his troops, sends about half of them one (wrong) way, another half another (wrong) way, and takes a paltry few men the right way they HAD to have seen the heroes go.

"Wanna Run That By Me Again?"

Ator Sheathes His Mighty Sword in the Wrong Scabbard
During a lull in the film, Ator starts to get tender with his Amazon love. They do the nasty (in a tasteful montage). Next morning, the Amazon asks Ator if he'll always be true. Ator replies that nothing could ever make him unfaithful to her. Oddly, she then tells him that he already HAS BEEN unfaithful...POOF! Suddenly the Amazon has turned into an Asian-looking woman wearing a matzah on her head. She claims to be the Queen of the East. She then informs Ator, matter-of-factly: "And now, I own you, body and soul." Ator's response is, in essence, "Uh...no you don't." So she runs away down the beach before Ator can decide to skewer her.

Deus Ex Machina

A Shooting Pain in the Neck
Ator and Boomerang Guy are running through the villain's castle in search of the amazon. All of a sudden, they run smack into a trap! Two massive swordsmen stand before them, wielding two-handed scimitars. They whirl the swords about them in a display of their obviously superior skill. Our heroes simply look at each other, nod slightly, and extend their right arms. Abruptly, wrist-crossbows magically appear on their wrists and abruptly fire deadly bolts into the neck of each of the swordsmen, who abruptly fall down and die. The villain's hench-gnome is understandably taken aback. (Guess he never saw Raiders.)

I don't know what the film-makers were smoking that day. Now, you may be wondering why this clip didn't win the category that year...what could possibly be worse? Check out Star Crash to find out...

Smithee Award Winner! Stupidest-Looking Monster

Two Heads Are NOT Better Than One
In the cave of treasure, Ator must defeat the fabled guardians to claim the prizes. The guardians are only whispered about in legend. Probably because they're really stupid-looking and, after all, a treasure cave has a rep to protect.

No sooner has Ator entered the cave than he's face-to-faces with a two-headed robot! (Robot? Yes, I know its a swords-and-sorcery flick, but...) This is obviously just a dumb cardboard costume draped over two guys--it even has four legs. What's more, the robot is not only stupid-looking but also just plain stupid. Ator defeats it by ducking into a low-hanging opening and, while the robot keeps bonking its heads against the stone, too dumb (or unable) to stoop down, Ator simply walks around behind it and cleaves it in half. The robot halves start spinning around and around -- they're mannequins on turntables with sparklers in their shoulders -- before falling over.

As if that weren't enough, Ator hears a noise and turns to see a rubber-suit dragon waddling toward him, spouting (or rather, dribbling) fire. The look on Ator's face is one of "Aw geez, even I don't buy this."

Worst Special Effect

"If They Show the Parthenon Falling, I'm Leaving...."
Ator has discovered the beautiful Amazon princess asleep deep in an enchanted cave. He awakens her with a kiss. That springs the trap! The walls shake! Styrofoam rocks tumble from above, as if tossed by unseen hands! Steam vents from off-screen sources, resembling nothing so much as deadly fire extinguishers wielded by the Stage Hands of Doom!

But that's not the worst of it. This trap is indeed terrible, for afterward comes...the Stock Footage! Volcanoes in Hawaii erupt! Egyptian idols collapse! The Parthenon crumbles! Ator and the princess barely escape with their sanity. The audience isn't quite so lucky.

An aside: when we were first viewing this movie and saw this scene go on and on, Greg said, "If they show the Parthenon falling, I'm leaving." No sooner were the words out of his mouth when: whattaya know? Don't worry -- we eventually caught him and tied him down.

Worst Picture

"Day Trip for the Mighty Sword" Didn't Sound as Impressive
Here we have a film with the title Quest for the Mighty Sword, yet he finds the "Mighty" Sword within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. In these scenes, we see Ator living in a cave with the evil little gnome that raised him and hid his true heritage from him. Ator finds the Mighty Sword stashed in a corner and decides to use it on the twisted little freak. It shatters! The sadistic imp had forged a fake sword, just for the occasion of Ator's finding-the-sword-and-coming-of-age-and-trying-to-kill-me. Later, Ator finds another, identical sword in an even better hiding place. He sneaks up behind the gnome and...smash! That one shatters, too. Another fake! By this time the audience is wondering how long this can go on. The gnome leaves. Ator finds yet another "Mighty" Sword hidden behind a rock (it makes you wonder, if he lived in this cave for the past 20 years, why he didn't find these things before). He forges it anew and, when the gnome comes home, brandishes the sword. The gnome laughs and points to his own forehead, daring Ator to strike. "Right there," he says. Ator obliges him and cleaves him cleanly in two. Very cleanly: the gnome was hardly more than an empty latex-rubber suit. Weird.

And what's almost as weird is when you stop to think that the gnome's willingness to be chopped in half implies that there was probably yet ANOTHER fake sword in that cave, one Ator was too dumb to find. At least we were spared the screen time.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Eric Allan Kramer  
Margaret Lensey  
Donald O'Brien  
Director Claim to Fame
Joe D'Amato was born Aristide Massaccesi 

Bryan Cassidy

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© 2011-2014 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.