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Cinophile: Krull

3 min read

The tale of the prince saving the princess from some type of nebulous evil is a well-worn saga. But how often do you get to see that with flying mountains, weird aliens and Liam Neeson?

Krull achieved cult status thanks to two major elements. First was the Dark Fortress, an imposing mountain that comes from space.  Its interior was a surrealist nightmare of protruding spikes, smooth surfaces and bizarre decor that shifted around.  Second was the incredible score by Oscar-winning composer James Horner – even if you don’t understand English the sold the mood perfectly every time.

The Eighties were an exciting time for experimentation. The blockbuster had arrived and become a norm. Large, otherworldy productions were the big thing, even though special effects were still maturing. The Princess Bride, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth… the fantasy genre was having a huge creative heyday.

Yes, that is Liam Neeson in one of his early roles as a part of the bandits the prince enlists in his quest. Robbie Coltrane, today best known as Hagrid in Harry Potter, also played one of the bandits. But his voice was dubbed by an American actor. Lysette Anthony, the English actress who played the princess, was also dubbed over as the producers felt an American actress would attract more viewers.

In such a petri dish of creativity you were bound to get something a bit strange. The planet of Krull’s problems start when a giant mountain arrive from space and settle on the surface. The dominion of a mysterious creature called The Beast, it spews out armoured cavalry brandishing laser-firing rods. The arrival devastates the planet’s sword-and-sorcery kingdoms and two former enemies choose to ally through the marriage of a prince and princess. Naturally the Beast’s army arrived, kick the snot out of the local forces and run off with the princess, prompting the prince and his incredibly tight pants to launch a rescue mission.

Today Krull has aged surprisingly well. It’s still clearly old. but the especial effects are quite impressive. That includes the squid-like aliens in the Slayer suits, the imposing Cyclops, the lair of the Widow with the giant spider (a stop-motion marvel), the Firemares and the impressive destruction of the Dark Fortress.

Krull was a massive disaster. It cost around $40 million to make – one of the most expensive films at the time – and made back less than half. It was bestowed ‘Worst Movie’ awards and would have gone down in infamy were it not for the little touches. The movie truly does have an amazing soundtrack and and the incredible set of the Dark Fortress, the lair of the Beast, sits alongside such creations at the derelict ship in Alien and Neverending Story’s ivory tower. Yes, it’s a tad cheesy, but Krull has managed to emerged over the years as a cult staple – the kind of film that everyone is afraid to make today. For obvious reasons – it was a huge financial failure. But still, what’s a few million over the entertainment of movie geeks long after you stopped making any money from it?



Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: January 27, 2014


  1. I remember this movie. Wasn’t nearly as good as Excalibur but when I was 11, I was Krull FTW! I remember seeing the trailer countless times before it was finally released at my local video store and it took over Battletruck as my fav movie for a while.


    • James Francis

      January 28, 2014 at 08:02

      Give it a look again. It’s held up pretty well for its age.


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