Conquest (1983 film)
U.S. theatrical poster
|Directed by||Lucio Fulci|
|Produced by||Giovanni Di Clemente|
|Screenplay by||Gino Capone
José Antonio de la Loma
|Story by||Giovanni Di Clemente|
Conrado san Martín
|Music by||Claudio Simonetti|
|Edited by||Emilio Rodriguez Oses|
|Distributed by||Clemi Cinematografica
|Running time||88 min.|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2010)|
Several people in white robes gather around a young man named Ilius, adorning him in a vest of leather armor, while an old man hands him a bow and a set of arrows. The old man tells Ilius the tale of an ancient warrior god named Kronos, who once wielded the bow, and how it could make arrows out of pure sunlight.
Ohkren, an evil sorceress whose entire head is covered in a golden mask, recites a magical chant to make the sun rise before a large gathering of cave-dwelling people. Ohkren commands a savage army of wolfmen who quickly invade the caves of these people, slaying their leader and tearing limb from limb a young woman who attempts to flee. In a strange, dreamlike sequence, Ohkren and her wolfmen partake in hallucinogenic drugs. She has a vision of a young man devoid of any facial features, who charges into their chamber and dispatches Ohkren and the wolfmen with the same magic bow that was given to Ilius.
In a fog-filled murky swamp, a lone girl is suddenly attacked by a group of masked men. Ilius kills them, but when he runs out of arrows, Ohkren's wolfmen attack. He is saved by a lone muscular man, Mace, who fights with a rock on a sling. Mace offers to accompany Ilius; it is revealed that Mace has Beastmaster-style power to communicate with animals.
Mace has developed a bit of talent with Ilius' bow and shows off by killing a lone caveman, for no apparent reason. They take shelter in a cave for the night, but as they sleep, Ohkren's wolfmen trap the two heroes inside. Ilius and Mace escape through a hole in the ground. Ohkren has another vision of the faceless warrior and tortures the leader of her wolfmen to death as punishment for failing to kill Ilius. She summons an armored being named Zora, who swears that he shall kill the wanderer in exchange for her devotion.
As Ilius and Mace continue their travels, they come across a small tribe of the cave people, who are apparently familiar with Mace, and invite them in for the night. During the feast they hold, Ilius recognizes one of the girls in the tribe as the girl he saved in the swamps, who has taken a strong liking to him. In the dead of night as the others sleep, the girl takes Ilius to the outside of the cave in an attempt to have sex with him, but Ohkren's warriors have tracked down Ilius and Mace and viciously slaughter the girl and all her people. Ilius is dragged away by the attackers as Mace is knocked out in the attack.
When he awakens, Mace follows the warriors and rescues Ilius, whom he has come to accept as his one friend. Ilius finally explains to Mace that he is on a quest to slay Ohkren, and put an end to her reign of terror over the people of the land. Although Mace tries to convince Ilius to go back to his land, as Ohkren is too powerful, Ilius refuses to go home until his task is complete. Mace eventually decides to aid Ilius.
After inexplicably building a raft and then abandoning it, Mace and Ilius are attacked by a sort of sentient plant which fires poisoned quills. They run to the beach where they abandoned their raft, but Ilius is suddenly shot in the leg with a quill. Its poison makes him break out in purulent, bloody boils. They depart the beach on the raft; as Ilius's condition worsens, Mace brings the raft to an island where there is an herb that could heal the ailment. Mace rushes off and quickly locates the plant in a dark and foreboding swamp, but as he makes his way back to Ilius, he is attacked by a large band of zombies, which he fights off. When Mace returns to Ilius, he raises a rock to bash Ilius's head in. Suddenly another Mace attacks him, and the second one wins. The first Mace is revealed to be Zora in disguise, and he teleports away. Mace administers the healing plant and cures Ilius.
When Ilius recovers, he decides to go home. Mace politely refuses both Ilius's offer to live in Ilius's land and his gift of the magic bow. Ilius then rows off to sea on a reed boat as Mace departs back the way they came. Mace is soon ambushed by a band of white furry creatures, who demand to know where Ilius is and tie Mace to a wooden "X" on the edge of a cliff. Meanwhile, Ilius has a change of heart and returns to the shore. He kills the creatures, but one of them pushes Mace off the cliff and into the sea, where dolphins rescue him. Ilius is relieved to find Mace alive, and Mace decides to join Ilius on his quest.
Making camp in another cave, Ilius is dragged under the ground by a red hand. Mace is awakened by Ilius's cries and jumps into the hole after him. He is unable to see clearly, but eventually makes his way through a swarm of bats to the exit, guided by one of the bats. He is shocked to find Ilius's headless body hanging from the ceiling of the cave.
Zora and Ohkren exult over Ilius's severed head, but Ohkren is dismayed to see the head open its eyes. She realizes that, though Ilius's body may be dead, his soul lives—and that for as long as it does she remains in danger.
Back in the caves, Mace has built a funeral pyre for Ilius. As he stands at his side, Mace hears Ilius's voice, telling him that with his death, he passes the powers he inherited from Kronos on to Mace. When the fire dies down, Mace rubs the ashes of Ilius onto his skin, personally resolving to finish Ilius' quest and slay Ohkren.
On the cliff where Ohkren was first shown raising the sun, she is once again reciting the sun chant, surrounded by her remaining soldiers and Zora. Mace appears and announces that he has come to avenge Ilius. He magically summons the bow just as Ilius's father did in the beginning and easily defeats Ohkren's soldiers. She flees by teleporting into her chamber, but Mace fires an arrow through the mountain and knocks her mask off.
Mace somehow teleports into Ohkren's chamber, where he sees Ohkren's face to be that of a rotted zombie. Mace fires one final arrow into Ohkren's heart, which turns her into a dog (probably permanently). Ohkren the dog leaves with Zora, who has taken wolf form. Mace walks off into the sunrise with Ilius's bow on his back, finally at peace.
Conquest was part of an early 1980s cycle of sword and sandal films inspired by the success of Conan the Barbarian. This features many of the trademarks of that genre; muscled warriors, masked villains and a nameless, primeval setting. It is, however, a lot rougher than most of the other films of the genre, due to Lucio Fulci's trademark gore and nudity.
After collaborating with horror film scripter Dardano Sacchetti for six years, Fulci went off on his own in 1983 to direct Conquest in Mexico, failing to involve Sacchetti in the deal. The film was supposed to be a very big budget "A" picture, and Sacchetti allegedly resented the fact that Fulci had not thought to involve him in the project. The film actually wound up doing quite poorly upon its release, and afterwards, Fulci had trouble jump-starting his working relationship with Sacchetti, who by this time had gone his own way. Most Fulci fans agree that the films Fulci made without Sacchetti after 1983 were not nearly as good as their previous collaborative efforts.
A notable feature of Conquest is the cinematography by Alejandro Ulloa, which uses filters, soft focus and fog in an attempt to give the film a dreamlike atmosphere. The look of the film has received mixed responses from critics. A young twenty-year-old Sabrina Siani appeared nude in this film, shocking the 1983 viewers.
Conquest was a box-office flop on release.