Krull (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Yates
Produced by Ron Silverman
Written by Stanford Sherman
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Edited by Ray Lovejoy
Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 29 July 1983 (1983-07-29) (United States)
  • 27 December 1983 (1983-12-27) (United Kingdom)
Running time
121 min.
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget US$45–50 million
Box office $16,519,463

Krull is a 1983 British-American heroic fantasy-science fiction film directed by Peter Yates and starring Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony. It was produced by Ron Silverman and released by Columbia Pictures.

The film includes early screen roles for actors Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.


A narrator describes a prophecy regarding "a girl of ancient name that shall become queen, that she shall choose a king, and that together they shall rule their world, and that their son shall rule the galaxy".

The planet Krull is invaded by an entity known as "The Beast" and his army of "Slayers", who travel the galaxy in a mountain-like spaceship called the Black Fortress. In a ceremony involving exchanging a handful of flame between the newlyweds, Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa attempt to marry and form an alliance between their rival kingdoms in the hope that their combined forces can defeat the Beast's army. A prophecy foretells that Lyssa will bear a child destined to rule the galaxy. The Beast has his Slayers attack the wedding before it is concluded. The castle of Lyssa's father, King Eirig, is destroyed and the Kings are murdered. The Kingdoms' armies are devastated and the princess is kidnapped.

Colwyn, the only survivor, is found and nursed by Ynyr, the Old One. Colwyn sets out to rescue Lyssa, but Ynyr tells him in order to defeat the Beast he must find the "Glaive", an ancient, magical, five-pointed throwing weapon with retractable blades which Colwyn retrieves from a high mountain cave. He learns from Ynyr that he must also track down the Black Fortress, which teleports to a new location every day at sunrise. As they travel Colwyn and Ynyr are joined by an accident-prone magician, Ergo "the Magnificent", and a band of nine fugitives led by Torquil. Colwyn enlists the convicts' aid and in return offers them their freedom as their reward. Torquil's group of thieves, fighters, bandits and brawlers include Kegan, Rhun, Oswyn, Bardolph, Menno, Darro, Nennog, and Quain, who each has minor, notable roles in the story. The cyclops Rell, who possesses the ability to know when his time of death arrives, also joins the group after first following them from a distance.

To help them find the Black Fortress, Colwyn's small army travels to the home of the blind Emerald Seer, and his young apprentice Titch. The Emerald seer uses his emerald crystal to try and view where the fortress will rise but the beast's hand rises out of nowhere and crushes the crystal before the group can discover the location. The Emerald Seer tells the group that the only place where the beast's power cannot overcome his vision is a place in the swamp. Ynyr persuades the Emerald Seer to go to the swamp with them.

The group is attacked by Slayers as soon as they reach the swamp, killing Darro and Menno. The Beast has the Seer killed before he can reveal the location of the Fortress. While the group rests up in a forest near a village, Kegan goes to the small town and gets Merith, one of his wives, to bring food and to cook for their tired group. While they are eating and resting, Merith's assistant, under the remote command of the Beast, tries to first tempt and later, when the temptation fails, kill Colwyn. He escapes the assassination, which causes the assistant to reveal she is jealous of Colwyn and Lyssa's love. The Beast, enraged by her inability to kill her target, kills her instead.

Ynyr does not camp with the others though as he momentarily leaves to journey to the Widow of the Web for assistance in finding the Black Fortress. The Widow of the Web is actually an enchantress, also named Lyssa, who loved Ynyr long ago and was exiled to the lair of the Crystal Spider for murdering their only child. The Widow reveals where the Beast's Fortress will be at sunrise. She also gives Ynyr the sand from the enchanted hourglass that kept the Crystal Spider from attacking her and will keep Ynyr alive as long as he can continue holding the grains in his hand. Ynyr quickly flees the web as the Crystal Spider attacks the Widow's prison and begins to destroy it. Ynyr returns to the group to reveal the news before he loses the last of the sand, which kills him.

Colwyn and his followers use captured Fire Mares—the only transport fast enough to reach the teleporting fortress in the same day—to reach the Black Fortress, but are attacked by Slayers, who kill Rhun. Upon finding a way in, Rell uses his tremendous strength to hold open the huge doors long enough for the others to enter. While this happens, additional Slayers attack, killing Quain. After everyone else enters, the entrance closes, crushing Rell. The group then attempts to cross a bridge, but as they make their way across, Nennog is killed by a Slayer.

Shortly afterward, as they make their way through the Fortress, the group is further reduced when Kegan sacrifices his life to save Torquil. To make matters worse, Ergo and Titch get separated from the others. When the Slayers try to kill Titch, Ergo magically transforms into a tiger and kills the Slayers, injuring himself while saving Titch's life.

Colwyn, Torquil, Bardolph, and Oswyn reach a spacious area with no apparent exits, containing a large dome. As Colwyn attempts to open a portion of the dome with the Glaive to find either another passageway and/or Lyssa, Ergo and Titch, Torquil, Bardolph, and Oswyn attempt to find another entrance to the curved structure by walking around its circumference. When one is not immediately located, they are surprised when Bardolph falls through a wall facing the dome. Torquil and Oswyn go after him and the three bandits find themselves caught in a trap with slowly closing walls studded with huge spikes. In an attempt to reach a fallen dagger, Bardolph loses his life.

Meanwhile, upon opening a section of the dome, Colwyn finds Lyssa and confronts the Beast, injuring it with the Glaive. However, he is unable to recover the Glaive from the Beast's body. With nothing to defend themselves against the Beast's counterattack, Lyssa realizes that together, their ability to project flame can finish the Beast. They quickly finish the wedding ritual and the two use the flame to slay the Beast. Its death frees Torquil and Oswyn from the spike room and the two soon find their way to Colwyn and Lyssa, who retrieve Ergo and Titch as they all make their way out of the crumbling Fortress. The survivors watch as the Black Fortress crumbles and is sucked up into the sky. Colwyn names Torquil as Lord Marshal, which Torquil accepts.

As the surviving heroes depart across a field, the narrator (Ynyr) repeats the same prophecy from the beginning, implying that the queen and her chosen king mentioned there (whose son shall rule the galaxy) are Lyssa and Colwyn respectively.


The voice of Princess Lyssa was re-dubbed by American actress Lindsay Crouse as the producers wanted the Princess to have a more mature sounding voice.[1]


The film was one of the most expensive of its time. Twenty-three sets were built for the film, covering 10 sound stages at Pinewood Studios, London. Other filming locations were Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Campo Imperatore, Italy.[citation needed]

The dub for the death screams of the Slayers and the demise of the Emerald Seer imposter was taken from the Mahar shrieks in At The Earth's Core.[citation needed] The Fire Mares, steeds that travel so fast they leave a trail of flame and can effectively fly, are played by Clydesdale horses.[1]

Despite persistent rumours that the film was meant to tie-in with the game Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax stated that "To the best of my knowledge and belief the producres [sic] of Krull never approached TSR for a license to enable their film to use the D&D game IP."[2]


The film score, which was composed by James Horner and performed by The London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers was released on Southern Cross Records, and has been re-released on CD in various releases by labels. It has been commended as part of the composer's best early efforts before his more famous post-1990 era works.[3]

The score features traditional swashbuckling fanfares, an overtly rapturous love theme and other musical elements that were characteristic of fantasy/adventure films of the 1980s, along with incorporating avant-garde techniques with string instruments to represent some of the monstrous creatures in the story. Additionally, to accompany the main antagonists, the Beast and its army of Slayers, Horner utilised Holst-like rhythms and groaning and moaning vocals from the choir. Also of note is a recurring "siren call" performed by female voices that starts and bookends the score, and appears numerous times in the story to represent the legacy of the ancient world of Krull.[4]

Horner's score is reminiscent of earlier works, particularly Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Some pieces of the music were reused for the area atmosphere nearby: Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon (1995–2005)—now Space Mountain: Mission 2—at Disneyland Paris[5]

The score has been released numerous times on album. The first was a 45-minute condensed edition, which was released by Southern Cross Records in 1987, featuring most of the major action cues, three renditions of the love theme and the music from the End Credits. However, music from the Main Title sequence was omitted. Southern Cross Records later released Special Editions in 1992 and 1994 (the latter a Gold disc) with a running time of over 78 minutes, expanding on all of the previously released tracks, featuring the Main Title music and other action cues.

In 1998, SuperTracks released the complete recorded score in a two-CD set with extensive liner notes by David Hirsch in a notoriously designed booklet,[3] however, this release, along with the 1992 and 1994 releases, have become rare and very expensive collectible items. In 2010, La-La Land Records re-issued the SuperTracks album, with two bonus cues and new liner notes by Jeff Bond in a limited edition of 3,000 copies, which sold out within less than a year.[citation needed]


Janet Maslin, reviewing Krull for The New York Times found the film to be "a gentle, pensive sci-fi adventure film that winds up a little too moody and melancholy for the Star Wars set," praising director Yates for "giving the film poise and sophistication, as well as a distinctly British air," as well as "bring[ing] understatement and dimension to the material."[6] Baird Searles described Krull as "an unpretentious movie . . . with a lot of good things going for it," noting the film as "very beautiful, in fact, a neglected quality in these days when it seems to have been forgotten that film is a visual medium."[7]

Krull currently holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews.[8] The film made over $16.5 million in the U.S.,[9] failing to bring back its reported budget of over $45–50 million. However, it has gained a cult following over the years since its release.[10]


The movie won a Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Picture.[11]



A novelisation was written by Alan Dean Foster. A comic book adaptation by writer David Michelinie and artists Bret Blevins and Vince Colletta was published by Marvel Comics, both as Marvel Super Special No. 28 with behind-the-scenes material from the film,[12] and as a two-issue limited series.[13]

Video games[edit]

Main article: Krull (video game)

In 1983, several games were developed with the Krull license:

  • A Parker Brothers board game and card game
  • An arcade game by D. Gottlieb & Co., who also designed a Krull pinball game that was never put into production.
  • A console game originally planned for the Atari 5200, but changed to the Atari 2600 because of poor sales of the former system.

Cultural References[edit]

  • The Krull glaive was spoofed in South Park, season 11, episode 5 ("Fantastic Easter Special").
  • In the American Dad episode "All About Steve" Snot holds up a fictional magazine which reads "500 reasons why Krull is better than sex!"
  • Sean Phillips, the reclusive central character of John Darnielle's 2014 novel Wolf In White Van, buys an ex-rental VHS copy of the film and spends four pages musing on the film's story and themes.[14]
  • The Cyclops and fire mares from Krull are emulated in Gentlemen Broncos.
  • The Krull glaive makes an appearance by intermittently floating up out of the lava in the tunnels preceding the Onyxia boss encounter in the MMO video game World of Warcraft.
  • In the 2007 movie The Air I Breathe, Brendan Fraser's character (Pleasure) refers to Rell, the Cyclops, as both of them share the ability to see into the future - though significantly different for each.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on multiple formats: VHS, CED, Laserdisc, and DVD. The film is available on DVD as a "Special Edition" in 2008. Also, the film was available for streaming through Starz and Netflix until June 2012. Mill Creek Entertainment, through a license from Sony, released Krull on Blu-ray for the first time on September 30th, 2014.


  1. ^ a b Krull DVD Cast and Crew Commentary
  2. ^ Faraci, Devin (3 April 2001). "The Original DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Movie Wasn’t DUNGEONS & DRAGONS". Badass Digest. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Krull (James Horner)". Filmtracks. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Liner notes by Jeff Bond: "Slaying the Beast: The Music of Krull", from the 2010 La-La Land Release
  5. ^ Included in press kit, but may not have been used in the attraction. "Disneyland Paris Discoveryland". Theme Park Audio Archives. 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  6. ^ ""Krull', Adventure with Magic and a Beast". New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Films", F&SF, January 1984, p. 66-8.
  8. ^ Krull at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Krull at Box Office Mojo
  10. ^ Heath, Paul (10 January 2011). "Bullitt and Krull director Peter Yates has died". The Hollywood News. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "1983 6th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Marvel Super Special No. 28". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Krull". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Darnielle, John. Wolf in White Van. pp. 48–54. 

External links[edit]