Cave Dwellers (review by Butch Miller)
“Cave Dwellers,” better known (Ha! Ha!) as “Ator, the Blade Master”(or “The Return” or “Ator l’invincibile 2”) is the atrocious sequel to the atrocious “Ator, the Fighting Eagle” and also the atrocious prequel to the atrocious “Ator, the Iron Warrior.” The idea behind the multitude of atrocious alternate names is this: “Hey Joe,” says one of the wanna-be flunkies as they’re sitting around on a canal boat, half sloshed and likely stewing in their own filth, thinking about how wonderful their wives’ armpit hair is, somewhere in Italy. “Let’s make a movie and call it like twenty different things so people wont know they didn’t already see it. They’ll pay for it all over again!”
Am I being redundant about the atrociousness of these atrocious films? Well, I’m not being as redundant as the films themselves. Apparently, hack director/clearly untalented and untrained writer, Joe D’Amato, decided that it would be easier to pad the film with flashback scenes of unprecedented length. God forbid anyone saw Ator the Fighting Eagle (I have, in fact, seen all of these films); it was utterly unnecessary to do so, as every coherent event — and a lot of other things as well, and I mean a LOT — is included in the sequel.
The basic story is this: Ator (Miles O’Keefe) is your every day sword and sorcery Conan clone, except he’s also some kind of mystical kung-fu magic guy trainee, and an amateur surgeon, and a chemist, and a master of aerodynamics, and just about anything else that can come in handy. The Ator series could very easily (and fairly) be called the “Deus Ex Machina” trilogy, since nothing aside from his swordfighting skills are given as background — yet he always has the right skill or knowledge to create some needed item. Note the modern day aluminum hang glider he creates from bamboo, which he utilizes in his role as a bombardier. This allows him to save the day for himself and Thong, his mute and emaciated Mongoloid assistant and gay lover. OK, that last part was a deduction, but disprove it… Mila (Lisa Foster), sexy young valley girl type and only daughter of the Grand Poobah of Magic in the world, wants him badly, and what does he do? He sits on a disturbingly small, exquisitely phallic stump – about 18 inches long and maybe three inches in diameter, and I’m not making this up – and talks to Thong who is wading in an ankle deep river and maniacally catching huge fish from the water with his bare hands. It’s just so Freudian I can’t even start.
I still haven’t related the story, you say. Well, there’s a bit of a problem with that. Once the flashbacks are over, the story gets real … I don’t know what kind of language is acceptable on this website, so I won’t say what I think. You all know what FUBAR means? Yeah, that. That’s the plot to “Cave Dwellers”. There’s a magic nuclear bomb or something (it’s incredibly dangerous and has no useful purpose, yet Mila’s daddy made it … why?). There’s John Saxon with Fu Manchu mustachios and a giant helmet with some sort of water foul mounted on it, and Willie Nelson shows up, and I kept expecting the Devil to appear riding the giant spider puppet from Ator the Fighting Eagle but they must have run out of budget. There’s a mild kind of B&D scene where Ator and Thong lock up Mila in a cage, which she has to blow up to escape from. There’s eventually a cave full of invisible bad guys and 2001-rejected cavemen who decide Mila looks like a fitting dinner until Ator appears with some lame flash-paper effect and scares them off- “Hey Joe, we could name one release “Cave Dwellers!” There’s a cave and there’s dwellers!” There’s also an appearance of the clown-faced gang from “The warriors”, led by the fat samurai guy from Street Fighter. In the end Ator has an incredibly wussyish duel with the Italian John Saxon, during which they bicker about who’s using how many swords, and to be honest I don’t remember who wins. I just know that Ator is still around at the end because he rebuffs Mila yet again so he can go off into the sunset, detonate the nuke, and piss around in the wilderness some more until 1987, when Joe and his idiot crew scraped up a ‘budget’ for the third (and, I pray, last) movie in the Ator series.
I love sword and sorcery movies. I mean I really love them. I prefer them when one guy handles swords and another handles sorcery, however … Ator is jack AND master of all trades. And I won’t even mention the airplanes visible flying overhead. So there you have it. If you wanna watch an extremely well-muscled, half-naked, fully-oiled man and a pretty and young valley girl in a fur miniskirt running and jumping around with a hubcap on her chest, you might be able to enjoy the experience. This movie is almost as redundant internally as a Sandy Frank flick, and even though the genre is great and I’d watch it again, it doesn’t deserve more than 1 1/2 yaks. 2 if you saw Ator the Fighting Eagle … damn near anything looks good compared that.