Sunday, March 19, 2017

Four Sixties Cult Films As Fodder For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

There are four movies that have influenced me as a kid, these are classics that seldom get mentioned today. Yeah these were shown to me as a kid & they foreshadowed many of the later Eighties sword & sorcery films . First up is the 'Long Ships' from 1964. The Long Ships is a movie starring Sydney Poitier as a Moorish king named Aly Mansuh. Based on the Swedish novel, "The Long Ships" by Frans G. Bengtsson. Released in the United Kingdom, in 1964. Excellent film with a great cast and now mostly forgotten except by some of the real film fans. Yeah there's going to be a bit of a Viking theme here but forgive an old war gaming fan.

Next up is one that I saw in a theater in my home town of Torrington Ct back when the Warner theater ran back to back two dollar films. This film had a plot straight out of a Saturday matinee (which for me it was!) and a superb cast!
Einar and Eric are two Viking half-brothers. The former is a great warrior whilst the other is an ex-slave, but neither knows the true identity of the other. When the throne of Northumbria in Britain becomes free for the taking, the two brothers compete against one another for the prize, but they have very different motives - both involving the princess Morgana,
There lots to mine here for an old school sword & sorcery film especially the torture and death scene of Tony Curtis's character by flesh eating crabs. You've also got to love Einar whose pure lawful evil awesomeness.

Well I was only going to do three but when you've got Kirk Douglas senior then you've got to mention the movie that put him over the top. Yeah I'm speaking of Spartacus which is a Sixties film that has it all.  Arguably the best of the 60's "blood and sandals"  epics.  Some fantastic acting from an all-star cast and hordes of extras for the big scenes. There's tons to grab for a sword & sorcery campaign.
Even though the ending was made up this is the real deal and a classic.

One thing I love about games such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, you can play 'What if' with it & never have to say a word to those amateur history buffs at the table. Which brings me to my next film. This is classic Sixties Hollywood historical weirdness with Mayans vs American Indians, yes I'm speaking of 's Kings of The Sun.
"In order to flee from powerful enemies, young Mayan king Balam leads his people north across the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of what will become the United States. They build a home in the new land but come into conflict with a tribe of Native Americans led by their chief, Black Eagle, while both Balam and Black Eagle fall in love the beautiful Mayan princess Ixchel. "
This film is filled with pulpy goodness to mine from & its so relatively unknown today that I'd swear not one of my players had even heard of this one.

So why use these films? Well, with Hyperborea being the far future of Earth its easy to slip in the occasional and isolated city state of Old Earth cultures and not even break a sweat. Plus its easy to have all kinds of weird groups pop up with dangerous factions, strange ways, & never even apologize for the efforts. Each of these films represents a different group of humans who might be separated by miles of mountains, weird weather, etc. But are perfect micro cosm cultures rife for clashing warfare against the alien backdrop of Hyperborea.

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