Krull is a 1983 British-American science fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Peter Yates and produced by Ron Silverman with a screenplay by Stanford Sherman. It follows a journey of Prince Colwyn and his group of outlaws on the planet Krull to save future queen Princess Lyssa from the Beast and his constantly teleporting Black Fortress. The film began development in 1980, when Columbia Pictures president Frank Price gave Silverman the idea to produce a fantasy film, and was finally released in July 1983. Yates's directing on Krull differed from his previous films that were more realistic; he took the "challenge" of directing a motion picture like Krull since he could rely only on his imagination instead of doing research, and screenplays that encouraged experimentation with modern special effects were rare in the early 1980s.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Yates|
|Produced by||Ron Silverman|
|Written by||Stanford Sherman|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Ray Lovejoy|
Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$16.9 million|
The film stars an ensemble cast of Ken Marshall as Prince Colwyn, Lysette Anthony as Princess Lyssa, Trevor Martin as the voice of the Beast, Freddie Jones as Ynyr, Bernard Bresslaw as Rell the Cyclops, David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent, Tony Church and Bernard Archard as kings and the fathers of Colwyn and Lyssa, Alun Armstrong as the leader of a group of bandits that include early screen roles for actors Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane, John Welsh as The Emerald Seer, Graham McGrath as Titch, and Francesca Annis as The Widow of the Web.
Krull underwent a very expensive, harsh, and dangerous production process. The film's huge budget ballooned mainly due to the designers having to make numerous alterations to the sets corresponding to the heavily evolving script. The movie was shot at several sound stages at Pinewood Studios, and actors such as Marshall, Bresslaw and Jones performed dangerous stunts during filming. However, the film was a commercial failure upon release; and critical opinion has been mixed, both upon release and in retrospect. Numerous reviewers have highlighted its visual effects and soundtrack, while several critics have criticized its plot as being derivative and nonsensical. The film has gone on to achieve cult film status.
A narrator describes a prophecy regarding "a girl of ancient name that shall become queen", which says "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 the newlyweds exchanging a handful of flame, Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa plan to marry and form an alliance between their rival kingdoms in the hope that their combined forces can defeat the Beast's army. The Slayers attack before the wedding ceremony is completed, killing the two kings, devastating both armies, and kidnapping the princess.
Prince Colwyn is found and nursed by Ynyr, the Old One. Ynyr tells him the Beast can be defeated with the Glaive, an ancient, magical, five-pointed throwing weapon. Colwyn retrieves the Glaive from a high mountain cave before setting out to track down the Black Fortress, which teleports to a new location every day at sunrise. As they travel, Colwyn and Ynyr are joined by magician Ergo "the Magnificent" and a band of nine thieves, fighters, bandits, and brawlers. Colwyn offers to clear their criminal records, successfully enlisting Torquil, Kegan, Rhun, Oswyn, Bardolph, Menno, Darro, Nennog, and Quain. The cyclops Rell later joins the group.
Colwyn's group travels to the home of the Emerald Seer, and his apprentice Titch. The Emerald Seer uses his crystal to view where the Fortress will rise, but the Beast's hand magically appears and crushes the crystal. The group travels to a swamp that cannot be penetrated by the Beast's magic, but Slayers attack, killing Darro and Menno. An agent of the Beast, a changeling, kills the Emerald Seer, before he can confirm the next location of the Fortress, and assumes his form, but is himself uncovered and killed by Rell and Colwyn.
While the group rests in a forest, Kegan goes to a nearby village and gets Merith, one of his wives, to bring food. The Beast exerts remote command of Merith's helper, who attempts to seduce then kill Colwyn, but fails. Ynyr leaves the resting group to journey to the "Widow of the Web", an enchantress 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 Black 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 a badly injured Ynyr alive on his journey back to the group. As the Crystal Spider attacks the Widow, Ynyr flees the web and returns to the group to reveal the location of the Black Fortress; as he speaks, he loses the last of the sand and expires.
The group capture and ride magical Fire Mares to reach the Black Fortress before it teleports again. Slayers at the Fortress kill Rhun, while Rell sacrifices himself to hold open the crushing spaceship doors long enough to allow the others to enter. Slayers inside kill Quain and Nennog, and Kegan sacrifices his life to save Torquil as they journey through the Fortress. When Ergo and Titch get separated from the others and are attacked by Slayers, Ergo magically transforms into a tiger to kill the Slayers and save Titch's life.
Colwyn, Torquil, Bardolph, and Oswyn are trapped inside a large dome. Colwyn attempts to open a hole in the dome with the Glaive, while the other three search for any other passageway. The three fall through an opening and are trapped between slowly closing walls studded with huge spikes, which kill Bardolph.
Colwyn breaches the dome and finds Lyssa. He attacks the Beast, injuring it with the Glaive, which becomes embedded in the Beast's body. With nothing to defend themselves against the Beast's counterattack, Lyssa realizes that they must quickly finish the wedding ritual, giving them the linked power to shoot flame, with which they finally slay the Beast. Its death frees Torquil and Oswyn from the spike room and they rejoin Colwyn and Lyssa, then Ergo and Titch, as they make their way out the self-destructing Fortress.
Colwyn and Lyssa, now king and queen of the combined kingdom, name Torquil as Lord Marshal. As the surviving heroes depart across a field, the narrator repeats the opening prophecy that the son of the queen and her chosen king shall rule the galaxy.
- Ken Marshall as Colwyn, a prince who fights with a sword and the Glaive.
- Lysette Anthony as Princess Lyssa. Her voice was re-dubbed by American actress Lindsay Crouse as the producers wanted the Princess to have a more mature sounding voice.
- Trevor Martin as the voice of the Beast. Maley designed the Beast:94 as a "self contained animatronic suit[,] providing not only facial movement but also lung, heart and body-fluid movement all without a single external cable." Lawrence Watt-Evans of Starlog noted that the Beast is not clearly visible and can be seen "only through various distortions, as if he isn't quite a part of normal three-dimensional space at all".:76
- Freddie Jones as Ynyr, The Old One as well as the film's narrator.
- David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent, the film's comedic relief who has the shapeshifting ability to turn into various animals. He describes himself as "short in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose, and wide of vision".
- Bernard Bresslaw as Rell the Cyclops (credited as Cyclops). He uses a large trident. The character was designed by Nick Maley.:94 For Cyclops, prosthetic makeup covered the actor's eyes while a radio controlled the character's "solo" eyeball that was placed on his forehead.:94 Bresslaw was only able to look through one eye hole while in costume, which made it difficult for him to move around and know where he was really going.:52 Yates explained that he was mostly "acting blind", so during the swamp scene, he and the actors had to help protect him from walking into the swamp.:52 Yates explained, "he came very close on a few occasions".:52
- Alun Armstrong as Torquil, a man who favours an axe and is leader of a group of bandits that includes Liam Neeson as Kegan, an axe-wielding polygamist; Robbie Coltrane as Rhun (voice dubbed over by Michael Elphick), who fights with a spear; Dicken Ashworth as Bardolph, who favours daggers; Todd Carty as Oswyn, who uses a bō staff; Bronco McLoughlin as Nennog, who throws a net; Gerard Naprous as the archer Quain; and Andy Bradford and Bill Weston as whip-wielders Darro and Menno.
- John Welsh as The Emerald Seer.
- Graham McGrath as Titch, the Seer's young apprentice.
- Francesca Annis as The Widow of the Web. A 23-piece aging make-up was applied to Annis's face for the role.
- Tony Church as King Turold and Bernard Archard as King Eirig, fathers of Colwyn and Lyssa respectively.
- Clare McIntyre as Merith, one of Kegan's many wives.
- Belinda Mayne as Vella, Merith's assistant.
In 1980, the president of Columbia Pictures Frank Price asked producer Ron Silverman if he and his partner Ted Mann wanted to create a fantasy film.:48-49 Silverman agreed to do so and hired Stanford Sherman, whose previously well-known writing credit was Any Which Way You Can (1980), to work on the screenplay.:49 He wrote the "bare bones" of the plot and sent it to Colombia, which they quickly approved. While the essence of the plot was never altered during development and production, the first draft of the film was titled The Dragons of Krull, where the Beast was initially planned to be a dragon; however, the creators changed the Beast to a more "reptilian" creature, as Sherman described him, for the final film, leading to the title change to simply Krull.:49
The team also brought in Steve Tesich to write a "second version" of the script.:49 Tesich's version of the screenplay was discarded as dialogue-heavy and lacking in special effects, so the first script was used and re-edited instead.:52 There was one point in the writing process where it was planned that Lyssa would turn into the antagonist near the end of the story, but this was not part of the final screenplay given that the production team didn't want her to be "less than pure".:52 Lysette Anthony, the actress who played Lyssa, explained that she "thought that was a little boring".:52
After the first draft was finished, the writing and production team first considered Peter Yates to direct the film. Two months after they asked him to join the project and after he finished work on directing Eyewitness (1981), Yates read the screenplay of The Dragons in Krull. He was "intrigued" with what he read and accepted the position of directing the film as a "challenge". He reasoned in a 1983 interview that Krull would be one of those rare films that "can take full advantage of today's special effects techniques" and would differ from his more realistic previous works in that, instead of having to research, he would have to make the movie entirely based on his imagination. The film was in a year of pre-production, which involved Sherman editing the script, Yates creating storyboards, Stephen B. Grimes and Derek Meddings coming up with and drawing set concepts, and Ken Marshall and Anthony being cast as Colwyn and Lyssa respectively.:49
Despite persistent rumours that the film was meant to tie-in with the game Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax stated, "To the best of my knowledge and belief the producers of Krull never approached TSR for a license to enable their film to use the D&D game IP."
Yates described making Krull as "complicated" and "just so enormous".:52 Special effects artist Brian Johnson stated in a 2009 interview that Yates hated working on the film so much that in the middle of shooting, he took a vacation to the Caribbean which led to the special effects artists taking a three-week break from the project. The production was initially arranged to be shot at several locations because Krull was first planned as a medieval-style motion picture.:49 However, as it went through multiple drafts, the screenplay transformed into a story that was entirely fantasy, which meant most of the film would be shot on sound stages and only a minority of the sequences would be filmed in actual locations in Italy and England, for only a few weeks.:49 A total of 23 huge sets of the film were built and shot at more than ten sound stages at Pinewood Studios. Krull was a very expensive film to produce, using a budget of $30 million according to Starlog magazine. Marshall and Meddlings reasoned that the huge budget was due to several changes of concepts in the script that led the designers to have to alter the designs of the sets multiple times.:49
Filming began on 25 January 1983. The first sequence shot was the scene where Ynyr (Freddie Jones) climbs a huge spider web in order to confront the Widow of the Web. Jones did not use any safety wires because the wires would have been visible. Stop-motion animator Steve Archer, who previously worked on Clash of the Titans (1981), spent two weeks creating the first model of the spider in the scene which was later discarded changed.:52
Yates's direction of the action scenes that take place in the beginning of Krull were inspired by swashbuckler films such as Captain Blood (1935).} However, he wanted to go through the "complicated" process of figuring out new weapons that gave the scenes a unique swashbuckling feel. Marshall practiced his moves for the sequences a week before filming of them began. However, by the time shooting of these scenes started, the costumes for the Slayers were recently finished; therefore, much of the fight choreography was altered based on the limitations of the costumes at the last minute.:52
Pinewood's 007 Stage, one of the largest sound stages across the globe, was used for the swamp scene of Krull, wherein the Slayers and several changelings encounter Colwyn and his group.:49 Yates described the swamp set as "quite nasty", where "we always had people bumping into things.":52 It was filmed during what Marshall called a "very harsh winter" of 1983, and the set was too big to be entirely heated, leading to the actors feeling cold and "exhausted".:52 The crew members had a hard time seeing through the mist, which led to them accidentally getting into water that consisted of "cork chips".:53
Rehearsing the scene where Colwyn and his group are being chased by the Slayers in the Black Fortress involved stuntmen taking the part of Colwyn so that Marshall could conserve energy for final filming. It involved Colwyn and his men encountering a corridor where the floor opened underneath them via two set pieces "the size of a small house" that were powered by liquid and broke apart before quickly slamming back together.:53
Marshall explained that doing the sequence gave him nightmares after it was completed. When shooting of the scene began, Marshall took more time to say his lines than the production crew expected, leading to him not making it from the tunnel in the first take. Only one crew member noticed this and was able to stop the machines controlling the pieces, but Marshall explained that he "knew that if the machine didn't stop in five seconds, [he] would be dead". Another take of the sequence was shot the next day with Yates instructing that the speed of the machine be slower. However, Marshall insisted on the machine being sped up and in the final take was successful in getting away from the two set pieces alive. Marshall explained, "I had no feeling in my heel for months afterward. It was really hard doing stunts afterwards, too.":53
Meddings, who was previously known for his work on Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), led the special effects department of Krull.:53 British artist Christopher Tucker was also originally in the project but left due to creative differences. Nick Maley and his crew produced several effects six weeks before filming began. The effects department of Krull went for challenges in making visual effects and designs that were unusual to achieve in the early 1980s. Meddings described how the special effects were made for the movie:
It was a hard show in terms of effects. Whenever you do an effects picture, you try to come up with something new. Unfortunately, you don't always succeed. You may think you've done something amazing, but, ultimately, it's up to the audience for that verdict. We really worked ourselves silly on this one, though.:94
Meddings created miniatures for the setting of the film's titular planet. The model Meddings constructed for Lyssa's castle was twenty feet high. Shots of it were done in Italy using forced perspective to make it look taller than it really was. The design of the Black Fortress had a height of twelve feet, and electrical wiring was used to execute the light within it. Because the Black Fortress disintegrates at the end of the film, it was constructed "like a jigsaw puzzle with parts able to be pulled apart on cue.":94
In Krull, Ergo uses his magic to transform into creatures such as puppies and geese. Meddings used an effects strategy that showed these transformations differently from traditional cross dissolve methods, reasoning that it had "been done to death".:94 He explained:
We did it with a series of blow-ups embellished with artwork so that you could actually blend in the actor. The actor [David Battley] dropped down to his knees and we used a series of blow-ups to reduce him to puppy size. Then, halfway through the transition, we introduced blowups of the puppy, blending the two sets together with artwork. Then, as the last still went on screen, we substituted the real dog who just wagged his tail and walked away. It was a trick, but it looks quite magical.:94
- Forty Slayers were made for the film, the first twenty made in only ten days.
- The Fire Mares, steeds that travel so fast they leave a trail of flame and can effectively fly, are played by Clydesdale horses.
- Stuntmen were responsible for being in shots that involved characters jumping off horses.:52 One of them is seen in the film jumping off a cliff but failing to land on a horse.:52
The film score was composed by James Horner and performed by The London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers. It has been commended as part of the composer's best early efforts before his more famous post-1990 era works.
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.
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 ambiance of the Disneyland Paris attraction Space Mountain: Mission 2 (named Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon from 1995–2005).
The score has been released numerous times on album by various labels. 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 elaborate and attractive packaging and extensive liner notes by David Hirsch; this release, and 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. La-La Land reissued an additional 2,000 copies of the album in 2015.
The soundtrack is considered a high point of the film. Ryan Lambie, reviewing for Den of Geek wrote, "The 70s and 80s seemed to be the era of great sci-fi and fantasy themes, and Horner's is high up on the list of the best, providing the film a grandiose sweep to match the broad vistas of Krull's location photography." The following is the track listing for the A-Side of the 1983 Southern Cross Records vinyl album:
- "Riding the Fire Mares"
- "Slayer's Attack"
- "Widow's Web"
- "Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme)"
This is the tracklist for the B-Side:
- "Battle on the Parapets"
- "The Widow's Lullaby"
- "Destruction of the Black Fortress"
- "Epilogue and End Credits"
This is the tracklist for the 1992 expanded CD release:
- Krull Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival (7:34)
- The Slayers Attack (9:17)
- Quest for the Glaive (7:22)
- The Seer's Vision (2:17)
- "The Battle in the Swamp" (2:40)
- Quicksand (3:37)
- Leaving the Swamp (1:59)
- The Widow's Web (6:17)
- Colwyn and Lyssa Love Theme (2:34)
- The Widow's Lullaby (5:01)
- Ynyr's Death (1:39)
- Ride of the Fire Mares (5:21)
- Battle on the Parapets (2:52)
- Inside the Black Fortress (6:14)
- Death of the Beast and Destruction of the Black Fortress (8:33)
- Epilogue and End Credits (4:52)
The 1998 Super Tracks 2 CD complete score album and the 2010 La-La-Land Records album have similar track listings. The main difference is the track ordering. In the 1998 Super Tracks album, the track "Colwyn and Lyssa Love Theme" bookends disc two, however, on the La-La-Land Records album, it is presented as the first of the three bonus tracks. Also, the Super Tracks album presents the tracks slightly out of film order towards the beginning of disc two. The track "Vella" is presented after the two tracks "The Widow's Web" and "The Widow's Lullaby" whilst in the film it occurs before both of the tracks. The La-La-Land Records album corrects this mistake. Furthermore, the La-La-Land Records album includes two bonus tracks, "The Walk to the Seer's Cave (Album Edit)" and "Theme from Krull." The following is the tracklist for the La-La-Land Records album:
- Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival (7:34)
- The Slayers Attack (9:18)
- Quest for the Glaive (7:23)
- Ride to the Waterfall (0:53)
- Lyssa in the Fortress (1:28)
- The Walk to the Seer's Cave (4:10)
- The Seer's Vision (2:18)
- The Battle in the Swamp (2:39)
- Quicksand (3:38)
- The Changeling (4:04)
- Leaving the Swamp (1:58)
- Vella (3:46)
- The Widow's Web (6:18)
- The Widow's Lullaby (5:01)
- Ynyr's Death (1:41)
- Ride of the Firemares (5:22)
- Battle on the Parapets (2:53)
- Inside the Black Fortress (6:13)
- The Death of the Beast and The Destruction of the Black Fortress (8:31)
- Epilogue and End Title (4:52)
- Colwyn and Lyssa Love Theme (2:35)
- The Walk to the Seer's Cave (Album Edit) (2:16)
- Theme from Krull (4:48)
Krull holds a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews. The film made over $16.5 million in the US, failing to bring back its reported budget of $27–30 million.:76 However, it has gained a cult following over the years since its release. Variety called Krull a "blatantly derivative hodgepodge of Excalibur meets Star Wars". They conclude that the "professionalism of director Peter Yates, the large array of production and technical talents and, particularly, the mainly British actors keep things from becoming genuinely dull or laughable". Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, reviewing Krull on their show At the Movies, gave the film two thumbs down and called it "one of the most boring, nonsensical, illogical fantasies in a long time".
Critic Janet Maslin found Krull 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", and also "bring[ing] understatement and dimension to the material". Baird Searles described Krull as "an unpretentious movie ... with a lot of good things going for it." A retrospective review by AllMovie journalist Jason Buchanan hailed it as "an ambitious sci-fi/fantasy that even in its failures can usually be forgiven for its sheer sense of bravado". Ryan Lambie, reviewing for Den of Geek in 2011, called it "among [t]he most visually creative and downright fun movies of the enchanted 80s" and "a well-made film, and an entire galaxy away from other cheap, quickly made knock-offs that showed up in the wake of Star Wars".
In a 2006 retrospective article, PopMatters critic Bill Gibron, opined that though finding many problems with Krull, it had an "amusement amalgamation" rare for a film released in the early 1980s, where "if you don't like one particular character or circumstance, just wait — something completely different is just around the corner". He summarized that it's "the perfect pick up film — a movie you can catch in snatches while it plays on some pay cable channel. No matter what point you come in on the story, no matter what sort of scene is playing out before you, the lack of continuity and context actually allows you to take pleasure in the individual moment, and if so inclined, to stick around for another exciting sample in just a few minutes." Writing about the film in 2009, Eric D. Snider summarized, "against all odds, Krull crams itself with magic, fantasy, and heroic quests, yet still manages to be boring. This is an impressive feat in and of itself. You'd almost have to be doing it on purpose."
A common critical praise of Krull was the visuals and special effects,:76 Lambie describing them as "quite captivating". Buchanan wrote, "Even if it does seem overly familiar at times there is just enough originality injected into the visualization of the film that it's hard to dismiss as just another Star Wars clone." Searles called the film "very beautiful, in fact, a neglected quality in these days when it seems to have been forgotten that film is a visual medium". Entertainment Weekly stated that Krull "had visual imagination to spare, including its sequences of flame-hoofed horses and a particularly scary pre-LOTR segment with a giant spider." Lambie called the Glaive "one of the coolest fantasy armaments of the decade", while Buchanan described it as "highly original". However, Watt-Evans disliked the naming choice of the weapon. He explained that an actual glaive was a "sort of pole-arm, a long stick with a long blade on the end" and not a "brass starfish". He stated that while "glaive" was a vague term and there wasn't an actual word that defined the weapon, "the writer should have made [another name] up rather than borrowing one which doesn't fit.:74
The effects have also garnered detractors. The House Next Door critic Steven Boone stated that Krull "stands out because it has some of the clunkiness and uncertain production design of a cheapie like Beastmaster, but its visuals fairly pulse like something from the Spielberg–Lucas realm". Gibron wrote that the film doesn't have "the polished level of visuals that fans were used to (thanks to American companies like ILM)". In a 2001 DVD Talk review, Gil Jawetz called the effects "totally fake and funny" like most other 1980s films. Ian Nathan, in a 2015 Empire magazine piece, wrote that they "may have satisfied young boys at the time but have become frail and silly with age". He was especially critical towards the visuals of the ending, labeling them as "all too derivative", lacking "polish", and only "mildly distracting". However, Nathan also noted that the film did present some interesting designs and concepts, including doppelgängers that sneak into Colwyn's gang and a witch named The Widow of the Web trapped in "the heart of a web".
A frequent criticism in multiple reviews of Krull is its writing. Lambie believed that Krull is "perhaps a little too derivative to earn a place in the major league of 80s fantasy movies". Gibron described Krull as a "forgettable battle between good, evil and a strange circular weapon", stating that its "confusing mythology left many an intended audience member scratching their adolescent head". This "confusing mythology" included the "dopey reasons" for the story's essential characters dying and parts of the story that "got lost inside all manner of interstellar/medieval malarkey". Writer Annie Frisbie opined the film's representation of the relationship between Colwyn and Lyssa was "way too vague", reasoning that "the dialogue between Colwyn and Lyssa is so generic that it doesn't come close to achieving that odd blend of universality and intimacy that makes love stories sing". Snider described Krull as a "film that dares you not to laugh at it," opining that "its plot reads like an oral report on Lord of the Rings given by a student who hasn't read the book". Snider described one major problem in the film's writing:
We're constantly told that there's only ONE WAY! to do something, and that it's VERY DANGEROUS!, and then when the characters fail to do it there's suddenly ANOTHER WAY! that is also VERY DANGEROUS! And if that way fails, too, you can bet there will be YET ANOTHER WAY! to do the thing that there was originally only ONE WAY! to do. To use a screenwriting metaphor, this is like painting yourself into a corner and then avoiding stepping on the fresh paint by suddenly developing the ability to levitate.
Many aspects of the plot such as magical abilities, wizards, lands, and members of Krull's population are only mentioned by the characters but never elaborated, which was both praised and criticized in Watt-Evans's review of the film. He liked that it made the viewer have to solve mysteries on his own and gave the film "believability".:74 However, he was negative towards one scene in the film where Lyssa sees a projected image of the Beast murdering a girl: "We see the image of the girl die and vanish, but I would have liked a look at that directly, rather than through the image. How did it look to the people around the girl? Did she vanish, as the image did, or was there a body?" He described this part of the film as a "missed ... opportunity", reasoning that "such a scene would have told us something about the Beast's power, and the reactions of the people watching might have been informative, as well". He said Krull "drags in spots", such as in the moments Colwyn and his gang climb mountains, and described the film's ending as "singularly lacking in surprises".:75 However, Lambie praised the ending for being the most exciting part of the film as well as "surprisingly harsh, with Colwyn losing allies at every turn. The Star Wars franchise never despatched quite so many characters in such a graphic manner."
Characters and performances
Responses towards the characters and performances of Krull were varied. Some critics praised the antagonists of the film.:76 Watt-Evans highlighted the Slayers' "cleverly designed double-ended weapons which provide some nice special effects and make for wonderfully chaotic battle scenes". He also noted they squeal and glow before they break apart when they get stabbed, describing it as "quite alien and frightening".:76 Lambie praised the Slayers' "ominous silhouette of their armour, and the worm-like creature that erupts from them when they're defeated, make them far less derivative than they may otherwise have been". Buchanan described the Slayers as "truly horrific", calling their death screams a "memorable touch", and labeled the Beast as being pulled "straight from the darkest of fairy tales".
The Aurum Film Encyclopedia expressed admiration for the "engaging characters who surround the pallid hero and heroine" and also called the actions scenes as "nicely judged". Lambie called the characters "flat", Gibron said that the acting "seemed pitched just a tad too high for the relatively low brow material", while Buchanan described Marshall's performance as Colwyn as "somewhat wooden". Jawetz opined that "Marshall, who looks like the lovechild of Patrick Swayze and Bruce McCulloch, is not quite tough enough to pull off his warrior role, but the supporting cast seems more solid." Lambie praised David Battley's performance as Ergo, while Justine Elias, another journalist for The House Next Door, called Battley's character "awful", elaborating that "even the dullest child would find this unfunny. I pitied Ken Marshall when he was forced to react with hearty ha-ha-has to every crap magic trick."
A novelization 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, and as a two-issue limited series.
In 1983, several games were developed with the Krull license. A Parker Brothers board game and card game was produced. An arcade game was released by D. Gottlieb & Co., who also designed a Krull pinball game that never went into production. A console game was originally planned for the Atari 5200, but changed to the Atari 2600 because of poor sales of the 5200 system.
The film was released on multiple formats: VHS, Betamax, CED, LaserDisc, and DVD. The film is available on DVD as a "Special Edition" in 2008. 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 30, 2014. On November 11 2019 HMV released Krull on dual format Blu Ray and DVD on their Premium Collection label in the UK with art cards & fold out poster. The previous release the year before was pulled due to an aspect ratio issue on the blu ray. The new release has the correct ratio.
Combining elements of sword and sorcery and the space opera genre, Krull has a plot compared by critics to the works in the series of Star Wars,:74 The Lord of the Rings, and, for its use of the Glaive, the legend of King Arthur.:74 Watt-Evans explained that the Glaive is "just there, waiting for the right man to come and wield it". Though most of the characters say they know about the myths of the Glaive, they never reveal these stories to Colwyn before he obtains the weapon. He wrote, "Do any of the stories ever bother to explain who forged Excalibur, or how? No, it's just there, waiting for Arthur to come and get it. Similarly, the Glaive is just there, waiting for Colwyn.":74
Basically medieval in appearance, Krull has a sort of streamlined look in places, as if perhaps its civilization is more technologically advanced than it appears on the surface. The Black Fortress and everything connected with it has a broken, vaguely organic look to it, as if it were grown instead of built — and then cut to shape where it hadn't grown right. The interior is quite weird, and seems to be constantly shifting to suit the whims of the Beast.:76
Yates's concept for Krull was "sort of a fairy storybook that moves; a fairy tale with a life, a reality of its own. I very much wanted to make a movie with some old-fashioned romance to it, yet a movie where things always moved.":52 Watt-Evans, categorizing Krull as a fairy tale, noted the film to be mythic to the point of having "no attempt at realism". He analyzed, "Lyssa and Colwyn, despite having apparently arranged the marriage for political reasons, fall madly in love at first sight.":74 He continued, "although we're told that the Slayers have been burning villages, we never see a village, burned or otherwise." He wrote that establishing shots of castles show no residents or plot-unrelated extras passing by; this was an indication that the lands of Krull do not have an economic system or population, which was appropriate given that "it's traditional for the heroes of fairy tales to be unbothered by such necessities as food and shelter.":74 He wrote that not much about the background of the characters is revealed because "this is not a film that explores the innermost secrets of the human heart, it's a glorious fairy tale for both adults and children.":76
None of the characters who live on Krull explain the magical powers they use every day. Watt-Evans wrote that this lack of explanation "helps one to accept that these people are real people, living in a real world". He reasoned that magic powers are Krull's equivalent of automobiles: "in a movie set on Earth, does anyone bother to explain cars? No, they're just there. For Krull, magic is as much a part of the everyday world as automobiles are for us.":75
In popular culture
- 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 novel Wolf In White Van (2014), buys an ex-rental VHS copy of the film and spends four pages musing on the film's story and themes.
- The Cyclops and fire mares from Krull are emulated in the 2009 film 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.
- The 2001 PC role-playing game Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura features a powerful throwing weapon called Azram's Star, which is modeled directly after the glaive from the film.
- In the 2007 film The Air I Breathe, Brendan Fraser's character (Pleasure) refers to Rell, the Cyclops, as both characters have the ability to see into the future - though significantly different for each.
- In the Family Guy episode "Baby Not on Board", Carl tells Chris that he should not watch Krull after Chris expresses his view that the eagles are a major plot hole in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the episode "Meet the Quagmires", when Peter travels back to 1984, he tells Lois he would rather see Krull than Zapped!.
- In the 2008 game Dark Sector, the protagonist extensively uses a three-bladed weapon named the Glaive, with its design being reminiscent of Krull's glaive. The weapon also makes an appearance in Warframe, the game's spiritual successor.
- The 2009 film Bikini Bloodbath Christmas features two actors dressed up as Prince Colwyn and Rell, selling Glaives door to door.
- The glaive was used near the ending of the 2018 film Ready Player One to cut off I-R0k's arm
- In the 2013 game Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon the player receives a weapon near the end of the game named the Killstar, with its design being very similar to the Krull Glaive.
- "Krull". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. 31 December 1982. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- Naha, Ed (November 1983). "Krull: A Visit to a Not-So-Small Planet". Starlog. The Brooklyn Company, Inc. (76): 52. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Nathan, Ian (10 October 2015). "Krull review". Empire. Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- "CULT MOVIE REVIEW: Krull (1983)". John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV, 5 November 2010
- Krull DVD Cast and Crew Commentary
- Maley, Nick. "An Introduction to the KRULL stories". 1001 Resources. Archived from the original on 31 March 2002.
- Watt-Evans, Lawrence (November 1983). "Krull". Retrieved 6 January 2019. Cite journal requires
- Faraci, Devin (3 April 2001). "The Original DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Movie Wasn't DUNGEONS & DRAGONS". Badass Digest. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- Debord, Jason (23 April 2009). "Interview With Brian Johnson, Special Effects Artist (Special to the OPB)". Original Prop. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Krull (James Horner)". Filmtracks. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Bond, Jeff (2010). Slaying the Beast: The Music of Krull (Liner notes). La-La Land Records.
- Included in press kit, but may not have been used in the attraction. "Disneyland Paris Discoveryland". Theme Park Audio Archives. 2009. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- "La-La Land Records 2015 Krull Soundtrack Release". La-La Land Records. 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- Buchanan, Jason. "Krull (1983) – Peter Yates". AllMovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Lambie, Ryan (28 June 2011). "Looking back at Krull". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Summer of '83: Krull". The House Next Door. Slant Magazine. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- Various. "James Horner - Krull - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1983, Vinyl) Discogs". Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- Krull at Rotten Tomatoes
- Krull at Box Office Mojo
- Heath, Paul (10 January 2011). "Bullitt and Krull director Peter Yates has died". The Hollywood News. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- "At the Movies with Siskel & Ebert, July 1983-Krull". YouTube. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
- "Krull', Adventure with Magic and a Beast". New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- "Films", F&SF, January 1984, pp. 66–68.
- Gibron, Bill (30 September 2006). "Short Cuts – Guilty Pleasures: Krull (1983)". PopMatters. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
- D. Snider, Eric (19 August 2009). "Eric's Bad Movies: Krull (1983)". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Who else remembers 'Krull'?". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. 17 June 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- Jawetz, Gil (1 April 2001). "Krull". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- Phil Hardy, The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction London : Aurum, 1991. ISBN 1854101595 (p.346).
- "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.
- "Marvel Super Special No. 28". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- "Krull". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Schager, Nick (16 November 2015). "Krull is equal parts George Lucas and J. R. R. Tolken". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
- Darnielle, John. Wolf in White Van. pp. 48–54.
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