Now that HBO’s Game of Thrones has stoked the public’s appetite for quality fantasy TV shows, other TV networks need to get in the game. There’s a gold mine of good and/or cheap (mostly cheap) ‘80s fantasy movies just begging to be remade into modern TV series — here’s nine of ‘em.
The Deathstalker movies never lived up to their completely badass name (and to be honest, on more than one occasion Deathstalker probably should have been named Douchestalker). Still, this ‘80s fantasy movie series has all the basics — evil wizards, beautiful princesses, magic artifacts, asshole knights, etc. Honestly, it opens it up to pretty much any D&D-type fantasy story you want to tell, and it allows hideous violence and plenty of naked ladies. If someone like Starz wanted to make something to compete with Game of Thrones, they could do a lot worse making a grim n’ gritty fantasy series with the admittedly awesome name “Deathstalker.”
2) Ator, the Fighting Eagle
What makes Ator different from warriors like Deathstalker? Ator, while in immensely better shape than any of the Deathstalkers, is also a genius and philosopher. Despite living in some kind of barbaric dark ages, Ator knows chemistry, engineering, a great deal of science and more — and has the ability to invent things like hang gliders and nuclear bombs. Basically, Ator is the fantasy version of MacGyver, and if a TV network can’t make that concept work, they don’t deserve to be on the air.
Easily the best-known, best-loved and just overall best film on this list, it’s a crime that there’s only been one Willow movie. So why not make it a TV show? Willow’s quest to protect the baby prophesied to defeat evil Queen Bavmorda could easily be expanded to an entire TV season, and I see no reason why Warwick Davis couldn’t replay the role again. Or make the show a sequel to the movie, and just let Willow explore the rest of his world, maybe based on those three Chris Claremont-penned novel sequels. George Lucas and Davis actually mentioned a Willow TV series as a possibility back in 2005 — TV network executives would be fools to pass up this opportunity.
4) The Dungeonmaster
The Dungeonmaster isn’t just your standard sword n’ sorcery flick, so bear with me as I describe the plot: A man creates a sentient computer. His fiancée is a jealous of his relationship with the computer. A wizard from another dimension teleports them both to his dimension, and makes the man fight in a series of different fantasy scenarios to win his lady friend back — but he also gives the man a portable version of the sentient computer on his wrist. This is obviously insane, but the variety of scenarios lends itself well to episodic TV, and you can have the overarching plot of him trying to defeat the wizard. SyFy could do some really cool stuff with this (or some really crappy and cheap stuff, but whatever).
5) Hawk the Slayer
The plot of Hawk the Slayer isn’t anything special — evil brother kills dad, good brother gets magic sword and hunts down evil brother — but there’s still a good reason why it’d be worth paying $20 for the Hawk the Slayer license. Actually, three good reasons: elves, dwarves and giants. Unlike many of these movies, Hawk is set in a standard Tolkien-esque fantasy world full of different magical races, which, if the actual Lord of the Rings films are any indication, audiences probably wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
John Norman’s long-running fantasy series had two terrible movies, which, depending on how you feel about the series premise that women are naturally subservient to men, and are much happier being dominated by them socially and sexually, is probably fine. However, a Gor TV series would basically be a pay-cable network’s goldmine, seeing how sex and violence is what sells, and Gor has both in ridiculous amounts. A Gor series is tailor-made for the Starz executive who says, “Yes, our Spartacus TV series was could but what it really needed was more tits and violence.” And, if that executive were not fully on board with Norman’s gender politics, a decent showrunner could subvert the series’ core “values” much like Paul Verhoeven did to Starship Troopers.
Can’t get on board with Gor? No problem. Just make a series based on Sorceress, which features not one but two kick-ass female protagonists… and a ridiculous amount of topless women, sex, and violence. Two twins (who obviously appeared in Playboy) fights monsters and their evil father, while handing scumbags their asses and doing awesome things like snatching arrows out of mid-air. Seriously, Sorceress is Xena if 1) it didn’t have a sense of humor and 2) was allowed to show bare breasts, and I don’t have to tell you what the ratings for a show that could be summed up as “Xena, but with nudity” would be (they would be phenomenal).
The best-known flick on this list (other than Willow), Krull is remembered and remembered fondly mostly for being so completely insane. Its world was eerily well thought-out, even those thoughts were of teleporting fortresses, crystal spiders, fire horses, emo cyclopses, magic six-bladed throwing stars, and more. Krull has everything a modern fantasy TV series would need — a major conflict between the hero Colwyn and the evil Beast, an elaborate setting, a name people might remember, and best of all, not enough passionate fans that would get pissed off at you for updating it.
9) The Sword and the Sorcerer
Um, this is a movie in which a dude has a sword that shoots swords at people. That right there is more than enough to carry a TV series, especially on The CW or NBC.