Argentina/USA - 1983
Director - John Watson
Vestron Video, 1984, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 20 min.The first is always the best, if not the weirdest. The box features a great tagline and art that seems distinctly He-Man-ish to me. The film features Rick Hill as the titular character, as well as the late Lana Clarkson who went on to become the Barbarian Queen. Hill appeared again in the unbelievably terrible Warrior Queen with Sybil Danning and again in the fourth Deathstalker.
Argentina/USA - 1987
Director - Jim Wynorski
Vestron Video, 1987, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 25 min.Probably the goofiest and perhaps dumbest of the series Deathstalker II stars Wynorski (whom I've talked about more elsewhere) regular John Terlesky (Naked Cage) as Stalker, and the series only appearance of zombies and goofy cartoon sound effects for almost everything. Monique Gabrielle is the love interest, she went on to do film a slew of B-movies and adult movies. Although I'm pretty sure the Deathstalkers were all backed by Roger Corman during his brief Argentina/Mexico phase, this is the first that bears evidence on the video sleeve in the form of his production company New Horizons.
Deathstalker III: The Warriors From Hell
Mexico/US - 1988
Director - Alfonso Corona
Vestron Video, 1989, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 25 min.It's been years since I watched this one. It was the most difficult to get on VHS. I tried four times to order it online and only got it on the last try about 6 months ago. I don't remember much of what happens, but the cover art is what first drew me to all of these films. 10 years ago my good friend Regis and I decided we were going to rent all the films with rippling sweaty-dude paintings on the cover, so we did, it was awesome, end of story. All of these paintings and many more 80's Dungeons and Dragons fantasy art featuring epic mullets and impractical clothing were done by Boris Valejo.
Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans
US - 1990
Director - Howard R. Cohen
New Horizons Home Video, 1992, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 25 min.Finally the man who wrote the entire series gets to sit in the directors chair and let me tell you, does it ever pay off. Many of the sequels have used recycled footage, particularly in the setup, but as I recall this one uses a lot of it. However, my recollection is that many of the names in the credits sounded eastern European, and I definitely remember copious breasts (exceeding the high bar set by the first three films) so I've always held that it was filmed in a former Soviet satellite state where people would do almost anything for American dollars, including bathe each other for the camera. Oh yeah, Rick Hill is back as Stalker and Corman workhorse Maria Ford appears as the love interest. She drew her bread and butter from her chest and Corman's payroll for years.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this brief quest through Deathstalker.In any case it fits with my effort to preserve lost VHS (the Deathstalker/Deathstalker 2 DVD is way out of print last I checked) and the role VHS box art played in drawing me into the exploitation fold. In that sense for me Deathstalker was a case in point. I was inspired by my friend at The Scandy Factory to post some of my old VHS boxes since this is probably all the "review" these films will ever get from me. Check out his blog for loads of great VHS scans, and here for some vintage pics of several of the lady stars.