”THE BEASTMASTER,” which opens at the National and other theaters today, is the kind of dopey, occasionally vicious adventure-fantasy in which an unborn crown prince is torn from his mother’s womb and magically transferred to a cow’s, an evil priest makes child sacrifices on whim and someone cries, ”Everyone to the moat!” and means it.
The movie, which is neither better nor worse than ”Conan the Barbarian,” which it resembles, stars Marc Singer as the prenatally purloined prince named Dar. Dar looks as if he lifted weights a lot but hasn’t, as yet, overdone it. Possibly because of his womb experience, he can ”talk” to animals, some of whom are his best friends. These include a handsome eagle, which scouts the primeval landscape for him, two frisky ferrets and a large black panther, played by an elderly tiger who’s been given a none-too-convincing head-to-foot black rinse.
It’s meant as a tiny bit of praise to say that the movie, which was made in southern California, looks as if it had been shot in Spain or Yugoslavia. It looks both big and cheap.
It also features one good actor, Rip Torn, as the evil priest, wearing some steel teeth and a hooked nose that is detachable. The cameraman was John Alcott (”Clockwork Orange,” ”Barry Lyndon,” ”Vice Squad”). The entire endeavor is a comment less on the state of the art than on the state of Hollywood employment.
”The Beastmaster,” which has been rated PG (”parental guidance suggested”), contains a lot of unnecessarily explicit violence and some partial nudity. Vincent Canby
THE BEASTMASTER, directed by Don Coscarel- li; written by Mr. Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman; photographed by John Alcott; edited by Roy Watts; music by Lee Holdridge; produced by by Mr. Pepperman and Sylvio Tabet; re- leased by M-G-M-U.A. Entertainment Compa- ny. At the National Theater, Broadway and 44th Street; 86th Street East, at Third Avenue; Olympia Quad, Broadway and 107th Street; Coliseum, Broadway and 181st Street, and other theaters. Running time: 120 minutes. This film is rated PG.
Dar . . . . . Marc Singer
Kiri . . . . . Tanya Roberts
Maax . . . . . Rip Torn
Seth . . . . . John Amos
Tal . . . . . Josh Milrad
Zed . . . . . Rod Loomis
Young Dar’s father . . . . . Ben Hammer
Sacco . . . . . Ralph Strait
Young Dar . . . . . Billy Jacoby