Forget the divide between baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials, our society can most easily be divided into those who are old enough to have seen Don Coscarelli’s 1982 sword and sorcery masterpiece The Beastmaster roughly one hundred times on HBO (or maybe TBS if you’re slightly younger) and those who have not. If you haven’t seen it, get thee to Amazon Prime in the US, where you can currently watch one of the best fantasy flicks of its era for free.
The Beastmaster stars Mark Singer as Dar, a young warrior in the kingdom of Aruk, which resides in a world that may or may not actually be our own. Because of some horrifying magical shenanigans surrounding his birth, Dar is able to communicate directly with animals, and his allies include a panther, an eagle, and two adorable ferrets who serve as his “thieves.” For kids of the early 1980s, The Beastmaster was an alternately thrilling and terrifying revelation, full of surprisingly graphic violence, some truly terrifying imagery (those weird bird people scarred me for life), and a pretty dark and serious tone for a guy who looks like He-Man who talks to animals.
In fact, raise your hand if as a small child you tuned into the middle of Beastmaster and thought for sure you were watching a Masters of the Universe movie, with Singer looking like Prince Adam come to life and Tanya Roberts as Teela. Anyway, I digress.
The point here is that The Beastmaster comes from the mind of genre maestro Don Coscarelli, who, along with co-writer Paul Pepperman, once again have the rights to the original screenplay. The news came via Coscarelli himself, via social media, and that’s where the remake idea comes in.
“Today is the 38th anniversary of The Beastmaster with good news and bad news,” Coscarelli wrote on Instagram. “The good first: My Beastmaster co-writer Paul Pepperman and I have reclaimed the copyright to our screenplay. The Beastmaster remake anyone?”
While the film spawned a disappointing sequel, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, and another, even more disappointing sequel (not to mention a TV series that I can’t even remember at the time of this writing), the prospect of Coscarelli revisiting this world is somewhat appealing. On the other hand, would it still be able to achieve the gritty weirdness of that 1982 original?
Unfortunately, there’s bad news along with this…
“Upon reclaiming our copyright we received devastating news,” Coscarelli continued. “The original camera negative (OCN) of The Beastmaster has been lost! Actors, artists, craftspeople and technicians put years of effort into production of our film and it appears to be gone! Especially depressing is that this was one of the late cinematographer John Alcott’s final films. John Alcott was Kubrick’s legendary cameraman of A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining and more. In honor of his memory we cannot let this stand!”
To this end, they’ve launched a website, www.whereisthebeastmaster.com so that fans and movie scholars can submit any tips they may have to help the filmmakers track down the negative for this genre classic. The website also touts the remake idea.