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Dragonslayer (1981)

Peter MacNicol , Caitlin Clarke , Matthew Robbins  |  PG |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)

Price: $13.19 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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DRAGONSLAYER DRAGONSLAYER 4.2 out of 5 stars (244)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson, John Hallam, Peter Eyre
  • Directors: Matthew Robbins
  • Writers: Matthew Robbins, Hal Barwood
  • Producers: Eric Rattray, Hal Barwood, Howard W. Koch
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AUHOM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,607 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dragonslayer" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Back in the days when everyone believed in magic, a horrifying fire-breathing dragon terrorized the sixth-century British countryside. The only hope for the beleaguered citizens is an aging sorcerer (Sir Ralph Richardson). But when he is killed before he can save the people, the task falls on his young apprentice, Galen (Peter MacNicol). Galen's mission is complicated by resistance from the king - and by falling in love - but his biggest challenge comes when he is suddenly face to face with the dreaded monster. Is his magic enough to save him?

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Despite its box-office failure in 1981, Dragonslayer was gradually recognized as one of the finest fantasies to emerge from the post-Star Wars boom in special effects. It's still one of the best adventures of its kind, featuring one of the most fearsome fire-breathing serpents in movie history. Ominously named Vermithrax Pejorative, this ill-tempered monster terrorizes the peasantry of sixth-century England, feeding on maidens sacrificed by a duplicitous king until a sorcerer's apprentice named Galen (Peter MacNicol, long before Ally McBeal) is recruited as a reluctant hero. Aided by a tenacious beauty (Caitlin Clarke) and his resurrected mentor (Ralph Richardson), Galen confronts the soaring beast in a breathtaking climax. Employing a then-innovative technique called Go-Motion to animate the dragon, the special effects are still dazzling, and stunning locations in Scotland and Wales allow director Matthew Robbins (cowriter of Steven Spielberg's feature debut, The Sugarland Express) to maintain a vivid atmosphere for the wealth of movie magic. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Ultimately, "Dragonslayer" succeeds where the vast majority of monster movies fail, which is the point at which you get to see the creature and it is a big disappointment. Very few movies had really great monsters when I was growing up and you get to the point where you just expect them to be bad. Even when the make up is pretty good, say Boris Karloff in the original version of "The Mummy" or Oliver Reed in "The Curse of the Werewolf," you get shorted on how often the monster actually gets to be on screen. "Dragonslayer" ups the ante because there is a big build up to the point when you finally get to see the dragon. But for my money it is well worth the wait because the folks at Industrial Light & Magic delivery even though we are talking 1981 special effects.

The story in "Dragonslayer" combines a couple of recognizable plot lines from the fantasy genre. First there is the hapless young apprentice, Galen (Peter MacNicol), trying to learn his craft from a great wizard, Ulrich (Ralph Richardson). I am certainly reminded of Mickey Mouse from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in "Fantasia," except that Galen is a lot more earnest. Second, there is the fact that Casiodorus Rex (Peter Eyre), the ruler of the land, has been sacrificing virgins to keep the local dragon from leveling the countryside. Young Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) arrives to beseech Ulrich, the last wizard around, to kill the dragon, which is probably the last of its kind as well.

The only problem is that Ulrich has died, which means that young Galen has to become a dragonslayer. Galen wants to do the great deed for the right reasons, but there is also the Princess Elspeth (Chloe Salaman) to consider, along with all the other young virgins forced to participate in the grim lottery.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Masterpiece October 20, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I grew up on the works of writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne and the Master of Animation, Ray Harryhausen, and so Dragonslayer was destined to become a favorite of mine because of the superb animation effects. When I saw Dragonslayer at the theater I knew only one thing would ever top it, but it was still a book, until now. My VHS copy is mint because I didn't want to lose this classic as I waited for the seemingly eternal release to DVD. The whole movie from start to finish never loses its appeal for me. The storyline, acting and special effects are all at there best. The locations are a perfect blend of light and dark to set the atmosphere of the tale. The characters are very believable and true to their purpose. Todays CGI world works fine for Final Fantasy or Shrek maybe but, CGI would have destroyed the "feel" of the special effects in this movie. The anticipation for this films DVD release was second only to Tolkien's world recently coming to life.
DRAGONSLAYER is the only dragon depiction that has ever been done well and it defines its own period as much as Star Trek and Star Wars defines the galaxies. I will proudly put this one next to the master storytellers in my collection.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last ... January 8, 2004
Format:DVD
I am still amazed that this film still looks and sounds as good as it does. It is a solid entertainment and most of the dragon effects can still stand alongside any seen in "Lord of the Rings", as they were done by ILM. One wishes that there was at least the movie trailer on this DVD, as it has no extra's to it. Perhaps they will put out a deluxe edition some time in the future. Those who write off early eighties fantasy films, (and there are a lot to write off!), as cheesy, really should take a serious look at this. The only time one wishes the special effects were better is in the Dragon's offspring, where they dont have the believability that the main dragon has.
This was one of the last roles for Sir Ralph Richardson, and he makes the absolute best of it. His scorcerer can stand alonside Merlin or any other.
The period detail is another plus. being made after "Excalibur", (as well as some fine lesser known films of the 70's), the costumes and other effects have a wonderful believeability to them.
So, if your looking for a nice distraction in the fantasy film department, you really can't go wrong with this film!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About time... August 9, 2003
Format:DVD
I am in my late twenties, and I remember when this movie came out when I was a young child...I was completely enthralled with it. To this day it is the most realistic dragon I have ever seen in a fantasy film...most newer movies, in my honest opinion use digital special effects TOO much...you can get fast action sequences that way-but you lose the "real" feeling of the dragon. I personally feel that digital characters and sequences are best used with a very light hand for the best effect. In the close up shots of the dragon in Dragonslayer, you see every slimy scale, the facial expressions...and it looks real. This was not a digital image...this was old fashioned puppeteering and sculpting of a creature that looks as if it is really living and breathing.
The story is a good one...with beautiful costuming, breathtaking backgrounds, and a nice soundtrack. There are some very memorable lines, some good action, and the underlying story of magic vs. Christianity. There is also cameo by Ian McDiarmid as well-most often known as the Emperor/Senator Palpatine from the Star Wars movies-where he plays a Christian Holy Man who faces the dragon.
This was a favorite movie of mine as a child, and I actually married a man who ended up being just as enthralled with it as I was...we have our vhs copy viewed to the point of it almost falling apart-I am thrilled that it is finally being released on dvd.
If you are a sci-fi and fantasy movie lover...please add this one to your collection!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best dragon movie to date
Best dragon movie to date. D&D fans would especially appreciate this film. This is coming from a D&D nerd who grew up in the 80's.
Published 12 days ago by phishlung
4.0 out of 5 stars Special effects are awesome for the time it was made
A cult classic. Special effects are awesome for the time it was made. I loved this movie as a child, and I'm thrilled to have it to share with my children. Read more
Published 12 days ago by jennifer l sala
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fantasy movie
I love this fantasy tale. Could make you believe in dragons.
Published 16 days ago by C Lee Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars The acting is good, the scenery is lovely
The acting is good, the scenery is lovely, and the dragon is cool. The cliché-sounding plot is presented wholly without irony. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Joshua
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A story the follow with some fun and a good story line for older children.
Published 1 month ago by Gene Waller
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the better dragon movies
In my opinion, one of the better dragon movies. With no CGI, the special effects are very well done.
Published 1 month ago by R. Despain
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!!!!
AWESOME! Classic movie that is part of my fantasy trio of films: Willow, Excaliber and Dragonslayer. Get them all.
Published 1 month ago by Wayne Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie!!
Published 2 months ago by Michael R. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Try
It just didn't have and real good acting and the special effects were not up to standards
Published 2 months ago by C. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good movie
Published 2 months ago by Ive
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