Barbarian Movie Review: Ironmaster (1983)

Ironmaster (1983) aka La Guerra del Ferro, starring Sam Pasco and George Eastman.


A Golden AxeA Golden AxeA Golden Axe


Spaghetti cannibal director Umberto Lenzi’s Ironmaster opens with a caveman wandering around Custer, South Dakota in a loincloth with an atrocious neckbeard, all set to knock-off Morricone (by Guido and Maurizio de Angelis). A tribe of scruffy savages spy some plastic elephants and complain about having weak stone-age weaponry– and good god, that actually sets up a plot!

After a battle with a local tribe of ash-covered idiots, the tribe’s resident bad guy Vood kills the tribal elders and is expelled. Vood (played by George Eastman, aka Luigi Montefiori, a 6’9” Ringo Starr look-alike) discovers iron (“a stone of divine power”) after a volcanic eruption, kills some out-of-frame lions, joins up with a hottie named Lith (a stone-age Lady MacBeth) and starts the world’s first arms race. Vood takes over the tribe, now unstoppable thanks to having one sword-shaped iron rod, and militarizes them with dreams of conquest.

He spends the rest of the movie wearing a dead lion head.

George Eastman wearing a lion on his head

"And I thought they smelled bad on the outside!"

He has Ela, the good guy, exiled and tied to a cross where Ela’s promptly set upon by a pair of extremely fake looking ape-men. Bodybuilder, nude model, and probable escort Sam Pasco (known in late-70s gay magazine circles as Mike Spanner or “Big Max”) played the lead Ela in his first and only non-smut appearance.

Ela and Isa from Ironmaster

Ela and Isa comprise a dramaturgical dyad.

Ela joins a nice blonde named Isa who’s done wonders with primitive Cover Girl and Aqua-Net. They fight some ape-men– in a daring touch by Lenzi, you can see the ape-men’s schlongs, which makes me wonder if they aren’t just really hairy, ugly men– or maybe it’s a subtle homage to Pasco’s other career.

Characters refer to themselves in the third person present tense, which does seem pretty barbaric (e.g. Ela says, “Wait, Ela goes with you.”).

While Vood conquers the nearby tribes, Ela joins a more civilized village of defenseless pacifists nearby and tries unsuccessfully to convince them to fortify against Vood (and they’re also menaced by lions and leprous cave-mutants). Vood enslaves the village. In one scene, women struggle to turn a grindstone in a poor imitation of the famous scene from Conan. But Ela regroups.

It’s not spoiling the pretty awesome climax to say that good eventually triumphs when Ela invents a strategic weapon of his own.  The villain’s dying words: “You win, Ela. But one day there will be another Vood!” He’s referring to Hitler, folks! Roll credits.


A few notes and sources:

“American National Enterprises,” the original US distributor, sounds like a great car rental company.

I didn’t do screen captures for this movie.  The ones I stole are from Nanarland and they have quite a few good ones.  (That link is in French, click here for translated version.)

Special thanks to the person or people at: Ninja Dixon (writing about Sam Pasco) and Nanarland (writing about Ironmaster) (Google translated version) for the info on the movie’s lead.  Smut Junkies has some nude shots of Sam Pasco if you want to see them.  I didn’t, but this is what I get for turning SafeSearch off.  Search for something like “Scotchgard carpet samples” and Google will still come up with half a page of porn.

You can order Ironmaster from Amazon but note that it is a region 2 PAL DVD, so be sure your player is region 2 or region free and can handle PAL. Whoever invented DVD region encoding should be shot. There are also VHS formats available if you still have a player.

For barbarian movie reviews of the entire barbarian movie canon, barbarian humor, and a whole lot more, order Barbarians: A Handbook for Aspiring Savages!

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One Response to “Barbarian Movie Review: Ironmaster (1983)”

  1. Thanks for linking to my article about Pasco! Glad that someone had use for it 🙂

  2. Ninja Dixon on May 1st, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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