Saturday, September 14, 2013

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1989)


I have no good excuse for watching this film beyond my love of the cinema of Enzo Castellari. I have loved nearly everything I've ever seen of his directorial efforts so I expected this to be a hidden, little talked about gem that I could speak about the next time someone brought up INGLORIOUS BASTARDS or THE BIG RACKET or 1990:THE BRONX WARRIORS.

"Why, yes- I'm a huge fan of Castellari's work. I love how he was able to swing through any genre and craft a fine film every time. Have you seen his Sinbad film? He handled fantasy as well as he did crime or action." 

(I have these imaginary conversations with people that aren't there often. I'm seeking help- bare with me.)


Only now that I've seen SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1989)  my faith is shaken. This is a terrible, silly film! I'm not even going to ask why Lou Ferrigno was tapped to play a muscle bound version of Sinbad. That's something I'm willing to just accept. I can also make allowances for the fact that it was obviously written as a children's movie with all the broadness of a Disney channel sitcom but it's still awful. From what I can learn the story was originally written by Luigi Cozzi (which explains the terrible dialog - see STARCRASH) and he was going to direct it but somehow Castellari was hired to helm the film at the last minute. I guess the producers had little faith in Cozzi as a director. According to Wikipedia (so be careful) Castellari changed Cozzi's script drastically, spent the several million dollar budget and submitted three hours of "non-releasable" footage to the producer, who shelved the project. Having now seen the 93 minute film cut from this footage I have serious doubts about this assertion. This shortened version of what was shot has the clear markings of a tale being produced as a mini-series for television. The story jumps forward every few minutes with the framing narrator (Daria Nicolodi!) papering over the missing details to keep things moving. This makes the film even more crazy than it would be otherwise with it often playing like the highlight reel for a Sinbad voyage. It makes what would have been, at best, an over the top, colorful, silly kid's movie completely bizarre.

Once again according to Wikipedia, Cozzi was hired back in 1989 to try to fix up the picture and the producer spent an additional half million dollars to finish it giving us the truncated version of this film. Cozzi's involvement might explain the strange modern touches present here such as the science fiction style sets for the evil wizard's lair and odd dialog that references 20th century ideas. Some of these same touches were in his earlier Ferrigno starring Hercules films. I don't know that my suspected mini-series version would have been any better but as it stands this is a movie best left off most Castellari fan's list of 'must sees'. It is painful! 

2 comments:

SavageCineast said...

Perhaps off Castelleri's fans, but for Ferrigno and general abd cinema fans, it's a hearty recommend, and John Steiner as Jaffar makes the film very watchable in my book.

Rod Barnett said...

I really would enjoy seeing the full length version of this just to see if it were more coherent. It has potential.