The Beastmaster (Vinegar Syndrome) 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray Review

The Beastmaster has been a long time coming with people waiting for the film to get a North American blu-ray release since the format started. Vinegar Syndrome has come to the rescue with this wonderful edition of the film.

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Release Date: August 20th, 1982 (theatrical)
                            November 24th, 2020 (4K blu-ray)
Run Time: 118 mins
Region Code: FREE (4K and 2K blu-rays)
Picture: 2160p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (4K), 
                 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (2K blu-rays)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
                English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes (as well as a magnet clasp box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, John Amos, and Rip Torn
Written by Don Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Rating: PG (fantasy violence and gore, sexual content including nudity, and scary images)


Maax is a twisted cult leader out to steal the throne of King Zed. King Zed then banishes Maax, but Maax sends one of his three witches to steal Zed's unborn son. Ripping him right out of his mother's womb with magic and placing it a cow's womb, she takes him to die. Then a brave hunter killed the witch and rescued the young boy. Naming him Dar, they find out at a young age that he possess the power to communicate with animals. Later on, Maax sends his thugs called the horde to wipe out the peaceful village. However, thanks to a brave dog, Dar survives again and makes plans on using his powers to kill Maax to avenge his people and his foster Father.

Tal: Will you help us to free my father?

Dar: Send your cousin over to ask me.

[Tal whispers to Kiri, who smiles knowingly before going to Dar]

Kiri: What can I do to convince you to help us?

Dar: I'm very busy. The rescue will take some time. I...

[Kiri smiles and leans over, kissing Dar]

Tal: I think he's gonna help us.

Seth: [chuckles] I have a feeling he might.

As my readers know, I am a child of the 80’s. I bring this up because I am a bit ashamed to say that I had not seen THE BEASTMASTER before doing so for this review. THE BEASTMASTER was a film that was ALWAYS on either HBO (Hey, Beastmaster’s On) or TBS (The Beastmaster Station) and yet I never watched it. I was never really into sword and sandal films, despite the fact that I loved HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. I didn’t see CONAN THE BARBARIAN until well into my thirties. By the time I did want to watch the film, it was incredibly difficult to find. 

THE BEASTMASTER is a nice little film from Don Coscarelli, the man who brought the world PHANTASM. This would seem like a departure for the director, but all you have to do is look at his filmography to see that he doesn’t like to play in the same playground all the time. His first, JIM THE WORLD’S GREATEST, film is a coming of age story that is fairly dark. His next film, KENNY AND COMPANY, is a lighter film about kids doing kid things in preparation for Halloween. Neither film is in the same genre with JIM being more of a drama and KENNY being more of a comedy. Coscarelli wrote THE BEASTMASTER so that he could try something new. 

The film is a lot of fun if it is overly long. Coscarelli says that the producers wanted a longer film (I have no idea why as most producers want a film that is short in order to maximize showings) and you can tell. Scenes tend to play far too long and the pacing is really off. While this does take away from the enjoyment, the scenes themselves show that Coscarelli knew what he was doing. Had they been shorter, I think that the film would have been a far bigger success.

There are so many things in the film that are really good. I thought Marc Singer was great as our hero. He had the toughness we expected and a caring that we didn’t necessarily see coming. John Aston is also great in a thankless role as Seth, a warrior who comes to befriend our hero. The standout is Rip Torn as the big baddie. When I first saw Torn in the film, I thought that he would be terrible. Torn is known for mostly for his comedic roles and seeing him as the bad guy made me smile. He is perfect in the role and I couldn’t see anyone else playing it. 

THE BEASTMASTER is a pretty good film that should have been treated better by its producers. Kicking Coscarelli out of the editing room was a detriment to the film and I think that it suffers because of this. The film has a lot of good to it, but it fails to be the classic that everyone says it is. The film isn’t bad. It feels like a rough cut that was finished and put into theaters. Had Coscarelli been able to finish the film, I think the film would have been a much bigger deal when it was released in 1982. 

We are warned before the film starts that the original camera negative is believed to be lost and that this was taken from the 35mm interpostive. This sounds like a much bigger deal than it is because the picture looks marvelous here. Detail is high here with fabric getting a lot of upticks. We are also warned that grain will fluctuate but it never becomes a problem. (I love film grain as it is supposed to be there but there are those who hate it with a passion. Those will hate how this transfer looks). I am also happy to report that there has been no DNR applied here which would have robbed the picture of its natural look. HDR has been applied and it brings the transfer even closer to looking like we are watching the film as it was seen in theaters. Colors are very vibrant with the blues of the sky and orange of the sand really standing out. Needless to say but this is one of the best transfers of 2020 and one of the best UHDs I have ever seen.

This is a great set of features. We get a brand new Commentary track that is rearly fun to listen to and is chock full of info, both new and old. The archival Commentary track has a lot of stuff that is repeated both in the new track and the making ofs but is still a fun listen.

The big new feature, though, is THE BEASTMASTER CHRONICLES which was produced for this release. This has a more personal feel to it and I think that is why I liked it so much. I get the feeling that this is going to be the final word on THE BEASTMASTER barring someone finding the OCN and this is a helluva way of going out. 

Disc 1: 4K Original Feature Film

-New Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman moderated by Joe Lynch
        -Archival Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman

Disc 2: Blu-ray Original Feature

-New Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman moderated by Joe Lynch
        -Archival Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Paul Pepperman
        -The Beastmaster Chronicles (1h 43m, HD, 1.78:1) Divided up into six chapters with a "Play All" 

Disc 3: New VFX Version

        -The Saga of the Beastmaster (55m 7s, HD, 1.78:1) A 2005 making-of documentary by 
        Perry Martin
        -Super 8mm Home Movies Shot by James Dodson (27m 30s, HD, 1.33:1) with commentary 
        by  Coscarelli and Pepperman
        -Outtake Footage (silent) (2m 25s, HD, 1.85:1)
        -Still Gallery (9m 10s, HD) Selections from the film’s score play as various production stills, 
        concept art, and photos from the set play.
        -Original Theatrical Trailer (2m 13s, HD, 1.85:1)

THE BEASTMASTER is a very fun film that is remembered by many as most saw it on HBO or TBS. This 4K blu-ray release from Vinegar Syndrome is the best release the film has ever had. The picture is reference quality and the sound is no slouch either. The special features package may not be numerous, but the quality is outstanding and this release has one of the best packagings of all the 2020 releases. This one of the best releases of 2020, bar none.

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