Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

A six-armed statue come-to-life.
Fifteen years after The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen and producer Charles Schneer revisited their legendary hero with The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. John Phillip Law (Barbarella) replaced Kerwin Matthews as Sinbad. And in lieu of Kathryn Grant's spunky princess, Caroline Munro came on board as a slave girl.

This time around, Sinbad gets involved in a new quest when one of his crew fires an arrow at a strange bird carrying part of an amulet. The Vizier of a nearby country has a second piece of the amulet and Sinbad quickly realizes that the two pieces provide directions to Lemuria, a mythical island that holds the secret to absolute power.

Tom Baker as Koura.
Unfortunately, an evil wizard named Koura (Tom Baker) sends a homunculus to spy on Sinbad and learns about Lemuria, too. It soon becomes a race to the island between Sinbad and Koura.

Naturally, Sinbad's journey is filled with amazing, fantastical creatures animated by Harryhausen. The highlights include a Centaur, a Griffin, a wooden figurehead come to life, and a six-armed statue of a goddess that fights Sinbad and his crew with a sword in each hand.

The homunculus.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is colorful and visually exciting, but lacks the pizzazz of its predecessor. The first thirty minutes are mostly build-up to the journey. Harryhausen's creatures are still jaw-dropping, but somewhat derivative. The six-armed goddess reminded me of the four-armed siren in 7th Voyage. The homunculus, which is genuinely eerie, looks a bit like the Ymir in 20 Million Miles to Earth. And the Centaur could pass as a distant relative to the Cyclops in 7th Voyage.

Caroline Munro.
John Phillip Law is an acceptable Sinbad, but the beautiful Caroline Munro has little to do. That's surprising given that Brian Clemens, who wrote the script, gave Munro one of her best roles in Hammer's vampire adventure Kronos (1974). Tom Baker hits all the right notes as the despicable Koura. He would later become one of the most popular Doctor Who's. (Fans of the British detective series George Gently won't recognize its star, Martin Shaw, as one of Sinbad's mates.)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad performed well at the boxoffice. It even led to a theatrical re-release of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. It also convinced the producers that there was enough interest for a second sequel--which happened with the release of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger in 1977.

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