The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982): Albert Pyun’s Fantasy Classic Revisited

Albert Pyun’s 1982 fantasy adventure The Sword and the Sorcerer may not be the most fondly remembered epic of its era, but it was wildly successful. In the early 1980s, the sword and soccer genre experienced a revival, with Hollywood anticipating that Conan the Barbarian, Universal’s mega-budget adaptation of the Robert E. Howard pulp novels would be the next Star Wars. It didn’t quite happen, but before it even reached theaters, dozens of low-budget Conan riffs were in the works. One that hit theaters first was 1982’s The Sword and the Sorcerer, which grossed a spectacular (for the era) $39.1 million, actually outgrossing Conan in North America by 1 million dollars (at a fraction of the budget).

In this episode of Fantasizing About Fantasy Films, which is written and narrated by Jessica Dwyer and edited by Bill Mazzola, we dig into the making of the late Albert Pyun classic. Were the film to be released to the kind of success it experienced nowadays, one imagines Pyun would have been elevated to the A-list, but it never quite happened for the director. Indeed, The Sword and the Sorcerer would be his only mainstream theatrical success, although he’d go on to a long, storied career in B-movies. The star, Lee Horsley (who played Talon, keeper of the legendary three-bladed sword), didn’t exactly become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger but was able to parlay the movie’s success into a long-running stint as the lead on TV’s Matt Houston, while co-stars Simon MacCorkindale, Richard Moll and Richard Lynch would all become staples of film and tv throughout the decade and beyond.

In this episode, we dive into why the movie was able to beat Conan to theaters, how the fantasy boom was short-lived, and why the film never got a legitimate, big-budget sequel.

Do you have fond memories of The Sword and the Sorcerer? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.