Silicone boobs and brass bras
Therefore, in the center of this mishegas, it should come as no surprise to find War Goddess (1973), one of the more fascinating deviations of its time. A throwback to those sweaty, wretchedly dubbed Italian sword-and-sandal/peplum epics from a decade earlier, it takes place in an all-female city of Amazon warriors — the insignia on their flag looks like the Bat Signal — who live under enforced lesbianism save for the one day of the year when the male Greek army piles in to knock ‘em up and propagate the race.
Its color has faded, the image muted from age, the dubbing sucks, and the version that’s on DVD and Netflix streaming is a full-frame affair, the scope and breadth of some shots now the property of one’s imagination. Still, War Goddess is amazing on so many foul levels, its dialog teetering on What’s Up, Tiger Lily?-style witticisms (“Have you tried Oriental concentration?” “Only on Orientals!”), and an adventure that snakes into enough truly bizarre territories that I wouldn’t be surprised if Herman Mankiewicz wrote it over one feverish night it in the throes of a drunken tear. It’s that good… and bad.
But the presence of Young’s name in the credits (indeed, it’s on the screen as Terence Young’s War Goddess) serves to underline the tumble from past glories. This is, after all, the guy who made From Russia With Love: what happened? Despite a cast of literally, well, a thousand, mounted and robed and on horseback, and battle scenes that may have impressed on the big screen, War Goddess carries the stink of Poverty Row by way of Cinecittà.
Young borrows from his famous catfight scene in From Russia With Love, two healthy specimens engaged in nude knock-down, drag-out hot oil rasslin’ that reverberates with the 1950s S/M cheesecake of Irving Klaw. And there’s enough nudity to suggest this is a truncated version minus whatever soft core porn transpired between the statuesque Amazon Queen and the wisecracking King of Greece, a sword-wielding stand-up comic with no shortage of comebacks. No matter how dire the production, there’s never a dull moment.