When I was about 11 years old, the movie "Conan, the Barbarian" came out. Naturally, I wasn't allowed to see it because of age restriction.
But it ignited my interest in the Sword and Sorcery genre. From there I went to the stories by Robert E. Aside from being highly entertaining yarns in their own right, I was quite taken by the numerous scenes of beautiful girls being captured, whipped and sometimes tortured. And they were bursting with sex and sadism. Those novels shaped my comfortable fantasy-world where beautiful women were either arrogant, haughty princesses, half-naked tavern-wenches or brazen street-whores.
But they all had one thing in common. All of them were potential victims of cruel acts of rape and torture. Living in liberal Denmark at the time, I was able to venture into the adult sections of bookstores selling used books. I loved those drawings, especially those indicating that the torture seemingly took place in a fantasy-world-setting. I was really taken by the twisted imagination and those fiendish torture devices and incorporated them into my own barbarian fantasy world.
One of the cornerstones, that made these fantasies all the more entertaining, was the fact that this world was governed by kings and queens; absolute rulers over their subject. Some may be benevolent. But what if they were evil? What if they were sadists and used their power to make other people suffer? It was and still is fascinating and exciting to imagine a beautiful naked girl being chained up in a cruel king's dungeon and being tortured solely for the tyrant's twisted amusement.
Such an ordeal could not possibly be any more hopeless for the victim. No attorney, no human rights activist, no Amnesty International around to help her out. Just torture upon torture by royal decree. Naturally, I sought out all the barbarian movies I could find, going for the Italian Conan-ripoffs, first.
Almost all of those old VHS-covers showed scantily clad barbarian babes, many of them topless. And some of them did indeed feature a nice rape-, whipping- or torture-scene. The magical moment came at the age of I went to my local video-store with the intention to find yet another barbarian movie. I distinctly remember even fantasizing about finding a barbarian movie with Sybil Danning as a warrior woman being captured by the villains and being tortured.
In my mind I saw Sybil Danning tied spread-eagled to a cross and some evil guy lightly drawing a knife over the skin of her breasts, drawing small trickles of blood. No such movie exists, mind you. But I wanted to find such a flick. A nice Boris Vajello cover showing scantily clad warrior woman and the tagline "No man can touch her naked steel! Might be a good one. There was no mention of a torture-scene but I rented it, of course. Back at my parents home they were gone for a week, thankfully I made myself comfortable and started to watch the movie.
Even before the main titles appear, a village girl gets raped. Right at the start. As the main titles went over the screen, I could see that this was going to be a B-movie with low production values.
But the rape got me excited and I suspected that this flick could reveal itself to be a sleaze-ride. As the story goes a peaceful village is raided by the army of Lord Arrakur. Her disdain of rapists becomes all too clear, as she castrates one of the enemies about to rape another village girl in the heat of battle.
She and two other women escape the massacre. The remaining survivors of their tribe are taken captive, their fate obviously being slavery. Amethea and the other two women decide bravely or foolishly to follow their enemies and free their tribe.
They stealthily approach an outpost of the enemy where another captured village girl is tied to a wooden fence. Her arms are spread out to her sides and she is only clad in tattered clothes. There are long dark wounds on her naked breasts. They could either be deep wounds caused by a bull-whip or burns. Either way, she was evidently tortured. A soldier is approaching her intend on raping her.
As he brutally kisses her, Amethea appears and with cold hatred in her eyes, she kills him. A fierce battle follows, in which all the soldiers of the outpost are killed. Another village-girl is found, the very same girl who was raped right at the beginning. She is Amethea's sister, to boot. Dim-witted by nature and completely traumatized by recent events. Amethea insists on their quest, stating that "I'll be no man's slave and no man's whore! And if I can't kill them all, by the Gods they'll know I've tried!
The four women resume their quest and team up with a band of rebels, who help them sneak into Lord Arrakur's city. And that's where they all get caught. Amethea and the fourth warrior-women are taken to the dungeons. The interrogation starts with the fourth woman, who is tied to a wooden post. Some nice dialogue spices up the atmosphere.
It will let us know if something's wrong. And it will let us know when we should tell what we know! Cut to Arrakur entering Amethea's cell. She disdainfully defies his order to unclothe. We have a man who does that. And I am trying to keep you from having to meet him. The woman manages to free herself, though. Yet she is killed while trying to escape. Several scenes of plotting and counter-plotting ensue, during which the viewer anxiously awaits for Amethea to reappear.
When she does it was a jaw-dropping moment for me. How effective the torture-scene truly is must be judged by the individual. It is somewhat ambivalent. I presume that it was written tongue-in-cheek, something like a parody mocking the homo-erotic torture-scenes in the Italian peplum-movies in the sixties.
But during filming and in post-production it was seemingly decided upon to make it a bit more sinister. First thing we see are two naked breasts in close-up. A metal glove is hanging from a chain over them.
The glove ends in a sharp, needle-like point on the forefinger. Cut to a pair of eyes behind strange glasses, apparently watching naked breasts. The needle pokes into one nipple and the woman yanks back her chest while crying out in pain. Cut to the eyes widening. Another poke of the needle into the nipple and another yell of pain.
Then the camera zooms out and shows Amethea bound to a strange torture device. It resembles and upright table on which she is tied with her legs spread wide and her arms tied above her head. She is naked except from an anachronistic, but sexy black thong. Now, bondage-enthusiasts will cry out in indignation and they are right. Amethea is not really tied up. The straps around her wrists are completely ineffectual. The only thing keeping her arms above her head are in fact her own hands gripping a huge iron ring at the top of the device.
Whether or not her ankles are truly tied to the base of the device can not be clearly seen. But for me the scene works due to the sadistic atmosphere and the dialogue of the torturer. Every time you move, the machine is tightening. So you don't want to move anymore than you have to. The torturer himself is a hunchbacked, little guy, physically inferior to the tall amazon. But the scene works very well in that regard, that with the help of his torture devices, he has complete power over her.
While he constantly delivers his taunting, evil dialogue, Amethea speaks not a single word. Behind Amethea some kind of large pendulum starts to swing back and forth and the glove over her breasts moves up and down in rapid movements. She shakes her head and moans in agony while the torturer laughs.
When the machinery comes to rest he taunts his victim again. You don't look like you appreciate science.