“Ator, The Blade Master” is part of a series of sword and sandal movies, which wasn’t exactly clear to me when I started watching the movie. It strikes me from looking at some of the alt titles that there may have been an attempt to market this more as a standalone movie than as a second installment. Apart from some flashbacks early in the movie, there wasn’t much sense that this was the continuation of a previous story. Admittedly, I have not seen the first of these movies, so I don’t know how much actually carries over to this one.
Speaking of alternate titles, this movie is probably most famously known as “Cave Dwellers”. This title comes from a particularly bad TV cut that the MST3k folks got a hold of and featured on the show, in which the intro titles are just blacked out and replaced with the alternates. The episode is one of their best for sure, and the shoddy copy of the film gives them plenty to work with.
“Ator” has some really fun moments interspersed throughout the movie, including an amazing sequence in which bombs are dropped from a hang-glider on to a castle, but the overall pacing to the movie is absolutely atrocious, and makes something that could be a lot of fun into a pretty dull watch. Even the fight choreography, where it exists, is pretty disappointing, but the shots are all bad enough that it wouldn’t matter much anyway. There are so many mechanical issues with this movie that it absolutely boggles the mind, from cinematography to choreography to editing.
The acting in “Ator” is a pretty mixed bag: the villain of the story is absolutely amazing, and hams up the role as much as you could possibly image. He not only has bad guy facial hair, but also dons one of the most ridiculous bird helmets that I have ever seen. On the other end of the spectrum is the elderly “Wise One”, who drags the entire movie down with his drawn-out line reads and pauses. Whenever he is on screen, the movie moves along like molasses. In the dead center of the two is the fellow playing the eponymous Ator, who could not look the part any better. He has some ridiculous lines, but he certainly never phones in the performance.
I can’t recommend the whole experience of watching “Ator, The Blade Master”, just because the pacing slows down so much in the body of the film. That said, I can definitely recommend checking out a supercut of the MST3k highlights to get the gist of the film, that would be more than worth your time.
As a side note, there is a very similar bad movie out there that I enjoyed much more than “Ator”: “Yor: Hunter of the Future”. The movie stars Reb Brown (from IMDb Bottom 100 flick “Space Mutiny”), and features a hilariously incoherent theme song. Overall, there is a lot more ridiculously entertaining stuff going on in that movie, so it is more of an interesting watch if you are sitting down to enjoy yourself.