This year I will not be sitting through the tedious drag performances of Cinderella nor the dwarfsploitation of Snow White. I’ll be dusting off my VHS player to watch the greatest pantomime ever made – Masters of the Universe.
It’s not quite a Disney princess that needs saving in this Science Fiction Panto. The Sorceress of Castle Greyskull, played by Christina Pickles (not one of the Rugrats, I checked…) has been taken captive by the quite brilliant SKELETOR (who deserves nothing less than capital letters). There’s only one muscly-meat-bag that can save her and that’s He-Man, this is arguably Dolph Lundgren’s finest acting performance as there is something quite sweet about this big oaf stomping across the screen while smiling to himself. It’s a shame then that Dolph describes playing He-Man as his “lowest point as an actor”, but I don’t think he was cast for his acting ability. One of the first shots we see of him is a close up of his oily pecks dancing across the screen and this is a just a small taste of things to come. For some reason He-Man thinks it’s entirely appropriate to wear nothing but a bit of old carpet over his naughty bits for the entire film.
SKELETOR doesn’t seem to mind, in fact he seems to enjoy an eyeful of the Lundgren. So much so, that he continues to chase him across the universe just to get another look at that washboard of a stomach. The Baron of Bones makes up some excuse about wanting a cosmic key, but the homo-eroticism is all too obvious.
In one scene, which was later homaged in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, SKELETOR leans into He-Man to say- “Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?” before they embrace in a passionate alignment-shattering kiss…
(Okay, so the kiss didn’t actually happen but it probably should have).
While watching this movie I was overcome with a strange festive sensation. There is something oddly Christmassy about Masters of the Universe, perhaps it’s the familiar ‘action figure advertisement’ feel, (it does indeed make me want to buy He-Man and SKELETOR figurines, just so that I can put them in rude poses. YOU’D DO THE SAME!!!). There is also an abundance of ridiculous extra characters including SKELETOR’S henchmen who look like the older, uglier siblings of the bounty hunters from Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (I’m certainly putting that Karg action figure on my X-mas list this year!). Another reason the film feels like it should be watched with the family on Christmas Eve is that the acting rivals that of Christopher Biggins as Widow Twankey, everyone in this movie went to the Ham Academy of Performance Arts and it feels like you’re watching panto in a parallel dimension. There is one glorious scene involving SKELETOR on a giant hovering carnival float which has the greatest “He’s behind you!!!” moment I have ever seen on stage or screen.
When SKELETOR gets more powerful, so does his wardrobe. One of the perks of becoming a Master of the Universe is that you get an incredible suit of golden armour!! Stylish!! SKELETOR looks rather fetching and even old He-Man can’t resist a double take. Though this is probably because it looks as if SKELETOR is about to join the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert!
Masters of the Universe was bloody brilliant, unlike most Turkeys I will definitely be watching it again. Possibly every Christmas morning surrounded by the people I love, who in turn shall love me a little less for each year that I make them sit through this strange-ass movie.
My perfect Christmas Turkey.
P.S. If you’re struggling to buy a gift for your partner this year, you can’t go far wrong with this fetching little number:
Not sure what this score means? Click Here to find out.