Dragonslayer (1981)

USA, 1981
35mm film, 70mm film (blow-up), “filmed in Panavision” (anamorphic), “prints by Metrocolor”, 2.35:1
Dolby Stereo, English

An American fantasy film directed by Matthew Robbins.

Plot Summary

As the Dark Ages are coming to an end, the sorcerer Ulrisch and his apprentice Galen are called on by the people of Urland to help them rid their land of the last of the great dragons, Vermithrax Pejorative. When Ulrich is killed, Galen sets off on a quest to slay the dragon, aided by Valerian, a young woman initially disguised as a boy. Galen eventually has to enter the cavernous lair of Vermithrax and face the creature in a duel to the death, assisted by an unexpected ally.


Directed by: Matthew Robbins
© MCMLXXXI [1981] Paramount Pictures Corporation and Walt Disney Productions
Paramount Pictures Corporation and Walt Disney Productions present a Barwood/Robbins production
Executive Producer: Howard W. Koch
Produced by: Hal Barwood
Associate Producer: Eric Rattray
Written by: Hal Barwood & Matthew Robbins
Director of Photography: Derek Vanlint
Film Editor: Tony Lawson
Music by: Alex North
Period Music by: Christopher Page
Production Sound Recordist: Anthony Dawe
Costume Designer: Anthony Mendleson
Make-Up: Graham Freeborn, Jane Royle
Hair: Barbara Ritchie, Bobbie Smith
Supervisor of Special Mechanical Effects: Brian Johnson
Dragon Design, Graphics and Titles: David Bunnett
Photographic Effects Produced at: Industrial Light & Magic, Inc., Marin County, California
Supervisor of Special Visual Effects: Dennis Muren
Production Designer: Elliot Scott

Peter MacNicol (Galen)
Caitlin Clarke (Valerian)
Ralph Richardson (Ulrich)
John Hallam (Tyrian)
Peter Eyre (Casiodorus Rex)
Albert Salmi (Greil)
Sydney Bromley (Hodge)
Chloe Salaman (Princess Elspeth)
Emrys James (Valerian’s father)
Roger Kemp (Horsrik)
Ian McDiarmid (Brother Jacobus)
Ken Shorter, Jason White (henchmen)
Yolande Palfrey (victim)
Douglas Cooper, Alf Mangan, David Mount, James Payne, Chris Twinn (Urlanders)

Alternative Titles

Der Drachentöter – Germany
Il drago del lago di fuoco – Italy
El dragón del lago de fuego – Spain
Drakdödaren – Sweden
Lohikäärmeentappaja – Finland
El verdugo de dragones – Argentina
Zabójca smoków – Poland


New Musical Express 13 February 1982 pp.22-23
If the setting of Dragonslayer (filmed in North Wales and on Skye) is promising, not much else is. Most of the cast seem to be made up of British character actors making a meal of being peasants and lackeys – very (unintentionally) Pythonesque. The star parts are little better, though Ralph Richardson takes things at a spry tongue-in-cheek pace as a sorcerer who – line Merlin in Excalibur – may or may not be a bit of an old fraud. Richardson in his old age (remember his Supreme Being role in Time Bandits) obviously doesn’t mind a bit of type-casting as long as it’s in a transcendental, other-worldly vein. […] If all the values aren’t quite Disney (there’s a couple of scenes which depict Christianity as every bit as superstitious as paganism and necromancy, and one in which a prototype parish priest gets burned to a crisp by the dragon’s breath) the special effects come up to some of Walt’s high standards. Hats off to the largely British crew – a pity their talents were being used in an obvious sword-and-sorcery vehicle rather than a fully realised movies. – from an illustrated review by Paul Tickell



  • British National Film and Video Catalogue vol.22 (1984)
  • Cinefantastique vol.10 no.1 (Summer 1980) p.33
  • Cinefantastique vol.11 no.3 (September 1981) p.46
  • Cinefantastique vol.35 no.6 (December/January 2003) pp.54-61 – illustrated article (Muse of Fire by Jeff Bond)
  • Cinefex no.6 (October 1981) pp.30-61 – illustrated article
  • L’Écran Fantastique no.27 October 1982) pp.38-60; 48-49; 50-54; 60
  • Film Score Monthly vol.8 no.8 (September 2003) pp.46-47 – illustrated article (On leathern wings and shiny discs by Dennis Schmidt)
  • Films and Filming no.329 (February 1982) pp.29-30
  • Films vol.2 no.8 (July 1982) pp.41-42
  • Jump Cut no.26 (December 1981) pp.1, 18
  • New Musical Express 13 February 1982 pp.22-23 – illustrated review (by Paul Tickell)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.49 no.577 (February 1982) pp.26-27
  • Motion Picture Product Digest vol.9 n3 8 Jul 1981) p.10
  • Prevue no.44 (February/March 1981) pp.27-31 – article
  • Pro Musica Sana vol.9 no.4 (Summer 1982) pp.7-15 – article
  • Screen International no.216 (17 November 1979) p.1
  • Screen International no.224 (19-26 January 1980) p.12 – note (1980 UK production preview)
  • Screen International no.234 (29 March-5 April 1980) p.13 – note
  • Screen International no.237 (19 April 1980) p.67
  • Screen International no.243 (31 May 1980) p.13
  • Screen International no.244 (7 June 1980) p.10
  • Screen International no.248 (5-12 July 1980) p.14 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.249 (12-19 July 1980) p.14 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.250 (19-26 July 1980) p.14 – illustrated credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.251 (26 July-2 August 1980) p.10 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.252 (2-9 August 1980) p.14 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.253 (9-16 August 1980) p.16 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.254 (16-23 August 1980) p.10 – credits (In production)
  • Screen International no.326 16 Jan 1982) pp.60-70 – illustrated article, credits
  • Screen International no.333 (6 March 1982) p.20
  • Starburst no.42 (1982) pp.32-36
  • Starburst no.43 (1982) pp.20-22
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.259 no.25 (4 December 1979) p.1, 20
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.271 no.8 (25 March 1982) pp.3, 12
  • Variety 24 June 1981 pp.23, 27


  • Film Review 1982-1983 by F. Maurice Speed (ed.) p.148 – credits, review
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A.Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.154 – credits, synopsis
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.112
  • The Stop-motion Filmography by Neil Pettigrew pp.188-192
  • Trick Cinematography by R.M. Hayes pp.257-259
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy by David Pringle (general ed.) p.74 – credits, review
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) p.35 – credits, review