When Hawk the Slayer came out in 1980, Jason Kingsley became an instant fan. The film features magic swords, elven mindstones, giants, dwarves, sorcerers and a massive battle between pure evil and noble good. Think Dungeons & Dragons in real life, on the big screen. For weeks after Hawk the Slayer's release, Kingsley would borrow his dad's wind-up 8mm cine camera and attempt to recreate the movie in the woods of his hometown. Now, as CEO of UK video game company Rebellion, Kingsley has the opportunity to produce Hawk the Hunter, the official sequel to Slayer. If the movie's Kickstarter succeeds, Kingsley will be working with original director Terry Marcel and actor Ray Charleson (above). It's a fantasy come true.
Kingsley got involved with the sequel through a series of happy coincidences. A while back, he was in the middle of a move and already thinking about old franchises that might be ripe for renewal within Abaddon Books, one of Rebellion's book imprints. As Kingsley was rifling through a box of "those things you keep but only ever look at when you're moving," he ran across his copy of Hawk the Slayer on VHS.
"That's probably where the spark of the idea to get in contact with Terry Marcel came from," he says. "These things seem to pop up out of nothing sometimes."
Kingsley tracked down Marcel via Google voodoo, reached out with a call and an email, and things progressed fairly quickly from there. It probably helps that Kingsley is a tried-and-true fan of the original film. Hawk the Slayer was a catalyst of the fantasy boom in the 1980s, paving the way for successes like Conan the Barbarian and Willow, and its sincere dedication to a magical universe has kept the film alive for decades. Rifftrax, the people behind Mystery Science Theater 3000, riffed on Hawk the Slayer this past October.
"It's a classic in my opinion because the pure spirit of sword and sorcery rises above its limited budget to build something wonderful and uplifting -- somehow greater than anyone expected," he says. "Sure, you can watch it a bit cynically and laugh at the low budget effects and cheesy arch dialogue, but my lasting memories come from a purer place of high adventure."
Kingsley and Rebellion (co-founded by Jason and his brother in 1992) are helping to produce Hawk the Hunter, much like they did with 2012's Dredd. Rebellion will also do some CGI work for the film, and Kingsley is mulling over plans for a game and novels in the Hawk universe.
"I might even persuade Terry to let me be in the movie itself, maybe on my horse, Warlord -- you never know," he says.
All of this is in early stages of planning and a lot of it hinges on Hawk the Hunter's Kickstarter campaign, which launches on August 30th. The film's budget is $5 million, and Marcel, Kingsley and company need to raise the final 20 percent, Marcel told The Guardian earlier this month. For now, Kingsley can dream big and hope for the best.
"Ideally, I'd like to inspire someone young to go into the woods with their video phone and try to make their own version again, completing the circle of inspiration," he says.