Albert Pyun, author of the VHS era, has died at the age of 69

Albert Pyun, the Hawaii-born director of genre films The sword and the magician, cyborg, Nemesisand an early version of Captain AmericaHe reportedly died in Las Vegas on Saturday. His work, some of which is only available as bootlegs or poorly duplicated uploads unless you still have the early VHS pressings, is loved by many enthusiasts and considered by some to fall outside the typical classification of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ accepted. Over the years he has worked with Kris Kristoffersonburt reynolds, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice T, Snoop DoggRutger Hauer and Women’s Kickboxing Champion Kathy Lang. He was 69 years old.

Pyun’s family was born in Hawaii when it was US territory and traveled to military bases around the world. In his youth he shot short films on 8 and 16mm, one of which eventually impressed legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. He invited Pyun to intern on his next film (it was originally going to be Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzalabut the actor directed a television series instead.) After returning to the United States, Pyun began a career in television advertising.

His first feature film would be his only real box office hit, The sword and the magicianreleased in 1982, the same year as John Milius‘s Conan the Barbarian and Don Coscarelli‘s The Beastmaster. (What a time for muscle-bound men rampaging through mythical realms!) It starred Lee Horsley as a young hero, Kathleen Beller as Princess and Richard Lynch as Villain, with Richard Moll (Bull from night court!) as Xusia of Delos, a resurrected sorceress. Although the film lacked a coherent plot and had few positive reviews, it more than made up for it with its design. The posters were illustrated by Peter Andrew Jones and transferred well to VHS covers. The film ended up making a significant amount of money (just a little less than Conan which resulted in Arnold Schwarzenegger to worldwide fame) and more than many fondly remembered titles like tootsie, Red, Tronand Bladerunner. I mean there was a sword that shot down other swords!


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However, the success of his first film didn’t work as a break into mainstream Hollywood. (It was attached to a version of Total recall for producer Dino De Laurentiis with William Hurt in the lead, which eventually fell through.) Instead, he found his true metier — low-budget, cyberpunk- or dystopian-themed schlock, often starring cyborgs, and open to sequences of outrageous actions.

Highlights from the rest of the 1980s include Radioactive Dreamsa post-apocalyptic film noir with a mix of new wave pop and swing music in the soundtrack, Foreigners from LAwho played the lead role Kathy Ireland (later in the focus of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode) and the vehicle of Jean-Claude Van Damme cyborg. Most of these films were produced by Cannon Films, Menahem Golan’s legendary genre chain and Yoram Globus. This reporter can confirm that cyborg definitely entertained 14 year olds who got dumped at the cinema for the afternoon after its initial release.


This content can also be displayed on the website from which it originated. Albert Pyun, author of the VHS era, has died at the age of 69

Charles Jones

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