Hawk the Slayer
UK quad poster
Directed byTerry Marcel[1]
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Terry Marcel
  • Harry Robertson
Produced byHarry Robertson
CinematographyPaul Beeson
Edited byEric Boyd-Perkins
Music byHarry Robertson
  • Chips Productions
  • Marcel/Robertson Productions Limited
Distributed byITC Entertainment
Release date
  • 21 December 1980 (1980-12-21)
Running time
94 minutes[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom

Hawk the Slayer is a 1980 sword and sorcery adventure film directed by Terry Marcel, and starring John Terry and Jack Palance.[1] The story follows two warring brothers who fight to gain control of a magical sword. A brave warrior, the titular Hawk, assembles a small force of fighters to help him rid the land of a powerful and devious enemy.

Marcel had been working with Harry Robertson when they realized that they both were fans of the sword and sorcery genre. Marcel has stated that it was not intended to include magic at all, and was supposed to be a historical film. In the course of writing the script, he then introduced the magical mind stone, changing the overall nature.

The film had an initial negative reception but has since developed a cult following.[4] Sequels were planned, but never produced.


Voltan infiltrates his father's castle and demands the key to the ancient power but is denied. The wicked Voltan mortally wounds his own father when the latter refuses to turn over the magic of the "last elven mind stone". As the old man lies dying, another son, Hawk, enters the castle, and is bequeathed a great sword with a pommel shaped like a human hand which attaches itself to the mind stone. The sword is now imbued with magical powers and can respond to Hawk's mental commands. Hawk then vows to avenge his father by killing Voltan.

Voltan torments the whole countryside. Some time later a warrior, Ranulf, is struggling to run away from Voltan's forces. Ranulf arrives at a remote convent. Ranulf tells the nuns that he survived Voltan's attack on his village and his people, which resulted in the brutal deaths of women and children. Ranulf is seriously injured and nursed back to health by the nuns, losing a hand in the process.

Voltan calls out to his wizard to stave off the pain he has in his wounded face. The wizard performs a spell on his face, telling him “your face will not pain you for a while” and “there is one who stands between us and the final victory; you will prepare the way to his death.”

Voltan appears at the convent, interrupting the nuns' mass and kidnapping the Abbess, demanding a large sum of gold as a ransom. After Voltan and his henchmen leave with the Abbess, the nuns tell Ranulf to seek the High Abbot at the Fortress of Danesford.

Ranulf arrives at the fortress of Daneford. The High Abbot tells him to find the warrior called Hawk. The High Abbot gives Ranulf a token to give to Hawk when he finds him.

Hawk is traveling through the land and discovers Ranulf has been captured by brigands. Hawk rescues him and Ranulf convinces Hawk to rescue the Abbess.

Hawk locates his old friends: Gort, a giant who wields a war hammer; Crow, an elf who uses a bow; and Baldin, a dwarf skilled with a whip. The five warriors travel to the convent and fight Voltan's men. It is not enough though and Voltan threatens to kill the Abbess. Voltan still demands the ransom. Hawk steals gold from a slave trader to pay the ransom.

Hawk doubts that Voltan will free the Abbess even after the ransom is paid as Voltan had treacherously murdered Hawk's wife, Eliane. Hawk and his team attack Voltan's camp to rescue the Abbess but fail. Hawk kills Voltan's son Drogo. Enraged, Voltan confronts the heroes in a final battle at the convent and with the aid of a turn-cloak nun captures the team. A sorceress, another friend of Hawk's, helps the heroes escape, but Baldin is mortally wounded as a result.

The heroes now attack the convent for the last time for Hawk to exact his revenge on Voltan; Crow is wounded and Ranulf is killed, Hawk battles his way to Voltan, taking down Voltan's men mercilessly, until he confronts Voltan, who has managed to take Gort and the Abbess's sisters prisoner. Hawk asks for them to be set free in exchange for Hawk becoming Voltan's prisoner. Voltan agrees but Hawk manages to free Gort, and the two fight Voltan and his remaining men, killing them all.

Hawk and Gort head off to find new adventures leaving Crow to be tended to by the nuns. An evil wizard carries off Voltan's body.



The film was the brainchild of Terry Marcel and Harry Robertson, who sought to make a low budget film to capitalize on the growing interest in the Sword and sorcery genre because larger scale adaptations such as Thongor and Conan the Barbarian were either struggling to find backing or undergoing budget negotiations.[5] The two had initially planned to finance the film with private money and Roger Corman distributing until Lew Grade said he would guarantee the movie.[5] The producers voiced their desire to produce a series of Hawk films following this one.[5]

The film was shot over the course of six weeks in Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.[3]


Hawk the Slayer performed well in the UK, but due to the collapse of distribution company ITC it was never given a theatrical release in the United States.[3] The film eventually premiered in the United States on television on The CBS Late Movie on December 3, 1982.[6]



A possible 1981 sequel was referred to in the US magazine Cinefantastique (Fall 1980 Issue) but never made. The director is quoted as saying "...I'll be going on a trip looking for locations for the next one. Whether ITC does it or not, we will be making HAWK - THE DESTROYER in February [1981]'.

In 2015, a sequel titled Hawk the Hunter was reported to be in development with a $5 million budget. There was an unsuccessful attempt to crowdfund it on Kickstarter.[7] The intended beginning of filming in late 2015[8][9] has been postponed. In addition to the sequel, British video game company Rebellion Developments plan to release a game, and Marcel has plans for a TV series called Hawk the Destroyer.[8]

In a YouTube interview, Marcel stated that he wanted to explore more of the origin of Hawk and Voltan, how Hawk became a warrior and how Voltan became evil. he also wanted to expand on the idea that there was more than one magical stone besides the mind stone that Hawk wields on his sword. He also wanted to show a little bit about the elves in Hawk's land and imagined the film as a prequel to the original.


On 16 October 2014 the film was released as a VOD title by RiffTrax[10]


In 2022 a Hawk the Slayer comic was published in the Judge Dredd Megazine (in supplements to issues 440 to 444) and separately as a limited series, written by Garth Ennis with art by Henry Flint. The story is a sequel to the film.

In other media

A line of dialogue spoken in the film by Voltan was sampled by British rock band The Darkness on their 2013 single "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us".

Bill Bailey’s character, Bilbo, in the sitcom Spaced is depicted as a passionate fan of the film, reconciling with Simon Pegg’s Tim after Tim’s brief replacement angered Bilbo by calling Hawk The Slayer "rubbish" in the 2001 episode "Change".


  1. ^ a b Hal Erickson (2009). "Hawk the Slayer". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009.
  2. ^ "HAWK THE SLAYER (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 18 July 1980. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Curits, Nick. "Hawk the Slayer is back – and he's brought his mindsword". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Terry Marcel | HAWK THE SLAYER". 24 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Jones, Alan (1982). "The Sender". Cinemafantastique. Fourth Castle Micromedia. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  6. ^ https://epguides.com/cbslatemovie// epiguides.com The CBS Late Movie]
  7. ^ Hawk the Hunter by Terry marcel on Kickstarter
  8. ^ a b Curtis, Nick (6 July 2015). "Hawk the Slayer is back – and he's brought his mindsword". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Williams, Owen (2 July 2015). "Hawk The Slayer To Return In A Sequel". Empire.
  10. ^ "Hawk the Slayer". 17 October 2014.