I get it. At first glance Ghost Warrior seems like a movie that is easy to disregard, but if you are looking to step outside the mainstream and dip your toe into the murky waters that is B cinema, Ghost Warrior is a heck of a fun place to start. The film is produced by Charles Band. He’s pretty much royalty when it comes to B cinema. His biggest claim to fame is the creation of Full Moon Features, and if you were around in the mom and pop video store days, you more than likely passed plenty of his work on the video store shelves. Movies like Puppet Master and little gems like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama were Band’s bread and butter, and he’s been successful enough to produce well over 350 films. When it comes to Ghost Warrior, this is before Full Moon became notorious for low-budget horror, but this film does show that he could produce a quality film on a thin budget and have a running time of only 81 minutes.
The film opens up in Japan with Yoshi (Hiroshi Fujioka) as a samurai attempting to protect the woman he loves, but in the process he falls from a cliff and into a frozen lake where he remains frozen for 400 years until he is discovered by a pair of hikers. This opening sequence is a good looking sequence, and that is thanks to the cinematography from horror great Mac Ahlberg. Let me take a moment to just say that it is criminal that Mac Ahlberg isn’t a household name with horror fans, Just to name a few of the great horror films he shot: Hell Night, Re-Animator (personally my all time favorite horror film), House, From Beyond, and countless others. The look of this film elevates it to the point where it can hold its own with bigger 80s films released at the same time, and seeing the image cleaned up for this release, it looks really good.
The samurai popsicle is moved to a special lab in California where they manage to thaw him out and bring him back to life. Yoshi, of course, has trouble adjusting to the new changes in the world, and most of the scientists simply want to exploit him. Even an orderly has his eyes on stealing Yoshi’s swords, but then there is Chris Janet Julian), who simply wants to help Yoshi. Things start to get good when Yoshi escapes the lab and he’s roaming the streets of LA and we get to see him take on some thugs and rescue a man from a mugging. Unfortunately Yoshi doesn’t understand murdering criminals is illegal, and eventually there is a manhunt for him. One thing that will frustrate people is that despite the film being about a samurai, there really isn’t a kick-ass moment where we get to see Yoshi put his skills to the test. It’s all rather simple when it comes to the sword play department.
The film’s director is J. Larry Carroll, and this was sadly the only film he directed. When you check out his resume he has 44 other writing credits, but it is his first one that jumps right out, Tourist Trap (1979). He’s the man responsible for making mannequins and telekinesis terrifying, or at least really creepy, when it’s done in a small roadside museum. Again, when you see all this talent brought together and relatively early in their careers, it’s no wonder they managed to make such a cheese-ball idea work as well as it does. This is a fun late night movie experience that’s meant to be enjoyed with a few drinks and to shut your brain off for 80 minutes.