Conan the Barbarian (1982) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in yellow:

When young Conan's mother totally loses her head in an attack by a rival horde, young Conan is captured. The brilliant captors decide to affirm the Yankee work ethic by having him push a wheel for several years. They succeed in turning a frail young man into Arnold Schwarzeneger, and then they train him as a gladiator.

For the rest of the film, Arnold opens a can of whoop-ass on anyone he doesn't like. After a hard day of maiming, he plays with a ready supply of topless women. Probably the highlight of this DVD is the full length commentary by the director and Arnold.


There is nudity from the following:

  • Cassandra Gava

  • Leslie Foldvary

  • Nadiuska

  • Sandahl Bergman

  • unknowns

Scoop's comments in white:

When I was a young fool in high school, only a shadow of the old fool I was yet to become, I read every one of the Conan stories by Robert E Howard, and there seemed to be about a zillion of them. I would look up all the countries he mentioned and try to figure out the modern-day equivalent. I would then try to construct a Conan chronology, putting all the stories in the correct order, like others do for Sherlock Holmes. Pretty screwy, by Krom.

Howard wrote them all for the pulps in the Pulp Fiction boom of the 20's and 30's, when Weird Tales and other pulps ruled the dreams of the boys of that generation, as comics and Mad Magazine did for the boyhoods of my generation. Howard was a friend of the famous horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft, and they admired each others' work. They were both lonely bookworms, probably with sexual identity crises, who were excessively devoted to the women that raised them. Howard was so attached to his mom that he committed suicide at her deathbed. He was 30.

The two men created their swashbucklers and all-powerful blasphemous Old Ones as a way to act out the swaggering masculine fantasies so remote from their real lives. This made them the perfect guys to create stories for the boys who read the pulps, since the readers received the same ego transferal from reading the stories that Howard and Lovecraft did from writing them.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Making Of Featurette: Conan Unchained: The Making Of Conan the Barbarian

  • Deleted Scenes & Special Effects

  • The Conan Archives: Archival Photos

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

 Hmm - I suppose this applied to me as well in the 60's.

The movie is engagingly fleshed out with some serious classical actors like James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow, who both seemed to enjoy slumming and making complete fools of themselves. Indeed, director John Milius was doing some slumming of his own. He is best known for his script for Apocalypse Now, and his love of surfing. Milius himself co-wrote the script with no less a luminary than Oliver Stone himself, speaking of slumming.

It includes an appearance from mysterious Valerie Quennessen before her unexplained disappearance. (The most reliable accounts say she is now dead, the victim of an auto accident, if I remember correctly.)

The Critics Vote

  • James Berardinelli 3/4,

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a minor hit, it grossed $37 million in the USA (not a blockbuster, but fairly strong by 1982 standards)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C+. The king of the genre. How often does a sword-n-sorcery film draw a creative team like Stone and Milius?

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