Conan The Destroyer (1984)

Posted: 05/08/2014 in Trash movies
Tags: , , , , ,

Yeah, I bet you thought I would leave this movie alone. How can I? It has to be pinpointed as an example of how to ruin great original movie with watered down sequel. Though I have to admit that I am writing this review in top secrecy, without even letting know the rest of the Worsemovies crew. I just can’t risk spreading that info since bunch of zombie-like fans of this movie would probably annoy me with their “Why so bad? This movie good. Me smash you” ‘arguments’. But unlike my usual reviews this one will go without detailed analyzing of every scene. Partly because the most of you probably know this movie too well and partly because it really sickens me to write about it.

Somebody call PETASomebody call P.E.T.A!

As some of you might recall Conan the Barbarian was quite a success. Director John Milius had done a pretty good job and had a vision of trilogy ending with aged Conan ruling over kingdom. Nice idea. But people from Universal studio didn’t share his views. They were seeing Arnold as a new teenage role-model and they did not like combination of violence, sex, and gore. So what did they do? They dumped Milius and brought more family-friendly action director Richard Fleischer (“20000 Leagues Under the Sea”,”The Narrow Margin”) instead. “And what is wrong with that? He is not an inexperienced director.”, some of you might say. I’ll tell you what is wrong. Everything! Do you want a list? You got it! First, he tossed away original scripts done by comic book writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. I guess the script about half-naked barbarian who fights monsters and meets a lot of half-naked women wasn’t PG enough. Second, Conan gets involved in much more dialogues. And lets face it, dialogues are not what Arnold is good at. Next thing… While Milius had Arnold lose weight and practice swordsmanship so he could look like a real warrior, Fleischer did the opposite thing. Wanting to recreate the giant on the covers of the paperback Conan novels, he demanded from Arnold to bulk up as much as he can. Poor Arnold’s organism probably went into the state of shock during the time between two movies (this might be how the rumors about Arnold’s triple bypass came out in the first place). But Conan didn’t get a lot of muscles only. No, he got feelings as well. Conan now jokes and cares about other people feelings. Fleischer attempted to show us how it would be in one of the most disgusting scenes of the movie, in which Conan completely smashed (after barely one bottle of wine) tries to show how to handle a sword to one of his companions. And his companions… Don’t get me start about them. Arnie gets an idiot side-kick Malak (played by Tracey Walter) to provide comic relief. Then there is Zula (played by Grace Jones) who is some kind of demented amazon warrior. The only thing Zula does in  this movie is glaring and hissing like snake at people. And the only person other than Arnold from the first movie is Mako, who plays a role of inexperienced wizard Akiro. There are others as well but more about them soon.

The plot is simple. Evil Queen Taramis (played by “queen” of sequels Sarah Douglas; Superman 2, Puppetmaster 3, Beastmaster 2) promises to revive Conan’s true love Valeria. In return he has to lead virgin Princess Jehnna (played by Olivia D’Abo -complete miscast) and her bodyguard Bombaata (played by now retired basketball player Wilt Chamberlain) on a quest to steal a magic crystal. Of course, Jehnna is the only one who can handle it. With that crystal they will be able to recover a horn that will bring deity Dagoth to life and give a huge power to Taramis. Conan agrees without much of thinking and journey begins. On that journey they face the usual array of monsters, soldiers, evil wizards, ilusions, etc… Conan is confident. He knows what he is doing. What Conan doesn’t know almost until the end is that Taramis ordered Bombaata to kill him as soon as horn is recovered. And Jehnna is going to be sacrificed to Dagoth. That’s why she needed to stay a virgin (and she did thanks to PG). As it always happen, our heroes manage to overcome every obstacle. Unlike the fight between Conan and Toth-Amon (played by Pat Roach) in a hall of mirrors, which is is well-staged, the final battle between Conan and Dagoth is ridiculous, silly garbage.

Conclusion: Is “Conan the Destroyer” watchable? Yes, for someone who knows absolutely nothing about Conan, I suppose it can be a silly sword-and-sorcery popcorn flick. For real fans of Conan this is nothing more than shameful attempt of cashing-in the success of original flick combined with general lousiness we get from the most of the sequels. The basic would even be OK if there wasn’t for retarded companions. Toning has been done drastically and without subtlety. While the fight between Conan and Toth-Amon (Pat Roach), in a hall of mirrors, is well-staged and exciting, much of the rest of the film seems flat, silly, childish and with bad humor. There aren’t many movies in this genre that are worse than “Conan the Destroyer”. Barbarian brothers? Maybe. Hawk the Slayer? For sure.

P.S. In order to show you that half-ass job was done even at production part of this movie here is a complete list of technical errors, or shortly, goofs:

-Telegraph poles visible in the opening scene
-When Conan hits one of the Taramis’ guards’ rope nets with his sword it makes two swords clashing sound
-When Malak asks “Why are they trying to kill us?”, Conan answers, and the same line of dialogue can be faintly heard playing again
-During the fight with Man Ape it cuts to a shot of his friends behind one of the panes, and Malak says “That’s exactly what I would have done, exactly.” His lips don’t match the words at all
-Just after Akiro reads the legend on the wall of the crypt regarding the woman-child with a certain mark we can see a pink star shaped mark on the swell of Jehnna’s left breast. However, earlier in the movie, when Jehnna first awakens in the castle of Toth-Amon this same area of her chest is perfectly visible but the mark is not there
-When Zula is fighting Bombaata, she leaps from the saddle and throws herself on him, knocking his head-circlet off from the impact of collision. In the very next shot, Bombaata’s circlet is back on his head as he struggles with Zula.
-During the opening sequences between the sword fight with Togra and Conan. You can see Togra wearing a long cape in the long shot. When they do a closeup of Togra drawing his sword, he’s not wearing the cape anymore, but when they charge at each other on horseback Togra is wearing his cape again. When the swords clash in the closeup, the cape is once again missing for the rest of the fight
-Shortly before Akiro is rescued from the cannibals and joins the party there is a scene where Akiro can be seen on the last horse riding through the forest despite not having joined the party yet
-When the smoke dragon carries the girl to the crystal castle she is bare foot, but when the wizard lays her down she is wearing boots
-In the first shot of Conan kneeling on the ground with his sword, the shadow around him changes between shots
-When Queen Taramis first speaks to Conan, the amount of blood on Conan’s sword keeps changing between shots
-During the opening fight sequence Conan drops the net over Valeria’s stone altar. But a few shots later, the altar is bare and the net is nowhere to be seen
-In the scene where Malak locks the stone gate by pushing the lever to the left, when the rest of the party enters the room, the lever is to the right (unlocked) again
-In the first forest scene, just before they rescue Akiro, the first two camera shots shows Conan wearing a top and a cape-like fur. The next shot and on, Conan is fully topless
-As the ice palace is collapsing and Conan is starting to row the boat with his companions with him, he is wearing just a loincloth, but while still rowing the boat in the middle of the lake, he is fully clothed
-During the start of the fight against the temple guards, Conan throws his dagger into one of the guards. Later on when they reunite with their horses, the dagger is back in its place
-In the ravine just after they get the Horn, Conan’s dagger is visible, despite being lost in a previous scene
-Man Ape firstly claw-swipes and then scratches the left side of Conan’s head. Those claw and scratch marks on his face and left side of his head are visible
-During the fight between Conan and Man Ape, Conan gets four bloody scratches on his arms, but there was no showing of Man Ape scratching his arms
-When the ice palace is falling apart and the party is just rowing away inside still, you can see a moving crew member in the rock formation above the water. Also, in the same sequence, in the frontal shot from the back of the boat, the skull is on top of the rudder and a spike points down, in the rear shot of the party the skull is on bottom and the spike points up
-During the first battle, when Conan hits the second horseman with his sword, as the man falls from his horse there is a shadow of the cameraman on the ground
-While Malak falls from the waterfall there is a harness attached to his back
-During his battle with Man Ape, the blue make-up used on the monster can be seen rubbing off on Conan’s body in various scenes for short periods
-When Jehnna is bestowing Conan’s companions with rewards, there is no sign of damage to the room
-When Malak throws his knife at Dagoth as Dagoth is trying to break Conan’s arms, a black wire can be seen on Dagoth’s arm
-When Conan repeatedly swings his sword through Man Ape, certain shadows and areas of Conan’s body and hair are invisible (allowing you to see through him) for brief periods

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