Saturday, July 13, 2013

Discussion Thread for the July 2013 Monthly Marathon!

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan The Destroyer (1984)
Kull The Conqueror (1997)
Conan The Barbarian (2011)



  1. Thoughts on watching #1...
    - The first half hour of this movie is creepy as hell on a number of levels. Wtf is up with the 80's style Tia Carrere style witch?
    - Remarkable how few lines Arnold has, but how often we still have to listen to him going "UUUNNNNH!"
    - I feel like I have heard this score in other movies
    - Love the camel punch
    - I am now craving some really old school sword-and-sorcery 1st ed style campaigning...

  2. Conan the Barbarian tries to tell a story in the style of Robert E. Howard, and it does a pretty good job of it. A lot of the scenes are lifted straight from various written stories. Stylistically, it is a lot like the old spaghetti westerns - epic, lots of landscape shots and scenes with people riding horses through the landscape, and slow moving. Arnold's acting is fairly bad, but James Earl Jones and the other cast help bring it off.

    Conan the Destroyer is a reasonably good D&D adventure, but a worse film. Arnold's acting is better and he looks more like Conan should, but excepting Grace Jones, the supporting cast is fairly awful and the plot is trite. The movie makes numerous call-backs to the first film (i.e. camel punch 2, electric boogaloo).

    And of course, there is a third de facto Conan movie. Red Sonja with Bridgette Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, Arnold's character is called Kaldor in the film, but his backstory and costume make it clear that he is Conan in everything but name. Worse than Conan the Destroyer.

    Even though the first movie has its flaws, and the following two are downright bad, they set the standard for what Conan should be on the big screen. The more recent film has a lot going for it, but is ultimately forgettable.

  3. Thoughts on watching #2 - Conan the Destroyer…

    – Yes, Arnold's acting is better… But do we really care?
    - The fight scenes and swordplay seem to be choreographed or directed much more sloppily here. It's not so much an elegant dance or something to watch... just a lot of people stabbing or swinging directly at the screen instead. Maybe cheaper to produce but more boring to watch.
    - The semi-lame obviously drawn special-effects actually kind of work for me. They have a kind of retro nostalgia feel that charm me more than most badly done modern CGI.
    - We continue with the bad looping and the weird sound editing, which seem to be a staple of DeLaurentis productions. (I suspect this is why Giada's mouth always seems so out of place. It's just a family tradition.)
    - The first film was shot largely in Spain and the landscape and surrounding world were as much characters as anyone with a speaking part I very much miss that added dimension which is missing from the sequel.
    – I'm sorry but Grace Jones still creeps me the fuck out. I guess that's the point here though…
    - The particularly annoying cowardly thief was originally supposed to be played by Squiggy, who dropped out of the last minute due to health problems. If he had stayed would it have improved the writing or delivery? I don't know but the character probably would've been far far less annoying in practice.
    - Good to see Sarah Douglas chewing the scenery here. I honestly had no recollection that she was ever in a movie other than Superman II.
    - Fifteen year old Olivia d'Abo is looking fine and jailbaity here. I think portions of the dialogue regarding her character would be illegal to include in film a decade or so later...
    - Wilt the Stilt's first movie role! (Wilt the Stilt's only movie role…)
    - The feel of this one is very definitely much more like a first edition AD&D campaign, from the adventuring party, to the artifact recovery, to the obligatory employer-doublecross bait and switch at the end. I am 100% sure this is intentional. There is NO WAY whatsoever the risen god-monster at the end is not a total take off of Zargon, the end boss from B4: The Lost City by Tom Moldvay, which predates this film by about two years. One could even now read that mod as a sequel, showing what happens to the kingdom if Conan fails to win the day in the end...

  4. Thoughts on watching #3 - Kull the Conqueror

    – Ok, so this film is bad. Bad, bad, baaaaad. So bad I was almost enjoying it and getting a kick out of wondering what ridiculous depths it could plummet to next.
    - Sorbo is charismatic, but actually way too much so. It's not that he does a bad job per se... But he is so smooth and SoCal, it really makes one miss Arnold's accent, which drove home the "otherness" of the wandering Cimmerian in the first two movies. Here, Conan is just a guy who refuses to put on a shirt.
    - Oh my god... did you see the stringy mullet on that guy?
    - There was a disturbing trend in the 80's and 90's were exotic was automatically construed to mean gorgeous, and this film is a sad example. I will be the first to admit that Tia Carrere was absolutely smokin' in Wayne's World, but here she just comes off as, well, ew. Yet Conan is smitten at first glance... Poor dumb bastard.

  5. Thoughts on watching #4 - Conan The Barbarian

    – I tried watching this last year but didn't get very far. I think I gave up at the closeup of the severed nose.
    - On re-trying it is not as bad as I expected. On the whole, I enjoyed it, but it is still kinda crap.
    - Rose McGowan was awful, but what did one expect?
    - I so miss the on location shooting from the first 1-2 movies. The cheap background paintings in this made me heartsick.
    - Worth it to see Khal Drogo swordfight General George Pickett.