Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woe

Death by Party | Conan The Barbarian: Don’t Fuck With Perfection

This is a bit of a departure from our usual focus on super obscure exploitation movies. This early Schwarzenegger vehicle is such a classic, everyone has probably at least seen a few seconds of it on cable. But that is why I’m writing this.

They have remade Conan The Barbarian and it looks absolutely horrible. I want to preface this by saying, I loath people who always write about “the good old days.” in movies or anything else. I don’t think crapy stop motion or paper mache monsters are preferable to CGI. However the problem with CGI movies is the urge to overload the film with unnecessary crap. But film makers don’t have to make the choice between shitty effects and CGI overload. The original Conan is a perfect example where “less is more” is boiled down to a perfect balance.

There are two elements to the first Conan that makes it a  perfect film.

First is the structure and scale. This isn’t a sweeping dragons & fairies movie,  There are no shitty skeleton soldiers or FX makeup monsters or giant battles here. In fact there are only a small handful of brief FX scenes in the whole movie. It’s really structured as a western that trades guns for swords. It’s a small tight film about feuding gangs who are hunting each other.

Second, Conan takes itself seriously. When this movie was made, executives didn’t realize they could sell lots of plastic swords to kids. Unlike it’s shitty sequel and all the clones it spawned, this is a mature movie. Conan relies on good old fashion sex & violence. The formula is simple. Take a group of muscle heads, dress them up in Black Sabbath hairdos & horned helmets, surround them with naked women and then have them butcher each other with axes.

So before you go watch some douchey pretty boy engage in endless freeze frame sword fights with CGI goblins to a shitty new metal soundtrack, check out the Govenator fucking shit up old school.

Where else are you going to find
Vikings
Samurais
Gladiators
Sex cults
James Earl Jones with Iron Maiden hair
and Opera all in the storyline of a western?

-R.E. Brown

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