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  Conan the Destroyer Ahnold Gets The Horn
Year: 1984
Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter, Sarah Douglas, Olivia d'Abo, Pat Roach, Jeff Corey, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Bruce Fleischer, Ferdy Mayne, André the Giant
Genre: Action, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Before Conan the Barbarian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) became King, he wandered the land looking for adventure, which he found one day when he and his right hand man Malak (Tracey Walter) were praying, giving thanks to their god Crom after a successful mission. They were soon surrounded by fearsome warriors, but these men were no match for Conan and he defeated them practically single-handedly, though he was given pause by the appearance of Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas), who claimed to have a fresh quest for him to undertake...

Thus Conan returned to the screen after his big hit in his original, John Milius directed movie, and there was much wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, not to mention lamentations of women, for lo! Robert E. Howard's classic pulp creation had been brought back in bloody ridiculous fashion. Of course, you could argue that the first Conan movie was rather absurd in its Man and Superman courting manner, but a lot of people took it as seriously as Milius did, with the result that Arnold became a movie star and a whole subgenre of musclemen starring in their own action movies was unleashed.

By the time he was a Destroyer, our hero was well established as was a new style of much-derided fantasy cinema, the sword and sorcery film. This sequel might not have fitted into a self-serious mode of the original, but it did fit right into the more goofy excesses of what followed on, and Schwarzenegger quickly found his niche as a daft non-actor who somehow became one of the biggest movie stars of the decade thanks to canny casting opening up the market for that very particular brand of eighties action flicks. Many of them involved Arnie's rivals picking up machine guns as well as using their brawn, but here the former Mr Universe used his sword.

Hack and slay, and what a strange collection of cast members he had gathered around him this time. You might have recognised Douglas as Ursa from Superman II, but she was fast turning into a past mistress of this type of imperious villainy on the screen, so not so surprising to see her in these surroundings, but what about basketball player and prodigious womaniser Wilt Chamberlain as the bodyguard to the Princess (Olivia d'Abo), what was he doing here? Actually, the Queen asks Conan to be the Princess's bodyguard as well so that she can go off and fetch a precious artifact - a bejewelled horn for her magic statue - return home and be sacrificed to a God - er, she doesn't mention that last bit, obviously.

So along the way of an increasingly tedious quest they picked up the inevitable Mako and international model and recording star Grace Jones as what can best be described as Conan's female equivalent, although her exact purpose other than another famous face for the movie was obscure. Amusingly, when they entered the castle to get the sacred object, Conan met with a gorilla-masked all-in wrestler played by Pat Roach, who hilariously picks him up by his feet and swings him round in circles. This raises your spirits that the rest of this will be just as much fun, but it's not to be as not even Ferdy Mayne can enliven the long stretch it takes to get back to the Queen's castle. Once they do, however, they have the problem of how to save the Princess which involves battling André the Giant (uncredited) in a rubber monster costume. Which isn't watching Ahnold get spun around, but it's the next best thing in these circumstances. Is this any way to treat a classic character? Is that any way to treat a camel, for that matter? Probably not, but cheap thrillseekers will be entertained. Music by Basil Poledouris.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Fleischer  (1916 - 2006)

American director whose Hollywood career spanned five decades. The son of famed animator Max Fleischer, he started directing in the forties, and went on to deliver some stylish B-movies such as Armored Car Robbery and Narrow Margin. His big break arrived with Disney's hit live action epic, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and which he followed up with such films as The Vikings, Compulsion, Fantastic Voyage, The Boston Strangler, true crime story 10 Rillington Place, See No Evil, cult favourite Soylent Green, Mister Majestyk, Amityville 3-D and sequel Conan the Destroyer. He became unfairly well known for his critical flops, too, thanks to Doctor Dolittle, Che!, Mandingo, The Jazz Singer remake, Red Sonja and Million Dollar Mystery, some of which gained campy cult followings, but nevertheless left a solid filmography to be proud of.

 
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