Three years after Conan the Barbarian hit the screens, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the role in the follow-up, Conan the Destroyer. The next stop in the list of evil wizards in the chapter on Devil’s Work in DK Canada’s very enjoyable, Monsters in the Movies.
Unfortunately due to some unnecessary comedic elements, and a truly wasted use of iconic character actor Tracey Walter, as well as directive by Universal Pictures to make a more family friendly, or at least PG-13 rating outing, the sequel suffers terribly.
Director Richard Fleischer sends Conan on his next quest, with another Basil Poledouris score to help him along, though, like the film, it’s no where near as driving, nor memorable as the first.
In a film that feels like it has more of a tie-in with the classic cinematic adventures of Sinbad than with Robert E. Howard’s iconic character, Conan finds himself saddled with new companions; Walter’s thief, Malak, Wilt Chamberlain as Bombaata, Grace Jones as Zula, and Mako returning as Akiro the Wizard.
Together, at the behest of Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas) they are to serve as travelling party for Princess Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo) who is out to recover a valuable artefact. An artefact that when in the hands of Taramis, will reawaken the Dreaming God. If you couldn’t tell by her costume that Douglas played a baddie, her exposition clearly will.
Off the adventurers go, fighting and working together on their quest, before realising that the end result of their goal could spell big trouble.
But Conan will be up to the task.
It’s not as dark, and gritty as the first film, and seems to want to embrace the adventure side of the story while shying away from some of the more violent and darker elements that made the character and the first film so popular.
On the filp-side, in 1984, when the film first came out, it introduced me to d’Abo, who, only a couple of years older than me, became a huge crush.
Conan the Destroyer is a sleeker film that its predecessor, and that causes it to be a little much like a pre-packaged company product as opposed to a rough and tumble sword and sorcery picture.
There’s some nice creature work, featuring designs by Carlo Rambaldi, and some stunt work by legendary stunt man and coordinator, Vic Armstrong, but when they film shied away from its more mature subject matter in the hopes of appealing to a younger audience, it forgot its fanbase.
Still, it’s always a delight to revisit both films, and long for a third tale in the trilogy, as we are still waiting to hear how Conan became a king by his own hand.
There’s more devilry and darkness to come in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies, so pick one up for yourself and find something monstrous to watch tonight!