Conan The Destroyer – Richard Fleischer – 1984



Richard Fleischer’s Conan The Destroyer has a pretty bad reputation. I get it. There are some boring segments. The monster that Thoth Amon summons is the worst. Too many people on the quest makes for Conan the babysitter. Yeah, yeah, yeah, get over it, the film is pretty great.

Look, the look of the film is on a par with or nearly better than the first one. The sets, especially the main throne room of the enchantress, are everything you want out of a fantasy set. The costumes and casting are even great. The story is good, so why did it come out so mediocre? Too much padding I say, plus the bad monster in the middle makes the film fall a bit short. If they had cut this bad boy down to 90 minutes, it might not have felt epic, but it would have had a crunching pace that would have left the audience breathless.

I’m honestly only a fan of Conan, the wizard and the enchantress. The other characters piss me off a bit. This is another shortcoming of the film, and I think it has to do with the fact that little girls like fantasy films as well, and this film panders to a younger female audience. It’s not as gory or as blatantly misogynistic as the first film. There are several strong and willful female characters, both good and evil.

The story has pretty classic through line that I think Howard or Lovecraft would have enjoyed. A band of heroes searches for artifacts to resurrect ancient sleeping evil, only to battle said evil after conjured. Basic stuff. Only in Lovecraft, the monster would have destroyed everything and no one would have lived.

Sarah Douglas is great as Queen Taramis, the true villain in this story. She is everything a cultess needs to be, sexy, powerful, and mysterious. The other ladies however, Olivia D’abo, and Grace Jones really take the film into cartoon territory and their acting never really reaches beyond their physicality.

The thief/fool character is a waste and could be excised with no loss. I love the wizard though. Conan should just travel with his wizard friend. He works for the most part, and is needed, cause there is a lot of magic in the film.

I know purists hate how Thoth-Amon is wasted, and I get it yeah, he is, but just call him something different in your head, or let him be mistakenly referred to as Thoth Amon and the real one still be out there or something. He totally a chump with a chump-ass monster, but, eh, he can turn into a smoke-pterodactyl and that is really cool.

Once we have the jewel, the film slips into snooze mode until we get back to the palace. A classic quote, “Enough talk!” and one betrayal later, we are back in the cool part of the movie. The sexy woman is to be sacrificed and an ancient evil awakened.

From here on the film is 99 percent awesome. If you don’t like the climax of Conan The Destroyer, what the hell man? Sure, I wish the monster Dagoth was bigger, but that’s it. Everything that happens, is great, from Teela, (that’s what I call Grace Jones in this movie), killing the priest to Conan fighting Carlo Rambaldi’s fantastic monster this scene just rules.

So here it is. This film is great adventure, skewed for the young. The violence is mostly bloodless, and there is much fun to be had. It can be slow for a bit, and one of the monsters sucks, but Dagoth is awesome, and it’s kind of like a prequel to the Masters Of The Universe film. Conan is He-Man, Grace Jones is Teela and Bombatta is Man At Arms, and this film is set in Eternia.

See it with your kids!


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