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Conan The Destroyer (1984)

by on 2012/02/11

“I am not as think as you drunk I am.”

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I once got second row tickets to an Elvis Costello and the Attractions concert. I must have been less than 20 feet away from one of my favourite lyrists of all time. (I said “one of,” Morrissey).

But I couldn’t concentrate. There was this woman, all teased hair, hairspray and scarves, flailing around spasmodically directly in my eye line to Mr. Costello (A Colbert Christmas). I couldn’t stop looking at this grand mal seizure of a woman the entire concert.

To this day, that woman is just about all I can remember about the night. This is why I oppose dancing in all of its forms.

I had an experience rather like this watching Conan The Destroyer the other night.

I love Conan. I loved the comics and I loved Schwarzenegger’s screen portrayal. A lot of time had gone by since I last watched this second in the series, and I remembered – once again – why it isn’t on my go-to list.

Before I share the distracting, big-haired dancer of this experience, first to the plot. Picking up where Conan the Barbarian left off, Conan has resumed thieving, this time with comedy hobo Malak (Tracey Walter). But Conan misses his murdered barbarian shorty Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), and all of the pick-pocketed medallions in the world aren’t going to fill the void.

His mighty heart breaking, Conan is hornswoggled by an evil queen named Taramis (Sarah Douglas) into believing the queen can use her witchcraft to bring back his beloved from the dead. Conan’s task in return? Journey with a princess to collect a magical horn.

Ok, it isn’t as rude as it sounds. (Even though Wilt Chamberlain was totally coming with them).

Now we come to the problem. Princess Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo) was the all singing, all dancing distraction in this movie. No, she didn’t actually sing or dance. She simpered, she pouted, she wailed like a socialite who has just broken the heel on her Jimmy Choo’s.

Every possible barbarian pretense came crashing down onto the sound stage when she opened her pretty little mouth. More Veruca Salt than regal ancient princess, her posh British “pass the crumpets, won’t you?” accent, and feathered, curling-ironed hair broke the illusion.

Do yourself a favour and seek out the scene where the princess swaps dating advice with Grace Jones (Pee-Wee Herman’s Christmas Special) playing the fearsome warrior Zula. The shining and snarling Ms. Jones belonged in this movie right down to the tip of the foxtail on her leather thong, Princess Jehnna did not.

The blame is not to be rested simply at Princess Jehnna’s beautiful feet. While the first in the Conan series pulled no punches, this softer, more cautious Conan incarnation was fluffier, kinder, gentler – Grace Jones notwithstanding. Conan even apologizes to the camel he punches in the first movie.  Sure, he hits him again …but you get my point.

All this aside, I’d still rather be watching a Conan film than doing just about anything else. Conan the Destroyer gets three hard punches in its bulging bicep from this tortured goth.

* * *

103 minutes

Rated PG for a glimpse of side boob, Conan’s codpiece, a spooky guy with one eye, and the guttural grunting of the hilarious, entertaining wizard Akiro (Mako)

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