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Conan the Barbarian
Conan, der Barbar

USA 1982
produced by
Buzz Feitshans, Raffaella de Laurentiis, Edward R. Pressman (executive), D.Constantine Conte (executive) for Dino De Laurentiis Productions
directed by John Milius
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez, Mako, Max von Sydow, Ben Davidson, Valerie Quinnessen, Cassandra Gaviola, William Smith, Nadiuska, Luis Barboo, Jack Taylor, Jorge Sanz, Franco Columbo, Leslie Foldvary, Akia Mitamura, Sven Ole Thorsen, Kiyoshi Yamasaki
screenplay by John Milius, Oliver Stone, based on a character created by Robert E. Howard, music by Basil Poledouris, production design by Ron Cobb

Conan, Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A long long time ago, probably before any of you were even born, young Conan (Jorge Sanz) witnesses his entire tribe being wiped out by the Snake Cult of Seth, his parents (William Smith, Nadiuska) are even killed before his very eyes, only his own life is spared, but he is sold into slavery ...

20 years later: Conan has spent the entire time working the grinding mill, & he has put on quite some muscles which make him look like Arnold Schwarzenegger (& wouldn't you know it, he's even played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Realizing this, his master decides to turn Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) into a gladiator, & soon he is the most successful, strongest & most brutal gladiator about.

Eventually the gladiator is set free, & now he seems to have but one mission: to destroy the snake cult of Seth, kill its leader Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) & thus avenge his parents & tribe.

Soon, he finds 2 loyal sidekicks in archer & thief Subotai (Gerry Lopez) & lovely Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), & in the next bigger city the trio decides to break into the local tower of the snake cult, where they prevent a human sacrifice, kill a giant snake, steal the cult's diamonds & bring the tower down.

Everything seems to be fine & dandy, now that our trio has become immensely rich (from selling the diamonds), & Valeria & Conan even become a proper couple ... wouldn't King Osric (Max von Sydow) have found out tht it was them who robbed the tower, & he has them arrested ...

But fortunately, King Osric is a benevolent ruler who has a score of his own to settle with Thulsa Doom, since Doom has kidnapped his own daughter (Valerie Quinnessen), & he decides to hire the threesome to free his girl for him ... but of the three, only Conan is willing to take the risk, & soon he splits up with the others, finds a new sidekick in a lonely wizard (Mako), & finds Doom's temple, which he enters in a robe he has stolen from a priest (genre fave Jack Taylor).

Of course he is soon found out, tortured & crucified to a tree in the middle of the desert ... which is where Valeria & Subotai find him, more dead than alive, & the wizard's magic brings him back to full force. With his friends by his side, Conan enters Doom's temple through a system of caves that serve as a rear entry, & they fight valiantly against overpowering odds, even defeating Doom's troops, freeing the princess, & once again br5inging the house down. Only Valeria has to give her life as a thank-you for her efforts, hit by  one of Doom's snakes which he shoots like arrows.

Doom of course is not one to accept defeat easily, & soon he has found our heroes' hide-out - a Stonehenge-like formation of obelisks - & has his warriors attack it.

But our heroes have not been idle since they freed the princess, & have built a series of traps in their maze-like camp to even the odds (much like in A Touch of Zen, but without that movie's panache), & in the end, of Doom's vast army, he is the last man standing, & he cowardly retreats ... but now Conan is really geared up, & when Doom has another of his little bloody rituals, he once again sneaks into the temple, beheads Doom before the very eyes of his followers, burns the temple to the grounds & puts an end to the Snake Cult of Seth once & for all.


Originally, screenwriters John Milius & the largely overrated Oliver Stone wanted to turn their source material (the Conan-novels by Robert E.Howard from the 30's) into some kind of nihilistic philosophical statement (& some Friedrich Nietzsche-quotes deliberately thrown into the mix are supposed to fortify that). The attempt - as anyone with half a brain could imagine - was of course futile, after all Howard's novels were nothing more than pulp-stories about a musclebound hero, whose hobbies are killing, maiming & destroying. That Milius is not a creative enough director to aesthetically lift the finished product above common sword-&-sandal movies doesn't help much either, as the film looks like little more than an over-budgeted peplum (which the employment of fantasy painter Ron Cobb further fortifies, as he is an accomplished artist - but only within genre boundaries).

But exactly because of all these shortcomings the film is not a total loss, it has the certain naive charm of failure that makes it somehow endearing & also unintentionally funny. So, for all the wrong reasons, this is an enjoyable film ... at the same time though it is a tad too long to stay wholly entertaining.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD