Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian, the movie that turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a global superstar, is a prime example of a match made in heaven. It's the movie that macho maverick writer-director John Milius was born to make, and Arnold was genetically engineered for his role as the muscle-bound, angst-ridden hero created in Robert E. Howard's pulp novels. Oliver Stone contributed to Milius's screenplay, and the production design by comic artist Ron Cobb represents a perfect cinematic realization of Howard's fantasy world. To avenge the murder of his parents, Conan tracks down the evil Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) with the help of Queen Valeria (played by buff B-movie vixen Sandahl Bergman) and Subotai the Mongol (Gerry Lopez). Aptly described by critic Roger Ebert as "the perfect fantasy for the alienated pre-adolescent," this blockbuster is just as enjoyable for adults who haven't lost their youthful imagination. --Jeff Shannon
Conan the Destroyer
The dark, brooding tone of Conan the Barbarian is replaced in this rousing sequel by a lighter, more humorous tone and one of the campiest casts ever assembled. This time, Conan is assigned by a duplicitous queen (Sarah Douglas) to escort a virgin princess (Olivia d'Abo) on a treacherous trek to a crystal palace where they will retrieve a priceless gemstone. Basketball champ and self-described Lothario Wilt Chamberlain plays Bombaata, a warrior sent on a secret mission to kill Conan, and the androgynous Grace Jones plays Zula, a wild woman who becomes Conan's loyal ally. Some consider this sequel a disappointment, but the film makes no apologies for its silliness, and that's the key to its success as gloriously pulpy entertainment. --Jeff Shannon
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