' ' Cinema Romantico: Conan The Foreshadower

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Conan The Foreshadower

Often movies we greatly enjoyed as kids do not only fail to hold up but turn out to be rather awful in our old age. "Conan The Destroyer", Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1984 follow-up to his "Conan The Barbarian" (remake I'm not seeing to be released this Friday!), was a film I took to like Sienna Miller to a bottle of red wine the summer evening I watched it in my first house on venerable Waukee Avenue on HBO back in those wondrous days when HBO still had this opening to its Saturday night movies, which makes me so nostalgic I'm pretty sure I just shed a few tears.

Anyway, "Conan The Destroyer", was the "epic" tale of Conan himself and a sufficiently motley crew escorting young princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo) on a dangerous quest to obtain a precious jewel only she can touch, a jewel which will bring to life the god Dagoth and resurrect Conan's long lost love. I was so taken with this movie about "the days of high adventure" that I can remember the following afternoon pretending to pull apart prison bars stashed behind a waterfall to enter the majestic castle and slay Dagoth myself.

The years go by. You revisit it, perhaps hoping to achieve a whiff of scented youth. And aside from a fairly bodacious opening credits sequence, it's a little...uh...rough. A little laborious. The special effects are down on their luck and the acting is uniformly not so much wooden as the equivalent of an all Maine Lobstermen production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" and just how is it that the majestic castle into which they sneak is seen in an establishing shot as being in the desert only to have a waterfall with lush greenery directly behind it? As I suspected, "Conan The Destroyer" turned out to be nothing more than another childhood illusion.

But was it? Was it actually trying to tell me something long before I would ever have had any true hope of realizing it? Was it a pre-cursor to oh so much importance? I'm not talking about its star going on to become governor of California, of course, because that had no bearing on my life. Ditto Wilt Chamberlain's hulking character being tasked to protect an, ahem, virgin princess seven years before his book in which he claimed to have slept with, cough, cough, 20,000 women.

No, I'm talking about Tracey Walter starring as Arnold's bumbling, comic relief sidekick being the same Tracey Walter in rather, shall we say, lewd fashion triggering my favorite "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" episode. "This is a stinking, dirty hellhole of a town."

I'm talking about Olivia d'Abo, eleven years after starring as Jehnna, starring as Jane in "Kicking and Screaming" which is, to me, and a certain section of my friends, perhaps the most quotable movie of all time. The same Jane who gets maybe my favorite quote in maybe the most quotable movie of all time - "You might want to slow down. There's no alcohol in that."

I'm talking about Grace Jones as the crazy stick-wielding part-time thief who joins Conan's crew, the same Grace Jones of whom one Lady Gaga has said, and I quote, "She's like my Jesus."

Am I suggesting that as I sat in my basement in 1986 (the same year a girl named Stefani Germanotta was born) watching "Conan The Destroyer" that I should have realized what was on the horizon? That Charlie Kelly would become Gen X's Cosmo Kramer (initals, anyone, initials???) That d'Abo would go on to essentially become the dream girl for those of us scotch drinking wannabe literary types who really would just rather sit around and try to think of the name of every "Friday the 13th" movie ("It's 'Jason Lives.'") than write anything meaningful. That I would not only become obsessed with eurodance but specifically become obsessed with a eurodance inspired artist who liked to wear weird things on her head?

Not necessarily. After all, I do tend to read just a bit too much into things. I'm really just suggesting that parents of America taking their kids to see the "Conan The Barbarian" remake this weekend should be forewarned. Who knows, perhaps a portion of your son's future existence in some strange way revolves around Rose McGowan, Rachel Nichols and Ron Perlman and you don't even know it.


Anonymous said...

I've never gone and seen a film just and only because of an attractive lead, but the remake of Conan might actually get my money to watch a shirtless Momoa for a few hours. Is this wrong?

Nick Prigge said...

Absolutely not. In fact, "The Heartbreak Kid" remake is currently near the top of my netflix queue solely on account of Malin Akerman. But don't tell anyone.