With August 19th’s Conan The Barbarian 3D fast approaching, it is perhaps time to ponder such existential questions as: “Is the barbarian movie making a comeback?”; “Can director Marcus Nispel and star Jason Momoa bring respectability or at least a sense of fun back to a nearly forgotten genre?”; and “Was I supposed to apply quite this much genital ointment to my man-parts?” I only ask because this flesh-melting, volcano-like burning sensation in my loins is starting to worry me.
These are all good questions. Some more pertinent than others, granted. None of which are going to be answered during the course of this article. What? You thought I was going somewhere with those?
This is Yell! Magazine’s Top 10 Barbarian Movies list. It will be filled with sword and sorcery, heroes and villains, naked, glistening, drool-worthy bodies worth getting heart palpitations over. And that’s just the dudes! Oh yes, barbarian movies and gratuitous exposure of sweater puppies go hand in hand. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single movie on this list that doesn’t contain enough female nudity to initiate any youthful movie lover into manhood with a single viewing and some hand lotion. Alternatively, the rampant male eye-candy is also in abundance, so ladies need not feel left out, barbarian movies are nothing if not equal opportunity presenters of naughty parts.
As usual, either because I couldn’t be arsed, threatened or bribed, these movies are presented in no particular order. If you want fancy extras like that, my dear Evil Tormenting Bosses, I suggest you loosen the purse strings to the cash-for-hookers jar. I notice it’s a little light this month. Been hitting the office orgies a little hard, uh? Don’t think I haven’t noticed how sticky the floors have been lately. In keeping with the theme of this list, could I maybe request a nice barbarian escort wearing a leather loincloth, preferably bare-chested, with long hair and maybe wielding a sharp blade?
Like this but with a vagina.
No.10 Deathstalker (1983)
You have to love those old VHS box-art covers. Look at that thing! They promised so much more than these movies invariably ended up delivering. Judging by the creature on the cover, I was expecting some stop-motion wizardry, something along the lines of a Ray Harryhausen creation. No such luck. Deathstalker, part one of four if you can believe it, doesn’t have anywhere near the budget for such fancy effects, so any and all monsters are played by the old standby of really-big-guy-in-silly-mask.
Deathstalker is your basic hero’s journey, with the titular character, somewhat well-played by Rick Hill, being given a journey to A where he must gather B in order to defeat C, where A is a danger-filled location from which nobody as ever returned in the history of ever, B is an item of great mystical power that can only be wielded by a prophesied One! (heavenly choir) and C is the villain who will inevitably have some personal connection to the hero. Yeah, I’m jaded, so sue me.
What truly makes Deathstalker a special viewing pleasure is the sheer, stratospheric amount of female nudity, amply provided by ’80s Playmate Barbi Benton and the sadly missed and oft-naked Lana Clarkson, tragically slain by record producer Phil Spector.
Deathstalker is a wonderfully brain-dead movie, more suited to watching MST3K-style than in all seriousness. Still, it’s harmless entertainment, a fun slice of ’80s cheese and a nice introduction to all the Conan rip-offs that flooded the market around that time. Plus, it spawned three sequels. Can you say Deathstalker marathon? Pass the Cheetohs!
Don’t we all wish we could have powers like this? Ummm… I wonder what my boss could look like.
No.9 The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
Here is a movie literally bursting with B-movie greatness. Directed by veteran hack Albert Pyun? Check. Costarring perennial B-movie villain Richard Lynch? Check. Appearance by famed actor/sword master Anthony De Longis? Check. Topless hotties? Check, check, check, several more checks. Imaginative three-bladed sword with wildly improbable projectile action? Oh, hell yes!
You’ll put your eye out with that! Both of them! And poke a hole in your forehead!
While The Sword And The Sorcerer isn’t lacking in the imagination department, it’s financed with little more than prayers and good intentions. It’s a common problem with many of the movies on this list, no doubt serving to explain why the various directors compensated with massive amounts of bared chesticles. Special effects are expensive but breasts come in all shapes and sizes. I think I read that in a fortune cookie… In any case, our hero, Talon, enthusiastically played by Lee Horsley, must kill a wizard, rescue a princess and save a kingdom. Not necessarily in that order but Talon wisely rescues the princess first in order to secure ample nudity privileges for the rest of his quest. I guess that’s why he’s the hero. Surprisingly, Sword And The Sorcerer recently spawned a sequel, Tales Of An Ancient Empire, a full 29 years after the original! It even reunites both director and star.
No.8 Conquest (1983)
“Anything you can do, I can do better…”
Ah, Italian copies! What fond memories I have of scanning the shelves of my local video store, looking for the latest Conan The Barbarian knock-offs from overseas. Conquest is a particularly bizarre entry in director Lucio Fulci’s oeuvre. Here is a man better known for zombies, existential horror and rampant eyeball trauma than barbarian movies. Conquest hits all the genre touchstones: epic journey, magical weapon, and an evil, masked sorceress in need of some righteous slaying who, for some reason, spends the entirety of the movie with her tits out. Apparently, she went to the school of topless tart spell casting. (Titwarts? Nah, sounds nasty. University of Texas? Bingo!)
Luckily, our valiant hero comes equipped with a magic bow and a kung-fu grip. I think I’ll have to check his action figure. Regardless, our sorceress-gone-wild gets taken down quite easily by a single arrow to her naked torso. I get the feeling she may have had one of those glowing zones on her chest to indicate a weak spot like many video game bosses.
Boobs! My only weakness!
Or not. I have no idea. My copy of the movie was in Italian so I had to make up my own dialog. If anything, my ramblings probably outshone the actual script by a factor of 10.
No.7 Barbarian Queen (1985)
Who says barbarians can only be men? Just look at these strong, capable women. Obviously powerful, no doubt as smart as they are sexy and more than willing to defenestrate you if you say otherwise. And you wouldn’t want anything terrible to happen to your fenestrates, would you? Don’t let the bountiful flesh fool you, or the exposed buttocks, or the ample… tracks of land… the improbably bouffant and well-conditioned hairdos… the suggestive poses…the kinky medieval S&M games? WTF?
There’s a “nice rack” joke in here somewhere.
You know, I’m starting to get the feeling this movie doesn’t really present any strong, female archetypes for women viewers to latch on to. Just a smidgen of a notion, really. Could be the runaway nudity, could be the multiple rape and attempted rape scenes. In any case, the beautiful Lana Clarkson stars as Amethea, one of three female survivors of a brutal village raid led by Roman soldiers that set off to liberate the captured men folk faster than you can say “sisters doing it together”. It’s not PC. It won’t get Gloria Steinem’s seal of approval. But if you’re tired of the usual barbarian sausage fests, this makes for a nice alternative.
A mud fight with chicks? Now this list is starting to be interesting.
Find out which barbarian movie ranked No.1 after the jump…