Tag Archives: Sylvester Sallone

New Wave(s) of Blood: Conan the Barbarian and First Blood

Edited for Clarity

It is at this point, deep down within the most magical year of 1982, where the 1980s really began to “do” the 1980s, and things start to become much more symmetric with what those of us in the good ol’ 2010s might imagine when we pontificate about three decades past. For this reason, it felt wholly appropriate to cover a pair of films, one of them very much of the 1980s, and one rather shockingly not of this decade, but both of which would birth the two “biggest” (yes, this applies to both box office draw and muscle-mass) and most “1980s” stars of the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian should not work, and, honestly, it kind of doesn’t. It is just about the most hyperbolic, fetishistic-ally 1980s macho fantasy action film one could possibly imagine, the kind of product that sounds more like a modern person’s hindsight imagination of the 1980s than the real deal. The script, for one, is a non-entity from beginning to end, and its prurient, excessive, almost psychotic violence and tawdry childishness is about as straight-faced as it gets. It is totally and completely describable as “moronically and obsessively stupid”, and such a description doesn’t so much miss the point as ask us to consider what “stupid” even means. For Conan the Barbarian is so idiotically committed to being its chintzy self it creates its own special place where only it dares preside. This is an eccentric, weirdly watchable film, the kind of work that just defines guilty pleasure.
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