Monday, January 30, 2017
Had I not seen John Milius's Conan the Barbarian in 1982 I probably would not have this blog.
This movie was the gateway to the Lancer/Ace Conan paperbacks available when I was a teenager in the early 1980s. John Milius sold me on Conan with his iconic film, and Frank Frazetta sold me on Robert E. Howard with his killer artwork gracing the covers of those Conan paperbacks. It wasn't long before I was reading every book with barbarians, demons, and wizards that I could find.
Shot in Spain between January - April 1981 on a 20,000,000 budget(estimated), the film features gorgeous locations and lush cinematography that were exactly as I used to picture the settings in the Savage Sword of Conan magazines I had read before seeing the movie.
Conan's village is attacked by the sorcerer, Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and his henchmen. Conan's parents are slain and his tribe wiped out in the raid. Conan, along with the other children are sold into slavery to the Vanir. Conan spends his days bound to a wheel that the children push to grind meal. As the years pass we see the other children vanish from the wheel;they have fallen dead and continue to do so until we see an adult Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) pushing the enormous wheel by himself. Conan is bought by a another Vanir who profits from Conan as a pit-fighter.Fueled by the hatred in his heart for Thulsa Doom, Conan quickly goes from an innocent who knows nothing about fighting to a highly skilled killing-machine. His master takes him to be trained by the Hyrkanian masters in the sword arts. Later, he is set free, and along with a Hyrkanian bowman (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria, Queen of the Thieves (Sandahl Bergman) he sets off to free King Osric's ( Max Von Sydow) daughter from the sorcerer, Thulsa Doom and his snake cult.
This is hands down the best sword-and-sorcery film ever made and has been my favorite movie of all time ever since 1982. I believe that John Milius was one of the very few directors who could relate to the aesthetic present in Robert E. Howard's writing and treat the subject matter seriously and with respect. He also had the talent and the budget to pull off this masterpiece, If you pick it up be sure to get the collector's edition; it has some footage the director restored to make the story more complete than the original theatrical release.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Sword-and-sorcery books and movies were certainly an influence on the artwork gracing a number of heavy metal bands' album covers in the 1980s. You may find it a little harder to list bands with lyrics telling the tales of blood-and-thunder or referencing the classics such as Cauldron Born, Eternal Winter, Bal-Sagoth, and Ironsword do nowadays. That is now, but let's talk about what was going on back when movies such as Conan the Barbarian, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Deathstalker, and Fire and Ice were made. Let's talk about a decade with magic in the air and steel in the music! Below is a list of heavy metal albums you may or may not have heard of. A few of them are fairly obscure. The band name is followed by the album title. Here we go:
Manowar - Into Glory Ride (1983)
Virgin Steele - Guardians of the Flame (1983)
Jag Panzer - self-titled EP ( 1983)
Griffin - Flight of the Griffin (1984)
Witchkiller - Day of the Saxons (1984)
Medieval Steel - self-titled EP (1984)
Omen- Warning of Danger (1985)
Manilla Road - Open the Gates (1985)
Liege Lord - Freedom's Rise (1985)
Cirith Ungol - One Foot in Hell (1986)
Lords of the Crimson Alliance -self-titled (1986)
Heathen's Rage -self-titled EP (1986)
Sacred Oath - A Crystal Vision (1987)
Sacred Oath - A Crystal Vision (1987)
Brocas Helm - Black Death (1988)
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Here is an interview with D.M. Ritzlin, the publisher of the SWORDS OF STEEL series. I was mentioned in the piece.Check it out!
Back in August, DMR Books released two short-story collections titled Swords of Steel, featuring stories written by metal musicians. Recently, I had the chance to briefly chat with Dave Ritzlin fro…