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Film / Conan the Destroyer

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Conan the Destroyer is the sequel to Conan the Barbarian, released in the year 1984 and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger once again.

Conan and his accomplice Malak (Tracey Walter) are tasked by Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas) to escort her niece Princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo) to obtain an artifact needed to resurrect Dagoth, "The Dreaming God". Little does he know that the god in question will bring the age of darkness upon its resurrection, and the princess has to be sacrificed in order to do so. Taramis sends her personal bodyguard Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain) to accompany them. On the way, Conan saves the lives of wizard Akiro (Mako) and Zula (Grace Jones), who then join the team.

Due to copyrights issues, a third Conan film, with the same director as Destroyer, became the Divorced Installment Red Sonja, with Schwarzenegger playing a character who officially wasn't Conan.

Conan the Destroyer provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abduction Is Love: Referenced for laughs when The Ingenue asks for dating tips from a no-nonsense warrior woman:
    Jehnna: Suppose you set your heart on somebody. What would you do to get him?
    Zula: Grrrab him! And take him!
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film seems to grab names from Howard's canon and slap them around willy-nilly.
    • Queen Taramis shares the name of a character in "A Witch Shall Be Born," which includes an evil witch-queen. The difference is Taramis was the good and rightful Queen, her twin sister was the evil witch Salome who usurped her throne and identity. None of this is included in the film, making Taramis an original evil sorceress overlord.
    • The name Thoth-Amon is given to a character who more closely resembles Thak from "Rogues In The House," an evolved ape-man who is surprisingly intelligent. Thoth-Amon was a Stygian (Egyptian) sorcerer and follower of Set, a clever and subtle nemesis who never actually faced Conan in person; the two were largely ignorant of how their actions affected each other.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Horn Of Azoth graphic novel renames a lot of the characters to distance itself from the movie.
  • Aim for the Horn: The movie ends with the heroes battling Dagoth the horned god, which Conan finally defeats by ripping Dagoth's forehead horn off.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Thoth-Amon's death comes across as this, as his motivations for keeping Jehnna are unclear and could easily be a Hero Antagonist. His Better to Die than Be Killed death by grasping the gem, disintegrating him, is strangely poignant.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Zula is a tough warrior woman who has eyes for Conan, who's a very muscular and a powerful swordsman.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization explains that Bombaata is a eunuch, which explains the Princess's comment about him not being a "real man."
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end, Conan's allies choose to stay with Jehnna as members of her court, but Conan himself turns down her offer to rule by her side, saying he will find his own kingdom. The final scene of the film ends with him sitting in a darkened room:
    Narrator: So it was that Conan mourned his lost Valeria. At length, he sought adventure in distant lands and trod the jeweled thrones of the earth beneath his sandaled feet, until at last he found his own Kingdom and wore his crown upon a troubled brow.
    Caption (With Dramatic Music): But That Is Another Story...
  • Animal Motif: Zula's outfit, especially her ceremonial garb, is made to resemble a horse, complete with tail.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: During the ambush by Taramis' soldiers, Malak cuts the throat of a soldier, who then...screams in pain?
  • Because Destiny Says So: Discussed; As Jehnna is retrieving the Horn of Dagoth, Akiro reads the full prophecy that tells of how Jehnna must be sacrificed, and how Dagoth will destroy the world once he's revived. When Akiro warns Conan of all this, Conan, determined to earn Valeria's resurrection, is dismissive of the latter point - "It's just writing on the wall!" - but as for Jehnna's fate...
    Akiro: She is to be killed! Sacrificed!
    Conan: We shall see. Destiny or not.
  • Big Bad: Queen Taramis, the ruler of Shadizar who seeks to unleash the Eldritch Abomination Dagoth.
  • The Big Guy: Bombaata. It's really saying something when someone in a Conan film is the big guy and it isn't Conan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The villains are all defeated, but Conan doesn't get his wife revived, and Jehnna's offer to the barbarian is rejected, which saddens her. Also, the ending narration states that Conan becomes a king in the future, but there's something troubling him deeply. But that would be another story...
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Conan punches out a horse during combat, throwing the rider. Conan continued on to knock out a camel that spit on him... and then, encountering the same camel later while heavily intoxicated, punched it out again — intentionally played for laughs with the over-the-top dizzy reaction and collapse of the camel. These wanton acts severely incensed real-world animal cruelty complainants, until it was confirmed that Arnold Schwarzenegger barely tapped the animals if at all: the animals were both trained to pantomime a fall. That didn't stop the scenes from being cut from UK syndicated releases because of "animal cruelty", for the better part of two decades.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Jehnna has one on Conan.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Conan fights a wizard in a room full of mirrors. The wizard is impervious to Conan's sword, but when Conan accidentally smashes one of the mirrors, a large gash appears on wizard's body. Realising what's for, Conan starts breaking other mirrors, hurting the wizard further until he dies. Since the room was inside the wizard's castle, it makes you wonder why he would put all those mirrors there in the first place.
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Zula becomes the captain of the guard of Queen Jehna at the end.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Queen Taramis' promise to resurrect Conan's girlfriend Valeria in exchange for the Horn of Dagoth was this, as Conan himself eventually acknowledges.
  • Call-Back: Conan is still affected by the loss of Valeria (in the first film). Queen Taramis uses this to have him seek the Horn of Dagoth for her, promising to bring Valeria back to life with Dagoth's powers.
  • Cannibal Tribe: A superstitious tribe that assumes they can gain magical powers by eating Akiro. (Given the setting, who's to say they were wrong?)
  • Casting Gag: NBA superstar Wilt Chamberlain had a reputation for being a womanizer (in his autobiography, he claimed to have bedded around 20,000 women). In this movie he plays a eunuch tasked to preserve the princess's virginity.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Subotai is gone without explanation and replaced by Malak, who acts like he's been Conan's sidekick all along. This is all the more odd since Valeria was given a Call-Back at the start. In the Horn of Azoth comic, a character never identified as but clearly meant to be him is hanged at the start, with Conan arriving too late to save him.
  • Collapsing Lair: An entire tower collapses shortly after the wizard's death with one character giving the hand-waved explanation, "It was all an illusion."
  • Combat Pragmatist: When the fight in the catacomb starts, Malak immediately puts his back to a corner, pulls out his daggers and makes attacks of opportunity against those distracted fighting the others.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Two. Michael Fleischer wrote a two-issue limited series for Marvel then Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, who had written the original story treatment but were dissatisfied with the final script, adapted it into the 1990 graphic novel, Conan The Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth.
  • Cowardly Lion: Malak is one of the good guys, but he'd rather not be. He's constantly suggesting that he stay behind while the others go off into danger, but either circumstances or his own pride force him to follow along.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Malak may be the goofball of the group, but when Dagoth is about to tear Conan's arms out of their sockets, the thief is able to score a headshot by throwing one of his knives at the monster and hitting it dead in the face. Conan is able to free himself right after that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Conan has developed into one in this film.
    Conan: One, two, three... I think you're right.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jehnna offers to marry Conan and rule her kingdom at his side. He declines. She kisses him, but he doesn't even kiss her back, then walks out without a backward glance.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The climax has Conan besting the revived Dagoth in combat.
  • Door to Before: Conan and his party end up right where they started by smashing through a wall.
  • Dull Surprise: This is Conan's default expression any time something startling happens.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: In one scene, Zula, who up until now has been afraid of nothing and fearlessly taken on whole villages and men much larger than her in combat, jumps and screams at the sight of a mouse. When all of her party look back she looks sheepish.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Dagoth's statue depicts a handsome young man, which is absolutely nothing like the monstrous demon it becomes after the ritual fails.
  • Faceless Goons: Queen Taramis's guards.
  • Famed In-Story: At this point, Conan has become something of a legend, which he was not in the previous film. For example, Zula recognizes him and calls him by name when eagerly asking to serve with him despite not being formally introduced to him. It's the entire reason Queen Tamaris seeks him out, and she knows who Valeria was, to boot.
  • Fine, You Can Just Wait Here Alone: Malak refuses to go to the castle in the swamp with the others - then says to nobody in particular, "They need me!" and jumps in the boat to keep from being left alone.
  • Gender Flip: The film turned Zula, a male warrior/wizard from the Marvel Comics line, into the non-magical Action Girl played by Grace Jones as a Zulu Amazon of sorts.
  • Good Princess, Evil Queen: Queen Taramis plans on sacrificing her ingenue niece Princess Jehnna to resurrect Dagoth.
  • Groin Attack: Zula pulls this on one of the villagers attacking her. With her staff.
  • Hall of Mirrors: Conan faces a hall of magic mirrors which produces a monster that cannot be harmed by direct physical blows. However, Conan realizes that he can smash the mirrors instead and the monster is wounded with each smash until it falls.
  • Horn Attack: Dagoth kills Queen Taramis this way.
  • Human Hammer-Throw: Thoth-Amon's Man Ape form grabs Conan by the feet, spins him around and throws him.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Early in the film, Conan saves his friend Akiro from a tribe of cannibals who are planning to turn him into their next meal.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • How the Grand Vizier who is performing the ritual to revive Dagoth is killed by Zula.
    • Also Queen Taramis on Dagoth's horn.
  • Imperfect Ritual: The ritual is botched after Conan saves Jehnna from being sacrificed, resulting in a demon being summoned that tries to kill everything in sight, the first victim being Taramis.
  • Inescapable Net: In the Action Prologue, Queen Taramis sends her royal guard to capture Conan via this trope (and some hefty clubs), but only his Bumbling Sidekick is caught this way. Conan either hacks through the net or uses it to pull the guards off their horses. Eventually the queen tires of their ineptitude and tries negotiation instead.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Bombaata causes one of these to get rid of Conan temporarily. Big Mistake.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: When the heroes have to sneak into the palace of Shadizar in the climax, Malak tells of a "cousin's sister's brother" who escaped the dungeon by digging a tunnel out. Fortunately, the tunnel is still there but has been sealed by bars, sparking an irrelevant argument over whether Malak's informant was a cousin's sister's brother or a sister's brother's cousin while Conan parts the bars.
  • The Lad-ette: Zula is a lean, muscular warrior woman who acts even fiercer than the male warriors, and her advice on how to get a man seems outright parodic of the uber-masculine stereotype, while she's a Screaming Warrior too and bares her teeth when she fights.
    Jehnna: How do you attract a man? What I mean is, suppose you set your heart on somebody. What would you do to get him?
    Zula: Grab him! And take him!
  • Lighter and Softer: The producers wanted to create a more family-friendly movie, so this film is much more comedic and has almost none of the brooding atmosphere of the predecessor.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: Jehnna is helped by Conan and his friends so she can retrieve the horn.
  • Living Statue: Dagoth's (failed) resurrection has him manifesting through the statue depicting him.
  • The Load: The heroes have to spend most of their time babysitting a spoiled virgin princess who's the one key to finding a powerful artifact. She's useless in battle, gets kidnapped a lot, and the whole job winds up being a lot more trouble than it's worth.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: When the wizard guarding the key is killed, his entire crystal palace crumbles into the lake.
  • Locked Out of the Fight: The heroes infiltrate an evil wizard's tower to steal a Plot Coupon. When Conan enters a room with full-length mirrors covering each segment of the wall, a pane of one-way glass slams down behind him (naturally, it appears identical to the other mirrors when viewed from inside the room), allowing the wizard to summon a monstrous brute which Conan must defeat alone (fortunately, Conan is able to figure out that the mirrors are the monster's Achilles' Heel).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Unlike the previous movie where Conan spent most of his time wrapped up in full Pelts of the Barbarian, here he's a Walking Shirtless Scene in just boots and a Loincloth.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dagoth is the name of a god that will destroy the world.
  • Neck Lift: Bombaata picks up and strangles one of the cultist attackers for a good ten seconds during the retreat to the crypt (one-handed); Darth Vader never did it better.
  • No Time to Think: Conan reasons that the wizard he's fighting is behind one of two mirrors, while his friends are behind the other. He rears back to throw his sword, seemingly into the mirror hiding his friends, then turns and throws it at the other mirror, hitting the wizard. It's compelling, except none of his friends thought to simply duck, and Conan still decided to throw the sword, rather than just walking up to the mirrors and slashing them, as he had been doing.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: In this movie, Conan is a mercenary hired by the Big Bad. But apparently he ends up becoming king. At the end of the story, the princess he rescued asks him to rule at her side as her husband. He declines, saying "Someday I will have my own kingdom, my own queen." The shot of him sitting on a throne implies that he did eventually go and conquer a kingdom of his own. But that is another tale...
  • Novelization: By Robert Jordan.
  • Offered the Crown: At the end of the film, the newly crowned Queen Jehnna asks Conan to be her king. Manly Barbarian Hero that he is, Conan prefers to win a crown with his own sword rather than as Hot Consort. But that is another story...
  • Oh, Crap!: Queen Taramis's look when Jehnna's sacrifice is interrupted by Zula. She knows that the god Dagoth WILL NOT be pleased if it will not have its victim.
  • Only Sane Man: Akiro is the only person in the party who thinks resurrecting Dagoth is a very bad idea, due to Conan being blinded by the promise of his One True Love being resurrected, Jehnna being brainwashed into her role as sacrifice, Zula Just Following Orders, Bombaata being a traitor, and Malak being rock stupid.
  • Opening Monologue: Mako provides it once again.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Malak, to the point that Jehnna makes him her court jester in the end.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: Taramis and her religion have an incomplete version of the prophesy about Dagoth's return, thinking they can control him by making a sacrifice as he reanimates. Akiro finds the full version that concludes with a warning that he will bring "death to the world" in the temple that holds the horn before they retrieve it, but by then Conan is blinded by his hope for Valeria's return and doesn't care.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Toth-Amon does this, complete with silly mannerisms. So do Akiro and the leader of the Dagoth worshipers.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Subverted. Before taking the Heart of Ahriman, Conan had to kill the guardian Toth-Amon by smashing the mirrors around him.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The "snake orgy" music from the first film is re-used in some scenes here.
  • Red Right Hand: Thoth-Amon, the evil wizard, has a partially melted face to remind you that he's evil.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: In the end Jehnna asks Conan to marry her and rule Shadizar at her side, but he declines to keep having adventures and because he still isn't over his deceased love Valeria.
  • Releasing from the Promise: After Conan frees her, Zula asks to ride with him and serve him. At the end of the movie Princess Jehnna asks Zula to be the captain of her guard. Conan releases her from her oath to him (and grants her permission to take the post) with a nod.
  • Royal Brat: Princess Jehnna is naïve and capricious.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: Conan agrees to work for queen Taramis after she promises to resurrect his deceased love Valeria in exchange for his services. In retrospect, he probably should have insisted on seeing proof she could do this before making the deal.
  • Shaking the Rump: Zula shakes her rear end after emerging from water, to shed droplets from the furry tail that hangs at the back of her "tribal warrior-woman" costume.
  • Spiteful Spit: Zula gives one to the villagers who'd tormented her, before turning around, and defiantly walking away.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Something between a beaked pick and a spiked mace, Bombaata's primary weapon is suitably epic (and evil).
  • Tagline: "The most powerful legend of all is back in a new adventure"
  • The Talk: Jehnna, when asking'Malak about the birds and the bees.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • After Conan rips off Dagoth's horn and kills it, he impales its head with his sword, prompting the theme music to swell triumphantly.
    • Immediately after Conan delivers his coup-de-grace, Malak rushes up to stab Dagoth's corpse himself, prompting the triumphant music to swell all over again as he mugs shamelessly.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Conan tosses his sword at the sorcerer Thoth-Amon, without even seeing him
  • Token Evil Teammate: Bombaata, who is instructed to betray the rest of the gang once the objective has been completed. He doesn't make much of a secret of it toward the end.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Proud Warrior Race Girl Zula and innocent, pretty Princess Jehnna.
  • Undying Loyalty: Malak, Akiro, and especially Zula to Conan, for various reasons. When Queen Jehnna offers them places in her court, each look at Conan for permission.
  • Villain of the Detour: There are two of them: the wizard Toth Amon (who guards the diamond that's the key to the Horn of Dagoth) and the wizard who leads the guardians of the Horn themselves. They're not allied to the Big Bad, Queen Taramis, since she sends Conan & co on The Quest to retrieve the Horn, though they don't know what she's up to until far into the quest.
  • Virgin Power: There's a princess whose virginity is apparently necessary for her to handle a sacred relic without harm. The real reason she needs to remain pure is so that, at the end of the movie, she can become a Virgin Sacrifice to the god to whom the relic belongs.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Princess Jehnna is meant to be one, but Conan saves her from being sacrificed.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Conan, a lot more often compared to the first film.
  • We Can Rule Together: A rare non-evil version of the trope. Jehnna offers Conan to share the throne of Shadizar with her, but he politely declines.
  • Wizard Duel: As the group tries to evade a bunch of bad guys, Akiro has to use his skills to close a door, with the opposing side's wizard trying to open it. The duel is portrayed almost entirely by chants, gestures, reactions and Basil Poledouris' score, "Dueling Wizards".
  • Worf Had the Flu: Dagoth, since the sacrifice, Taramis, was no virgin.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Conan's fight with Lizard!Thoth-Amon becomes a WWE match after the former's sword proves useless.