When it was first released in 1982, Conan the Barbarian didn’t exactly wow the critics. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the physique to play the leading role, but his thick accent and a distinct lack of acting skills caused studio executives to question Ed Pressman’s choice of leading man.
But the executives were proven wrong, and this movie launched Schwarzenegger’s movie career and secured for him a place in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere.
Take a look through the slides and find out why, despite the lack of love from the critics at the time, Conan the Barbarian became the cult classic we know and love today.
10. Schwarzenegger’s Fitness Regimen
Schwarzenegger was 33 when the filming of Conan began and he had been out of the bodybuilding circuit for a few years.
He expended such an attempt regaining his shape for the role that he decided to come out of retirement and enter Mr. Olympia one last time in 1980. He won.
9. ‘The Voice’ Was Thulsa Doom
The role of Thulsa Doom was offered to James Earl Jones because of his distinctive, deep booming voice. Jones was already a successful actor of stage and screen, despite the fact that when he was a child, he suffered from a terrible stutter. He barely spoke until a high school teacher helped him overcome his disability.
8. The Best Stunts Are Real
The producers were unable to find any body doubles for either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sandahl Bergman, so both actors did all of their own stunts.
It was also the first time either of them had ever done a love scene in a movie, and they both spoke afterward about how awkward they felt.
Wait until slide number 4 to discover what else Schwarzenegger did.
7. Delicious Blood
The fake blood used in the movie came to the set as a concentrate that had to be mixed with water. However, the severe cold meant they had to mix the concentrate with vodka to prevent it freezing.
As a consequence, when actors had a scene where they spat out blood, many of them would drink it instead and make repeated trips back to the special effects guys for more.
6. How The Costumes Were So Superb
To achieve the incredibly realistic look of the clothes in the movie, producer Dino De Laurentiis had the cast wear them during the rehearsals as well as in the film itself.
Throughout the entire filming schedule, the costumes went unwashed until the final shot and are said to have had an authentic smell by then too.
See what else they did to make the movie realistic on slide number 3.
5. A Lifelong Love
Conan the Barbarian had a lasting effect on Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he kept the sword he wielded in the movie, which is inscribed with the words “Suffer no guilt, ye who wield this in the name of Crom.”
When Schwarzenegger was governor of California, he displayed the sword on the wall behind his chair in the Reagan Cabinet Room.
4. The Things Actors Do For Their Craft
During the crucifixion scene, often considered one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, a real buzzard was used to peck at Schwarzenegger’s wounds.
When Conan bites into the neck of a buzzard, that is a real, dead bird you see Arnold sinking his teeth into. The crew had him rinse his mouth repeatedly to prevent disease.
3. Dedication To Quality
The Tree of Woe where Conan was crucified was made of plaster and Styrofoam mounted on a turntable. This allowed the crew to rotate the tree and maintain the same shadows in the shots while filming throughout the day.
Schwarzenegger sat on a bicycle seat mounted on the tree so he could keep the same position and preserve the realism of the shot.
2. No Good Deed Goes Unrewarded
Schwarzenegger had horse riding lessons, martial arts training, and specialist sword training for the movie. He spent two hours a day for three months learning how to wield an 11-pound broadsword. He also learned climbing techniques and how to safely fall 15 feet to the ground.
His trainer was given a part in the movie as a thank you for doing such a great job.
1. Ahead Of Its Time
At the time of release, Conan the Barbarian was considered to be excessively violent by some critics. The movie had already been trimmed by 11 minutes to satisfy the studio executives who asked for several cuts.
Scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor included Conan chopping off the arm of a pickpocket in a street market and a close-up of the severed head of Conan’s mother.
The first sword and fantasy movie of its kind, Conan the Barbarian was the trailblazer for every other movie of the genre. Adapted from pulp fiction comic books, it was thought by the studios that the film would never be commercially successful or a hit with moviegoers.
The cast and crew of Conan proved them all wrong. With the dedication and hard work of everyone in front of and behind the camera, not only did Conan the Barbarian launch Arnold Swazzenegger into his movie stardom career, but it found a place in the hearts of film buffs that makes it more popular today than ever before.