What Is Best in Life: On "Conan the Barbarian"

Episode 111 · November 24th, 2021 · 1 hr 21 mins

About this Episode

A wish-fulfilment fantasy for pubescent boys of all ages, or a subtle disquisition on the ethics of a sorcerous world? John Milius' Conan the Barbarian (1982) manages to be both, although one may be easy to overlook. In this episode, JF and Phil leave the heights of Hesse's The Glass Bead Game with a headlong dive to the trash stratum. Their wager: that Conan the Barbarian, a film without a hint of irony, is a spiritual statement that is equal parts empowering and disquieting, and a prime of example of how fantasy is sometimes the straightest way to the heart of reality.


John Milus (dir.), Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Richard Fleischer (dir.), Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Robert E. Howard, American writer, author of the Conan stories
Jack Smith, "On the Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez"
Weird Studies #3: Ecstasy, Sin, and "The White People"
H. P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature"
Fritz Leiber, American writer
Weird Studies #95: Demon Seed: On Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child
Dungeons & Dragons
Weird Studies #20: The Trash Stratum (part 1, part 2)
Masaki Kobayashi (dir.), Kwaidan
Jerry Zucker (dir.), Ghost (1990)
Roget's Thesarus of English Words and Phrases
Maria Montez, Dominican-American actress