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Paul Sammon to Speak at Cross Plains Fundraiser

Posted by Damon Sasser on 26th September 2011

As noted over at the TGR blog, Cross Plains had a big parade this past weekend celebrating the town’s centennial. All year long the town has been holding events and celebrations to mark this milestone and more are to come during the final quarter of the year.

Coming up next month is a fundraising dinner for the Cross Plains Public Library on October 22th at 6:30 pm. The event will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Cross Plains. Admission is only $12.00 per person and gets you a croissant sandwich meal. Paul Sammon will be the guest of honor and will give a talk on the movie industry, concentrating on the books to movies process. 

Since 1972, the author/filmmaker/still photographer has combined his passions for film and literature by working on motion pictures, photographing them, and writing about them. Paul has worked on many films, documentaries and “Making Of” featurettes; functioned as an actor, extra, still photographer, unit publicist, video cameraman and 2nd unit director. He has co-produced/co-directed a number of television series and specials, and appeared as a guest commentator on numerous “Special Edition” DVDs for films.

Paul has worked with people such as Ridley Scott, Irvin Kershner and edited The King Is Dead, a 1995 collection examining the Elvis Presley phenomenon and authored the massive Conan the Phenomenon volume. He also writes fiction, having short stories published in Peter Straub’s Ghosts (1995) and Cemetery Dance Magazine #15 and is a longtime time Howard fan who frequently attends Howard Days.

Movies Paul Sammon has worked on include Conan the Barbarian (1982), Dune, F/X, Blue Velvet, RoboCop, The Silence of the Lambs, The Addams Family and Starship Troopers, just to name a few.

If you’ve ever had questions about movie making, writing, photography or television, you’ll not want to miss it! For guaranteed seating, make your reservation by calling (254) 725-7722.

The library is also doing a project right now where folks read One Who Walked Alone and then watch The Whole Wide World and discuss the relationship of the two to each other.

Posted in Cross Plains, Movies, news, People, REH Days |

Conan the Barbarian A Thrill Ride

Posted by Rusty Burke on 22nd August 2011

There are two Conans. The first one, Conan of Cimmeria, was created by Robert E. Howard in 1932 and adventured his way through Weird Tales, The Avon Fantasy Reader, and any number of books over the years. The other, Conan the Barbarian, was created as a simulacrum of the original, able to adventure through Code-approved comic books and, a bit later, movies. The former is the exclusive creation of Robert E. Howard, though a number of others have attempted to write stories about him. The latter is a collaborative effort by many hands, starting with Roy Thomas at Marvel Comics: I’ve lost track of how many different writers, artists, and others have been involved in the comics and movies. Conan the Cimmerian is a literary character. Conan the Barbarian is a pop culture icon.

The title of the new film should clue you in to which Conan it is about.

I went in expecting to see no Robert E. Howard whatsoever. I’d seen the screen treatment that was floating around the web a year or so ago, which contained not a scintilla of REH, and was to boot the silliest thing I’d ever read with the name “Conan” in it, and I knew that, for all he may have tried, Sean Hood had minimal time to try to repair the horrendous script of Donnelly and Oppenheimer. I had also, though, seen the trailers for the movie, and someone had posted the opening scene in which young Conan attacks and savagely mauls four or five Picts (at least, I assume they were meant to be Picts — they kind of looked like a cross between Mohawks and Richard Kiel as Jaws), and those had given me at least some hope that the movie would at least be a thrill ride. That’s all I figured to get out of the movie, a little excitement and adventure.

And that’s what I got. It was a cinematic version of the Conan comic book, in 3D. (Shelly and I went for the 3D experience, what the heck, go for the gosh-wow factor.) It’s too bad that it was like a story from the Michael Fleisher years,* rather than the Roy Thomas, but on the whole, I thought it was pretty well done. I’d put it on a par with my other favorite sword-and-sorcery movie, The Sword and the Sorcerer. (Now, that right there, I’ve just blown my critical credentials to smithereens, I guess, but since I went public with that years ago, I’m at peace with it. Shoot, the fact that I came to Howard through the Marvel comic back in 1971, and still read comics, blows my critical credentials to hell in the eyes of some, so what are ya gonna do?) I think both of them are way better — or let’s just say more to my taste — than that ponderous Milius film of 1982 or its laughable sequel.

Like The Sword and the Sorcerer, the new Conan the Barbarian has its faults. I understand that there are a lot of reviewers out there who are more than happy to catalog them for you. (I have held off reading reviews until after seeing the movie and writing my own.) But it has virtues, too, starting with Jason Momoa, who far better fits my conception of the Cimmerian than Schwarzenegger or Moeller did. There may indeed be some body-builder fans and/or wrestler fans out there who think that one of their guys should have been cast, but Howard makes it clear that Conan was not just big, he was lithe and quick and agile, and Momoa gets that across very well. I thought he did a good job.

Stephen Lang was fine as Khalar Zym, just as I expected. He’s one of the best badasses working today. Rose McGowan was suitably vile as his sorceress daughter, but that haircut they gave her was a mistake, making her look like a freak: give her her natural hair and sultry looks, and the undertones of those scenes with daddy would have been smokin’. Talk about your R rating… Ron Perlman was Ron Perlman, which I mean as a good thing. Leo Howard was terrific as the young Conan. Otherwise, no one really stood out, though I kinda warmed to Bob Sapp’s Ukafa.

The movie was dark and violent, which was as it should be. Lots of exciting, swashbuckling action. The sets and locations and costumes all contributed to a convincingly realized Hyborian Age. (Please, filmmakers, if you get a chance to do a sequel, it’s the “Hyborian Age,” but there is no such place as “Hyboria.” The Hyborians were a people, not a place. They were the “Hy Bori,” the people of the North.)  Honestly, while I was expecting nothing whatsoever other than that thrill ride I mentioned earlier, I got from this movie a glimmer of hope. I think these people could actually do a genuine Conan movie, one that was pretty close to the character created by REH — but they’d have to have a very good script to work with. And that means starting with the actual stories of Robert E. Howard. Not as filtered through years and years of comics and movies and cartoons and action figures: you have to forget everything you think you know, and go back to the source. I’m not even saying you have to stick closely to a Howard story, just that you have to take Howard as your starting point, not the stuff that came later. (I’ve got a ton of other suggestions, too, of course, if you want to discuss ‘em. I’m easy to find.)

The doomsayers and naysayers are hopping all over the weekend’s box-office numbers, declaring that the franchise is dead for the foreseeable future. I hope not. And I hope that the producers aren’t paying any attention to the people who are blathering that the movie bombed because of the star. Momoa is fine. It’s the ridiculous, cliched script that did this thing in. That and putting out an R-rated movie at the end of August. Shelly and I went to a Saturday afternoon show, and there were only about fifteen people in the theater. (At least three of whom could not contain their addictions to their phones, and had to be Sternly Admonished. Three words to remember, folks, it isn’t hard: Turn It OFF.) I agree with Fred Malmberg of Paradox that Conan should be R, for the violence if nothing else, but that is very problematic these days if you want to get butts in seats.

Anyway, I’m sorry to hear that the opening weekend is being called a disaster, and that it may mean that there won’t be any more Conan movies for the forseeable future. Because like I say, I think these guys could do it if they had a decent script to work from. I even think it could be done with a smaller budget, using less animation or sfx. Think “Beyond the Black River,” or “Red Nails.”

Robert E. Howard’s stories are still entertaining people 75 years after his death. Isn’t it about time to trust that a movie based on those stories would entertain people?

Anyway, those are some thoughts on the movie. I liked it. Shelly liked it (and she’s neither a comic nor Howard fan — her idea of a good movie usually involves subtitles). We’re not alone. It’s probably not for those REH fans who consider the comics to be beneath them, but for the rest of you, keep your expectations low, like mid-80s Marvel Conan low, and you should have a good time.

*Note: Thinking about it, maybe the Donnelly-Oppenheimer script was more like a story from the Chuck Dixon years of the Marvel comic. That enormous ship that Khalar Zym’s horde slowly and agonizingly haul overland to attack a mountaintop monastery can only have been the Nemedian Navy in action!

 

Posted in Movies, Popular Culture, Reviews |

Conan the Barbarian 3D: The Aftermath

Posted by Jeff Shanks on 21st August 2011

The battlefield stretched silent, crimson pools among the still sprawling figures seeming to reflect the lurid red-streamered sunset sky. Furtive figures slunk from the tall grass; birds of prey dropped down on mangled heaps with a rustle of dusky wings. Like harbingers of Fate a wavering line of herons flapped slowly away toward the reed-grown banks of the river. No rumble of chariot wheel or peal of trumpet disturbed the unseeing stillness. The silence of death followed the thundering of battle.

— The Yaralet Fragment (aka “The Hand of Nergal”)

 

The long battle to bring Conan back to the big screen is finally over and the dust is beginning to settle. The stakes were huge. A financial success would take the Conan franchise to the next level, cementing the Cimmerian warrior in the popular culture pantheon. Other Howard properties are waiting in the wings for their chance at immortality: Kull of Atlantis, Dark Agnes, Bran Mak Morn, Vultures of Wahpeton. But as the fog of war begins to lift we find the field littered with the corpses of REH fans’ hopes and expectations.

Early reviews were not good at all going into last Friday’s North American opening. Word was quickly making its way through the blogosphere that the film was a stinker. Friday morning, Conan’s fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes was abysmal—hovering in the mid-20′s. That pretty much doomed it right there. Many people that might have been thinking about seeing it, decided to pass. As the box office numbers began to come in over the weekend it quickly became clear that the film was in serious trouble. With production costs in the $70-80 million dollar range (not including marketing costs) Conan needed to gross around $20-25 million domestically for its opening weekend. Right now it’s projected to gross right at $10 million. That is a massive bomb. 

  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Movies, Pastiches, Popular Culture, Reviews, Uncategorized |

I Tried Not to Weep in the Darkness

Posted by indy on 19th August 2011

I went and watched the new Conan the Barbarian movie today. It wasn’t nearly as good as I had hoped it would be. In truth, it’s not very good at all.

But I’m trying to focus and remain positive that this latest entry into the cinematic furthering of the characters of Robert E. Howard will, indeed, generate positive things for our boy Bob. The fact that at least THIS time that there’s a new Conan movie in 3,500 theaters, you can go into a bookstore or online  and buy a Robert E. Howard book filled with his stories of Conan. That’s gotta be good for something!

Now, I’m not going to trash this movie, because I want it to be good for Robert E. Howard. And I think it ultimately will be. And I have to leave it there before my head explodes. Props to my lovely bride Cheryl for allowing me to rant over dinner.

Enough is said when I tell you the best part of going to see this movie today was that the kid who sold me the ticket automatically gave me the Senior Discount.

Indy out.

 

Posted in Howard's Writing, Movies |

Conan the Barbarian (2011) is upon us. . .

Posted by Jeff Shanks on 17th August 2011

. . . for better or for worse. While those of us who are stateside are still waiting patiently (or maybe impatiently in some cases) for the film’s debut on Friday, many European fans have already had an opportunity to view Marcus Nispel’s take on Howard’s most iconic character. The reviews from across the pond are a decidedly mixed bag. Probably the most significant review so far, at least from the perspective of a hard-core REH fan, is from REHupan Al Harron, who has had quite a bit to say on the Conan Movie Blog:

Conan the Barbarian (2011) is better than I was expecting in some respects, and worse than I was anticipating in others. On pure cinematic merits, it is not as successful as the 1982 film or Solomon Kane, but it is not quite as heinous as Conan the Destroyer or Kull the Conqueror either. In terms of adapting Robert E. Howard’s creation, it’s only marginally more faithful than any of its predecessors, just in different respects. Jason Momoa, with the right director, script and story, could be a fine interpretation of Howard’s Conan: there are brief, wonderful moments in the film where I momentarily forgot what film I was watching, and he’s definitely closer to REH than Arnold’s ever was. The basic story is still pathetic, some of the effects are simply atrocious, and there’s no thematic core, philosophy or subtlety to speak of – on the other hand, the natural scenery of Bulgaria is a joy to behold, some of the effects are surprisingly solid, and there’s a pervasive sense of enthusiasm from the cast that can be woefully lacking in these sorts of films. In short, some parts better, some parts worse, but overall, much as how I expected it to end up.

Read more of Al’s thoughts here and here (WARNING: Possible Spoilers).

Also worrisome (for me at least) is that one of the things that many of the positive reviews seem to have in common is praise for the campiness factor. Take James Mudge of BeyondHollywood.com:

Special mention must also go to Rose McGowan for her awesomely silly over the top performance, with pretty much all of her scenes making for near-hysterical entertainment. Thanks to Nispel’s determinedly gruesome approach, this never quite pushes “Conan the Barbarian” into high camp, and though it wisely never takes itself too seriously, it never gets too ridiculous.

Alex Katz at Flixist echoes those thoughts:

The movie is a success because it does not follow the cardinal sin of Clash of the Titans; it doesn’t take itself terribly seriously.

That’s not a positive! Many of the negative reviews for Solomon Kane (2009) complained that it took itself too seriously — after all, everyone knows that sword and sorcery films need to wink at audience every now and then to remind us how silly it all is, right?. But that’s exactly what made Solomon Kane a darn good movie (if not a Howardian movie) — it dared to do sword and sorcery with a straight face. That’s also why both The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Game of Thrones series were successful and had cross-over appeal with mainstream audiences. They took the it seriously and played it straight. If the creators themselves don’t have enough respect for the material to treat it seriously, then why should the audience? I am hopeful that these reviewers are overstating the campiness factor (Crom forbid that what they perceive as intentional camp is actually unintentional -– yikes!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Movies, news, Popular Culture |

News from Cross Plains

Posted by Rusty Burke on 18th January 2011

I thought it would be fun, during this Cross Plains Centennial Year, to share some news stories from old issues of the Cross Plains Review. Most of what I’ll be sharing is from the period that Robert Howard lived there, 1919-1936, and I’m limited by the photocopies I have available, which I brought home several years ago from a visit to the outstanding Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. But even if we’re a bit limited in our range, I think we can find a lot of material of interest throughout the year.

First up, from January 18, 1929:

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: It seems that there is an unusually large number of Donkeys running at large within the corporate limits of the city and as there is a number of complaints coming in each day it has become necessary to call upon the citizenship to assist in getting rid of them. If any of you have children who own them we ask that you take some steps to keep them corralled or tied so that they will not be running at large. Those who find them loose in their yards ruining their shrubbery etc. please notify the mayor and some steps will be taken to dispose of them. — Martin Neeb, Mayor

On Saturday January 12, a party was held to celebrate the eighth birthday of Elizabeth Morris. Among those in attendance were Bobby Lee Westerman, Lorena Childs, Joela Henderson, Nancy and Bobby Henkel, Princy and J.P. Henderson, Oliver Davis, Cornelius Elliot, Leo and Emily Gray McDermitt, Fay Hyser, Wynne Ruth Payne, Billie Ruth Loving, Billy Joe Coleman, S.R. Jackson Jr.

Dr. and Mrs. R. Robertson returned from Temple last Sunday where Mrs. Robertson had undergone an operation and been confined to the sanitarium there for a period of five weeks. [REH note: Dr. Robertson owned the Cross Plains Drug Store, where REH worked for a time in 1928; he appears as “Dr. Robinson” in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs.]

The Piggly-Wiggly was running some specials on Saturday, including 3 pounds of Morning Joy coffee for $1.53, 10 pounds of “good spuds” for 25 cents, and Armour Star hams at 32 cents a pound.

The Liberty Theatre (“Where Everybody Goes”) was showing: Friday, Buster Keaton and Marceline Day in “The Cameraman,” along with the comedy short “Do Gents Snore?” and Free China Ware Day; Saturday, “Silent Trail” with Peggy Montgomery and Bob Custer, with “Should Tall Men Marry?” (Stan Laurel, sans Hardy); Monday, Sally Phipps and Charles Morton in “None But the Brave,” as well as an unnamed comedy; Tuesday, “Dog Justice” featuring The Dog – Ranger, with chapter 9 of the serial “The Scarlet Arrow” and a comedy; and on Wednesday and Thursday, Victor McLaglen [one of Howard’s favorite actors, see REH Goes to the Movies], June Collyer and Earle Foxe in “Hangman’s House” [based on a novel by Donn Byrne which REH commented on in a letter to Harold Preece, see Robert E Howard’s Bookshelf], another comedy, and Free China Ware Day for Ladies.

Moving ahead a few years, the Review of January 18, 1935 reported:

THRICE A WEEK RAIL SERVICE IS EXPECTED SOON: Officials of the M.K.&T. railroad are scheduled for a hearing before the railroad commission Tuesday morning, when they will make application to run a train only every other day from DeLeon to Cross Plains. The commission is expected to grant the request.

D.C. Dobbins, division superintendent, said last week that the action was necessary because of the altered schedule on the main line, whereby the local train can make connection only every other day. He expressed the opinion that the thrice a week service would be only temporary and that the present schedule might be resumed in the Fall….

In Cross Plains a petition of cooperation was circulated last week, assuring the authorities of the M.K.&T. that this city is in complete accord with any action taken toward maintaining the road through the present adversities.

NEW DOCTOR TO LOCATE IN CROSS PLAINS SOON: Dr. T.G. Edwards, of Dublin, will locate in Cross Plains the latter part of this month or the first of February, the Review was authentically advised yesterday. Dr. Edwards is a M.D. of several years experience, yet is said to be a comparatively young man. [REH note: Dr. Edwards signed REH’s death certificate.]

Brunk’s Comedians, a tent repertoire theatre, was coming to town Monday for a seven-day run, sponsored by the Tommy Aiken American Legion Post.

Anderson Chevrolet was moving out some used cars to make room for 1935 models. You could get a 1929 Chevy truck for $85, or a 1930 sedan for $225.

At the Liberty, Bob Steele was featured in the western film “The Man from Hell’s Edges,” showing along with chapter 9 of the serial “Red Rider,” a cartoon and a comedy short; a Sunday Matinee introduced Will Rogers as “Mr. Skitch,” plus comedy and cartoon, the engagement running on Monday and Tuesday as well; and Wednesday and Thursday would offer “Jealousy,” starring Nancy Carroll and Donald Cook.

For January 19, let’s back up to 1934, and some sad news:

C.V. RAMSEY KILLED IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT: Throng of Friends Pay Last Respects Sunday Afternoon: Funeral rites for C.V. Ramsey, 32, local automobile mechanic who was fatally injured when he fell from the back of a truck Saturday afternoon, were held from his home at Cottonwood Sunday, with Rev. Ross Respess and Dr. C.A. Voyles, Baptist ministers officiating. Interment was made in the Cottonwood cemetery.

C.V. Ramsey, who was employed by Anderson Chevrolet Company, had gone out with E.O. Adams, local truck contractor, to listen for a defect in the motor before repairing it. He told Adams that he would step to the back of the truck and listen for trouble in the differential. It is believed that he slipped from the rear of the truck catching his foot in a trailer hitch. He fell to the pavement striking his head a severe blow and breaking a leg. The accident happened a half mile beyond the eastern city limits.

Dr. J.G. Rumph, local physician, was summoned and immediately rendered first aid before placing the injured man in an ambulance en route for a Santa Anna hospital. He died as the ambulance reached Coleman.

Surviving are his wife and infant daughter, and mother Mrs. Missouri Ramsey.

About 1,000 friends gathered at the Ramsey family home at Cottonwood to pay final respect to C.V. who had resided there his entire life. People were present from practically every city or town within a radius of 100 miles.

Pall bearers were F.R. Anderson, Babe Wood, Sidney Ratcliff, Bud Strahan, Howard Strahan and R.P. Bowden.[REH note: Howard wrote about the death of “Skeezix” Ramsey in a letter to August Derleth, July 4, 1935.]

At the Liberty, “Black Beauty,” starring Esther Ralston, Alexander Kirkland, and Gavin Gordon was the current offering, to be followed on Monday and Tuesday by Elissa Landi, Paul Lukas and Nils Asther in “By Candlelight,” and on Wednesday and Thursday “The Stoker,” with Monte Blue and Noah Beery.

Posted in Biography, Cross Plains, Movies |

The 300 Spartans

Posted by morgan on 29th September 2010

This past weekend, I had a chance to watch The 300 Spartans with my kids who saw it for the first time on the Fox movie cable channel. The 300 Spartans was an important movie to me when I was around ten or eleven. It showed up quit a bit on T.V. in the early 70s and it seemed every kid in the 70s had seen it. I can remember searching out the Landmark book on the Greek-Persian Wars at the school library because of the movie.  The Spartans should have had beards and longer hair but this was the early 60s.  I don’t know if this movie should be considered as peplum. If so, the movie is high grade peplum. The armor looks realistic. The fight scenes are not bad for the time and certainly more believable than 300. The Spartans make a line which while not quite a true hoplite phalanx, is not too far off either. The Dora spears look pretty good.  To a ten year old, I thought the Spartans forming a wedge advancing with spears into the Persian Immortals for the final battle was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.

I am not a fan of 300. I think the movie is grotesque. The superhero jumps, the screen blood splatters, the lack of armor, the gray filter etc leaves me cold. 300 has had a bad influence on movies the past few years such as Pathfinder and I am expecting the upcoming Conan film.  It and movies influenced by it are going to age badly.

I did some searching and sure enough, there is a novelization of the movie written by John Burke. Burke did many novelizations in the 1960s included some Hammer horror films, and even A Hard Day’s Night.

I have found some pearls among old novelizations. Robert Krepps’ novelization for El-Cid is excellent.  Don Tracy who wrote the wonderfully violent The Black Amulet wrote a novelization for the Jack Palance as Attila the Hun movie,  Sign of the Pagan as Roger Fuller.  I have Harry Whittington’s novelization of The Fall of the Roman Empire. Let me add that I prefer Fall of the Roman Empire over Gladiator also. I will take Alec Guinness over Richard Harris as the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Who thought of using Whittington for the novelization?  He never wrote anything similar to it before or after. The book is a little spare but energetic.

There is also a novelization for another old favorite, Alfred the Great. Michael York made a great Viking leader in that movie. Thomas Disch writing as “Victor Hastings” wrote a novelization for that movie.

So check Turner Classic Movies and Fox Movie Channel for some of those old Warriors of the Silver Screen.

Posted in Movies |

10,000 B.C.

Posted by morgan on 19th September 2010

I finally caught the movie 10,000 B.C. on the TNT cable channel Friday night. I remember at the time when the movie came out speculation on Robert E. Howard influence. Director Roland Emmerich  said at Wondercon 2008 when asked about parallels to Robert E. Howard’s Conan:

10,000 B.C. definitely draws a lot from those books since the setting and lack of knowledge about that time period allows you to really ‘go wild with it’.”

Like the title says, the movie is set 10,000 B.C. That is about as close to Conan as you get. The mega-fauna such as mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and phorusrhacid terror-birds were cool. Any work of art is always improved by the addition of barbarians and dinosaurs or in this case prehistoric fauna. The CGI of the mega-fauna was not top-shelf though.

The mammoth hunters were a diverse U.N. approved tribe containing caucasoid, negroid, and mongoloid physical types. This was a time when small groups were splitting off and inbreeding bringing out those recessive genes. I could see it in a more temperate area that is a crossroads but not up against the glaciers. Some sort of proto-Nordic looking types would have been more believable. Then there is the sibilant accents these mammoth hunters all speak in. It was grating. Hollywood is obsessed giving barbarians Teutonic accents, this was one case it should have been done. The mammoth hunters came off somewhat wimpy. They were not portrayed as bad asses living in the shadow of glaciers and bringing down huge animals with stone-tipped spears.

Then you have the narration by Omar Sharif. It was great to have Omar Sharif in The 13th Warrior but you don’t have him narrating a story about Paleolithic hunters. That’s as bad as having Mako narrating in Conan the Barbarian.  Get someone with a good strong voice like Christopher Lee or Ian McKellen do the narration.

I saw more influences with Quest for Fire and Jean Auel (Clan of the Cave Bear) than Robert E. Howard. But, I will welcome a movie of this type as we don’t get them very often. Emmerich movies are eye candy and are generally weak on the script and this movie is no exception.

I don’t think it will become a classic the way the first Mummy movie has become. Now there is a movie that got just about everything right and fired on all cylinders.

Posted in Movies |

Solomon Kane: The Movie

Posted by morgan on 2nd September 2010

Earlier this month I got the DVD for the movie Solomon Kane. The movie itself was no great surprise having seen the trailer some time back.  There is a character called Solomon Kane in this movie and there are swords. That is about as close to Robert E. Howard as it gets. It is surprisingly boring for a good portion of the movie. The costumes look good, the fight scenes were actually better than what I was expecting. The cinematography was good and I was happy to not see any gray filter. The film was overwrought in spots such as the scene of Kane with his arms upraised asking (I assume) God if this is what was intended. The crucifixion scene was ridiculous. Historically, as pointed out at other sites, the movie is a hopeless mess.

The origin story is what really screws the pooch. Having Kane’s brother as the evil enforcer was too much. Also the Balrog. If you are going to have a Balrog, you better have a Balrog worthy battle instead of what happened in the movie. Less would have been more here. And, Balrogs should be in Tolkien movies.

I was thinking of the same weaknesses found in L’il Abner Versus the Moonies (aka Conan the Barbarian). Way too much time is spent in both movies creating a revenge driven, angst ridden character. Both movies have sorcerers in a takeover with armies and in both the bad guys are more intriguing because there is mystery. You don’t really like Solomon Kane in this movie as the origin story has him as an unlikeable guy. Same with Chip Rommel in Conan the Barbarian.  You want more when you finish a Robert E. Howard story. Paul “Masturbation or What” Berrow is talking about a second Solomon Kane movie. I don’t think the average movie goer wants a second movie. The character is both emotionally and physically spent by the end. This movie is a funeral, not a birth for a series. There is frankly little room for believably carrying on the character.

This movie has so little of Robert E. Howard in it that someone else can do it right the next time. It will be an historical oddity shown at science fiction conventions. It isn’t the worst movie I have seen but I will be hard pressed whether to watch Solomon Kane or Mega-Piranha.  It would have been better had the character had a name like “Samuel Absalom” or something like that. This movie will still probably be far better than the upcoming Conan the Samoan movie with Momo in sarong. That coming  movie is Paradox approved. They got rolled like a teenage farm-boy in the big city on a Saturday night by Hollywood on that one.

Posted in Movies, Reviews |

If Conan Didn’t Have a Distributor

Posted by morgan on 6th July 2010

This showed up at the internet movie data base:

http://www.imdb.com/news/ni3177996/

The author of this piece is calling it right. Paradox is going to get burned bad no matter how they try to spin it.  Come to think of it, a January or February release does make perfect sense for this coming catastrophe. After the movie fails,  the  character of Conan will be exposed to derision for another generation. Paradox will at first try to deny there was any problem with the movie deal. Then after the reality of the damage has set in, the accusations will fly to avert any responsibility of what a disaster this thing was. The pictures of Momo in sarong are actually pretty funny.  Looking at them, Robert E. Howard does not come to mind.  Momo does not look like a “pantherish” fighter raised in the wilds but more like another body builder who has ingested too many protein shakes and done too many repetitive weight exercises. He looks like a side of ersatz beef.  Notice the no doubt slow motion sweaty hair toss, ala Peter Jackson’s Aragorn.  Momo’s curls are sure like Howard’s description of Conan’s square cut straight mane of black hair.  Oh well, this movie will give something to laugh at during future pulp magazine conventions.

The Harlequin Romance cover Conan or rather Conantics. Or is it Congor, Spraguenan, or Bjornan?

Posted in Movies |