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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Conan the Barbarian (1982, 2011) & UHF (1989)

I don't like Sword & Sorcery. It's up there beside the romantic comedy as a genre to avoid, though I'd rather watch Willow or Red Sonja ten times over than have to sit through ten minutes of a Jennifer Aniston flick. But Conan the Barbarian is different, and the reasons why it's different are the reasons why I'm baffled to see it remade.

Reviews of the original, first, and best Conan can be extreme - I side with the gushingly positive ones. It's wonderfully entertaining, low-brow, stylish, and perfectly-cast fluff that uses the melodramatic conventions of cinema to tell a revenge story. It doesn't take itself too seriously but manages to avoid irony (which would spoil it). The conditions and people who brought it to the screen are idiosyncratic and unique. Unique films ought not to be remade.

There's no library in Conan. It's set in the pre-classical 'Hyborian Age of Man', when they didn't even have books. But a treasure-seeker for an unexpected rhyme, 'Weird' Al Jankovic used the character for what now seems an obvious gag... Conan the librarian. Jankovic's 1989 comedy UHF features a trailer for a movie to be screened on the television station he's taken over. Wake up Hollywood - films about giant axe-wielding librarians are a better investment than gloomy, bloody, CGI-heavy remakes!

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