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February 24, 2015

Episode 207: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Special Guests: Edward R. Pressman, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Gerry Lopez, Roy Thomas, Paul M. Sammon, Mark Finn, Sean Hood, Josh Adkins
Guest Co-Hosts: Josh Hadley & El Goro

Let us tell you of the days of high adventure....
In a truly epic episode of The Projection Booth, we look at John Milius's Conan the Barbarian. The film put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map and kicked-off years of sword & sorcery imitators.

Along with El Goro of Talk without Rhythm and Josh Hadley of Radiodrome, we explore the fiction of Robert E. Howard, the Marvel Comics version of the Barbarian and the subsequent sequels and reboot to the 1982 film.

Clocking in at seven hours, this is not a podcast for the weak.

Listen/Download Now:

Buy Conan the Barbarian: The Official Story of the Film by John Walsh
Buy The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
Buy Conan the Barbarian on Blu-Ray
Buy Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn
Buy Conan The Phenomenon by Paul M. Sammon
Buy Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas
Buy Savage Sword of Conan by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, and John Buscema
Buy The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All by Don Herron
Be sure to listen to The Cromcast
Read "I Had No Idea he was a Racist Douchebag" by Mark Finn
Read What's it like to have your film flop at the box office? by Sean Hood
Read Nine Days in Cimmeria by Paul M. Sammon
Visit the Robert E. Howard Foundation
Visit the Conan Completist website
Visit the official Frank Frazetta website
Visit the official Mark Finn blog
Visit the official Sean Hood blog
Visit the official William Smith website
Visit the official Sandahl Bergman Facebook page
Visit the official Arnold Schwarzenegger website
Visit the official Gerry Lopez website
Read Mondo Justin's interview with Ernie Reyes Jr.
Read Everything You Never Knew About The Making of Conan The Barbarian
Read 33 Things We Learned From the Conan the Barbarian Commentary
Listen to our episode on Milius
Listen to our episode on The Big Wednesday

"Wheel of Pain" - Basil Poledouris
"Riders of Doom" - Basil Poledouris
"Battle of the Mounds" - Basil Poledouris
"Kalidor's Theme" - Ennio Morricone
"Anvil Of Crom" - Basil Poledouris
"Conan: The Musical" - Jon & Al Kaplan

Listen to the Cromcast's Conan Vs. Heavy Metal Mix:



  1. This has to be a record for the longest podcast ever.

    1. I know that Mondo Justin has us beat with his 10 hour appreciation of Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance. http://justinbozung.net/norman-mailer-death-celebration-series/

  2. 8:22 Conan are Red Sonja (not to be confused with Red SonYa) are not from the same novels. Red Sonja is a Marvel creation loosely based on Howard's Red SonYa and does appear alongside Conan in the comics, but Red SonYa and Conan are not in any Howard stories together.

    1. Yup. Sorry if we didn't make that clear enough in the episode. Was hoping that Mr. Thomas kind of cleared that up in his interview.

  3. 11:44+ - "Robert E. Howard was a hardcore, hard-lined racist. He did not treat black people well at all. I can't think of a single black character in an original Robert E. Howard story that was not just this side of a talking monkey".

    Speaking of talking monkeys, can't you idiots at least Google your subject matter before you throw out such blatantly exaggerated accusations? Not sure your podcast is worth listening to if 12 minutes in you clearly demonstrate you don't know the characters, stories, or the author well enough to have a reasonable conversation about them.

    1. Hey, Anonymous! Thanks for keeping us honest! And thanks for listening!

  4. Gotta agree with Anonymous, I'm 15 minutes in and it sounds like you really know very little of REH and Conan

    1. Yeah, we were hoping to not pretend to be experts. This is one reason why we rely on Mr. Finn to shed some light on what Mr. Howard was really like. His biography is invaluable.

    2. Also, you guys state something like "Conan is supposed to a Barbarian" in disbelief since he does wear armor and is a strategist.
      It really sounds like you didn't even read REH's stories. Conan is a barbarian, from what you would call an uncivilized area compared to someplace like Aquilonia. HOWEVER (and this is a big part of the Conan stories) that does not mean he is dumb! Conan is very smart but initially uneducated. When he first goes to "civilized" areas, he is just wearing furs and isn't a strategist or even a great swordsman. He is very smart, however, and learns a great deal about fighting, strategy, and different languages. One of the consistent plot lines throughout the stories is that his enemies underestimate him.

      People make this same stupid mistake today. People in the Europe or America often think a less educated person in Africa or Asia is stupid! Or that people in the past were stupid, say in the Middle Ages. No, many of them are very smart, just uneducated with some of the knowledge you might take for granted.

    3. I can assure you that I read quite a few of Mr. Howard's stories before recording. I'm sorry that the term "Barbarian" has fallen into the vernacular to mean someone uncivilized rather than a non-Roman.

  5. "Anonymous" is full of shit - your assessment of Howard is dead-on, especially if you read through his body of work. Like Lovecraft, you can appreciate the writing and imagination, but in terms of race relations, it can be hard to stomach in the present day.

  6. If a Paul M. Sammon talks in the woods and there's no-one around to hear it, does it really talk? What a raconteur! You just need to press record and let him go. I loved his Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner book, in fact I think that's what elevated it into my top ten list. Shall check out his Nine Days In Cimmeria!

  7. Loved the interview with Gerry Lopez... what a sweet, gentle, modest guy! But. yeah, it's a shame they dubbed his voice in the film. Also wondering why Sandahl Bergman was so high strung now lol.

  8. Yo, gotta hand it to you, pilgrim: This is probably my favorite podcast episode ever! Not only because I am a huge and lifelong fan of the movie, but because of the meticulous and exhaustive work you put in (each episode). Thank you very much for that.


    1. Thank YOU for listening and taking the time to comment. Hope you'll help spread the word about the episode and the show.

  9. This episode is quite a cornucopia of information about Conan the Barbarian and the evolution of the Conan character. I especially enjoyed the interviewees' stories about the business politics of making movies. As Paul Sammon stated, the movie business can be ugly. With all the interviews and discussions, was it a difficult episode to put together?

    For many years I have had an interest in the history of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century. H.P. Lovecraft and the hard-boiled crime writers first brought my attention these publications. (Otto Penzler's compilations of pulp stories are worth checking out.) I was, of course, aware of Robert E. Howard's status as one of the important writers for the pulp magazines. With all the contradictory information I had encountered about him, it was refreshing to listen to Mark Finn's interview. It was also great to hear a discussion about the pulp magazines, which had a profound influence on the development of narrative entertainment in the United States. New genres, like science fiction, where created, and older genres were redefined in ways that were carried on through movies and television shows. An episode of Peter Gunn, one of my favorite programs from the first decades of television, is like a pulp private eye story brought to life. (The black and white cinematography of that show is superb, and Henry Mancini's jazzy soundtrack has not gotten old).

    1. Thanks, Anonymous! I thought you were hating the episode from your earlier comments.

      The episode was a lot of effort to put together, yeah. Took a few months to get all of the interviews together, read screenplays, Mr. Finn's biography, short stories, comics, etc. I hope that the work translates into something easy to listen to, entertaining, and informative.

  10. This was a wonderful episode on one of my favorite movies of all time. Thank you so much Projection Booth for all the time and effort you put in.

    I do feel however that while this episode covered many angles and facets of Conan in pop culture, it didn't really get into Milius vision of Conan that much. Almost as if you circled around it for most of the show. You talked about how Milius' script differed from the Oliver Stone version and the Marvel comics, but not so much what Milius was going for in his Germanic wagnerian/Viking interpretation of the character.

    As such, this episode became more of a complimentary to the Milius documentary, his commentary track, the Io9 artice, etc that I think together painted more of a picture of the directors mindset and creative vision.

    But that is not a complaint really, loved every second of this, all your material is great, carefully gathered and essential listening to all Conan fans and I'm super grateful to you guys. Keep up the wonderful work!


  11. Loved the show - very entertaining and informative. Thanks for all the hard work on all these episodes. Always great to hear El Goro too.

    Two minor corrections to the interviewee who wrote the book on Conan. First, the name 'Conan' is not Irish or Gaelic. It is Breton - their variation of the Welsh name Cynan. As such it is Brythonic (from the Ancient Britons). The US chat show host does pronounce his own name correctly (he gets to decide that) but he does pronounce it differently from the standard. Second, he met Pat Roche, the 'Irish stuntman'. 'Bomber' was from Birmingham, England, but of Irish descent. But then all the Roches were originally of Norman origin (i.e. invaders from Britain) so it depends how far you want to go back!

    Quite suitable though because apparently Howard self-identified as Irish too. He undoubtedly had part-Irish descent but that surname is about as English as they come. Fascinating that a man with the racial views of his times would have deliberately identified himself away from the establishment 'Anglo-Saxons' and towards the (then) downtrodden Gaelic Irish. He was obviously a very interesting though deeply troubled man.

  12. I am a newcomer to Projection Booth, and I just want to say that I am amazingly impressed with the work and knowledge that goes into your episodes, this 6-hour behemot especially! I love the fact that you cover obscure movies and... OH MY GOD ROLLERBALL WAS JUST POSTED!!!! I NEED TO WATCH IT NOW!!! NOW!!!!!!

  13. Just found this. Will download and have a listen. Thank you!

  14. return to the filming locations 2015..http://lieuxdetournages.over-blog.com/2014/04/conan-the-barbarian-conan-le-barbare-john-milius-1982.html