Being a barbarian is a thankless job. You spend all day slaying your foes in a loincloth and greased up in beef tallow, and nobody remembers your exploits. The zeitgeist moves on to pirates, vampires, zombies, and what have you.
In honor of all those underappreciated barbarians out there in fiction, here are 25 moments of barbaric madness that I honestly believe the Library of Congress ought to deem culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Enjoy.
Ator the Invincible (1984)
In this low-budget Italian fantasy flick, the Blademaster builds a hang glider almost immediately and starts bombing a castle. It's totally ridiculous but nonetheless badass. No wonder Mystery Science Theater 3000 got their hooks in this film.
Korgoth of Barbaria (2006)
This Adult Swim show by Aaron Springer and Genndy Tartakovsky (both of Dexter's Laboratory) never made it past a pilot. This was a bummer, as it was a non-stop cavalcade of evisceration.
What if Conan the Barbarian were Stranded in the 20th Century? (1984)
In the 1970s, Marvel published a series of Conan comic books. Conan didn't crossover into the mainstream Marvel universe often, but when he did, it was through alternate universe What If? fables. In one issue, he learned the ways of Earth's criminals and became a pimp...
...only to abandon his criminal ways after a fight with Captain America. It's hinted that Conan might join the Avengers by the end of the comic.
Also, the Bill Sienkiewicz cover for this issue was all sorts of rad. Let's take a look at some more Conan fun...
What if Thor Battled Conan the Barbarian? (1983)
In this issue, Thor is transported to the Hyborian Age by Loki and — after a brief misunderstanding — the macho men team up to defeat Thoth-Amon. Unfortunately, Thor kicks it in the battle. Fortunately, Conan gets to wield Mjolnir!
What if Wolverine battled Conan the Barbarian? (1990)
Ooh, this issue was a doozy. Long story short, Wolverine accidentally falls into Uatu the Watcher's pan-dimensional time hut during the Trial of the Phoenix (a.k.a. the battle to destroy Dark Phoenix) and ends up in the Hyborian Age. There Logan meets Red Sonja, shacks up with her, and tosses Conan into the mainstream Marvel Universe via some interdimensional thingamajig.
Conan materializes in the middle of the Trial of the Phoenix and beans Cyclops with a rock in a fit of rage — this prompts Jean Grey to turn into Dark Phoenix and destroy the Earth. Good job, Conan! On the plus side, he does get to kill a Skrull for the heck of it.
Yor The Hunter From The Future (1983)
In this celluloid schlock-o-rama, Yor is a nuclear survivor from the future who hunts dinosaurs and fights robots.
Q: Did the radiation resurrect the dinosaurs?
A: No, Yor's theme song did. It was so inspiring it brought them back from the dead.
In this fantasy series by Mike Grell, Air Force pilot Travis Morgan is accidentally sucked into the fantastical world of Skartaris at the center of the Earth. Morgan becomes Warlord, a gangster Asterix who brandishes a .44 AutoMag. His outfit is perhaps the most masculine in the DC Universe.
In this no-budget Argentine production, a pig-monster grows weary of strangling a man, so he rips off a passer-by's arm and bludgeons his quarry with it. Could you tell it was produced by Roger Corman?
Apropos of nothing, the wizard in Deathstalker knows how to cast sexy, sexy spells.
Deathstalker II (1987)
Is this the best exploding ninja star death ever filmed? Yes.
Beastmaster II: Portal of Time (1991)
I can appreciate the Beastmaster — he's like He-Man meets Dr. Dolittle. What I can appreciate even more is Beastmaster II, in which the filmmakers decided that the entire franchise had run its course in two films and threw the Beastmaster into 1980s Los Angeles. Is The Smurfs a reboot of Beastmaster II? Secret answer: Oui.
And like Yor, the Beastmaster had a fucking slamming theme song.
Beastmaster III (1996)
Incidentally, the Beastmaster franchise spawned another sequel (which starred Marc Singer) and a 66-episode television series (which did not star Marc Singer). You'll always be my Beastmaster, Marc, even if you're consigned to fight monsters that resemble King Koopa from Super Mario Bros.
The Invincible Barbarian (1982)
In this no-budget Italian flick, the barbarian is invincible. His opponents are not.
The hero had a laser bow. It wasn't as good as the hawk-firing sword from Hawk the Slayer, but it did the job.
Masters of the Universe (1987)
If I ever sell a kidney for a piece of movie memorabilia, it will be Frank Langella's Skeletor helmet.
The Barbarians (1987)
Whatever happened to the Barbarian Brothers? They were like Marc Singer times Marc Singer.
Also, this hanging scene from The Barbarians is required viewing.
Does anyone own one of these shirts? Seriously, I want one of these more than Skeletor's hat. Email me.
Sword of the Barbarians (1982)
If a barbarian eviscerated you in this film, your organs turned in low-grade papier-mâché.
A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990)
Perhaps the most reprehensible entry on this list, this super-trashy Troma film is strangely the most popular, as it recently enjoyed a renaissance on Hulu. There's a metaphor for civilization in here somewhere, but I'm too lazy to glean it.