SOURCES: Prevue, The Gift off Fury, David C. Smith, Starlog.

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All the cuts endured by CONAN THE BARBARIAN were not imposed by the MPAA or the producers. Some were decided by Milius himself, as he explains it to Jim Steranko in this Prevue interview:

  "In one scene, Conan killed a couple of women--and we didn’t want him to do that because he’s a chivalrous fellow. I took the scene out."

We already saw how the scene where Conan is beheading a pitfight girl was (almost completely) removed from the final cut. But here, Milius is referring to another scene, which was occurring later in the film, during the orgy sequence, as Akim "Goose" Bischoff points it out:

  During Conan, Valeria, and Subotai's raid in Thulsa Doom's Orgy Chamber, Conan storms through across the marble floors, slashing at anything he sees. One of the orgy women of Doom suffers a mighty blow dealt by Conan, when the barbarian splits open her belly and spills her gizzards! By Crom! It is believed that director John Milius felt this act against the unarmed woman, was too brutal an act, even for a vengeful barbarian such as Conan. This scene was eventually cut.

There are photographic evidences of the shooting of this scene (pictures 0 to 4).


Milius obviously reshot a "soft" version of this scene, with Conan, instead of slicing the helpless young slave girl (Pilar Alcón) who shows in front of him at the top of the stairs, only gives her a shove to put her out of his way: that is the version which now appears in the film (pictures 5 and 6).


In his essay, David C. Smith notices that the whole sequence underwent multiple changes throughout the various script rewrites:

  Conan, Valeria, and Subotai’s furtive entry into Doom’s Mountain of Power to rescue the princess is a more strenuous and bloody effort in the second-draft screenplay than is the edited escapade that made it to the screen. Once they have covered each other with camouflaging pigment, they approach Doom’s fortress by floating down a river while hugging onto inflated goatskins. Caves, tunnels, and a bridge are patrolled by mutants and neanderthals that must be confronted and dispatched. (Are these mutants a story element left over from the Oliver Stone script?) Conan spies his father’s sword hanging on the wall behind Thulsa Doom’s throne in the orgy chamber but is unable to retrieve it during the melee that erupts when he and the others charge in to rescue the princess. Milius’s writing rings with the authenticity of a talent who could write some fine sword-and-sorcery if he had a mind to:


He looks quickly at the sword and beyond it, sees glowing reptilian eyes in the darkness, ready to strike. In a bound he is down among the warriors, executing three flashing cuts. A body spasms--another arches, his iron blade broken along with his spine by Conan’s Atlantean steel. Before these three fall, Brak comes, wielding an axe overhand. Conan’s double-handed parry contains the blow, and both men collide, weapons clattering to the floor.


Immense veins and muscles strain almost to bursting as these two enormous men crash together. Brak has Conan by the throat and, having the advantage of size, hurls himself and whips Conan, smashing him into the immense central pillar. The marble shatters; pieces of rock fall on them. Suddenly, a fire-crazed leopard leaps between them, tangling Brak in its chain. Brak screams and releases Conan. With hardly a gesture, he breaks the beast’s back with a snap and hurls it away.

  Conan grabs the princess, who is given the single pronoun that, in the final cut, is uttered by Rexor; and her identifying him is because of a very different association from that of Rexor’s: the princess recognizes the young barbarian from the street procession in Shadizar:

Conan turns and sees the Princess struggling away. He leaps after her, grabs her brutally by the hair, and pulls her head around. She stares up at him.


  Backhanding her to knock her senseless so that she won’t cause further trouble, Conan throws the princess over one shoulder and escapes with Valeria and Subotai, swords flashing and bowstring snapping all the way back to the river, where Thulsa Doom’s viper arrow strikes Valeria.

The sequence still appears in this primitive form in the novelization (descending the river while clutching inflated goatskin bottles, meeting the beast-men, finding the Father's sword on the wall behind Thulsa Doom, Valeria facing Rexor before Conan, Rexor attacked by a leopard driven insane by the fire, etc.), as well as in the comic book adaptation. Conan, Valeria and Subotai does not set fire to the marbled room to create a diversion, but because they have to "burn this snakes! Such a corruption can only be cleaned by the torch." Besides, as opposed to what one can see in the film, Conan recovers the sword forged by his father (and he will make use of it later to bring down Rexor, then Thulsa Doom).

Akim “Goose” Bischoff suggests that the beast-men presence was not so brief in the original cut:

  Remember Thulsa Doom's elite guards who cover their faces with leather face masks? Remember the one mixing the green, human entrails soup? Those guards were suppose to be Neanderthals. Makeup artist Jose Antonio Sanchez made simple rubber masks for these Neanderthal guards. They were intended for a scene where their faces are glimpsed dimly in a cave. It was suppose to take place when Conan flees the orgy chamber with the princess on his shoulders. As he runs, in one of the deep caverns of the Mountain of Power, he spots these Neanderthals devouring gobs of human flesh. Because of time constraints though, this scene was edited out of the film.
That such a scene (which however appears in the second draft of the script) was filmed is however doubtful: in the film, the greenish soup transported by the sub-men is indeed directly served to the followers of Doom. And, as opposed to what Bischoff lets us suppose, the two rudimentary cavemen masks (pictures 7 and 8 ) created by the Spanish make-up designer were indeed (film) used, in the scene where Valeria gets rid of her pursuers in the caves leading to the exit of the Temple (picture 9). Except for these three ones, the beast-man condition of the Thulsa Doom guards is however not very clear in the final cut. At one point, one of the "cooks" in the Kitchen is seen walking in a simian way, but he is the only one to do such a thing in the shot: the other characters simply look like more or less deformed human with their faces entirely covered with a leathermask.

In the novelization, Conan, Subotai and Valeria are questioning the true nature of the guards (during a passage which was probably added by Carter and De Camp:


  "What manner of man or devil are they?" whispered Subotai, incredulously.
  Conan shrugged, remembering the hulking, anthropoid guards whom he had passed on his way into the temple.
  The whispers of the raiders were silenced by the clank of armor. They shrank back into deeper gloom, as a squad of hairy men in metal-mounted leather marched into the dining hall, tugged off their helmets, and settled down to feed. Soon they were joined by a straggle of latecomers, whose noisy gruntings added to the din.
  Conan jerked a peremptory thumb to urge his companions on. Proceeding with utmost caution, they circled past the seething cauldron with its ghastly contents, and in time came to another section of the cavern used as a dwelling place by the cave folk. Here the women and children of the troglodytes, as ugly as the males, pursued their domestic affairs.
   "Trolls!" muttered Subotai, his eyes widening. "The legends of my people tell of them."
  Valeria shook her head. "No, they we the descendents of an ancient race, who dwelt in caves from times beyond man's memory."
   "How could they thus have sunk to the level of beasts?" muttered the small Hyrkanian.
  Valeria said: "From what I have heard, such is not the case. They are not men who have become animals, but animals who have almost grown to men. My people say that long, long ago there were two branches of man: our forebears and these shadow-dwellers. My ancestors called them that because these beast-men could not endure the light of day and chose to make their home in the hollows beneath the earth. When our forebears spread out across the land, seeking the daylight and the fertile earth, these shadow-dwellers burrowed ever deeper into the ground."
  "And fed on human flesh," added Subotai disgustedly.
  Valeria nodded. "This Doom must breed them here for his unholy purposes. He feeds them on the bodies of his cult-worshipers. Or on those he teaches his followers to kill."
  Conan glowered. "That's how the snake prophet protects his mindless children — with an army of cannibal beast-men whose bellies are filled with the fools who follow him."
   "Or those who wish to follow him no more," said Subotai.


The idea of the trolls (finally reduced to almost nothing in the film, undoubtedly because of budget restrictions [1]) nevertheless survives through the music of Basil Poledouris as he himself explains it in the September 1982 issue of "Starlog":

  "Later on, in Thulsa Doom's kitchen, a chorus takes up the melodic threads again. But this time, instead of having an unseen chorus singing 'praises from on high,' the trolls of Doom's underworld, who actually work the kitchen, are singing about their work and that chorus in English goes something like : "We are the trolls of the underworld, the hideous demons that service Thulsa Doom's kitchen." And then, it gets a little silly because they are talking about 'frying fresh flesh' and 'do you think this one's name is Nelly' and 'good old Doom feeds us very well.' It's very much a work song for the creatures as they cut up human bodies."

Last cut to be noticed: the late reappearance of Thulsa Doom was appreciably reduced in the editing process, as evidenced by this unused shot seen in the first trailer (pictures 15 and 16) where one sees him descending some steps with Thorgrim alone at his side (thus, this is before they help Rexor getting up), saying: "They are the purveyors of their own deaths!", which of course announces the tragic destiny that he is preparing for Valeria. Schwarzenegger himself mentions this cut during the audio commentary:
  Schwarzenegger: And there, [Thorgrim] was saying: "I could not even wound them, Master..."  
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ConanCompletist 2004