Saturday, September 28, 2013

Howard be thy name...

A while back we posted about the Solomon Kane movie's North American distribution being held up. We have good news about that and then I rambled on a bit...

Solomon Kane's Homecoming

First a little update and heads up. The Solomon Kane film is finally available here in the States. Well on Netflix anyway. Both disc and streaming! And well worth the wait. Don't get me wrong it's as far from the mark as any other film based on Howard's works.  When it comes to accuracy, adaptation, portrayal and all that, but it's quite a bit better than most of them.

It's not really based on any one Howard stories that I recall, but it's been some time since I've read them. If you guessed that it's an origin story, move to the head of the movie cliché class. Yes instead of adapting the written words, they make up their own origin. That being said it was still quite fun, and probably the best use in film of Howard's work to date.

I'd put it on the top of any list of Howard films, second only to The Whole Wide World, the 1996 biography based on One Who Walked Alone and Day of the Stranger: Further Memories of Robert E. Howard. Both memoirs by Novalyne Price Ellis, who was a close friend of and briefly dated Howard. The film stars Vincent D'Onofrio as Robert Howard and depicts him explaining his work and often reciting it to Novalyne. If you know the tragic end, watching the brief possible beginnings of what might have been, becomes all the more tragic to watch, but still a very satisfying film.

I only wish George Lucas had seen  The Whole Wide World, before making his second three Star Wars films. There is a point in this film where despite you knowing a character's tragic end, you care so much about the characters you still hope they find away to avoid the inevitable. As opposed to the second Star Wars Trilogy. Did anyone care enough about Anakin so much you didn't want him to get Vadered? No. Anakin was a whiney jerk with a hot girlfriend. There was way more wrong than the bland portrayal of young Obi Wan, but it didn't help, (Why would he act so much like the older, tortured by the past, version of himself?) It was a bleak time for longtime Star Wars fans. Until the wonderful apology from George Lucas, that was the Clone Wars tv series.

Back to Robert E. Howard. My list of Howard films in the order I like 'em...

1. The Whole Wide World - 1996
2. Solomon Kane - 2009
3. Kull The Conqueror - 1997
4. Conan the Barbarian - 2011
5. Conan the Destroyer - 1984
6. Conan the Barbarian - 1982
7. Red Sonja  - 1985

Let me know if you disagree with my list or have any other films to add! Click here to go to the message boards.

Kull the Conqueror was originally supposed to the third of a planned trilogy of Arnold films and is loosely based on Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon (also known as Conan the Conqueror), only replacing Conan with Kull but keeping the basic plot the same.

Don't forget TV, unless you have ANYTHING ELSE TO DO!

Conan the Adventurer (1997) Was a horrible one hour live action series that lasted one season, starring Ralf Moeller based on the Arnold movie series. This show made Arnold's movie look like a Shakespearian play.

There were a couple of lame cartoons...

Conan the Adventurer - 1992 An animated series that lasted 64 episodes

Conan and the Young Warriors - 1994 An animated series described as a spin-off to the previous Conan the Adventurer animated series, this one lasted only 13 episodes.

There was a direct to dvd animated movie in the works, Conan: Red Nails, based upon the Robert E. Howard novella of the same name. The last thing I heard about this one was that it was partially completed but stalled during production.

I'll be back...

There appears to be a sequel to Arnold's 1982 Conan film in the works, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, called The Legend of Conan, scheduled for 2014. When asked if this film would be a "pass the torch" film and introduce a son to the franchise, (like the last installment Indiana Jones) The producers answered as if they didn't know Conan even had a son in the books. The film's plot is supposedly about Conan long after he had been king, making some sort of return. Funny how the guy who was once too good to do a third Conan movie (Conan the Conqueror/Kull the Conqueror), is now willing to go back to do what looks to be a much worse film. What's next Kindergarten Cop 2 or maybe Triplets, with Sly Stallone or maybe Eddie Murphy as the lost third brother?

EDIT: HOLY CRAP I WAS JUST KIDDING!!!! While looking for images for this blogpost I found out that at the Expendables 2 panel at Comic-Con in 2012, Arnold announced a sequel to Twins entitled Triplets which would bring back Schwarzenegger, his co-star Danny DeVito, and introduce Eddie Murphy as their long-lost third brother. Should I be sad or shocked by actually predicting this stupid movie...

Screw the movies

With Howard's works entering public domain there are quite a few new collections of his work most are fine, there is even a nice set of books reprinting Howards Western stories. But by far, if you want to really enjoy some Robert E. Howard, as if it was the first time you had ever read his writings, there is a series of books published by Del Rey, reprinting Howard's works UNEDITED, and including some great additional materials. Howard's original notes, drafts, synopsis, untitled fragments, unfinished fragments and other historical bits and pieces. These are beautifully designed books, with some amazing artists providing new illustrations. I have collected Howard's work for many years, and I have many used bookstore and garage sale finds. Usually beat up paperback volumes of partially redundant anthologies with various covers, but the Del Rey editions are truly special. I have mostly the large size paperbacks and one Hardcover I was lucky to find at Half Priced books. There may be more coming, but these are all I have so far...

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
The Bloody Crown of Conan
The Conquering Sword of Conan
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Kull: Exile of Atlantis
Bran Mak Morn: The Last King
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures
The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures
The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1: Crimson Shadows
The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 2: Grim Lands

Continue the discussion over at the LXNG boards!

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