I have fond memories of watching Conan the Destroyer (1984). My dad let us watch it when we were in grade school. My sister and I thought it was the greatest movie. We went on adventures to find the jeweled horn.
It wasn't until I was older and could watch Conan the Barbarian (1982) that I realized Conan the Destroyer was a terrible, terrible movie. I know why my dad let us watch it though. It was pretty tame compared to the first, not a lot of sex and violence and pretty horrible special effects. I let my kids watch it. They really enjoy it. It has the basic elements they deem necessary in a film: a cool hero, sword fights, and monsters. Pretty much the same things I look for in a movie. Despite its awfulness, it will always have a special place in my heart.
I had reservations about seeing the new Conan the Barbarian (2011). My spouse and I went for our anniversary. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it. We own the DVD. I needed to round out my collection.
Recently, I downloaded and have been listening to the original Conan stories. The version I have is a special edition, so it had an introduction that talked about the history of the stories and about Robert Howard. What a fascinating and tragic guy. The stories are actually a collection of short stories/novellas, but they're not told in chronological order. The book sticks to Howard's original vision for the stories, so they are told in the order they were published.
Wow. That word describes it all. Howard's writing is so rich and descriptive, and his use of magical elements is amazing! The narrator is fantastic, which adds to the wonderment of the stories, but I can't get past Howard's language! I have the book on my Kindle in print form too, so I can always go back and read it that way. I might, just to experience the magic of the words!
I can totally see how Conan helped shape the fantasy genre. Conan himself is more an anti-hero than a true hero. He does some fairly questionable things, but he's still likable. He has his share of hardships to overcome, so you can sympathize with him and loath him at the same time.
As you can imagine, there are quite a few differences between the written stories and the movies, but they are both enjoyable in their own ways. I'm so happy to be able to round out my Conan experience!