There are certain movies that have an innate re-watchability, whether you stumble across them at 2:00 A.M on late night cable, or make the conscious choice to own them and compulsively watch them over and over and over again, obsessively reciting the lines, possibly while wearing a homemade costume, and serendipitously discovering something new with each viewing. I fall into the latter category. Well actually I fall into both categories. My guilty pleasures are the usual geek suspects: The Army of Darkness, A Christmas Story, Highlander, Planet of the Apes (I don't feel the need to specify "The Original"), Bladerunner, and The motherfucking Wrath of motherfucking Khan!
There is only one movie that surpasses the ridiculous amount of times I have watched Khaaaaan! And that my friends is 1982's Conan the Barbarian..."Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of....". Man, I can recite that flick line for line. Of course, that's because I've seen it more than 75 times. Seven. Five. In your face Thulsa Doom and your wretched Riddle of Steel!
Perfect casting, kick ass score, and gratuitous amounts of nudity and violence. What more could a prepubescent boy not in control of his hormones ask for? I'll tell you what: To see it in the theater on the Big Screen. It was rated R. I was determined. I was also 11.
Having kept a nickel from the change every time I purchased my mother's cigarettes (Benson and Hedges Menthol 100s please)for her at the corner store (needing only $4 and a note signed by, uh, anyone), I had saved up enough to purchase a one-way ticket to Cimmeria. I stood on tip toes, wearing sunglasses and deepening my voice to something between Mickey Mouse and a Eunuch on helium, and I tried nonchalantly to buy a ticket from the Box Office (I may have actually asked for 2 tickets to sweeten the pot). The denial was bland, curt, dismissive. Hearing the snickers behind me from the pricks who were probably going to see Conan for the third time I mumbled "Just kidding" and hurriedly bought a ticket for The Last Unicorn, or maybe it was The Secret of NIMH.
And then promptly snuck into Conan.
I felt the same trepidation that Conan must have felt when he stole the priest's robes to infiltrate the Cult of Set. Like a chameleon I blended into my surroundings, pushing myself as low as I could into the E-Coli infested purple seat, not moving not breathing for fear of drawing undo attention to my underaged self. Oh god its gonna start in 2 minutes then I'm home free. Suddenly a blazing light like the setting Aquilonian sun blinded me. The usher was subtle and understanding, "Kid. Out. Now". I looked around, feigning both sympathy and disgust for the poor kid that couldn't possibly be me.
"Don't make me ask twice. Move it". Pointing at myself in surprise, I pulled out my ticket. I put on quite the show, checking the ticket twice, squinting, slapping my forehead in mock disbelief, and chuckling at the obvious but understandable error I had made "I'm in the wrong theater" this pantomime clearly said to my rapt audience. Slapping the usher on the back like we were old war buddies I escorted him out so he could get back to his ushing.
As soon as we hit the lobby I launched into my plea, quickly explaining all he needed to know to do The Right Thing. I passionately advised him that I'd read ALL the Robert E Howard books chronicling the adventures of the lone barbarian of the Hyborian Age, and had all the comics and magazines, and had been waiting FOREVER to see this film, and nobody, and I mean NOBODY would have to know. Except for the glaring absence of anything he should give a shit about, it was a solid argument. I was expecting something along the lines of "What daring! What outrageousness! What insolence! What arrogance!... I salute you!". He didn't even bother to look at me as he continued to expertly ush and said "Rules is rules. Its rated R for a reason kid. Lots of blood and nudity. It's awesome".
I put a hand on his arm to stop him, and looked up at his face, noticing for the first time the crimson pimple on the end of his nose just ripe for popping, and reading his plastic name tag I simply said "Lawrence. Please." My baby blues silently imploring, I was projecting my desperation, psychically commanding him to empathize with my plight. He had to be picking up what I was laying down. Without missing a beat he replied...and this is burned into the recesses of my fractured mind... "Life sucks. No ticky, no titty. Annie is playing in cinema 6. Fag".
And that was that, by Crom. Albert Finney owned as Daddy Warbucks.