Arnold Schwarzenegger had already dominated the body building world(he beat "The Incredible Hulk" Lou Ferrigno with ease in Pumping Iron) by the time he was tapped to play Robert E. Howard's pulp-fiction warrior king, Conan the Barbarian--and the role set the stage for Arnold to become the biggest action hero of the 80s!
The wild tales of Conan were originally published in Weird Tales in the 1930s and novel adaptations--written in Howard's style by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp--with cover paintings by Frank Frazetta established the legendary barbarian as a fan favorite for years to come. The stories all centered on Conan's rise to the throne and his wise and powerful rule of the fictional prehistorical Hyborian Age. Howard borrowed heavily from various mythologies to tell the stories of Conan, and his other creations Kull the Conqueror and Red Sonja--even making contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos of his contemporary and friend H.P. Lovecraft.
The movie--directed by John Milius and starring Arnold in the titular role with James Earl Jones playing the villain, Thulsa Doom--was a success and the sequel, Conan the Destroyer, helped set the stage for the seven time Mr. Olympia in his next and possibly greatest role as the T-800 in James Cameron's The Terminator, not to mention Commando, The Running Man, The Predator, Total Recall, Terminator 2 and his eventual political career as the governor of California.
Conan the Barbarian is a classic sword and sorcery action film and though it may not have been a blockbuster there is no denying the lasting impression it has made on its viewers and its cult status.