Here’s everything you need to know to fully enjoy Arnold and his sword’s triumphant return.
1. The director inspired his way.
Director John Milius drew major inspiration for the first Conan movie, Conan the Barbarian, from 1958’s The Vikings. When Milius was unavailable to direct the Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer, producer Dino De Laurentiis went to the original source by hiring The Vikings director Richard Fleischer.
2. The script required some tinkering.
The film was originally titled “Conan, King of Thieves” from the initial screenplay by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The script was then heavily rewritten by screenwriter Stanley Mann and retitled Conan the Destroyer . Thomas and Conway received a “Story By” credit on the finished film.
3. But the original script lived on.
Because the finished product was so radically changed from their screenplay, Thomas and Conway went on to create a graphic novel based on their story idea called “Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth.” To distance themselves from the movie, they changed the names of most of the characters: Jehnna was changed to “Natari,” Bombaata was changed to “Strabo,” Toth-Amon was changed to “Rammon,” Zula was changed to “Shumballa,” and Dagoth became “Azoth.”
4. The film had a real bond with Dune.
The film was shot in Mexico City as a cost-cutting measure. Conan the Destroyer used the same crew and some of the same locations as another Dino De Laurentiis production, director David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Dune, which was shooting in Mexico at the same time.
5. The Princess was a rookie.
Princess Jehnna was actress Olivia d’Abo’s first acting role. She was 13 years old when filming began.
6. Jehnna’s bodyguard knew how to score.
Basketball fans may recognize Jehnna’s bodyguard, Bombaata, as basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. Conan the Destroyer was Chamberlain’s only credited onscreen role, although he made an uncredited appearance as himself in 1999’s Any Given Sunday .
7. The film helped make Schwarzenegger an American.
Arnold Schwarzenegger gained U.S. citizenship during the filming of Conan the Destroyer . He retains dual Austrian and U.S. citizenship to this day.
8. Sven Ole-Thorsen appeared in both Conan movies.
But he played different characters. He played Thorgrim, Thulsa Doom’s evil henchman, in Conan the Barbarian, and plays Togra, the member of the Queen’s guard who tries to kidnap princess Jehnna, in Conan the Destroyer .
9. One actor pulled an even bigger double duty.
Pat Roach plays two roles in the film—the one-eyed ice wizard Toth-Amon, and his Ape-man mirror monster whom Conan kills. Cinephiles may recognize him from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark as the Nazi mechanic that is knocked into a plane propeller, or as the Thugee slavemaster who is pulled into a rock crusher in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom .
10. This was the family-friendly version of Conan.
Conan the Destroyer initially received an R rating from the MPAA like its similarly violent predecessor Conan the Barbarian, but it was recut and given a PG rating because the filmmakers thought the movie would make more money if it catered to a broader audience.
11. Andre the Giant makes a very subtle cameo.
Who was the actor underneath the rubber suit created for the monstrous deity Dagoth? None other than André René Roussimoff, better known as the wrestler André the Giant.
12. The monster was a distant cousin of E.T.
Special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi crafted the creature design of Dagoth. Rambaldi had previously designed E.T. and the head effects of the xenomorph in Alien .
13. Predator foiled a sequel.
A third film called Conan the Conqueror was planned for a 1987 release, but Schwarzenegger was unable to appear because he was shooting Predator .
14. So Kevin Sorbo stepped in.
Eventually, Schwarzenegger’s three-movie Conan contract expired and the idea was later refashioned into 1997’s Kull the Conqueror starring Kevin Sorbo. Kull happened to be a character based on another pulp fiction series by Conan creator Robert E. Howard.
15. And then politics scrapped another sequel.
Original director John Milius came close to making a third Conan movie with Schwarzenegger in 2002. His script, entitled “King Conan: Crown of Iron,” was to be directed by The Matrix’s Andy and Lana Wachowski, but was scrapped after Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California.
In 1987, the New World Pictures released Hellraiser, a horror film about a family who opens a puzzle box and invites hell in their lives in the form of pleasure-pain creatures known as Cenobites, who are lead by Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley). Unlike many other horror films at the time, Hellraiser wasn’t a slasher film, and Pinhead wasn’t a boogeyman.
British novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Clive Barker wanted to direct a feature film, so he adapted his 1986 horror novella, The Hellbound Heart, into Hellraiser. Despite the graphic nature of the film, it’s really a love story between Julia Cotton and her demented—and skinless—lover Frank ... whose relationship just so happens to revolve around sadistic torture.
Hellraiser was produced for around a $1 million and grossed $14 million, making it lucrative enough to spawn nine sequels, including this year’s Hellraiser: Judgment. (Bradley hasn’t starred in a Hellraiser film since 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations, and Barker didn’t direct or write any of the sequels, most of which were direct-to-DVD releases.) As we near the 30th anniversary of its release, let's take a look back at this horror classic.
1. THE ORIGINS OF PINHEAD CAME FROM A 1973 PLAY.
Before Doug Bradley uttered the catchphrase “We’ll tear your soul apart,” Clive Barker directed him in a 1973 play called Hunters in the Snow,in whichBradley played the Dutchman, a torturer who would become the basis for Pinhead.
“The character I played in Hunters, the Dutchman, I can see echoes of later... Pinhead in Hellraiser," Bradley said. "This strange, strange character whose head was kind of empty but who conveyed all kinds of things.”
Barker’s mid-1980s short story “The Forbidden”—which was adapted into Candyman—from his "Books of Blood" series, featured the first incarnation of Pinhead’s nails. “One image I remember very strongly from 'The Forbidden' was that Clive had built what he called his nail-board, which was basically a block of wood which he’d squared off and then he’d banged six-inch nails in at the intersections of the squares,” Bradley said. “Of course, when I saw the first illustrations for [Pinhead], it rang a bell with me that here was Clive putting the ideas that he’d been playing around with the nail-board in 'The Forbidden,' now 10, 15 years later. He’d now put the image all over a human being’s face.”
2. CLIVE BARKER CAST “REAL ACTORS.”
Unlike many other horror movies of the time, which were more concerned with gore than great acting, Barker insisted that they look for real talent in the casting. “I’m not just taking the 12 most beautiful youths in California and murdering them,” Barker told The Washington Post in 1987. “I’ve got real actors, real performers—and then I’m murdering them.” The “real” refers to British theater actors like Bradley, Clare Higgins, and Andrew Robinson.
3. PINHEAD WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE POSTER.
New World Pictures
Bradley said the filmmakers wanted skinned Frank to be on the poster, but the studio said no to the grotesque imagery, so Pinhead was used on the poster instead. “Maybe that came from Clive, because what we get in that image of Pinhead with the box is the heart of the Hellraiser mythology,” Bradley said. “If you put The Engineer or the skinned man on the poster, it’s an amazing image but it’s just an image, and it could come from any movie.” Bradley thought using Pinhead’s face made more sense. “The big success of Pinhead is because the image is so original, so startling. It is just an incredible image to look at, and that made a big difference in terms of the public's perception of the movie.”
4. NO ONE KNEW THAT DOUG BRADLEY WAS PINHEAD.
Bradley’s Pinhead mug was everywhere—on the cover of magazines and on the movie’s poster—but no one mentioned his name. “It was great to be so heavily featured, but there was no way to prove to anyone that it was actually me,” Bradley said. “Those who were following Hellraiser at the time were wondering where the guy with the pins was! Well I can tell you where I was—I was sitting at home in England, watching it all happen from the sidelines.”
5. THE CENOBITES' DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY S&M CLUBS.
In the box set’s liner notes, Barker wrote that the Cenobites's “design was influenced amongst other things by punk, by Catholicism, and by the visits I would take to S&M clubs in New York and Amsterdam.” Costume designer Jane Wildgoose created the costumes, based on Barker’s instruction of “repulsive glamour.”
“The other notes that I made about what he wanted was that they should be ‘magnificent super-butchers,’” Wildgoose said.
As for Pinhead, Barker said he “had seen a book containing photographs of African fetishes: sculptures of human heads crudely carved from wood and then pierced with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of nails and spikes. They were images of rage, the text instructed.”
6. IT'S REALLY A LOVE STORY.
Julia is forced to bring men back to her house and murder them for Frank so that he can replenish his flesh. Barker looked at Hellraiser as more of a love story, with Julia committing these heinous acts in the name of love, not just to be brutal for no reason.
“She’s not committing murder in the way that Jason in the Friday the 13th films commits murder—just for the sake of blood-letting —she’s doing it for love,” Barker told Samhain. “So there is a sympathetic quality about her, enhanced hugely in my estimation by the fact that Clare Higgins does it so well.”
7. BARKER’S GRANDFATHER INSPIRED THE PUZZLE BOX.
When a person twists the box, known as the Lament Configuration, it summons the Cenobites from the gates of hell into the individual's world. “I wanted to have access to hell in the book and in the first movie, explored by something rather different than drawing a circle on the floor with magical symbols around it,” Barker told WIRED. “That seemed rather stale and rather old.”
Barker explained his grandfather was a cook on ship and brought back a puzzle box from the Far East. “So when I went back to the problem of how to open the doors of hell, the idea of [using] a puzzle box seemed interesting to me. You know, the image of a cube is everywhere in world culture, whether it’s theRubik’s Cube or the idea of the [Tesseract] in TheAvengers movies. There’s a lot of places where the image of a cube as a thing of power is pertinent. I don’t know why that is, I don’t have any mythic explanation for it, but it seems to work for people.”
8. ROGER EBERT WASN'T A FAN OF THE FILM.
Roger Ebert gave Hellraiser just a half star when he reviewed it in 1987. “Who goes to see movies like this? This is a movie without wit, style, or reason,” he wrote, adding that, “I have seen the future of implausible plotting, and his name is Clive Barker.”
9. SOMEONE HAD THE JOB OF MAGGOT AND COCKROACH WRANGLER.
In England, there was a law in which cockroaches of both sexes weren’t allowed on set, because they could have mated and caused an infestation. So Barker had to hire someone to oversee the situation. “The wrangler, this is the honest truth, had to sex the roaches,” Barker told an audience at a Hellraiser screening. “They were all male. And we had a fridge. They move very fast, so the only way to slow them down was to chill them. We chilled the maggots and the roaches. We'd open it up and it was all reassuring. It was fun.”
10. BARKER PREFERS "HELL PRIEST" TO "PINHEAD."
In The Hellbound Heart, the Cenobite with pins sticking out of his head is called The Hell Priest. One of the special effects guys who worked on the movie gave the character his nickname. “I thought it was a rather undignified thing to call the monster, but once it stuck, it stuck,” Barker told Grantland.
In 2015, Barker published a sequel to The Hellbound Heart, The Scarlet Gospels, which features Pinhead getting annoyed when people call him that—as well as Pinhead’s demise. “He will not be coming back, by the way," Barker said. "That I promise you."
11. A HELLRAISER VS. HALLOWEEN MOVIE ALMOST HAPPENED.
In an interview with Game Radar, Bradley said the success of Freddy vs. Jason led Hellraiser distributor Dimension Films to flirt with a Hellraiser vs. Halloween film. “I was actually getting excited by the prospect of this because Clive said he would write it and John Carpenter said he would direct it,” Bradley said. “I actually spoke to Clive about it a couple of times and he was interested in finding the places where the Halloween and Hellraiser worlds intermeshed.” But Moustapha Akkad, who owned the rights to Halloween, extinguished the idea.
12. THE BRITISH BOARD OF FILM CLASSIFICATION HAD TO CHECK THAT NO RATS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE.
While the MPAA requested that a spanking scene be cut for its American release, England's BBFC agreed to release the movie as it was, if they were assured that the rats used in the film weren’t hurt. “I had to bring three remote-control rats into the censor’s office and make them wriggle about on the floor,” producer Christopher Figg told The Telegraph. “They wanted to be sure we hadn’t been cruel to them.”
Released on August 21, 1987, no one—not even stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey—could have predicted the phenomenon that Dirty Dancing would turn into. Today, 30 years later, we’re still talking about the dance-musical-romance’s sensual choreography, its oldies soundtrack, and not putting Baby in a corner. Here are some not-so-dirty facts about the iconic movie, which grossed nearly $215 million worldwide.
1. PATRICK SWAYZE BELIEVED DIRTY DANCING ENDURED BECAUSE OF ITS HEART.
In an interview with AFI, Swayze explained why he thought Dirty Dancing has stuck around for so long. “It’s got so much heart, to me,” he said. “It’s not about the sensuality; it’s really about people trying to find themselves—this young dance instructor feeling like he’s nothing but a product, and this young girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things. On a certain level, it’s really about the fabulous, funky little Jewish girl getting the guy because [of] what she’s got in her heart.”
2. THE FILM GAVE NEWMAN HIS FIRST BIG MOVIE ROLE.
Before starring as Stan, the resort’s social director, Wayne Knight had small roles in a few TV movies, including an uncredited role in the nuclear holocaust drama The Day After. Dirty Dancing showcased his talents, which in 1992 led him to be cast as Newman on Seinfeld.
3. BILL MEDLEY THOUGHT HE WAS BEING HIRED TO RECORD A SONG FOR A “BAD PORNO.”
Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes sang the vocals to the Oscar-winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Medley told Songfacts that Dirty Dancing music supervisor Jimmy Ienner called him and mentioned he was gathering music for the movie. “It sounds like a bad porno movie,” Medley said. Medley’s wife was expecting a baby, so he turned the song down. A few months later Ienner convinced him to do the song, even though Medley didn’t think the movie would be popular.
“We just went in to work together, to sing together, and little did we know it was going to be the biggest movie of the year. Just unbelievable,” Medley said. The song ended up selling more than 500,000 copies, and Medley ended up titling his own memoir The Time of My Life. (Note: The film was actually the 11th highest grossing film of the year; Three Men and a Baby took the top spot for 1987.)
4. PAUL FEIG STARRED IN A DIRTY DANCING TV SHOW SPINOFF.
Dirty Dancing the TV series lasted for only 11 episodes beginning in the fall of 1988, but it gave us then-unknown actors Paul Feig (creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of Bridesmaids) and Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson of The Office). Hardin played Baby but her last name on the show was Kellerman because her dad was Max Kellerman, not Dr. Houseman. CBS even used “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” for the show’s opening credits.
5. A DIRTY DANCING REALITY SHOW AIRED OVERSEAS.
For two seasons between 2007 and 2008, the UK’s Living network aired a reality show called Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life, in which groups of dancers competed for a year-long contract with Bloc, a Los Angeles-based dance agency. The series took place at Virginia’s Mountain Lake Lodge, where much of the original movie was filmed. Couples danced in front of three judges, including Miranda Garrison, who played Vivian Pressman in the movie and was also an assistant choreographer on the film.
6. MOUNTAIN LAKE LODGE REGULARLY HOSTS DIRTY DANCING WEEKENDS.
The Pembroke, Virginia resort where many of the Kellerman’s scenes were filmed hosts regular Dirty Dancing-themed weekends a year. Dinners, a sock hop, a screening of the movie, a watermelon toss, group dance lessons, and a Dirty Dancing scavenger hunt are just some of the many activities on the agenda.
7. ELEANOR BERGSTEIN WROTE ANOTHER DANCE MOVIE AFTER DIRTY DANCING.
Bergstein wrote the script to Dirty Dancing, and in 1995 she had the opportunity to direct as well. She wrote and directed Let It Be Me, starring Jennifer Beals and Campbell Scott. To this day, she hasn’t written or directed any other movies, but she did adapt Dirty Dancing into a successful stage show.
8. ACCORDING TO BERGSTEIN, EASTERN EUROPE WATCHES A LOT OF DIRTY DANCING.
In a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Bergstein talked about the movie’s popularity with people in the former Eastern Bloc. “And in Russia, it’s policy in the battered women’s shelters, when a woman comes in for help. First, they wash and dress her wounds, then they give her soup. Then they sit her down and show her Dirty Dancing. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were all these pictures of kids wearing Dirty Dancing T-shirts; they were saying, ‘We want to have what they have in the West! We want Dirty Dancing!'”
9. PENNY BRIEFLY TRANSFORMED INTO A POP STAR IN THE LATE 1980s.
Cynthia Rhodes made a name for herself as dancer Tina Tech in 1983’s Flashdance and starred as John Travolta’s dance partner/love interest in Staying Alive that same year. But it was her role as Johnny Castle’s dancing partner, Penny, that garnered her the most notice. A couple of years after Dirty Dancing, she married singer Richard Marx (they’ve since divorced), and she briefly filled in as the lead singer of L.A. pop group Animotion, known for their hits “Room to Move” and “Obsession.”
10. JENNIFER GREY PLAYED A VERSION OF HERSELF ON THE SITCOM IT’S LIKE, YOU KNOW...
The short-lived ABC sitcom (1999-2000) featured Grey as a member of a Seinfeld-like gang, except the show swapped out New York City for Los Angeles. She allowed herself to be self-deprecating, even poking fun at her nose job and her Dirty Dancing celebrity. Arthur (Chris Eigeman) meets “Jennifer Grey” and goes, “Oh, like the actress. Dirty Dancing. You spell it the same way as her?” “I am Jennifer Grey,” she responds, then she does a dance to prove it. “You look different,” he says. “Nose job!” She blurts. “Just one?” he retorts. (She had two of them.)
11. GREY WAS SHOCKED TO BE A PART OF THE MOVIE CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.
During a scene in the 2012 rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love., Ryan Gosling uses the famous Dirty Dancing lift to woo Emma Stone into bed with him. As she watched the movie, Grey got an unexpected surprise. “I’m such a fan of Ryan Gosling and all of a sudden he’s saying my name [in the movie],” she told Yahoo!. “I’m just in the theater with my husband and I look at him like, ‘Oh my God, Ryan Gosling just said my name. What’s going on?’ I was so scared. I was like, ‘Oh, no. What are they about to do?’ All of a sudden there I was, part of their movie.”
12. BORSCHT BELT RESORTS LIKE KELLERMAN’S ARE DISAPPEARING.
The area in the Catskills and upstate New York where many resorts like Kellerman’s were located is referred to as the Borscht Belt, because of the area’s popularity with Jewish-American families from the 1920s to the 1980s, with the height of their popularity being in the 1950s and ’60s. Comedians such as Joan Rivers and Jerry Seinfeld got their starts at these resorts. Since the 1990s, hundreds of these resorts have shuttered.
13. TWO FILMMAKERS PRODUCED A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE RESORT THAT SUPPOSEDLY INSPIRED KELLERMAN’S.
For over 100 years, the Monticello, New York-based Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club welcomed Jewish-American families every summer. Wilt Chamberlain worked there as a bellhop, and according to Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg, the husband-and-wife filmmakers behind Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort, it’s also part of the inspiration behind Dirty Dancing.
“Perhaps Hollywood had taken sort of what was true for the Catskills and was using it for their own purposes, but ... [Hollywood] was just copying what was already here,” Rosenberg told ABC News. One of the last bastions of the Catskills’ Borscht Belt, Kutsher’s closed in 2013 and was sold to a billionaire who plans on replacing the resort with a $250 million yoga and wellness center. At least the doc acts as a relic to the halcyon days of dancing and escapism.
14. A DIRTY DANCING REMAKE WAS RELEASED EARLIER THIS YEAR.
Talk of a Dirty Dancing remake had been floating around Hollywood for a few years, and earlier this year it finally came to fruition. The film, which starred Abigail Breslin as Baby, was not met with great reviews. "Somehow, this earnest, anodyne remake has managed to surgically extract the magic—leaving the story and signature lines intact while suctioning out all the subtlety, charm, and lead chemistry that defined the iconic 1987 original," wroteEntertainment Weekly of the remake.