Robert E Howard

The man who created the trashy fantasy story, for all intents and purposes, may not be a movie maker, but his work continues to influence the cinematic genre up to the present day.

Just who was Robert E Howard and why does he deserve the adulation of a blog celebrating B-Movies? Hit the jump to find out:


Robert Ervin Howard lived a brief life from 1906 to 1936, but during this time, he wrote a vast catalogue of trashy exploitation stories that were published or serialised in American pulp magazines. Despite the low-brow nature of his works, Howard pretty much invented Sword and Sorcery stories and his work indirectly influenced everything from The Lord of The Rings up to Game of Thrones.

Howard eventually moved on to writing Westerns outside of the pulps, but his success was undermined by his mother's ailing health, which Howard took badly. Finally, he took his own life. Still, the mass appeal of his adventure stories has found fans ever since, even in modern Hollywood.

Many of Howard's characters have seen life on screen, let's take a look at the best:

B-Movie Highlights

Conan The Barbarian

We may have mentioned before that we love the Conan stories. The character is the template for modern anti-heroes such as Han Solo, Hellboy and Wolverine, a random wanderer who is more concerned with drinking, whoring and inflating his wealth than saving the day. Starting out as a vagabond and common thief, Conan became a pirate, mercenary, soldier and, finally, a great and powerful king, yet always found an evil sorcerer, ancient demon or even alien to fight and a tavern wench or virgin princess to seduce with chauvinistic flourish.

Whilst the recent remake held much closer to Howard's stories, it was essentially a generic Hollywood adventure film with Howard trappings. Governator Schwarzenegger's original adaptations, however, diverted from the story, but kept the smutty, gory spirit of Howard's homo-erotic misogynist.

If you want a good serving of boobs, broadswords, blood and beasties, you can't go far wrong with Conan The Barbarian or Conan The Destroyer and Arnholt gives a perfect mixture of badassery and slapstick charm. The first outing offers a bit of pathos and some semi-decent scripting, while the sequel is pure B-Movie schlock.

Howard's most famous hero is also the most successful cinematic adaptation and both films hold up as cheesy classics.

Solomon Kane

A puritan superhero? Yes, please! Kane isn't much different from Conan the grizzled anti-hero, but setting his adventures in a time of witch burnings and buckles gives the character an interesting flavour. The story and, more so, the ghosts and monsters Kane fights may be more stylised in the film, but again, it holds to Howard's ideals and is equally entertaining.

Kull The Conqueror

Kull was Howard's prototype for Conan and is almost identical, only differing in a more-philosophical outlook and less-magical setting. After the success of the Hercules TV series created by Sam Raimi, following the demi-god as he fights the monstrous minions of his divine family across ancient Greece, some clever Hollywood execs sought to cash in by combining the show's star, Kevin Sorbo, with the similar property of Kull.

The result is a bizarre combination of classic Sword and Sorcery with a metal soundtrack and some skimpy costumes for Tia Carrere. It's a flawed movie and what it fails to do was actually achieved years later by cult-favourite The Scorpion King, another Conan rip-off. Still, we love Sorbo and Kull is an interesting curio.

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