Barbarian movies have muscled men, and often busty women, engaging in bloody sword fights and long revenge quests through a primordial world. The best barbarian movies offer vicarious fantasy of a world where swordplay can solve the world's problems, and the hero wins by defeating the villains of the world through both shrewdness and might. Here are some of the best barbarian movies ever made.
"Conan the Barbarian." Arnold Schwarzenegger broke out in this role as Robert E. Howard's titular hero, who set the example for all barbarian movies to follow. Conan's family is killed and he grows into a fierce warrior, seeking vengeance against the evil Thulsa Doom, played by James Earl Jones. Blood, gore, special effects, and plenty of beautiful women highlight this fantasy film, the definition of barbarian movies ever since its release in 1982.
"Red Sonja." Brigitte Nielsen stars as the titular heroine, basically the female Conan, which is alluded to as Ah-nuld and his "Conan" co-star Sandahl Bergman also make appearances in the film. A tough woman who solves problems with her sword and her beauty, Sonja is the feminine answer to heroism in barbarian movies. This heroine was also created by pulp author Robert E. Howard.
"Fire and Ice." This animated film for adults brought barbarian movies into the twisted mind of animator Ralph Bakshi, famous for his work with the near-pornographic "Fritz the Cat." A typical hero's quest, it features muscled heroes and busty wenches in his colorful, artsy animated style. Though it is often forgotten, it is one of the most underrated barbarian movies to come out of Hollywood.
"Valhalla Rising." This artful film closes out our list of the best barbarian movies with a twist. Here, our one-eyed barbarian hero is a Viking walking a mystical and violent version of our actual world, as opposed to a fantasy world set far in the past. This film is a brooding, bloody epic made in Denmark, with Mads Mikkelsen a gruff, powerful hero in the lead. Barbarian movies have grown up from the realm of total fantasy and "Valhalla Rising" shows just that.