Off Screen is a recurring Movies.com feature that follows up on big screen characters in other media, be they comics, books, TV shows or video games.
“One of the most astonishing stage presentations ever,” declares the somewhat bored voice-over for The Adventures of Conan, a Universal Studios “stunt show” attraction that ran from 1983 until 1993. “We combine gymnastics and swordplay with pyrotechnics and lasers and, well, just WAIT to you see our dragon!” I’ve seen their dragon. Not bad.
In fact, back in 1983, the dragon at the centerpiece of the $3.75 million production was the largest animatronic puppet of its kind. Even if the athletic cast was unrecognizable, producers hired Basil Poledouris, Conan the Barbarian’s familiar composer, to create a soundtrack for the show. You can still find copies of his Adventures of Conan score on Amazon.
Its plot, as described by Wikipedia, sounds more like He-Man than Conan, featuring a wuss who transforms into the Cimmerian barbarian through the power of a magic sword. It may not be faithful to Robert E. Howard’s vision, but it was good enough for theme park tourists hoping for a brief diversion that would allow them to sit down and enjoy some air conditioning.
The live Conan was eventually replaced with a short-run magic show, then Beetlejuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Review.