Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his companion, a thief named Malak (Tracey Walter) are confronted by Queen Taramis of Shadizar (Sarah Douglas), who challenges their skills, pitting them against her palace guards. She informs Conan that she has a job for him. He resists, but she says she has the power to resurrect his lost love Valeria, and he agrees. He is to guard the queen’s virgin niece Princess Jehnna (16-year-old Olivia d’Abo), whose destiny it is to restore the jeweled horn of the dreaming god Dagoth. First, they must retrieve the jewel Heart of Ahriman to find the horn. Conan and Malak are joined by the Captain of the Guard Bombatta (Wilt Chamberlain), though they do not know that his orders are to kill Conan when he has the gem.
It is in the fortress of a powerful wizard, so Conan enlists the help of Akino, the Wizard of the Mounds (Mako). Of course, he first has to be rescued from a tribe of cannibals. In a nearby village, they find a powerful bandit warrior named Zula (Grace Jones), whom they rescue from a gang of attackers. In gratitude, Zula asks to join their quest.
They travel to the castle of Thoth-Amon. As they sleep nearby, the wizard takes the form of a giant bird and kidnaps Jehnna. Akino learns this in the morning and finds a hidden water-gate entrance to the castle. Conan is separated from the others as they search and must battle a fierce man-beast (Andre the Giant) in a hall of mirrors. Conan defeats him by breaking the mirrors and the creature is revealed as Thoth-Amon (Pat Roach). When the wizard dies, the castle begins to collapse and they retreat. They are ambushed by the Queen’s guards but drive them off. Bombatta claims not to have known about the attack. The stolen gem reveals the location of the jeweled horn. Jehnna comes on to Conan, but he is devoted to the memory of Valeria.
In an ancient temple, they find the horn. Jehnna takes it while Akino deciphers ancient engravings and discovers that Jehnna will be ritually sacrificed to awaken Dagoth. The Palace Guards attack them. There is a secret exit, but Bombatta blocks access and grabs Jehnna. Conan and company escape and head for Shadizar to rescue Jehnna. Malak shows them a secret route to the Throne Room. Conan confronts Bombatta and kills him. Zula impales the Grand Vizier (Jeff Corey) before he can sacrifice Jehnna. Dagoth rises as a monstrous creature, kills Taramis, and attacks Conan, who tears off his horn and kills him. The new Queen Jehnna offers her rescuers a place in court. Zula can be Captain of the Guard, Akino the Queen’s advisor, and Malak the Court Jester. Jehnna wants to rule with Conan as king, but he leaves for future adventures.
The film was directed by Richard Fleischer from a screenplay by Stanley Mann and a story by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, based on the character created by Robert E. Howard in the Thirties. It is the sequel to Conan the Barbarian, but less ponderously serious. It was produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis. Fleisher had directed Barabbas (1961) and Mandingo (1975) for her father Dino De Laurentiis. The Dagoth monster was created by Carlo Rambaldi and Andre the Giant inside was not credited. It was Wilt Chamberlain’s only film role and the debut of Olivia d’Abo. The sorcerer Thoth-Amon was played by wrestler Pat Roach, who had played the towering German mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Thuggee overseer in Temple of Doom, and d’Abo was terrified of him.
Cut out of the film were a sex-scene, a virgin sacrifice, the seduction of a statue, whatever that is, and two scenes in which a camel and a horse were apparently mistreated. Grace Jones was the perfect foil for Arnie. He was short and bulky, she was tall and slim. He was dour and scowling, she was laughing and explosively fierce. She was described by Roger Ebert as bringing rock-star charisma to her role. Comic-book adaptations were published by Marvel and there was a novelization by Tor Books. The third film—Conan the Conqueror—was never made, because Arnold Schwarzenegger had moved on to Predator and the De Laurentiis contract with him expired after Red Sonya. The idea morphed into Kull the Conqueror. A couple of other films were talked about but nothing has happened.
The production could not find a horse tall enough for Wilt Chamberlain—his feet touched the ground—and eventually they imported one from Spain. He and Grace Jones did not get along on the set. She accidentally put two stuntmen in the hospital with her fighting stick and almost bit Wilt Chamberlain’s ear off. She trained for 18 months but apparently never learned to pull her punches. She and Chamberlain did most of their own stunts because nobody could find anyone who looked remotely like them. Arnie taught Olivia d’Abo how to defend herself, and she learned how to scream. Richard Fleischer made sure, this time, that Schwarzenegger was undressed through most of the movie. Because of this film, his work on Terminator was delayed and James Cameron had the opportunity to write more drafts, improving the movie.