Does anyone remember Red Sonja (1985)? I had never heard of the movie until I first saw it on TV around 1990. A sword and sorcery fantasy starring Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Schwarzenegger gets top billing). I wasn’t surprised to learn the character was based on a character (Red Sonya of Rogatino) by Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s. Set in the same fictional prehistoric time the “Hyborian Age” as Conan the Barbarian (1982) and its sequel Conan the Destroyer (1984), My understanding is that it was originally intended to be a spin-off form Conan with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role. For some contractual reason the character was renamed (High Lord Kalidor). Sadly the film isn’t very good. Held back by a week script and bad acting it isn’t a patch on Conan the Barbarian and is at best on a par with Conan the Destroyer .
But all this could have changed with a Robert Rodriguez reboot. Announced at Comic-Con in 2008 with Rose McGowan is the title role, the movie never got beyond a poster. It has since been reported that Rodriguez failed to raise the required funds to get the movie off the ground. Future prospects for raising funds for a movie like this probably haven’t been helped by Conan the Barbarian (2011) that “underperformed” at the box-office and received a (deserved) critical mauling. Rodriguez protégé Douglas Aarniokoski was set to direct, he has since gone on to make the eagerly anticipated (by me) The Day. Since things went quiet on the Rodriguez/Aarniokoski/McGowan reboot, the rumour mill has been in overdrive. Last November Empireonline reported that Avi Lerner will produce, Simon West (Con Air) will direct and the want Amber Heard as Sonja after having worked with her on Drive Angry. Megan Fox and Rachel Nichols have also been linked with the part.
A brief history of the character: Red Sonya of Rogatino appeared in Robert E. Howard’s pulp short story “The Shadow of the Vulture” originally published in The Magic Carpet Magazine, January 1934. The story was set in set in the 16th century around Battle of Mohács and the Siege of Vienna. In 1973 Roy Thomas and Barry Smith re-imagined the character and transposed her to into the Hyborian Age introducing her in the Marvel Comics Conan the Barbarian #23. She has gone on to feature in her own Marval comic book as well as several novels written by David C. Smith and Richard L. Tierney. Her only other screen appearance was on the short lived Conan TV series (1997-1998) played by Angelica Bridges.
The Game of Thrones TV show and The Lord of the Rings movies have proved that it is possible to make quality fantasy movies/TV. I look forward to seeing what can be done with Red Sonja.