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A few days ago Rob Zombie was said to be up for the skull-and-horn adorned director’s chair on the 2009 Lionsgate tent-pole Conan. The plethora of dried blood and fur, swords, mating calls and battle cries that drenched my imagination when I heard this rumor was lovely. Zombie could do both the classic barbaric character and John Milius’s wild original film supreme justice. Of course, now we now know that Zombie’s next film will be Tyrannosaurus Rex, with word growing that it’s a hardcore flick about bikers, set for late summer 2009. No Conan for him.

Another name swirling in the rumor mill is Xavier Gens, who helmed the flashy video game flick Hitman. I do not want to see Gens’s $100 million Conan. He needs to sharpen his teeth hard on non-iconic material like Vanikoro first. The other name circulating right now is Neil Marshall, who batted a nice fanboy double with Dog Soldiers and the cave-horror crowd pleaser The Descent.

Marshall’s Mad Max-meets-cliche-apocalyptic-virus semi-epic Doomsday opens in March, and I’m sure its reception on the Net will play into his chances for the Conan gig. If the producers wish to wait that long. At 38 and with his career on the come up, we still haven’t seen Marshall’s biggest visions, but his work thus far has focused too much on the visceral and there’s a British B-movie filter at play that doesn’t work for me for this flick. What a Conan epic needs is a director who will not compromise at all, like Milius. You know that scene in Conan the Barbarian where Arnold is nailed to a cross, and suddenly his eyes explode and he rips into the neck of a lingering vulture with no-hands and keeps biting until it makes you shockingly hungry? I remember seeing that and going “Note to self, I have never and will never see that again in a movie.”

That’s what I feel Zombie would have brought (here come the “redneck profanity doesn’t belong in the Hyborian Age” quips.). To me this film is not about the action, it’s about the R-rating and the most gung-ho macho expression fathomable. If Marshall or Gens snags it, my attention automatically refocuses on Matthew Vaughn’s shoot-the-moon take on Thor.

Who do you want to bring Conan back?

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