John Milius, the director of Conan the Barbarian (1982) was unavailable to direct Conan the Destroyer (1984). The studio took a more active role than they had on the first film, which led to some serious mistakes, according to Schwarzenegger in his latest autobiography. After the phenomenon of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Universal thought Conan the Destroyer (1984) would make more money if it were family entertainment. Schwarzenegger argued against this change but they overruled him. Director Richard Fleischer agreed with Schwarzenegger, but complied with Universal's wishes to make Conan the Destroyer (1984) more like a comic book. Although it out-grossed Conan the Barbarian (1982), it didn't do as well in the US, because it was more family-friendly, just as Schwarzenegger and Fleischer feared. He later expressed the same fears in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) when the Terminator was forbidden from killing anyone. Both Schwarzenegger and Dino De Laurentiis washed their hands of the series, with Schwarzenegger opting to only do contemporary movies from now on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to return once again as Conan for the spin-off film Red Sonja (1985) and the abandoned third instalment "Conan the Conqueror". However, in 2014 Schwarzenegger announced he was finally going to return as Conan for the first time in 30 years in "The Legend of Conan", which is rumoured to take place many years after Conan the Barbarian (1982) and it will ignore this film as if it never happened.
The production had a hard time finding a horse for Wilt Chamberlain to ride. He was so tall that his feet touched the ground. They ultimately found one in Spain that was big enough and imported it to Mexico.
Writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, who wrote the original story treatment for this movie, were deeply displeased by the final screenplay by Stanley Mann and the finished film, so they made their story into the graphic novel CONAN: THE HORN OF AZOTH, published in 1990, with art by Mike Docherty. The names of the characters were changed to untie the graphic novel from the movie: Dagoth became Azoth, Jehnna became Natari, Zula became Shumballa, Bombaata became Strabo, Toth-Amon became Rammon, and the characters of Queen Taramis and The Leader were combined into sorcerer Karanthes, father of Natari.
Roy Thomas conceived the character of Zula as a black male warrior. Zula is an actual African male name since people from the Black Kingdoms are supposed to be the ancestors of Black Africans. Producers thought the character was female because the name ended in "A", contacted Grace Jones and designed costumes for her. When Roy Thomas noticed the mistake they did, it was too late and due to budget restrictions and the signed contract with Grace Jones, he was forced to adapt the script to change the gender of the character.
During his lifetime, Wilt Chamberlain claimed sexual encounters with over 20,000 women. Ironically, in this movie Queen Taramis charges Chamberlain's character Bombaata with protecting Princess Jehnna's virginity.
The sequence which Conan fights Thoth-Amon/monster in the chamber of mirrors, was influenced by the famous final battle between Lee and Han in Enter the Dragon (1973), in which Lee and Han fought each other in a room full of mirrors, which Lee smashed the mirrors to foil Han's illusions, allowing him to defeat Han. Conan defeats Thoth-Amon/monster by breaking all the mirrors.
The part of Malak was originally assigned to David L. Lander. Due to both his deteriorating health from the onset of Multiple Sclerosis, and difficulties with the director, Lander was let go, and the part was recast with Tracey Walter.
Upon the films climax, Conan is seen in the closing epilogue sitting upon his throne many years after the events of this film as a king by his own hand. He is decorated as such and has by his side two weapons, a spear/staff and a sword. The sword however is not his Atlantean sword he discovered in the first film that he carries and uses throughout out that film and this one. It is in fact the sword shown being made by his father at the opening prologue of Conan the Barbarian (1982) that was intended to be given to Conan that was subsequently stolen after his parents were killed. The sword was rediscovered and broken by Conan himself during a duel many years later and the broken sword was used to behead Thulsa Doom who had been responsible for the deaths of Conan's family. The sword was then discarded and tossed away and left to burn along with the ruins of Thulsa Doom's castle and was never seen again.
Arnold Schwarzenegger found the script too childish. He tried to convince producers to make more serious movie. However, his tryings were failed. He was not so happy about the result. This is one of the reason that a sequel did not follow this movie. He lost his interest about Conan character.
Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway wrote the original story treatment, but were dissatisfied with the final screenplay by Stanley Mann and the finished film. They made their story into the graphic novel Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth, published in 1990, with art by Mike Docherty. The names of the characters were changed to distance the graphic novel from the movie: Dagoth became Azoth, Jehnna became Natari, Zula became Shumballa, Bombaata became Strabo, Toth-Amon became Rammon, and the characters of Queen Taramis and The Leader were combined into sorcerer Karanthes, father of Natari.
Roger Donaldson was originally chosen to direct but producer Dino De Laurentiis moved him over to " The Bounty ". John Milius recommended Richard Fleischer who had worked with De Laurentiis before, and who had directed " The Vikings ", one of Milius's favourite movies.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
When Bombatta and Zula are fighting , Grace Jones actually bit Wilt Chamberlain's ear as that is real blood running down his neck. The shocked look on Wilts face is genuine as Grace Jones never did stunts before as this is her first movie roll.