This weekend’s B-Sides is just plain strange. If you’ve ever seen the 1989 intergalactic man vs. monsters Rocky riff Arena, then you know all about “I Love the Barbarian” and know exactly why I describe it as just plain strange.
If you haven’t seen Arena, try to image a Rocky-esque tale of a human underdog trying to make it in the mano-a-monster universe of outer space ultimate fighting. Imagine if “Rocky” looked like a soap opera actor, worked as a mild-mannered space station short-order cook, and his “Mickey” was a four-armed fighting coach eager to find someone to represent the human race in a futuristic fighting league. Imagine if the “Apollo Creed” of the movie was a trash-talking horned alien backed by a Darth Vader version of Vince McMahon. Imagine if most of the supporting cast consisted of actors and actresses that would go on to prominent roles on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Babylon 5”. That’s Arena.
Our hero gets tempted by a femme fatale portrayed by the Sharon Stone-ish Sharri Shattuck. It is during a bar scene when Shattuck performs the absolutely bizarro operatic ditty “I Love the Barbarian”.
Nothing else really needs to be said other than to speculate whether or not Luc Besson ever saw this movie and was influenced by it when coming up with the alien space opera scene in The Fifth Element.
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