Joe Bob Briggs, Take 2: The Briggining
Gobble gobble, Fright Fiends! In this edition of GT, Mr. Joe Bob & I dish on the upcoming “Dinners of Death“ marathon (airing Thanksgiving Night on Shudder!), and recap some of “The Last Drive In” craziness that’s gone down since our last chat.
Nicolas Cage, Panos Cosmatos, Linus Roach, and Kevin Smith talk about the awesomely batty Mandy at the Egyptian Theater in Ho-rrorweird, Karloffornia. Check it out, kreeps!
Who is Darkman?
A few seconds of minor internet research will tell you that Darkman is the eponymous superhero from Sam Raimi's 1990 horror-action extravaganza. There is no mystery to him in 2019. However, back before there were two sequels, an Evil Dead crossover comic, and limitless information at the tips of your fingers, "Who is Darkman" was certainly an intriguing question; a question that was emblazoned on millions of posters and posed in several commercials. Was he man or monster? Villain or hero? Saint or sinner? Devil or angel? Google wasn't there to blabber the answer to you, so the creature called "Darkman" was indeed an enigma.
Halfway between The Shadow and The Phantom of the Opera, Darkman is cinema's most horrific hero. Superheroes and movie monsters have more in common than most care to admit, so Darkman was the essentially the link between creature and crimefighter. Like superheroes, movies monsters are generally victims of tragedy, often blessed (cursed?) with fantastical powers by a bizarre incident: Larry Talbot became the Wolfman by the bite of a werewolf, Peter Parker was transformed into Spider-Man by the bite of a radioactive spider. Often, a horror film is the tale of a supervillain without a superhero or a superhero on the path of darkness.
Darkman was Dr. Peyton Westlake, a scientist working on a revolutionary form of synthetic skin. After a group of sadistic mobsters destroy his lab and his face, the disfigured Westlake is placed in a hospital, becoming the subject of experiments that sever his pain receptors, endow him with extraordinary strength, and affect his mental stability. Escaping from the clinic, Westlake becomes Darkman and seeks revenge against the fiends who have wronged him. Veiling his monstrous countenance with a mask of gauze, he hunts down his intended prey like a villain in a slasher film. Darkman uses his synthetic skin (which only lasts 99 minutes in the light) to menace the mobsters with uncanny disguises... and reconcile with the woman he loves.
The story of Peyton Westlake is familiar to both comics and fright films: the scientist who gains new powers through unfortunate circumstances. In general, the difference between a caped crusader and a cinematic creep is how they utilize their abilities: the superhero aids the innocent, the monster terrorizes them. Though Darkman only pursues the wicked, he does so with the methodology of a monster: he hides in the shadows, toys with his victims, employs extreme violence, and sneaks about like a cat in the night. Unlike Batman, the bandaged bogeyman seems to revel in the pain of those he attacks, mocking and torturing criminals with ghoulish delight. When one of the mobsters reveals the identities of his cohorts to Darkman in the first film, the dark avenger rewards him with a gruesome demise beneath the tires of a speeding vehicle. And Darkman seems to act not in name of justice but in the spirit of vengeance. The men he's after may be reprehensible, but Darkman seems to only care about avenging himself.
Even when he's not dealing with the scum of the underworld, Darkman is prone to fits of psychotic rage. In perhaps the most famous scene of the first film, Westlake breaks the fingers of a sleazy carnival worker when he tries to weasel him out of a plush elephant. After his girlfriend refuses the prize, he venomously barks, "Take the fucking elephant!"
Despite (or because) of his violent tendencies, there is a sadness to Darkman. In the grand tradition of the aforementioned Phantom and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Darkman is a beast desperately in love with a beauty he may never have. His old girlfriend may be willing to overlook the physical grotesqueries, but our poor Darkman is too afraid of the monster he has become to even attempt a return to his former life. Living in self-imposed exile, he dwells alone in the dark. Considering that this film was made by Universal, it's impossible not to think of their classic monster films when watching Darkman.
Liam Neeson was the first actor to play the vengeful vigilante. Director Sam Raimi was looking for someone who could suggest "a monster with the soul of a man" and "could do that beneath a lot of makeup." In Neeson, Raimi certainly found that monster. As the dark one, Neeson successfully juggles comic lunacy, heartbreaking pathos, and horror movie spookery. It's no wonder why the man went on to be one of the biggest stars in the moving picture game.
Darkman would appear in two direct-to-video sequels, resembling a more traditional hero than he did in the first. Arnold "The Mummy" Vosloo is a far friendlier Darkman than Neeson, though he still has his moments of destructive anger. Darkman also appeared in a Nintendo game, comics, and a series of novels. A pilot for a potential TV series was shot, but it never aired and was left in the dark.
In honor of our Monster of the Month, we have the unaired pilot in its entirety! It's a little goofy, but it's still a fascinating bit of history for fans of the faceless fighter. Check it out below!
'Tis the season, you marvellously morbid maniacs! Come on, it's lovely weather for a SLAY ride together with your fabulously festive fear-fiends at Kinky Ho-rror! Everyone's always dreamin' of a White Christmas, but we're givin' the season a nice, sanguine coat of RED! To temper the sweet with the sour, we've rummaged through the movie morgue to bring you five of the most shocking and disturbing murders committed to the screen... but with a cheery, christmassy flavor! Dip your sugar cookies in arsenic and follow us down Sandy Claws Lane for some holly-jolly homicide!
#1 Oh Deer! - Silent Night, Deadly Night
We start things off with a true cl-Ass-Sick: the antler impalement from Silent Night, Deadly Night. Scream Queen Linnea Quigley has an unexpected (and topless) encounter with Billy the psycho Santa and finds herself an unwilling participant in a reindeer game; Kreep Kringle shoves her right through the horns of a mounted deer head! It's lurid! It's outrageous! It's the kind of far-out slasher kill we dig the heck out of! This one's so iconic, it inspired a tree ornament (as well as the picture above)!
#2 Hide the Carrot - Jack Frost
Shannon Elizabeth has been in a good many movies, but we will always think of her as the woman in Jack Frost who got raped to death by a sinister snowman... yes, that happened.
Whilst Elizabeth's character is taking a bath, the cold-blooded killer materializes around her and... um, makes creative use of his carrot nose...
You just have to see it to believe it... click on the link below, Kinky Kreeps:
#3 The Flight Before Christmas - Gremlins
Who needs elves when you have gremlins? Despite being a "family film", Gremlins is chockablock with macabre spectacle and cartoonish carnage. In our favorite display of Ho-Ho-Ho-rror, the little buggers fiddle with the controls of a stair lift and send the wicked Mrs. Deagle crashing through a window. Hilarious and Ho-rrible, it's an absolute MONSTERpiece of comic creepery.
#4 When Worlds Collide - 976-EVIL 2
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Night of the Living Dead invaded It's a Wonderful Life?
Well, somebody sure did! In 976-EVIL 2, the two film favorites are conflated into one freaky Frankenstein of a flick. If you need proof that any film can be improved with addition of zombies, this clip is for you!
#5 The Glass Unicorn - Black Christmas (1974)
By far the most chilling kill on this list, the glass unicorn murder is simple perfection. Juxtaposing heavenly carols with hellish brutality, it's the kind of shock scene that would feel right at home in a giallo film. Of the scenes on this list, this is the one that's most likely to get under your skin.
Here it is, Ho-rror Ho-mies:
Big thanks to the fine folks at MasiMedia who got this shindig together, and also to Mr. Roger Jackson (pictured intro-ing a screening of the film in Stu's backyard!! :) who not only came out to party with us, but-t also left me this terrifying vm that I will treasure for the neXXXt billion centuries!! :) xoxo
The 2018 Dark Circus did NOT disappoint!! It was going to be hard to live up to what I had told people about last year's, but I'm happy to report another five out of five, upside down crosses for this year's festivities. Check out the video and see for yourself. :)
"I'll Sleep When You're Dead: Part 1 of 64"
Do you love cats, cards, gatling guns, and Norm MacDonald but don't have time to watch them all separately? My friend sensed this urgent need in the marketplace and vowed to fill it. So enjoy the long overdue, "I'll Sleep When You're Dead".
My Interview with Clint Freakin' Howard!!!
(nude Clint Howard and snow globes...need I say more?)
High History: Why I love Scream so much!
(remember to finish him)
This shit is legit.