Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Sword Fights” with a minor in “Who Wants To Live Forever??”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult gives his two sons broadswords and tells them, “There Can Only Be One,” after watching Highlander!
Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is one of a number of immortals that appear spontaneously throughout history. Now in modern day New York, he waits for the “Gathering” when the few remaining Immortals fight until only one remains to claim the fabled “Prize”. MacLeod has fallen in love again despite trying to distance himself from society and is hounded by his immortal adversary, The Kurgan, a brutal barbarian king. Can his immortal Scottish warrior defeat his rival, protect his love, and claim the Prize? There can only be one! He is the Highlander!
Directed by Russell Mulcahy and released in 1986, Highlander is a British-American Action Fantasy film about the Immortal Scottish Warrior, starring a Frenchman. Highlander stars Chrispher Lambert as the title character, (who seasoned supercultists may remember as Raiden from the Supercult Classic Mortal Kombat) Roxanne Hart as love interest Brenda J. Wyatt, Clancy Brown as The Kurgan (who you may remember as Captain Hadley from Shawshank Redemption or his many voice acting appearances including Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants), and an ACTUAL immortal Scottish warrior, Sean Connery, as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez…an Egyptian born Spaniard? Yeah it doesn’t make much sense, and it makes even less sense when Sean Connery tries and fails miserably to adopt a non-Scottish accent.
To say this film had a lot going against it would be a supreme understatement. The director Russell Mulcahy was a relatively inexperienced filmmaker at the time having mostly directed some of the very first music videos for artists like Duran Duran and the Buggles. Many of Mulcahy’s editing and music decisions were based on his experience working on music videos like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Meanwhile the writer Gregory Widen wrote the script as a class assignment as an undergrad at UCLA after a summer vacation to Scotland. Widen said he was inspired while visiting a museum in Edinburgh, coming upon a suit of armor and wondering what it would have been like if the man who wore the armor was alive today.
The film encountered many production hang-ups as well. The star Christopher Lambert had just barely learned to speak English when he took the role and he spent many hours with a dialogue coach developing an accent that sounded non-specifically foreign. All of Sean Connery’s scenes had to be filmed in a week due to Connery’s schedule. Connery even had a bet with the director that they would not finish in seven days, but Mulcahy won.
Highlander was panned by critics and did poorly at the box office bringing in less than $6 million domestic from a budget of $16 million. Leonard Maltin gave the film one and a half stars saying, “Interesting premise made silly and boring… Former rock video director Mulcahy’s relentlessly showy camera moves may cause you to reach for the Dramamine.” The film did better overseas in Europe, but upon its initial release, by all accounts The Highlander was a flop. So why is it so much of a cult classic now?
Is it the quality practical effects and make up such as the arcing electricity during the final swordfight? Is it the fact that the soundtrack includes several tracks by Queen such as “Princess of the Universe”, “A Kind of Magic”, and “Who Wants to Live Forever” written specifically to match the mood of the film? Maybe it’s that Hulk Hogan was offered the part of Connor MacLeod, but turned it down to focus on his wrestling career, or that some of the camera fly throughs were accomplished using computerized camera system invented by the inventor of the Steadicam, Garrett Brown?
No, of course not. None of these things explain why there have thus far there have been four Highlander sequels all trying to recapture the spark of the original and all of them failing utterly with rotten tomatoes scores of 0%, 5%, 11%, and “No Score” respectively. None of these things explain why this movie has spawned two television series, an animated series, an animated movie, an animated flash-movie series, ten original novels, seventeen comic book issues, and various other licensed merchandise.
There have even been rumors and attempts at a Highlander remake since 2008 (only a year after the latest in the doomed Highlander franchise) with such artists as Justin Lin, the director of Fast Five, Melissa Rosenberg, the screen writer for the Twilight films, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, director of 28 Weeks Later, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Cruse, and even WWE wrestler Dave Bautista rumored to be attached to the film at one time or another.
No, Highlander is a cult classic, a TRUE cult classic, for a much simpler reason. Two immortal medieval wariors locked in ritualistic, lighting fueled sword combat…is f&#*-ing awesome. Nuff said.
The Highlander has a 7.2 on IMDB, a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes and has enough action, touching moments, brutal violence, and Sean Connery to make just about everyone happy.
There can only be one…because all the sequels sucked!
The Supercult show is proud to present, Highlander!