Sunday, April 15, 2007

Actor Resurrection

Grindhouse has plenty of treats to offer film geeks, but among its most gory-ous delights is the appearance of performers who don't usually show up in mainstream fare--at least not in this decade.

My personal favorite is Planet Terror's Sheriff Hague played by Michael Biehn. A vet of '80s genre films—notably James Cameron's The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss—he was never a household name, but excelled as either a gritty, practical hero or off-center hothead.

The original Terminator is one of my favorite films of all time in large part because of the love I feel for Kyle Reese, as embodied by Biehn. The character is probably one of my first major film crushes. I was 14 and can still recall the gut punch I got watching it in a packed-house screening.

His role as Hicks in Aliens was less significant--that was Sigourney Weaver's show--but he still offered support to her superwoman/mother Ripley. In a pivotal scene, the closest the movie comes to "romance," he teaches her how to wield a high-tech weapon.

Director Robert Rodriguez uses him to great effect in his zombie-filled cinematic orgy. The sheriff seems dependable, but there's also that self-serving comic edge which Biehn clearly relishes. Watching him deliver some of the best "bad" movie lines in the film made me giddy. The fact that he's teamed with Jeff Fahey, another '80s throwback, only added to the thrill.

Both Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are a bit like Dr. Frankenstein when it comes bringing actors back to life. Feel free to share your favorite resurrections. What MIA performer would you like to see on screen in a juicy role?


SamuraiFrog said...

One of my favorite Michael Biehn moments is in the director's cut of Aliens, when Ripley is going to go back and save Newt from the Queen. She and Hicks exchange first names.

I'd like to see Billy Dee Williams again. In something that actually came out in a movie theater. Not only is he the coolest man who ever lived, he's can be such a good actor.

Anonymous said...

Ooh I used to have a crush on Michael Biehn in Terminator too, but I was younger than 14 at the time


I love Michael Biehn. For the reasons Susan P cited. Maybe it's a generational thing since we were both teenagers and Biehn was so adorable as Reese.

also love ALIENS --will write about it soon.

Anonymous said...

Freaky. I was 14 and Michael Biehn was MY first major film crush in Aliens. I tracked down some awful movies (The Fan, with Lauren Bacall from memory?!) and worse telemovies just to see him in other roles.

I reckon his career was ruined by that godawful moustache he had in The Abyss. Certainly killed my attraction for him, anyway, and he never seemed to get big roles after that. What Jim Cameron builds up, Jim Cameron tears down :)

SusanP said...

Yeah, I love that moment from the extended cut in Aliens. It's just a great film all around -- I need to watch it again.

Nat, look forward to your write-up on it.

And yes, the mustache in The Abyss was pretty bad! IMBD lists him as "rumored" for Avatar so maybe Cameron will make it up to him.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember him as Demi Moore's husband in "The Seventh Sign"? That always struck me as a movie that was better than the sum of its parts.

StinkyLulu said...

Have any of you seen him in The Fan?

Early Biehn delight.

Paul C. said...

To answer the question about great MIA actors overdue for a comeback, how about Tom Hulce? Admittedly I'm biased, with AMADEUS being a key movie of my youth, but the dude is a seriously talented actor. Even in his relatively minor role in FEARLESS he's brilliant, playing a sleazeball lawyer in an interesting way without resorting to caricature. Sadly, his only movie appearances in the last ten years have been voiceover work in the DTV Disney HUNCHBACK sequel and a one-scene performance in STRANGER THAN FICTION. I guess he's busy with his family and with theatre work, but damn would it be nice to see him again in a juicy part.