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11 May

Michael Biehn makes Planet Terror even more awesome

First, you have to understand that ever since I first saw the film “Terminator”, I’ve had a crush on actor Michael Biehn. In the early stages of this actor-crush, I was fanatic in my worship. I had to find every one of his films and watch them - the 1985 TV-movie “Deadly Intentions” is melodrama camp at it’s best, and I still have it on videotape. I re-watched Terminator (and Aliens and Abyss) over and over. If a new movie came out that Michael was in, I had to see it, no matter how terrible it likely was going to be (Navy Seals….).

I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring about Michael’s movies. Somewhere down the line I realized “hey, he’s usually in terrible movies.” Also, I began to realize he’s not a great actor. He’s a good actor in certain types of roles, but his range is a bit limited. So slowly I stopped paying attention to what he was up to. He never became “A” list type famous, and it was easy to forget about him. But then several months ago I caught a re-run of Law & Order:CI, and there he was, guest starring as the father of a young female crime victim. It amused me to see him, after mostly ‘forgetting’ about him all these years, and I think I watched that episode three times. It was like a trip down fandom-lane. Then I forgot about him again.

Until I rented “Planet Terror” this week, one of the two movies in the Grindhouse horror ‘double-feature.’ I’d already seen “Death Proof”, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing Planet Terror yet. When the starting credits started to roll and I saw Michael’s name, I let out a hoot of amused laughter and suddenly knew I was going to like this film a lot more than I might have. And I wasn’t wrong.

Planet Terror is an intentionally “bad” horror film. A sort of homage to 50’s drive-in horror films, or something, if you will. The movie itself is grand fun, full of zombie-like people-munching, eccentric/oddball characters, oodles of violence and silly one-liners. It also introduced me to Freddy Rodriguez, who I may have to start keeping an eye out for….Planet Terror is a great piece of amusement-horror, a complete package of goodness, but that’s not what I’m blogging about today. I’m talking about Michael Biehn. He’s still good-looking, for being over 50, although his upper-lip curl/snarl seems a bit more toothsome than it used to be. Still, the memory of that old infatuation fluttered in my brain whilst he was on-screen.

michael biehn photo

Oh sure, Michael was once again playing his type-casted role of a straight-laced authority type figure who ends up hurt, maimed, and (often) dead in some semi-heroic fashion, but he did it with panache. And the added bonus of Jeff Fahey playing his BBQ-loving brother was like icing on the cake. In their few bits of interaction, they worked really well together.

Side note: Why does Michael almost always die in his movies? Seriously, think about it….

Anyway, to close this completely random and useless posting, I have to say getting to watch Michael ham it up was just plain awesome - every time Michael got to say “dumbass” or any other ridiculous line I cackled insane laughter. I didn’t know Michael had such great sarcastic comedy timing. It’s peeped out here and there, but Planet Terror gave him a chance to revel in it. I think he could make a late-stage career playing in campy/oddball horror movies. He could be a blond and more “serious” version of Bruce Campbell…ie, slightly less over-the-top camp as Bruce tends towards (I like Bruce Campbell, btw, so no insult towards him). Gogo Michael.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch my old and scratchy video copy of “Deadly Intentions” before bed.

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