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Episode 1802 Talkback - Retro Movie Review: Highlander

Grab your prop sword, trench coat, and your best worst Sean Connery impersonation, because it's Highlander Time! Three out of four Geeks watch this cult classic for the very first time, while the other has nearly memorized the script word by word. Does the film live up to expectations? How do the flashbacks compare to time spent in 1986 Manhattan? Is The Quickening fast enough to keep up? Are Queen the Princes of the Universe? Is Clancy Brown's The Kurgan more punk than punk? What accent is Christopher Lambert using anyway? Listen closely, as your destiny awaits! We also have a challenger to Murd's throne, Muddle the Murd style. There can be only one (time we review this movie). (1:26:02)

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  • sandmansandman Posts: 197

    “It’s not a good movie.” 🧐

    You’re on my list, Ian 😠

    Highlander is one of my all-time favorites ⚔️

  • i_am_scifii_am_scifi Posts: 714

    @sandman I really need to watch my mouth, because I also really enjoyed myself. For all its charm, cheese and shlock it connects on what I expected. I just personally think that it's a bit silly at times and is so bad it's good at points, which is more what I was getting at. Which adds to its charm and personality and makes it the cult classic that it is.

  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,587

    Haven't listened yet, but Highlander is the B-moviest of B-movies, and that’s what makes it great. The sequels are just plain garbage, but the original is a lot of fun. Nod to @Adam_Murdough, the first time I watched it was on the medium it's perfectly suited for: VHS. Like many “cult classics”, without the VHS rental industry of the ’80s, this movie would have quickly faded into obscurity. It was the perfect fodder for teenage boys like me with access to their parents’ rental card.

    Can't say I'm totally surprised three of you have never seen it, you whippersnappers, you. Looking forward to your reactions.

  • sandmansandman Posts: 197
    edited February 26

    @i_am_scifi I’m sorry. That was meant as a little playful jabbing with invoking “the list.”

  • hauberkhauberk Posts: 1,470

    @nweathington I refuse to acknowledge that sequels exist - "There can be only one!"

    However, if they did exist, I might have a story about a radio station, tickets for a sneak preview of the non-existent sequel, declaring that no one was more deserving to tickets and realizing that I was wrong and had never done anything so heinous as to deserve that.

  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,587

    A story for the next Forum Meet then!

  • hauberkhauberk Posts: 1,470
    edited March 1

    I got to see this one in the theaters back in '86 and absolutely fell in love with it rough patches and all.

    I think that it's important to keep in context that most fantasy in the 80's was direct to video and pretty low budget with a few exceptions - '86 also brought us Big Trouble in Little China and Labyrinth. '85 brought Legend and Ladyhawke as the two big theatrical premiers that I can recall.

    Certainly some of the effects were cheesy and the inwardly collapsing tower is pretty egregious, but I'm not sure that the arm is really any worse than the starbucks cup and water bottle from the last season of GOT.

    Completely agree about loving the flashbacks (and the transitions were truly marvelous!). However, the gist of the movie (as addressed in the opening card and voice over) is about how, when only a few remain, they will be called to a distant land (and that no one knows that we're among you... until now).

    A few other things worthy of note: The WWII scene did not make it into the original theatrical cut. I first saw it with any level of quality on a Japanese import laser disc release in the early '90's. My recollection is that disc also included a scene of a samurai working as a janitor in NY.

    The actor playing cousin Dougal is James Cosmo (Shane is correct that he was in Braveheart where he played Hamish's father). That same import laser had me looking for a way of getting to get the Japanese subtitle for "Angus pees his kilt all the time" printed on a t-shirt.

    Back in the day, Tim Bradstreet was a local boy and did a really terrific print of the Kurgan. My first exposure to his work. Before that, I just knew him as the guy that made me absolutely outrageous deals on games at the local RPG store.

    If I might make a request - Near Dark may be worthy of a similar retro review treatment.

  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 6,587

    <blockquote class="Quote" rel="hauberk">I think that it's important to keep in context that most fantasy in the 80's was direct to video and pretty low budget with a few exceptions - '86 also brought us Big Trouble in Little China and Labyrinth. '85 brought Legend and Ladyhawke as the two big theatrical premiers that I can recall.</blockquote>

    Saw Legend in the theater, but the rest I discovered on VHS around the same time as Highlander. Of the five, Big Trouble is easily my favorite. Ironically, Legend —the one I went out of my way to see — is the only one I didn't care for.

  • hauberkhauberk Posts: 1,470

    Legend and Labyrinth were theatricals for me. I missed Big Trouble in the theater from some reason. Saw Ladyhawk for the first time on video the same week that we went to see Highlander in the theater.

  • dbranningdbranning Posts: 6
    edited March 7

    What a great pleasure it was to hear you guys talk about this film! I am firmly in Chris Eberle's camp on this one (yeah, camp is the right word I guess). And Hauberk, I'm right there with you, too. I saw this in the theater with my high school buddies when it first came out. The mid-80s were not an inspiring time for superhero/fantasy films. We had very low expectations for it, and we were blown away. That opening voice-over narrative, followed by the black screen with the red titles and Queen vocals cranked up to eleven, "Heeeeerre, we are! Born To Be Kings!" It was like, "oh, yeah... this is going to be a ride!"

    You guys touched on so many of the things that made this film so cool. I loved those inventive scene transitions between present day and the past. The dialogue and acting really gave me the sense that Connor had lived for all those hundreds of years; you could feel the weight of all those memories he was carrying around, all that pain and loss. It was a very "Marvel" scenario, in that immortality was Connor's power, but also his burden. I honestly don't think I've seen a more moving depiction of immortality in any story, be it in print or film. And Clancy Brown simply IS the Kurgen to me, no matter where else he or his voice shows up.

    Chris, I had also read somewhere that they used car batteries to get the sparks to fly from their swords on contact. What a genius effect that was! It still looks great to me.

    I also think that the end battle, in the top floor of the "Silvercup" building, was beautifully shot in sihlouette in places and really effective.

    I've probably seen the film ten or fifteen times. I lent it to a friend of mine on DVD a while back, and he hated it, couldn't even get through it, so I guess it really is a case of "you had to be there." Well, I was there, and I love this movie, and I thank you guys for giving it a fair shake, and a truly fun review!

    Also, I second Hauberk's recommendation for Near Dark -- a very similar experience of very low expectations that were vastly exceeded. Half the cast of "Aliens" is in that movie, by the way.

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