Let Us Perform Cruel Postmortems On Legendarily Bad Films: Highlander II

Still waiting on Decider to give us another “Disasterpiece Theater“, so instead I’ll link this cruel fellow beating the dead horse that is Highlander II, a film I haven’t even seen (because I never saw the big deal about the first one, but whatever. Geek does not require explanation).

This is what sometimes happens when you try to ressurrect a film, to apply charity to film criticism, to wipe off the snotties and say you’re not really such a bad boy, are you? Sometimes you find yourself staring numbly into the raw horror of a universe devoid of reason, where nothing makes sense.

Highlander II almost immediately goes back over every plot point of the first film. The immortals were never immortals but in fact aliens, Sean Connery can resurrect himself (ironically making him more immortal than when he was actually an immortal), and the Highlander wasn’t actually from the Highlands but instead from another planet. It also retcons the prize to a choice between dying slowly or being executed. Also, all that bit about MacLeod first meeting Ramirez, learning his true nature and all that character development? Retcon! Turns out they already had some sort of weird civil partnership thing going on, using magic space honey. Also, MacLeod was head of the immortals, I mean “Zeistians”.

dude huh

That’s the beginning of the long discussion of a plot that was clearly written by coked-out monkeys via William Burroughs’ cut-up method. That’s my theory, anyway, because despite the headline, the linked article doesn’t actually explain how this happened. How did a director make a film he walked out on? How did human writers conceive of this madness? What studio head looked at this and said “Yes! Put it out for the public! Now!”

Amazingly, it didn’t destroy the franchise. Far from it. The 90s saw a Highlander explosion, with a new film, a TV series (that got its own films in the 2000s), novels, video games, and even a cartoon series. They all have one thing in common, though – they all pretend that Highlander II never happened.

I would like to offer a counter-theory. Because the first Highlander struck me as kinda “whatever”, I would like to ask if the horribleness of Highlander II is precisely the reason that the universe went on to thrive in the 90’s. A merely boring sequel, that would have let to audience and studio indifference. But a terrifyingly bad monstrosity as a sequel to a film that was pretty good and sold well, that gets remembered (as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing about it this many years after the fact). And more, it creates a need for redemption. Somebody said “Boy we hosed this! This is embarrassing! We need to fix it!” Thus, the first film build a fan base, the second film outraged it, hence, other films and TV. Highlander II died that others may rise.

David Lynch’s Dune is So Bad it’s Hypnotic

The “Disasterpiece Theater” series at The Decider begins with a good choice.

In a lot of ways, Dune has a lot of the same problems as Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Hear me out… Both were made for a rabid science fiction audience. Both films boast beautiful production design and talented casts. However, the biggest problem with both films is that they spend more time providing exposition about tedious political plots and religious superstitions than they do establishing characters and relationships. Dune spends almost a half hour telling you about houses and treaties and spice and navigators before getting to the tense gom jabbar scene (which Herbert begins on, like, page 5). Lynch just drops you into Paul’s world and you go with it because he doesn’t quite know what’s going on, either. You’ve got a relatable protagonist to latch onto, use him!

Lynch’s Dune is visually stunning but a narrative mess. And I’m a big fan of the series. I even like God Emperor of Dune (But not any book after that. The last two novels that Herbert wrote feel tired and meandering, and all the works written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson just feel wrong). But even I find almost every line and acting choice weird and off (plus Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck? What?).

Yes, it should be watched. Actually, it should be watched several times:

  1. What? Who’s that? What’s going on? Why is this so BORING? Ugh, Never again!
  2. Actually, there’s some neat things to see here. It’s got a cool look. I might watch this again; it might grow on me.
  3. No, this is a bad movie. I’m done. Wierding modules? What were they thinking?
Virgina Madsen is gorgeous, however…