9/15/10

The Road to Horrorhound Weekend: Meg Foster Has the Power!

In merely 59 days from now, the Cincinnati Horrorhound convention will open its doors on Friday the 12th of November. Forging new territory, I, along with my dear wife and Fran Goria, will be making the journey from South Carolina to Ohio. I must confess that I’ve never traveled that far North before, and all I know of Cincinnati is that you’ve got to watch out for falling turkeys if you’re there around Thanksgiving. I’ve been planning to travel to a large convention this year as there are literally none in local Southeast area. (At least no exclusively horror conventions, I did give lots of consideration to DragonCon in the good ol’ ATL.) There are three things that really made my decision to make the trip.

First up, it’s Horrorhound Weekend, and Horrorhound is one horror rag I try to never slip by me. So the name itself lends some gravitas. Secondly, there were a lot of folks that I know from around the blogosphere and pod cast world that were going to be in attendance, I won’t drop names because I don’t want to have to pick them all back up when I’m done here, but if you look down my blogroll you might find several attendees on the list. The third and I’ve got to admit the most important reason was the guest list which was packed with people that I’ve always wanted to meet. So in the weeks leading up to Horrorhound, I’m going to be looking at a film from several of the guests that are going to be attending.

Getting the first look is Meg Foster which I was very familiar with from her role as Holly Thompson in They Live, but what I didn’t realize was that she had been a part of one of the first total cinematic disappointments of my childhood, Masters of the Universe. When the movie made its debut in 1987, I was eleven years old, and just like all my friends, a big fan of the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as well as the accompanying action figure line. I know I even had a He-Man themed birthday one year, and I wish I could recall when that happened in relation to the film. What I can remember is how excited I was to see He-Man, Teela, Orko, Battle Cat and Man at Arms mix it up with a big screen Skeletor, Mer-Man, Beast-Man, and possibly several other beings with the word ‘man’ at the end of their name. The poster looked great, and Dolph Lundgren, who was already a favorite from repeated viewings of Rocky IV, looked like the ideal He-Man. How he would pull of Prince Adam, I wasn’t sure. Little did I know that wouldn’t have to happen at all.

The world that the film opens up on did appear to be the Eternia from the cartoon, but after that things started falling apart. He-Man was just He-Man with nary a mention of the mincing Prince Adam. Man at Arms wasn’t wearing even a smidgen of Orange. Sure, Teela was there, but with nary a bit of the snake headdress or chromed out boobs look from the cartoon. This Teela looked like she was in Space Marine boot camp with Ripley, but she didn’t make the cut. Cringer or Battlecat didn’t seem to exist at all, and don’t even get me started on the fact that Orko was replaced by Billy Barty in makeup that made him look like the bastard child of Willow and Hoggle from Labyrinth. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The only thing that saved the film for me back there were the few shots of Castle Greyskull and some of the bad guys. I can’t imagine I knew who Frank Langella was when I was 11, but even though the makeup wasn’t quite right, it worked for me. Plus, Evil-Lyn, played by future Horrorhound Weekend guest Meg Foster, actually looked cooler than Evil-Lyn who always appeared to have a fin going the wrong way across her head. (The other henchmen were another story that I’ll get into in a moment.)

I remember overall that I left the theater with a great deal of disappointment and a heavy heart. In recent years people have complained that the G.I. Joe movie raped their childhood. I wouldn’t go so far as raped, but I was still a kid and I felt like I had been cinematically molested in some kind of way. Instead of an epic story set on Eternia, I had gotten a film here He-Man and crew come here by way of a time doorway, and their paths soon cross with a small town waitress (future Friend Courtney Cox) and her boyfriend (Robert Duncan McNeill, later of Star Trek: Voyager). In the place of clanging swordfights were endless laser battles, instead Mer-Man and company, Skeletor’s cronies were lame dudes called Blade, Karg, and Saurod, and worst yet in place of the awesome action film I had expected, they had shoehorned in a typical ‘80’s storyline.

I didn‘t watch it for years after that, and when I finally did give it another try about six years back, I didn’t find it nearly as painful as I once did. So I thought I would give it another watch, and lo and behold, I dug it. Far removed from the emotional connection I had with my Teela figure when I was eleven, I could just enjoy Masters of the Universe for what it is, a trashy ‘80’s science fiction film with elements of fantasy. Mostly though there are just elements of cheese, and I mean lots and lots of it. It’s easy to see that Cannon films would have liked Masters of the Universe to become a Star Wars size box office titan, but instead, they produced something that was less Lucas and more Corman. It doesn’t even seem surprising that the un-produced sequel to Masters of the Universe somehow mutated into the script for Jean Claude Van-Damme’s Cyborg.

Of course, the real reason I sat down and rewatched it twenty three years after that first initial traumatic screening was Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn. I must say that I found her performance really held its weight against Langella who always seems to give his best in any material. I’m sure the fact that she shares most of her scenes with the acting powerhouse doesn’t hurt, but Foster also displays the same kind of eeriness that she would the next year in They Live. Foster got her start in TV and made her feature debut with a small role in the obscure 1970 Michael Douglas film Adam at 6 A.M. After spending several years playing bit parts in everything from Barnaby Jones and The Six Million Dollar Man to Baretta and Hawaii Five-O, she got fourth billing in 1980’s Carny beneath Gary Busey, Jodi Foster, and Robbie Robertson. (She also appeared in The Stepfather II which someone will mention if I don’t, but I’m trying not to hold it against Ms. Foster.)

Over the years the film roles got more prevalent, and after being Evil-Lyn and appearing in Carpenter’s flick, Foster has continued to pop up in films like The Best of the Best 2 (1993) and 1999’s The Minus Man. Currently she is slated to appear in Go Straight To Hell alongside fellow cult icons Karen Black, Sid Haig, and Traci Lords. When I saw that Foster was going to be at Horrorhound, I knew I wanted to meet her. After all, who wouldn’t want Holly Thomson to turn that stare on them? (I better not bring any bubblegum just in case things go bad.) After reading about her long career, and discovering all the films that she’s appeared in, it’s just made me that much more exited that she’ll be there. That’s about all for this first mile on the road to Horrorhound Weekend, but I’ll be back next week with another film from the gargantuan guest list as the even itself draws ever closer.

Bugg Rating

4 comments:

  1. Yay for HOrrorHound! And I was much younger when Masters of the Universe came out, still unwilling to see the bad in anything I owned. I'm sure the movie is awful, but it enjoyed a steady VHS rotation in my VCR nevertheless.

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  2. Hey, you going to be at HHW in Indy in the spring? Well... you should!

    this is Mike from Cadaver Lab BTW

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  3. @Emily- It is awful, but it's also an awful lot of fun. My wife and I had a great time watching it.

    @Mike- I doubt I will make it to Indy. That's a bit further than I want to drive and plane transportation out of my lil' burg doesn't come cheap. I'm sure I'll get the fever to go again after Cincci (The Doctor Johnny Fever?), but I can't see me swinging both sadly. It's too bad Mike, I would love to meet you in the flesh.

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  4. Wish I could go, but it appears that is now smack in the middle of my next flick...

    Damn work...

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