A Living Legend

Today’s post is a bit of a walk down memory lane for me, and a celebration of the charmed life of talented actor Tim Curry. Today the celebrated English actor turns 71, and it seems only fitting to take a look at his career highlights.

I was a fan of Tim Curry as an actor long before I could put a name to a face. Or a voice for that matter. A quick search on IMDB.com shows that his career stretches all the way back to 1968, which is impressive for any actor or actress. When you consider the sheer variety of roles he’s played, it’s even more staggering.

My first encounter didn’t occur until 1992, with the release of FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Curry plays Hexxus, the pollution monster trying to take over and destroy a beautiful rainforest. (Curry worked with memorable talent such as Robin Williams, Samantha MathisChristian Slater, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, and Tone Loc.) Curry takes on many forms as Hexxus, including toxic slime and the badass skeleton-tar creature pictured. Kudos to the animators, who captured Curry’s dramatic movements for this part.

My next encounters weren’t much more grownup. He appeared in several animated series that I used to watch as a kid growing up in the 90s. I confess that I only know this because I am perusing his IMDB.com page so that I can get the years and titles of his performances correct.

I was in high school when I first saw the 1990 miniseries Stephen King’s IT on VHS. (I think we borrowed it from the library or rented it. Does that date me, or what?!) Even then, seeing Curry was more of a coincidence than anything else. As a teenybopper, I had a raging crush on Jonathan Brandis, who plays the young Bill Denbrough, the leader of the Loser’s Club. Even so, Curry stole absolutely every scene in which he appeared. His presence was so commanding that he stole even the scenes where he wasn’t present, just based on the anticipation of his appearance.

If I had to choose his most iconic role, I would choose Pennywise the Dancing Clown. He was terrifying. Unpredictable. Nasty. Even when he was in his clown-guise, you could still feel the horror lurking just behind his eyes.

A close runner-up for me is Cardinal Richelieu in 1993’s The Three Musketeers. He’s slimy, devious, and downright scary as the Cardinal attempting to undermine a king and secure an alliance with an enemy country.

However, when most people think of Curry, they no doubt think of his first major movie role, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He first portrayed the flamboyant and outrageous character in a London stage production of the same name. Curry absolutely steals the show in every scene as he struts around with complete confidence in his lingerie and heels getup. And that’s to say nothing of his facial expressions! Curry is one of the most
expressive actors in the business.

While doing research for this post, I came across news that in 2012 Curry had suffered a massive stroke. He has been confined to a wheelchair and his speech has been affected, but from what I can tell the incident has not affected his spirit in the least. He is still as determined as ever, going so far as to star in the 2016 production, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.

If you are somehow not already a fan of Tim Curry, then I suggest you watch the following movies to become better acquainted. (And yes – there are some kid’s films in there, because his voice-over acting is superb.)

Over his long career, Curry has played these and many other roles. What was your favorite movie?

 

What do you mean ‘the alien killed the dogs’ ?!

john-carpenter-the-thing-movie-posterOver the summer, I showed Phoebe one of my favorite movies of all time, John Carpenter’s The Thing. I thought it would be a good one to show her because the effects, while still looking good, aren’t as realistic as some of the more modern movies. I also thought she’d like the psychological guessing game – wondering who survived and who was an alien.

It surprised Dipper and I when it took me two tries to get through the movie with her. As it turns out, The Thing is a little too heavy on talking, and a little too light on the alien massacres. She wanted less discussion and more alien transformations. The second time through, I prepped her that once the proverbial ball got rolling, it was a bloodbath. That seemed to satisfy her. She picked out a craft, and we continued the movie.

Just like with Ridley Scott’s Alien, Phoebe was all about the animals. In fact, the movie opens with a helicopter flying low over the snow, shooting at a beautiful husky. I would be doing her a great disservice if I said she was merely disturbed. I think the phrase, “losing her shit”, while a bit crass, is a better approximation of her reaction.

“MISS HOLLY!” she squealed.

“Yes, Phoebe? What —“

“WHY ARE THEY SHOOTING AT THE DOG, MISS HOLLY? ARE THEY GOING TO KILL IT?” Now, it’s important that at this juncture, I point out that her speaking in capitals is not because she was yelling. Her eyes were the size of the moon, and her body was very still. She was speaking very carefully, emphasizing every single word.

“Phoebe, it’s great that you ask questions and you’re curious, but you’re gonna spoil the movie for yourself.”

“I don’t care. DO THEY KILL THE DOG?”

“Not that one.”

“THEY KILL OTHER DOGS?” Shit. I shouldn’t have let that slip.

“Well, not the humans. More like the alien comes and kills the dogs.”

“Oh. Do the humans kill the alien?”

I was at a loss. I was about to spoil most of the movie. Having learned my lesson with Ridley Scott’s Alien, I proceeded thusly:

“The whole fun of this movie is that at the end, you don’t know if the alien is gone or not. Yes, the alien kills all the dogs –“

“MISS HOLLY!”

“Hang on, let me finish…”

“Ok.”

“Yes, the alien kills all the dogs. But the alien also kills most of the humans. And the humans give the alien a helluva fight.”

She considered that for a moment. I could tell she still wasn’t happy with the dogs dying. After a little more consideration, she shrugged and told me that the humans were stupid because they let the alien kill their dogs. I tried to explain that they weren’t necessarily stupid, more so that they just didn’t know what they were dealing with. I tried to explain that as the viewer, we are omniscient, and having that to our advantage, can suggest better courses of action for the characters. She then told me that if she were in a horror movie, things would be different, chiefly because she wasn’t stupid. (That, however, is a topic for another post at a later date.)

Her final decision on the movie was that it was alright. She didn’t like the alien wiping alienout the dogs, and she would have liked a better idea of who was human and who was an alien. Not knowing made it confusing sometimes. Not to mention there were several characters to track, but not much real character development to help her keep them separate. She also wasn’t terribly impressed with the special effects, until I told her that the movie was made in 1982, and without the help of computers. Once I explained how the special effects artists (Rob Bottin’s work was fantastic!) she began to appreciate it a little more. I promised the next movie would have less talking, and more straight-to-the-point killing.