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?

 

Vote in AMC’s Most Dangerous Zombie Hunter Poll !

AMC is hosting a “Most Dangerous Zombie Hunter Poll” right now.  The cool / unconventional part of this poll is that from the outset you can vote all the way to the win in one go.  Then everyone’s votes get tallied.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead) VS   Ken Foree (Peter, Dawn of the Dead – original)

Will Smith (Robert Neville, I Am Legend)  VS  Cillian Murphy (Jim, 28 Days Later)

Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee, Zombieland)  VS  Simon Pegg (Shaun, Shaun of the Dead)

Bruce Campbell (Ash “Ashley” Williams, The Evil Dead series)  VS  Milla Jovovich (Alice, Resident Evil series)

Now, first off, I’m not telling you who I’m voting for.  (If I were honest, I would admit its because I have no clue who I’m voting for just yet.  If I were dishonest, I’d say its because I want you to make up your own mind.)  This is only the first round in AMC’s poll, there are still a few other elimination rounds.  Keep track and vote at http://polls.amctv.com//chart/data/2623-lead-1.html.

For me, who I will ultimately vote for depends on a few factors.  The worst part is that they’re all really amazing characters with their own unique zombies to face.  So what exactly, defines the “most dangerous” (read: most unabashedly bad-ass) zombie fighter ?  Is it weapons prowess (Alice), or is it pure luck (Shaun) ?  Or perhaps crazy good catch phrases (Tallahassee and Ash might tie on this one…)  Perhaps its the ability to survive sprinting, drooling, rage-infested zombies (Jim) ?  Each of these characters represents a path in my downward spiral into full immersion of zombie culture…so I’m not sure how I’d even begin to choose.

{Update:  I just did the poll – no, I’m still not telling you who I voted for, and I got to the end.  Wasn’t terribly impressed.  It seems worth the conversation and the giggles, and its worth seeing what other people gave as reasons for who they picked.  Other than that, I highly disagree with the outcome.}

 

The [Undead] British are coming !

Shaun of the Dead” came out in American theaters when I was a senior in high school.  At the time, I was heavily obsessed with Stephen King and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw a trailer for “Shaun of the Dead” and knew I had to track it down, at all costs.

When I finally found (and rented) it, I took it to a friend’s house.  We sat in her room watching it in the dark, with her pet ferret running around biting our pants legs and scaring us to death.  It was such a well-done movie – we didn’t know whether to scream in terror or die laughing.

The chemistry between actors and actresses can make or break a movie.  Audiences can see right through the actors if they aren’t really enjoying the project.  Conversely, if the actors have bonded with one another, the world movie  transcends the screen and becomes real.  The audience becomes one with the story, and they become emotional participants.  “Shaun of the Dead” is a movie in which the chemistry between the actors is apparent.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are believable as best friends, with Kate Ashfield adeptly playing the girlfriend wanting more from life.  Bill Nighy appears to genuinely love his life-after-death transition.

The movie was sparse in dialog, which I believe to be a good thing.  Rather than getting caught up in chatter that was either painfully obvious or superfluous, the dialog was witty and recurring.  Lines that were used innocuously in the beginning came back to haunt the characters later in the story.  The dialog was very witty – often offering puns on everyday phrases and situations.  I have no idea how the cast and crew survived the filming without laughing during every scene.

Humor aside, “Shaun of the Dead” shines as a true horror film in its own right.  The blood and gore effects were extremely convincing, and contributed to more than a few nights of missed sleep on my part.  One scene in particular was upsetting – a certain cast member is dismembered limb by limb, with an added emphasis on the removal of the guts.  Egads but it looked so real !   Careful attention was paid to all of the supporting zombie horde members as well.  While on the subject of the zombie horde, its worth noting that “extras” used in the earlier parts of the film came back for another appearance as zombies.  This seemingly little touch only served to heighten the experience as it was a grim reminder that in a zombie apocalypse, you don’t have the luxury of dispatching random strangers.  Those zombies will be friends, family, neighbors, lovers, acquaintances…real people that you knew.

This film was an all around pleasure to watch, and had rewatch value.  Every time I watch “Shaun of the Dead” I discover a detail which I hadn’t noticed before.  If this DVD is not in your collection (or on whatever media you use) then you need to rectify the problem.  This is clearly a must-have movie !