Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Paxton Configuration: Not Bad For a Non-Player Character: Lance Henriksen and Video Games, Pt 2 (2009-Present)

Will Johnson is one of my favorite bloggers and film/tv writers, and he offered a great piece for the blogathon earlier in the week, one gazing at Lance Henriksen's work in video games. 

Today, Will returns with part two of that extensive, meticulous survey, entitled Not Bad For a Non-Player Character: Lance Henriksen and Video Games, Pt 2 (2009-Present).

Lance found himself, at first, on the fringes of video game history, slowly creeping up the trail towards 0s and 1s immortality, but then was involved in some of the most landmark franchises known to the video game market.

In 2009, Lance found himself in two well known franchises, the second being one of the most successful titles in video game history. But first came The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, where Lance provided, once again, supporting work behind film star Vin Diesel and fellow genre actress Michelle Forbes.

Thank Will, for another original and great article for the blogathon.

Exclusive Joe Maddrey interview at

Lance Henriksen's Not Bad for a Human co-author, Joseph Maddrey, is today the subject of an interview with's Dominik Starck.  The interview describes how the book projected originated, and how Joe first met Lance Henriksen. 


DS: When and how did the idea to write a book with Lance about his life and career evolves?

JM: After Nightmares, I really wanted to work with Lance again so we stayed in touch. About a year later, I was reading a book called "Seagalogy" by an author named Vern. Although the book is about Steven Seagal, there is one short section where the author goes off on an enthusiastic tangent about Lance Henriksen's onscreen charisma. I immediately thought, "Why hasn't anyone written a book about Lance?" So I called Lance and asked if he'd be interested in doing a biography.

Dominick, thank you for contributing this excellent interview to the Lance Henriksen Blogathon.

Gris Gris: I wanna do bad things with you.

The intrepid and prolific Jane Considine at Gris Gris makes her fourth contribution to the blogathon today, with a fascinating look at Jesse Hooker, Lance Henriksen's frightening character in the horror classic, Near Dark.   The piece is titled, "I wanna do bad things with you."


Mr. Henrikson basically starved himself prior to filming, and it shows. Jesse is positively skeletal, which is appropriate. He looks like Death that has come for you, and indeed he is. Lance/Jesse took some roadtrips, and he deliberately made himself look like a drifter, hungry, very hungry and gritty looking. He picked up a hitchhiker on this roadtrip, and he messed with him. He told him to roll a cigarette, and then mercilessly berated him about what a bad job he had done with it. In the clip about this, Mr. Henrikson says that he was sure this guy thought he was going to die. And he laughs. We get that.

Thank you, Jane, for another awesome post!

Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic: Images of Millennium, Season One


Gordon Roberts, the architect and artist of Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic, returns for a second post today, the final day of the Blogathon.  His subject is the imagery of Millennium's first season, and it's a gorgeous post, perfectly in keeping with Gordon's keen eye.  This is one to savor and really enjoy,


These are images that surround the world of the tremendous character that is Frank Black created by Chris Carter and brought to life by Henriksen. There are plenty of places on the net to find images of Millennium, but I chose to select the images that spoke to me personally. Enjoy the end of days.

Thank you Gordon, this is another extraordinary post.

Lance Henriksen Blogathon: Day 1 - 5

On the final day of the Lance Henriksen Blogathon, a quick look back at the first five days (and over 40 posts...) of this celebration.  This list conforms to the days these articles were posted here, on Reflections on Film/TV.

Day 1

Reflections on Film/TV: "I'm Hoping I Never Get Caught Acting:" The Tao of Lance Henriksen

It Rains...You Get Wet: A Viewership Lived Through Lance

Movies Made Me: Lance Henriksen Goes West

From the Stars: Lance Henriksen: Acting Like He Means It.

The Pineal Eye: Hard Target

Kindertrauma: Pumpkinhead

Day 2

Reflections on Film/TV: Lance Henriksen Interview on The Quick and The Dead

Movies Made Me: Lance Henriksen's Ten Favorite Westerns

The Pineal Eye: Near Dark

Gris Gris: You Can't Save Everyone, But You Can Try

Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion: The Henriksen Prinple of Elevation

Vern reviews Not Bad for A Human

Movie Mikes: Interview with Lance Henriksen

Back to Frank Black: My Life with Lance

Fangoria's B-Sol reviews Not Bad for A Human

Day 3

Reflections on Film/TV: The Cult-TV Faces of: Lance Henriksen

Fascination with Fear: Over Forty Years Of Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Movies Made Me: Millennium - Critical Mass

The United Province of Ivanlandia: Laughing with Chains

Gris Gris: Anyone can see that the road that they walk on is paved in gold

Back to Frank Black: What the Killer Sees: Frank Black

Radiator Heaven: Nightmares: "The Benediction"

The Pineal Eye: The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

Day 4

Reflections on Film/TV: Five Favorite Frank Black Moments

Movies Made Me: The Invitation

The Outlaw Vern reviews Savage Dawn (1985)

The Essence of Excellence

The Pineal Eye: Lance Henriksen Interview: Not Bad for a Human Interview

In the Comfy Chair: Death, Destruction, and Puppies

The Paxton Configuration: Not Bad For a Non-Player Character: Lance Henriksen and Video Games, Part 1.

Josef's Video Musings: A Lance Henriksen Birthday Video

Day 5

Reflections on Film/TV: An Underrated Lance Henriksen Performance: Alien 3

Movies Made Me: Horror and Comics

Vern reviews Excessive Force

Gris Gris: You can have my isolation; you can have the hate it brings.

It Rains...You Get Wet:  A Small Study in Contrast: Bishop and Rafe

DiRT presents a video about Not Bad for a Human

Kindertrauma: Mimic: Sentinel (2003)

Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic: Lance Henriksen: Profile And Measures Of The Millennium Man

Kindertruama: Lance Henriksen Funhouse

Feedback for the Henriksen Biography, Not Bad for a Human

At his book site, author Joseph Maddrey has posted a page of critical feedback for the now available Henriksen biography, Not Bad for a Human.  And I'm thrilled to make a special guest appearance.

Here are the quotes:

I LOVE THIS BOOK! Lance rocks!

- Harry Knowles, Ain’t It Cool News

Engaging, entertaining and marinated in enlightening anecdotes. Makes me want to go back and rent everything he’s ever done. A must for the collection of any scifi/horror fan!

- Max Brooks, author of the New York Times bestseller World War Z

While reading veteran actor Lance Henriksen’s biography – co-written with Nightmares in Red, White and Blue writer/producer Joseph Maddrey – one is navigated through the story of a feral youth turned poet laureate, whose life’s blood beats in the heart of every film he’s touched… Henriksen’s undeniable talents as a storyteller are on full display here, and Maddrey serves as a perfect tour guide through the maverick actor’s world. Together, they have crafted a compelling (and moving) tale about Henriksen’s journey toward onscreen success and self-discovery.

- Alison Nastasi, Rue Morgue

Not Bad for a Human isn’t your usual actor’s autobiography; it lets the reader experience the story of Lance Henriksen’s life and career on the level where his craft begins — his internal process. With depth and humor, he recalls his advancements and mistakes, how he turned accidents and opportunities to his advantage, and we follow him, film by film, as he moves beyond merely looking right for a part to finding unique keys to inhabiting characters, whether it’s for a work of art or a rent-paying work for hire. Illuminating yet down to earth, this portrait of the cult star as a working actor commands respect — because it’s worthy of it.

– Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog and author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark

An awful lot of Hollywood autobiographies these days are antiseptic and empty, but Lance Henriksen bucks the trend in his fiery Not Bad for a Human. With an unfettered sense of freedom, the movie star channels the same passion, humanity and searing honesty in this book as he does in each film or television role he tackles. The result is a valuable glimpse of one actor’s unique process and even more that: his philosophy of life. Consequently, this is the best star autobiography I’ve ever read.

- John Kenneth Muir, author of The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi and Horror Films of the 1980s

Lance Henriksen has been a distinct and reliable onscreen presence across about 40 years and 150 movies, and you can tell the man pours his soul into it whether it’s his first film with Sidney Lumet or his third one with a sasquatch. Now, through a comprehensive series of interviews with Joseph Maddrey, Henriksen reveals that his remarkable career and unique screen presence are an extension of a fascinating life. I was hooked long before the part where he gave an autographed novelization of The Omen II to a woman who thought her husband had murdered him out in the desert years ago. Not Bad For a Human is an illuminating portrait of Henriksen’s art and life – essential reading for those who appreciate both the high and the low forms of cinema.

- Vern, author of Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal and Yippee Ki-Yay, Moviegoer!: Writings on Bruce Willis, Badass Cinema and Other Important Topics

An intense Method actor, Henriksen struggled through illiteracy and typecasting to become one of the most recognized genre faces of his generation… And the journey and triumph is captured here via the voice of Maddrey, whose obvious respect and admiration for his subject comes through on every page… One of the finest autobiographies of a genre actor to come along in quite some time. Hardcore Henriksen fans will certainly be pleased, as will fans of good acting in general.

- Brian Solomon, Fangoria

Don't forget to order your copies now, while supplies last.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Kindertrauma: Lance Henriksen Funhouse

I'm typing as fast as I can, and still trying to catch up to the amazing and prolific Unkle Lancifer at Kindertrauma! 

This morning, our master of ghoulish ceremonies just posted a fiendish and diabolical trivia challenge, the Lance Henriksen Funhouse.

Check it out, and see how many of these you know...

Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic: Lance Henriksen: Profile And Measures Of The Millennium Man

One of my daily reads is always Gordon Roberts' Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic.  Gordon is one of those bloggers you get addicted to reading in short order, gifted with an obsessive and perfect eye for detail, and a strong critical/appreciative voice.  Today, he brings to us what I can only term the "mother" of all Millennium posts.

With meticulous attention, the Sci-Fi Fanatic writes "Lance Henriksen: Profile And Measures Of The Millennium Man," a post that remembers the specificities of Millennium's first season (down to an episode report card at the end of the post), and pays specific attention to Lance Henriksen's particular alchemy in the lead role of Frank Black.

His inexhaustible, world weary eyes, cult face and voice [yes, that voice] has appeared in over 150 genre TV and Film titles. His is an extraordinary body of work. There has always been something special in those eyes of the man who would be Frank Black [Millennium] - always something going on behind them. The eyes communicate the unspoken word. The wheels and machinery of his mind constantly turning. That twinkle gives each and every one of Henriksen's unique characters, however big or small, something unique of the man. The camera loves Lance Henriksen and Henriksen loves the work. It's this relationship that makes him such a huge hit with fans. He brings a touch of class to the slightest part often saving material, but he's not a superman as some poor film choices have proven.

Thank you Gordon, for contributing this lengthy and rewarding analysis of Henriksen and Carter's work in Millennium. 

Kindertrauma: Mimic: Sentinel (2003)

The incomparable Unkle Lancifer of Kindertrauma finds another "LANCE HENRIKSEN log to throw on the blogothon fire," a great and insightful review of Mimic: Sentinel (2003).

Unk digs deep into the buggy proceedings of this horror film sequel, and adds new layers of interpretation and analysis to the film that I hadn't considered.


SENTINEL takes its time and perhaps I’m a dying breed, but I welcome that. Much like PETTY’s later flick THE BURROWERS, the film holds back on the firework show until the viewer has been properly initiated. When things go down, they go down hard and the aggressiveness is all the more shocking thanks to its previous scarcity. There are a slew of interesting ideas scattering about concerning the act of “seeing” in general. We understand Marvin’s outlook on the world through his photography. Much of what we observe is through his camera and eventually the line between viewer and subject blurs. When Marvin does finally put his camera down, we suddenly find ourselves watching him from afar through a lens as he once watched others. Trust me, there’s more infesting this movie than giant mutant bugs.

Another great one, Unk!  Thanks.

DiRT presents a video about Not Bad for a Human

The amazing DiRT has today created a brand new video for your viewing pleasure.  This video touts the release of Not Bad for a Human, Lance Henriksen's new biography with co-author (and blogathon co-host), Joseph Maddrey.

Be sure to check this one out.  Thanks, DiRT!

It Rains...You Get Wet: A Small Study in Contrast: Bishop and Rafe

Michael Alatorre, the outstanding writer and film scholar (who collaborated with Will Johnson last week on that amazing podcast regarding The Mist [2007]) on Day 5 of the Blogathon brings us a second remarkable contribution.

Today, at "It Rains, You Get Wet," Michael writes "A Small Study in Contrast: Bishop and Rafe," a highly-detailed and well-visualized post that compares and contrasts two interesting Lance Henriksen roles; that of Bishop in Aliens (1986) and Rafe in Johnny Handsome (1989)

Take a closer look at these two screen caps. Same actor, in two films about three years apart. But, acting and demeanor is everything here, is it not? And ‘contrastive’ is a word-and-a-half in this instance. Each image is a visual barometer for who these personalities are onscreen, by their very nature. Bishop (on the left) stands almost shyly apart from the other character sharing the frame in the foreground. At a glance, you perceive the being as intelligent, certainly curious, but strange and somehow non-threatening just by the look he evokes. In total opposition to that is Rafe (on the right). You instantly recognize the predator in the shot by threat and facial expression (and you get the feeling the other character in the frame would rather be in on planet LV-426 than where she is at that moment). And Henriksen’s eyes communicate everything. As supporting characters to the leads in their respective films, and therefore given only a fraction of the screen time, they still are the ones I most remember.

Michael, thank you for this great post, and I highly recommend everyone check it out!

Gris Gris: You can have my isolation; you can have the hate that it brings

This morning, Jane Considine, blogger at Gris Gris, returns for her third fascinating post regarding the Chris Carter series Millennium

Today, she reviews the first-season classic, "The Thin White Line."  In "You can have my isolation; you can have the hate it brings," Jane takes a memorable look at how law enforcement deals with the darkness it faces on a regular basis.

Sometimes, we all have to walk the dark path. You have to walk alongside and in the dark to understand and make peace with it. The third episode of "Millennium" that really struck me during my revisitng of the series is "The Thin White Line". Frank Black walks a very dark path in this one, a path that has to do with his regrets and personal convictions, his whole belief system. And as dark as it is, it's ultimately uplifting.

Thank you, Jane, for this submission!

Vern Reviews Excessive Force

The Outlaw Vern, at his blog Then Fuck You, Jack: The Life and Art of Vern, reviews Excessive Force (1993), an action-thriller starring Thomas Ian Griffith and Lance Henriksen.


EXCESSIVE FORCE is a pretty generic cop-who-can-kick action movie from Jon Hess, the director of ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION. That would be funny if it was the same guy that did NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, but I guess that was Jared Hess. It’s written by and stars Thomas Ian Griffith.

Check out the whole review!

MOVIES MADE ME: Horror and Comics

This morning, Joe Maddrey at Movies Made Me takes us through a survey of the artists who contributed pieces to the newly released Lance Henriksen biography, Not Bad for a Human.

The limited edition of Lance Henriksen's biography came about because of a conversation I had with horror writer Steve Niles. I knew Steve as the creator of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CRIMINAL MACABRE and EDGE OF DOOM. What I didn't know at the time was that Steve had recently become a very vocal advocate for creator-owned comics and do-it-yourself publishing. When I mentioned Lance's biography to him, he not only offered to publish it, but he also began to rally some of his favorite artists to illustrate it.

In a blog post announcing the project, Steve said, "Our hope is that by combining Lance's book with some of comics top talent, then maybe we can each find new fans." A few weeks later, with his campaign in full swing, he added, "I'm now going to make an effort to reach out to possible fans OUTSIDE the [comics] bubble. I know a lot of Horror Fans and Science Fiction fans who don't read comics." (He further explained his agenda in a recent interview with Meltdown Comics.) In the past few years I've become one of those people, but this project has re-introduced me to the world of comics. As I began to explore the works of the artists who have contributed to Henriksen's bio, I began to realize just how close the worlds of comics and genre film really are. Here's a visual crash course...

An Underrated Lance Henriksen Performance: Alien 3 (1992)

Not only is Lance Henriksen's terrific performance in the finale of Alien 3 woefully under-appreciated, but the David Fincher sequel is pretty damn underrated as well. 

It's easy to determine why the latter is so, at least at this relatively late date.  Living up to his stated aesthetic that "movies should scar," director David Fincher directed a downbeat (if artistic) follow-up film that killed off all the survivors of James Cameron's gung-ho, send-in-the-marines Aliens (1985). 

Alien 3 saw the demise of Hicks, Newt, Bishop, and finally, even Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.   Fincher did not simply kill these beloved franchise characters, he made certain that he rubbed our noses in their deaths, especially Newt's.   We watched -- in extreme close-up -- her bloody autopsy, for goodness sake.  Again, this was not random or accidental on Fincher's part. 

Movies. Should. Scar.

But beyond that decision, Fincher executed two other controversial decisions that the devout Alien fan base had a tough time forgiving in the summer of 1992. 

First, he deeply undercut audience expectations for a sequel by failing to escalate or multiply his sequel's action quotient.  Aliens was a spectacular and geometric progression beyond the threat introduced in Ridley Scott's Alien.  At some point, Fincher probably realized there was no way, at least on a realistic budget, he could surpass what Cameron had achieved in terms of adrenaline and carnage candy.  So he went the opposite way, deliberately.  Only one alien.  No weapons of any kind.   And no soldiers.

Of course, this also meant no pulse rifles, either.  And man, that gun still has a lot of fans, twenty-five years later. (One even made a cameo in a recent episode of the animated children's adventure series, Ben 10: Alien Force.)

Secondly, Fincher definitively and irrevocably closed the door on further Alien sequels.  In the film's unforgettable conclusion, Ripley saved the world from further alien menace by throwing herself (and the queen growing inside of her belly) into a purifying fire.  The last alien died with her.

After this sacrifice, the Fincher film cut to no-less than three separate shots of doors/hatches being closed and locked. 

Literally, visually and metaphorically, the director had closed the door on the popular movie series, at least until someone clever (or not so clever...) came up with the idea of Alien: Resurrection (1997).  This decision was, in a way, Fincher's trump card.  His film offered engaged film-goers something no other Alien movie had: closure.

Beloved characters murdered. No high-tech weapons?  One alien?  And no possibility of another sequel?  What on Earth could this guy Fincher have been thinking? 

Simply put, David Fincher's Alien 3 was about deeper things than fannish considerations or audience expectations.  His film was about putting up a fight when you have no friends or like-minded people at your side to help you out.  Call it the anti-social network.

Alien 3 also involved completing a task that was right (and in the "ass end of space," no less) for the world at large, but not for onesself. It was about winning a war even if it meant dying; even if it meant the ultimate personal sacrifice. 

And again, let's remember some context here.  The third Alien film came out in the year 1992, when Ross Perot was arguing on TV, with lots of pie charts, that it was time for Americans to "sacrifice," lest the deficit overwhelm us. 

I remember, Entertainment Weekly once described the Alien films as being almost trademarks products of their specific times.  Alien was a malaise days, deeply ambiguous Carter era production; Aliens was gung-ho Reaganism on a cosmic scale; and Alien 3 was feeling "bushed," because of the Bush Recession of 1991.  That argument still holds a lot of water, even today. 

But for me, Alien 3 has always been another, more impressive thing as well.  Call it "The Last Temptation of Ripley."  Critic Anne Billson similarly termed Weaver's character "SF's Joan of Arc," noting Ripley's trials in the Fincher film and also her Maria Falconetti-styled buzz-cut. 

Whether Christ-like or Joan-like, Ripley dies for our sins in Alien 3.  Rather than permit avaricious corporate men such as Burke to gain control of the indestructible alien, Ripley chooses death.  Falling -- in an unmistakable  crucifixion pose -- into the fire, she dies so that we may all yet live.

And this spiritual, climactic scene  is the one where Henriksen  arrives, and proves so vital and necessary a presence. 

At the one hour and forty three minute point, Henriksen is revealed as Bishop II, a man who may be an android or who may be a human.  He's there, over the smoldering furnace, to show Ripley "a friendly face," he claims.

But beneath that friendly face (and good God, just look at Henriksen's intense eyes in the photo above...) perhaps he's the Devil himself, offering Ripley that final, irresistible temptation.

 "I'm very human," he assures Ripley first, cementing their bond as fellow human beings.  Then he claims he shares her particular agenda regarding the alien.  "I want to kill it and take you home."

When Ripley questions Bishop further, he states that the alien "can't be allowed to live.  Everything we know would be in jeopardy."   On the surface he's saying absolutely everything Ellen needs to hear; agreeing with her point of view fully.  He also seems to be parroting dialogue Ripley spoke herself in a corporate board room, in Aliens.

And then, deviously, Bishop slips in the temptation.  "You still can have a life...children," he assures her.

This comment also relates back to Aliens (1986), and Ripley's desperate longing to be a mother.  She was away for the duration of her biological child's life -- in stasis in space -- and her "adopted" daughter, Newt, died on Fury 161.  Motherhood is the one thing Ripley wants and desires.  It's the very thing she covets: that second chance at the maternal-child connection.  And Henriksen's Bishop makes it sound all so close; so possible.

"Let me help you," Bishop urges, "you have to trust me."

In this moment, Ripley makes the decision.  She could just trust Bishop and hope for the best; hope that the alien embryo she carries in her chest will be killed, and she'll survive the operation.  But something inside keeps Ripley from acquiescing; from trusting.  She chooses to die and take the alien with her.  It's the "only way to to be sure," in this case, perhaps.

And soon enough, the devil before Ripley shows his true colors.  "It's the chance of a lifetime," declares Bishop.  "It's a magnificent specimen!" he enthuses.

When Ripley chooses to die, Henriksen's Bishop cannot even conceive of her act; of her decision to act not in her own self-interest, but in all of mankind's. 

"What are you doing?" he asks, truly unable to comprehend her decision.  He is baffled that someone has put the common good above personal gain, and again, we must go back to the idea that many films (especially the horror films circa 1990 - 1992) were consciously rejecting the previously dominant Yuppie philosophy in efforts such as Flatliners (1990), Soultaker (1990),  Ghost (1990) and Jacob's Ladder (1990).

And so Ripley dies, grasping the only child she will ever again hold in her own two hands: the alien queen.

There are many reasons this scene works so well, but the performances of Weaver and Henriksen really sell it.  And without Henriksen, this moment could not have come off as powerfully as it does.  He represents a friendly face we remember from Aliens (1986), and Henriksen doesn't reveal his cards until after Ripley has made her decision. 

Indeed, this is what a tempter does.  Pushing, prodding, but not going too far, lest he overplay his hand.  The Devil does not appear as himself when he tempts the virtuous.  Instead, he comes as a friend, a lover, an advocate.  That's how he raises doubt, and engenders trust, perhaps.  The face of Bishop is that of an ally; and everything Bishop says seems so reasonable. I must say as well, Henriksen's deep, gravel voice is perfectly utilized in this sequence.  Henriksen speaks with such authority and power. and as viewers, we hang on his every word.

By holding back, by not going overtly "evil," Henriksen plays the role perfectly; allowing the audience to feel Ripley's interior uncertainty and conflict.  Because we are invested in Ripley as the franchise heroine, we also want to believe the friendly face Bishop provides. We want her to live; and are invested in her decision. We want to believe in Bishop's lies as much as Ripley does.  But in the end, we can't.

Lance Henriksen plays Bishop in Alien 3 for a grand total of five minutes, but his performance is unforgettable, and gives the drama a final, spiritual heft. Nobody else could have provided Weaver's Ripley such a powerful, magnetic foil, least of all in such limited screen time.   In short, we must believe here both that Ripley would choose to kill herself, and that she doesn't want to kill herself.  Henriksen arrives and diagrams Ripley's final spiritual dilemma for us: both her wishes for a future and her knowledge that she can never have that future.

I can argue the artistic merits of Alien 3 all day, but in a sense, everything comes down to that catwalk over the furnace, where Ripley and Bishop meet and a decision must be forged.  With his heavy voice, his steady glare, and his dominating presence, Lance Henriksen hypnotically shows a tortured heroine a glimpse of the road she cannot take; a life that is simply not to be.

And that makes Ripley's sacrifice all the more resonant...and beautiful.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Josef's Video Musings: A Lance Henriksen Birthday Video

Jósef Karl Gunnarsson in Iceland last year produced a wonderful and heart-felt video tribute to celebrate Lance Henriksen's birthday. 

I just had the pleasure of watching it, and wanted to post a link to it here, for your enjoyment, on this special day.    It's wonderful to hear the voice of Lance Henriksen himself, on this video, describing his art.

Check out his video, here, at Josef's Visual Musings.

Thank you Josef, for a wonderful visual contribution to the blogathon.

The Paxton Configuration: Not Bad For a Non-Player Character: Lance Henriksen and Video Games, Pt 1 (2002-2008)

William Johnson, the talent who last week brought us that amazing podcast regarding The Mist (2007) with Michael Alatorre, today offers the first part of a survey involving Lance Henriksen's work in video-games.

At The Paxton Configuration, Will writes "Not Bad For a Non-Player Character: Lance Henriksen and Video Games, Pt 1 (2002-2008)," an inspired choice of subject, and our first video game post on the blogathon.  Very cool.

Here's a snippet:

Be it bad guy or good guy, horror, sci-fi, or western, Lance Henriksen has done it. And the adventure continues. But let's take a look at Lance's history in the video game market, in chronological order. For as the world turns, so does Lance's role in the history of video games. What follows is a bumpy, wide ranging, and up and down road. . .but in the end, Lance Henriksen prevails in providing his voice and making something special, sometimes out of nothing.

Thank you Will, for another original and involving post.

In the Comfy Chair: Death, Destruction, and Puppies

Terri Wilson, blogger at In the Comfy Chair, joins the Lance Henriksen blogathon this morning with a very amusing tally of all of her favorite Lance Henriksen's "deaths" in movies and television programs over the years.   

In "Death, Destruction, and Puppies" Terri reminds us of the many (memorable) demises the character actor has suffered (for his art...).

It's Lance Henriksen's birthday today, so how about a little love for the man who's been killed so often by so many. Here are just a few of my favorites. And for crying out loud, don't read any further if you don't want to know the ending of these movies!

Make sure to read the whole piece, and tally through all the maimings and murders.  Thanks, Terri!

The Pineal Eye: Lance Henriksen Interview: Not Bad for A Human

Journalist Alison Nastasi today returns for her fourth amazing contribution to our blogathon.  In this case, The Pineal Eye presents some fascinating outtakes from Alison's recent interview with Lance Henriksen at FEARnet. 

There's so much good stuff here, from Lance talking about how he views the world, to his least-favorite color for dining ware.  It's a really great glimpse into the mind of the artist. 

” … I’ve had a distinct feeling in my youth that I was going to come and go, and no one was ever going to know I was there. I remember somebody reciting a Dylan Thomas poem to me and it was something like: ‘Wherever I went in those lamb white days, I left my quivering prints.’ And what I got out of that was just … you can come and go and never be heard from again, like the billions or millions that have already inhabited the earth.”
Thanks so much for this, Alison.

The Essence of Excellence

Troy Foreman, one of the dedicated and wonderful masterminds of Back to Frank Black, has this morning penned a personal tribute to Lance Henriksen specifically for this blogathon, and on the artist's birthday.  Enjoy!

The Essence of Excellence

By Troy Foreman

I was sitting in my apartment recently watching the movie The Quick and the Dead for the 100th time. As I sat and watched names like Stone, Hackman and Crowe glide across the screen, I realized one thing. Although their names may have been more recognizable, it was Lance Henriksen’s performance as Ace Hanlon that was the highlight of the film, even if his time on screen was considerably less than the rest of the cast. For someone to take a role with ¼ the time on screen and make it memorable in my opinion is a true actor.

That is what makes Lance Henriksen stand head and shoulders above most of the actors in the business today. The ability to take roles that others would consider throwaway or trivial and make them his own and interesting. Bringing characters to life that on paper, truly had no life. Lance has been in the acting game for over 40 years and he has a host of A list credits to his name. Dog Day Afternoon, Terminator, Aliens, Near Dark and Hard Target to name a few, but for me, it’s the smaller independent films that he chooses to do that sets him apart from the pack. Now, some may question many of the films that Lance has been involved with. Speaking to him on several occasions he even commented on some of the roles he chose to play, calling them “alimony” or “jetlag” movies, but he still brought his A game to the roles.

Working on the Back to Frank Black campaign I have had the unique honor of talking with Lance about the movie business, his thoughts on acting and what it means to him to be an actor. I think he said it best, “if you’re not acting, you’re not an actor.” I think that statement sums up many aspects about Lance, his work ethic and his love for the craft. At the age of 71, he is still one of the most sought after actors in the business. I can only imagine what it would be like to be an actor standing across from Lance right before the director yells action. Known for being a very intense actor, his presence can only help but elevate the performances from the actors around him and that is a true actor.

I think anyone who has the aspirations of becoming an actor should be able to spend one hour in a room with Lance and get his philosophy on what it is to be an actor. Lance doesn’t preach, he educates. That’s one major thing that in my opinion sets Lance apart from all other actors.

He is the essence of excellence.

Thank you, Troy, for sharing this with all of us today, and for all the work you do for Millennium fans every day.  It is very much appreciated.

The Outlaw Vern reviews Savage Dawn (1985)

Well, as only I can manage to do, I missed an important link yesterday, but Joe Maddrey pointed it out to me, thankfully. 

It's a doozy too.  The incomparable Outlaw Vern, at Then Fuck You, Jack: The Life and Art of Vern, yesterday reviewed Savage Dawn, a 1985 post-apocalyptic effort starring Lance Henriksen


SAVAGE DAWN is a post-apocalyptic-town-harassed-by-bikers movie very similar to STEEL FRONTIER except way crappier looking and without all the great cars and car stunts. I’d almost give it a very, very lenient semi-pass just because Lance Henriksen, with bleach blond hair, gets one of his rare leading man roles, except… no, I wouldn’t want anybody to think I sort of recommended this movie. The best thing I can say is I’ve seen worse...

...Henriksen plays Stryker, a mysterious veteran badass who has been away somewhere for a while and now came back for some reason. In my opinion you can tell that he’s cool because his name is Stryker. I don’t think there’s ever been a weenie named Stryker, only heroic warriors and villains. In this case it’s the heroic warrior.

Please read the whole piece.  The impressive Vern never disappoints.

Movies Made Me: The Invitation

I have to admit...I haven't seen this one, and it sounds incredibly intriguing.

THE INVITATION is a nearly-forgotten title in Henriksen's filmography, made for only a few hundred thousand dollars in 2002. In my opinion, it's a deeply flawed experiment. The story is muddled and the performances are uneven... but I love it anyway, for one very simple reason: It features Lance Henriksen at his most beatific..
I hadn't seen THE INVITATION until I was a few weeks into a series of in-depth biographical Q&As with Henriksen, and I was blown away by two scenes in particular. The first scene reunites Henriksen with fellow MILLENNIUM alum Sarah-Jane Redmond. Their onscreen chemistry, in a moment when she physically attacks him, is undeniable... As a result, the scene rises way above the melodramatic scenario they're playing out. It's amazing to see how vulnerable Redmond allows herself to become and how accepting Henriksen becomes in response. The entire movie is worth watching just for the looks on their faces at the end of this sequence.

Five Favorite Frank Black Moments

As I wrote here on Monday, Lance Henriksen's Frank Black is our sturdy anchor in the great Chris Carter series, Millennium (1996 - 1999). 

Over a span of three seasons and more than sixty-five episodes, this remarkable dramatic program accommodated many different brands and styles of storytelling -- including some unexpected lunges into comedy -- and the face who always held it all together belonged to Lance Henriksen.

Selecting just five favorite Frank Black moments is not an easy task because Henriksen and the series writers/producers/directors gave us so damn many of 'em in those three wondrous seasons. 

Anyway, these five "great Frank Black moments" come in no particular order, and from all three seasons of the series.

1. "Pilot" Frank introduces his family to their perfect yellow house. 

As the series opens, Frank Black and his family relocate to rainy Seattle, but -- caring spouse and supporting father that he is -- Frank has made certain that their lives have at least a ray of sunshine in them. 

Here, he shows them their gorgeous new home, a shining yellow house far away from the repellent darkness of Frank's work. 

In a beautiful, spontaneous moment, little Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) is so excited to see the new family home, she licks her Daddy's nose.  It's an innocent, childish gesture (lensed in close-up) that really cements the Black family bond, and reveals the closeness between father and daughter.  

2. "Lamentations"  Frank is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Far away from the yellow house in Seattle, Frank Black deciphers a clue that suggests Evil Itself (in the form of Sarah Jane-Redmond's Lucy Butler), is on the way to "visit" his imperiled family.  And this time, Frank is too far away to help them. 

The expressions that cross Frank's face as he attempts to figure out what is happening, and if his family is safe, probably represent the closest thing to panic we ever see on the guy. 

If something can drive the solid, even-tempered, brave Frank Black to that unprecedented level of 

And sure enough, when Frank's friend Bletch enters the yellow house during a storm -- now a yellow house of horrors -- be afraid.  Be very afraid...

3. "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense:" Don't Be Dark, Frank.

In this caustic satire of Scientology (called Self-osophy in Millennium), Frank attempts to ferret out the identity of a killer by using a copyrighted Self-osophy self-help technique. 

With a tape entitled "How Not to Be Dark" and a gimmicky head set, Frank engages in "Easy Visualization Therapy," and is asked by the taped voice to "picture something that disturbed him."

At that exact moment, the episode cuts ironically to a blood-curdling montage of every grisly vision from Millennium's first season and-a-half.  Horrified, Black rips off the head-set and nurses the mother of all headaches.  But the point is that Frank doesn't run from the darkness or try to deny it.  He faces it.  He isn't about "self" (or Self-osophy) and sometimes we all genuinely need to "be dark."

4. "Luminary:" Frank Black to the rescue.

An exhausted, freezing Frank Black carries an injured young man named Alex through the hostile, wooded terrain of wild Alaska in the uplifting "Luminary." 

When the young man's stretcher tilts and dumps the boy in the river rapids far below, Frank -- without batting an eye or hesitating a second -- jumps in after the boy. 

This courageous and self-less act represents Frank's ethos in a nutshell.  It's that father instinct.  It's that tenacious unwillingness to give up on someone he has sworn to protect.  He will literally do anything to help another human being, even at great risk to himself.

5. "The Sound of Snow:"  "Every day, I want to be with you."

Alone in the wild again, Frank is badly injured and experiences a vision that, in some small way, forces him to face his greatest loss. 

This moment reveals to us Frank at his most vulnerable and emotional, and does so with the one person that he can be so vulnerable with, his beloved Catherine (Megan Gallagher). 

It's a haunting, affecting moment, because we see beneath Frank's strong facade and see -- truly see -- his sense of pain and loss.  This moment always moves me, every time I watch "The Sound of Snow."  Frank faces guilt, loss, sadness and a future that isn't what he hoped it would be.

Happy Birthday, Lance Henriksen

A very special happy birthday wish today -- May 5, 2011 -- for Mr. Lance Henriksen. 

Thank you, Mr. Henriksen, for inspiring a legion of fans and writers the globe across.  Enjoy this special day.

Now, back to the show...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Not Bad for a Human Now Available!

Get your copy now, while supplies last. 

Order here.

The Pineal Eye: The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

Alison Nastasi -- who has already shared with us those memorable reviews of Hard Target and Near Dark -- returns for Day 3 of the Lance Henriksen Blogathon with a terrific review (at The Pineal Eye) of another Henriksen horror classic, 1991's The Pit and the Pendulum.


From the first moment he appears on screen, Henriksen’s Torquemada has us utterly transfixed. The actor spends 97 minutes mostly shrouded in dark robes. His slender hands wave hypnotically through the air, as though he were conducting some kind of silent, demonic orchestra. A scene where the Inquisitor surrenders to a whipping by one of his underlings demonstrates the actor’s parallel commitment to preparing for the role of the sadistic General. Henriksen’s upcoming biography, Not Bad for a Human, details the ascetic lifestyle that he underwent to immerse himself in his character. Director Stuart Gordon also comments on the “fearsome presence” Henriksen became on set.

This is another insightful review from Alison, so make certain to check it out.

Radiator Heaven: Nightmares: "The Benediction"

J.D., the stellar talent behind the must-read film appreciation blog, Radiator Heaven, starts off our afternoon today, Day 3 of the Lance Henriksen Blogathon.

In particular, J.D. remembers a segment of the 1983 horror film anthology, Nightmares, which also starred Emilio Estevez.  I'm a big fan of this underrated anthology, which originated as episodes of the late-lamented TV series, Darkroom, hosted by James Coburn. 

Henriksen stars as a doubting thomas priest in "The Benediction," and -- in short order -- has a terrifying run-in with a REAL monster truck...from Hell.

For a B-horror film, there are some pretty weighty issues explored in Nightmares and Henriksen is more than up to the task. While the cat and mouse chase with the truck is derivative of Duel (1971) and, to a lesser degree, The Car (1977), his solid performance almost makes us forget that. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a showstopping moment where the evil truck comes bursting literally out from under the ground! Was the truck real or merely a manifestation of MacLeod’s fears and lack of faith? Regardless of whatever actually happened, he learns an important lesson. This could have so easily been a very silly segment but Henriksen’s acting grounds things and we find ourselves invested in his plight. This is quite impressive considering he isn’t given much screen time in which to do this but it is true mark of his abilities that the veteran actor makes the most of it.

Thanks J.D., for adding this outstanding remembrance of a great Henriksen performance that some fans may have missed!

Back to Frank Black: What the Killer Sees: Frank Black

I have long been an admirer of Adam Chamberlain's writing at Back to Frank Black.  He often writes pieces at that fine site called "What the Killer Sees," focusing on the (sometimes gruesome...) details of each murderer and serial killer featured in Millennium.

Today, Adam chooses "Frank Black" as the object of his study, and it's a fascinating read.


Frank Black is Millennium’s beacon of hope. In a world tainted by moral bankruptcy, tormented by eldritch evils and teetering on the verge of apocalyptic meltdown he is our best line of defence. He knows evil having seen the world through the eyes of killers, and yet time and again he emerges from his visions triumphant and catches the bad man.

Throughout Season One, Lance Henriksen asserts Frank Black as a devoted husband and father to a wholly believable family unit. Famously, Chris Carter directed Lance to invest the consulting profiler with a sense of quiet authority through a stillness and reserve that did not come naturally to Lance but which led him to find the truth of the character. As a result, and in spite of his insights into the minds of killers, Frank seems so far from truly becoming the capability he so vividly comprehends. It is thus in the contrast to this consistency of poise and carefully measured control across the previous twenty-two episodes that Frank’s transformation in “The Beginning and the End” provides such a powerfully dramatic pay-off.

Again, I want to thank Adam for contributing this great look at a classic Millennium episode, and urge you to check out the whole article.

Gris Gris: Anyone can see that the road that they walk on is paved in gold

Jane Considine, the blogger who yesterday gave us the memorable contribution regarding Millennium's"The Well-Worn Lock," returns for an encore on Day 3 of our Lance Henriksen Blogathon. 

In "Anyone can see that the road they walk on is paved in gold," Jane turns her attention to another first season classic, "The Wild and the Innocent."


The truly great thing about this episode of Millennium is the choice to lay out the narrative in an epistolary style. Maddie Haskell is a troubled young girl living in an abusive household. Maddie's letters to the innocent in this episode, her "Angel", are the framework for an analysis of what makes disenfranchised kids do the bad things they do. Maddie's Mother has been murdered by her abusive Stepfather, and Maddie and her very wild boyfriend Bobby are forced to deal with him.

Another really great piece, and I hope you will check it out at Gris Gris.  Thank you, Jane!

The United Province of Ivanlandia: Laughing with Chains

Ivan Lerner, the mad genius and great writer behind The United Province of Ivanlandia, today offers up a terrific contribution to the Blogathon, "Laughing with Chains." 

As his post title indicates, Ivan chooses as his point of focus the character Chains (Henriksen) in the actioner Stone Cold (1991)  Ivan has some great (and typically funny...) observations about the film and that memorable villain here.


But LH still gives delicious performances, giving depth and shade where THERE WAS NO FUCKING WAY it was in the script—which makes me think he takes on these projects as challenges, and I like that.

Make sure to check out the whole article.  Thanks Ivan, for sharing this a bit of Chains/Lance love!

MOVIES MADE ME: Millennium - Critical Mass

Joseph Maddrey, our stalwart co-host for this week's Lance Henriksen Fest, today recalls the initial critical and audience response to Millennium (1996 -1999) at his excellent blog, Movies Made Me.

Variety scribe Jeremy Gerard called the pilot “literate, well-acted and blessed with an irresistible hook,” and proclaimed it “the best new show of the season." He also heaped praise on Henriksen, calling him "exceptionally appealing as Frank, sort of Clint Eastwood with a tough of Stallone thrown in for good measure." The review was not, however, an unqualified rave. Gerard added a personal note: "I just wish it were a little more fun, that I didn't have this nagging feeling that it wants to hurt me the next time I come around." His was not the only conflicted response.

New York Times writer John J. O'Conner hailed MILLENNIUM as "the season's most chilling drama," while Los Angeles Times critic Howard Rosenberg dismissed it as "gruesome, foreboding television to slit your wrists by." Time magazine applauded the show's "marvelously unrelenting sense of unease," while Newsweek complained that it delivered "all the smut and violence that Bob Dole warned you about - and then some." The latter even called for the "V-chip police" to arrest Chris Carter on sight.

Fascination with Fear: Over Forty Years Of Kicking Ass And Taking Names

Christine Hadden, blogger and writer extraordinaire at Fascination with Fear, and frequent contributor to Fangoria, The Blood Sprayer and Paracinema, today contributes to the Blogathon: "Over Forty Years of Kicking Ass and Taking Names.

This great retrospective recounts in images and words Henriksen's incredible, multi-decade journey through film, horror and mainstream.


I was surprised, once I started really thinking about it, by how many horror films the man has actually done. In addition to the main-stream film work he's been a part of, and the three seasons of the stellar cult-status television show Millennium, the guy has put so much sci-fi and horror out there for us to enjoy that I could never touch on all of it, lest this blog be called Fascination with Lance Henriksen.

Christine, thank you for a wonderful contribution to kick off Day 3 here.