Face Off: Foreign Bodies – And Lance Henriksen (Recap/Review)

Face Off: Foreign Bodies featured a Spotlight Challenge where the contestants could pick their own team-mate and the creation they were tasked with was a “chest-bursting” alien of their own. The show this week had a parasitic space theme and special guest (judge) Lance Henriksen.

Face Off - Season 10

Face Off: Foreign Bodies featured  a Spotlight Challenge where the contestants could pick their own team-mate and the creation they were tasked with was a “chest-bursting” alien of their own. The show this week had a parasitic space theme and special guest (judge) Lance Henriksen.

McKenzie Westmore brought  out the show’s guest, Lance. He explained what makes the alien so scary in films and urged the hopefuls to base their creations on the idea of suspense and their own experiences.  The contestants then picked their team-mate and the parasite.

After choosing a random parasite each team began to create their storylines and characters.  While sketching out ideas of how they want the client to burst out of its host, Lance and McKenzie came back into the room.  At least one artist panicked a little when the horror icon returned.

Face Off - Season 10
All the contestants rush for the slime ingredients.

Lance and McKenzie came back with a surprise for the competitors; their first Foundation Challenge. Henriksen explained that there was an addition to their “chest bursting” homage; slime (the most important part, Lance revealed). The challenge was to make slime for their alien. It had to pass muster by doing what the teams intend it to do and the stuff had to be created in two hours.

At the end of the time period, Henriksen and McKenzie checked to see how the slime looked and performed. Immunity was the prize to  be won by the top team in this Foundation Challenge. As the five teams manufactured their slime, Lance and Ms. Westmore looked on.

Lance was the guest judge for the slime challenge and during the testing portion, the iconic performer did a “hands-on” inspection of each creation.  Henriksen was amusing and clearly enjoyed the experience. After his touchy-feely testing of the slime, Lance crowned a winning team; Mel and Melissa took  the challenge with their very colorful creation and as the winners earned immunity for this week’s spotlight challenge.

Face Off - Season 10
Lance “slime-checking.”

The teams moved into the sculpting phase with the alien bursting Focus Challenge.  Michael Westmore and McKenzie arrived to give the teams feedback and immediately tell the winning team that they are “on their own.”  Laughing, both Westmore’s return and explain that they are joking.

Ironically, the team with immunity  for the Spotlight Challenge had major issues with their character. Mel had to restart her sculpt four times and complained that her hands “feel broken.”

The immune team were not the only hopefuls having issues.  Team Johnny and Walter had major problems with their poly foam chest piece.  They had to start over and re-create the bursting piece of their character. As the two artists went back to the drawing board, Rob got into  a claustrophobic panic about time.

Yvonne and Anna changed their slime formula and Johnny and Walter appeared to have sorted the “bursting” problem. The models arrived with only four hours left till last looks. The second teaming of Robert and Katie has clearly not worked out well. While there are no major clashes this time, Katie’s sculpt of the cowl had a ridge that was far too prominent.

Face Off - Season 10
Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill and Neville Page inspect Mel and Melissa’s creation.

At the judging, all the series judges were on the same page with their  likes and dislikes of the offerings in front of them.  The top two characters were those created by Mel and Melissa as well as Rob and Kaleb.  Ultimately, the latter team won, with Rob taking his second challenge win in a row.

Face Off - Season 10
Team Rob and Kaleb for the win.

Rob and Kaleb make a creature bursting out of the back of their model’s head. After being told that their character won, Glenn Hetrick made a play on words, or possibly a pun,  when he congratulated  Rob on his “back-to-back” win.

The two teams on the bottom were Robert and Katie along with Yvonne and Anna. After  the judges gave the bottom two teams their feedback, they revealed that it was Katie’s work that was not up to scratch and the artist was sent home.

Like prior contestants, Ms. Kinney left with her head held high and Neville Page had words of praise for Katie’s earlier works. The guest stars on season 10 of Face Off have been exciting and excited.  Paul Reubens (the Child’s Play challenge) and Lance Henriksen both got major reactions from the contestants and fans of the show.

Face Off - Season 10
Team Robert and Katie.

Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy. Tune in for a mad dose of creativity and watch as some major talents make magic.

 

 

Agent X: Finale – A TNT Slap in the Face

Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.

pre_agent-xjpg

Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.  The last two episodes were put together for a two hour, in reality slightly less, extravaganza where John Case questions would be, hopefully,  answered.  Sadly, as the old saying goes John Case and his world was fleeting, so much so that only one of the two episodes can actually be viewed upon “demand”  from the TNT website, the day after.

What a slap-dash approach toward the fans of the show.  Where if they did not have the wherewithal to record or watch live the demise of their series, TNT gave no option to view the last two episodes the day after on their own network site. Is it any wonder that the show was doomed to fail?

Agent X was beginning to feel like the red-headed stepchild of TNT, before being given the axe.  There were things that could have been done to improve the overall “awesome” factor of the show. For example, having Fred Dryer (old “Hunter” himself) showing up, not once but twice and having some excellent comic banter with Gerald McRaney was a good thing.

Sadly, like the reintroduction (finally) of Olga Fonda, it was too little too late. On a sidenote here, it was great to see that busy, busy actress Kristina Klebe as a cornrowed villain (Do not tell Amandla Stenberg…Kay?) who got to kick a little butt before Fonda’s character won…

Fonda and Jeff Hephner made a great team and should have been put together as much as possible while on the same token less could have been seen of Ms. Stone and her “boss” John Shea. Neither of these two ever really meshed properly.  Sharon Stone is understandable, she is “big screen” and downplays as a matter of course, sadly this worked to her disadvantage in the series.

(There are other examples of “big time” stars and actors who have a hard time performing outside the medium of film. A perfect example is Lance Henriksen. On the big screen, Henriksen is a master at what he does. *He was also damned brilliant in the small screen “X-File Clone/wannabe” “Millennium”  as Frank Black – 1996-99.*

In 2009, Lance played General Shepherd in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. At least one CoD player was super excited that Henriksen was on board as an “in-game” character. Until, that is, Shepherd opened his gob in the game and spoke.  The actor downplayed his performance so much, he seemed to be reading his lines and was apparently bored out of his skull while doing so.  Big screen technique just did not work for the video game VO and this seems to be what Stone has suffered from.)

Shea, however, is a flat out miss. The actor is a TV performer, but he just failed to “spark.” C’est  la vie.  Some things just do not work in the area of casting…

Sadly, Agent X being terminated after its one season, leaves Jeff Hephner out in the cold. Hephner was more than capable in terms of acting and looking damned impressive whilst doing his stunts.  As stated before, McRaney (an old hand at the game) was spot on and Hephner had no apologies to make at all.

Andrew Howard as the  villain, did a good job given the OTT dialogue he was given and considering that in the last episode (available to be seen from TNT thus far – Penultimatum and not the “real” end episode Fidelity) he worked in pitted him against an abysmal acting partner the actor did very well.

It is harsh and unpleasant to point out, but  John Case’s gal Pamela (Carolyn Stotesbery) may be lovely to look at and delightful to hold, but the young lady’s acting skills would leave her trapped inside a wet paper bag.  To be fair to the performer, perhaps the lines never felt right, or…something. 

How sad that Agent X has gone out on a note where the wooden love interest of Agent Case is saved  (In the first half of the final episode that is).  Not wishing her harm but, if Pamela expired in that cargo container, Olga Petrovka and John Case would have made a “killer” couple…

So long to John Case’s short lived world, t’would have been nice to see the entire two hour end episode, but the end result is the same, another one bites the dust. TNT slaps its show in the face, or more accurately the show’s fans. Nice one chaps.

 

Stung (2015): Eight Legged Freaks with Wings

It might possibly be too picky to point out that the mustache on Lance Henriksen changes several times throughout the film but apart from this annoying occurrence, Stung is really just Eight Legged Freaks, with wings.

Matt O'Leary in Stung

It might possibly be too picky to point out that the mustache  on Lance Henriksen changes several times throughout the film but apart from this annoying occurrence, Stung is really just Eight Legged Freaks, with wings.  Granted, also missing are David Arquette and these “killer wasps” may have a bit more in common with Irwin Allen’s 1978 film The Swarm, but this horror film does have its moments.

Taking a page from the old Roger Corman theme of mankind messing with nature and paying the price, Stung is the first full length feature film to be directed by Benni Diez  from a script by Adam Aresty.  The film stars Matt O’Leary, Jessica Cook, Clifton Collins Jr. and, of course Henriksen.

A garden party goes madly awry when giant wasps attack the members of the event. These mutations inject fast growing larvae into their victims which results in seven foot long wasps with attitude attacking anything that moves.

There are a few stand out moments, apart from Henriksen’s mutating mustache.  The face on a wasp’s leg is quite impressive as is the dog scene later on.  Like Eight Legged Freaks these monstrous wasps make noises that are not insect-like and more amusing than frightening.  Unlike the David Arquette vehicle, however,  this comedy horror is more adult in nature and does not have quite as “happy” an ending.

With more “f**ks” than the entirety of Beverly Hills Cop (the first one) this is not for kids.  The gore factor is quite OTT but to be honest it is more of the “goo variety” and less about blood and guts, although there are a few “yuck” moments.

Lance Henriksen, as the “name” attached to the film, manages to make it through a good portion of the film before he, and his magic mustache, come to an explosive end.

Later in the film, at least one other classic horror film is given a big nod and wink, The Thing with Two Heads

The old dame whose party the wasps ruin, has a son, Sidney (Collins Jr.) who looks for all the world like a  living homage to the late actor Klaus Kinski from For a Few Dollars More. Long hair, glasses and a hump that later turns into the head of a giant wasp.

The film is good fun in many ways, after all how can one not enjoy a scene where three different characters say one very funny line?

Sydney: “Holy”

Julia: “Mother”

Caruthers: “F**ker.”

This in response to the three witnessing a rather grizzly and impressive birthing of yet another giant wasp.

Stung is entertaining and mildly amusing.  Like the “Drive In” movies it emulates and pays homage to, it really does feel like a throw back to the halcyon days of Corman.  The film is slowly paced, hence the ability to notice that Caruthers’ hairy upper lip kept changing its appearance, which does hurt it somewhat.

Overall, potty language aside, this is a good time to be had by almost all.  Although, sadly the two leads, Cook and O’Leary, never really gel. The two have no chemistry and while their awkward interactions fit the script they just never really feel like a possible couple.  Obviously this is the intent, from the beginning each character is caught up in their own world, but when the film progresses their “relationship” does not.

Odd and quirky, Stung has given the horror fan a slew of references to giggle at but the slow almost dragging pace of the film keeps many moments from ever reaching true hilarity or any real horrific payoff. This one is a 3.5 out of 5 stars for the homages alone and O’Leary’s performance could almost have taken the film to another level…almost.

Near Dark (1987): Cowboys and Vampires

Cover of "Near Dark (1987)"
Cover of Near Dark (1987)

I re-watched this 1980’s film today and marvelled at how beautiful it looked. Which is just as well as the pace of the film is almost snail-like.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (who also co-wrote the film with Eric Red) the future Mrs James Cameron (now ex-Mrs Cameron) does a pretty good job at setting the scene for this slow moving and slow paced ‘genre-bender’ and it is easy to see why it has built up such a huge cult following.

At the time of it’s release, it was following a current 80’s trend of vampire movies that were sweeping the box office. Fright Night (vampire comedy), The Lost Boys (teen vampire action) and The Hunger (vampire noir) had all done very well with the general public. A lot of other vampire films were released in the 80’s but only the vampire western Near Dark falls into the same calibre of the previous three films mentioned.

Unfortunately when the film initially opened it’s box office receipts were poor and the film did not even earn it’s budget back. The film has gone on to become a cult favourite (I know that I’ve loved the film for years) and was going to be remade until Twilight opened in theatres and now is on indefinite hold. Although why the emergence of Twilight could have any sort of impact on this film is completely beyond me.

Starring relative newcomers Adrian Pasdar, and Jenny Wright the rest of the cast was made up of Hollywood workhorses of a wide variety and talent. Lance Henriksen, Bill PaxtonJenette Goldstein and Tim Thomerson as Adrian Pasdar’s character’s Dad. Worthy of note was the decision to cast the young Joshua John Miller as the pudgy, creepy pre-pubescent vampire Homer. Miller’s portrayal of the chain smoking childish vampire who evoked a feeling of being a paedophilia  ‘wanna-be’ was clearly the most disturbing of the vampire clan in the film.

I felt at the time, and still do, that the vampires in the film headed by Henriksen and Goldstein were the vampire equivalent of the small time gangsters Bonnie and Clyde Barrows who terrorized small backwoods towns, banks and gas stations of the rural mid-west. You got the feeling that this group of killers had slid just under the radar through most of the places they moved through in their quest for blood and games.

The only problem with the film were the two romantic leads. Pasdar and Wright are just too bland as the country kids who fall in love, one a vampire, the other a cowboy. Personality did not seem to exist in either of them. Of course to be fair, when you have actors of the ilk of Henriksen, Paxton, Goldstein and Thomerson to share the screen with, unless you are very special, you’re going to  be blown off the screen. Which is precisely what happened in this film.

Ya wanna be in my gang?

The plot is pretty straight forward, Caleb Colton (Pasdar) goes into town and meets Mae (Wright). Instantly smitten he spends the night with her and she bites him. In this world a vampires bite is instantly viral and starts turning the recipient into one of the undead. As Caleb flees the rising sun (which does not make you twinkle, but instead causes you to catch fire and explode if you don’t get out of it quick enough) Mae’s vampire clan snatch Caleb up and they head for shelter.

Most of the film is then split up into Papa Colton trying to find Caleb, Caleb learning about how crazy and unforgiving this vampire clan is, and Caleb’s attempts to flee the group.

Despite its slow pacing, the film is stunning to look at and brilliant in its depiction of the vampires as a sort of social deviants. You also get the feeling   that they were the  same when they were alive.  The  character information is given out in ‘dribs and drabs’ and it adds to the feel of the story. We learn that Jesse Hooker (Henriksen) has been around since the American Civil War at least and that Paxton is his protégée. We learn how Diamondback (Goldstein) was found while changing a flat tire.

Nothing is ever revealed about Homer’s turning and this helps build the natural revulsion of his character.

I  give big points to the writers for coming up with a unique way to ‘cure’ the infected people in the film. It is certainly one that I’ve never seen before or since, come to think of it.  It is a real shame that this film didn’t do better on release and that it’s taken so long for it to reach cult status. I am relieved to hear that they will not be doing a remake as it sounds, by the press release at any rate, that it was going to have a lot in common with Twilight.

I can’t think of a more disturbing idea. Vampires who had bucket loads of personality (mostly bad) suddenly turned into brooding emo type characters who don’t burn in the sun, but twinkle in it. Whoever in the world thought that was a good idea?

I’m so full of angst!