Movies & TV / Columns

A Fool’s Utopia 12.6.12: Being Tim Curry

December 6, 2012 | Posted by Ron Martin

On The Resurrection of Zombie 7 podcast, we look at horror movie franchises, one movie at a time. In between franchises, however, we like to do a one off horror movie that we call a “One Night Stand” episode. In between talking about Pumpkinhead movies and Final Destination movies, we took a look at the Stephen King miniseries, IT. During the conversation for that movie, I made the observation that Tim Curry was Johnny Depp before Johnny Depp was Johnny Depp.

Think about it. You want a wacky, off the wall but lovable character these days – Johnny Depp is your go to guy. Before Depp came onto the scene in the late 80s, Tim Curry was that guy. If you get the chance, check out Curry’s imdb page. His career is in its fifth decade, and my guess will be that he will have work until he either dies or his voice goes out. The man has played a cult classic transvestite from outer space, a version of Satan, Stephen King’s most iconic movie villain, William Shakespeare, a knight of the round table, Captain Hook, Long John Silver and Ebenezor Scrooge. You never know where the guy is going to show up next. He’s as likely to be in a straight-to-DVD movie as he is the next big blockbuster. Parody movies? Check. Cartoons? Check. Video Games? Check. Audiobooks? Check.

It goes further than that. Look at his co-stars: Scooby Doo, Disney Princesses, Disney heroes, superheroes, fable legends, Annie, the Muppets, Hanna Barbera characters – and the list of his human co-stars is just too long to even get into. There are few if any careers that have the span, reach and variety of Curry’s. I dare you to try and find one.

The man has had a legendary career, and honestly, it goes mostly unnoticed. Perhaps that’s because his voice is one of the most sought after in the industry so he is in high demand for voiceovers and audiobooks. I’m not saying that Curry has the leading man qualities that Depp has, but I think he is just as versatile. Without further adieu, I give you my five favorite Tim Curry roles, with a couple of honorable mentions.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Long John Silver, Muppets Treasure Island — Unlike most, I really like Muppets Treasure Island in no small part because of Tim Curry. Hey – he gets to kill a Muppet…kind of. I mean the guy’s name was already Dead Tom, so it was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

William Shakespeare, Life of Shakespeare — Hello – William Shakespeare! In this six part mini-series during the late 70s, Curry brought to life a guy bigger than life and managed to portray the mystery surrounding Shakespeare as well as anyone could on a TV mini-series. A must watch for any Shakespeare fan.

5. Nigel Thornberry, The Wild Thornberrys — My readers all know that I go in and out of stages in my life where I latch onto a Nickelodeon or Disney kids show. Don’t act like you’re never done it. The Wild Thornberrys was one of those shows. Again, due in no small part to Mr. Curry. Smashing!

4. Wadsworth, Clue — I love this movie and this all-star cast. Wadsworth, at first glance, would be the least interesting character of the bunch. However, Curry plays him with a mixture of zeal, comedy, mystery and sadism that makes him one of the most interesting characters of the bunch. I would actually like to see Depp tackle a character like this. I think he could pull it off. It would be interesting. While the entire cast added to the final product, I think the movie would have gone south fastest if a lesser talent were to play the butler of the Clue mansion.

3. Darkness, Legend — I won’t go so far as to say that this character has become more of a cult classic than the next one on my list, but he’s up there. In fact, the entire top three are up there when it comes to cult cred. I saw this film when I was pretty young and Curry scare the crap out of me. I have vivid memories of my first viewing of this film at a drive-in theater. I’ve watched it several times since then, however, it’s that first viewing that I always remember. Few actors could have pulled this off effectively.

2. Dr. Frank-N-Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show — In high school, I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show probably a hundred times. I even once got to play “Brad” in the in-theater live action performance when the regular Brad no-showed. I have the soundtrack and Tim Curry has a couple of songs on my iPod. Is it a great movie? Of course not – that’s why we love it. It’s hard to imagine that the crossdressing transvestite from another planet is the same guy who I just wrote about at the Lord of Darkness.

1. Pennywise, IT — You can get most of my thoughts on Curry’s performance on our IT podcast (It’s episode 17). I’ll sum it up here. The best compliment I may have ever given an actor is this – while reading the book IT, I had an idea of what Pennywise looked like in my head. Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise was better than what I had imagined in my head. What better compliment is there? I think Curry’s performance of Pennywise is unmatched. I don’t think even the great Johnny Depp could pull that one off. This IT remake they are doing is going to be hurt by Curry’s performance because I can’t see anyone doing it better.

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

1. At first, I wasn’t a believer in Global Warming, and now I don’t know how anyone can deny it. Within the last two weeks, I’ve worn my winter jacket, a light jacket as well as a t-shirt and shorts. I’ve had the heat on and for the first time in my life, I had to turn my air conditioning on for about an hour to kill the mugginess in my house. I’ve scraped ice off of my car and I’ve driven with the windows completely rolled down. What the hell is going on?!!

2. Love This:

3. SPORTS THOUGHTS:

a. The Colts pulled out another game that I didn’t think they would win. They are single handedly killing me in my Pick Em League. I’m 5-7 picking their games this year. The only game I’ve actually picked them to win was the Cleveland game. I’m picking them to win this week – I hope that doesn’t spell doom for them. With four games left, two are extremely winnable (at home vs. Tennessee and at Kansas City) with a third that might be Colts starters vs. Houston’s second team. Ten or eleven wins is not out of the question, which is mind boggling to me. They’d have to really screw up to lose a playoff spot at this point. The only two team chasing them (Pittsburgh and Cincinnati) are a game back and they play each other effectively making one of them two games back. They only have to beat one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the Colts can’t compete with the top four teams in the AFC (especially on the road), but to think that a team that was as bad as they were last year could get into the playoffs is amazing.

b. I’m eating a ton of crow when it comes to Andrew Luck (I believe I called him a modern day Jeff George at one point) and I am ecstatic he’s the QB of my team, but unlike everyone else in this area, I’m not a blind homer zombie. As good as Luck is, he’s not the Rookie of the Year. In one of the best years ever for rookies, that honor has to go to Mr. RG3. Whether he’ll be able to maintain this pace over the course of his career is irrelevant – he’s having a better year than Luck. He is leading in all major statistical categories save for yards, which to me is irrelevant. He takes care of the ball better and he’s more accurate at this point. I don’t think that will hold up as Luck won’t throw as many interceptions as he gets further in his career, but for now it’s true. On top of that, Washington has as good a shot to make the playoffs as anyone else in the NFC. Is it possible we’ve stumbled onto the first 1-2 draft picks where both players will end up being good?

c. I know by the time this is published, it will be old news, but I wanted to touch on the Javon Belcher tragedy. I was a little disturbed by the hero worship the guy was getting Saturday and Sunday. Kansas City did the right thing by having a moment of silence for victims of domestic abuse instead of Belcher. At least they didn’t get caught up in the press. Good for KC – they handled things well.

The bottom line is that the guy is a murderer. I don’t care how good of a teammate he was, he murdered a young woman in front of his mother. I read one quote of a former teammate claiming you couldn’t be around a better guy than Belcher. Well, yeah, I could be around someone who hasn’t murdered anyone. That’s a start. It was really interesting to watch the press coverage over the weekend. I’m the weird person that instead of reacting to a celebrities death, I like to watch how other people react.

d. While FOX killed their comedy segment and several other segments on a somber set Sunday while covering the Kansas City tragedy, CBS completely dropped the ball. WOW! Not only did they not lead with the story, they started with an advertisement, chuckled about random shit for five minutes before trying to change the mood to the story before flipping it to some lingerie model to make picks so old guys could ogle a hot, young girl. The CBS Sunday pregame show should be required viewing for media students as to what not to do in case of a tragedy. Somebody should probably get fired for that. It was that egregious.

e. If it were possible, I have more respect for Tom Jackson than I already did. The ESPN analyst was already one of, if not my absolute favorite NFL analyst because he tells things like it is, he’s intelligent and he’s able to take all views into account. While everyone else seem to be celebrating the life of Belcher, Jackson had the balls to tell the audience on the ESPN pregame show that before Belcher committed suicide, he was a murderer first and the real victim was Kasandra Perkins. That’s why I love Tom Jackson.

4. Am I the only who could care less about The Hobbit? I’m no big fan of Peter Jackson. With the exception of The Frighteners, I feel he’s extremely overrated. I liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy well enough, but I’m not obsessed with it. I own them all on DVD only because I got them for $2 each on a Black Friday some years ago. Are they good? Sure. However, it didn’t take Peter Jackson to make them good. All Peter Jackson had to do was not fuck them up. Congratulations on not fucking up, Peter. I will probably never see these Hobbit films. I know I am in the minority, but I usually am.

5. The Story of the $.29 Meatball. Yesterday, I received my check from the county for working the polls back on Election Day. A smooth $131 would do me well for Christmas month. I decided to take the money and buy a month’s worth of groceries. As I am happily perusing the aisles of my local Kroger, talking to myself out loud (it keeps people away), I find this…

In case you are wondering what the hell that is, it’s a single meatball on sale for $.29. Why is there a single meatball on sale for $.29? Is this a practical joke? Is this what the deli workers at Kroger have to do to make their day go by? It seems to me that more than $.29 of labor and materials went into putting the meatball on display. Surely, the Kroger was going to take a hit on this.

I went about my business. I purchased a $10 “donation bag” for the local food shelter. You know what I’m talking about. A bag that is stapled shut with food items that you don’t get to see that are donated to the food shelter. I asked the cash register lady if I could purchase the $.29 meatball and put it in the donation bag. She told me that they are not allowed to open the bags. She did, however, seem curious that the deli would sell a single meatball for $.29. I left the store with the meatball unpurchased.

I went back today for the sole purpose of seeing if the meatball were still there. It was not. I will never know what happened to the $.29 meatball. Was it thrown away? Did the cash register lady go and get it? Was someone desperately seeking a single meatball to complete their meal? I will go to my grave wondering. You’re playing with fire when you’re dealing with $.29 meatballs.

USELESS TRIVIA AND SHAMELESS PLUGGING

LAST WEEK’S USELESS TRIVIA

What film is credited for having the PG-13 rating created for it being too violent for a PG film, but not bad enough for an R rating?

ANSWER: Gremlins and/or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It depends on which source you are reading. The truth is that at the time the MPAA had both of these movies coming and while they didn’t merit an R rating, they also couldn’t give them PG ratings, so they created a new rating. If it were just one or the other, they may have been labelled PG and we’d move on. Big ups once again for the guru of trivia, BEN PIPER and ANDREW for getting the correct answer(s) this week.

THIS WEEK’S USELESS TRIVIA

What, now extinct, Disney World attraction did Tim Curry do voice work for?

SHAMELESS PLUGGING

As always, check out our latest episode of The Resurrection of Zombie 7 Podcast on iTunes. The newest episode is on Final Destination as we continue through the Final Destination series. There’s also a connection between Final Destination 3 and IT. You’ll have to listen to find out what it is. It may make you feel a little uncomfortable – but that’s what we do at this podcast!

The latest episode of The Zombie Reckoning Podcast is now up on The Horror Palace Network or on iTunes. The newest episode is one day old and if THE BATTLE FOR YOUR TV SCREEN. In this one, we put a zombie film where the zombies come straight from your TV (The Video Dead), against The Ring. It’s not much of a contest, but it’s fun to listen to us tear apart The Video Dead and talk about Americanizing Japanese films. Check it out, write a comment or I don’t know, maybe even SUBSCRIBE! It’s free. If you got a couple of hours to kill at work or while you’re running errands or doing housework – why not?

THIS WEEK ON RETRO

Would you believe it if I told you that the trailer above was for one of the most controversial movies of the 1980s? Bringing together the holiday season and RETRO as well as my love for horror flicks, I present you with Silent Night, Deadly Night, a film released during the Christmas season in 1984. You might look at that trailer and think “That’s not so bad.” You’d be right…and wrong. It is a bad movie in that 80s slasher flick sort of way. By today’s standards, the movie would be tame, but in 1984 this movie actually caused people to picket movie theaters where it was playing. It got this reaction from the famous Siskel and Ebert…

What was all the controversy about? Santa Claus as a killer. Parents didn’t want the jolly fat man portrayed as someone evil that would scare their kids into fearing Santa Claus. The ironic fact is this isn’t a great movie. If no one had decided to make it controversial, it would have had a full run of a few weeks, then disappeared never to be mentioned again. Why were parents letting their children go and see this movie anyways? I was eight at the time and I had no idea this movie or controversy existed. Why? Because my mom didn’t bother to mention to me that there was a movie out there that portrayed Santa Claus as a serial killer.

Personal feeling aside, the controversy got the movie pulled after a couple of weeks of limited showings in select theaters. That wasn’t the end of the story, however…

Silent Night, Deadly Night was re-released in either 1985 or 1986 depending on what source you are reading. This time instead of using the Santa Claus as a killer to sell the movie, the producers and distribution company used the controversy to sell the movie because well, controversy sells doesn’t it? Ira Barmak makes a point in the clip above that if Siskel and Ebert were so offended, they could have ignored the movie completely and just let it die a slow death instead of giving it publicity. That’s eventually what happened. The movie was re-released. It wasn’t as good as anyone wanted it to be, then it was forgotten to all but hardcore horror fans…

…until now. It’s being….wait for it…wait for it….remade! Or it has been remade, that is. The film had a limited release and came out on DVD just a couple of days ago under the title Silent Night. It sports such names as Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue and Lisa Marie. I probably won’t be seeing this.

As for Silent Night, Deadly Night, it’s your basic 80s slasher. The only difference is that the first half of the film is spent on a psychological evolution of Billy, the main character who eventually snaps and kills everyone while pretending to be Santa Claus punishing those who are “naughty.” Who was more naughty in the 80s than Linnea Quigley?! She’s the only name in this movie you might know and she is accompanied by her breasts as always. I would like to do naughty things to Linnea Quigley. I don’t care if she’s pushing 60 these days.

23 Years Ago Today

December 6, 1989

#1 Single

“Blame it on the Rain” by Milli Vanilli

#1 Album

Girl You Know It’s True by Milli Vanilli

#1 Movie

Back to the Future, Part II

I must leave you now.


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Ron Martin

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