Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead) on his idea of Hell and his biggest fears

DOUG BRADLEY of HELLRAISER: His Vision of Hell, Biggest Fears, the Band GHOST

I watched Hellraiser for the first time a few weeks ago and fell down a very dark and sadistic rabbit hole as I watched the next two sequels (II was very good, III was not). But the common denominator from both films was Doug Bradley aka Pinhead (and, as a brilliant Freudian slip, I initially wrote that as demoninator).

The British actor spoke to Elliott Fullam of Little Punk People about his life, his roles as Pinhead, and what his vision of Hell was. I loved this interview because it cut out all the rubbish you often get with celebrity interviews. The questions were clear and interesting, and so were the answers. No bullshit.

What year was Batman Returns set in?

As I got older, I started wondering “what period was Batman Returns set in?”. Its predecessor, Batman, seemed modern for the time (1989) but Returns felt a lot older. People wore clothes from the early 20th century, maybe 20s-30s and the architecture was very Art Deco.

The problem is, when you Google “What year was Batman Returns set in?”, you get the year the film was released: 1992. Not helpful. Then I found this on Quora about the first film:

It’s hard to tell. The architecture suggests that, but the technology suggests what was then the present day.

That was 1989, meaning that Thomas and Martha Wayne were probably killed around 1969 or so. So why, in the flashback to that scene, were they and little Bruce dressed like it’s the 1940s? Did somebody mess with the timestream? Does the Keaton Batmobile have a flux capacitor?

Batman Returns has a similar issue. It almost feels like the main characters are stuck in a period they aren’t from, as they appear modern and the rest of Gotham is still in a weird 20th century time warp. But let’s look at this logically. In the film, we start with Oswald Cobblepot’s birth and early days as a baby 33 years before what we believe is 1992, taking us to 1959. Are you telling me 33 years pass and people haven’t updated their clothes? And there are other suggestions about the time, as a commenter on this blog post mentions:

Some more timewarp craziness, this time form (sic) Batman Returns:

Ted Bundy exists and is a known serial killer. (Bruce Wayne dialogue to Selina)

And yet, only about 30-40 years earlier (whatever Penguin’s age is), Gotham was something out of circa early 1900s (judging by Penguin’s parents’ dress and house furnishings, Pee Wee and Simone)

Comment link

Bundy was alive between 1946–1989 and he admitted to murders committed between 1974 and 1978 so it definitely wasn’t set in the 20s or 30s. So maybe, like Batman, it was set in an alternate universe’s 1992 where Art Deco and German expressionism never died. Did I mention Tim Burton was the director and the film was criticised for being too dark?

So, to answer the question “what year was Batman Returns set in?”, my answer is: probably 1992 but not our 1992.

How Michael Keaton perfected the role of Batman

How Michael Keaton Perfected BATMAN

No one has come close to Michael Keaton’s live-action portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman (emphasis on ‘live-action’ as Kevin Conroy goes toe-to-toe in the animated series). In the above video, iamthatroby explained why he loved Keaton’s Batman so much.

I have a hot, hot take for all of you: I believe that every single component of Batman the general audience loves is as a result of Michael Keaton’s performances in Batman and Batman Returns. The mannerisms, the sound, the look, the Batcave, the Batsuit. The two Burton films established this language for Batman that has been replicated time and time again.

I completely agree. Keaton set the standard that ever other Batman actor has followed.

Would you binge-watch all 24 James Bond movies for $1,000?

Nerd Bear’s proposition:

To celebrate the release of the 25th (official) James Bond film, No Time to Die, Nerd Bear will pay one super fan $1,000 to watch all 24 movies starting from Dr. No right up to Spectre. That’s over 51 hours of films, 7 different 007s, and too many martinis!

No Time To Die was due to be released in April but now has been pushed back to September 30 2021. I know. We’re disappointed too, but we hope this dream job will keep you going while you wait!

For US citizens and permanent residents only.

Yaphet Kotto on Alien and Black and female representation in sci-fi

yaphet kotto in alien

Yaphet Kotto passed away yesterday at the age of 81.

I took for granted how many brilliant films he featured in:

  • Live and Let Die
  • The Running Man
  • Midnight Run
  • Across 110th Street
  • Blue Collar
  • Raid on Entebbe

But one of his best known roles was that of Parker, the chief engineer in Alien.

In the video below, Kotto discusses the impact Alien had on him and Black and female actors in sci-fi after its release. Although not explicitly mentioned by Kotto, the actor who played the Alien in Alien was also Black: Bolaji Badejo, a Nigerian visual artist and actor who sadly passed away in 1992.

YAPHET KOTTO on ALIEN | Opening Doors | TIFF

25 Black art documentaries you need to watch

Last February, Lachelle Chyrsanne compiled a list of 25 must watch Black art documentaries.

From the list, I’ve only seen 5:

  1. Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)
  2. Black Is the Color: A History of African American Art (2017)
  3. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
  4. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)
  5. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019)

There’s no time limit on watching these so I’ll add them to my ever-growing Letterboxd watchlist. The documentaries I have watched were very powerful and worth your time and investment.

See also: James Baldwin on the meaning of liberty, Toni Morrison on Jazz, and Jean-Michel Basquiat on how to be an artist.

Did Danny DeVito eat a real fish in Batman Returns?

The Penguin eating raw bluefish

Tl;dr: yes, Danny DeVito ate a real fish in that scene from Batman Returns.

I like to look at what kind of things people search for to find the site or what Cultrface comes up for in general. One of the most interesting search queries was “did danny devito eat a real fish in batman returns” and it was something I’d wondered over the years. So I looked it up myself. And he did.

In an interview with Nicholas Fonseca for The Daily Telegraph in Australia in 2019, DeVito also revealed what kind of fish he was eating:

The Penguin eats fish, quite grotesquely, in that movie. What were you actually eating?

Raw fish.

Wait, what?

Oh yeah, that was real fish. Bluefish. Fresh, of course. Movie stars only eat fresh fish. Don’t try to pawn two-day-old fish on us. You bring that right from the market.

DeVito chowed down on raw fish as the Penguin in Batman Returns. Yum.

Surely that didn’t taste good after a while, though.

Well, in the middle of the action, I would squeeze a mixture of mouthwash and spirulina into my mouth — but that was because I needed to ooze this green, kind of black thickish liquid out of the corners.

(Sidenote: bluefish, known as tailor in Oceania, and elf or shad in South Africa, is a popular food fish but it is also a vulnerable species due to widespread overfishing)

So there you have it—The Penguin really did eat raw fish when Max Shreck announced he would help him run for mayor of Gotham City. Is it weird that, as a kid, it made me hungry? Is it also weird that, as an adult, it still makes me hungry?

Stream the scene below.

Max manipulates Oswald | Batman Returns

Related: Fashion fish, gefilte fish, and the vantafish.

Rewatching Groundhog Day in 2021

Warning: this post contains spoilers. I know the film is nearly 30 years old but I’m a conscientious kinda guy.

2nd February is Groundhog Day, a North American tradition derived where a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil comes out of its burrow and declares the season for the next six weeks:

  • If it sees its shadow, there’ll be winter for six more weeks
  • If it doesn’t see its shadow, spring will arrive early

By the way, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter this year.

If you’re wondering how accurate Punxsutawney Phil is, here’s what Live Science says:

Not very, it turns out […] According to the Groundhog Club’s records, the various incarnations of Punxsutawney Phil have predicted 103 forecasts of more winter and 20 early springs (including this year). (There are nine years without any records, and even the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, which keeps track of these things, doesn’t know what happened to Phil during those years.) Data from the Stormfax Almanac’s data shows that Phil’s six-week prognostications have been correct about 39 percent of the time.

But when most people talk about Groundhog Day, they’re referencing the film starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. In it, Phil Connors (Murray) is a weatherman who visits Punxsutawney for the Groundhog Day festivities only to find himself trapped in the town—and the same day—reliving it over and over.

It’s a brilliant film and its cultural impact has travelled as far as Tibet and the Buddhist monks who live there. I’ve seen it many times but decided to watch it today since it’s 2nd February after all. Rather than write a film review (I’ve given up review writing and I’m no Roger Ebert), here are some of my napkin thoughts as I watched it through today:

  • Firstly, I found it on Prime Video and it was in 4K UHD which meant I could take advantage of my new 4K UHD lockdown TV. It was also the first time I’d seen it in this quality.
  • This is a very 2020 film. A white man relives the same day over and over, taunts the police, gets arrested without violence and jailed, and wakes up in his own bed without charges.
    • He also does a PUA impression to get with a random woman he liked the look of. And he stole money and got away with it (naturally).
  • He had a thing for Andie McDowell’s character, Rita, from the moment he saw her (which he mentioned at the end) which is nice to see in a movie rather than it being forced.
  • It was also nice to see an egotist work through his flaws and become a better person.
  • The Jeopardy scene was hauntingly brilliant (RIP Alex Trebeck).
  • Phil couldn’t get what he wanted and soon descended into depression which had fatal consequences (on multiple occasions).
  • It’s interesting that the scene where Phil believes he’s a god (“not the God”) comes after everything rather than at the beginning where it could have been attributed to his egotism.
  • The scene where Phil declares his love for Rita while she’s asleep is so beautiful and I always stop and really listen to it.
    • For the first time, I started to think that maybe Rita was some kind of guardian angel or spirit to Phil that started his journey towards nirvana? He alluded to that himself in his declaration.
    • It always felt like Rita knew a bit more than someone who wasn’t in the same time loop; as if she had grown to love Phil too but over more than just a single day but without realising why? It’s a threadbare theory.
  • The final act where Phil becomes more selfless and wants to better himself is endearing.
  • The bit where he tried to save the old homeless man was hard to watch. It was a reminder that, as his nurse said, “sometimes people just die”. It stung more than ever given how badly older people have been treated during the COVID-19 pandemic, homeless or otherwise.
  • It felt like he knew the last day was his last but even if it wasn’t, he was at peace and comfortable with his being (which probably unlocked him from the time loop)
  • Larry’s auction spin is one of the best highlights of the movie.
  • Imagine living the same day over and over, possibly for years, trying to get with the woman of your dreams and waking up the next day to find her next to you.
  • I don’t know if I’d live in Punxsutawney.

See also: Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day, explained

(Image courtesy of Eddie~S on Flickr; shared using the CC BY 2.0 licence)

The 10 worst movies of 2020 according to Dom Griffin

I like to think January is the last month you can mention any kind of “best/worst of” lists for the preceding year and it’s arguably the best time to do them. You get a few days or weeks to digest everything you’ve consumed and you can give a more level-headed response to it.

Dom Griffin aka The Armchair Auteur is that kind of person and that’s why he uploaded his choice of the 10 worst movies of 2020 to his YouTube channel. In his signature style, Dom gives brief lip service to half the list and tears apart the remaining 5 with a mix of acerbic wit and relatable critique that makes you enjoy the review more than you could ever enjoy the films (which is the point as they all suck).

Here’s the list so you can avoid these movies like the plague. Or COVID-19.

  1. Capone
  2. Antebellum
  3. Songbird
  4. Irresistible
  5. Hillbilly Elegy
  6. Doolittle
  7. Last Days of American Crime
  8. John Henry
  9. Coastal Elites
  10. Lazy Susan

Stream the review below.

The Top Ten WORST Movies of 2020

Film list/critique related: 10 classic German expressionist films and the evolution of Pinhead

This Is Your Life with Buster Keaton

buster keaton

While looking through YouTube today, the algorithm suggested a video about Buster Keaton. He was an actor I never looked into much but knew him by name and the reverence held by so many.

Further digging led me to this episode of This Is Your Life from 1957 featuring special guests Louise and Harry Keaton (his brother and sister), fellow colleagues Eddie Cline, Donald Crisp, Donald O’Connor, and Red Skelton and his wife Eleanor.

Buster remained straight-faced throughout (not a contractual obligation as once rumoured) and relatively quiet.

Comedy actor related: My obsession with Michael Keaton’s Easter Candy-SNL skit (Michael’s choice of stage name but has no connection to Buster) and was Jim Carrey a douche on the set of Man on The Moon?

This is Your Life: Buster Keaton

The evolution of Pinhead

The evolution of Pinhead

I stumbled on this video by Darwin’s Media last year, showcasing the evolution of Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.

Pinhead is one of the leaders of the Cenobites, formerly humans but transformed into creatures which reside in an extradimensional realm, who travel to Earth through a puzzle box called the Lament Configuration in order to harvest human souls. His origins and the nature of the Cenobites vary depending upon the medium: while the character began as an amoral entity blindly devoted to the practice of experimental sadomasochism, later depictions have portrayed him as explicitly evil and even demonic in origin.

I’ve never watched Hellraiser (maybe I will one day) but I’ve always been fascinated by Pinhead and after watching the video, I’m a big fan of his one liners.

What I didn’t know was how many times he’d been portrayed, on film and television:

Pinhead has also appeared in The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Family Guy, and South Park. That’s a lot of media for someone who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves compared to Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, or Leatherface.

Stream it below.

Pinhead Evolution in Movies & TV (Hellraiser)

A Weird AF RoboCop Video Collage

Back in August 2020, I posted RELAXATION TAPE NO. 2: the opposite of ASMR, a collection of random video mashup/collage/clusterfucks made by CDTcrew. Before I found that, I got into one of their shorter videos called ROBO.

It’s an absolute mess. And I love it.

Imagine RoboCop condensed into 102 seconds with no care for editing or how your eyes and ears will feel after it’s finished. But I still love it. The video takes clips from the film, behind-the-scenes interviews, the video game, and random commercials. It’s also way more violent than the film appears to be, which is quite an achievement.

As I suggested in the RELAXATION TAPE article, I don’t expect anyone to enjoy this but I do so join in if you wanna.

Batman Returns is the best Christmas movie

I’m writing this in bed in the middle of the night rather than sleeping on my parents sofa bed like I was last year. I couldn’t see them because of the virus and this Christmas period has been my least favourite in living memory.

But one thing’s for sure: Batman Returns is still the best Christmas movie of all time (and my all-time favourite as I mentioned in a previous post) and my good friend Dom Griffin made a brilliant bitesize review of Returns on his Armchair Auteur channel.

As Dom said, it’s messed up and the raunchiest Batman outing to date (Joel Schumacher’s renditions were more playfully camp before you say anything) but it works so well on all levels: cinematically, in character development, thematically, and with set designs. The fact that Batman didn’t need to be front and centre throughout the movie proves how good it was.

Anyway, let me not wax lyrical about it as Dom does a much better job in 5 minutes.

Stream his review below and subscribe, damnit! Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Batman Returns: The Best Christmas Movie

Polygon's MCU Machete Order

Marvel Cinematic Universe

We’ve covered the Star Wars “Machete Order” and the X-Men Machete Order and now we have the MCU Machete Order. Well, not exactly.

Dave Gonzales wrote “The ultimate way to watch the Marvel movies” for Polygon, suggesting the “right” order to watch the MCU films, not in a “chronological marathon”, but for a “well-paced experience”. 14 days of the biggest film franchise in history? Sure, why not, and the order makes sense (especially now since Day 5 is called “Christmas Day”.)

You’ve probably seen many of the Marvel films before, either because you were on board since Iron Man in 2008 and have since gotten a steady stream of Marvel content keeping you up-to-date on the “in universe” events, or maybe you just like big action, blow-em-up-or-shrink-em-down movies, or you’re a fan of one or more A-list actors named Chris. But now, with all the movies now at our disposal for instant renting or streaming, we can experience the MCU in a pure way and at a more relaxed pace than those poor souls who attend in-theater MCU Marathons. A 23-movie arc should not be viewed in marathon fashion. This isn’t an Olympic event, it’s a road trip.

Of the 23 movies in the list, I’ve only seen 11 of them so I’ve got some catching up to do. And there’s some mild controversy over the first movie in the list not being Iron Man which is objectively fair—it did start everything off, after all. But everything else looks good. Well, not Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3—they sucked.

And for the future? We definitely need more black superheroes.

The oldest Santa Claus movie in the world from 1898

santa claus

Santa Claus is a regularly filmed man. But did you know his first silver screen appearance was nearly 120 years ago?

Santa Claus was directed by British filmmaker and psychic George Albert Smith, and his 66-second production showcases Santa’s present delivering prowess. The film starts with two young girls taken to bed by their maid before Saint Nick arrives on the roof with his big sack of presents. He enters the home, leaves stockings on the end of the girls’ bed and exits stage left.

Simple by today’s standards but quite elaborate for the late 19th century, described as “one of the most visually and conceptually sophisticated British films made up to then”.

Stream it below and Merry Christmas from everyone at Cultrface!

Santa Claus (1898) - G.A. Smith | BFI National Archive

(via Open Culture)