There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 36

Last time: Brenda saved herself and Connor. Remind me again why this movie isn’t called The Resourceful Forensic Weapons Specialist With Questionable Taste In Boyfriends?

36. A happy ending?

We’re at the epilogue, with Brenda and Connor lolling about on a hill in the highlands in very preppy sweaters. It’s also the wrap-up, in which we find out how Connor experiences what I assume is near-infinite influence.

This, like so many other things about our hero, could be summed up as “…eh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” The exact quote is “…It’s like a whirlwind in my head, but if I concentrate, I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents, diplomats, scientists…I can help them understand each other.” This seems like a slipshod method when you’re the supreme being of this particular film; then again, my relative position on a Connor-to-Kurgan leadership continuum is pretty well established by now, so I would think that.

Brenda doesn’t seem to mind Connor’s plan to treat the whole world as his personal pinball machine to nudge (“Tilt! Oh, damn, global war. I guess they understood each other but just didn’t agree.”), or mind that his biggest goal is to be just a regular guy, as able to be killed by random acts of god (er…whom he may be, I guess) as any other man who has the weight of an impending action-movie franchise looming overhead. Though if he can make himself a regular guy, would that mean abandoning his new special powers? We never get to find out.

And then, as if to bang the drum of anticlimax with greater force, we get a Ramirez montage. (It had never really dawned on me until writing about the church scene that Connor and the Kurgan are, in part, having an argument about a guy who’s been dead for 400 years. Everyone is really hung up on Ramirez.) Is there some reason Connor can’t bring the guy back from the dead at this point, other than having to explain that he willed all Ramirez’s clothes to a nice lady in New York?

The montage version of Ramirez says the Highlander has “power beyond imagination.” I have to assume they’re not talking about my imagination. Connor and Brenda wouldn’t have needed a plane to get to Scotland, for one thing.

At any rate, they’re happy for the moment, kissing on a hillside as the end-of-movie music swells.


Next time: It turns out I didn’t see nearly as much of Disney’s The Black Hole as a kid as I’d thought, so I’m still on the hunt for Friday.

Next time on TCBOM!: What did we learn?


There Can Be Only Monday!: Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 35

Last time: Rachel inherits the earth treasure cave; Connor sets out to save Brenda and more or less ends up in a time-appropriate music video.

35. In which I get out my Team Kurgan pennant. The guy needs all the help he can get.

This is it, my 1.2 readers: the final duel that decides the fate of humanity. I’m thinking the movie title kind of gives away the result here, but onward!

First things first: for this section I am dipping my toe into audio and trying to produce a few amusing things. If you’ve ever wondered what someone who’d watch Highlander constantly for a most of a year sounds like, wonder no more. We have soundbites from my living room!

(I’d also like to offer special thanks to the other voice, my friend V., at this point no stranger to the Connor Sucks Chorus.)

Connor and the Kurgan have fallen through the skylight into a room with a nice bank of windows we should all get a good look at while we still can.

The Kurgan is having a lovely time kicking Connor’s ass while Brenda attempts to get in through a locked door. Has someone learned his lesson about villain monologues of any length? He has not.

Just when the movie gets my hopes up, Brenda runs in to attack the bad guy with a metal pipe. Why does nobody (including me the first time I watched the film) ever seem to notice Brenda winning the movie? Is it sexism? Does the title/whole Highlander concept carry so much weight that the story naturally bends around a MacLeod? Some combination of these things?

At any rate, Connor gets his groove sword back…somehow…and proceeds to rout the Kurgan.

And, light shining on his stubble, the Highlander moves in for the kill.

Kurgan, we hardly knew ye. Of course, by the end, you hardly knew ye, too.

The final Quickening seems to be extremely painful, and not just if you happen to be a window: Connor is lifted in the air, attacked by strange spirits, yells a lot, and allegedly receives infinite knowledge before the power drops him to the hard floor, where I’m guessing at least some of it leaks back out.


Next time: I celebrate the life of Christopher Lee by rewatching one of my least favorite Hammer Draculas.

Next time on TCBOM!: Praying to a new god. Well, not really, it’s just Connor talking.


There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 34

Last time: Venom The Green Goblin The Kurgan nabbed Brenda and proceeded to act like, oh, I don’t know, a guy who can be easily defeated with just a little bit of forethought and sane swordsmanship? Just spitballing here.

34. Rachel gets promoted! And we find ourselves in Santa Barbara, sort of.

You’d think a transportational rampage like the one in the last section should make the news even in Highlander’s New York, but the Kurgan calls Connor to mention that he’s kidnapped Brenda anyway, leaving a sinister message on what looks to be a solid acre of answering machine.

I’m not sure why, but I love old technology in movies and TV. If I’m watching something from the ’90s, I coo over every appearance of a pager; I can’t let a typewriter sit on anybody’s desk on the big or small screen without mentioning it —and rating it for beauty; and old televisions frequently bring a smile to my face. I mention this to explain that Connor’s answering machine makes me very happy. It’s probably big even for 1985, which suggests that maybe he’s an early adopter, something that seems kind of, well, lively for the Mopelander.

Connor tells a horrified Rachel that he’s leaving for good, no matter what happens (“Russell Nash dies tonight”): she’s the antique store’s new owner. He repeats the “it’s a kind of magic” line from their very first meeting, then sets off for the final fight. Somewhere offscreen, I presume Rachel waits until he’s gone to make the “cha-ching!” motion with her arm and pop the cork on some champagne, maybe have some friends over: “I thought he’d never quit! It’s not as if he ever sells anything, but he’s finally got a girlfriend…yes, I guess that stabbing-yourself thing finally worked on someone. Who knew? More wine?”

Meanwhile, Connor finds Brenda attached to a big neon sign, and I take a minute to remind myself that resemblances to other movies aren’t really Highlander’s fault. From a movie-magic standpoint, it’s the perfect place to start your final encounter: fog, metal, a catwalk to scramble around on—at one point Connor even slides down a cable like a fairly tame Errol Flynn. But there’s so much here to hate. The gratuitous water spill, Brenda screaming randomly, neon letters falling because the Kurgan has lost his damn mind…

So if you’re like me and get a little bored by the roof action in this fight, have a look at the soap-opera death it always reminds me of:

The final indignity before they fall through the skylight and the duel begins in earnest? After her neon letter gets knocked over, Brenda rescues herself. Say it with me: Connor sucks.


Next time: I wish I knew.

Next time on TCBOM!: The final indignity conflict. I’m going to try to work out some audio commentary for this one.



There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 33

Last time: Connor replaced charm with stabbing and got the girl anyway.

33. There’s only one thing I want to know.

We’re now at the part of the movie where the villain, in classic form, leverages the hero. Or to put it another way, we are now at the part of the movie from which the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies have drained all my goodwill, because I just can’t take another love interest getting captured and tied to a building, not even for the damn Kurgan. (This is, of course, a classic movie problem: I remember finally watching Halloween sometime in the ’90s and realizing it felt cliché because it had set the standard for every slasher film that followed. The difference, I suppose, is that I’m far too squeamish to watch a slasher on the big screen but somehow found myself at every Spider-Man installment.)

The first thing I despise about this is that, presumably due to time constraints, Brenda turns into your standard-issue damsel in distress when the Kurgan comes after her: she screams; she fails to do any damage to him at all, even with that gun she had ready on her abortive date with Connor and an apartment literally bristling with swords; and when he puts her in the car and goes crazy, driving all over the place, she eventually faints.

I assume the crazy-driving portion of our program is to further show that the villain is losing his grip, both ascending (he finally kills people, if I had to guess) and descending (you have a shot at ruling the world and are running down pedestrians for fun? Really?) in villainy. I suspect one of the things I dislike about this scene—and the end of the movie in general— is the way it implies that Connor couldn’t defeat the Kurgan if the latter was still operating at 16th-century levels of sanity. It cheapens everybody, and it seems to go on forever.

And so I sit and watch this and keep wondering…

Where is that police helicopter?

You know, the one from way back that had so much time to burn that it was cruising around breaking up one-on-one fights in alleys? A guy going around running people over on the sidewalk seems like a great time to use it, but I guess the NYPD finally bought a camera that week instead of chopper fuel. In fact, we won’t be seeing the cops again for the rest of the movie, even though they were watching both Connor and Brenda and, one assumes, looking for the Kurgan.

I’m also going to commit a bit of heresy here, both against the movie and against my pledge to take it as it comes: I prefer the version of this scene that happens in the third Highlander movie. Yes, the one with Mario van Peebles as the barbarian. The terror-by-transportation thing is so much better when the villain has illusion powers.

At any rate, Brenda is absconded with. It’s on.


Next time: Ewwwwwww.

Next time on TCBOM!: The final fight begins, but not before I natter on about minutiae.

There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 32

Last time: The Kurgan has fantastic diction and a God complex. Come on, fella, say “Blessed are the proofreaders.” You (kind of) will eventually.

32. Is it possible this has worked for him in the past??

As the Kurgan has a manic episode prepares for battle, Brenda has decided to confront Connor/Nash. She’s bothering poor Rachel again, at least until Connor shows up in his Columbo coat. (There’s a perfectly good reason why I can’t let that go: I hate it. This is a man who’s lived through kilts, doublets, brocades, top hats and Mod clothing: why the hell would he choose to dress like this?)

“I’m looking for a dead guy named Nash,” Brenda tells him. Connor glances at Rachel, whose look says “The jig’s up, Boss!” as clearly as if she were a supporting player in an old noir film. Connor at last yields and takes Brenda off to his treasure cave.

I mean, living room.

Mostly, I mean treasure cave.

This part is funny, as Brenda is clearly vacillating between wanting to know the truth and mentally cataloguing all of Connor’s displayed possessions, with special attention to weaponry.

“I’ve been alive for four-and-a-half centuries,” Connor tells her, to which she says, “Everybody’s got their problems.” (Subtext: and a few million dollars’ worth of antiques. No, wait, that’s just you.) He hands her a dagger and tells her who he really is—

…And then he stabs himself, falling to his knees.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world’s worst pick-up line.

Even though Connor can obviously heal, this part of the movie always reminds me of this:

Let’s hope for Brenda’s sake “I can only do it once” isn’t true of Connor, as she seems to find this stabby display very alluring: this is followed by a sex scene that is 100% more sex than I would be having with a man who punctured himself in front of me. (I mean, really. Someone should write a fanfiction about opening a charm school for immortals.)

You know what would make this more believable? If he woke up in the morning to find Brenda had stolen the samurai sword. That doesn’t happen, of course. Instead they go to the zoo, where the lions hate Connor’s outfit as much as I do.

They talk just enough for us to learn that she’s been filled in on the whole immortals-beheading-each-other deal, and for us to notice that the Kurgan is watching them in the background. Connor senses him, but not before both the Kurgan and Brenda have both left. Connor…is not sharp.


Next time: Something silly.

Next time on TCBOM!: It all goes to hell.


There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 31

Last time: We played a weird match-the-line game with my DVD collection, while Connor and the Kurgan confronted each other and affronted a bunch of churchgoers.

31. The irony when something pleases your English-major soul and all you can think is “Duuuuuuuuuuuude.”

Our two remaining contestants in “Who Wants To Rule Forever?” are still in confrontation about, er, the coming confrontation, at least until the Kurgan takes a second to terrorize some nuns.

“Ramirez’s blade didn’t cut deeply enough,” Connor sneers. “He was right about you.” There are a lot of good points (no pun intended) to be made here, but this seems like a bizarre time to whip out the argument from authority: he’s right there, being a jerk.

“Ramirez was an effete snob!” the Kurgan growls… and that was the point at which I discovered I really do assign movie characters bonus points for vocabulary. One of my less bizarre hobbies the past few years has been watching all of Frasier on Netflix, and I don’t think even the Crane brothers use that word.

And this from a guy who may have, moments before,  been plagiarizing from a talking crow.


The Kurgan continues, “I took his head and raped his woman before his blood was even cold!” Now that is some quality villain monologuing, and for once it won’t impede his progress.

It doesn’t actually take Connor five minutes to realize that part of the above refers to Heather, but like his first death back in 1536, it nonetheless seems to go on forever. (I timed it; it’s actually nine seconds, and by the end of that time, the church is pretty well cleared out.) Once he does, it takes his enemy two seconds to figure out the same thing and press his advantage. It’s just that Connor isn’t evil-minded, right? It’s not that he’s slow, right?


Connor grabs the Kurgan, who points out that they’re on holy ground and extricates himself, saying “You will always be weaker than I.”

Oh, wow. Good grammar, too?

Artist's rendering of my reaction, plus a plug for online photo editor, whose cartoonizer I needed...for my cartoon. Sigh.
Artist’s rendering of my reaction, plus a plug for online photo editor, whose cartoonizer I needed…for my cartoon. Sigh.

I hate writing posts that are chiefly quotes, so I’ll sum up by saying that Connor leaves, the Kurgan mocks Jesus, and there’s a big, splendid, loud power trip right there in the aisle.The guy seems to be losing his grip on everything except the English language.

So, you know, it could be worse.

Next time: I have no idea, but I promise it will have no vampires.

Next time on TCBOM!: Seducing women the hard way.

There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 30

Thirty posts—thirty WEEKS—and the end just barely in sight. The mind boggles.

Last time: Research. Pretty eyes. Brenda finds out what the movie is about, more or less.

30. Connor goes to church, and I seize my last chance to get splendidly bogged down in this thing (need I even say “part 1”?).

Unlike most of this movie, this section has been excerpted on YouTube:

Personally, I disagree with the title they’ve given it—to me, that would be a tie between the final fight and Ramirez! Stops! Talking!—but opinions no doubt vary.

Connor goes to a church to light a candle on Heather’s birthday, as she asked him to do while I was yelling about how much I hate what the movie does to Heather—and despite my suspicion that birthdays weren’t really a “thing” for normal people in the 16th century. Consistent penmanship and posthumous birthday parties: that’s our hero.

He lights the candle, says a little prayer, and sits down in the church: ostensibly to pray, probably to mope. He’s followed in short order by the Kurgan—who snuffs out all the votives, because, I guess, that’s the kind of guy he is. Half the people in the cathedral look up and rapidly conclude this is not the kind of miracle they were hoping for.

I suspect this thing with the candles happens in part to communicate the Kurgan’s continuing slide into madness, which has been going on since Wackjob’s act of Quickenus interruptus. It’s as if the writers, suddenly concerned that their hero is outmatched (at least in theory: the Kurgan still hasn’t killed a single non-combatant in the whole movie—and every time I type that, I get a little chip in my flinty black heart), are trying to handicap the final duel. As someone who was only a moderate Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan but remains very, very, very bitter about Glory, I appreciate this in theory, but there has to be a better way to go about it.

“Kastagir is gone,” the Kurgan tells Connor. “Only you and I remain.” It isn’t until Connor turns around that we see the Kurgan’s new hairdo, which is that he hasn’t really got any. He’s also decorated the scar Ramirez gave his throat with a ring of safety pins. Very punk.

Honestly, I find the whole safety-pin thing odd, because 1) that would take what I find myself forced to describe as some primping time, but 2) it could be another sign that he’s quite smart, as he’s rightly figured this ornamentation will indicate absolutely jack-all to the police.

“Who cuts your hair?” Connor snarks, because his facility with insults is at the same level as  his ability to flirt with women. The Kurgan makes a grandiloquent gesture and says, “I am in disguise.”

It’s a line I’ve always loved—unfortunately, I think I loved it even before Highlander was made:

The Secret of NIMH may be one of the only movies I've seen more than the one I'm writing about.
The Secret of NIMH may be one of the only movies I’ve seen more than the one I’m writing about.

Well, that’s a bit of a buzzkill.


Next time: Would you believe the other other damn vampires?

Next time on TCBOM!: Has anybody seen my dignity?

There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 29

Last time: Moran ran around; a wounded Wackjob waved wonderingly.

29. It’s called detective work; too bad the police in this movie don’t do any of it.

While all these other things are going on, Brenda is researching Connor/Nash, first by looking up his birth certificate. She interviews the doctor listed on it, who reveals that little Russell Nash died at birth and that someone is using his name.

It is at this point that I’m usually reminded that I need to track down the documentary I saw in my art history class in 1995, in which a fraud investigator starts forging a new identity for himself by visiting a cemetery and pulling this exact trick—looking for the name of someone the right age and getting the birth certificate. At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and I haven’t been able to find out anything about the documentary ever since.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, good for Connor? His method is sound.

Brenda then calls on her friend Erik (It sounds like she says “Rick” to me, but I’ll defer to IMDb once more), who appears to be 1) an archivist  and 2) played by an actor I remember as “the guy who didn’t do it in that Rumpole of the Bailey episode” (spoiler alert?). They putter around on a computer, comparing the signatures of all the guys who’ve owned Connor’s building for the last 200 years—all of which look the same, possibly because Connor traded away some of his immortal powers for really consistent penmanship. (It’s not really mightier than the sword in this case, but whatever.)

Erik then performs an early form of “Enhance!,” taking letters from all the signatures and matching them to the “Russell Nash” signature. By this time, I’ve seen this scene often enough to notice that one of the Ls doesn’t exactly match and then suddenly does, but to quote the Highlander himself, I guess it’s a kind of magic.

And then two incredible things happen: the first is that he whips off his glasses in time-honored movie-boffin style and reveals absolutely gorgeous eyes. Really. It’s like the male equivalent of the cliché where the buttoned-up librarian takes her hair down. Those of us inclined to do so get no time to enjoy them, however, as he says:

“So what you’ve got here is a guy who’s been running around since at least 1700, pretending to croak every once in a while, leaving all his goods to kids who’ve been corpses for years and assuming their identities.”

That’s a hard line to sell—and probably a hard one for an actor to deliver with a straight face, even in a movie like this one—but he does a great job. Remember my rant about exposition characters? This guy is worth ten of Ramirez. I especially love the implication that given the choice between “some immortal guy is hanging around New York and running a shop” and “my computer program screwed up,” he immediately believes the former. Highlander is very kind to nerds in some ways.

As Brenda stews in doubt, we cut to a newsstand vendor selling papers: Wackjob has apparently collaborated with a sketch artist to draw the Kurgan, and the result looks like someone saw the future emergence of Vin Diesel in a dream.


Next time: All the damn vampires. No, the other damn vampires.

Next time on TCBOM!: Connor and the Kurgan show us how to clear out a cathedral in about three minutes.





There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 28

Last time: Stabbing! Explosions! The good stuff!

28. Wackjob lives.

After a pause during which I try to hold on to my opinions about the Kurgan’s character development as tightly as my cat holds on to everything in this picture…

Notice the foot on the laptop. I don't call him The Dragon for nothing.
Notice the foot on the laptop. I don’t call him The Dragon for nothing.

…we rejoin the movie to see that The Captain From Police Squad! and Johnny Caspar from Miller’s Crossing are paying Wackjob an official police visit in the hospital—in other words, the Kurgan still hasn’t killed anybody who wasn’t a fellow sword-wielder.

After a quick rundown on what a “survival nut” is and the unsurprising revelation that Wackjob was a Vietnam veteran, the cops reach his room. Someone has given Wackjob a bowl of fruit; that seems kind of a cruel gift for someone with an abdominal wound, but what do I know?

They try to get him to pin down Connor/Russell Nash as Kastagir’s killer, but Wackjob is adamant that 1) they’re not even close, but 2) it shouldn’t matter anyway, because he is super-duper armed and shot the heck out of the guy who did do it, only 3) it didn’t take, and now Wackjob is in a state of existential despair. (I am summarizing.)

After agreeing to work with a sketch artist, Wackjob does something that actually makes me feel sorry for him: he tries to tell the police about the Quickening. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie—the camera pulls back and there’s no sound, just furious gestures—and so I’ve at last given in to necessity and learned how to screengrab.

There's no way I could describe this...and ironically, no way he can describe THAT.
There’s no way I could describe this…and ironically, no way he can describe THAT.

This goes over exactly as well as if you or I tried to use the same thing as an excuse for missing a family party, although at least Moran gives him a little salute before the police go outside to talk about what a nut that guy is—and since Moran specifically mentions “swordfights in New York City” as part of the general crazy, I guess we can assume the police helicopter that caught Connor and the Kurgan fighting doesn’t tell him anything.

The cops’ bad day continues at the hot-dog truck, where they buy lunch from a man reading a newspaper with the headline “HEADHUNTER – 3, COPS – 0.”  And even Tony the hot-dog guy is making fun of them as he reads the article: “What does ‘baffled’ mean?” he asks an exasperated Moran, who’s complaining about how the mayor sure would like them to stop these decapitations.


Next time: That all depends on how fast I can reread a book I’m not sure I want to reread.

Next time on TCBOM!: No sooner did Tony the hot-dog vendor work his way into my affections than he’s supplanted by the prettiest eyes in this movie. Also, Brenda does research.

There Can Be Only Monday! Talking About Highlander…A Lot, Part 27

Last time: Someone thought it was a great idea to shoot the Kurgan…who thought it was a great idea to behead Kastagir. Sort of a diametric double-drat.

27. Immortal people whacking each other (part 2): There was supposed to be an earth alley-shattering kaboom!

The survivalist wackjob is disappointed to find that he didn’t kill anybody, and probably even more disappointed when the Kurgan appears behind him (and do we care how he got behind that guy? I sure don’t) and impales him on his sword for a bit before tossing him aside with a look I can safely describe as disapproving.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a viewing experience that made you wonder about yourself, where something objectively terrible happens onscreen and you guffaw like a hyena (most of Kingsman: The Secret Service comes to mind), but this is one of mine. The entire time Wackjob is being impaled,  I giggle like I’m reading a Robert Benchley essay. I’ve now watched this movie once a week since last fall,  and I’ll still say, “I should turn this off…ooh, wait, the survivalist is about to get stabbed!” every single time.

It’s also one of those occasions when I wonder if I am the best person to write about this movie: on one hand, this is the moment that breaks the not-doing-very-much streak I was talking about last week. On the other hand is my reluctance to admit I think this is a downright temperate response to being shot repeatedly by a jackass. And you have to give the Kurgan credit, when that guy stabs someone, he doesn’t mess around.

…Er. Where was I? Oh, right. The Quickening.

By the standards of this movie, it’s dignified: no car hoses gushing fluid, no sticking-up architecture. Even so, it’s clearly a pretty good one, because the whole damn alley explodes, with fire and shattering glass everywhere. Kastagir must have been full of awesomeness—but we knew that.

I’m not sure the Kurgan did, though, as he goes a little nuts and mugs two old people for their car. For those of us keeping score, that’s three civilians harmed in about five minutes, and I think it marks a change in how the Kurgan is portrayed in the movie in general…though that’s a post for another time.

Next time: Speakers on for a Friday musical post!

Next time one TCBOM!: Wackjob revisited, and we find out what’s in the news. Also, I may cease being lazy and give all 1.2 of you a screencap!