Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. This is the film so bad that we had to buy it on VHS in order to see it in its purest form. Like an uncut diamond, this is Highlander II: The Quickening. This is a preview, the Hall of Fame speech will follow directly afterwards.
Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) – BMeTric: 79.8; Notability: 26
(The rating is actually a little too high somehow. Low-4.0 is really really low … but this is legit maybe the worst film ever made. It should in reality be in the 3.0s, but maybe the Renegade Cut is actually not the worst.)
RogerEbert.com – 0.5 stars – This movie has to be seen to be believed. On the other hand, maybe that’s too high a price to pay. “Highlander 2: The Quickening” is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I’ve seen in many a long day – a movie almost awesome in its badness. Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre.
(Roger Ebert spitting hot fire here. And indeed, this movie is remembered in hushed tones as a nadir of its genre. It was such a disaster they recut it and you can’t see the original on home video anymore! That’s incredible.)
(That heavy metal soundtrack! In another world this is an amazingly mind bending sci fi film. Instead they made the worst film ever. It is awesome.)
Directors – Russell Mulcahy – (Known For: Highlander; Ricochet; In Like Flynn; Razorback; Swimming Upstream; Future BMT: Tale of the Mummy; The Real McCoy; The Shadow; Resident Evil: Extinction; Resurrection; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Directed nearly 40 episodes of Teen Wolf.)
Writers – Gregory Widen (characters) – (Known For: Highlander; Backdraft; The Prophecy; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Notes: A wild career. Wrote the original Highlander when he was in college. And then wrote the sequel to Backdraft (which we’ve seen). Still writing films.)
Brian Clemens (story) – (Known For: The Watcher in the Woods; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; See No Evil; Future BMT: And Soon the Darkness; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Died in 2015. Directed a bunch of British television as well, including Father Dowling Mysteries.)
William N. Panzer (story) (as William Panzer) – (Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Notes: These are the type of people I don’t get … he has a few writing credits, but mostly producing credits. Almost all of these credits are Highlander films/television. He has been involved in this IP for like 40 years.)
Peter Bellwood (screenplay) – (Known For: Highlander; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Mostly retired. He had a few notes in the mid-90s about teaming with Dennis Shryack, but from what I can tell they never actually produced anything as a team.)
Actors – Christopher Lambert – (Known For: Hail, Caesar!; Highlander; Sobibor; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; Bel Canto; Fortress; Subway; White Material; To Kill a Priest; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Beowulf; Fortress 2; Southland Tales; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; The Sicilian; Gunmen; Loaded Weapon 1; Resurrection; Knight Moves; The Hunted; Electric Slide; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Apparently he is a joy to work with. I remember this specifically from Mortal Kombat notes. Still working, he was just in the television show The Blacklist.)
Sean Connery – (Known For: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Rock; Murder on the Orient Express; The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; The Hunt for Red October; Highlander; Dr. No; The Name of the Rose; Never Say Never Again; Thunderball; Goldfinger; From Russia with Love; Time Bandits; The Longest Day; Diamonds Are Forever; A Bridge Too Far; DragonHeart; Marnie; You Only Live Twice; Future BMT: Meteor; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Family Business; A Good Man in Africa; Rising Sun; Entrapment; Just Cause; The Man with the Deadly Lens; Sir Billi; BMT: The Avengers; Highlander II: The Quickening; Medicine Man; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Avengers in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Entrapment in 2000; Notes: Almost 90 years old. He is well and truly retired at this point, I can’t even remember the last time I saw him do any publicity. Probably still the best James Bond ever, there is a new one of those coming out soon.)
Virginia Madsen – (Known For: Her Smell; Dune; Better Watch Out; The Rainmaker; Candyman; Joy; Sideways; The Hot Spot; Burn Your Maps; The Prophecy; The Astronaut Farmer; Electric Dreams; A Prairie Home Companion; Ghosts from the Past; 1985; Modern Girls; Mr. North; Walter; All the Wilderness; American Gun; Future BMT: Father of Invention; Class; The Hot Flashes; Slam Dance; Diminished Capacity; Creator; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; The Haunting; Red Riding Hood; Firewall; Hot to Trot; The Haunting in Connecticut; The Number 23; Notes: Starred in Swamp Thing which became a huge disappointment for the ill-fated DC streaming service. It went over budget and got its second season cancelled during the post-production of the first season. Whoops.)
Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $15,556,340 (Worldwide: $15,556,340)
(Absolutely terrible. It is a little okay just because the budget was $30 million, which for the time was high, but it doesn’t put it into like Cutthroat Island range. Still really bad.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/23): There should have been only one.
(Absolutely brutal reviews, mostly just saying this is maybe the worst film ever made and they shouldn’t have made it. Reviewer Highlight: Audiences unfamiliar with the first film will be hard put to follow the action [from a story by Brian Clemens] as it incoherently hops about in time and space. – Variety)
Poster – Skloglander II: The Sklogening (A+++++++++)
(My god, it’s beautiful. Everywhere you look is another treat for your senses. Look! There’s his futuristic car! Is that a helicopter?! There isn’t even one in the film! The sword! The lightning! Sean Connery! The font! Arrrrghhhhhhhhhhh! THE QUICKENING!)
Tagline(s) – In all their centuries on Earth, nothing could prepare them for… (F)
(Except for the other time that they had to fight to the death and there were a thousand Quickenings, right? I mean… there was some reasonable preparation at that point. Oh and I hate when they try to incorporate the title into the tagline. Always confusing.)
Keyword – immortal
Top 10: Wonder Woman (2017), Twilight (2008), Justice League (2017), Hellboy (2019), Deadpool (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Avengers Assemble (2012), Logan (2017)
Future BMT: 89.4 Vampires Suck (2010), 78.1 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), 65.9 Highlander: Endgame (2000), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 52.0 Green Lantern (2011), 50.0 The Sin Eater (2003), 39.4 The Forsaken (2001), 39.0 Once Bitten (1985), 28.8 Igor (2008), 27.7 Dark Shadows (2012);
BMT: Hellboy (2019), The Mummy (2017), Ghost Ship (2002), A New York Winter’s Tale (2014), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Queen of the Damned (2002), I, Frankenstein (2014), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)
(Besides for a brief moment around 2010 this has kind of just grown out of the sci-fi in the 80s and reached a steady state. We do need to watch The Twilight Saga … bah, I’ve already seen those!)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Virginia Madsen is No. 3 billed in Highlander II: The Quickening and No. 3 billed in Firewall, which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 13. If we were to watch Rising Sun, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.
Notes – Michael Ironside recalled his experiences on this movie: “Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean, Chris, we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it read as if it had been written by a thirteen-year-old boy. But I’d never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind-type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun, and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit, like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it, and I think I succeeded.” (Noice)
Christopher Lambert was so disgusted with the re-written script that he wanted to drop out of this movie. Contractual obligations forced him to finish it.
Director Russell Mulcahy disliked the theatrical cut so much that he left the premiere after only fifteen minutes. (And thus the Renegade Cut)
John C. McGinley made his character’s voice as deep as possible in an effort to imitate Orson Welles. He has since admitted that it was a bad idea.
Grossly contradicts the previous movie, Highlander (1986). All subsequent Highlander movies ignore this film. (Wellllll, to be fair they tend to ignore a good chunk of the lore at random times)
Christopher Lambert refused to use a fake sword for the fight scenes. In his first scene with it, he cut his finger to the bone and Michael Ironside dislocated his jaw in the dome fight. After these accidents, Lambert agreed to use a plastic sword.
Roger Ebert named it the worst movie of 1991.
Clancy Brown was asked to reprise his role as the Kurgan in a cameo, but declined.
Other than James Bond, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez is the only character that Sir Sean Connery has played in more than one movie.
Christopher Lambert and Michael Ironside did most of their own stunts.
The idea for this movie came about because Christopher Lambert enjoyed working with Sir Sean Connery and really got along with him and Lambert wanted to work with Connery again for this movie, even though Ramirez died in Highlander (1986). A new story was written where Connor MacLeod, Ramirez, and the Immortals were aliens from another planet and Ramirez is brought back to life when Connor undergoes the Quickening and calls his name.
The movie’s initial budget was estimated at thirty million dollars. Sir Sean Connery received three and a half million dollars for nine days of work. Connery donated the money to charitable causes. (Haha)
After this film bombed at the box-office, it was decided that the following movies, Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994), Highlander: Endgame (2000), and Highlander: The Source (2007), would be true and faithful to the original movie, story, and mythology by pretending this movie never happened. A long-running joke amongst Highlander fans states that the official name of the third movie should have been “Highlander III: The Apology”.
Unused scenes revealed that the Kurgan from the first movie was also a resident of Zeist, and General Katana hired him to kill Connor MacLeod. The final battle between MacLeod and the Kurgan from the first movie is shown on a large screen to Zeist bettors, and when the Kurgan fails, Katana sends down the two assassins featured in the final cut of this movie to take out MacLeod.
Christopher Lambert has very bad eyesight. During one sword fight, Lambert, who was not wearing his glasses, nearly severed Michael Ironside’s right thumb.
An alternate ending, “The Fairytale Ending”, was shown in some European theaters. Louise and Connor magically return to Zeist, embrace in front of a field of stars, transform into light streaks, and fly off into space. (Whaaaaaaaaaaat)
A technician died during filming, after falling from a crane.
To recover the filming rights, producers made the television series Highlander (1992). Christopher Lambert declined to reprise his role as Connor MacLeod, and the producers chose to create a new character. Lambert then accepted, and appeared in the pilot, to introduce the new hero, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul). (Oh … I’ve seen the pilot)
Director Russell Mulcahy was so frustrated at being locked out of production that he tried to have his credit changed to “Alan Smithee”. However, a section of his contract forbade him from publicly attacking this movie before it was released. The producers said that if he had his credit changed, it would be considered an attack, and he would be sued.
No bluescreen or special effects were used for the hoverboard fight sequence. Christopher Lambert wore wires and harnesses, set up by the team behind the flying sequences in Superman (1978). (Oh I couldn’t tell….)
Initial plans for a third movie titled Highlander III: The Reckoning, would have detached the story even further from the original. It would have taken place entirely on Zeist, and would have involved Connor training a rebel army to overthrow the rulers of the planet. However, the post-production editing of this movie, which changed the ending, plus the poor box-office performance, nixed the idea. (Jesus, that sounds terrible)
Virginia Madsen admitted to doing this movie for two reasons: to go to Argentina, and to work with Sir Sean Connery.
Sir Sean Connery was sued by an Assistant Director for sexual harassment. (Oh gross)
In the Director’s Cut, Connor and Ramirez’s backstory is changed. Instead of aliens from the planet Zeist, Connor and Ramirez are from Earth in the distant past who were sent to the future, as punishment for their rebellion, in which they were reborn in the time periods to which they were exiled, hence Connor forgetting his past, which he begins to remember at the opera.