HIGH­LANDER II: THE QUICK­EN­ING

Turns out not even the direc­tor likes this movie.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Direc­tor Rus­sell Mulc­ahy tells Dave Golder why the se­quel that no­body wanted was “Hell on wheels” to make

There’s a piece of trivia about High­lander II: The

Quick­en­ing that’s re­peated so of­ten on the in­ter­net it sounds like it must be an ur­ban myth. But no. Direc­tor Rus­sell Mulc­ahy con­firms to SFX that he did in­deed walk out of the film’s world pre­miere af­ter 15 min­utes. “I think I heard a few rum­blings in the au­di­ence, like, ‘ What the fuck’s this?’” he re­calls with a self- mock­ing chuckle. “To be fair, I was think­ing the same thing and I knew the worst was yet to come. I didn’t want to be there at the end. I left for safety rea­sons be­cause I would have been mur­dered.”

High­lander II is a regular fix­ture in “Worst Movies Of All Time Lists” and you won’t find Mulc­ahy – who also di­rected the first film – de­fend­ing it. The man who made his name shoot­ing some of the most mem­o­rable pop videos of the ’ 80s for the likes of Du­ran Du­ran, Ul­travox ( oh, in­deed yes, Vi­enna) and Queen – de­scribes the shoot as “hell on wheels” and claims never to have watched it again since that pre­miere. Which may sur­prise own­ers of the rad­i­cal Rene­gade Cut ver­sion of the movie re­leased on DVD in 1995, which pur­ports to be a “direc­tor’s cut”.

“I may have given the pro­duc­ers some notes,” says Mulc­ahy, re­veal­ing that he had lit­tle di­rect in­volve­ment with that re­lease. “I think I said, ‘ I don’t re­ally know what you can do to save it.’ I def­i­nitely asked them to get rid of that Planet Zeist stuff.”

Ah yes. Zeist. Poor, ul­ti­mately ret­conned­out-of- the- fran­chise Planet Zeist, a se­vere symp­tom of un­wanted- se­queli­tis, even­tu­ally cured by sur­gi­cal re­moval. In a way it stands for ev­ery­thing that’s wrong with High­lander II – a plot de­ci­sion driven by that ba­sic hu­man urge: to make more money.

Be­cause no­body be­hind the orig­i­nal re­ally wanted to make a se­quel. High­lander – the tale of im­mor­tals who must battle each other through the ages un­til only one is left – had be­come an un­ex­pected cult hit in Europe but had tanked in the US, so its dis­trib­u­tor, 20th Cen­tury Fox, had no in­ter­est in mak­ing an­other one. But as pro­ducer Peter Davis re­calls in the mak­ing- of doc­u­men­tary

Se­duced By Ar­gentina, “We got such sup­port from the for­eign dis­trib­u­tors. We would go to Cannes and they would come up to us say­ing, ‘ When are you do­ing this? We want this for our mar­ket­place.’”

Even­tu­ally fund­ing was raised through a pri­vate bond­ing com­pany. The trou­ble was, as Mulc­ahy points out, High­lander was a film that didn’t lend it­self to se­quels. “It was writ­ten as a com­plete story. There can be only one. He got a prize when he won – he be­came mor­tal. Blah, blah, blah, end of story, ‘ It’s A Kind Of Magic’. But then it be­came a hit in Europe and sud­denly there was a scram­ble for a se­quel.”

The pro­duc­ers, Bill Panzer and Peter Davis, had to find a way to bring the char­ac­ters and con­cepts back, in­clud­ing Sean Con­nery’s Ramirez who was in­con­ve­niently dead (“the dis­trib­u­tors were not in­ter­ested in Sean Con­nery be­ing a cameo; they wanted him as a ma­jor char­ac­ter in the piece,” says Davis.) Mulc­ahy re­mem­bers be­ing sent var­i­ous con­cepts: “One was like Roller­ball meets The

Hunger Games. They were all fu­tur­is­tic.”

“Get ready to run – here come the re­views!”

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