So once again we have survived.

Vern’s Cinefamily Journal

tn_cinefamilyWell, it happened. Last Saturday, after 15 years of admittedly weird dedication to anonymity, I went and stood unmasked in front of the Cinefamily theater to publicly share my love of the action films of S. Seagal. A couple of you who were there kindly told me not to worry, that I looked exactly like Lee Marvin, but on the internet I saw my looks compared to two different comedians. I won’t say which ones, so go ahead and assume Roddy Piper and Chopper Read. But now there are a couple blurry Loch Ness Monster type photos of me out there, and Griff says I am not buff and I look like his dad. Giving my reputation a hit like that was not what I had planned for my summer vacation.

But I got no regrets and the reason why can be summed up with one frame of film:

outforjustice-seagalcredit
That’s right, it’s OUT FOR JUSTICE’s classic opening freeze frame of Seagal as Detective Gino Felino grimacing through a pimp-shaped hole in a windshield. For years it has been a Hall of Fame movie moment for me, and yet I never even contemplated the idea of one day sitting in a theater full of people going fucking nuts for that credit.

In the context of the evening it was a culmination of 4 or 5 hours of buildup. I know from talking to people that HARD TO KILL and UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY had gained some new converts, and reignited some lost love. Even for the seasoned Seagalogists it was impossible not to be hyped up by seeing those two classics in a row with what I think is an ideal audience, one ready to laugh lovingly at absurdity but equally able to cheer in genuine excitement. The only audience mishap was when “I’m gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent” got such a loud reaction that first-timers probly missed “To the blood bank.” So here it is for you:

Now, what you wanna do, you wanna take a theater full of movie lovers, spend a few hours setting them to peak Seagal appreciation levels, and then you wanna throw this in front of their eyes:

I kinda get a chill just thinking about it. By the way, Phil Blankenship – the god damn saint who put this whole thing together, obtained the prints, hosted and convinced me to take part – asked the film’s editor Robert A. Ferretti on stage if he had any inkling when creating that sequence that it was, like, the most badass thing ever. He said yeah, it was obvious.

Phil is also the guy who programmed the trailers, including several Seagal classics and things he said were there for historical context (LOCK UP, FAIR GAME, COP AND A HALF, LAST ACTION HERO, LAST BOYSCOUT, a ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES teaser that came attached to OUT FOR JUSTICE…) He and Jeremy Smith (formerly Mr. Beaks) of The Ain’t It Cool News, whose drunken tweet to Phil apparently ignited the whole thing, did the hostly heavy-lifting, which was a real blessing for me. You know, I am not generally what you would call a public speaker. I don’t even like to talk loud on the bus. There were two months there where I was more scared of this thing than excited. I would think about it and feel my innards involuntarily clenching like I was gonna implode. I’d been writing up notes and practicing different things but I was sure I was gonna either shit my pants live on stage or open my mouth and not be able to speak human words. Just make squeaky little bird sounds or something.

To psych myself up the morning of the event I thought about a trip I took to Dollywood a month earlier, when I made a point of not looking at the tracks before going on the rollercoasters. I had no idea how many loops and high drops I’d have to deal with until they were right in front of me. I just had to trust in the professionals to keep me safe. I told myself to do that here, but I knew I’d still be terrified when the time came.

Except I wasn’t. Those guys made me feel so welcome and appreciated that even when I was standing alone outside hearing them overhype me to the crowd I hardly even felt nervous. And I think I did pretty good. Better than I thought I would, at least.

I instantly fell in love with Cinefamily, or I think technically The Silent Theater, a historic 175 seat theater run by the non-profit Cinefamily. There’s a little patio out back where they had a barbecue and hung up a display of some of Phil’s collection of foreign Seagal posters. The front section of the theater has couches instead of regular seats, and I got the best couch in the house for a marathon almost literally made for me.

Of these films I’d only seen UNDER SIEGE 2 on the big screen, unless you count Bob Odenkirk (Fargo) and David Cross (ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS) playing a DVD of ON DEADLY GROUND and making fun of it at the Olympia Film Festival. Of course this crowd was infinitely better.

I can’t help but think back to myself in the little bedroom I lived in in the early 2000s, watching VHS screeners of OUT FOR A KILL and shit, filling out my chart of Seagal motifs and amusing myself with the idea of doing a fairly academic study of every one of them. I thought it would be fun and I told myself I had to go through with it because even if it wasn’t very good it would still be cool or funny for such a book to exist.

I stuck with it for about 5 years before I finally self-published it on lulu.com. That whole time I figured selling 100-200 would be the highest thing to aim for. That around 12 years later that idea caused a total stranger to fly me out to Hollywood and watch beautiful 35 mm prints of some of Seagal’s best – including god damn ON DEADLY GROUND! – with an enthusiastic crowd… it just seems impossible.

Seriously, you guys, follow your creative whims. Sometimes they know where they’re going.

And I think with all his hard work Phil did what I was trying to do with that book: find the other people who love these movies and recruit some new ones. It’s evangelical. It’s saying yeah, people make fun of Seagal movies, they make jokes about Seagal being fat or whatever, but why care what people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about talk about? If you think Seagal never had it then you are simply incorrect. Allow me to introduce you to exhibits A, B, C and D.  That’s what Phil did, and it worked!

A rundown of the festivities with some thoughts:

(disclaimer: as if you can’t tell already, this is gonna be a little long and self-indulgent. I’m not some guy who writes a diary, so this will be my record to help me remember the details of this historic night)

HARD TO KILL

Before the movie we talked a little about how ABOVE THE LAW established the premise of Steven Seagal and why everybody should see it. I argued that HARD TO KILL stood out because they almost kill him, when in most of his movies he’s not injured in any way. I think I said that he rises like a phoenix from the ashes.

The movie went over like gangbusters. Actually I’m not sure what gangbusters are, so instead let’s say it went over like HARD TO KILL deserves to go over. I was especially gratified that the horse escaping captivity after the shootout received applause.

A stupid detail I really noticed on the big screen was the portrait of the Storm family hanging in the stairway at the beginning. That would be great if somebody still had that and they made a print of it. Or maybe I should try to re-create it for a t-shirt.

stormfamilyportrait

 

Also, I feel that on this viewing I appreciated the one-liner “Now you’re a good cop” more than ever before. I never really thought about it that a normal movie would have to have a part earlier where somebody says “The only good cop is a dead cop,” and this would be a callback. I even checked the script, but this line wasn’t even in there, let alone some sort of set up for it. No, HARD TO KILL trusts you to get the reference.

And man, I always forget that he turns into a slasher villain at the end. He’s fuckin hunting the last couple guys from the shadows. He even writes “YOU’RE NEXT” on the wall, like in that recent indie slasher movie. I forget what it was called.

Afterwards we talked about the “blood bank” line, the fact that he actually doesn’t bring him to the blood bank, and what happened to Senator Trent in the script that I read (spoiler: he gets his head impaled upside down on the fireplace grill and his hair catches on fire). We discussed one of my favorite aspects, the juxtaposition of the opening attack with GANDHI sweeping the Oscars, and what that means. Jeremy thought I was joking about the script specifying that Sonny wanted E.T. to win, but I wasn’t. It’s first mentioned in an unnecessary pre-stakeout opening:

Storm and Felicia come down to car, his arm around her.
 Sonny grabs his father's shirtsleeve.
SONNY
 Daddy ...
 (very serious)
 Daddy, is E.T. gonna win?
STORM
 He's got my vote.
Storm laughs and ruffles his son's hair.

and later, after Storm returns from the stakeout and the liquor store robbery…

He comes into the room, sits on the edge of Sonny's bed --
 tousling his son's hair with great affection. Sonny takes
 the stuffed toy sleepily, pulls it into bed beside him.
SONNY
 E.T. lost.
Storm knows E.T. is not just a movie character to Sonny;
 he's a real person.
STORM
 Who won?
SONNY
 I dunno.   Candy.
STORM
 Candy?
FELICIA
 (from doorway)
 Mahatma Candy. He was a great man.
Storm moves closer to his son. He sees how much E.T.'s
 loss has hurt his son, and wants to make it better.
STORM
 (very gently)
 You know why E.T. lost?
SONNY
 Why?
STORM
 Cause they only let grownups vote.
 If kids had voted --
SONNY
 (cheered by
 this)
 -- We would have gave E.T.
 everything!
STORM
 We would have given him everything.
SONNY
 Yeah.

That’s really from the script, I didn’t make that up. I wonder if they filmed it? ‘Cause they could use it in some E.T. anniversary tribute montage some day.

Also, wouldn’t it be funny if we tried to do a double feature of GANDHI and HARD TO KILL? I’m not sure if that would work.

Before the movie I’d mentioned that Andy does some “unethical nursing” in my opinion (the part where she checks out his dick while he’s in a coma) but afterwards I meant to bring up that she’s also the world’s worst housesitter. She brings a fugitive to her friend’s house, causing the place to get shot up, priceless antiques to get smashed and the horse to escape. In the book I wasn’t sure whose horse it was, but of course it has to be on their property since it leaves through the hole they make by crashing the Jeep through the gate. Speaking of the Jeep, they give it away to some car thieves. Not responsible.

I was also happy that Phil brought up the eagle caw at the end of the training sequence, always a favorite detail of mine.

(SIDE NOTE: The marathon inspired a controversial piece on Grantland. I like the piece because their Seagalogist knows his stuff and this is much more thoughtful and respectful than the kinds of thing you would’ve seen several years ago. If that’s my influence then it makes me proud. But of course I do have some disagreements and one is on their characterization of the training sequence. They don’t seem to remember that he’s weak because he’s rehabilitating himself after a 7 year coma. That’s why it’s not the same as a sequence in ROCKY.

Also, before you start voting for “saddest training montage ever put to film” I think you need to check out the one in PUSHED TO THE LIMIT, which includes a game of hide and seek.)

UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY

Before our second movie we talked of course about how great Eric Bogosian is in it (and my wish for Miranda July or Julia Sweeney to be the villain in a potential part 3). I tried to explain my concept of Golden Age vs. Silver Age Seagal. I fumbled a question about what to look out for in the movie, and was reminded later that “the recipe for fruit salad with crystallized ginger” would’ve been the correct answer.

still_cinefamily
Afterwards we talked with Richard Hatem, who wrote the original draft of the script with Matt Reeves. Reeves went on  to direct CLOVERFIELD, LET ME IN, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and that show they used to have with Keri Russell, I forget what it was called, while Hatem wrote THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES and writes and produces for a ton of TV shows (Supernatural, Dead Zone, Grimm), so he thought it was hilarious that we wanted to revive this silly first produced script of theirs. He told great stories I had no idea about. It turns out they did not set out to write UNDER SIEGE 2, they set out to write a rip off of DIE HARD with a train expert as the hero. (I didn’t take the chance to bring up UNSTOPPABLE.) Theirs was one of three scripts shown to Seagal as potential sequels, and he chose a different one, but the studio made him do this instead.

(Maybe train movies test well?)

He talked about how putting Seagal in the movie changed the whole thing, that it couldn’t help but be a Steven Seagal movie, which of course supports the thesis of my book. He described his one scary meeting with Seagal, which involved being invited to a private island where they would’ve done the rewrites but he was afraid Seagal would hunt them. He listed a bunch of people who did uncredited rewrites, and the one that got me was Brian PAYBACK Helgeland. An Academy Award winner as well as Freddy alumni. I never knew that!

I had two stupid questions to interject. One was about Travis Dane saying “Chance favors the prepared mind.” It’s a quote from Louis Pasteur, and I always wanted to know why he’s so into Louis Pasteur, but Richard didn’t write that line. He said that pretty much all of his dialogue was changed except for Dane’s “This is your captor speaking” speech, which is certainly one he should be proud of.

The other question was if Dane really thought ahead and brought that backdrop of the Eiffel Tower onto the train, which got an emphatic yes from Richard.

Not surprisingly he was very happy about Bogosian’s performance in the movie. What was really cool though was that it sounded like he liked the movie much more than when he saw it back in the day. It seemed like he had some good humored bitterness about what it became but looking back with distance and with the help of an amped up crowd he saw how enjoyable the movie turned out.

Phil in particular was excited about how well DARK TERRITORY went over. We’d been criticized on the talkbacks for choosing it over the original UNDER SIEGE. We all thought it was a better choice for what we were doing – it’s undervalued, probly less seen than the first one, and we had Richard to talk about it – and after we watched it we knew we were right. That movie is awesome, you guys.

OUT FOR JUSTICE

I believe in the intro we all agreed that OUT FOR JUSTICE is the most badass Steven Seagal film. Phil had me explain The Badass Auteur Theory, we talked a little about our love for John Flynn, and I tried to describe how in other movies the villain has some master plan but in this one he does what he’s gonna do (kill Gino’s partner) at the beginning of the movie and then he’s just gonna fuck around (shoot random people, smoke crack, pick on the disabled) in the neighborhood until Gino inevitably kills him. (spoiler)

As much as I loved seeing all of these movies on the big screen, it was OUT FOR JUSTICE that I got into the most. It’s just so relentlessly badass. My favorite scene is the bar scene where Richie’s brother won’t give Gino any information, so Gino goes through and taunts and beats up every single other person in the bar and then comes back and threatens the brother again. This is such a long and intense sequence and when it was over that was another very satisfying applause break.

As I mentioned earlier we got to have a Q&A with the editor, Robert A. Ferretti. He’s an old school Hollywood guy who edited a ton of movies we here hold dearly: GYMKATA, LOCK UP, TANGO & CASH, DIE HARD 2, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO… With Seagal he did not only OUT FOR JUSTICE but also UNDER SIEGE, ON DEADLY GROUND, OUT FOR A KILL, TODAY YOU DIE, MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE, and even the aikido video THE PATH BEYOND THOUGHT (didn’t get a chance to ask him about that). He also told me he’s doing a new one with him called FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.

Obviously he’s very close with Seagal, so I was a little worried he might think we were making fun of him. But I don’t think he felt that way because he said he called Seagal at the end of UNDER SIEGE 2 to let him hear our applause. When we were asking about his relationship with Seagal he said “I don’t know, you want me to call him?” Then he proceeded to do just that on stage, holding the mic up to the speaker phone. Of course we got to cheer for the man and he was filled in that we’d been watching his movies for 7 hours and were about to dip into ON DEADLY GROUND. He joked about our “stamina” and “You aren’t sick of me yet?”

We just left it at that, we didn’t try to interview him, but of course we were all in disbelief that this was happening. Later Tawdry Hepburn asked me why they didn’t give me the phone, but jesus, I was relieved. What the fuck would I have asked him?

But Mr. Ferretti had alot more to offer than that. It turns out he knew everything about ON DEADLY GROUND because he was heavily involved, doing research, the shot list and working on the edit on set with a digital system he invented. “You directed ON DEADLY GROUND?” Phil joked.

He told great stories, and happened to confirm some of my long held beliefs about these two movies:

1. Yes, Billy Bob Thornton did improvise all his lines. Also he told us a story about Thornton (who directed ALL THE PRETTY HORSES) hating horses.

2. Yes, the dog scenes in OUT FOR JUSTICE were added in later. Also, it turns out, that pimp-throwing opening.

One great OUT FOR JUSTICE anecdote was about the Warner Brothers brass wanting to cut out Richie executing the random woman in traffic. They were all worried about it and then they had a test screening where the audience burst into applause at that part. (I don’t think we even did that!)

I asked if it was true that the ON DEADLY GROUND environmental speech was originally even longer. He didn’t really answer that specifically but told us about the studio heads begging Seagal to take it out, trying to negotiate all kinds of trade offs like releasing it separately as a documentary short. That shows you how much clout Seagal had at that time, and probly never again. They wanted him to make it a more normal action movie and he basically said fuck you, I’m right about this. And he was, even if the world wasn’t ready for it at that time.

Ferretti laughed about his “kitchen sink” approach to editing the scene, throwing in every piece of appropriate stock footage he could find to avoid having to show Seagal standing there behind a podium. He also agreed that the speech was very heartfelt, accurate and ahead of its time. But also weird at the end of an action movie.

He told stories about how much they worked with the Natives, having all kinds of blessing rituals and weather prayers.

Before we started the movie of course I gushed about its sincerity, its containing the #1 and #2 Just How Badass Is He? scenes in all of Seagalogy, and I think I said “the bar fight that ends in the most unpredictable and awesome way.”

ON DEADLY GROUND

Obviously I’ve done some studying of ON DEADLY GROUND; it is after all Seagal’s only directorial work and the key to all of Seagalogy. But here’s a little detail it took the added clarity of 35mm projection onto the big screen to notice: the first guy Taft takes out in the bar fight has a fuckin Tong Po haircut!

odg-tongpo
It’s hard to make out on the DVD there but I swear it’s true. I haven’t seen KICKBOXER 4: THE AGGRESSOR yet, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that Tong Po survives, because clearly he moved to Alaska to start a new life as an oil worker. Either that or this happened first (both movies came out in 1994) and after he brushed himself off he realized he needed time to change back into a guy who fights in death matches.

tothebathroomAnother thing I definitely never noticed about this movie before: if you watch it late at night after 7 hours of other Seagal movies then that middle vision quest/Spirit of the Man Bear part seems kinda long. I think the excitement level on this one definitely suffered a little from our fatigue, but only in comparison to how well the other three movies played. This was still a revved up audience, and I was very happy that the theater was almost full at the end (I was worried about how many people would get tired and clear out before the most important film of the night).

Even if there were some bleary eyes it was just what you would’ve wanted: cheering for “I need time to change,” for R. Lee Ermey’s bikini underpants speech, for Billy Bob Thornton’s lines and most of the other great moments. I feel like if we had watched it earlier in the night when we were at 100% awakeness then the perfect comic timing of the “Where are you going?” “To the bathroom” scene would’ve gotten more of a laugh, but that’s okay. ON DEADLY GROUND definitely went over well and left people smiling more than yawning at the end.

(That reminds me, I didn’t tell them this, but I have some cans of Lightning Bolt in my cupboard, and I thought it would be funny if I had one there and just casually popped it open and started drinking it. But then it occurred to me that those cans are several years old and one of the ingredients is a type of fungus. It coulda gotten ugly I think.)

Anyway, seeing ON DEADLY GROUND in that context felt like we were the ones going on a sacred journey that will be good for all people. I can’t believe I got to see that shown to a receptive audience! I can’t even call it a dream come true, because I never would’ve dreamed it.

NOTES ABOUT VISITING HOLLYWOOD

I’ve been in L.A. a bit, but never really seen Hollywood proper. They were nice enough to put me up in a fancy hotel, and it was one of these hipster ones I’ve heard about, but I never knew what that meant. When I walked in it seemed more like a satirical movie than real life. Guests who looked like models and/or actual hired models were hanging out in the lobby, which included shag carpeting, hanging bubble chairs, a DJ playing electronic dance music, and a bouncer with a velvet rope that I thought was for a VIP party but was just theming for the elevator. Connected to the lobby is a 24 hour diner and a Warby Parker eyeware show room. As I walked up to the billygoat-bearded attendant to check in it took me a minute to realize there was also an afro’d model in her underwear, laying in a glass box behind the desk, reading a book (I didn’t see what it was, but wouldn’t it have been perfect if it was Seagalogy?). Of course I played it cool, like this was all normal. No problem. I see this typa shit all the time. I couldn’t be that cool though when I kept making him repeat his questions because I couldn’t hear him over the music.

My room was next to the pool, which had its own DJ and an all day, most of the night party. In the morning I thought there was an ambient DJ but it turned out to be a guided meditation session. In the hall they projected experimental film loops. I joked that that was all that would play on the TV too. Not true, but they did have a channel where you could watch it.

This all sounds, and is, very ridiculous, but I loved the experience. After the marathon on Saturday night I came in about 2:30 am and there was still music playing and people wearing red fur coats and shit standing around like it was daytime. I felt sorry for a normal looking family I thought might’ve gone there by mistake (I wonder if the kids saw the naked lady stencil art in the stairwell?) but thank you hotel-that-Brad-Pitt-owns-in-the-beginning-of-OCEAN’S-TWELVE, I enjoyed my stay.

It’s weird being in the city most responsible for creating our entertainment, and realizing that means you’ve heard of everything. All the major street names are familiar from either movies or west coast hip hop. In this area on Sunset Boulevard and around there I saw too many legendary establishments to keep up with: The Comedy Store, The Whisky A-Go-Go, The Viper Room, The Chateau Marmont.

I’d heard this about California before, but it was especially true of this area: almost everybody you see is really good looking, well dressed and hip. (Or a stripper.) If they weren’t I usually assumed they were tourists, like me. Walking around I was surprised to realize that I felt more out of place here than when I walked among the country music fans in Nashville. Maybe I’m just more intimidated by these people. I tried to be in good shape and well dressed for this trip (attention to detail note: I even wore a vintage 1970s kung fu belt buckle and circa 2006 Muhammad Ali Adidas that I’d been saving for a special occasion like this). But I can’t compete with these people. You order food at a diner and the waiter looks like he could be on Days of Our Lives.

That made Cinefamily even better, because it’s right in the heart of this exotic weirdness and yet it was instantly clear that these were my people. People who get excited about a 20 year old action movie that your average moviegoer doesn’t know is a classic. And of course it didn’t hurt that they treated me like the Ewoks treated C3PO, or like I was a Make a Wish kid. My god you guys, I was not prepared for the reception I got. I was worried I brought too many books, but I should’ve brought more. Sorry I only had five copies of Niketown – I really didn’t think anyone would want it. I didn’t know it would be like this. I spent all the time between movies signing books and shaking hands, and everybody was so incredibly nice to me. I met a Dirty Dozen of regular commenters here and several people whose writing I know from movie websights or who I recognized from Twitter.

There was a guy whose son had taken him there for Father’s Day.

“Did you take him to violent R-rated action movies when he was growing up?” I asked.

“Not really. But we’re catching up now.”

Another guy had me sign one for his buddy for a wedding gift. There was a guy wearing a Viva Val Verde shirt, another with a home made Seagalogy jersey I saw from across the patio, but didn’t get a good look at. One guy told me he flew in all the way from Nashville! There was a self-declared Bruce Willis obsessive who quizzed me on Bruce’s birthday (I didn’t know it, she did). There was a woman who showed me her FIFTH ELEMENT wrist tattoo. I met Joseph Maddrey, who did that book with Lance Henriksen, Not Bad For a Human. And Patrick, who won one of my Titan Books video contests. And I sold a book to fucking Bill Lustig! I told him I was a big fan of his movies but I was too flustered to remember that VIGILANTE was called VIGILANTE, otherwise I would’ve tried to discuss with him the concept of the look. I just kept thinking “No, it’s not VENGEANCE. What is it called?” and then I gave up and only mentioned MANIAC. Well, if he gets to page 35 in the book he’ll see that I mention VIGILANTE as a comparison to MARKED FOR DEATH.

That reminds me. Confidential to whoever asked me about STREET WARS and I said I had only seen it as True Justice episodes. I’m an idiot. Not only did I see it, there’s a whole chapter in the updated book about it because it came out as a PAL dvd a long time ago. Sorry about that bud. Don’t tell anybody though because I have this reputation as knowing stuff about Seagal. You understand. Thanks bud.

And holy shit, I gotta thank some people for the incredible gifts they brought me. David Lambert, who has linked us to his great portraits of Badass Cinema icons, gave me this original drawing of Seagal:

davidlambert-seagal

david j. moore (who I was honored to finally meet in person) gave me a print of the cover of his great new book World Gone Wild: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, which I did the introduction for and which pretty much all of you would love because it’s a coffee table book about post-apocalyptic movies. (I’ll do a separate post about that shortly.) He also gave me a soundtrack CD of “The ANGEL Trilogy” (the official packaging takes the understandable position that part 4 does not exist), which was a very appropriate gift since those movies are such a love letter to Hollywood Boulevard, which I’d visited earlier in the day.

vern-snipes

vern-chinesetheater

Eric Perrier, who already generously sent me some incredible t-shirts after I bugged him about a THEY LIVE silk screen on his twitter avatar, came up and handed me this new masterpiece:

ericperrier-seagal

As of now he doesn’t sell any of these shirts but if he ever decides to I will let you all know because I promise you every one of his designs will be up your alley. If I was a rich guy I would hire him to be my personal t-shirt maker.

Also, Frank S. gave me medals so secret I can’t show them to anyone. Not necessary, very appreciated.

And who was it that handed me a twenty saying it was a face-to-face Paypal donation? You guys – and this includes those of you who couldn’t be there – are so nice to me. It’s overwhelming. I honestly never expected to get this kind of validation ever in my life. I kinda feel like an asshole talking about it because I’m used to being self-deprecating, but this thing went so well all I can do is gush.

I can’t possibly thank you all enough. Especially Phil and Jeremy, all the staff and volunteers at Cinefamily who were so nice and accommodating to me, Richard Hatem and Robert Ferretti, everybody who came up and talked to me, everybody who just came and laughed and cheered for Seagal, and of course that poor lady that had to be in that glass cage with no pants on. I hope to some day jump in front of bullets for all of you (and then shrug it off like Ryback does in DARK TERRITORY.) It was pretty damn close to the best day of my life, and I hope to use its memory as Striving For Excellence fuel for many years to come.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 11:07 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog), Seagal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

72 Responses to “Vern’s Cinefamily Journal”

  1. Sounds awesome, Vern. As someone who’s been a long-time reader (and only like a five-time poster, maybe), it rules to see you out there like that and receiving your due praise.

    Anyway, I was 3000 miles away on the opposite coast, but Seagalogy (the event and the book) has inspired me to revisit the works of Seagal. Watched Hard to Kill for the first time in years, and the blood bank line still made me laugh so hard that my old lady heard me all the way upstairs. Also, imagine the terror I felt when I realized I somehow neglected to buy On Deadly Ground on DVD. Needless to say, that was rectified in short order.

  2. My friend and I had the best time there. Thanks Vern and Cinefamily!

  3. I have to be honest here. I got a little teary eyed, while I read this. Of course I only cried because I was cutting onions, not because I couldn’t be there or I felt so moved by your words about all the kindness that you encountered that night.

    All I can say is: Stay awesome! *manly hug* (Which pretty much means that I nod in approval and then sip on my beer)

  4. No mention of SELLING OUT of books by the halfway mark?

  5. The strangest takeaway for me was that you had only seen UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY on the big screen before, I don’t know if it’s age or changing tastes, but *I* was there at the beginning lol

    My most vivid memory was revisiting the second college I got kicked out of and going to see OUT FOR JUSTICE with my former dorm roommate drunk off our asses. And he being a Jersey boy those accents had me rolling on the floor. That and my non-stop “Steven Seagal is…OUT OF MAYONAISE!!!” riffs.

    Glad you had a great time and the event was a success. Now you need you find some more of these like-minded folks and start a better action movie convention that the ones I’ve seen mentioned here and there.

  6. Knox Harrington

    June 21st, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I remember seeing OUT FOR JUSTICE and ROBIN HOOD: MEDIEVAL MULLET ADVENTURES at the drive-in back in the early nineties. I saw UNDER SIEGE at the drive-in as well, and UNDER SIEGE 2 at the cinema. Those are probably the only Seagal pictures I saw on a big screen.

    Glad you had a good time, Vern. It was well deserved.

  7. “And then, from this crazy night playing at a huge outdoor arena, it cuts to Bad all by himself the next day, parked on a desert highway, talking on a payphone in the glaring sun. And even though I have never opened for Tommy Sweet at the such and such casino amphitheater in whereverthefuck, middle of America, I felt like I knew exactly that feeling of some crazy shit goes down and then the next day you come down to regular life. You were on such a high and it seemed so huge and now everything’s normal again. Though your ears are still ringing a little. But it’s hard to believe that was just yesterday. Almost like it never happened.”
    From your Crazy Heart review. There’s something apt about that I reckon. Here’s to Vern 2.0. Onwards and upwards my friend

  8. Simply monumental, Vern. Wish I coulda been there. — A couple weeks ago I met William Forsythe at a con down here in Florida. He was nice as hell and talked about Richie Madano. He laughed talking about the “climactic” fight, saying that “Richie can take it!”

  9. What a fantastic post, Vern. Sincere congratulations on finally stepping out into the spotlight a little and sharing something you so clearly love.

    It really does sound like an amazing night.

    That OUT FOR JUSTICE freeze frame is so apt as a metaphor: you are Seagal, throwing the pimp of shyness thru the windscreen of fear.

    Hope there’s more to come and look forward to the first Vernathon.

  10. Congratulations again, Vern. I’m glad it was as magical a night as it promised to be. I’m incredibly jealous that I wasn’t there. If Mouth hadn’t been out of town that day (giving a speech of some kind to a room full of badasses, possibly instructing them on the niceties of drinking a gallon of gasoline with the intention of pissing in one’s campfire) I would have found some way to fly out there and stay with him. We would have been the two dudes in ties, because this was clearly a classy event.

    I’m going to have to go ahead and demand a pic of that belt buckle, though.

  11. I hope an event like this makes it to the east coast someday. Sounds like it was a blast. Glad to hear everything turned out quite awesome for you Vern. You’ve earned it.

  12. Dikembe Mutombo

    June 21st, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Ahh man. I wrote off any ability to come do this due to being on the wrong coast and having the wrong employment status, but reading this makes me wish I hopped on a freight train or something and tried it anyway. Very jealous, very cool writeup Vern.

  13. clubside – “The strangest takeaway for me was that you had only seen UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY on the big screen before, I don’t know if it’s age or changing tastes, but *I* was there at the beginning lol”

    Yeah that was a bit trippy ha ha. I always figured Vern to be someone who watched all the Seagals theatrically at least until THE GLIMMER MAN era.

    I’m only 30 and saw the likes of ABOVE THE LAW, HARD TO KILL and MARKED FOR DEATH when they were fresh on VHS. I still managed to see my fair share of Seagal classics on the big screen though (DARK TERRITORY wasn’t one of them). Matter of fact 2 of my greatest childhood memories with my parents where when they each took me to see UNDER SIEGE (my very pregnant at the time Mom) and ON DEADLY GROUND (my dad). In retrospect my parents were pretty fucking awesome.

  14. The only Seagals I saw in the theater were the UNDER SIEGEs, but I have vivid memories of watching all the Golden Age hits either on VHS or HBO. I started at the beginning, with ABOVE THE LAW, one of the very first movies I taped off cable when I got my first VCR. I remember how hardcore it felt, with its church bombing and torture scene. People forget that Seagal represented a harder, meaner form of action when he first came out, something more down to earth and brutal than your Stallones and Schwarzeneggers. When you saw a Seagal flick, you knew you weren’t getting any watered down bullshit. His movies weren’t for babies.

    I recently learned that my mom is a big Seagal fan. OUT FOR JUSTICE is her favorite. Obviously.

  15. One of the great film going nights of my life – crowd couldn’t have been more perfect (Other than cheering too early and drowning out the Blood Bank line) and you guys were great hosting the evening – Super funny, lots of great Seagal insight. Thanks for briefly giving up your anonymity and helping make the night happen!
    And thanks so much for the high praise on the shirt, been pondering making a Seagal shirt for a while, this event gave me the kick in the pants to make it happen.

  16. Man! I wish I coulda been there, Vern. Sounds like a really fun time. I’m glad your big reveal didn’t sour you on the idea of stepping out of your anonymity.

    Now, did anyone get any candids of Vern in his swim trunks?

  17. I’m uh… asking for a friend.

  18. Mr Majestyk, my mom’s a Seagal fan too. After seeing everything with Charles Bronson and Bud Spencer she switched to Seagal in the late 90’s.

  19. Man oh man I wish I was there, seems like such an awesome event. Next time I’m just gonna have to fly cross country. Will there even be a next time? Did I blow it? Now to spend the rest of the day depressed, laying in bed with my worn out copy of Seagalogy.

  20. I’ll go to my grave regretting that I couldn’t make this.

    Incidentally, Dark Territory and Out For Justice are the only Seagal films I ever saw theatrically. I still remember asking my mom to take me to see Out For Justice, there was nothing out that she wanted to see so it meant either watching it with me and my friend, or engaging in the time consuming annoyance of bringing us to the theater, giving the box office clerk the OK for minors seeing R rated movies (back then they didn’t need to see it with us, just give permission), going home for 90 minutes, and then picking us up. Anyway she asked “Well what’s it about?” and I had no idea because I only saw the TV spots/trailers, so I just said “Seagal… taking out the trash?”. She was clearly not sold on the concept, but proved to be an awesome mom, dropping us off for opening night enjoyment instead of just saying “No” to her 11 year old son asking to see an R rated movie without parental supervision.

    (Under Siege 2 needed no explanation. I watched it by myself while her and my sister saw that King Arthur movie with Richard Gere.)

    Anyway, glad it went great! And you’re right, Phil is a goddamn saint.

  21. The Original Paul

    June 21st, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Vern – now the question your British audience (me and Dirk and a couple of others) wants answered is: if “Niketown” does as well as “Seagalogy” (both editions) did, does that mean that you’ll be coming over here and doing the Hay Festival? Because that would be freakin’ awesome.

  22. The Original Paul

    June 21st, 2014 at 10:29 am

    And the only Seagal film I’ve seen theatrically is “Exit Wounds” unfortunately. (Not unfortunate that I saw that one theatrically, you understand – I’ve always felt it got a much harsher critical reception than it deserved, and in fact has many things to recommend it. What’s unfortunate is that it’s the ONLY one. I would’ve loved to have caught “Marked for Death” or “Fire Down Below” on the big screen.) As I recall the cinema was pretty empty, which again was a bit unfortunate. Like last year’s “Last Stand”, I feel that “Exit Wounds” would be a better experience if there was a big enthusiastic audience that really got “into” it.

  23. grimgrinningchris

    June 21st, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Vern, with all the awesomeness of this event and this ensuing article, the most exciting part of the whole thing to me is the phrase “a trip I took to Dollywood a month earlier”.
    Dollywood is amazing and possibly the best non Disney/Universal/Busch park in the country.
    Pleeeeease figure out a way to write something more about this trip.
    If there’s one thing I’m more obsessed with than movies/music, its theme parks!

  24. I’d seen some Seagal stuff but unlike you golden age fans my gateway film was Attack Force. It totally floored me for mostly the wrong reasons to the extent that I bought Seagalogy and became obsessed with this site. I feel blessed that while everyone else has watched his decline, pretty much every Seagal film I’ve seen was an improvement on the first. For example I loved Dark Territory to an extent I might not have if I’d seen it when it first came out. I still have a soft spot for Attack Force, its special.

  25. Good. I’m glad you came, Vern, partly because I finally got to meet you, but mostly because you got to have a great time. You deserve it in my opinion.

  26. Wow, why the fuck did I not go to this? I mean, I live 10 minutes away from the Cinefamily, and in LA NOTHING is 10 minutes away. Yeah I was working, but if there’s any reason to be AWOL on the job, this would be it. At the very least, living it vicariously via these posts is pretty great.

    I’ve only been a reader of this site (ahem, sight) for a year or so, but since I’ve discovered it I haven’t missed a word. Vern, you’re the man, and if you ever do another one of these, I’m so there.

  27. Thanks for the shoutout, Vern! It was a great night. I had to be up at 5 am the next day for work so I kept saying to myself, “I’ll leave after I give Vern the drawing…no, no, I’ll leave after Out for Justice…no, no, I’ll leave after the ‘Essence of a man’ speech in On Deadly Ground…oh fuck it, I’m staying all night.” The next day I got punched in the face by a schizophrenic homeless man, and if I hadn’t been so groggy I might have been able to dodge it (I did hit him in the neck once and he ran off). The next day I had to get my license renewed so my driver’s license pic is of me with a black eye. What I’m trying to say is, “Thanks Bud!”

  28. flyingguillotine

    June 21st, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    The event had added significance for yours truly because I had a friend in town who I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Back in the day, HE was the guy who totally loved Seagal films, and to a certain degree Seagal got him interested in the martial arts to the degree that he has been studying for decades, and even had his own dojo for a while.

    Anyway, even though he was in town with his family, the timing was perfect for him to come out to Seagalogy and appreciate these films on the big screen for the first time since we were both kids. At the same time, purely by coincidence I had ANOTHER friend in town, totally unrelated, who’s are hardcore martial arts film dude, so it was a good time had by all.

    It was definitely a unique and personal filmgoing experience, and for that I can thank everyone involved in pulling the fest together.

    Above and beyond just watching a bunch of enjoyable films, after mulling it for a week I was able to settle on some interesting cinematic thoughts:

    a) When you watch four films in a row that are specifically geared around a particular star, you REALLY start to understand what star power is in a creative sense. In many cases, features only move toward production when they get bankable casting in the leads, because there is an inherent audience draw… It’s an ephemeral concept, until you do something like watch four Seagal movies in a row, and then you just get it on an elemental level. The moment that dude shows up, you know that the “real” movie has started, what that movie is going to be, who you’re rooting for, etc.

    This was never more clear than when we get the OUT FOR JUSTICE freeze frame. On its own, it’s great. But taken in context, there is a purity to the way that image encapsulates not just Seaglogy, but how actors/stars/protagonists interact with the audience. They embody us in the shared dreams that are movies.

    b) I never realized that Basil Poledouris scored both DARK TERRITORY and ON DEADLY GROUND.

    c) ON DEADLY GROUND is the film in which Seagal flips the script… Instead of simply embodying a protagonist/dream self for the audience, he turns things around and shows HIS dream self to US. This is who he is/was in his head at that moment in his life, and he had the unique clout to put that on screen. Which is partly why it has such a strange tone for an action movie.

    ON DEADLY GROUND is mostly ridiculous, and made Seagal subject to ridicule, because there is enormous hubris on the screen. All of the characters spend the entire fucking movie talking about what an amazing, dangerous, powerful, legendary guy “Forest Taft” is, to a bizarre and laughable degree, hence the reason we get multiple “just how badass is he?” beats, and they go to such weird heights.

    So while he had a lot of mystic and environmental stuff on his mind, it’s also a snapshot of just how full of himself he was at this stage in his life.

    However… while ON DEADLY GROUND is unintentionally funny, I had also forgotten how intentionally funny it is, as well. We talk a lot about Thornton’s off-the-cuff remarks, but John C. McGinley is really sarcastic and charismatic throughout. That sequence in which he menaces the old man is actually pretty sharp, and his line reads pop all the way through. As a director, Seagal was definitely able to get good performances out of his cast.

    It was a great night.

  29. Knox Harrington

    June 21st, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Ha! That’s just brilliant. Would love to see that picture, David.

  30. I really had a blast at this event, Vern! And you can count me amongst the newly converted to Seagalogy. The only Seagal movie I had seen before this was Out For Justice, and I didn’t appreciate it at the time. It was completely different watching it with that crowd, ready to enjoy the badassness and the absurdity in equal parts. And holy shit, Dark Territory is a classic! I can’t believe I missed that one when it was in theaters! Now I’m gonna have to go back and watch the original Under Siege, as well.

    This was such a fun night, I hope you’ll do more events with Cinefamily in the future. Maybe you could do an Al Gore style presentation on the breakdown of cinematic language thanks to the films of Michael Bay. You could call it An Incomprehensible Truth.

    And I think this seals it, I’m gonna become a Cinefamily member. They do so much cool stuff down there I should really start supporting them.

  31. Thanks everybody for sharing all your personal thoughts about the night, I love it. I think David wins the prize for best comment, though. I did not expect him to get punched in the face by a schizophrenic homeless guy (spoiler).

    Yes, it’s true, for me the early Seagal movies (and Van Damme too) were a strictly VHS experience. I’m not entirely sure why, since I probly saw most (but not all) of the Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis movies on the big screen. But it really wasn’t until ON DEADLY GROUND that I became full on obsessed with the Seagal filmography.

    Yes, if something like this were set up on the east coast (or Austin) of course I would want to do it. But I’m not the guy who knows how to put that together. Maybe we should buy a bus (called Spirit of the Man-Bear) and go on tour.

    Flying Guillotine: I meant to mention John C. McGinley, actually. That line where he says “There’s no ‘i’ in team. It’s spelled T, E, A, M!” is so great. It reminds me of Nicolas Cage going through the alphabet in VAMPIRE’S KISS. I bet that part was improvised too.

    Paul, that’s the city of books, right? I’ve heard of that. I don’t know how something like that would happen, but now that I’ve broken through this particular barrier maybe those types of dreams aren’t out of the question anymore.

  32. And Majestyk, since you insist, here is the belt buckle (plus the shoes, since I want to show them off):

    I also had my eye on a buckle that was on ebay, it was karate themed and it showed a fist breaking through a board. But this being a cheesy (I think) white guy flying through the air and possibly meant as an unlicensed knock off of the tv show of the same name seemed more appropriate for a guy like me who admires martial arts but doesn’t actually practice them.

  33. Like flyingguillotine says, it was a really great selection of movies. One that made Seagal a star. One that they plugged Seagal into (can anyone confirm that an Out for Justice script was kickin’ around before someone said “I bet *he* could do New York Italian dialect!”?) One expensive machine-tooled thriller designed to incorporate Seagal. And one that was Seagal, no chaser. I didn’t expect to last through all four, but there was never a moment where leaving beat staying.

    Good to meet Fred, Tawdry, Vern, and the Verntourage. Special mention to Phil B, who learned the night before that the Dark Territory film cans held something else … and managed to fix the film co.’s error. It was a night to appreciate for sure.

  34. I would wear both of those items several times a week. Respect.

  35. Dikembe Mutombo

    June 21st, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Also, I’ve never seen or heard of that Mr. Show/On Deadly Ground thing you posted Vern, but I’m watching it now and I have to say Odenkirk’s Seagal impression is killing me. I bet that was a good time even if they were pretty hard on the movie.

  36. Hey! I was the guy in the Viva Val Verde shirt. It was such a fun night. I brought a friend with me who’d never seen a Seagal film, but as the night went he was cheering and clapping as loud as the rest of us.

  37. Hey ocaramano! I was the guy (one of many I imagine) who complimented you on your shirt back in the patio. Got to get one.

    Great write up Vern. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Felt as much a celebration of you as Master Seagal.

  38. Aw shucks. Thanks guys. I’d never been punched in the face before so it was kind of exhilarating. Didn’t hurt at all, just made me woozy. After I punched him in the neck he ran off and some ladies called the cops. One lady said the homeless guy was black (he wasn’t, just a white guy who had been in the sun too long) another said the homeless guy was punching me for two minutes straight (I think the fact that I’m typing this right now goes against that bit of testimony). It’s fascinating how people can perceive things so incorrectly. I’ll post the driver’s license photo once it arrives in the mail. My cheek was all swollen, and my eye was miscolored, but it wasn’t like a my eye turned totally black or that I couldn’t open it or anything. It might just look like I have a shadow over my left eye. Did I mention this was on my birthday?

  39. “and Griff says I am not buff and I look like his dad. Giving my reputation a hit like that was not what I had planned for my summer vacation.”

    awww Vern, I’m sorry, did I hurt your feelings? I didn’t mean it as a put down, I just thought it was a funny bit of irony that you *vaguely* looked like my dad, because if you knew my father you’d know he’s not the kind of guy who would write a book about Steven Seagal’s movies and fyi my father is a crazy former Navy guy who has had plenty of fights in his past, he’s not some pushover or anything

    but seriously, I sincerely apologize if that came off the wrong way, sometimes I put my foot in my mouth and I say the wrong thing and now I feel like an asshole, can you forgive me?

  40. As long as we’re making sure everyone’s getting their due, what about Everett McGill is UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY? As great as Bogosian is (and I bring it up all the time) McGill is great as the number two and paired with Bogosian like Jones/Busey in the original they make a great dynamic, with his final fight being more OUT FOR JUSTICE than UNDER SIEGE.

    As much as ON DEADLY GROUND is the culmination of things for Seagal personally, UNDER SIEGE 2 is the culmination for him professionally, hitting all the important markers from the past films and mashing up so much so perfectly. It’s both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious (seeing the admiral do that little hop with fists clinched in celebration kills me), ludicrous and well paced, loaded with a smorgasbord of recognizable cronies and structured as well as any good DIE HARD clone.

    While we’re there, I think a lot of people forget just how great the original UNDER SIEGE is. It’s easy to get hung up on Andrew Davis’ perfect paced and framed direction and look at it as a Seagal outlier, but it really does both “fit the mold” and expand it at the same time. You get Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey hamming it up PLUS Colm Meanie as baddies. Lots of good kills, the kind of build-up and execution that defines the DIE HARD pacing, and good jokes none better than the last shot where Busey pulls off the gauze from his face then is blowed up real good.

    Broddie, I was already hitting movies regularly by the time Seagal got started. I met the guy who would be a good friend through a BBS I was running as we both were starting at the same college and when he gave me a body count from COMMANDO I had a whole new way to enjoy mayhem. My first R-rated movie was the original MOTHER’S DAY in 1980 followed by OUTLAND so I started in with the action flicks right as the genre exploded. Oh there you go Vern, another plug to get an OUTLAND review. It’s not just the top of the review recommendations list, it’s another reminder to drag Connery out of retirement for an EXPENDABLES appearance!

  41. Don’t worry about it Griff. I thought it was funny.

  42. Man.. I wish I was there. But living on the other side of the planet does bring some complications to visiting these kind of events. On the bright side. Seagal has started touring with his band in europe So there is still that.

    Was there anyone vern, that approached you like the time you approached seagal after his concert? Just someone politly shaking your hand and saying thank you. That would have been funny in my opinion.

  43. I saw NICO: ABOVE THE LAW, HARD TO KILL, OUT FOR JUSTICE and UNDER SIEGE all on the big screen in the formative halcyon days of my movie going youth. Pretty sure I was stoned for the first three but still remember them well. VHS gave me the rest up to FIRE DOWN BELOW, then I sorta lost interest in his films until I found SEAGALOGY, had my mind fucking blown apart, then started backtracking through the ones I missed. PISTOL WHIPPED remains the highlight so far. AGAINST THE DARK the lowlight. Yet to take the wrapping off TRUE JUSTICE Series 1.

  44. The Original Paul

    June 22nd, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Vern – that is indeed the city of books, and home to the biggest literary festival in the UK. (It’s where I saw Lee Child live a few weeks ago. But honestly, just about every successful author I can think of who’s alive has been there at some point, right up to and including Bill Clinton. So if you fancy following in the footsteps of the last Democrat president, there you go!)

    My favorite speaker there was John LeCarre, and I will never stop recommending people look up the audio record of that event (it’s part of the 2013 Hay Festival roster) because it’s awesome. LeCarre is just an incredible man, worldly beyond his eighty-something years, articulate to a degree that you don’t often get these days, and chock full of life experience that he has shared. More than that, though, he’s also a lot funnier than I thought he would be.

    So if you’re interested in seeing what happens when these events are that good, here’s the audio of it (which is free to stream):

    https://www.hayfestival.com/p-5496-john-le-carre.aspx

    This year’s best was probably Laura Bates. (It’s not just me who thinks that – her talk gets mentioned again and again in the newspaper coverage of the event as one of the best things about it.) But unfortunately that one’s still behind a paywall at the moment. If you can spare the 99p it’s a riveting listen.

    https://www.hayfestival.com/p-7992-laura-bates-talks-to-anita-anand.aspx

  45. Knox Harrington

    June 22nd, 2014 at 4:50 am

    I can’t watch the DTV stuff. I got into Vern after reading a review for INTO THE SUN on Aintitcool. Loved the review, went out and rented the movie, and was utterly disappointed. I think it’s in that one where the girl keeps telling him how big his dick is or something. Really didn’t impress me.

    Still, Vern’s writing is what kept me coming back. I tried a few more DTV Seagals like PISTOL WHIPPED, but again it did nothing for me. Lucky for me there more to Vern than just a Degree in Seagalogy. Being a kindred genre fan, I still get a kick out of his approach and insights, and even though I don’t necessarily agree half the time, I can still appreciate and respect a fellow scholar. Besides, the dude’s funny.

    Still, I really enjoyed the older Seagal movies back when I saw them, and have some fond memories of watching UNDER SIEGE and HARD TO KILL. Should maybe revisit them some time.

  46. Yeah, some of the DTV stuff is a struggle to get through. I’ve bailed out of a few at the halfway mark, like SUBMERGED and AGAINST THE DARK. I guess it makes a difference how you approach them. After SEAGALOGY my curiosity was piqued, so I made the effort to see some of the DTV’s, but didn’t get much enjoyment from a kick-ass, great entertainment perspective. I was more fascinated with the attributes and themes drawn out by Vern.

    Thank God for Seagal’s Gold and Silver era films which mostly remain true bad ass classics.

  47. The Original Paul

    June 22nd, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Knox and Darren – the great tragedy of a Vern review is that it’s frequently a lot more entertaining than the thing he’s actually reviewing. “Cursed” being the classic case-in-point.

    Boy, I really am the only person who sees anything redeeming about “Against the Dark”, aren’t I? Not that I’d ever claim that it’s anything even remotely approaching “good”, but I’ve seen way worse in my time. WAY worse. (*Shudders.*)

  48. Jos – There were people like that, and ironically I found myself trying to get them to talk, because I genuinely wanted to know who everybody was and what they were about. It had me rethinking that policy of mine. I was especially endeared toward people who seemed shy or nervous to meet me. It seemed crazy to be on the other side of that. It’s gotta be different for real celebrities who do that all the time, but for my one experience of book-signing it was great to have people coming up asking me about my Star Wars reviews or what my favorite Van Damme movies are and things like that.

  49. Congrats! Sounds like a great event. I am so bummed that a nasty head cold had me bed-ridden for that entire weekend. I really did try to rally, but I was so ill that even the mile or so journey to The Silent Movie Theater from my house seemed like too much. I’d like to think that my spot on one of those couches (or, more likely, one of the chairs in back) went to someone who was inspired to pick up their first copy of Seagalogy that night. I’m really glad it went well for you, Vern. But I do wish you had a picture of the book-reading, afroed model.

  50. The Seagal movies I were able to see on the big screen here in Norway are as follows (in Norwegian); NICO, DØDSMERKET, KAPRING PÅ ÅPENT HAV, PÅ FARLIG GRUNN, KAPRING I HØY HASTIGHET, ORDRE FRA HØYESTE HOLD, EXIT WOUNDS. The rest went straight to VHS/dvd.

  51. pegsman, I must praiseth you for thine excellent use of the English language on this site, you and CJ and Shoot are international champions, but alas I am unable to return the compliment and write in your native tongue, let alone comprehend Norwegian. I understood NICO and EXIT WOUNDS ok, but fucked if I know what the rest are. Can you fill me in bud? The curiosity is killing me….

  52. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 23rd, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Without checking google translate, DØDSMERKET has got to be Marked For Death and I’m guessing PÅ FARLIG GRUNN is On Deadly Ground (or Dangerous Ground in this case?)

  53. Very good, undefeated Gaul. Someone should be able to correctly guess at least two of the other titles.

  54. I don’t speak Norwegian, but the closely related Swedish, and I can give you what I guess are the literal translations for KAPRING PÅ ÅPENT HAV and KAPRING I HØY HASTIGHET and let you draw your own Seagalogical conclusions: HIJACKING ON OPEN SEA and HIJACKING AT HIGH SPEED. :)

  55. I have to say though, the second title is so generic it could just as well be for EXECUTIVE DECISION as well as the sequel to that SEA HIJACKING movie. My own Seagalogy is a little spotty so I don’t whether there are more hijacking-plots in his ouvre.

  56. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 23rd, 2014 at 11:46 am

    So that leaves ORDRE FRA HØYESTE HOLD… I’ll admit, I needed google translate for that one.

    Over here that one was called Critical Decision. I’ve always thought that was a better title, rolls off the tongue a lot easier.

  57. There are usually two types of titles for foreign movies, at least here in Norway. Mostly they just use a translation of the English one, i. e. MARKED FOR DEATH becomes DØDSMERKET and EXECUTIVE DECISION becomes ORDRE FRA HØYESTE HOLD (even if it literally means ORDERS FROM HIGH COMMAND). The other kind is more like a description of the movie. KAPRING PÅ ÅPENT HAV and KAPRING I HØY HASTIGHET means HIJACKING ON OPEN SEA and HIJACKING AT HIGH SPEED, as Tobias said. Or UNDER SIEGE and UNDER SIEGE 2, as you know them. And PÅ FARLIG GRUNN means ON DANGEROUS GROUND, as Paul said. I guess they were tired of the word deadly/dødelig. But as EXIT WOUNDS show they’ve more or less stopped using Norwegian titles on foreign movies now. Or else it would have been called UTGANGSSÅR.

  58. And did I mention that Gaul means Paul in Norwegian? I’m sorry I called you Paul Gaul.

  59. Vern, I’m glad you had fun, and were able to share some moments with other humans. Keep on truckin’, bud.

  60. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 24th, 2014 at 1:02 am

    No worries, pegsman. The Undefeated Paul… has a certain ring to it.

  61. The Original Paul

    June 24th, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Pegsman – it’s actually a compliment, don’t ya know.

  62. This is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I’m so glad it happened. Fuel to the fires of excellence!

  63. It’s pretty profound when someone who may have some guilt or feeling of “selling out” their first script to make it in the business, to get to revisit it later and see actually, they did a good thing. Without that DIE HARD on a train knockoff, we wouldn’t have the further adventures of Casey Fucking Rybeck.

    As far as the public speaking issue, that makes total sense and I’m surprised people don’t realize what different functions these are. You get people all the time saying, “You write reviews, you should go on TV and talk about movies or go on podcasts.” The joy and craft of composing words is not the same as talking. Far from it actually, and there seems to be a value judgment that video or audio is superior. It’s not. However you can best create is the essence of a man.

    And Vern is in great shape. I don’t know how he has time to work out working a day job and writing this site. I’ve certainly let myself go due to traveling and selling off every last minute I have to make enough money to pay my mortgage.

  64. “However you can best create is the essence of a man.”

    Fred – Hi fuckin Five dude!

  65. Vern, I am glad this was such a great experience for you. I am bumed I couldn’t go. As a big fan of your work and the films of Seagal (specifically OUT FOR JUSTICE) it sounded like an awesome event. I would love to seen HARD TO KILL & OUT FOR JUSTICE on the big screen.

    It is interesting to hear you share your fears over having to speak in public versus sharing your thoughts through the writen word and I can relate but from the opposite end of the spectrum. I make a living talking and have a back ground in theater, and feel that I am good with words but I struggle as a writer. I am mildly dyslexic and have trouble with spelling and grammer. It might sound ridiculous but it is a real chore for me to bang out these typo filled borderline incoherent posts, and it took me a long time to muster up the confidence to post on this site. I still worry that my struggles with writing often betray the intent or ideas I am trying to express.

  66. Exactly, Charles. If you’re more comfortable speaking/performing, then that’s what you should do. Some people can do both. Devin Faraci has done the talking heads thing and seems just as coherent as his writing. I’m just saying don’t feel you have to do things other people do. Or especially things other people tell you you should do. They don’t know.

    Thanks, Darren.

  67. “And Vern is in great shape. I don’t know how he has time to work out working a day job and writing this site.”

    I knew all that “Oh no, I’m not the badass you think I am” was bullshit. VERN IS A MOTHERFUCKING NINJA! Only explaination I can think of.

  68. Charles – That’s really interesting to know. It’s always seemed to me like you could write. Please continue posting!

  69. Thanks Vern, that means a lot. Your writing is what inspired me to push my self to post on this site, and I don’t really post/write anywhere else on the net.

    Fred, I completely agree.

  70. Charles, I’m a writer/editor by trade, and I’ve never noticed anything wrong with your writing. I’ve worked with dudes who write for a living who are way worse than you are. So don’t feel ashamed about expressing yourself with the written word. You’re doing just fine.

  71. Thanks Mr. M. I appreciate it. It means a lot to get that feedback from you. I fell like writing on this site has not only helped my confidence as writer but has made me a better writer as well. Vern, yourself and the rest of Outlaw community have created and fostered an environment that has allowed me to feel comfortable to post and helped me refine the language I use and how I express myself when writing about cinema.

  72. Glad to hear it went well. Was across two continents and an ocean (as usual), but it would have been great to be there.

    Hopefully you might do something similar (or like Paul says, for the books) somewhere close to GMT in future.

    J

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