Thursday, October 8, 2015

Octoberfest Five: 5 Favorite Dark Roles From Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon has a prolific film catalog, and for a horror fan he seems to show up in typically dark films more often than most actors of his generation.  I've loved him since Friday the 13th (1980), and thought it prudent to include him in my list party this October.  So I present, my five favorite Kevin Bacon films.

Since I'm only talking horror and its offshoots, I won't be listing Diner, A Few Good Men, Footloose, Mystic River and My Dog Skip - all of which he was great in.  And it was really hard to choose just five in the genre, let me tell you.  He's done a ton of "bad guy" roles and with his most recent film, Cop Car, it seems he has no desire to stop. 

Friday the 13th, while notably one of my favorite horror films, did not land on this list simply because there really wasn't much for Kevin to do except run around in a Speedo and get lucky with Marcie. Likewise with Tremors.  I know it is a fan-favorite but I have an aversion to any type of worm, making movies like it, Slither, Shivers, Squirm and any other slimy scum impossible for me to watch!

I've also not added The Following simply because it is television and not film. But yeah, he was great in that, too!

These roles have a little more meat on the bone.  Again please remember this is not meant to be a "best of" list - it's an opinion list!!

Stir of Echoes
My favorite of all of Kevin Bacon's films, Stir of Echoes came out around the same time as the mega-hit The Sixth Sense and was largely ignored at the box office, which is a damn shame because I actually think it is the better of the two.  It's certainly the more atmospheric film. Based on a story by Richard Matheson, it tells the tale of Tom Witzky, a blue-collar man who agrees to be hypnotized at a block party in a Chicago neighborhood.  His somewhat wacky sister-in-law easily puts him under and later, Tom begins to experience confusing, violent visions of an assault on a local mentally challenged teenager.  The visions become more terrifying and as Tom searches for answers to the mystery of what happened to the girl, thus he makes it an obsessive mission to uncover the truth -  turning an average joe into an unhinged mess.

One of Bacon's earlier films also features a young Julia Roberts and several other stars of the day.  While Billy Baldwin is pretty difficult to watch because he is so annoying, the film doesn't lose much because of it.  Five medical students are trying to find out what happens after you die, so they conduct experiments on each other by stopping their hearts to attempt to induce a near-death experience.  Which they do.  Except each one of them has visions of disturbing early childhood experiences that linger well into their waking lives. Bacon plays Dave, the student that seems to have the most conscience and ultimately the one who decides that to stop the terrifying visions, the group needs to remedy the wrongs that each committed in their childhood to end the medically induced after-life terrors.
Flatliners is a creepy little film, and one that needs re-visited if it's been a while since you've seen it.

Wild Things
While not entirely horror, the seedy - almost ranuchy- feel of this thriller makes it a perfect addition here. Bacon plays Detective Ray Duquette, assigned to investigate the assault/rape of two high school girls - rich bitch Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) and a girl from the other side of the tracks: Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) - by a local high school teacher, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon).  Duquette has suspicions that all is not as cut and dry as it seems, and ends up getting tangled up in a salacious web of deceit.
Lewd, crude, and altogether screwed, Wild Things is a pure guilty pleasure.  As is Bacon's full-frontal shower scene.

Hollow Man
This film lends a lot to the mad scientist feel as Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, a man hell bent on developing an invisibility serum.  The film has Academy Award nominated special effects, perhaps overshadowing Kevin's work as an obsessed maniac - a brilliant scientist devolving into utter madness. The movie didn't get the best ratings but it's fun for horror fans as Caine pushes the envelope further and further until there is no coming back to reality.  When the serum works, it's great.  But when it continues to work and cannot be reversed, Sebastian takes that as permission to walk around unseen - which, while it sound like a whole lot of fun, he takes it to a much darker place and begins a crime spree unmatched only by perhaps the original The Invisible Man.  It's fun, it's morbid, and it's completely over the top.

Death Sentence
In what may be Bacon's darkest role, he turns from a loving father into a vengeance-driven, cold-hearted killer. But as an audience we can completely sympathize with his sorrowful anger because the gang violence that started this eruption of anger is something that we all are aware of by just watching the nightly news. Nick Hume (Bacon) and his son Brendan are on their way home from a hockey game when they stop at a convenience store. Unfortunately a gang member initiation is also taking place and Brendan's throat is slit, killing him. Bacon's grief and eventual retribution are palpable, and his anti-hero is painful yet exhilarating. One of his most underrated roles, in my opinion.

Honorable Mentions:  Murder in the First, The River Wild, Trapped, The Woodsman


Francisco Gonzalez said...

Cool, I didn't realize Bacon had been in so many intense films, STir of Echoes is a good one, and I haven't seen Flatliners in forever...time for a re-watch! There's a remake in the horizon for that one.

Christine Hadden said...

I love Stir of Echoes! And doesn't it just figure that they would remake Flatliners. Eventually there won't be a film unscathed by the remake train wreck.

Thanks for reading!! :)