Tag Archives: Natasha Henstridge

Return to Sender

Condition of Return

by Daniel Baldwin

There aren’t too many movies out there that focus on mass shooters. You’ve got the occasional one that tackles it, such as Runaway Jury or the more recent Run Hide Fight, but they are few and far between. It’s not hard to see why, given both the frequency and severity of mass shootings in the United States. One might even call it a taboo cinematic subject. Taboos are, of course, the domain of genre and exploitation cinema. These are the corners of cinema where – when done right – we can find catharsis through art.

Tommy Stovall’s Condition of Return aims right at that taboo and pulls the proverbial trigger. Our protagonist is a churchgoing woman (AnnaLynne McCord) who, one day, shoots up said church, leaving over a dozen dead and even more injured. Why did she do it? That’s for the psychiatrist (Dean Cain) brought in to evaluate her ahead of sentencing to decide. Well, that and to professionally analyze whether or not she is sane enough to even stand trial. After all, she claims that the Devil (Natasha Henstridge) made her do it!

Normally what we would have here would be a battle of wits between a perpetrator and a medical professional as the latter sets about unravelling the mystery in front of them. Is she crazy? What’s the reason behind the reason for such a horrible act? Condition of Return is not interested in any of this. In fact, it makes it clear early on whether or not she is crazy. The answer is deeply troublesome. What we have here is a film that doesn’t put a whole lot of thought into the subtext behind the filmmakers’ storytelling decisions. And that’s not even getting into its problematic depictions of race.

There’s nothing wrong with making a film where the supernatural is real and inhuman beings are playing games with human lives for fun. Horror is filled with such fare. Angel Heart and The Devil’s Advocate come to mind. Religious horror is an important foundation of the genre. It only becomes a problem when evil acts by humans – especially topical epidemic ones – within such narratives are scapegoated upon such powers. Want my professional cinematic analysis? Stick with the Heaven & Hell thrillers that don’t blame mass shootings on anything other than the people pulling the trigger. As for McCord and Stovall, if you’re wanting horror fare featuring the talents either, seek out Excision and Aaron’s Blood instead. Mark this one as “return to sender.”

Fright Club: Sexiest Villains

Some people dream of the hero. There are folks who swoon during Avengers films, choosing their fave from the assemblage of good guys, or wait with baited breath for Wonder Woman to get her stand alone film.

But what about the bad guys? Are you saying that, just because we like a date with blood on their teeth, there’s something wrong with us? Surely not! Tell us you didn’t get a little weak in the knees for Skeet Ulrich in Scream, or swoon just a little when Catherine Deneuve seduced Susan Sarandon in The Hunger. Of course you did! And why not?

So today, we celebrate the sexy villains. Join us, won’t you?

George Pick #3: Elizabeth Olsen – Silent House (2011)

Olsen is a tremendous talent, consistently excellent even in lesser films. Silent House starts off strong but eventually relies too heavily on a gimmick and Olsen’s tight shirt to keep you interested. Still, Olsen’s vulnerable yet badass character is undeniably hot – tight shirt or no.

Hope Pick #3: Tony Todd – Candyman (1992)

No, he’s not classically handsome. In fact, on paper, Candyman is not that sexy of a villain. He has a hook for a hand, bees in his chest, that moldy velvet robe thing has to smell awful. But Tony Todd’s voice is the push over the cliff. When he tells Helen (Virginia Madsen) “Don’t fear the pain. The pain is exquisite,” you can’t help but want to believe.

George’s #2 Natasha Henstridge – Species (1995)

Species is more a SciFi thriller than a horror movies, but George gets to choose so it’s not up to Hope and her picky rules. No one could blame the guy for landing on this one – Henstridge is fierce and sexy and very naked. What is he, made of stone?

Hope’s #2: Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Sweeney Todd is to Hope what Chocolat is to normal people. Sure, Depp is a dreamboat regardless of his role, but with Sweeney Todd, director Tim Burton finally lets him get a little mean. When he lifts that blade above his head, singing of his “old friend,” he is hypnotic.

George’s #1: Salma Hayek – From Dusk til Dawn (1996)

Duh. Bow your head, dogs! When Salma Hayak appears in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk til Dawn, everybody pays attention – everybody in the bar Titty Twister, and everybody watching. Hayek is easily one of the most gorgeous humans on earth, and her snake-bedecked dance is no doubt enough to lure many voluntarily to her eternal servitude.

Hope’s #1: Rutger Hauer- The Hitcher (1986)

Hope had been nursing a crush on Hauer since Blade Runner, but it was The Hitcher that sent her over the edge. Unsettling, given the tender age at which she saw the film? No doubt, but his brilliant eyes and steely delivery and the way he seduced girlie C. Thomas Howell on that drive across the desert was just more than her bored little heart could bear. Don’t judge her.

Who did we miss? Let us know on twitter @maddwolf!