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Where in the Horror are they Now? Renny Harlin!

11.07.2016by: JimmyO
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RENNY HARLIN

THEN: It’s already November. Where the hell has this year gone? And since we are already seeing a ton of Christmas decorations, and likely hearing holiday music on certain stations, I wanted to celebrate with yet another awesome holiday themed pick. Now the movie in question is not a horror film, but it is one that probably most of you dug the hell out of. To me, nothing is as festive during this time of year as an early DIE HARD flick. And while it may not be as strong as the original, DIE HARD 2 (1990) was an awesome sequel with Bruce Willis still caring about portraying Lt. John McClane. I recently revisited this flick and found that it still carries one hell of a punch when it comes to the action and suspense. You can credit much of that to director Renny Harlin. So what has Mr. Harlin been up to?

Well I guess before that I may have to remind you of Renny’s more genre specific features. With only a couple of shorts to his credit, the Finnish film director took on an underrated little horror gem called PRISON early in his career. The 1987 flick told the story of a long-dead prisoner who comes back for a little bloody revenge. This cool movie not only had a ton of scary style, it also featured Viggo Mortensen - the dude has done more scary movies than you’d imagine. With a story by Irwin Yablans, this gruesome flick helped the director move up in the genre with a chance to helm another sequel to a very popular franchise.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988) is hardly the film that people remember as being the best in the series. However, this particular sequel holds a special place for yours truly. I loved the introduction of Lisa Wilcox as Alice. And I kind of thought that Andras Jones was the coolest big brother on the big screen at the time. It may not be perfect, but frankly nostalgia really keeps this one looking all bright and shiny. It works well after the inventive DREAM WARRIORS, and continues the story in a mostly satisfying way. The biggest problem is that by now Freddy Krueger is like a psychotic stand-up comedienne, but this fourth film is still one of my personal favorites - perhaps  behind the original, NEW NIGHTMARE and the previously mentioned DREAM WARRIORS.

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After having a little success with freaking audiences out, Harlin decided to spend time on the edge with a little action. In 1990 he took on both THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE - albeit that is more comedy - and then the previously mentioned DIE HARD 2. In 1993, he took Sylvester Stallone way up high for CLIFFHANGER. Yet it was a little movie he directed with his then wife, Geena Davis, that didn’t do the filmmaker any favors. In 1995, he attempted to bring pirates to the cineplex with CUTTHROAT ISLAND - I really have nothing to say about this bomb. Yet the following year, he teamed up once again with Geena for an under-appreciated caper called THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT in 1996.

After a long break from scary stories, Harlin did finally return with the wacky shark flick DEEP BLUE SEA in 1999. While far from a perfect man vs. nature feast, it works on a number of levels. Mostly it just works because it is so damn over-the-top that you have to give it credit for sheer ridiculous fun. When Samuel L. Jackson makes friends with a engineered killer fish, it is brilliantly laughable. And yes, that is mostly a compliment. After taking on a bunch of killer sharks, the director had a couple of unmemorable flicks including a TV Movie in 2000 called T.R.A.X. and a 2001 film called DRIVEN… with Sly Stallone! Did anybody see this? If so, I’ve gotta hear if it's any good.

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In 2004 Harlin took on yet another franchise with mostly lackluster results. EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING in 2004 was a little complicated. Renny took the job after John Frankenheimer left - who died shortly after - and then Paul Schrader took on the project, only to be fired when the Morgan Creek executives felt his adaptation wasn’t scary enough. After the debacle, they brought in Harlin to restructure the already completed film. Ultimately however, Schrader’s take was released a little after Harlin’s version. Neither of which came close to the exceptional first film. Still, he was back with horror thanks to THE EXORCIST so there is that.

In 2004 he released MINDHUNTERS starring Val Kilmer, Christian Slater and of course Clifton Collins Jr. While I wasn't a huge fan of the film, it definitely had a moment of goodness or two. Then came the silly THE COVENANT in 2006. However, it was cool seeing him return to trying to creep out the audience with these light genre entries. Perhaps one of the best of his 2000 releases was CLEANER in 2007 which featured Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eva Mendes and Robert Forster.

renny harlin a nightmare on elm street 4 the dream master die hard 2 prison devil's pass cliffhanger cutthroat island the long kiss goodnight deep blue sea exorcist the beginning where in the horror are they now mindhunters the covenant cleaner skiptrace

NOW: Renny Harlin continues to work. He has directed a ton of television with episodes of Graceland, Covert Affairs, White Collar and Burn Notice. He took on THE LEGEND OF HERCULES in 2014, a not so thrilling adventure starring Kellan Lutz. Hell, he even did a found footage movie in 2013 called DEVIL’S PASS. The dude can create serious tension so why is he not getting better material? Well never fear, he does have a film with Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville coming our way called SKIPTRACE. Will this action/adventure/comedy be able to deliver laughs or excitement? We'll all have to wait and see.

According to IMDb, the director has a couple of features in the works. FALLEN CROSS is currently in development and LEGEND OF THE ANCIENT SWORD is in production. Personally, I'd love to see Harlin return to straight up horror. As an old school fan of the man, I'm happy to see he is still working. And if you'd like to keep tabs on what Renny is up to, you can check out his Twitter page, his Facebook page or you can always check out his "official" (?) website here. It doesn't look terribly official, but you never know. Whatever Mr. Harlin is up to, I'm thrilled that he is still making flicks. After all, THE DREAM MASTER was a huge deal for the young me so I'll always be appreciative.

Extra Tidbit: Which is your favorite Renny Harlin flick?
Source: AITH

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2:35PM on 11/07/2016
Renny Harlin is ace! Cuthroat ruined his career though, but he still whacked out some crackers after it. Driven is decent, well it was when i seen it 15 years ago. Five days of war is worth a mention too.
1. Die Hard 2
2. Long Kiss Goodnight
3. 5 Days of War
4. Cliffhanger
5. Prison

Renny Harlin is ace! Cuthroat ruined his career though, but he still whacked out some crackers after it. Driven is decent, well it was when i seen it 15 years ago. Five days of war is worth a mention too.
1. Die Hard 2
2. Long Kiss Goodnight
3. 5 Days of War
4. Cliffhanger
5. Prison

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