12/12: Void Influences – Darkman! (1991)
In the summer of 1991, I was a 32-year old soldier stationed in Giessen, Germany. I linked up with some buddies at the base military theater on a Saturday night to see a new action/horror flick that had already made a big impact in the USA. It was amazing! That film was Darkman!
Darkman, directed and based on a short story by Sam Raimi (who went on to direct the mega-successful Spider-Man films) was designed to pay homage to the old Universal horror films of the 1930s. Does this sound familiar to Void readers?
Raimi had attempted to secure film rights to Batman or The Shadow (again, sound familiar?) and, unable to do so, created his own character. Again, what an inspiration!
Darkman is the story of Peyton Westlake, a scientist attacked and left for dead by a ruthless mobster named Durant after Peyton’s attorney girlfriend runs afoul of a corrupt developer. Westlake survives but is left horribly burned and disfigured. While hospitalized as a comatose John Doe, he is unwittingly subjected to a radical treatment that destroys his nerve endings, causing him to lose his ability to feel any tactile sensation. This causes adrenaline to run unchecked through his body, increasing his brain’s emotional output to compensate. Half-crazed, Westlake escapes the hospital and decides to get revenge on the criminals who took his life as a masked vigilante known as … Darkman.
There are so many elements of this “cult classic” that inspired me, from Raimi’s creative drive to the casting of then little known Liam Neeson to the gritty style of the story to the “look” of Darkman. In the weeks ahead, I will publish a series on various “masks” that led to the look of Void along with actors whom I would cast in a “fantasy casting call” for a Void film. You’ll see Darkman prominently featured in both of those series.
So how many more aspects are similar between Deacon Void and Peyton Westlake? Only time will tell. But it’s hard to imagine that Deacon Void would be walking the streets of the London East End today had it not been for the creative vision of Sam Raimi and his menacing avenger of the night … Darkman!
I’m everyone – and no one. Everywhere – nowhere. Call me… Darkman.