Monday, July 14

Darkman 1990

Darkman is a 1990 film directed by Sam Raimi that was based on a short story he wrote that paid homage to Universal horror films of the 1930s. It stars Liam Neeson as Dr. Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is attacked and left for dead by a ruthless mobster, Robert Durant (played by Larry Drake), after his girlfriend, an attorney (played by Frances McDormand), runs afoul of a corrupt developer (played by Colin Friels). Westlake survives, but is left totally disfigured. While hospitalized, he is subjected to a radical treatment that, damaging nerves connected to his brain, neutralizes his ability to sense pain. Now half-crazed, Westlake escapes the hospital and decides to get revenge on the criminals who took his life away, but now as a masked vigilante, known as Darkman.

Darkman (1990) Theatrical Trailer

music composed by: Danny Elfman

Scientist Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is developing a new type of synthetic skin to aid burn victims. He is frustrated with a flaw in the "skin", which causes it to rapidly disintegrate after being exposed to light for 99 minutes; however, it remains intact in darkness. Despite his devotion to the project, he cannot get past this limitation. His girlfriend, attorney Julie Hastings (McDormand), comes upon an incriminating document (referred to throughout as "the Bellasarious memorandum") proving that corrupt developer Louis Strack Jr. (Friels) and mobster Robert G. Durant (Drake) have given bribes to members of the zoning commission, specifically one Claude Bellasarious, who never appears in the film.

In search of the document, Durant and his minions attack and injure Westlake, retrieve the document, then blow up his lab. The blast throws Westlake clear of the lab; he survives but is hideously burned. He is brought to a hospital and subjected to a radical treatment in which the nerves to the pain centers of his brain are destroyed. Removing this sensory input gives him increased strength due to adrenal overload and keeps his injuries from incapacitating him, but it also destabilizes his moods and mental state.

He escapes the hospital and sets out to get revenge on Strack and Durant, and to try to re-establish his relationship with Hastings. To hide his scarring and blend into crowds, Westlake rebuilds enough of his equipment to make his synthetic skin, but is still unable to overcome the 99-minute window of integrity. Thus, he can only appear as himself (or later as others, whose features he is able to duplicate) in daylight in public briefly, and otherwise wears bandages and a trenchcoat in his identity as Darkman. He is able to make masks in advance and store them for long periods by keeping them from light sources. He takes the opportunity to observe important people, such as the henchmen of his enemies, so he can masquerade as them.

There are at least two scenes in which the Westlake/Darkman personas have obviously become so closely intertwined that it becomes an exercise in futility to differentiate between the "facade" and the supposedly "real" personality of the title character. One of these involves a flash of berserker rage that "Westlake" experiences over a trivial insult at a carnival booth. The other involves "Darkman" very calmly, almost sadly, informing a villain that "I've learned to live with a lot of things" just before dropping him from atop an office building construction project.

Westlake eventually succeeds in defeating his enemies but is unable to return to his old life and thus continues his existence as Darkman.

Darkman at

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