Club Dread

Club Dread Club Dread Club Dread Club Dread

A boatload of young singles arrives at Coconut Pete’s Pleasure Island resort for a weekend-long party. But their revels are interrupted by a machete-wielding killer, and there’s no way off the island until the boat returns. Who will survive?

This movie by the five-man comedy filmmaking team Broken Lizard is a loud, crude, and thoroughly silly take on the slasher genre. If you like that sort of thing, it’s a fun way to waste an hour and forty minutes. The characters were so broadly drawn and overacted that you couldn’t really care about them, so their horrible deaths were mostly just amusing. They did come up with some entertaining ways of killing off the various staff members.

Bill plays Coconut Pete, the washed-up musician who owns and runs the resort, which he uses mostly as a vehicle to inflict his Jimmy Buffett-style beach rock music on the guests. It’s a throwback to some of Bill’s earlier schlock-horror roles, the kind he throws himself into and joyfully chews the scenery. Looks like he had a lot of fun making it.

Unshaven, with long, scraggly hair, wearing aloha shirts and shorts, he looks like an old hippie who washed up on the beach. Not one of his prettier roles, but he does get to play guitar and sing some of his “hits” around the campfire, so he’s fun to watch.

Three stars, just for the scene with the golf cart, which made me laugh like a loon.

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Pat Benatar: “Shadows of the Night”

Pat Benatar - Shadows of the NightPat Benatar - Shadows of the NightPat Benatar - Shadows of the NightPat Benatar - Shadows of the Night

“Like airline pilots, we earn our wings every day.”

Bill Paxton

Pat Benatar is a Rosie the Riveter-type factory worker during World War II who daydreams about being a pilot. In one of these dreams, she and three fellow pilots (one is played by Judge Reinhold) sneak into Germany to blow up a Nazi headquarters. They plant their bomb but are discovered by one of the Nazis. They make it back to their planes, but are pursued by a Nazi plane, which they manage to shoot down to make their escape.

Bill plays a Nazi radio operator, who mainly stands around looking young and fresh-faced, and shouting Nazi things on the radio, and accidentally getting poked in the gut by the guy holding the pointer.

Well, he’s young and pretty and wearing a uniform, if a Nazi one. It’s not a huge role, but it’s a music video, so what do you expect? 

Three stars, because it’s a cool song and a fun video and Bill’s cute.

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Barnes & Barnes: “Fish Heads”

Fish Heads Fish Heads Fish Heads Fish Heads

“I liked to do crazy stuff. Especially if somebody was going to photograph it.”

Bill Paxton

A man walks down the street and enters a fish market, where he buys a large fish head. He takes it home and puts a party hat on it. He waters a row of fish heads growing in his garden. He plays catch with the fish head and takes it to the movies.

This is one of the weirdest music videos ever created. I don’t even know how to describe it. Bill stars as… well, a guy who likes fish heads. The rinky little tune will stick in your head forever.

“Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads. Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up, yum!”

He’s wearing slim-legged 80s trousers and a jacket with the sleeves pushed up, high-heeled boots, hair slicked back in a duck tail, and round sunglasses. You can’t really see him very well, though, as the whole thing is deliberately filmed jittery and out-of-focus. Still manages to look pretty hot, though.

Three or four stars plus a couple of flying saucers, because it’s weird and wonderful and it will break your brain.

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as Morgan Earpas Morgan Earp

as Morgan Earpas Morgan Earp

“My great great great great great great grandparents on my father’s side had a son and a daughter. I’m a great descendant of the son. The daughter — she grew to be Sam Houston’s mother — which makes Sam Houston my first cousin five generations removed.”

Bill Paxton

Wyatt Earp, played by Kurt Russell, and his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill), move to Tombstone with their wives, hoping to settle down and live a quiet life. But Tombstone is terrorized by a gang of outlaws known as the Cowboys, and many gunfights, including the famous shootout at the OK Corral ensue. It’s your basic Western, with lots of typical Western settings: the saloon, the card game, the hotel, and the bad guys riding into town to shoot everything up. What makes it work are the performances and the relationships between the characters.

With his Texan roots, Bill slides pretty easily into a Western role. He’s got the twang in his voice and the swagger in his walk. As the youngest Earp brother, he’s brash and cocky, but without the experience to back it up. It’s not a huge role, but a solid one.

The movie really belongs to Val Kilmer, who steals the show in a standout performance as Doc Holliday, drawling any number of classic lines (“I’m your huckleberry”), shooting bad guys with deadly precision, all the while sweating and coughing and dying of tuberculosis. I could watch him all day.

He gets to show off his pretty blue eyes in a couple of closeups, and wear a cool black duster and wide-brimmed hat, and play some pool and shoot some guns.

Four stars, ’cause it’s a good movie, Val Kilmer’s great, and you got added bonus Bill.

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Martini Ranch: “Reach”

“I had an art band that I was a member of called Martini Ranch in the late ’80s, but I wasn’t a musician. I was more into making the videos.”
– Bill Paxton

He rides into town on a motorcycle, in leathers and shades. Greeting his favorite bar girl, he heads into the cantina. But wait! the Posse of Amazon Cowboy Women is in pursuit! Outlaw Bill is roped and branded and hauled away tied to the back of a pickup truck in his long johns.

This oddball little Western vignette was directed by Bill’s buddy, James Cameron, and features cameos by stars like Judge Reinhold, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein, and Kathryn Bigelow. It’s a total hoot. As for the song, it’s 80’s New Wave with a country twang, pleasant and quirky but unremarkable. There’s a reason Martini Ranch never became a household name.

Bill does vocals, plays maracas, and hams it up like crazy. One gets the impression he wasn’t quite done being Severen yet….

The guy looks good in dirt. He looks good in leather. He also looks good hogtied on the ground with big tough women looming over him.

Three stars for the video, two for the song. The Martini Ranch album, Holy Cow, is long out of print, but it shows up on eBay now and then. I got my copy for 89 cents in the cutout bin of the local used record store. Worth every penny.

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And if you want to see the video in its entirety, here it is!

Miami Vice


“I’m a big believer in Karma. I was a stink beetle in my last life, and I guess I’ve moved down from there.”
– Bill Paxton

Ah, Miami Vice. One of my favorite shows back in the 80s. And this episode is relentlessly Miami Vice—full of angst and pastel ennui and Crockett’s Testarossa. (I always liked the Daytona better, myself, but I’ll take any old kind of Ferrari you want to give me.) Bill plays Vic Romano, rookie undercover cop who falls for a hooker and gets caught with her and a gram of pharmaceutical coke in a vice sweep. Complications ensue.

Bill’s got one of those guest starring roles that seem to be there for the express purpose of a) giving Crockett the opportunity to be big-brotherish and tortured and b) demonstrating yet again the sheer pointlessness of existence. (Did I mention I loved this show? I do, really. It’s just that, as a friend of mine said as we watched this episode together, “I’d forgotten how much Attitude this show had.”)

Okay, this was filmed in 1986, when Bill was 31. And he looks like he’s about 16. (He always seems to look ten to fifteen years younger than he really is.) So when Crockett calls him “the kid,” he by god looks like a kid. And, this being Miami Vice, they’ve got him looking all sleek and pouty. We get some bare chest action in the opening scenes, and some kissing scenes with the girlfriend. Very watchable.

Three stars, because Bill’s cute and it’s Miami Vice.

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“I did that film 18 or so years ago, Johny. I played a soldier. I haven’t seen the movie in so long and films are shot out of sequence.”
– Bill Paxton, asked where he is in Stripes.

Bill Murray joins the Army. Much silliness ensues. You’ve got your slapstick version of basic training, with lots of rain and people falling down and mortars being fired in the wrong direction and so forth. You’ve got John Candy mud wrestling. You’ve got the guys accidentally invading East Germany. Basically, you’ve got Bill Murray being Bill Murray for an entire movie. I have to admit, he kind of gets on my nerves after a while. But if you want silliness, you’ve got plenty of that.

As for our Bill, well, ten points for anyone who can spot him in this movie. I’ve watched it three times, and damned if I can find him. He’s listed in the credits as “Soldier” (along with nine other guys), but this being an Army movie, there are, like, seven thousand guys playing soldiers in it, so that doesn’t really help. It’s a teeny role, whatever it is. You want to see Bill as a soldier, go watch Aliens.

Well, you can always watch his name go by in the credits.

One star, for hiding Bill in a sea of olive drab so that no one can find him.

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“Years ago when I was a student in New York, I had the opportunity of studying with Stella Adler. Very early on, she had me do a scene from Zoo Story, the Edward Albee play. Well, she just ripped my balls off. I couldn’t even get out of bed the next day. But she did say one funny thing. She said, ‘Dahling, you’re not ready for realism.'”
– Bill Paxton

A couple of college boys sneak into a mortician’s warehouse to steal tires. While there, they spy the mortician conducting a strange ritual with a circle of robed and hooded women. One of the boys disappears, along with the other’s van. What is behind these ominous events? Who is the mysterious figure who threatens the townsfolk at night?

Galumphing along like Friday the 13th on drugs, Mortuary is the Horror Movie Without a Clue, scattering plot threads like bread crumbs, leaving logic gaps far and wide, and clumsily stepping all over its own toes every time it tries to build tension or create a shock. It fails so wildly and enthusiastically, it’s a total kick.

Bill plays Paul Andrews, the mortician’s son, a Boy With Problems. Paul works in the mortuary and has a crush on his classmate’s girlfriend. Clearly, no good will come of this. Overacting with maniacal glee, our Bill takes every horror movie cliché he can get his hands on and runs right over the edge with it. He is a joy to behold. I shrieked every time he appeared on the screen, from sheer astonishment.

Bill’s a geek! Bill’s a geek! Not only that, he’s a psycho geek! Not only that, he’s a scenery-chewing, over-the-top psycho geek!


Four Plan 9 From Outer Space flying saucers.

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“If you stay in the pressure cooker long enough, they’ll end up stickin’ a fork in ya.”
– Bill Paxton

A small farming community is shaken by an earthquake. One of the residents shoots herself in the head while berating her daughter on the phone. When the daughter, Jennifer, returns to her home town with her boyfriend to attend her mother in the hospital, they find the townsfolk’s behavior becoming increasingly and inexplicably bizarre and violent.

Bill plays Jennifer’s brother Eddie, who lives at home and works on the dairy farm. Eddie is sullen and teenagerish; he fights with his father, drives too fast, and there turns out to be something unsavory behind his resentment of his sister’s boyfriend. But we never see very deeply into him, or anyone—the movie has a slow, surrealistic flow that presents people and events without explanation, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions. And the ambiguous ending leaves behind as many questions as it answers.

Okay, the haircut’s a bit dorky, but it goes with the package. And if you tend to go all melty over the farm boy look, this particular Bill is quite yummy. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time, though—four or five scenes, in which his main purpose seems to be to smoke cigarettes and frown.

Two stars. The movie is unusual and thought-provoking, and baby Bill is pretty.

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The Terminator

“I actually met Jim in 1980 … he was art directing a picture for Roger Corman, called Galaxy of Terror, a real classic, and I got hired on to his night crew. At the time I was making this short film, Fishheads, and I showed it to Jim, and at the time he was writing this story called The Terminator. We’d be painting sets and I’d say, ‘Wait, let me get this straight. The Terminator comes back from the future to change something in the past because of a future war, there’s gonna be a revolution … oh, oh, I get it. That sounds pretty cool, Jim.’ And, this was The Terminator.”
– Bill Paxton

James Cameron’s classic science fiction tale of an unstoppable killing machine sent back from an apocalyptic future to kill the mother of his enemy is a taut, nonstop thriller full of unforgettable images and lines that have become part of our pop culture. (I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think this was the first time Arnold Schwartzenegger spoke his immortal tag line, “I’ll be back.”) It’s scary, poignant, intriguing, funny, and a great ride.

Bill plays the “Punk Leader,” one of three punk rockers the Terminator attacks for their clothes when he first arrives in the present. The other two guys look like posers, but Bill’s reasonably authentic. He’s got the attitude down, certainly. (Yeah, I knew guys just like that back in my punk days. They were entertaining, to a point.) None of the guys in San Francisco painted their faces like that, though. Maybe it was an L.A. thing.

Okay, his part is over in the first five minutes. But you really, really want to see him with spiky blue hair, and a tire track painted down the side of his face.

Five stars, because it’s a great movie, even though Bill’s part is teeny.

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