Spotlight – Lance Henriksen

Aliens (1986)

The sequel to the groundbreaking sci fi movie Alien (1979) introduced another face to the world of androids, instead of the killer bot in the original film, instead James Cameron created a more likable synthetic human names Bishop and sensitivly acted by Henriksen. Previously the android has been devious and acted purely on the greedy actions of the Company but in order to win over audiences and the main character Ripley, a whole new approach had to be taken. Henriksen applied his smaller frame and softer nature to the role and I think it worked really well, he walked on eggshells around those who feared and distrusted him and at no point did he really give an indication of selling out, he briefly appears in follow up films and I think is one of the solid characters from the Alien franchise, and one of a few films with co star Bill Paxton.


Near Dark (1987)

From cult sci fi we step into the world of cult vampirism. Lance returns as a aged blood sucking veteran who travels the desert highways with his lover and a couple of younger vamps including the spur wearing Bill Paxton. They pick up a new guy and start to turn him into a vampire but his resistance leads to a break up of the pact. Lance is an unusual and dark killer in this film, at times he’s smooth and sophisticated and other times he flies into a blood rage, very versatile and perfect for this role.


Pumpkinhead (1988)

Back to be the hero again, Lance returns in a darker more supernatural horror, set deep in backwater USA, a group of teens accidently kill a small boy and his father seeks revenge by contacting a local witch and evoking Pumpkinhead for his revenge. Lance plays the grieving father and in the latter throws of the film he’s also a bit of a monster himself. Pumpkin head is great because of the ghoulish monster but Henriksen does give a sterling performance  throughout.

Johnny Handsome (1989)

…ok i didn’t plan for this list to be in any order, but it seems to be chronological … how uncanny..  So in this American Crime Drama, that stars Mickey Rourke who is a man with a hideously disfigured face (a premise of what was to come?) who is double crossed by two fellow felons, Sunny (Ellen Barkin) and Rafe (Henriksen), Lance gets a new face from Forest Whitaker and seeks his revenge. Lance is a massive jerk in this film and pretty believable too, with his cruel and sadistic behaviour and director Walter Hill definitely got the most out of all the actors in this hard street rush.


The Horror Show / House III (1989)

another House film with an alternative title, but with the same unusual backstory as the other House films, this one see’s Lance play the role of the tortured Detective Lucas McCarthy whose life mission is to capture a psychotic serial killer Max Jenke (Brion James) who’s laugh makes the film grate on the nerves a little but if you’re a fan of 80’s trashy horrors you can do a lot worse.

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