I couldn’t resist writing this piece after rewatching Todd Haynes’s unusual drama, Safe (1995), I realised how often I had seen Xander Berkley play a bit of a dick husband. So in a similar vein to my short article on The Life and Times of Stathis Borans, here’s another insight.
I do plan to do a proper spotlight on Xander’s acting career, however today I am going to focus on a role that he seems to play so well but luckily isn’t type casted to just yet. So when did it all start?
Back in 1992 Xander was cast as a brilliant university lecturer and doting husband in Bernard Roses supernatural horror, Candyman. Based heavily on Clive Barker’s novel, The Forbidden. The main protagonist is the gorgeous Helen (Madsen) who is on the trail of an urban legend known as Candyman who has taken on a Folk Hero statue in a nearby predominantly black neighbourhood. Her husband Trevor (Berkeley) being so teaches a similar urban legend course which forces Helen to have to speed up her investigations of an entity that appears once you say his name in the mirror 5 times, however I believe it’s only 3 times in the book… As Helen becomes entangled with Candyman and his mythology come to life her doting husband’s true colours come to light.
There are a few subtle hints dropped that one of his fetching students is very into him, blushing and doe eyed she follows him around but at the first sign of trouble he pretty much cuts himself of emotionally from Helen, she’s acting strange but he’s certainly not go his wife’s back He’s quick to call the authorities on her, doesn’t visit her when she’s admitted into a mental hospital and within days he’s moved his student girlfriend into the family home and allowing her to re decorate. What an absolute scumbag.
Helen does get some sweet revenge in the final throes of the movie. It appears that after her untimely death her husband does begin to show some remorse and misses her deeply, cutting himself off from the new girlfriend emotionally, much like he did with Helen, he whimpers to himself in the bathroom, repeating her name five times in the reflection of the mirror, she appears as Candyman does with a bloodied hook to exact her revenge, possibly one of the best horror movie endings of the year.
Scumbag Value 9/10
A mere 3 years later Xander reappears as a slightly less peado husband in Safe. His adorable wife Carol White (Julianne Moore) begins to suffer strange symptoms to the world around her, initially Greg is totally uncaring, assuming her headaches are a mere excused to get out of their soulless sex sessions but there’s something more deadly going on and it takes him ages to really take it on board.
A lot of Hayne’s movies deal with a stylish catalogue perfect lifestyle that’s interrupted by a very inconvenient and invisible illness. Their picture perfect lives are totally empty but as Carol wakes up to her illness she pulls away to a refuge in the desert. Her husband and son attempt to make contact with her and try to sympathise and support her but their interactions become really strained as if she’s no longer wanted merely for not fitting into the mold anymore.
Scumbag Value 6/10
Stuart St John
Finally his smallest role, and one which really irritated me that he never got to complete in the sequel. Xander takes on the role of Stuart St John, a slightly dodgy rich guy who shacks up with the ex wife of a highly dangerous secret agent, and becomes a lousy step father, the character really comes into his own in the third movie by Dougray Scott is now playing the actor which sucks a little as this is really Xanders fotre and I reckon he could have rally amped up the twisted snake that he can play so well. After doing some dodgy dealing and a bit of dick measuring it turns out that he’s a lousy step father!
Scumbag Value 5/10 just the average scumbag…