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If you are a forty-something male with even a passing interest in film, Michael Biehn needs no introduction. The lean, physical actor has crafted a highly respected body of work in Hollywood since his debut opposite Cathy Lee Crosby in 1978s high-school comedy, Coach. Now, he has taken on multi-hyphenated auteur status with the grimy, grindhouse shocker, The Victim.

Fate has dictated that A-list fame would prove elusive for the Alabama native. He passed on the Kathryn Bigelow films Near Dark and Point Break; was cast as the lead in James Cameron’s take on Spiderman only to have the project collapse; and, got to the final two for the role ultimately played by Stephen Lang in Avatar. Regardless, Biehn will be forever remembered for a series of action film performances in the 80s and 90s that left an indelible imprint on the key movie-going demographic. Most notable amongst them were his collaborations with directors James Cameron (The Terminator; Aliens; The Abyss), William Friedkin (Rampage; Jade), Franc Roddam (The Lords of Discipline; K2), Michael Bay (The Rock) and Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror). His seething villain ‘Johnny Ringo’ from the George P Cosmatos western, Tombstone, is an audience favourite.

He has a particular fondness for Australia, having worked with director Carl Schultz (Blue Fin; Travelling North, Careful He Might Hear You) on the 1988 apocalyptic thriller, The Seventh Sign (pictured, right, with co-stars Jurgen Prochnow and Demi Moore). “I thought Carl did a great job directing that movie,” says the 55 year-old, talking to SCREEN-SPACE from his Los Angeles office.  “It was a movie that was not marketed properly. Sometimes you make a movie that is a great work but, for whatever reason, just can’t find an audience. But a lot of people come up and talk to me about that film, saying how much it means to them. I’m very proud of that film.”

Having established the production company BlancBiehn with his creative partner and wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, he was under no illusion that The Victim was any kind of ground-breaking vision. “It was so small and we had such a small amount of money, we just wanted to make this little grindhouse, exploitation movie,” he says of the film, which has played prestigious genre festivals such as SITGES, Horrorfest and Fantasia. “I wrote it in three weeks and during that time we also did pre-production on it. We rolled that into a twelve day shoot, working twelve hour days.”

Biehn also takes on acting duties as backwoods loner Kyle Limato, a dark figure happiest when humanity is kept at arms length. His life is upended when a scratched and muddy stripper named Annie (played by Blanc-Biehn) screams for help late one night; her friend, Mary (Danielle Harris) has been killed in a particularly graphic bout of rough, outdoor sex (the film opens on the act, so be warned) and Annie is a witness. Complicating things are the identity of the killers – two corrupt cops, played by Biehn’s friends Ryan Honey and Denny Kirkwood.

The shoot was tough, he readily admits, but having worked with the reputedly volatile likes of Bay, Friedkin and Cameron (pictured, right, on the Aliens set with Biehn and actor Ricco Ross), Biehn knew how to crack the whip when needed. “If you took the three of them and wrapped them together on their worst day, that would’ve been me when shooting The Victim,” he says with a laugh. “We were literally running from shot to shot, with me screaming the entire time. Not at anyone for anything they did wrong, but just ‘Get out of the way’ and ‘Who’s talking?’ and ‘Shut the fuck up’, stuff like that.”

Most mainstream critics have not warmed to the film’s grunginess, but genre sites are trumpeting The Victim. “Frankly, I never even thought it would be reviewed,” says Biehn, genuinely humbled by the acceptance the film recieved. “It got reviewed by the New York Times and I’m like ‘What!’ I couldn’t believe it. It played the genre festivals and it started getting good review after good review through outlets like Ain’t It Cool News and Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.”

The film’s success has been reinvested into their production company, which has several new projects set to shoot. Especially ambitious is an English-language remake of the acclaimed Chilean thriller, Hidden in the Woods. Biehn has shown tremendous faith in the original director, Patricio Valladares, taking him on to helm the Americanized version. “He is very young and enthusiastic and I want him to make it in English,” Biehn says.

Such bold commitments fit well with the BlancBiehn business plan (pictured, right, Biehn and partner, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn). “We are focussed on making small movies now, quality films but films that can also turn a profit. We grew tired of going out on casting calls or just waiting to be called in for acting gigs,” he says. “We’ve created this company so that we can make all our own calls and make our own movies. Maybe, if we make enough of them, we can one day make a big one. Or maybe not, because making these small ones are a lot of fun.” 

Transmission Films will release The Victim in Australia on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on March 27.



Reader Comments (1)

Corrections to this article. Michael was never offered the part in Cameron's Spiderman. Michael has tried to dispel this statement many times despite the fact that this rumor still lives on.

March 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternpensenfensenge

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