Tag Archives: the seventh sign

Carl Schultz’s The Seventh Sign

There are religious films that are faith based preachy garbage (anything Kirk Cameron makes) and there are religious films that are fiction based and just happen to be structured around theology like that (The Omen, End Of Days). I can’t stand the former, but the latter has made for an interesting sub-genre in Hollywood, mostly horror centric but sometimes otherwise. Carl Schultz’s The Seventh Sign is one that carefully and delicately walks the line between these two types, but because it’s so atmospheric, well made and acted it works on any level including the religious themes.

Demi Moore and Michael Biehn play a young couple who rent their laneway house out to a mysterious stranger (Jurgen Prochnow) who isn’t who or what he says he is. Moore is expecting her first child, but there seems to be complications with the pregnancy and Prochnow shows a suspicious amount of interest in the child. Coincidentally, scary apocalyptic signs start showing up around the world like storms, dead fish in the sea and a blood moon, heralding some sort of widespread cataclysm. There’s also a sinister Vatican priest (Peter Friedman) wandering around getting in people’s business too.

The plot itself is essentially just your standard end of days gobbledygook, but that’s not what matters anyways. Moore is fantastic here, soulfully embodying a mother’s love coupled with mounting depression and making you feel for her character strongly. Biehn shows the same fierce charisma he did in The Terminator and this time brings on even more emotion to his role, particularly in the final minutes of the film that could be his best work. Prochnow has had a long and consistent career playing all kinds of nasty terrorists, crime bosses, nazis, poachers, pimps and any other kind of asshole you could imagine. It’s really rare to see him in a non villain role let alone one where he gets to show such grace and subtlety, he nails it and I won’t say much about the character except that it’s a tricky balancing act of shadowy portent and compassion that he deals with wonderfully. Watch for a quick, lively cameo from John Heard as well.

The atmosphere here is so well done that you often forget about story and get lost in the dreamy scenes that flow into each other in an almost subconscious way. The way the ambience lingers in the filmmaking reminds me, of all things, of A Nightmare On Elm Street. Odd comparison and this is by no means a horror movie but the two share the same sort of elongated, off kilter aesthetic that seems removed from reality, helped a lot here by journeyman composer Jack Nitzsche and his score. The third act brings the narrative to an affecting close and lets the three leads land their arcs on a quiet, sorrowful note, it’s the key sequence in making this a great film.

-Nate Hill

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A Chat with Michael Biehn: An interview by Nate Hill

 
 

  I am unbelievably ecstatic to bring you my first interview in quite some time, this time with legendary badass Michael Biehn. Michael has played the fearless Kyle Reese in The Terminator, the cavalier mercenary Dwayne Hicks in Aliens, and appeared in countless other fantastic films including The Abyss, The Art Of War, The Seventh Sign, Stiletto, Michael Bay’s The Rock, Grindhouse, Tombstone, Mojave Moon, and many more. He is as iconic as he is magnetic on screen, a powerhouse of a performer with a legacy that I was honoured to quiz him on. Please enjoy our brief chat!
Nate: At what point did you know you wanted to become an actor? 
Michael: Since I was very little I was acting in school plays and community theater from productions like Pinocchio, rags to riches, Alice in wonderland and I just never stopped.

Nate: You have forged an impressive lineup of tough guys and take no prisoner badasses with your roles. Did you see yourself becoming that kind of Charles Bronson/Lee Marvin style, old school guy, or did the direction your career took surprise you? 
Michael: I really never had a plan for the direction my career would take, you really can’t control the roles you get when you start out. I was fortunate enough to keep getting cast in these roles. They just ended up being a consistent thing for me.

Nate: I’m trying to keep these questions about things you don’t normally get asked about, but I gotta bring up Terminator- how was that experience for you. You created a believable, vulnerable, visceral action hero that holds up today and is a classic dude in the genre. What was your mindset going into that role?
Michael: I read a book for my preparation. It was on the soldiers that had to fight for survival in the sewers against the Germans. And it took a very long time for the Germans to find all the soldiers and destroy them. This book gave me a mental investment that this role was about survival. It was the best investment I made for myself to portray that character.

Nate: The Seventh Sign- Always been one of my favourites, especially the devastating final scene in the hospital.. How was creating that character for you, your process, acting with Demi and especially Jurgen Prochnow? (He’s a favourite of mine as well). 
Michael: Demi, and Jurgen are great actors. They really have a good professionalism around them. We were really able to act with each other, present and in such truth. You can’t just go into this kind of movie reading the script and winging it. You really have to lay a foundation. And research your part to develop what you need. That’s what we all did.

Nate: Stiletto- a highlight for me in your roles, and a nice reunion for a lot of early 90’s action guys (Berenger, Forsythe, Russo, Sizemore etc, a dream cast). How did you get approached for that, and did you enjoy playing that lively psycho Lee? 
Michael: We had a lot of fun on set. There were a lot of serious scenes to deal with so its hard to break character and interact in-between. But it was still enjoyable.

Nate: You and Jennifer have quite a legacy these days with BlancBiehn Productions. How are you enjoying the work with that and the incredibly original lineup of films that you’ve been doing?
Michael: It’s a Blessing. Not only to have the ability to produce films we like but to do it together. It has made us stronger and the films are coming out great!

Nate: If you had to pick a few roles that you’ve played that you enjoyed the most for whatever reason, what would they be? 
Michael: I really enjoy all the roles ive played, and I really like working with Cameron. Anything I film with him has been amazing.

Nate: Another very memorable role for me was on Law & Order CI, in a heartbreaking role that went to some sad places and for me is a standout in your career. How was that experience for you. 
Michael: It was a difficult scene particularly because I am not a method actor and the emotions that I was working from were pulled from current situations and events In my own life. It’s always hard to open yourself up to such vulnerability but if you don’t you will not create and develop an honest scene and then it just looks staged. As difficult as it was I enjoy those character roles very much.
Nate: Thank you so much for your time Michael, it’s phenomenal to be able to chat with you. Best of luck in the future with all endeavours, including your fantastic work with the production company!