What Does SMH Mean?

Every one-star review for every number one box-office movie of the 1990s


Directed bySam Raimi
Produced byRobert Tapert
Screenplay bySam Raimi
Chuck Pfarrer
Ivan Raimi
Daniel Goldin
Joshua Goldin
Story bySam Raimi
StarringLiam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyBill Pope
Edited byBud S. Smith
David Stiven
Renaissance Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dateAugust 24, 1990
Running time96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million
Box office$48.8 million

Darkman is a 1990 American superhero film directed and co-written by Sam Raimi. It is based on a short story Raimi wrote that paid homage to Universal‘s horror films of the 1930s. The film stars Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is brutally attacked, disfigured and left for dead by a ruthless mobster, Robert Durant (Larry Drake), after his girlfriend, an attorney (Frances McDormand), runs afoul of a corrupt developer (Colin Friels). After a failed treatment to cure him of his burn injuries, Westlake develops super-human abilities, which also have the unintended side-effect of rendering him mentally unstable and borderline psychotic. Consumed with vengeance, he decides to hunt down the men responsible for his disfigurement.

Unable to secure the rights to either The Shadow or Batman, Raimi decided to create his own superhero and struck a deal with Universal Studios to make his first Hollywood studio film. It was produced by Robert Tapert, and was written by Raimi, his brother Ivan Raimi and Chuck Pfarrer. The design and creation of the makeup effects required to turn Liam Neeson into Darkman were the handiwork of makeup effects artist Tony Gardner, who also cameos in the film as the Lizard Man in the carnival Freak Show sequence.

Neeson’s first action film, Darkman received generally positive reviews by critics and was a box office success, grossing almost $49 million worldwide, well above its $14 million budget. This financial success spawned two direct-to-video sequelsDarkman II: The Return of Durant (1995) and Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996), as well as comic books, video games, and action figures. Neeson does not reprise his role for the direct-to-video sequels.

Darkman’s one-star reviews on IMDb

Razzie Worthy!

Wildhalk – 6 September 2020

This movie deserves to be skipped. Loaded with plot holes, devoid of logic, shady effects and sub par acting. All actors including Liam were poor and the story seems to be written by a kid. Don’t waste your time on this. Majestically pathetic.

0 out of 6 found this helpful.

Seems like it was written by a 9 year old.

Gmh-46567 – 15 August 2019

Liam Neeson gives his worst performance ever in this. The script seems like it was written by a 9 year old. The special effects are garbage, even for 1990.

3 out of 10 found this helpful.

B movie with bad FX and good actors

Krycek19 – 7 October 2015

Warning: Spoilers

Why Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand ever signed on to play the leads in this badly made low budget sci-fi/action movie is beyond me. And how Sam Raimi could direct such a crappy movie is also beyond me.

This is right up there with Maniac Cop. Only with a bigger budget and better actors. But the budget is still not big enough to make the embarrassing green screen effects and fake looking explosions convincing. And even for a movie from 1990 the effects looks as bad as they did in Freejack.

Larry Drake is one ugly guy and not a very good bad-guy.

Do not be fooled by either the leads or the director. This movie is a bomb!!

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It’s cringing how bad it is

Jrkkearney – 3 March 2014

Warning: Spoilers

I don’t write reviews, i’m open minded about all films and was excited to check this out, from a perspective of someone watching it twenty years after release. Liam Neeson has come a long way since this and thankfully so because I even googled him saying this was one of his less desirable movies on reflection. Firstly the plot is riddled with humorous holes, though the first fifteen minutes play out actually well, the film isn’t sure whether Darkman is a superhero or not. The fact he can set up a lab so quickly by himself with no money in a couple of days is debatable, inconsistencies often occur with masks and how long they last for, we’re told 99 minutes, yet other scenes show him with a cupboard full of these things. Cut to end scene where everyone is shooting guns at nothing, even the bad guy in the end is 2 feet from Darkman with a big gun and after a dozen shots still misses him. One scene has him lose it over a pink elephant, whether it’s supposed to be humor is uncertain, if it was serious then it’s sooo dumb. As I said after a while you cringe and feel embarrassed for the actors. With Sam Raimi behind it there is a huge Xena feel to it with its silly action, then it’s confused with making it dark and almost horror like in other scenes. The ‘Quick and the Dead’ by Raimi is a far cry better than this. In the end I was disappointed and kind of glad I watched it by myself. There’s nothing I can really save from this movie, again twenty years ago it was probably the bomb but I doubt it, Godfather, Rocky, Star Wars all pre-date that and they were much better. Batman and Robin is less stupid, and sadly that’s saying something.

10 out of 21 found this helpful.

Darker Woman … or Why Can’t I Learn To Stop Worrying And Love Misogyny?

Crispy_comments – 7 August 2010

Warning: Spoilers

Well, I couldn’t even finish this movie, which is very unusual for me since I normally *have* to know how a story ends. I only got as far as the funeral and following hospital scene where Liam Neeson’s character is an unidentified patient. Some will say that means I’m not qualified to review the film. But I’m not claiming to be a professional critic – I’m just a viewer who’s entitled to stop watching a movie in disgust, and give my reasons why, because it feels good to vent.

Basically this movie’s too sadistically violent and misogynistic for my liking. The filmmakers seem to have a great love of brutality, and great contempt for women. Sometimes the two go hand in…fist… as in the opening scene when a gangster cracks a joke about breaking a woman’s leg. Speaking of that opening, with two gangs battling for dominance – does it have anything to do with the plot? Is it truly necessary in order to establish the gang leader’s ruthless character? I think not. The next time the gang appears in the film, the same point is made, while moving the story along.

The attack on Liam, in his lab, also seemed unnecessarily vicious. The thugs got what they came for, so why did they linger to cause extreme pain? It’s not like the document had been stolen from them, and they were motivated by revenge or something. So, why? Sure some people are just sadists who love to torture others, but it still seemed gratuitous on the writer/director’s part. (And how did the gang even know who had the document when Liam didn’t know, himself? No explanation. Let’s just get to the extreme violence; never mind if the script makes sense.)

Even worse, to me, was the message Sam Raimi seemed to be sending about women. I don’t know if it got better later (doubt it – there probably aren’t any other significant female characters in the film), but the first two women we encounter are demonized. Although one is more sympathetic, on the surface, as a “love interest” who can be “redeemed” since she hasn’t become totally “unwomanly” yet.

Liam’s girlfriend’s carelessness is indirectly to blame for his being viciously attacked in his lab. The implication being that she should’ve thought more of him/her romantic relationship instead of focusing on her career…emphasized by the fact that she resisted her lover’s attempts to delay her from going to work (and a man’s need for nookie should always come first, right?) *and* dared to ask for time to think of his marriage proposal instead of jumping at the chance. Uppity bitches! Thinking they can have careers and valuing their independence! Well, we’ll show her. She’ll regret that decision when she thinks her boyfriend is dead! Having her show up to witness the apparent death, felt like a cruel “punishment”.

The second, more obviously “Evil” Woman, is the doctor in charge of Liam’s case, after his burned, unrecognizable body is brought to a hospital. We see her taking interns on a tour and treating Liam’s character callously, like a speciman she’s exhibiting, smugly bragging about her treatment of him, and insensitively talking about him like he can’t hear her. Including making a tasteless joke about his condition. This extremely unprofessional and cartoonishly nasty portrayal of a doctor, was really the last straw for me. The writers chose to make her a female physician, and then chose to ram home the Heartless Career Woman cliché for the second time in this movie.

This hateful characterization might be an unconscious bias against professional women. Still, it sickened me. Sexism and misogyny are sadly widespread in movies, but when it’s *that* blatant, I can’t concentrate on anything else the story might be trying to tell me, or derive enjoyment from other aspects of the movie. I don’t want to stay in that world another minute. Might as well just live in our real world and not watch movies at all.

(And this Raimi guy was hired to adapt the relatively light-hearted and kid-friendly Spider-Man comics for the big screen? Wow. Hollywood is weird.)

2 out of 18 found this helpful.