Thursday, October 15, 2015

Young Fears 15: Superman III

Each October I like to run a series of Halloween-themed posts on this blog. All this month, I'll be telling anecdotes about things which frightened me while growing up.

Today we suffer from something of a super hero film craze with multiple adaptations appearing on big screens each year. When I was growing up, there was only one super hero whose movies made an impact and that was the big red 'S' himself, Superman! The films starring Christopher Reeve were absolute favourites of mine for a time. Because of my age, the first one I saw in the theater was Superman III, the notoriously campy affair featuring Richard Pryor as Superman's nemesis. I'm not certain if I even understood at the time that Pryor was supposed to be funny; I definitely didn't see the humour of the "evil" Superman scenes, despite it being blindingly obvious to any adult.

But while the scenes of the evil Superman unsettled me, there's one moment in the film which outright terrified me; it arrived near the climax when Pryor's supercomputer snared a woman and grafted machinery into her body, transforming her into a drone with which to attack Superman. The scene of her transformation was way, way too intense for me when I first saw it in the local drive-in theater. Kids today have it easy - CGI effects are so obvious fake that such a scene wouldn't be as traumatic today. But man, this scene hit my terror of body horror square between the eyes. Consequently, I didn't avoid the movie in later years because of Richard Pryor - I avoided it because of that damn climax!


Omar Karindu said...

I remember that "roboticization" scene being uniquely disturbing to me as a kid; as an adult, I still think it's tonally out-of-whack with the rest of the film.

Michael Hoskin said...

Absolutely, Omar. It's a very strange detour into horror after so many kid-friendly juvenile antics.