September 4, 2004
I know this is a weird one and that I've got a lot of explaining to do. Stay with me here, though, because I promise all will be revealed shortly. Believe it or not, this is not one of those out-of-the-blue kinds of crushes I so often cop to on this site, though I'm sure it's probably just about as baffling to you guys as some of those were. The truth is, I've had the hots for David Keith ever since I first saw "An Officer and a Gentleman," which was, and I'm pretty sure I've already confessed to this, but Mom, I apologize if it comes as a shock, in about the 7th grade. Long before I was actually allowed to see it. But my parents had made the mistake of buying a handful of their favorite R-rated movies on Betamax (a mistake in a number of ways, as it turned out) and, well, I became a movie lover at a young age and just couldn't resist the temptation.
Other movies I snuck at about the same time included "Beverly Hills Cop," rated R for foul language and to keep kids from learning that banana-in-the-exhaust-pipe trick, and "Excalibur," rated R for some moderately graphic sex and some fairly violent battle scenes that gave me nightmares about big, sweaty, filthy guys in armor crashing into each other with swords and slicing off various limbs. (In those nightmares, incidentally, the guys in armor looked JUST like the orcs in the "Lord of the Rings" movies -- I fully intend to sue Peter Jackson for stealing my designs just as soon as I figure out how he extracted those images from my brain without my knowing about it. Damn alien technology! What about my civil rights!! Somebody get Fox Mulder on the phone!)
I've always been pretty prone to nightmares, most of which are probably not terribly original in concept. For example, I still remember a whole year's worth of bad dreams involving being sat on (to death) by cartoon character Grape Ape, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. Around that same time, I also had some periodic bad dreams about bombs in my closet, set off by coughing, but it was always when I was sick, and frankly, who HASN'T worried about closet bombs at one time or another? (If you say not you, I'm afraid your naivete is showing -- don't you read the paper? Bombs are EVERYWHERE!) And then there were the nuclear holocaust dreams after that visit to Hiroshima, Japan in the sixth grade. Yeah, real original. Oh, and a stellar and extremely cliche year of terror following the arrest of Eric Motis, a 19 year old kid in my small town in Bucks County, PA who was accused of bludgeoning a family of 3 to death. Okay, that one might have been slightly more original, if only because I had those nightmares when I was awake. But still, every kid has bad dreams about being murdered. It's not like I could turn that one into a riveting bestseller.
As an adult, my recurring nightmares involve a killer gorilla in a high school (not Grape Ape this time, but clearly derivative of that) and my cat getting lost in Pottery Barn (you might consider this one to be unique, but since my cat is like my child, and I know parents are constantly worrying about losing their kids in shopping centers, I'd argue that it's just another rehash of a very tired plot). Probably the only truly original nightmare I've had, which coincidentally is also the one I seem to have most often, is a particularly vivid one in which my twin sister is trapped on the second floor of a burning house that has no stairs. The only reason I suspect this one is semi-original is because most people don't HAVE a twin sister. And if they do, they don't have twin sisters who are as likely as mine to get themselves into such amazing messes.
Anyway, yes, it's true (except for the stuff that isn't), I've always had a very vivid nighttime imagination. I even have a journal where I write the juicy ones down so that when I die, someone can publish them into a book and make a mint. Actually, now that I think about it, a psychologist would probably have a field day with that book, especially coupled with the fact my favorite genre of film now that I'm all grown up is horror. There's just nothing like a good scare. Or, even better, a BAD scare. Priceless! And perhaps that explains some of this. Except that I never ever dream about cheerleaders getting slashed by killers who never run and yet always seem to catch up. Which is what I think I'd be dreaming about if those movies actually got to me at all.
I'm sure a good portion of you are now scratching your heads and wondering just how in the world we got off on this mighty tangent. However, it's no tangent, believe it or not. It's all part of the master plan. "How so?" you ask. Because it's quite neatly led us to the world of bad movies, which is the very spot on Earth where you are most likely to find David Keith these days, god bless 'im. It's in bad horror and sci-fi movies that my affections for Dave were recently reflamed, as a matter of fact. And it's in bad horror and sci-fi movies that I hope he will hang out for awhile, because he sure makes even the crappiest ones worth watching. Cases in point to follow.
And yes, I am aware that "reflamed" is not actually a word. Thanks ever so much for pointing that out.
Before we talk about the numerous terrific bad movies Davey's made, I wanted to mention that back in the 1980's, David Keith was actually poised to become the first Patrick Swayze (before Patrick Swayze, clearly an alien clone of David Keith, showed up and stole his Southern-boy-charm fire, the bastard). He was starring in some really good movies, like "An Officer and a Gentlemen," "The Lords of Discipline," and (I would argue it was good anyway) "Firestarter." And while he was at it, he was getting good reviews and even a handful of award nominations (two Golden Globe noms for "Officer" -- one for Best Supporting Actor and one for New Star of the Year).
But somewhere around 1989, when Dave played Ollie North in a TV movie, the tides began to turn. And from that point on, it seems like he was sort of channeled onto the B- or TV-movie sidetrack. Their loss, our gain, I say. Because as I've declared a number of times before, there is just nothing like a great bad movie. And David Keith has the charm, wit, and talents to pull exactly that sort of thing off. His character might be the only good one in the whole movie, but he'll be so charming you won't even care about such trifles as plot, setting, and dialogue. Just let him deliver one solid, witty line and one slightly crooked, self-satisfied grin, and I'm happy.
Take, for example, the following three bad movies I watched recently.
1. Hangman's Curse (2003). This endearing little "horror" movie (horror in quotes, because it's not actually at all scary) completely surprised me. I expected to find it unbearably bad, but the characters were so great, I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself instead, despite the movie's numerous hokey flaws. In it, Dave plays the father in a family of four (wife, teenaged son, teenaged daughter) who are all undercover agents for a top-secret government group called "The Veritas Project." Their job? To investigate paranormal activity around the country, disguised as a regular old blue-collar family. I call it endearing because while the plot, about the cult-esque murders of a group of high school jocks who believe the ghost of a dead geek is after them, was totally awful, the basic premise of the "Veritas Project" was really engaging, and so were the characters themselves. Mel Harris plays the mother in the group, and I've always liked her. And the two kids, Leighton Meester and Douglas Smith, had great comedic timing and true charm. Add to that the sharp wit and sturdy good looks of David Keith, and what you have is a rather nice way to spend 90 of your minutes.
As long as you don't mind how stupid the plot actually is.
Think of it as "Spy Kids" meets "The X-Files" meets "21 Jump Street." Frankly, if they got some real writers in on it, I think could take Dave and his three fabulous co-stars and turn the whole thing into a mighty fine new TV show. But, of course, they won't. Because TV show people are far too busy developing the fourth "Law & Order" and third "CSI" to actually have time to work on something original. C'est la vie.
2. Sabretooth (2002). Up next in my B-movie Dave-athon was this somewhat less-than-stellar creature feature about a cloned and genetically-altered sabertooth tiger who gets loose in the woods and eats a bunch of campers. Now, you might think that scientists interested in cloning the extinct sabertooth would be doing it because they wanted to, say, develop a process to return long-gone species to the planet. That might make sense, right? And even be somewhat noble, despite it's misguidedness. But, that's totally not what's going on here. Instead, the scientists wanted to figure out how to clone living tissue and accelerate its growth so that in the future, when a patient needs a new heart, their old one can be cloned and quickly grown to full size for transplanting.
Now, why they couldn't run this experiment on sheep or, say, puppies, or something else slightly less likely to EAT PEOPLE, I have no idea. But then, "Dolly, the Killer Cloned Sheep" probably wouldn't have made for quite as much in the thrill department. What do I know?
What's great about this movie, aside from David Keith dressed up as Robert Redford from "Out of Africa," is that you can tell it's not taking itself too seriously. John Rhys-Davies (better known as Gimli and Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings series) also stars in it, and seems to have a pretty good time saying things like, "Hell's bells! What if it eats someone before we can catch it?!" And, of course, it delivers one of the greatest "famous last words" lines ever: "It could be right behind me, and I wouldn't even know!"
Oh, and one more great thing -- it also stars an actor named Josh Holloway, who has the cutest dimples ever and, as it turns out, is also part of the cast of the new TV show "Lost," which is the only new TV show I'm actually kind of excited about. Watch for it to premiere on September 22nd and keep your fingers crossed that it won't suck. Because I miss ex-Boyfriend Matthew Fox, and I really need him back in my life.
3. Deep Shock (2003). Oddly enough, this movie ended up being my favorite out of the three, despite the fact it's probably got the hokiest plotline (which is saying a lot, given the plots of the above two). It's about, get this, giant electric eels who break open a trench at the bottom of the ocean to let the hot gases come out so they can melt the polar ice cap above them and then beam electronic messages out of their brains into outer space. And yes, you did just read that right. And no, it doesn't make much sense. But since when do I demand sense from a bad science fiction movie?
The thing is, the plotline sounds a lot lamer than it actually feels when you're watching it. Part of this is because it's a Phillip Roth movie (not Philip Roth, the author of "The Human Stain," but Phillip Roth, the producer of a lot of really great bad movies, such as "Shark Hunter," "Dark Descent" (starring ex-Boyfriend Dean Cain), "Silent Warnings," and "Antibody"). Phillip Roth movies tend to be a step above most other bad movies, simply because the scripts tend to be better developed, the characters tend to have interesting relationships, and the dialogue is usually pretty life-like. The science may be totally bogus, but there is always a solid attempt to make it seem legitimate. And typically, these movies, like with "Sabretooth," don't take themselves too seriously, which is often what makes a movie cross over the line from bad-bad to good-bad for me.
Add to that the presence of David Keith in the role of a scientist, with plenty of sexual tension thrown in between him and his ex-wife, and, well, color me entertained. There's just something about David Keith that I can't get enough of at the moment. I just love everything about him. Everything!
Well, except maybe the butt chin. But that's hardly enough to warrant any serious discussion.
Of course, I should stress one more time that David doesn't just make bad movies. For example, I'm also a big fan of the "Epoch" series, the first of which is actually a pretty good sci-fi movie. And, stepping out of the sci-fi/horror genres for a second, I have also enjoyed David in "U-571" (starring ex-Boyfriend Matthew McConaughey), "Men of Honor" (starring ex-Boyfriend Robert De Niro), and "Behind Enemy Lines" (starring ex-Boyfriend Owen Wilson). The fact that Dave is still getting roles in major Hollywood movies like those, while at the same time taking parts in things like "Deep Shock," may actually tell us a lot about him. He's not a snooty snoot-snoot, who only accepts prestigious roles. He's clearly the kind of actor who just really enjoys acting, and who doesn't really care what movie he's in, as long as he gets to do what he loves to do. I dig this about him. He seems like a very cool guy.
Unfortunately, I appear to be one of the few David Keith fans out there with a web site, and thus I found it pretty hard to dig up biographical information on him. What I do know is that he was born on May 8, 1954 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Theater, and "made his first significant theatrical appearance in Chicago" (the reason I'm quoting that last bit is because I got it from a web site and couldn't tell whether the writer was trying to say his first role had been in a play that was running in the city of Chicago, or whether he was in the PLAY "Chicago," either in Chicago or somewhere else).
In 1979, he got his first sitcom role in "Co-Ed Fever," but it was pulled from the CBS line-up after only one episode. Over his career, he has landed roles in a number of other TV series, but none of them have really taken off either.
In 1982, he finally broke through into big-name films, when he co-starred in "An Officer and a Gentleman." After that, he often was typecast in the role of an all-American boy cursed with a fatal character flaw or two, and he has also played military characters many, many times (which I always appreciate, because he just looks really damn good in a uniform).
Dave's nickname is "The Deck," though I couldn't find out why. And in addition to being an extremely good-looking and talented, versatile actor, he's also a composer, writing the theme songs to both "The Curse" (which he also directed) and "Local Heroes." The bad news is, he's been married since 2000. Though, since I've been married since 2001, I think I probably should keep the complaining about this to a minimum. Dave and his wife live on their cattle ranch in Tennessee.
Up next for David are several films in 2004 and 2005. The first is called "Raise Your Voice" and stars Hilary Duff and ex-Boyfriend John Corbett. It's a romance about a girl from a small town who heads to the big city (LA) to spend the summer at a performing arts school. After that is "Come Away Home," a "family" movie about the friendship that develops between a 12 year-old girl and her grandfather. "Loggerheads," currently in post-production, is a drama that interweaves the lives of three characters, all connected by a boy who was put up for adoption at birth.
And, thankfully, in 2005, Davey will return to the world of bad sci-fi (hopefully of the good-bad variety) with a starring role in a TV movie called "Stratosphere." Toots, if it's even half as good as that one about the eels beaming their electronic messages into space, it'll be the highlight of my whole day I'm sure.
MacGyver Factor Score: 92.498%. The Management would like to state for the record that it could not come up with a single reason to deduct points from David Keith's MacGyver Factor Score. As a result, The Management feels it is their duty to inform its readers that this score, in this case, is completely arbitrary, meaningless, and made up. It in no way is intended to reflect The Management's actual feelings in regards to subject David Keith. It was merely the first number that popped into The Management's head.
Please note: The Management will neither confirm nor deny anything written in the above paragraph. If asked about this statement in the future, The Management reserves the right to pretend it never said anything about the MacGyver Factor Scoring system being completely arbitrary, so as to avoid possible legal action from the 200+ ex-Boyfriends who may, upon reading of the above statement, demand a recount.