I recently took a much-needed week’s vacation at Cedar Point, Ohio. The wife and I stayed in a delightful little cabin at Lighthouse Point. Shortly after our arrival, I became despondent that I would miss the end of the NHL Conference Finals. We checked the cable television guide that came in our room service binder, but, alas, NBC Sports Network was nowhere to be found.
Being on the shore of Lake Erie, with Canada practically in visual distance, we were pleased to find CBC among the list of available channels. Sure enough, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation could be counted on to drop everything and air the Conference Final games with the colorful ex-coach/commentator Don Cherry in rare form. Add in some Canadian culture shock (McDonald’s ads touting their Angus Third Pounders?!), and it was good times ahoy.
Our newfound joy was fleeting, however. The wife and I watched in helpless horror as first her Phoenix Coyotes were eliminated and then my top seed New York Rangers. We even had a little plush cow named Barnie and a little plush triceratops named Dashiell to help with the rooting and rallying, but to no avail. We didn’t win a single game that week. I’m not bitter.
So, in honor of Lord Stanley’s little mug, here’s a countdown of
5 Weird Flix Involving Hockey
I’m not including such notables as Slap Shot, The Mighty Ducks, or even The Cutting Edge, simply because they frankly aren’t weird enough for our purposes. We have to have standards, right?
5. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Part III? Yep. The iconic hockey-masked mass murderer Jason Voorhees wasn’t even the killer in the first film of the franchise (Spoiler Alert, I guess. Sorry.). No, he draws his machete for the first time in the 1981 sequel, but wears a hood. It’s not until Jason takes the goalie mask from victim Shelly in Friday the 13th Part III that the look which has become synonymous with slashers was born.
Jason wasn’t the first villain to sport the goalie mask. The Humungus wore little else the year before as the “Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rollah” in Mad Max sequel, The Road Warrior. And unlike Mr. Voorhees, Humungus proved to be a very eloquent speaker. Nonetheless, it is Jason Voorhees that turned a simple piece of protective equipment into a symbol of terror.
The thing I find ironic about the whole look is that, Cam Ward’s goal this season notwithstanding, the goalie is traditionally a purely defensive player in ice hockey. His movements are restricted. He very rarely fights. He’s generally a non-threatening figure.
Okay, there’s always exceptions…
4. The Running Man (1987)
While hockey doesn’t have a prominent role in the overall plot of this LOOOOSE Stephen King adaptation/Ahnold vehicle, the tone of the film was set early with the appearance of the first stalker, Professor Subzero. I suppose they were going for an Inuit vibe with the ice theme and polar bear build, but Kalani/Tanaka is nearly full-blooded Hawaiian. Unlike Jason Voorhees, however, Subzero actually takes to the ice and skates.
But again with the menacing goalie gimmick, sigh. At least his equipment is duly threatening, with a costume that looks like it was designed by Tony Stark, a razor-edged hockey stick, and puck grenades. Even in my youth, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around how those work. Does the first hit with the stick charge them up so they explode on impact, does it activate a timer, or am I thinking too hard about this movie, obviously missing the entire point? Yeah, probably the latter.
3. Dogma (1999)
So, Kevin Smith cast buddy Jason Lee as the demon Azrael in his little exercise in religious pedantry/dick jokes, but didn’t have him sport his disturbingly effective sleaze-stache? Wasted opportunity, I says. Even without the lip caterpillar, Azrael is the heavy in Dogma, and these punks are his chief henchmen.
In the opening scene, they actually beat God so bad outside a Jersey Shore skeeball arcade that they put him in a coma. Dave “The Hammer” Schultz should be jealous. Yeah, I know, it’s roller hockey, but as a kid who grew up on a dead end street in the heart of Jersey, I know first-hand that asphalt is just as unforgiving as ice. And while God might typically be depicted as all-forgiving, these three little pukes are going back to the ultimate penalty box for their wicked ways, make no mistakes.
2. The Dead Zone (1983)
Stephen King is apparently back for another shift on our list. This time around, David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the novel is far more faithful than The Running Man, though no less exciting. Christopher Walken plays Johnny Smith, a Maine schoolteacher who is left in a coma after a horrific car accident.
When he wakes, damage to his brain has left him “cursed” with the ability to experience the past, present, and/or future of a person by touching them. He attempts to ignore his gift and get back to the life which has moved on without him by taking a job tutoring a shy and withdrawn boy. An unexpected vision of young Chris’ upcoming hockey game leads to trademark Walken intensity.
WARNING: Slightly NSFW. (A certain name taken in vain.)
1. Strange Brew (1983)
Ingredients: SCTV stalwarts Bob and Doug McKenzie (a kind of Canuck Wayne and Garth or Beavis & Butt-head), Star Wars X-Wing Gold Leader Angus MacInnes, the menacing Max von Sydow, and Hamlet. Soak ingredients in beer for 90 minutes and let sit. Hilarity ensues.
Brewmeister Smith of Elsinore Brewery (Sydow) has perfected a mind control drug by experimenting on patients of the Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane, conveniently located next door. And what better test for this technique than dressing mental patients up in Stormtrooper armor and controlling them via hockey organ? Looks like fun.
WARNING: Slightly NSFW. (Crude humor in the final comment.)
The rest of the film is utterly bizarre. This part makes complete sense in comparison. Best watched with beer in hand.
Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
While watching this Grindhouse trailer expanded into feature length Canuxploitation film, I couldn’t help but note evil Ivan’s resemblance to a certain Pittsburgh Penguin hockey prodigy. I haven’t seen a lot of people point it out around the web, but with his black-and-white wardrobe, I can’t believe it isn’t an intentional reference to Sidney Crosby. Hell, Ivan even uses hockey skates as his signature weapons, both in melee and ranged attacks, killing Canada’s answer to Ryan Seacrest, George Stromboulopolous, with a thrown hockey skate to the chest.
“Ivan, you’re going to ruin your ****ing skates.” – Slick
“I ruin everything.” – Ivan
WARNING: If you click the link below, this’ll most likely be the most violent thing you will see today. If it’s not, then I’m deeply concerned for your well-being. It should go without saying, but just to be clear, this clip is BEYOND NSFW. You have been warned.