Join 3,551 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The M in MTV Should Stand for Mulcahy
May 14, 2012 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Russell Mulcahy is best known for directing Highlander (as well as its...less-popular...sequel) and is currently doing a Teen Wolf series for MTV. But speaking of MTV, he got his start doing music videos. A lot of music videos. In fact, if you remember a video from the early days of MTV, it's probably one of Mulcahy's.

Here are only some of the videos from his impressive c.v.:

MTV Staples:
Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles (1979) (the first video played on MTV in America, a bit of trivia that everyone knows.)
Turning Japanese by The Vapors (1980)
Young Turks and Tonight I'm Yours by Rod Stewart (1981)
Draw of the Cards and Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes (1981)
Only the Lonely by The Motels (1982)
Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac (1982)
Pressure by Billy Joel (1982)
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983)

Flowers/Icehouse:

Icehouse (1981)
Hey Little Girl (1982)
Street Cafe (1983)
Taking the Town (1984)

Ultravox

Passing Strangers (1980)
Vienna (1981)
The Voice (1981) (There are two videos for this; I think this is Mulcahy's)
The Thin Wall (1981)

Duran Duran

Planet Earth
Rio
Hungry Like the Wolf
Wild Boys

Elton John

I'm Still Standing (1982)
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (1983)
Sad Songs (Say So Much) (1984)
Wrap Her Up (With George Michael) (1985)

The last music video he is credited with is Original Sin by Taylor Dayne from 1994. It was from the movie The Shadow which Mulcahy also directed.

[Sources: Wikipedia, Music Video Database (which is not entirely accurate).]
posted by Legomancer (33 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Personal note: Icehouse, Draw of the Cards, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Pressure scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid.
posted by Legomancer at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2012


its...less-popular...sequel

Sorry, what? That doesn't render on my screen. All I hear is a distant buzzing noise.
posted by mhoye at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, I know what I'm doing for a good chunk of my Monday morning. Thanks! Nice post.

Please forgive the following Ultravox pedantry: the Mulcahy video for "The Voice" is actually this one. (But holy cow, I've never seen that other one, so thanks for posting the link to it!)
posted by scody at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Legomancer, this is amazing, thank you.
posted by emjaybee at 9:15 AM on May 14, 2012


I love Mulcahy's music videos. Thanks for posting.
posted by PapaLobo at 9:15 AM on May 14, 2012


It was from the movie The Shadow which Mulcahy also directed.

Every FPP should have a punchline.
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on May 14, 2012


If you're interested in more of Mulcahy's story as well as all of the behind the scenes stuff that went on with MTV in the early days, you should pick up I Want My MTV. It's fascinating.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:16 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks scody. I couldn't find which one was his.
posted by Legomancer at 9:20 AM on May 14, 2012


So... Does that mean in his Teen Wolf series it'll be revealed that werewolves are really aliens from the planet [insert amazingly stupid name here]?
posted by sotonohito at 9:23 AM on May 14, 2012


So, basically, this guy never shoots a second of footage without covering the lens in some panty-hose or a little Vaseline.

Good to know.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:23 AM on May 14, 2012


as well as its...less-popular...sequel

You mean still the worse film I've ever seen in the cinema
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2012


its...less-popular...sequel

You must be from one of those dystopian timelines; quick who was the first person to land on the Moon?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:32 AM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Say, by any chance does anyone here not like Highlander 2? Let's all talk about it!
posted by Legomancer at 9:34 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


its...less-popular...sequel

Sorry, what? That doesn't render on my screen. All I hear is a distant buzzing noise.


mhoye, it may be some Web 2.0 thing that doesn't render properly in your browser. I have a Firefox add-in that converts that part of the screen to plain-text, and it reads:

Russell Mulcahy is best known for directing Highlander (after which he retired forever from movies, dedicating his life to helping the disadvantaged and achieving enlightenment).

A bit odd, in light of the next sentence, but... HTH.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:39 AM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Has anyone seen Mulcahy's Razorback? From the clips I saw in Not Quite Hollywood it looks like tons of fun.
posted by brundlefly at 9:44 AM on May 14, 2012


It wasn't until I saw the Literal video version of Total Eclipse of the Heart that I realized just how strange the video is. That it was directed by the same guy who brought the world the abomination that is Highlander 2 makes perfect sense.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:49 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vienna... with Spiders.
posted by ovvl at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2012


Has anyone seen Mulcahy's Razorback?

It is awesome, but very very 80s... and the pig makes the mechano-shark in Jaws look like the summit of realism
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:02 AM on May 14, 2012


It wasn't until I saw the Literal video version of Total Eclipse of the Heart that I realized just how strange the video is. That it was directed by the same guy who brought the world the abomination that is Highlander 2 makes perfect sense.

Assuming this is true.. Well, let's take another example, one George Lucas. We now know that a large portion of George's success as filmaker--distinct from his success as money maker--was due to his ex wife Marcia. From whence the greatness of Highlander, in its original form?
posted by Chuckles at 10:51 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what they say Chuckles, all great works of art are 10% perspiration, 90% uncut angel dust enemas.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It wasn't until I saw the Literal video version of Total Eclipse of the Heart that I realized just how strange the video is...

"Never mind. I just went on the floor."
posted by ovvl at 2:24 PM on May 14, 2012


That's probably why I felt so disconnected from Highlander; so much of the movie feels as weightless and empty as a glossy music video. I've never gotten the love people have for it.
posted by aldurtregi at 2:41 PM on May 14, 2012


That's probably why I felt so disconnected from Highlander; so much of the movie feels as weightless and empty as a glossy music video. I've never gotten the love people have for it.

It helps to have first seen it as a 10-year-old boy raised on pulp SF&F, probably no later than about 1993.

If you already satisfy those conditions, I don't really know what to tell you.
posted by brennen at 4:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


From whence the greatness of Highlander, in its original form?

Queen injecting it with the spirit of Broadway Rock.
posted by Grangousier at 4:40 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


From whence the greatness of Highlander, in its original form?

So, by "original form" I'm assuming you mean the European cut of the movie, which is the one that Mulcahy intended, not the shorter, more disjointed version which was in US cinemas.

(I saw Highlander, oh, some good dozen times in the theater when I was in high school and it was in first release. Had such love for that movie on so many different levels. Then later that same year I went to Germany, and was there for the first run release of it in German theaters. And IT WASN'T THE SAME MOVIE. I mean, it was, but there were all these extra bits which really fleshed out the characters and helped the story hang together better. It was quite disorienting. Made even more so because, as is typical, big movies are released in dubbed format in Germany, so while I knew I hadn't seen that scene before, the experience of watching it was just alien enough to my previous experience from the get-go that I wasn't actually trusting my own memory of the experience.)

Anyway, what makes it great? The transitions between scenes are more imaginative than had been previously done in films. The use of crane and steadycams was really great, as was most of Gerry Fisher's cinematography. The constantly changing time setting is a lot of fun. Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery each contributed a lot -- Lambert's peculiar eyes, and Connery's... well, Connery-ness. The Queen soundtrack is amazing, as is the Michael Kamen score. (And yes, there are actual movie soundtrack releases featuring the Queen songs as found in the film plus the Kamen score bits... if you look around in the dark recesses.)

Plus the script was an inventive bit of SF/Fantasy, the swordplay was entertaining (flint and steel swords look great on camera), and there were more electrical explosions than typically found in ANY three movies combined.

The stupid part was the sequel. The whole point of the movie is that there will be no sequel. And then you go ahead and make one? Grrrrrrr. (Don't get me started on the television show.)

Highlander was yet another Landmark 80s Movie which fell over and died at the box office. Put it right there on the shelf next to Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner and Brazil. What was wrong with movie audiences in the 80s that they weren't going to see movies like this? Now they're considered classics, and they were instantly regarded as such by my circle of friends. But back then... they were so hugely ignored... It's really puzzling.
posted by hippybear at 5:37 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


It helps to have first seen it as a 10-year-old boy raised on pulp SF&F, probably no later than about 1993.

Well, that explains it. I first saw it as a 20-year-old boy raised on pulp SF&F, in 2004: only 1 out of 3.

Probably didn't help that I saw Highlander II first, years before. Perhaps it poisoned the well.
posted by aldurtregi at 5:52 PM on May 14, 2012


Pressure scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid.

That video instilled a fear of shag carpets into me as a child. My parents thought it was cute that I would try to do a flying jump into bed from the hallway, but it was actually because SHAG CARPET QUICKSAND WILL DROWN ME.

The fear of shag carpets has faded with time, the fear of Billy Joel has not.
posted by benzenedream at 6:37 PM on May 14, 2012


Anyway, what makes it great?

No no, I know WHAT makes it great. I want to know WHO made it great--assuming it wasn't Mulcahy.

And for the record, no, I don't like the WWII scenes. I found the acting especially wooden and the presentation less compelling than other parts of the movie. I get how it makes the story come together in certain ways, but I can handle ambiguity fairly well. In fact, one of the many incredibly skillful things about the way Highlander was put together is the survivalist describing the sword battle from his hospital bed. Ambiguity is often a very useful dramatic device.
posted by Chuckles at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2012


Did Russell Mulcahy direct a video for Sad Trombone? Because I kind of feel like this post needs one.
posted by Legomancer at 5:36 AM on May 15, 2012


Only the Lonely by The Motels (1982)

I hate YouTube for framing this video with a big black background, with a creepy bald guy right next to the video. I don't recall MTV doing anything this annoying back in 1982.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:59 PM on May 15, 2012


charlie don't surf, may I present "my zap colors", a slightly altered javascript function I use to remove annoying interface designs (the only change I made was to remove a comfirmation popup, from the original "zap colors" available elsewhere). It will remove that stupid Youtube advertisement behind the videos, when clicked. (Reloading the page restores the original look.)

Create a new link on your bookmarks toolbar, and put the following text (without line breaks) into the "url" section of its properties:

javascript:(function(){var%20url=window.location.href;%20if(url.indexOf(%22mail.google.com%22)<1){var%20newSS,%20styles='*%20{%20background:%20white%20!%20important;%20color:%20black%20!important%20}%20:link,%20:link%20*%20{%20color:%20#0000EE%20!important%20}%20:visited,%20:visited%20*%20{%20color:%20#551A8B%20!important%20}';if(document.createStyleSheet){document.createStyleSheet(%22javascript:'%22+styles+%22'%22);%20}%20else%20{%20newSS=document.createElement('link');%20newSS.rel='stylesheet';%20newSS.href='data:text/css,'+escape(styles);%20document.getElementsByTagName(%22head%22)[0].appendChild(newSS);}}})();
posted by IAmBroom at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2012


(It occasionally will make webpage buttons disappear, BTW, because it may render them as white-outlined, white-filled, on a white page. The buttons are still there, along with any hover text and functionality...)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2012


Thanks. I don't mind the black background so much, it's the creepy bald guy. I could block him with AdBlock, but it seems stupid to set a rule for one creepy bald guy that I hope I will never see again. I just shoved the left side of the window off the edge of my screen to hide him.

I'm looking at your javascript, it looks like it might be possible to add this as a rule to AdBlock, or maybe to a browser-based CSS override file (I use one to turn on font ligatures in Safari).
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:44 AM on May 16, 2012


« Older Cartoonist and Essayist Tim Kreider on the soothin...  |  In Russian roulette, is it bes... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments