Horror’s Icons: The Fisherman
As we head into the final month of the Horror’s Icons series, we look at another of the popular 90’s teen horror villains. While not as popular or well known as Ghostface, The Fisherman from the I Know What You Did Last Summer series was right up there when the teen horror films began to appear. And even though his reign ended with a pretty lousy direct-to-video release, The Fisherman was definitely an icon for his time.
TIME TO GET HOOKED BY THE FISHERMAN
I Know What You Did Last Summer was released in 1997 during the craze of the teen horror films that began with Scream. But unlike Scream and other genre films such as Urban Legend and The Faculty, I Know What You Did Last Summer was not just a script waiting to be filmed. The movie is actually based off of a 1973 novel of the same name by author Lois Duncan. While I am not certain of how close to the movie is to the book, the movie did however follow the pattern set forth by previous genre films.
The movie begins on July 4 and Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), her boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Julie’s friend Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe) decide to have some fun to celebrate their last summer before college. After leaving a party, they drive off after drinking and end up hitting a stranger after not paying attention to the road. Despite Julie resisting the idea, the group decide to dump the body in the water and swear to never mention what happened ever again.The film skips ahead to a year later when Julie returns home after her first year of college. Soon after returning and meeting up with the others, who remained in their hometown, Julie gets a note that says “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. Spooked by the note, she begins to get paranoid of someone knowing their dirty secret. While the others dismiss the note, Julie begins to get scared and then The Fisherman appears.
Not knowing who is the man behind the black rain slicker, they begin to form opinions of who is trying to kill them one by one with a large ice hook. Despite their differences (Julie and Ray are no longer a couple and Barry is the group’s resident douchebag), they bond together to try to survive. But soon, only Ray and Julie are left to figure out the mystery and make it out alive. Eventually they do figure out the identity of the killer and now must avoid the hook.
The Fisherman is Ben Willis. Willis is the father of a girl that was killed in a car crash that her boyfriend was also involved in. But her boyfriend survived the crash. But when Willis got to the boyfriend, he killed him and dumped his body. And after that is when this group of kids hit him and left him for dead. But after surviving the accident, Ben Willis returned for vengeance on the four kids. After Julie and Ray put it together, they were attacked but survived when they managed to cut Ben’s arm off and he fell into the water. Afterwards, only his arm was found, hook still in hand, and Julie and Ray claimed they did not know why Ben was after them.
But before the credits roll, Julie and Ray are shown back together and living happily one year later. Julie gets a similar note that she previously had, but realizes it is for a pool party. She sets it down and takes a shower. But when in the shower, Ben Willis busts through the glass with a hook replacing the missing part of his arm. The shock-ending left people wondering Julie’s fate until the movie’s sequel was released a year later.
THIS MAN DOES NOT FORGETI Still Know What You Did Last Summer was released in 1998 and continued the story of Julie and Ray dealing with the hook-wielding maniac. This time they were joined by Karla (Brandy Norwood) and Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer). The four soon end up in the Bahamas as part of a contest, which we find out later was set up. But, Ray does not make the trip at first because he is attacked by The Fisherman and instead, Will Benson, a friend of Tyrell’s, takes the extra ticket.
To make a long story short, The Fisherman soon arrives in the Bahamas and starts going after the group. Ray also makes his way to the island knowing that Julie is in danger. However, while Ben Willis does somehow make his return as The Fisherman, he is not alone this time. Will reveals himself to be Ben’s son (Benson=Ben’s son, so clever!) and is helping good old daddy get revenge. He was the radio host of the that had the bogus contest that got everyone to the Bahamas and now he is slashing with his own ice hook. But, in the end, both Ben and Will fall short in their mission when Ben accidentally stabs Will and Julie shoots Ben. Then, Julie, Ray, and Karla get rescued off the island and all is done. Well, at least I think it should have been.In 2006, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer was released straight-to-DVD and maybe should have stayed buried at the bottom of the ocean. This movie does not feature any previous characters and instead has the cliché cast that no one cares about. But basically, the movie follows the same pattern except now Ben Willis is basically a zombie. Or something like that. The decomposing Ben Willis apparently wants to keep killing and now sets his sights on another group of teens. So, to keep it simple, Willis kills the teens one by one until he is ultimately defeated. Sound familiar? The only difference is that Ben is a zombie, he can apparently disappear in thin air, and when the movie finish, the audience is happy only because it is over! Oh, and they managed to make a long movie title even longer.
THE HAND THAT HOLDS THE HOOK
Despite the lackluster finish to the series, the original film was very entertaining while the first sequel managed to be a decent film. The Fisherman definitely left his mark in the horror genre. While other films featured aliens in human bodies or killers in parkas, fencing suits, and more, The Fisherman stood out to me above all the others except for Scream‘s Ghostface. The dark and mysterious black rain slicker was a good costume and made sense in the setting of the movie. It actually meant something more than just being a costume. And while the hook has been used as a weapon for a while, it wasn’t used that effectively since the Candyman killed his victims in his series of films.What was also good about The Fisherman was his story. Just when the group thought they figured it out, they were surprised to learn the story of Ben Willis. The fact that he already killed his deceased daughter’s boyfriend before he was hit by the car informed the audience that he was already a killer. And then these kids just pissed him off even more. Once he was ready, he came back with a vengeance and gave these four kids everything they could handle. And more for some. The man behind the hook was veteran actor (and Louisiana native) Muse Watson. Watson has never been a major actor but has made appearances in several movies and television series. Besides this series, Watson is probably best known for his roles in the television series Prison Break and NCIS.
Watson was replaced in the third film by veteran stuntman Don Shanks who is best known as Michael Myers in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. I am sure Watson is happy to have skipped that one, even though the movie’s failure can’t be placed on Shanks.
Failure or not, The Fisherman is a wrap. Red Lobster’s favorite serial killer is dead in the water here at Blog 4 Dat (pun intended) as we move on once again. And next time we will do things a little differently. As we get closer to Halloween, and the end of the series, I will start to pull out all the tricks. Next week, Horror’s Icons will look at not one icon. Not two. Not three. Hell, not even four. Next week, I will pull out five film terror’s that all come from the mind of Stephen KIng. Which five you ask? Well, just come back next week and see which five King creations make the cut next week on Horror’s Icons.