Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995)

Ah, the 90s. A time when Blockbuster Video had enough power that it could ask Universal for a sequel to Darkman, which did well at theaters. But not well enough for a theatrical sequel. Renaissance Pictures was trying to sell Fox on a series, bringing back Larry Drake as bad guy Robert G. Durant. They passed and what was filmed ended up the first of two direct-to-video sequels.

Half of the budget for the Darkman sequels came from Universal’s television division, while the rest came from its home video division. This is also how The Birds II and Psycho IV were made.

In 1998, Sam Raimi’s Renaissance Pictures — now Raimi Pictures — was producing tons of stuff, like M.A.N.T.I.S. (the series Fox did buy), American Gothic, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. They also made Hard Target, which is where Arnold Vosloo was found to take over the lead. Another of their regulars, Renee O’Connor — who played Deianeira on Hercules and Gabrielle on Xena — also is in this.

Peyton Westlake is still Darkman, stealing from the criminals he fights and using the money to pay for his synthetic skin experiments while Durant awakens from a coma and goes right back into crime, breaking Dr. Alfred Hathaway (Lawrence Dane) out of prison. Now he’s selling particle beam weapons on the black market. His need for more energy to make these weapons causes him to kill Westlake’s new skin creation partner, Dr. David Brinkman (Jesse Collins), and Darkman instantly knows his enemy has come back when he notices that the dead scientist is missing a finger. Durant follows that evil up by killing off a reporter, Jill Randall (Kim Delaney) that Darkman had grown to respect.

Now, our hero must save the sister of Hathaway (O’Connor) from Durant and get his revenge.

Bradford May was the director of photography of The Monster Squad and spent a lot of his directing career in TV. His work here is good, but he’s also following Sam Raimi. The script was written by Robert Eisele, Lawrence Hertzog (who wrote a few of the Hart to Hart TV movies) and Steven McKay (Assault On Devil’s Island, Hard to Kill). Again, it’s fine, but following the original is a hard act.

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