Retro Review: Darkman (1990)

A brilliant scientist left for dead returns to exact revenge on the people who burned him alive.

Synopsis: In ‘Darkman’ a brilliant scientist left for dead returns to exact revenge on the people who burned him alive.


The Story

When scientist Peyton Westlake accidentally comes into possession of incriminating documents. He is targeted by Mob Boss Robert G. Durant and winds up burnt alive. Surviving the ordeal Peyton uses his scientific knowledge to replicate human skin and becomes The Darkman. Using his invention of artificial skin to impersonate his enemies. The Darkman calculatingly takes Durant’s gang out one at a time until he has his final showdown with the mob boss. 


The Acting

This film gave us two early roles for future Hollywood stars Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand. Indeed Neeson absolutely owns the role, which made it very difficult for the poor actors that succeeded him in this role for the sequels. McDormand’s casting though always struck me as unusual given that she is more known for deeper character roles. But she does a respectable job here as the heroes love interest.

Larry Drake is brilliantly villainous as the gang boss Robert G. Durant who proves to be the main bad guy. But we also get a great performance from Colin Friels as the slimy corporate boss Louis Strack Jr.

The acting throughout this film is really strong from all concerned and a big part of why I sometimes revisit the film.



Written and directed by future Spider-Man director Sam Raimi ‘Darkman’ was a pulp comic book hero written specifically for the cinema. At this time we had only recently seen the first Batman movie from Tim Burton and there wasn’t really an abundance of comic book movies.

Although the movie got mixed reviews from the critics. I view this movie as an underrated gem that is well worth the watch. I loved how Raimi manages to capture the feel and vibe of a 30s pulp hero but put it into a modern context. In ‘Darkman’ we get a nice blend of science fiction and horror. In what I see as a modern pulp classic. Unfortunately, the sequel movies, which were done by other people didn’t really do as great of a job of capturing this vibe.

Overall. While it is not the most perfect movie you will ever see. The movie does have some fantastic visual and make-up effects and a fantastic soundtrack from Danny Elfman. It’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen it. And although it is over 30 years old now. It still holds up pretty well.

Darkman (1990)
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Visual Effects
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at: [email protected]
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