Dean: Ninja power?

For months, a rumor that Howard Dean played a minor role in a 1980s slasher flick has captivated supporters and political junkies. Here's a clip of the movie -- and the back story.

Topics:

Dean: Ninja power?

It’s 1984. Dr. Howard Dean has an internal medicine practice in Vermont, and fifth-graders everywhere love ninjas. Meanwhile, “Ninja III: The Domination” is in theaters. In one scene, a hooded warrior is wreaking his trademark havoc on a golf course, plying the ancient mystical art of making patrol cars fly into lakes in slow motion.

And that’s when, in a gruff tone some might associate with a guy taking the Democratic Leadership Council to task, a cop in a descending helicopter barks into his walkie-talkie. He warns all units to be on the alert. Too late: The ninja jumps onboard from a palm tree and hurls stunt doubles out the hatch.

Recently, reports that that the cop was portrayed by Howard Dean, Democratic forerunner, bubbled up onto the liberal blogs Daily Kos, Eschaton and Pandagon, where Dems were urged to run out to the video store. Murmurs had persisted since late 2003, when someone noticed that the Internet Movie Database listing for “Howard Dean,” which mentions the former Vermont governor’s turn on last fall’s “K Street,” also credits “Howard Dean” with playing a policeman on “Ninja III.”

So Dean fans sought copies of the silver-boxed ninja epic shot in Arizona (originally released by legendary ’80 schlock outfit Cannon Films). Arizona State University student Tony Cani threw a “Ninja III” party to see if the cop was Dean. “Roughly 8 minutes into the movie a police officer in a helicopter LOOKS AND SOUNDS LIKE HOWARD DEAN,” he posted on the blog Fear Itself. The use later of a much more dashing stunt double left him undeterred: “For now though — the 15 of us in the room are willing to say tentatively… IT IS HOWARD DEAN.”

[To view a clip of "Howard Dean," click here. He's the one saying, "Proceed with caution!"]



Dean, unfortunately, says it’s not him. Jay Carson, a Dean spokesman, told Salon he asked Dean “point-blank” — and the Democratic front-runner said he was in no way associated with “The Domination,” the story (from producers Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan) of a beautiful ’80s aerobics practitioner possessed by the spirit of a ninja slain on a golf course. (It’s the kind of movie where the heroine, having gone to a psychologist for help, is told that there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her, “aside from your exceptional extrasensory perception and your preoccupation with Japanese culture. No harm in that.”)

But as with WMDs, belief dies hard, especially when a wily ninja is such a promising metaphor for, say, Karl Rove. The mind invents explanations: Is it so hard to imagine that Dr. Howard Dean, admittedly stuck in Vermont most of 1983, might have spent a weekend in Arizona with a buddy from med school … and then, finding the local links closed down for a movie shoot, stumbled upon some B-movie filmmakers who were short one helicopter cop…?

Cani, the ASU student, upon being informed by a reporter that Dean denies being in “Ninja III,” is nevertheless pleased with the movie as a recruitment tool. “I will tell you,” Cani says, “a handful of people are [Dean] supporters now — not so much because of the movie but because it is a safe place for people to start talking about politics from. Cheesy ninja movies: Everyone loves them.”

John Gorenfeld is a freelance writer in San Francisco.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>