Monday, April 25, 2016

Gothic Grandeur and Cyanide, or Thoughts on Raul Julia in The Addams Family

 Excellent casting decisions and a respect for the source material made Chas Addams’ eponymous cartoon and TV show a box office hit in 1991 with the big screen debut of The Addams Family.  The opening scene reproduces the classic New Yorker cartoon concerning Christmas carolers and immediately sets the tone and introduces Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Thing and Lurch to a new generation.
Thing is freed from his box and roams the halls on his fingers, an obvious green screen effect that looked revolutionary and new in 1991.  He still plays chess with Gomez but his bloodless stump ensures that this PG-13 reboot will focus more on humor than horror, much like the original cartoon.
Gomez and Morticia’s immortal love story is told in a series of sword fights and tangos.    Latin American acting superstar Raul Julia and Hollywood royalty Angelica Huston (Director John’s daughter) consume their roles with dramatic abandon.   Raul Julia portrays Gomez as debonair, singing and athletic madman.  The malice-obsessed patriarch is equally matched by Angelica Huston’s dark and glamorous Morticia, played with sly wit and a sharp tongue in shades of black and silver, lit in every scene like a black and white silent movie star.  The house is a family member too with secret passages, haunted libraries and growling polar bear rugs.  Star Trek alumni Carel Struycken plays Lurch with Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester.
The cartoon and 60’s TV show has always been about the real world conforming to The Addams Family, and not vice versa, and Director Barry Sonnenfeld makes every effort to reproduce the cartoons we remember in between plot points.  However the movie is stolen by an 11 year-old Christina Ricci in one of her first roles.  Serious, solemn, and homicidal, her Wednesday Addams completely overshadows Jimmy Workman’s Pugsley and dominates every scene she’s in, including a Tarantino inspired death scene from Hamlet for the school recital, complete with severed limbs and blood squibs.
The film inspired two sequels and a Broadway musical, and is admirably summarized by Morticia’s quote of the Addams Family motto; “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc” (we gladly feast upon those who would subdue us). 


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.