Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sophie’s Choice vs Private Benjamin, or Thoughts on Death Becomes Her

Proof that Meryl Streep, Oscar winner and America’s Helen Mirren, has a sense of humor, Death Becomes Her (1992) is a movie about a rivalry between two old school Hollywood divas that gets out of hand, like All About Eve (1950) but with magic.  From director Robert Zemeckis, of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Back to The Future (1985), and Forrest Gump (1994), Death Becomes Her features an A-list cast including Bruce Willis (with hair, it was the ‘90s) as Dr. Ernest Menville, Goldie Hawn as Helen Sharp, and Isabella Rossellini from Blue Velvet (1986) as Lisle Von Rhoman.
Meryl Streep plays Madeline Ashton, a fading movie star and a parody of her screen persona.  Bruce Willis, only 4 years after Die Hard (1988) changed his life plays against type and returns to his comedy roots as Madeline’s downtrodden husband.  Goldie Hawn portrays Madeline’s high school nemesis and Ernest’s former fiancé.  
Madeline of course is obsessed with plastic surgery and lucky for her is introduced to Isabella Rosellini’s exotic Lisle Von Rhoman, who has the secret of eternal youth.  Lisle Von Rhoman swans across her glorious Hollywood mansion like a 20’s movie star, and she’s just about as old as one.  Eternal youth comes at a price, and Madeline and Helen’s feud will extend beyond the grave in what degenerates into one of the classiest zombie movies ever committed to film.
All three characters’ remarkable transformations are achieved with fat suits, prosthetics, state of the art (for the ‘90s) CGI, and Death Becomes Her did go onto win an Oscar for visual effects.  However the art direction, set design and filmmaking are also referential of the golden era of Hollywood and Hitchcock, and the movie is equal parts Sunset Blvd. (1950), Dial M for Murder (1954), The Exorcist (1973) and Shaun of The Dead (2004).
There's a clever sub-plot involving every Hollywood legend, from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis being a member of the undead, and watch out for James Dean's death car, the silver 1955 Porsche Spyder, aka "Lil Bastard", in front of Lisle's mansion.  Also cameos by legendary director Sydney Pollack of The Way We Were (1973) and Tootsie (1982) as a confused emergency room doctor and 90’s dreamboat Fabio as one of Lisle’s minions.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).