During my quest for VHS in Austin, Tx I scored a beautiful batch of horror films. Colorful big boxes and clams were among that batch. Included in this sexy batch, Naked Lunch.Â I had heard of the film so many times before while discussing bizarre films with my fellow geeks. It surprised me that I hadn’t seen or heard of the film, especially since I am such a big fan of David Cronenberg. As I pulled the titled from the shelf I thought to myself, “Might as well see what fucked up adventure lies inside.” Boy was I in for a treat.
Naked Lunch is a very dry and depressing but surrealistic crime noir or art house picture, if you will. The film is based on the works of William S. Burroughs, a fascinatingÂ author with a tragic past. It’s hard to break the story down but I will try my best. Naked Lunch follows the dreary and oppressiveÂ life of writer and bug exterminator Bill, who is seemingly meant to be taken as author Burroughs. Bill is addicted to the bug powder, as well as his wife. The pair likes to play this game where he shoots a glass off the top of his wife’s head, only this time he is a horrible shot. Our protagonist accidentally kills his wife (Judy Davis) then enters a slow paced “Interzone.”Â This tale oozes with metaphors that are crystal clear or so layered that it becomes a hard task to distinguish. All the alternate representations and denial of logic creates the impression that nothing is at it seems. Bill’s drug induced guilt path is destructive and disturbing with a capitol D. The man’s life is spinning out of control in a web of paranoia and hallucinations. These hallucinations range from horny pulsating typewriters, battling typewriters, talking ass holes, dueling sexualities, telepathy, and a very bizarre centipede rape scene. This was all pretty unsettling. The images of these horny creatures reminded me of Possession, another completely unsettling film.
Peter Weller did a remarkable job portraying the living dead that is Bill. Bill’s character lacks emotion, besides one time where you see tears dripping over his dead wife’s body. His eyes are dead with a fedora pulled over his forehead and I felt I had to keep adjusting the volume so I could make out his low, flat voice accompanied by a jazzy audio track SCREAMING at me. Julian Sands is a favorite of mine, though I did not care for his appropriately named pedophiliac character, Yves Cloquet. Apparently, in this oddball Interzone Middle Eastern realm, there are a lot of homosexuals present that like little boys. Then there’s Dr. Benway (Roy Scheder) who doesn’t seem to mind that Bill is fucking his wife Joan until his typewriter breaks. Judy Davis has taken the role of Joan and Bill’s wife. She’s classy, beautiful, and a talented actress.
David Cronenberg is a visionary genius. It’s hard to pick a favorite Cronenberg film when there are so many like; They Came From Within, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, M. Butterfly, and A History of Violence. Naked Lunch is hardly a favorite of mine. It’s not because the film is hard to follow. I just found myself bored with Burrough’s drug induced ramblings. Cronenberg is the only man for this job. If Naked Lunch is worth seeing, it’s for the effects and fucked up creatures and for that only. With spectacular effects by Chris Walas Inc., there were a lot of hands on deck to create the effects for these creatures. The blu-ray especially is pretty gross. Every speckle of dust and scratches are removed with every bead of sweat and drop of goo glistening. My mouth dropped when the typewriter transforms into this weird creature that has a noticeably slimy butt and jumps on top of Bill and Joan having sex. It’s quite repugnant and I can only guess it’s because Burroughs has often mentioned how disgusted he is by the act of sex in his novels.
If you want to have a better understanding for Naked Lunch, I’d suggest reading the book. There are a lot of things left out of the film such as; violent orgies that results in several decapitations, child murder following pedophilia, and the ending is far superior to the film’s ending. The novel was also banned for a short period of time. Look into its history.
You do not have to be a drug addict to understand the Naked Lunch. Anyone who lives a perverse life riddled with guilt and despair knows what time it is. Granted, while I am in my delirious state without food and sleep and a mountain of stress on top of that, I never see my computer turning into a beetle. Will I ever give Naked Lunch another viewing? It’s not one of those films that I can watch over and over. Naked Lunch is best reserved for once in a blue moon. That’s all I can handle.