Die Mommie Die!
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Mark Rucker
scr Charles Busch
with Charles Busch, Natasha Lyonne, Stark Sands, Jason Priestley, Frances Conroy, Philip Baker Hall, Nora Dunn, Stanley DeSantis, Christopher McDaniel, Tom Hughes, Victor Raider-Wexler, Josh Hutchinson
release US 31.Oct.03,
UK Mar.04 llgff
03/US 1h30

How dare you! Busch with the porn-star movers...

lyonne priestley conroy
Die Mommie Die! This is one of those wacky comedies that you'll either love or hate, perhaps depending on how much you adore camp 1960s Hollywood movies like The Valley of the Dolls, Sunset Blvd or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, with a dose of Dynasty glitz, Almodovar archness and Tennessee Williams-style scandal thrown in for good measure.

The story centres on Angela Arden (Busch), a has-been movie star trying desperately to regain her former glory while her Beverly Hills family falls to pieces around her. Mogul husband Sol (Hall) is hateful to both Angela and their confused son Lance (Sands), and far too close to both their spoiled daughter Edith (Lyonne) and their nosey maid (Conroy). He also knows all about Angela's actor/tennis pro toy boy (Priestley), who seems just as interested in Lance and Edith. When bodies start piling up, Edith finally convinces Lance to take action against their increasingly crazed mother ("Why can't you accept that our mother is a murderer and a whore?"). This is a world where everyone has deep secrets, movers are built like porn stars, and they serve martinis at funerals ... then sing show tunes around a piano!

Director Rucker films all this in a lurid 1960s style, with flaming colours, garish costumes and an expert use of Hollywood locations, complete with silly rear projection. Busch plays Arden unapologetically; barking out the torrid dialog like her life depends on it. There's never any acknowledgement that it's a man in a wig, but this adds a clever jab at closeted Hollywood morality to the entire script. And the rest of the cast is equally dedicated to the style of the film, chewing scenery and obviously enjoying themselves hugely. Yes, it's soapy and trashy, and more than a little bit ludicrous. But there's quite a bit of subtext if you need it, and more than enough camp entertainment on hand if you don't.

rated R themes, language, innuendo, brief nudity 24.Feb.04 llgff

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Die Mommie Die! Anthony, New York: 5/5 "Brilliant satire of those wonderful women's films of the 60s. Will go down in history as a camp classic and will be appreciated in years to come. Charles Busch will never have a better chance to show off his talents and beauty. The rest of the cast join him on the ride. Costumes, production design all perfect. Hope this is brought back to the big movie theaters someday. It will." (17.Dec.05)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall