Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Marty Demarest


I finally discovered what television is good for: Die Mommie Die! which was produced by the Sundance Channel, a cable channel that runs independent movies. For some reason, they had the good sense to fund the work of Charles Busch, a drag performer who is best known for his campy plays. Busch's work has already been translated to the screen once, in the giggly sex-surfer flick Psycho Beach Party. But given the freedom of independent filmmaking, Busch decided to create a full-scale motion picture about other movies.


The list of cinematic references in Die Mommie Die! will keep film geeks delighted for weeks. The plot is derived from the Greek play Agamemnon, but the setting in this instance is 1960s Hollywood. Instead of a queen, there is a drag queen, Busch, as the fading singing sensation Angela Arden. With her career on the decline, her age showing and her family disintegrating, she lashes out in a psychotic, murderous frenzy. Most notably in the supporting cast, Jason Priestly puts his 90210 soap-opera training to good use, and doesn't blink as he beds every member of Arden's Hollywood home.


This is the stuff of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Busch's Arden is a film-festival's worth of heroines from 1940s noir films to hallucinogenic thrillers of the early 1970s. He flits in and out of spotlights, wearing a different hairstyle in every scene, swinging his emotions from Judy Garland innocence to hamster-squeezing hatred. Watching Busch's screen tests (included on the DVD), it's possible to see his creative process as he works with the lighting, masking parts of his face in shadow to accent his expression. It's that form of low tech known as talent, and it's more expressive than anything in Shrek 2.


The fact that Die Mommie Die! is a drag show might turn off some viewers. But all movies, with their adult dress-up and heightened escapism, are drag shows too. The strengths of cinema and the strengths of drag are in the same place: on the surface. In Die Mommie Die! Busch has mined that veneer for all the gold and rhinestones he can find, and blended them together like a modern jazz virtuoso riffing on a classic. In this case, the result is a contribution to that other great American performing art form, the Hollywood Motion Picture, courtesy of a television channel.





Publication date: 07/29/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Defense of Refugees
  • In Defense of Refugees

    In the aftermath of the presidential election, local residents seek ways to love and support their refugee friends
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • No License to Kill
  • No License to Kill

    Task force says officers should be held responsible for police shootings; plus, state auditor clears Spokane Valley firing of city manager
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trumped-up Education
  • Trumped-up Education

    Could the President-elect's support of school choice trickle down to Spokane?
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Country Christmas Show Vintage Sale

Country Christmas Show Vintage Sale @ Moran Prairie Grange

Sat., Dec. 3 and Sun., Dec. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • The Scourge of Fake News

    Made-up news stories played a role in the presidential election: Who's to blame?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


election 2016


Readers also liked…

  • Supply And Demand
  • Supply And Demand

    Spokane's methadone clinic expands as heroin addiction rises
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Buzzkill
  • Buzzkill

    Elected officials in Idaho won't mellow the state's pot laws. Can an initiative change that?
    • Apr 22, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation