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

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Eastern Washington Legislative Conference

Eastern Washington Legislative Conference @ St. Mark's Lutheran Church

Sat., Jan. 28, 8:45 a.m.-3 p.m.

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

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


green zone


Politics


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation