137. Death Becomes Her

Movie: Death Becomes Her

Release Date: July 31, 1992

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Isabella Rossellini.

Tag Lines: “Some people will go to any lengths to stay young forever. But Madeline Ashton and her old friend Helen Sharp are about to go TOO far.”

“Your basic black comedy.”

“In one small bottle… The fountain of youth. The secret of eternal life. The power of an ancient potion. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t.”

Relevance: I spent the summer of 1992 away from home and taking classes at my undergraduate school just for a change of pace. I didn’t need to attend summer school to graduate the next Spring, I simply just liked living that lifestyle and thought it would be fun. It was. I have mentioned a few times on this blog that my undergraduate school was located in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Besides the school, there was very little civilization. Let’s just say that the cow to people ratio leaned more towards bovine than human. I’ve also mentioned that the closest movie theater was forty-five minutes away and even as a Senior, I was still car-less. So seeing a summer blockbuster flick that year was very selective.

That following Fall, as I officially started my final year of college, I started chatting with one of my fellow “major” classmates in a Broadcasting class. It’s weird, I remember the conversation like it was yesterday and I can picture the girl’s face but I cannot for the life of me remember her first name. I think it was Laura. So, we shall call her Laura. Laura and I were talking about movies that we saw over the summer. There were two specifically that we talked about, ‘A League of Their Own’ and ‘Death Becomes Her.’ Now ‘A League of Their Own’ I saw in theaters. That movie will be showing up on my list of most influential movies of all time later this year. I had not see ‘Death Becomes Her.’ Laura spoke highly of it and intrigued me enough to search it out on rental as soon as it was available.

I am pretty sure that I finally rented ‘Death Becomes Her’ sometime over my holiday break in 1992, but I can’t be 100% sure. Like Laura’s name, it’s a bit fuzzy. I do know that I saw the film at my mom and dad’s house with said parents. My mom was very skeptical when I told her the name of the film I rented for us (she thought by the title that it was a horror movie), but once she knew Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis and Goldie Hawn were involved, she was all in. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was fresh, funny, campy and the special effects were absolutely amazing. The cast, especially the two leading ladies, were so over-the-top and ridiculous and absolutely, positively perfect in every way.

‘Death Becomes Her’ was not a huge success with critics, but it did do quite well at the box office. It was also nominated (and won) an Academy Award for those mindbogglingly gorgeous visual effects. It also became one of my mom’s favorite movies that year. So much so that as soon as it was available to buy on VHS, she did. It became a part of her ever growing movie collection. I also revisited the movie a few times that following year with different groups of friends always being totally entertained.

As I got older, ‘Death Becomes Her’ became more and more relevant in my life and for no other reason than it is a fun, campy, cult classic that gets quoted and referenced by me and my theater friends all of the time. I mean, constantly. For some reason it also has a very close connection with the LGBTQ community. I am not exactly sure why though. Maybe it is that community’s never ending quest for beauty and eternal youth or maybe because we simply have excellent taste when it comes to films. I own the movie and watch it periodically. I also will always stop and watch it when it is on TV. It seems to get a little more air time around the Halloween season. My mom apparently was not the only one that thought the title was spooky.

Today’s Thoughts: I think the last time that I watched ‘Death Becomes Her’ was sometime last Fall. That doesn’t mean that I was not super excited to watch it again today. Because I was. The movie never, ever gets old for me and I smile and laugh the entire time it is on. Whether it is my gay gene or my love for silly campy comedies, ‘Death Becomes Her’ always puts me in a great mood.

And it did exactly that today. With 2020 continuing to be the shit show that it is, this movie was exactly what the doctor ordered. I not only laughed out loud, but I quoted right along with the film. It was like a sing-a-long without the music. Thankfully I watched it alone so I didn’t annoy anyone else. As I already mentioned, this movie gets quoted a lot within my circle of friends. Here are just a bunch of those famous one-liners:

Now a warning?”

“Wrinkled, wrinkled little star, hope they never see the scars.”

“I can see my ass!”

“I’m a girl!”

I could literally go on and on with quotes from the movie, but to save time from typing out the entire screenplay, I’ll stop there.

Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn are super fantastic in this movie. Totally fun performances are given by both actresses. The rest of the cast including Bruce Willis and Isabella Rossellini are equally effective. How gorgeous is Isabella Rossellini? There are also some really great cameos by Sydney Pollack (who is hilarious in his scene), Fabio and Debra Jo Rupp to boot.

‘Death Becomes Her’ should become required viewing for every breathing human being that likes to laugh and be in awe over special effects. Despite the movie being over twenty-eight years old, those effects are still quite impressive. I could say the exact same for the laughs. It is a really funny black comedy, one that will keep me laughing for many more years to come.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects, Ken Ralston, Doug Chiang, Douglas Smythe, Tom Woodruff Jr. (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Meryl Streep (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects, Ken Ralston, Doug Chiang, Douglas Smythe, Tom Woodruff Jr., Michael Lantieri, Alec Gillis (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Sydney Pollack (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play. Vudu. iTunes, DVD Availability.

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