The Simpsons – Heavenly Creatures – Trancers 5 – Sudden Deth – tape 2234

First on this tape, The Simpsons. It’s Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish”

Grandpa Simpson and Mr Burns are the only two remaining Hellfish, and the one who survives will get the treasure.

Naturally, Burns tries to kill Grandpa, once by impersonating his family.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that this isn’t the most realistic episode of The Simpsons. And Grandpa Simpson diving into deep water to rescue Bart from inside a sinking safe isn’t even the most unbelievable.

But there’s a complete change of pace next, as we move to the Movie Channel. It’s Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, a film that took a lot of people, me included, by surprise.

I was already a fan of Jackson’s from his earlier work, right back to his debut, Bad Taste, and through Meet the Feebles and Braindead, all very gory and unpleasant, but also pretty funny.

So for him to come out with this sensitive story about two young girls which contains almost no violence at all was a surprise.

The film starts with some travelogue footage. At least I presume it’s travelogue footage, and it establishes the period of the film, the early 1950s in New Zealand.

After a short sequence showing the immediate aftermath of the film’s central, shocking event, we go back to the time where the film’s two central characters meet at school. Melanie Lynskey plays Pauline Parker, a lonely girl at school with a passion for the music of Mario Lanza.

 

Kate Winslet plays Juliet Hulme, a new girl at school, who rather knows it all, and is soon best friends with Pauline.

This was Winslet’s first film, but I was vaguely familiar with her already from Russell T Davies’ Dark Season. It was quite odd to see this young actor suddenly become a movie star.

The two girls become inseparable, and quickly create a shared fantasy world of pictures, stories and clay models.

You can see Jackson trying out new things with digital effects in some of the fantasy scenes.

And with physical effects, as their clay models come to life.

The parents of the two girls become disturbed by the closeness of their relationship. Even the slightest hint of a homosexual relationship is treated like it’s a plague. Clive Merrison plays Juliet’s father.

Juliet gets tuberculosis, and has to spend time in hospital. And later, her parents announce they’re getting divorced, and as a result, Juliet will be moving to South Africa.

So Pauline and Juliet decide the only way they can be together is to murder Pauline’s mother.

This is a horrifying story, but a beautiful film. Even the build up to the murder is wistful and melancholy, rather than foreboding. And the shocking act itself is presented as brutal and pathetic.

I first saw this movie at the UK premiere, at the London Film Festival. Kate Winslet came up on stage after the showing to take a few questions.

After this, recording continues with a film that’s slightly less of a masterpiece. It’s Trancers 5: Sudden Deth. I don’t remember anything about it, but I notice it’s written by comics writer Peter David, and directed by David Nutter, also a director familiar from The X Files and recently, Game of Thrones.

It seems that Jack Deth is now in some kind of medieval world, rules by Trancers. There’s a whopping 8 minute recap of what I presume was the previous film. This isn’t remotely a standalone film. I wonder if it was filmed back to back. Certainly the director and writer were the same.

Tim Thomerson returns as Jack Deth, and he’s trying to get back to his own world, so he has to go on a quest to the Castle of Unrelenting Terror. Which turns out to be full of belly dancers.

I think the word to sum this up is ‘perfunctory’. They even have a scene where Deth meets an evil duplicate, and they can’t even spring for a single spilt screen two-shot. Very poor.

After this, recording continues for a while with Hear No Evil, starring Marlee Matlin. The tape ends during this film.

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2 comments

  1. ‘”Hear On Evil” you do have to feel for Marlee Matlin soortof being trapped because of her deafness – as the TV series “Switched at Birth” (only on-demand Inthe UK via ABC Studios) purely deafness.And”Hear No Evil” would be just as silly with a hearing heroine. Although it probably wouldn’t​ have Damsel in fistress and making the “erection” sign….

  2. That Simpsons episode… a rip-off of The Wrong Box? Do they mention the word “tontine”?

    Heavenly Creatures, like you I’d really enjoyed Peter Jackson’s comedies, but this was something else entirely, I don’t think he’s done anything as good ever again, it’s an incredibly powerful film and no wonder it immediately became a cult movie. You don’t mention it’s surprisingly funny in places too (painfully so). One of the girls grew up to be a crime writer in real life.

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