Monday Movies Brings Life
We hosted a country mouse for most of last week, and in her eagerness to take advantage of our city offerings, movies fell aside in favor of socializing, dining out, literary events, and a stage show. Living in Los Angeles as we do, inevitably some of these entertainments fell into Monday Movies’ territory, most notably the production of Re-Animator: The Musical at the Steve Allen Theater.
I was an easily scared child, and my sense of humor didn’t accommodate the fruitful intersection of comedy and gore so prominent in the 1980s. (I got into it a little when the Scream franchise got up and running.) Without the benefit of nostalgia, the show was still very good. It took its time getting into the story, but the second act brought buckets of fake blood (we were too far back to experience it, but the front few rows could have been at a GWAR show), steady laughs, and at least one song that I left humming (“I Bring Life”). The leads were excellent although had we come for the premiere we could have seen George Wendt in a starring role.
Graham Skipper stole the show as mad genius Dr. Herbert West — the LA Times’s description of “Rainn Wilson meets Daniel Radcliffe” is missing a good chunk of Peter Sellers, perhaps in a SHAG painting. The Grand Guignol effects were the real stars; West goes down in a blaze of long intestine, strangled to death as the sausage-link hose soaks the audience with a gravy-colored spray. The decapitation-cum-re-animation of Dr. Carl Hill was cleverly realized:
Fans of the movie may remember what happens next (NSFW). They held back on that account, in my guess due more to the limitations of stage costuming than of taste.
We also twice ran into Nathan Larson, reading from his book in Echo Park Thursday night and sitting on a panel at the festival Sunday. In addition to writing novels, playing in Shudder To Think, and marrying The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, he scores films, which he mentioned mostly to dismiss as an art form. “I had to replace this terrible porn-y Estonian techno music, and so I had to listen to a ton of it,” he said, and I considered how much that film — Lilya 4-Eva — had affected me, and whether the claustrophobic depravity of the nightclub scenes hadn’t been made so much more so by the expert scoring. So good job Nathan Larson.
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