Fun (?) fact: Seeing as this whole film is just basically one fact after another, here’s the one that shocked me most: The scene where Bill accidentally shoots and kills his wife during a ‘William Tell’ act happened in real life to William S. Burroughs and his wife. He only served 13 days in jail.
Thoughts and observations:
I think it’s best to come out and say I had NO idea what was going on through most of this movie. It’s like one of those viral videos where the caption just says ‘you can’t guess what happens! Just watch to the end!’ and I did just that. Not once did I predict correctly what would happen in the next scene, whether it was two typewriters fighting to the death or someone snorting centipede dust. And that’s ok. This movie wasn’t meant for me and once I realized that, I just sat back and enjoyed myself.
The title comes from William S. Burrough’s novel ‘Naked Lunch’ but the movie is actually several of his novels mashed into one as well as a quasi-biography of Burrough’s himself. And seeing as I have not read any of his works or know anything about the author, 95% to 98% of the references went over my head. It’s not necessary to cram before watching this movie, though. I was invested from the first moment. The main character, Bill Lee, is an exterminator whose wife gets addicted to the roach powder he uses. Which brings him to also become addicted, or maybe addicted to the centipede powder that’s supposed to counteract the roach powder. This leads him to talk to a hideous looking roach who tells him to kill his wife because she’s not really human. Which he does accidentally. Maybe. And then typewriters turn into hideous creatures and Lee flees to a place called the InterZone and finds out he’s actually a secret agent of some kind. Honestly, I’m not ever sure what is real and what isn’t. Does he die at the end or does he finally escape to a higher form of consciousness? Or was this all real and he did his agent job? It really doesn’t matter because it was a fun ride to just watch.
I don’t want to say too much about Cronenberg because it’s all been said anyway, but I can’t imagine anyone else directing this movie. The figures were grotesque in a way I don’t have the vocabulary to describe. So, instead enjoy some nightmarish pictures!
Watchability score: 4/5
Up next: Europa Europa