Death Becomes Her (1992)
Director(s): Robert Zemeckis
Writer(s): Martin Donovan, David Koepp
Starring: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn
From time to time, I’ll have a sort of brain fart when it comes to remembering certain horror flicks. It’s not that they’re bad or even forgettable; it’s almost like a sort of Mandela effect where you swore you just watched it a couple years ago so there’s no need to think about the movie for another long period of time. As I was scrolling through through my various streaming sites (as I’m sure a good chunk of the population does on a daily basis now), I pleasantly stumbled upon a forgotten gem that I really enjoyed as a child; a horror-comedy starring legends in the industry in their prime, a film that didn’t take itself too seriously but the production value and the acting was taken with a significant amount of respect, I speak of the entertainingly macabre comedy, Death Becomes Her.
I was first surprised that this flick caught me off guard, almost offended in a way because as a child, I really enjoyed the performances from actors that I knew weren’t too versed in the horror genre. Part of the flick’s appeal when I was a kid was knowing that actors like Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn were blockbuster powerhouses and Bruce Willis was one of the action icons of my era. Now, there they were, all together in a film about romance, murder and immortality. Yet, there I was, flabbergasted why I had forgotten this flick existed. Of course, my first thought was that I probably watched it a couple years ago and that’s why it left my subconscious. My brain works as a library as you will and as a book is finished, it gets put on the shelf and although not completely forgotten, it’s on to the next book. As I started to think back, I couldn’t remember that last time I watched the flick and the realization that the last time I saw it was when VHS was still thing! It was confirmed that I have not watched this movie since I was a wee-child and for some reason, that made the experience even more interesting because now it was time to put this flick through the Nostalgia Test.
I always enjoy analyzing movies I loved as a kid because it’s always interesting to figure out if the good vibes you feel for a movie is based on your own personnel memories, connections, personal history, etc. or if the movie stands the test of time and the creativity still stands in a world where creativity seems to be fleeting (that’s a whole other rant that I’ll keep out of this entry!). As the movie started, the age was quite obvious from everything to the way it was shot, the lighting, the title credits but that’s to be expected. I was anxiously awaiting for the dialog and acting to take place and within the first 20 minutes, it was confirmed that yes, this movie is SOLID, regardless of nostalgia. You have three artists that are all legendary in their own right and they have all congregated to star in a movie that gives them a chance to be petty, cruel, divisive and manipulative. The movie’s plot is simple enough; two rivals past their primes are fighting each other for the affection of a brilliant doctor and now, with the help of a magical potion, find themselves locked into fate, darker than either had imagined.
The rivalry between Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn is timeless. Even in a plot that seems to have been conjured from Tales from the Crypt, both artists played the part with such gravitas that you’re amazed a film like this existed in the first place. I love horror flicks of all kinds (well…duh, right?), but I’m also not ignorant that most artists in their prime do not tend to gravitate towards horror flicks, even more so, horror comedies. I believe that trend is starting to soften nowadays but definitely not in the early 90s when this flick was made. Bruce Willis does an outstanding job playing a pushover which is so agains the type of characters he was known for at the time, being an action icon that didn’t take crap from any villain. Yet, there he was being yelled at, spoken down to, put down and manipulated by two gorgeous ladies that utilized him as a pawn for their own petty rivalries. This flick stands the test of time because although the story was simple, the performances were so great that you almost feel sad that the level of commitment seen in these actors are something that may be endangered nowadays. All three actors took the ridiculous characters, or caricatures of characters at this point and played them with respect which resulted in a brilliant movie.
I couldn’t help but think that this is the kind of flick that they would want to re-make someday (I know we need more original content, but yes, this is the world we live in now and again I’ll keep that rant out of this article hahaha). As the movie was playing I was guilty of thinking what kind of actors could give the same sort of respect to the performance that revolved around a silly yet entertaining story. I didn’t have to look too far than good ole’ Facebook because coincidentally, a post popped up suggesting that the roles played by Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis would now be played by Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson (Hawn’s Daughter!), and Robert Downey Jr., respectively. HOLY SHIT FB, I concur. I think all three actors would give the kind of respect this gem deserves in a remake, especially Robert Downey Jr.! Everyone, let’s petition to get this flick made already!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.