Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Movie I Wish I'd Never Seen

Do you have a movie in your past that you wish you'd never seen? I don't mean just some bad movie that was a waste of your time, I mean something that you truly regret watching and forever etching the memories of said film onto your grey matter.

I love movies, so I generally wouldn't think there could be one with that sort of parasitic hold on me. A few years ago, I reviewed movies on the Internet and saw my fair share of crap. Daredevil comes to mind, a film so bad in so many ways that it was physically painful to watch. But still, I'm not overcome with a burning need to vomit when I think about it. In fact, it led to my writing one of my favorite reviews of all time, so all told that horrific waste of celluloid leaves an almost nostalgically positive imprint on my memory.

But there is a film that does, in fact, induce in me a vibrant need to spew chunks whenever I think about it. I try not to think about it much, forgetting it for months at a time, while filling my head with the latest and greatest pop culture icons on the screen. But eventually, without fail, something will remind me of that one, fatal film and I'll be overcome with thoughts and images and nausea, becoming almost sick to my stomach.

I've discussed this in the past with friends. It's a good conversation starter. "Is there any film you honestly wish you'd never seen?" Some answers from others have included Faces of Death, 2,000 Maniacs, and Caligula. Each, in their own way, extremely disturbing. I myself have issues with the opening sequence in Cube, which is otherwise not a very disturbing film. However, the film which haunts me to this day is a little-known independent film called Frankenhooker.

Perhaps you've heard of this film, perhaps not. First, it's not porn or anything, it's rated R. Nor is it straight horror, not by any means. It's a very dark comedy. Basically, a guy's girlfriend is dismembered in a lawnmower accident and he decides to rebuild her body using all the best parts he can find from various hookers. He lures all the hookers into a room and haves them smoke special crack that makes them explode. Then he gathers the body parts, goes home, and rebuilds his girlfriend.

There ya go. A keeper.

I don't know why I agreed to see this film way back when (it was released in 1990). I certainly didn't suggest it, but it must have been someone else's turn to pick a film. So for some reason, they picked this one. And I went. And have regretted it ever since.

Why does this film disturb me so? I'm not sure. But I get two different scenes flashing into my mind when the film springs into my brain. The first is when all the hookers are exploding. The last one knows she's going to explode, and she's pissed, so she straddles the guy on the bed, leering at him, taunting him, dressed in skimpy lingerie. And then she explodes all over him.

For some reason, the harpy-like look on her face just before she explodes has always been, for me, the epitome of evil. That faces haunts my nightmares.

The second flash of imagery that gets me every time is the fully-completed, rebuilt girlfriend. It's ridiculously slapstick, every limb and body part stitched together in the worst homage to Frankenstien. The crowning glory is her head with a huge, zipper-like stitch all the way around it, where he's sown it to the torso with the biggest boobs he could find.

I see that in my mind and want to puke.

I really have no idea why I get such a visceral reaction to the memory of a film I saw 17 years ago. I've seen hundreds of films since then, most much better. There are plenty of those of which I have no recollections at all. I'd be surprised to learn I'd ever seen them. But this one, this one sticks with me. Popping up every few months for no reason other than I haven't been internally horrified enough lately.

Not sure if there's any way to cleanse the images from my mind. I could find a copy of the film and burn it in effigy, hoping to symbolically purge it from memory. I could watch it a thousand times until I either move past it or fall into a catatonic trance. Either one would work.

But that's all fantasy. The truth is, Frankenhooker is with me to stay. For the rest of my days. My own personal motion picture Demon which cannot be exercised, will not be forgotten.

It is the movie I wish I'd never seen.