A great horror movie makes more of an impression on the psyche than any other kind of film. Hell, even a bad horror flick can scar you for life. There’s a phrase that every seasoned horror fan loves to hear: “Have you ever seen . . . ?” For the next 31 days, John E. Meredith will unearth some of his personal favorites that fell through the cracks, that are not so obvious, the kind that might even sneak up on you while you’re trying to sleep. Heavenly Creatures 1994, New Zealand. Directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Jackson and Fran Walsh. Starring Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey, Sarah Pierce. When I was a child, I frequently fantasized about killing someone. I don’t know where it came from. Life at home was sometimes troubled, but there was no physical abuse in the house I grew up in. There was no history of insanity, or of murder, readily apparent in our family tree. We had no cable television, so the most violence I observed was in Bugs Bunny cartoons and the evening news. My nature was otherwise pretty sweet and innocent. All I wanted was to be friends with the kids who liked me and to be left alone by the ones who didn’t. Of course that’s not how it goes. In reality, whatever age we are, there are bullies. These guys want nothing more than to mess with the people who most want to be left alone. The older version of me eventually understood that people usually seek to hurt others because they are themselves in pain, but the younger me just wanted to make them stop. No matter how I had to do it. When I was a child, there was another world beyond this one. Though it was a heavily populated place, I was the only person who knew how to get there. In this world, my mother’s soap operas came to exist beside my father’s Westerns. Clint Eastwood walked with Indiana Jones. Darth Vader was terrorized by a huge demon that looked suspiciously like a Gene Simmons doll. Puppet dogs had mice for children, and these mouse-kids went on otherworld adventures with superheroes in STAR WARS ships. I might as easily find Judy Blume here as I would Stephen King. This twisted land in my cerebral cavern opened up a space where anything could happen. Here, people who deserved to die were eventually always getting killed. The bad guys would beat up on the good guys, but the good guys always won. Somehow, all of this interior conflict worked as a crazy kind of self-created therapy, which eventually made the exterior me a lot less crazy. Somewhere far from here, because of a fantasy world that might not have been so different from mine, a killing actually happened. Honora Parker was knocked to the ground by a blow to the back of the head. With a brick wrapped in a flesh-colored stocking, her assailants swung at her again. And again and again and again. Until they had crushed her skull. The two girls, covered in blood, fled back to the tea kiosk where they had eaten with Honora only minutes before. They were screaming, crying, as they told the owners of the tea shop that the woman they were here with had fallen and hit her head. The killers were Honora’s daughter and her daughter’s friend. It’s Christchurch, New Zealand, the 1950s. Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) is a quiet, subdued ninth-grader at a repressive girls-only school who lives in her own world, mostly shunned by her classmates. Then Juliet (Kate Winslet) arrives from England, all exuberance and intelligence. The new girl has a bit of an attitude and isn’t afraid to correct a snotty French teacher on her first day. There isn’t anyone who wants to be friends with either of these girls, so they quickly befriend each other. Realizing they have mutual interests as writers, the girls invent their own world, where medieval characters live in a mythical kingdom called Borovnia. The girls giddily create stories of sexual escapades and murderous revenge, even giving each other fictional names. They form an elaborate fantasy life together. They often sneak out and spend the night acting out stories involving the fictional characters they have created. Inevitably, Pauline and Juliet’s enigmatic relationship provokes misunderstanding, resentment and growing resistance from their elders. Their parents find the girls and their inner world disturbing and worry that their relationship might be sexual. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness at the time, so both sets of parents try to stop the girls from seeing each other. Then Juliet’s parents announce that they’re getting a divorce. Her father has resigned from his position at the college and plans to return to England. Juliet, however, will be sent to live with relatives in South Africa. For her health, they say, but it’s obvious that they just want to get her away from Pauline. Pauline begs her mother, Honora, to let her accompany Juliet to Africa, but that is never going to happen. Meanwhile, the world of Borovnia has become a darker place. There is more desperation there than ever. More violence. And the easiness of murder in their fantasies might just be the answer to their problems in the other world. . . I hear a lot about Peter Jackson’s gorier early films (BAD TASTE, BRAINDEAD) and his huge Tolkien adaptations, and sometimes even about THE FRIGHTENERS, but I hardly ever hear about HEAVENLY CREATURES. Blasphemy, since this is the movie that launched him into the big time. Jackson said he didn’t want to make a dark, brooding little murder film from the girls’ true story because it would have been the obvious, clichéd way to go. Instead, he crafted a dark, fantastical little murder film with crazy claymation that was damn fun to watch. Critics bemoaned his attempts to get the audience inside the girls’ heads, claiming that all that clay figure fantasy stuff just excluded the viewer even more. I would suggest that this is exactly how he succeeded, since Pauline and Juliet essentially retreated to that world in order to be together. While it’s not my favorite Jackson film (that honor would go to the one where zombie-demons get clipped en masse with a lawnmower), it’s probably the one where he’s drawn the most realistic characters. That’s rather funny, considering how much time they spent in fantasy land. But then, that’s a place that I understand quite well. See larger image Heavenly Creatures [Blu-ray] From acclaimed director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong) comes a true-life story of the shocking crime that stunned a nation. When circumstances bring together two imaginative teenage schoolgirls, they quickly form an unwavering bond, creating a fantasy world that only they can share. But then their parents become disturbed by the intensity of the friendship, and threaten to keep them apart. In retaliation, the girls vow to stay together, devising a secret plan that leads to shocking consequences. Thrilling and provocative, HEAVENLY CREATURES stars Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet in her screen debut. New From: $44.99 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.