Feb 16, 2014
Finally graduating from the nauseatingly nostalgic true grit of VHS to digital video, sub-underground archivist, historian, and auteur John Aes-Nihil (Manson Family Movies, The Dreamachine Exhibition) would eventually complete the second film in his proposed Tennessee Williams trilogy (following The Drift and the mysterious Boom), Suddenly Last Summer (2008). As Mr. Aes-Nihil told me in an e-mail, the only reason the auteur got around to actually finishing (many of his films are ‘works-in-progress’ that take upwards of decades to complete) Suddenly Last Summer is so it could premiere at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in Massachusetts where it was screened alongside Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1959 Hollywood adaptation of the same name starring Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn, as well as the 1993 BBC Great Performances TV play starring Maggie Smith, Rob Lowe, and Natasha Richardson. Described lovingly by David Kaplan—the director of the Tennessee Williams Festival—as follows, “SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER channels the wake of the Titanic: recognizable chunks of Tennessee Williams' original text, plot, and cast bob and float on a soundtrack of malice,” Aes-Nihil’s recklessly wayward take on both Williams and Mankiewicz’s tale of fucked family matters turns its deadly serious source material(s) on its homo head and goes so far as to make a manically melodramatic mockery of death, cannibalism, mental illness, lobotomies, and scandalous family tragedy. Aberrantly adapted from the 1958 off-Broadway Williams play that was inspired by the poof playwright’s personal experiences, as well as the life of queer American poet Hart Crane (who committed suicide in 1932 at the age of 32 by jumping overboard on the steamship Orizaba after being beaten up for making homosexual advances to a heterosexual crew member of the ship) and various then-trendy psychoanalytic theories, Aes-Nihil’s Suddenly Last Summer is hysterical queen camp with the moral fortitude of an autistic transvestite toddler addicted to Ritalin and second rate Italian soap operas. Starring beyond beefy black tranny Vaginal Davis (Hustler White, The Lollipop Generation)—a meta-mensch of a perverse performance artist who has performed in bands with such charming names as ‘Black Fag’ and ‘The Afro Sisters’—in the decidedly diva role that Katharine Hepburn played in Mankiewicz’s adaptation, Suddenly Last Summer is the sort of film that could be used as aesthetic torture against about 6 billion people around the world, so it should be no surprise that John Waters stated of it, “It's Fabulous, I Love It! Vaginal's Performance is Phenomenal!” in what could not have been a more apt endorsement. The exceedingly bitchy and campy tale of a wealthy grief-stricken mother/widow who wants her niece-in-law to have a lobotomy so the truth about her gay poet son’s tragic death will never be revealed to the world, Suddenly Last Summer is probably the only film ever made where a queer Negro manages to pull off the role of a stinking rich white matriarch of the conspicuously cultivated and sinisterly scheming son-loving sort.
Venomous spade she-bitch Violet Venable (Dr. Vaginal Davis) is rather melancholy over the fact that her art-fag poet son Sebastian (portrayed by both Lawrence Elbert and David Organisek) will never write another poem again (during his short life, he would write a whopping single poem a year in between vacationing), but that does not stop her from being so disgustingly hateful as to plot to have her niece-in-law Catherine Holly (Jade Gordon) receive a lobotomy so as to hide the fact that her pretentious pansy progeny enjoyed engaging in mass orgies with dirty and uneducated proletarian boys. As is revealed in gay gossipy detail, twink sodomite Seb used to use his cousin Catherine as a means to lure men and since she knows he is a homo who died via ritualistic cannibalism, Mrs. Venable wants a piece of her brain pulled out of her niece’s pretty little head. Since her scheming mother Ms. Holly (lapsed Warhol superstar Bibbe Hansen, who is probably best known as the mother of musician Beck) and greedy philistine brother George Holly (Jason Majik) stand to receive $500,000 from Mrs. Venable as a reward for her lobotomy, Catherine really has very little choice about whether a piece of her grey matter will be drilled out of her thick skull or not. Venable has hired a small fellow named Dr. Sugar (his real name is ‘Cukrowicz’, which is Polish for ‘sugar’) played by Lance Loud (who died long before the film was released in 2001 and to whom the work is dedicated) to examine Catherine and see if she is worthy of doctor-approved brain damage. While waiting for a date with the doc at a mental institution, Catherine burns a sassy nurse/nun named Sister Felicity (played by the Goddess Bunny in what is easily the paraplegic tranny’s most butch film role) with cigarettes. After stating, “I am going to give you a simple injection of the truth…whether you like it or not” and giving Catherine an injection of some good phamarcy grade smack, Dr. Sugar learns that Saint Sebastian was a scheming sodomite who took his cousin to Europe and treated her to a lavish vacation of decadence, but whose generosity was merely a ploy to con his relative into carrying out dirty deeds for him. Indeed, Sebastian forced his little cousin to wear scandalous curve-exposing bathing suits to capture the attention of young men, so he could later defile them. Before using Catherine to procure prole peckers, Seb the sod also used his unwitting mother, who never in a million years would consider that her little baby boy was a debauched boy-buggerer. One day, while on vacation with Catherine, Sebastian was worshipped as a god by a horde of young boys who got so horny and hungry that they killed and cannibalized the poet in a Dahmer-esque fashion. In the end, Catherine and Sebastian’s beachside rendezvous are pseudo-sentimentally recalled in preposterous detail. Undoubtedly, I found it hard to cry about the fact that suddenly last summer a sod of a poet who wrote one poem a year was devoured by a perverted pack of brown boys, thus resulting in the end of pretentious poetry for Violet Venable.
While I must admit that I discovered more delightful aesthetic debasement and diva derangement in director John Aes-Nihil’s previous Tennessee Williams adaptation The Drift (1989), Suddenly Last Summer still has enough post-postmodern trashcan camp to wet the panties of 101 attention-starved white trash tranny junkies from Southern California. Indeed, while big and bombastic blacktress Vaginal Davis lacks the handicapped homo glamour of thee Goddess Bunny, he certainly lent a certain untamed energy to the role of Violet Venable that reminds one why Katharine Hepburn is one of the most absurdly annoying, uniquely unfeminine, and outrageously overrated queen bitches to be shat out the kosher gloryhole that is holy-wood. After watching Suddenly Last Summer back-to-back with Mankiewicz’s dark 1959 melodrama starring Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, I can safely say that Aes-Nihil did an innately iconoclastic job reducing a Hollywood classic to the level of an off-off-off-Broadway drag show that would even make gay gutter-auteur Andy Milligan gawk in abject disgust. A sardonically sordid story about a scattered-brained queer-cousin-loving dame who fails to “cut that HIDEOUS STORY out of her head” after taking a narcotic-filled needle in her arm and vomiting the quasi-spiritual event where her cocksucking megalomaniac cousin was eaten by a tribe of cannibalistic twinks, Aes-Nihil’s Suddenly Last Summer ultimately reveals with its strikingly simplistic style of storytelling that Tennessee Williams essentially wrote pumped up poof pulp trash in play form. If you ever wondered if Katharine Hepburn was less feminine than a black drag queen and/or if Tennessee Williams has anything in common with John Waters aside being effortlessly effete, Suddenly Last Summer is certainly a work that answers a number of life's many mysteries, albeit in a manner that personifies delusional dollar store glamour that only can be found in the modern day Sodom that is sunny Southern California.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:06 PM
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