At the Hollywood Premiere of Edward Lee’s “The Bighead”
Edward Lee’s novel “The Big Head” has been described as many things. “Distinguished by pornographic violence and sex” – Tim Kreider of CITY PAPER and “Exploitation fiction” – Kyle Scott of THE HORROR HOTEL are just a few, and these were people that enjoyed it. Having read it, I can say the story is both disgusting, and irresistible. But, don’t be fooled. It’s more than just torture porn.
The savagery of “The Bighead” is some deep shit, trust me. In contrast to the, ‘can I trust myself’ element that we see all too easily in fiction, we get a story that breeds fear of those around you. Not blatant xenophobia, mind you. It’s that bestial, often sexual violence that lies in every stranger we pass. Every one of them waiting for you to be alone, with your guard down.
The real monster of the book is the epitome of this ultra-nastiness; a regular Jungian archetype on rape quest from hell. So, naturally I was fucking psyched to see the movie that was goo g to be made, based on the book. When I found out that it was premiering at the Acme Theater in Hollywood, only a quick jaunt from me, I knew I had to see what was what.
Surprisingly poppy music filled the small theater before the start of the show. The front row was sunk into a concrete pit that reminded me of a trench. The crowd that filtered in already had the lay of the place. The fashionably late were still on their way; the bulk of the seat-fillers had been laying in wait. They had skulked through the bar for god knows how long before the start movie, and they were ready for blood.
The music took an ominous turn as the crowd reached its peak, but the screen remained black. Already familiar faces were starting to crop up among the newcomers. Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp showed their mugs, as did John Palisano. Edward Lee was there, of course. The director might have been there, but I’d never met him before, and couldn’t pick him out. More than one of the attendees had the look of possible magicians.
The director, the producer, and some other guy did make an appearance. Suddenly, something happened in the room. It was easy to tell by the way he spoke, and the way the people in the room who worked on the project received him, that this had been a passion project. A project that had been group funded through the notorious Kickstarter; something that the crew had rallied behind from the beginning.These people had a great time making the movie that I was about to see, and were proud of what they had done.
And then, the movie started. The first thing to know about this movie, and this especially goes out to the people who read the book, this movie does not run the whole plot. I don’t know if they are seeking more funding to do a part two, but this is only a very small chunk of the book. All-in-all, the movie is about twenty minutes long, and while intriguing, only wets the tongue.
The Bighead himself was creepy, which says a lot. The movie had a bit of camp, sure. But, it would have been easy to go overboard with the monster. This rampaging rube is actually unsettling; the kind of freak you might almost expect to see. The rest of the cast was well
rounded, Dicky and Balls didn’t disappoint, and the bartender was a damn gem.
But, what everyone really wants to know, is how gruesome was it? Did it live up to the name of Ed Lee?
Well, it made my girlfriend squirm.
The thing about what the director chose to show, was that it was extreme, but it was believable. Believable enough to make that extremeness terrifying, instead of silly, which is what made the novel work.
I got a chance to chat with Mr. Lee after the screening, as he smoked a cigarette in the warm Los Angeles night. He seemed pleased with what he had just seen, but thoughtful as well. Perhaps inspired, perhaps constipated. He did say that he would be at Killercon this September, for all of you that want to stalk him there.