Saturday, December 12, 2009

I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED (1998)



I admit to having an Ed Wood phase. Hell, if an Ed Wood movie comes on I will watch it. Just can't help myself. Anyway, I had heard of this film when it first came out back in the day and I meant to watch it, but it never happened. Fact is, it never played around here so, it fell off my radar. I remember lots of famous people being in it and that it was a silent movie. What the heck? I was game.
So, last week I watched it with my daughter, Dandelion. If anyone is going to watch quirky flicks with me it's going to be her. I think she was surprised by the lack of dialogue. Funny, so was I.
The movie is filled with sounds and music and grunts and screaming. Eartha Kitt sings a song at the end, but that's the entirety of actual words coming out of someone.



The plot is directly from Ed Wood's screenplay. In fact, sometimes there are reproductions of actual scenes from the script superimposed over the action. I thought that was a nice touch.
The basic plot is that The Thief (Billy Zane) has just escaped from an institute for the criminally insane. In drag, of course. First he tries to hold up an armored car, but when that fails he decides to knock over the bank. Shooting a teller he makes off with fifteen grand.



Later, he attends the teller's funeral, but he doesn't. Seems that he actually is attending a mysterious body's funeral with professional mourners. He stashes the cash, but when it comes up missing he goes on a murderous rampage trying to find his money from one of the professional mourners.
Before I go on, let me list the famous actors that are in this bizarre little film;
Billy Zane
Tippi Hendren
Ron Perlman
Christina Ricci
Andrew McCarthy
Ann Magnuson
Bud Cort
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Carel Struycken
Eartha Kitt
Tara Reid
John Ritter
Ricky Schroder
Nicolette Sheridan
Sandra Bernhard
Karen Black
Leif Garrett
Dana Gould
Vampira
I mean look at this list! Sure, you could say some of them might have needed the work, but I don't think that's it. There was the Ed Wood chic surrounding Ed because of the Tim Burton film, but I don't think that's it either. I think it gave them all a chnace to be in something where they had to act. No speaking, no words or familiar mannerisms that come with speech. They had to sell it on their own and not look like idiots while doing it.



Two of the more amazing people in the film would have to be Christina Ricci as a prostitute and Sandra Bernhard as a burlesque dancer. Ricci has this large, curvy sensuality that has fallen by the wayside with her new slender look. She was being a prostitute. From her behavior to her wardrobe down to everything she did. You forgot that she was Christina Ricci and that she was a whore.
Sandra Bernhard. Ah, Sandra. See, I've seen a lot of stuff that she's been in. I think she can be funny, creepy, anything but sexy. She never strikes me as a sexy being in any way shape or form. But, then she did this. The woman exudes a raw sexuality that makes you stand up and take notice. You can't stop looking at her and you like what you see. It's amazing to watch.
I find it hard to believe that this film isn't more famous. The director only made this one flick and that was it. I always assumed it was a alias for Billy Zane, but I'm not sure of that fact.




In the end I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED is an excellent example of what can be done with film.
Unfortunately, the only trailer I could dig up is shitty. I'm including it anyway.

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