Hedda and Neal (Lydia Lunch and Don Bajema) are a couple whose relationship needs work. They have retreated to an old plantation house for precisely that reason, but then Hedda invites over her former lover, Jackson (Henry Rollins). The inevitable triangle that occurs is intercut with flashes of other events from the house’s past.
The fact that the film is barely more than half-an-hour long will be perceived as either a blessing or a curse, depending on the viewer. While this is not as abrasive as Lunch’s collaborations with Richard Kern (Fingered), it will be a hard sell for many viewers due to technical aspects alone (see below). Lunch cuts loose as a femme fatale, but her revealing outfits and pale-face-and-crimson-lips makeup remain resolutely New York Underground, looking rather silly in the rural setting. Some evocative shots, then, and some amusing bits of dollar-store surrealism (check out the bunnies in the kitchen), but also rather more pedestrian than it thinks it is.
Dire. Given that this has never been a problem with Cult Epics releases before, and based on the picture quality, I’m going with the source being at fault rather than the transfer. Whether that distinction will matter to most listeners, however, is another issue. Background hiss is loud, and the dialogue is frequently extremely difficult to make out (the film sounds like it was recorded with an early camcorder’s built-in mic). Distortion and harshness are very much the order of the day.
Same deal here, again thanks to the original material. We are back in the glory days of VHS here, complete with drop-out. The colours aren’t bad, but the image is extremely soft, so much so that, at times, it looks like a bootlegged copy of a copy. All this sure cranks the underground cred of the film, but it is very hard on the eyes.
There are two here. One is a five-minute excerpt of a live performance by Lunch, directed (as is everything else on the disc) by BABETH (yes, the name is all caps). The picture and sound quality make the main feature look like a Peter Greenaway film. Good luck sitting through it. “Paradoxia & A Predator’s Diary” mixes long interview with Lunch with concert footage, and helps contextualize the artist for newcomers.
“Abrasive” is one way of describing this release, and not always in a good way. But as a window into the work of a truly committed artist, it’s still valuable.