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July 8, 2014

Movie Review: Edward Lee's Bighead (2013)

We all know that I am a fan of Ed Lee. The visionary, hardcore horror novelist with titles like Goon, Flesh Gothic and Header has been on the cutting edge of terror fiction for many years. Often dismissed as a writer into gore for the sake of gore, his work is definitely unique but behind the grue there are messages and themes that resonate with the reader. Oh, and those messages and themes are stirred together with various bodily fluids and a healthy disregard for decorum and political correctness. That is what makes this particular film so surprising. After reading The Bighead I thought one thing: unfilmable. Not that it couldn't happen, it just wouldn't. No actor in their right mind would tackle this. I was wrong. These folks did and it was revolting, just like it should be.

Granted, this is a short film. With a running time of approximately 35 minutes, the film is just a small portion of the story. What we do have, though, is a well done slice of the Bighead tale. The novel revolves around Lee staples like horny hillbillies, creatures with massive penises, an abandoned abbey waiting to reopen, ass-kicking and faith-questioning priests, young ingenues with massive vaginas that never get asked for a second date, etc., etc. These elements are taken by first-time director Michael Ling, who wrote the adaptation with Lee, and the short film provides a nice cross-section of what makes Lee's work really resonate: he doesn't hold back.

We meet many of our major characters and see them in their natural habitat. It is a brutal world filled with sexual sadists and beautifully horrific creatures. Mark Villalobos designed The Bighead creature and, using all practical effects, has done a remarkable job. All of this work is bolstered by a cast that, despite their relative anonymity, took this material and ran with it. Really ran with it.

The film is currently making the rounds at film festivals with some notable appearances already. I'm glad. Lee's work doesn't make it to the big or small screen very often (aside from the feature film Header, distributed by Synapse Films which I also thought: unflimable and an adult film version of zombie prositute Grub Girl). This short, by far, is the most professional and polished of the three. I want more. I want the feature and I want it now.

The Bighead is directed by Michael Ling with cinematography by Fady Hadid. The film stars Orson Chaplin (who does a masterful job), Raquel Cantu, P. David Miller, Carrie Malabre, Lance Trezona, Michael Coons, Kelsey Tipton, Ashley Totin and Cheetah Platt as The Bighead.

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