Quigley Down Under

rosario-dawson

Rosario Dawson: has vagina.

One aspect of Danny Boyle’s new film TRANCE (a remake of a feature by screenwriter Joe Ahearne) which doesn’t seem to have excited as much comment as one might expect, is the cameo appearance by Rosario Dawson’s vagina. It seems odd to me, since that was all we were talking about as we left the cinema. “Did you get a load of that vagina?” we said, or words to that effect. “What kind of man puts his girlfriend’s shaven genitals in his film?” asked our friend Ali. “A middle-aged film director with a very hot girlfriend,” was all I could suggest. “Look what I have to come home to!” seemed to be the thought Mr Boyle wanted us to grasp.

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Linnea Quigley: as smooth and featureless as a young Harry Langdon.

And so we turn our attention, as every film blog must, to scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals. In fact, I have some hopes that this article will prove to be the definitive cinematic study of scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals.

Not that scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals have ever appeared in a film, to my knowledge. In that respect, and perhaps in others, the genitals resemble Gummo Marx. In a sense, however, scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals haunt 80s horror cinema as a kind of defining absence, and it is this unseen influence, this mute testimony, which I will attempt to address here.

The key text in the off-screen career of scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals is surely RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, an at-times rather witty sort-of-sequel to George Romero’s more celebrated and, let’s face it, classier NIGHT OTLD. One of the aspects of Dan O’Bannon’s follow-up that arguably robs it of some of its predecessor’s gravitas is Quigley’s graveyard striptease. I don’t say that a graveyard striptease would automatically render a film unworthy of respect. If somebody stripped during the graveyard trip scene of EASY RIDER, and my memory is unclear as to whether in fact they do or don’t, I’m not sure it would make any difference to that film’s claim to capturing the zeitgeist. The film would still be largely tiresome, incoherent and self-indulgent, but it wouldn’t be any worse for a graveyard striptease.

Somehow, though, Linnea Quigley, as punk rocker Trash, manages to lower the tone a little. Her wanton denuding somehow plants a seed of doubt in the viewer’s mind: are the filmmakers of this zombie teen comedy-horror somehow guilty of pandering to their audience? The doubt is arguably intensified by the fact that Trash, having become naked, remains naked for the rest of the film. All attempts to cover her up are stymied by the whims of fate, and those splintered ends of broken banisters that can so easily snag the corner of a blanket.

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However, scream queen Linnea Quigley’s nakedness is not at issue. What we are interested in is her genitals, or lack thereof. As it was described to me by somebody who probably knew nothing about it, the filmmakers initially thought they could get away with full frontal nudity by shaving scream queen Linnea Quigley’s naked genitals. Pubic hair seemed to distress the censor, and so doing away with said hair appeared to offer a solution. But to the filmmakers’ shock — and one must suppose them naive and inexperienced fellows if this is true — they discovered that in fact removing pubic hair does not make the genitals disappear. In fact, more like the opposite.

And so a prosthetic covering had to be created, something to cup and conceal scream queen Linnea Quigley’s genitals and turn her into a sexless Barbie doll. The idea seems to have been that nobody would notice the lack of genitals, because everybody would be looking at her lovely face. Except for the censor, who gets paid to look at genitals. Blue pencil raised in readiness, he would be forced to let it fall, unused, when he discerned that the full-frontally nude woman was equipped only with R-rated body parts.

Here, I hoped to mention that scream queen Linnea Quigley subsequently married a makeup effects artist. In the words of Donald Sutherland in LITTLE MURDERS, “That marriage did not last.” But in fact the effects artist she married was not one of those employed on RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, though I think he did work on NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, where, if memory serves, Linnea Quigley’s breast swallows a lipstick. Yes, you read that right. After having a prosthetic lipstick-swallowing nipple created by him, reader, she married him. That marriage did not last.

Incidentally — very, very incidentally — I know of one makeup artist whose first major job was casting Kate Winslet’s genitals so she could give birth explicitly in Michael Winterbottom’s JUDE, by the way. Welcome to showbiz! And I note that Winterbottom’s defining trait as filmmaker is a puerile explicitness whenever it comes to pigs being slaughtered, women giving birth, and bloody beatings. This is a sad thing. Those three forms of entertainment have nothing in common except that filmmakers featuring them in close-up will be called “unflinching.” I like filmmakers who flinch before I do.

(After Michael Winterbottom comes Michael Springbottom. Before Michael Winterbottom comes Michael Autumnbottom.)

You might think I’m seizing on TRANCE as a sort of topical hook upon which to dangle these musings, but the connection goes deeper. In a willful bit of “only-if-it-were-essential-to-the-plot” conspiracy, TRANCE works very hard to make Rosario Dawson’s pubic region a vital part of the film’s narrative architecture. This includes a clue (art book with missing page — Goya’s The Naked Maja, the first painted nude with scandalous pubic hair) and a speech about how artists regularly left out the pubes to deny biology and make the female form more perfect. (Yet, like Linnea Quigley, these nudes did not display what should have lain concealed near the curly undergrowth so beloved of the late Jesus Franco — they were “smooth right round the bend” as Stanley Tweedle says in odd Canadia-German sci-fi show Lexx upon encountering a similarly vaginaless lady. Suggesting that the reticence of the artist had far less to do with some debatable perfectionism and more to do with censorship and/or anxiety about the female body.)

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Anyway, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD has had four sequels (the living dead KEEP returning, it’s one of their defining traits) but neither addressed the presence of a woman without genitals running around in the first film. Is it time for RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD VI: WHY SCREAM QUEEN LINNEA QUIGLEY HAD NO GENITALS?

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16 Responses to “Quigley Down Under”

  1. I will only add to this excellent post one thing: the remarkable BBC3 series In the Flesh, which has just ended its pitifully short three-episode run, has done more to turn my mind to the mechanics of human/zombie sex than any other film or tv series. This also merits discussion, at some point. When we’re done with the world of zero-orifice ladyparts.

  2. David Boxwell Says:

    Courbet’s “The Origin of the World” has all the vagina Goya couldn’t quite muster.

  3. When it comes to “vaginal absence,” nothing beats Barbie.

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    Reports this morning are that the exposure of RD’s “origin of the world” was, according to the actress herself, “non-negotiable” and, to use that amusing cliche, “integral to the role.” Moreover, the whole film’s narrative “hinges” on her minge. You could call it the “Rosebud” . . .

  5. La Faustin Says:

    And so we come full cycle (perhaps apocryphally) to Marion Davies. Doesn’t one always?

  6. It feels like somebody’s done a lot of work to make the full-frontal in Trance appear integral. But the fact remains that the film is a remake of a TV movie in which I highly doubt that image appeared.

    Remove one clue and one speech and the sequence would have no reason to be there. It’s not that I object to it strongly, although I note that whinging Scotsman James McAEvoy coyly keeps his bits concealed, as does the usually un-bashful Vincent Cassel.

  7. This reminds me of an anecdote David Kalat related on the commentary track to Lang’s Dr Mabuse Der Spieler. There’s a nude dancer in one nightclub scene, and Kalat says that Lang wanted the actress to shave her pubes, but she refused. So he insisted on taping the hair down, which had a predictable effect when the tape was removed. The point of the anecdote being that Lang was kind of an asshole.

  8. He certainly was!

    The late Maurice Binder told a story about struggling with recalcitrant pubes for one of his Bond title sequences. Even in silhouette the bush was apparent, and the girl didn’t want to shave, so he attempted to smooth the region flat with vaseline. Cubby Broccoli walked in on him mid-process and made some kind of remark about Binder being overpaid.

  9. Oh, Danny Boyle, the pipes, the pipes are calling
    From stem to stern, and down Ms. Dawson’s side
    The focus pulled, and all best boys eyeing
    From you, from you the girls must run and hide.

  10. Ha! It took considerable restraint, I think you’ll agree, for me to avoid using the phrase “Dawson’s Crack” anywhere in this piece.

  11. Jeff Gee Says:

    I’ve often found Danny Boyle’s framing… let’s say ‘puzzling.’ But it sounds like he’s finally made a movie (or at least a scene) where my foot won’t be spasmodically trying to kick the camera a couple of feet to the right or left…

  12. Not for two shots, anyway. The photography and design in Trance is gorgeous, by the way. The film is silly, but it never looks less than beautiful.

  13. Gynecologist Says:

    You’re not seeing vaginas there because 1 – they’re actually vulvas; 2 – Quigley is wearing a “pastie” thing.

  14. I think if you read the entire piece (1) a certain humorous tone is evident and (2) the pastie is referred to (actually a prosthetic latex appliance). As for vagina versus vulva, my technically incorrect usage is still commonplace and I think easy enough for readers to understand.

  15. frankie342 Says:

    this film definitely went beyond where no other horror
    movie went before with sexual shock horror met with
    sadistic humour in one scene trash had this wild sick
    fantasy about being bitten and eaten alive by a bunch
    of old dudes before going off to do a spontaneous
    strip dance on top of an tomb in which she had to being
    shaved and fitted by an special effects makeup appliance
    to cover her vaginal area to compliance with censoring
    rules due to that scene following her zombie resurrection
    sequence later appearing nude the movie was rated r
    in north America and an 18 rating in England but later
    received an 15 rating with minor edits was made like
    an shorter grave yard scene but actor James Karen
    known to many as the face of Pathmark in the 80’s
    delivered the line typical army fuck up brilliantly due to the
    cliché’s of the military constantly making things worse
    to the letter of the word but trash was heavenly scored
    for her scenes in the graveyard and her resurrection
    as the zombie queen to both versions of SSQ’s
    tonight (we make love until we die) mixed with
    orchestra composition that quite often was branded
    as an fan project but it wasn’t the case to say it was official
    scoring but Brian Peck surprised audiences in the sequel
    with his brilliant thriller imitation that became an fan fave
    according to him he had fun doing it but trash and the TarMan
    became pulp horror icons to say that both had dedicated
    merchandise both official and fan made creations including
    replicated costumes of the titular characters as For Brian
    Peck that was constant throughout the franchise was very
    lucky to be part of something special and Allan Trautman
    along with James Karen and Thom Matthews more so
    but the main Credit goes to Linnea Quigley for an
    amazing performance in the first film .

    FRANKIE NINJA SMALES

    SMALES TV UK

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