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Death Becomes Her (1992)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy  |  31 July 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 73,344 users  
Reviews: 166 user | 39 critic

When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Psychologist (as Alaina Reed Hall)
Vivian Adams
William Frankfather ...
Mr. Franklin
Opening Man
Opening Woman
Second Man


In 1978, in Broadway, the decadent and narcissist actress Madeline Ashton is performing Songbird, based on Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Then she receives her rival Helen Sharp, who is an aspiring writer, and her fiancé Ernest Menville, who is a plastic surgeon, in her dressing-room. Soon Menville calls off his commitment with Helen and marries Madeline. Seven years later, Helen is obese in a psychiatric hospital and obsessed in seeking revenge on Madeline. In 1992, the marriage of Madeline and Menville is finished and he is no longer a surgeon but an alcoholic caretaker. Out of the blue, they are invited to a party where Helen will release her novel Forever Young and Madeline goes to a beauty shop. The owner gives a business card of the specialist in rejuvenation Lisle Von Rhuman to her. When the envious Madeline sees Helen thin in a perfect shape, she decides to seek out Lisle and buys a potion to become young again. Further, she advises that Madeline must take care of ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In one small bottle... The fountain of youth. The secret of eternal life. The power of an ancient potion. Sometimes it works... sometimes it doesn't. See more »


Comedy | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some nudity and off-color humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 July 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La muerte le sienta bien  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)


$58,422,650 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the scene where Madeline punches in the entrance code and enters the gate as Helen slips past her unseen, you get a brief glimpse of her license plate. It reads "2HYE305", not "ZHEMEKIS" as previously noted See more »


After Madeleine drinks the potion, Lisle pins a 'brooch' to the right side of her dress. When Madeleine goes to the hall to leave it's on the left side of her dress. See more »


Helen: She was a homebreaker. She was a man-eater. And she was a *bad* actress.
See more »


References Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) See more »


Written by Geoffrey Aymar
Lyrics by Martin Donovan & David Koepp
Arranged by William Ross
Performed by Meryl Streep (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Goofy Madness
19 November 2003 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Classic 90's time, this is one of those movies that I kind of remember seeing on TV five million times as a kid. I always loved watching it, it had the most incredible effects and I thought it was so funny. I was such a deranged 7 year old I guess. But still to this day, I really enjoy watching Death Becomes Her. It has a very clever story, amazing effects and three great actors: Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. Who said dark comedies can't be good? Death Becomes her shows the true competitive side of women that scares most of the human race, how far we will go to be the hottest, the smartest, the kindest, etc. But also the whole essence of eternal youth, beauty and living forever, and Death Becomes Her handles the subject very well.

Actress Madeline Ashton and writer Helen Sharp are longtime rivals. Helen's life falls apart when glamorous Madeline steals Helen's fiancé, plastic surgeon Ernest Menville, and marries him. Seven years later, Helen is now an obese, depressed woman, and is arrested and placed in a mental institution. Obsessed with getting revenge against Madeline, she struggles in the institution with healing. Madeline's career on Broadway ends, and 14 years later she is still struggling with her fading looks and bygone acting career. Ernest, now an alcoholic and miserable in his marriage, has been reduced to working as a high-end mortician. When Madeline and Helen meet again at Helen's book-signing party, Helen appears miraculously rejuvenated, thin, and youthful. Madeline is first dumbfounded then jealous. As part of Helen's plan, she plays both Madeline and Ernest, telling them each she has never blamed them for her ruined love life. Madeline resorts to the aid of the mysterious Lisle Von Rhoman, who claims she has discovered the secret of eternal youth. Madeline purchases the potion, drinks it, and is delighted to see her body visibly losing the signs of aging as she watches in a mirror, leaving her thin, firm, and young. Helen, meanwhile, seduces Ernest and reveals to him a detailed and foolproof plot to kill Madeline. Ernest kills Madeline, Madeline is still alive… Madeline kills Helen… Helen is still alive… death has become them.

The film is flawed no doubt, it should have developed the characters a bit more, we never really understood why Madeline and Helen were friends in the first place as it seems like they've always hated each other, they could have just explored the friendship a little further. As well as why we should care what is happening to these pretty horrible characters. But still this is one of those films that for some reason keeps me watching it every time it pops up on TV. I think it was a lot of fun and had some good laughs, especially the fight between Madeline and Helen, they discover that there's really no point to inflicting physical pain but keep going at it with each other. This is a recommendation to those who have a strange sense of humor, it's something only a few will get.


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