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Naked Lunch (1991)

R | | Drama | 24 April 1992 (UK)
After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally kills his wife, and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.

Director:

David Cronenberg
Reviews
Popularity
3,821 ( 504)

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13 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Weller ... Bill Lee
Judy Davis ... Joan Frost / Joan Lee
Ian Holm ... Tom Frost
Julian Sands ... Yves Cloquet
Roy Scheider ... Dr. Benway
Monique Mercure ... Fadela
Nicholas Campbell ... Hank
Michael Zelniker ... Martin
Robert A. Silverman ... Hans
Joseph Scoren ... Kiki (as Joseph Scorsiani)
Peter Boretski ... Creature Voices / Exterminator #2
Yuval Daniel Yuval Daniel ... Hafid
John Friesen ... Hauser
Sean McCann Sean McCann ... O'Brien
Howard Jerome Howard Jerome ... A.J. Cohen
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Storyline

Not an adaptation of beat writer William S. Burrough's novel but a mix of biography and an interpretation of his drug- induced writing processes combined with elements of his work in this paranoid fantasy about Bill Lee, a writer who accidentally shoots his wife, whose typewriter transforms into a cockroach and who becomes involved in a mysterious plot in North African port called Interzone. Wonderfully bizarre, not unlike Burrough's books. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

David Cronenberg and William S. Burroughs invite you to lunch. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for heavy drug content, bizarre eroticism, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada | UK | Japan

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

24 April 1992 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,541,541
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #220. See more »

Goofs

The glass shot off Judy Davis' head changes to a plastic glass. First instance as the glass is falling off her head after the shot and then at end of film it is a plastic glass Ms Davis balances on her head. It remains plastic until it falls to floor and changes back into glass. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Bill Lee: Exterminator.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Tormented (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Midnight Sunrise
Composed by Ornette Coleman
Performed by Ornette Coleman and The Master Musicians of Jajouka
See more »

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User Reviews

Not easy to watch but an imaginative trip
4 January 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

New York 1953. Bill Lee is a bug exterminator who follows his wife down the road of using the bug powder as a hallucinatory drug. When he is picked up by the police for suspected drug use he is left in the cell with a large bug that tells him that he is on a mission and must watch his wife. When he accidentally kills his wife he flees to Interzone to prepare his report, increasingly losing his grip on what is real and what is not.

I have seen this movie several times and am always taken in by it. In terms of narrative it is not the strongest film you'll ever see. In all honesty the plot is pretty thin and the film is best seen as a journey into destruction with Lee's drug addled writer slowly but surely losing grip on reality with every passing moment. The journey is reasonably interesting, even if it doesn't have enough pace to really be fascinating. What does hold the attention is the imagination of the film and it's ability to put onscreen a decent representation of Lee's hallucinations.

The effects are very good but it is their use that is better. While it does have a certain amount of gore, the creatures and hallucinations are actual characters (creepy characters at that) that are used well within the story, rather than just being effects or gore. The cast can't all say that and some of them are distinctly average at times. Weller is as good as ever in a dead eyed performance that gives way to madness and fear at times. Davis is every bit as good, delivering two roles and be riveting in both. Holm is OK and it's not his fault that I couldn't get Bilbo out of my mind! Sands and Schneider don't have enough to do but are interesting faces.

Cronenberg is the perfect choice for director, but it is good that he holds back from the full on gore or body horror, call it what you will. He uses a measured camera to film the hallucinations rather than using swinging `crazy' angles to portray mental state - that is a lazy technique. Here Cronenberg (and Weller's blank face) calmly and methodically fall into despair and it is good to watch.

Overall, this is not a perfect film - it is slow and the narrative doesn't totally grip, however it manages to make a good fist out of filming a descent into a hallucinatory nightmare. Worth seeing it once, but I can't imagine that the word `enjoyable' would really ever apply to this film.


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