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Death Becomes Her (1992)

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


Robert Zemeckis
2,074 ( 67)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Madeline Ashton
Bruce Willis ... Ernest Menville
Goldie Hawn ... Helen Sharp
Isabella Rossellini ... Lisle Von Rhuman
Ian Ogilvy ... Chagall
Adam Storke ... Dakota
Nancy Fish ... Rose
Alaina Reed-Hall ... Psychologist (as Alaina Reed Hall)
Michelle Johnson ... Anna
Mary Ellen Trainor ... Vivian Adams
William Frankfather ... Mr. Franklin
John Ingle ... Eulogist
Clement von Franckenstein ... Opening Man
Petrea Burchard ... Opening Woman
Jim Jansen ... 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


Some people will go to any lengths to stay young forever. But Madeline Ashton and her old friend Helen Sharp are about to go TOO far. See more »


Comedy | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

31 July 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La muerte le sienta bien See more »


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film has often been said to be like an "extended episode" of Tales from the Crypt (1989) by fans of the show. Especially considering that director Robert Zemeckis had produced the show while concurrently directing this film. See more »


When Ernest falls from the Castle, he hits the glass face-down, but when he is shown from below, his back strikes the glass. (Due to a scene in which he sinks to the bottom of the pool, retrieves the unharmed bottle of potion, and then swims up which was cut due to the change in the ending, ending the involvement of the potion in the story.) See more »


[first lines]
Opening Man: [leaving the theatre in the rain] Can you believe that? A musical version of "Sweet Bird of Youth."Who are they kidding?
Opening Woman: Thank God you wanted to leave...
Second Woman: Can you believe Madeline Ashton? Talk about waking the dead.
Second Man: I gotta get a drink...
[zoom in on discarded playbill featuring Madeline Ashton]
See more »


Bridal Chorus
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

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User Reviews

The oldest story in the book put in a revolutionary way
13 May 2009 | by peterkowalskiSee all my reviews

We all want to stay beautiful and young; the desire that only gets stronger as we grow older and weaker. True, there's the pilates and avocado salads, but what if you could have it all just by taking a shot? You'd take it, I bet you would. I would. As the society of today is only getting more and more paranoid and fixated on the culture of youth, this movie's message should only get more important. We are not that far away from creating the potion of eternal youth, and surely we're far closer than we were in 1992 when the movie was made. And the questions posed by the makers, and even answered by them in the very next lines, should only be remembered fonder: what do we get if we erase a part of life, the death, from the process of life? What will really happen? Sure, this movie is a comedy: a black comedy of course, but still a comedy, not too be taken too seriously and surely not a motto to live your life by. And yet, I can't shake the feeling that the creators had a more significant message to portray, other than "don't shoot your friend in the stomach after drinking the potion or she'll be saying goodbye to bikinis forever". "Death Becomes Her" is one of those movies that guarantee great entertainment (but it's kind of a given with Streep, Hawn and Willis as the top three) and on top of it all, give you something to think about, even merely 17 years after it's been released.

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