Best of the HC Mailing List

The Grab Bag: Memorable Observations
Behind the Scenes of HC with Jean Guerin
Deep Thoughts: Extended Analyses
Nothing like the First Time: Introductory Experiences
Be Seated, Class! HC "Scholarly" (But Fun) Lectures
One Really Perceptive Review

The Grab Bag: Memorable Observations

From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
One feels almost spoiled watching HC.  You just know that 99.9% of the 
rest of the movies you'll see in your life will seem flat, uninvolving, 
and tired in comparison.  I haven't seen a movie since, on video or in 
the theaters, that has really been anywhere near it.  And that includes a 
number of films that I've liked a lot.


> I just got back from a "Heavenly Creatures Viewing Party."  Premise is
> simple:  Gather a group of friends (or people you wish to (unsuspectingly,
> hee hee!!) convert to the HC cult), provide food and drink, and watch this
> movie.

Man, I'm jealous.  I wish I could do that, but at this point I've made 
watching HC into almost a religious experience.  Sit down, alone, with 
the lights off, no distractions, lock the door, turn the stereo up, and 
let the disc spin.  All the way from the Miramax logo to the Wingnut 
logo--I only get up to change sides.

(The door locking is especially important.  Once when I was introducing a 
friend to the film, someone walked in to ask me a question just as Honora 
was bending over to pick up the jewel.  Doh!)

------------------------------------------------------------- of the things i do at work is type addresses. well tonight i typed the
address of someone who lived on deborah street and i thought "oh, that's
nice, this lady lives on deborah street" pronounced like the empress of
borovnia. no matter how i try to make myself think "debra" it comes out
"day bo' ra."  they've really got me. some day i'm going to have to read 
that name aloud and i know how it's going to come out. i just hope the 
person on the other end of the phone has seen the picture. 

 I think my favorite moment in the entire film is 
when the clay Deborah transforms itself into Kate--That wonderful 
slow-mo shot of her spinning around.  Juliet's laughter echoing on the 
soundtrack.  "You're crying.  Don't be sad, Gina..."  Juliet's seductive 
smile. Paul's tearful expression of love.  I break out in gooseflesh
every time.
From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: Kate in King Arthur's Court
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 23:13:57 -0400 (EDT)

On Sat, 27 Jul 1996, Chris Black wrote:

> Heh, if everyone in  'A Kid in King Arthur's Court' was nude, it 
> would have been a more interesting take on the story then what there 
> was. Although what do I know, all I did was fast forward to the 
> scenes with Kate. :-)

I was sorely tempted to to do this.  For some reason I was under the 
impression that her role was only a one-scene cameo, so I figured the 
chapter stops on the laserdisc were going to be labeled along the
following lines:

Chapter 1 : Some shit happens.

Chapter 2 : KATE!!

Chapter 3 : More shit.

I was happily surprised to see that she had an honest-to-God role, and 
would therefore appear in a number of scenes.  So I figured I'd better 
watch the whole thing, for fear of missing anything.

I must say that her presence threw the film into a sort of imbalance.  
The main goal of the villain was to marry her, and that made me identify 
with him more than anyone else.  Hell, I'd stop at nothing.  Compared to 
her, the lower classes seemed dridfully dull.


From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: Playing Badminton with Kate
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 13:28:12 -0400 (EDT)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Fri, 23 Aug 1996, Bao Ly wrote:

> According to some (and I speaking of the literary journals I've read),
> Hamlet is a homosexual--causing me to wonder if it is possible--and that
> Kenneth Branagh might of totally overlooked this point-of-view when he
> wrote-in a love scene between Hamlet and Ophelia (um, him and Kate)
> believing that they did have an affair!

I think that if I was directing the film, and playing Hamlet, and Ms. 
Winslet was playing Ophelia, I'd probably overlook any possibility of 
homosexuality as well.  In fact, I'd probably end up junking most of the 
original text, writing all new scenes, and calling it "Last Tango in 

Never mind my salacious ramblings.

The ex-Branaghs (Ken 'n Emma) have been trading Kate back and forth 
recently.  It's if Branagh is saying, "Hell, if you can get in bed with her 
in 'Sense and Sensibility,' then I'll damn well do you one better."  It's 
not a bad way to be used, though.  It's done wonders for her career, and 
kept me coming back to the theater.

Now if only we can find a couple of talented rival filmmakers to start 
batting Melanie Lynskey back and forth.  

From: Phil West 
Subject: Snakecharmers in Texas
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 17:44:08 +0100 (BST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
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The re-emergence from the Vienna sewers of a certain 'hideous' film-
critic-cum-actor has reminded me of what the Financial Times' reviewer
said about Pauline and Juliet:

'What the two girls should probably have done, before stepping into blood,
is become film critics.  There, madness is an everyday experience and the
profession could use their discriminating, caustic imaginations.  I
particularly liked their movie altar containing... photographic shrines
to... 'He' (Lanza), 'Him' (Mason) and 'This' (Mel Ferrer).  Anyone who can
recognise the 'this'-ness of Mel Ferrer is born to review movies.'

Or indeed the 'IT'-ness of Orson Welles, I guess.  BTW, I just saw 'Ed
Wood' again - how could I have forgotten the Orson appearance?  Is there
some sort of club for IT impersonators??  The mind boggles.


From: Phil West 
Subject: Spiking Kate's chowder
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 10:06:49 +0100 (BST)

Dear All (and to newcomers everywhere... welcome)

Someone has spiked Kate Winslet!

No, not Diello, or even Charles.  The dodgier end of the British press
recently reported that the whole crew of the 'Titanic' went bonkers when
someone spiked their lobster chowder with a hallucinogenic drug.
'Bloody' Bill Baxton (star of 'Twister') said: 'Some people were laughing,
some people were crying and some people were throwing up'.  No news of
which category KW fell into, unfortunately.  Perhaps she was singing.

Whoever did this got the drug right, at least.  It was phencylidine -
commonly known as angel dust.

Such a heavenly creature.

From: (Miranda Kaye)
Subject: Re: Tea cosy/cozy (and Jed Brophy)
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 09:43:15 +1300 (NZDT)

A footnote to the tea cozy discussion currently raging...

>> It means the same as tea cozy, which is: "a padded cap or cover for a
>> teapot to prevent the heat from escaping after the tea is infused,"
>> according to my dictionary. I don't John meant it literally, but
>> something in the line of insolating the room by covering the windows and
>> doors. What does *tea cosy* means in NZ Jean? NZers?

Funny this scene should come up now....just a few days back I was
talking to one of my film students whose husband had lived at the
same hostel (dorm, I believe, for you Americans) as Jed Brophy in
their first years at university here in Dunedin. They shared the same
building, with just an old sealed up window between their rooms.
One night Hugh over-heard Jed attempting to chat up a naive young
first year student and his chat up lines were truly inane. According
to my student her husband fell about laughing helplessly in the
'seduction of Pauline' scene, as it recalled Jed's pathetic attempts
of several years before. Sad but true!!

From: Phil West 
Subject: Heavenly Tours!
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 08:17:59 +0100 (BST)

On Thursday 22 August, Kate Douglas mused

> Does anyone think that sometime in the future there would be interest in
> a Heavenly Creatures convention of sorts?  After all, the Trekkies have
> them.  Or are we unlike Trekkies in that regard?
> Perhaps we should all make a pilgrimage to New Zealand and pay homage to
> the historical site of HC.
> Just a wacky idea.

Wacky idea?  Nay, extraordinary telepathy!  I was just thinking something 
similar (well, yesterday in fact, but I couldn't seem to post to the list
properly then).

The Heavenly Experience!  A once-in-a-lifetime trip!

I have several cunning plans for gathering the rather huge air fare to
New Zealand (a mere 12,000 miles), viz:

(1)  Sell horse.  Mr. Bloody Perry has promised me fifty quid, but he
clearly hasn't heard of inflation.
(2)  Steal the fellows' silver from my college.  After all, it was named
after the first bishop of NZ (Selwyn), so they'll understand.
(3)  Rob my father's safe.  As he works in a bank, this might provide a
tidy sum.

Hmm, I'm still a bit short of cash.  What we need is an HC-loving
millionaire who will fly us all to Christchurch and put us up in an old
rusty-roofed boarding house, with breakfast between seven and nine
(rather reasonable hours, I've always thought), sausage rolls for lunch,
and Scrabble after dinner.

Other exciting features of this unique Wingnut Tours production:

* Jean Guerin, in full 'It' getup, to lurk behind doors ready to go
'Boahh!' and 'Aaagh!'.  Neck-kissing upon request (and get it right this
time, O Sexy Demon!  [Where are is JG these days?])
* Simon O'Connor, dressing-gowned and slippered, to repeatedly burst
into our shacks and discover us in bed with Jed Brophy.
* Mel Lynskey to reside permanently in the bath, 'just washing her hair
now'.  (Hmm, she may shrivel up, and that would *never* do.  Perhaps those
stunt doubles could take a turn.)
* Sarah Peirse's Christmas presents available for use at all times!

Trekkies can have the Final Frontier.

We're all going to Heaven.

Hope to see you all in the city of the plains.  June next?


From: (adam abrams)
Subject: Re: Digest heavenly-c.v001.n120

>jailbreak sequel to HC--"Heavenly Creatures 2: The Defiant Ones I Worship."

Jefferson, you are truly inspired/insane!

This is obviously a cue for me to share my high-concept TV spinoff series idea:

   Pauline and Juliet, having paid their debt to society, reunite under a new identity and go into the detective business - all in the name of research for the mystery novels that they publish under an assumed name. With all their first-hand experience, tracking down killers is a breeze. And whenever they're in a corner, they invoke their Borovnian friends - Charles, who's always there with a word of sage advice - or Diello, ever-ready to apply a well-timed swing of his sword. 
   As well, they have to dodge the advances of a cub reporter for the Christchurch Enquirer  - though he's "just a stupid boy" as far as they're concerned, he's always a heartbeat away from discovering their true identity!
   Look for the Heavenly Action Figures (TM) - available wherever fine products are sold.

All I need is a title...  Jefferson? Anyone?


[...Joanne Hickey was quick to suggest "Charles' Angels" and "Highway to Heven". And Phil West kept the ball rolling:]

about your spin-off TV series idea.  I envisage a feature-length
special called 'The Bay of Bloody Islands' in which P&J defeat a 
gang of voodoo killers operating robot killer sharks out of their
waterfront dives.  Silly? Whaddyamean, silly?  You could reuse the
line 'Ah, actually I'm not much of a fish man' - give it to Diello as he
uses his trusty blade to short out one of the robots.  Juliet: 'Ha!  Gave
his circuits a jolly good shorting!')

From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: Mostly off: Genre films 'n rants
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 12:06:16 -0500 (EST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Tue, 21 Jan 1997, E. Jean Guerin wrote:

> Actually, there is no reason to look upon King Kong as fluff. This will 
> be a major cinematic undertaking. The film will be a period piece. A 
> James cameron film is nothing to sneeze at either

True, and there have been opinions posted on the net by those who've read 
the script that it could even be Oscar material.  Not that that by 
definition means anything...

But of course there are also rumors that certain studio executives are 
keen to "alter" the ending and make what had previously been a tragic 
love story into something more "uplifting" (like the Sheinberg cut of 
'Brazil,' I suppose)  Of course, I'm hoping that this intelligence proves 
to be (like most of what we see on the net) bullshit.  Or, alternately, that 
Cameron is able to stick to his aesthetic guns.  But with a budget which 
may be approaching Waterworldian proportions, that may get tough.

Will the ship actually hit the iceberg?  Who knows?  Imagine what might 
have happened if these sinister elements had gotten their hands on HC:

Pauline takes the brick out of the stocking...

Honora bends over to pick out the gemstone...


Honora's back is out.  She straightens up.

Ah, cursed vertebrae!  Juliet, be a dear
and pick up that faux gemstone, would you?

Juliet shrugs sheepishly and obeys, still wringing her hands.

Honora turns and sees Pauline, who's still tearfully readying her blow.

Put that down, Yvonne.  A girl like you
should be setting an example.  I did not
raise you to commit matricide.

Pauline drops the stocking, her lip trembling.


They embrace.  Juliet joins the group hug.

What good little girls you are!

        (determined, between sobs)
I'm going to destroy my novels, mummy!  I'll
revise the ending of my opera too.  I want
to get school certificate.  I want to go out
with boys!

Of course you do, dear.



Pauline, Juliet, Honora, Herbert, Henry, Hilda, and Bill scampering happily 
around Italy and dozens of other places...

Behind the Scenes: Details and tidbits from Jean Guerin

Note: E. Jean Guerin portrayed Orson Welles in "Heavenly Creatures. We have been fortunate to enjoy his periodic presence on the mailing list, where he has shared all kinds of great "inside info". Read on for his introduction to the list, followed by some priceless tidbits, bloopers, and little-known cameos... straight from the set of Heavenly Creatures!

From: (Jean Guerin)
Subject: Re: A Question for It
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 13:44:10 -0400

>How did you get the part?

I was intending to put my intro together, but things kept cropping up. As
I'm getting the above question a lot. I should take the time to answer at
least that:

For starters, I can tell you about the motives behind the use of "The Third
Man". The scene itself is directly pulled from Pauline's diary- it is the
night they first made love. On that night they went to see "Trent's Last
Case" (1954- British Lion Films). However, Welles makeup in that film makes
him unrecogniseable. Peter decided to use "The Third Man" because that was
the film where Welles first appeared without any makeup and therefore would
be more recogniseable.

Jackson's original idea was to digitally "cut" Orson out of the footage of
"The Third Man" and "paste" him onto "Heavenly Creatures". That, however
caused some technical limitations (they would be resticted to moves Orson
did in the original film). He decided on using a lookalike but casting
calls in London, Australia and NZ returned nothing.

It was while attending a film festival in Montreal, Canada back in October
1992 that I first met with Peter and Fran. I was working PR for the
festival and had volunteered my car and my services as chauffeur to the
various guests. It was Fran Walsh who broke the ice and first mentionned my
resemblance to OW. I was literally "discovered" by Jackson and Walsh.

When Peter left at the end of the festival, he still wasn't sure if the
scene was going to be included or not. He said: "If we need an Orson,
You're it". And mentioned that I should get news before the holidays.

The holidays went by and I sort of put it out of my mind thinking this was
too good to be true. Then, on one evening in february (1993), the phone
rang and my (ex-) girlfriend picked it up and handed it to me saying it
was: someone with a british accent. It was Peter asking if I "wouldn't mind
coming down to NZ and being Orson". I first thought someone was playing a
cruel joke on me but it was Peter's unmistakeable voice.

Three months later I was in Christchurch, living a dream and falling in
love with the film as well as becoming really intrigued by the case. I was
fortunate enough to be there during the shooting of a lot of great scenes.
If I wasn't on the set all the time, I would still get to see the rushes
every night. I remember screening the murder shots and the "dancing half
naked thru the woods" scenes in the same night and being struck by the
genius of such a contrast.

The irony of it all is that I was already a fan of Jackson as well as a
lifelong Welles nut. I am a writer and critic in Montreal and always had a
secret ambition to act. Being part of HC was a tailor made fantasy for me
as it would have been my favorite movie of 1994 in any case.

Since then, I've appeared in two more films, as yet unreleased. I play a
doctor in "Frankenstein & Me" a kid's movie starring Burt Reynolds due out
this summer in Canada. I also played "Orson/Harry Lime" again, this time as
a "detective's conscience" in "La Vengeance de la Femme en Noir" a
french-canadian comedy due out this fall. I lost a bit of weight since HC,
leaving my face more square (and, I am told, more handsome) so they had to
pad my face out with prosthetics.

I'm presently seeking more roles but organising this film festival is
keeping me too busy to get a couple of things in order (I still don't have
an agent and need to get head-shots).

Apart from acting, I'm a film-writer and critic. Presently, I am at work on
a few proposals as well as a script. I am also currently kept quite busy
organising a film festival called FANT*ASIA which will be a month long
showcase of HK action and fantasy films as well as Japanese anime and live
action fantasy.

I am 33 years old, single, fluent in both french and english. My main hobby
is collecting films on video. I've been amassing them for over 13 years and
have over 1500 tapes in my collection. I also collect memorabilia with a
peculiar obsession with material pertaining to Japanese monsters. My
interests are wide-ranging from classic film to drive-in trash.

My web site is under construction at the present. I intend to put photos of
the shoot on it as well as a few clippings.

Well, that's it for now.

Hideously yours,

E. Jean Guerin

Hi everybody,

Just thought I'd clarify the identity of the body on the american (and
canadian) video box art.

The body seems to be of no one in particular. It is just there to imply a
murder in the film without giving out who will get killed. Sort of the same
way Hitchcock used Vera Miles in a short blonde wig instead of Janet Leigh
as the victim in the shower in the Psycho trailer not to ruin the film for
the audience before the film opened.

This is not the only such bizarre art in the Miramax campain (which was
designed in America by Miramax and not by Wingnut Films in N-Z).

When the film first opened in New-York in November of 1994, the print ad
had the same art as the theatrical poster. This was the face of Kate and
Melanie in close up with a shot of Sarah Pierse walking through the woods.
On opening day, the ad in the New-York Times quoted the entire text of
Richard Corliss' Time Magazine review-which obliquely referred to me as a
"sexy demon"- a full two weeks before Time printed it!

The following week, however, that walking three-shot was replaced by a
picture of a man in a dark hat and coat skulking next to an iron fence.
This is not even an image of the film! (It certainly isn't me.)

[Click here to see the ad in question. - aa]

This image remained for most of the ad campain until the one featuring a
shot of Kate with a lace clad other girl's body "airbrushed" over her (or
digitally composited or whatever- it's just not Kate's body nor was she
wearing wardrobe for the film...well, maybe Diana Kent's). 

[Yes, you can view this ad as well... if you dare! -aa]

When the caption
cried out "murder She Wrote!" _Entertainment Weekly_ ran a piece
questionning the tastefulness of the campain.


From: (Jean Guerin)
Subject: Re: a question for Orson
Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 05:02:11 -0400

> Was this movie filmed in any general chronological order at all?

It wasn't. I arrived at the end of the day they shot the actual murder
which was very hard on the girls. This was the eighth week of shooting and
they now had to delve deep within themselves and push these characters they
had grown to love into comitting this heinous act.

The next day, when I met them, they were shooting the opening scene. I
arrived on the set at lunch and was introduced to Kate who was very forward
and basically gave me a third degree interrogation. Melanie, on the other
hand sat across the table from me and occasionally threw me a shy glance.
This image will always remain with me as it is not everyday one meets
someone over lunch when they are covered in blood.

When the sun came down that day, the shoot moved inside the tea house for
the scene where Honora is told to "treat herself". When that was finished
we went to the warehouse/studio to see the rushes of the scene where
Pauline crashes on her bike and the walk up to the murder. (Dailies were a
day or two late because we were so far from the lab).

During the two weeks I was there, they shot the volleyball scene, the tram
going up the hill (that includes Fran Walsh's cameo), the scenes of Pauline
in her shack, the run through the woods, the movie theatre scenes
(including Peter's cameo), part of the Port Levy scene ( a red-screen
special effects shot and the shot from inside the sand castle) and the
scene where the girls burn their Mario Lanza records.

I wish I had a copy of the bloopers. One notable one had John/Nicholas seen
from the cable-car and biking off frame only to wipe out (you didn't see
him but you did hear him). Another one had one of the schoolgirls doing leg
lifts (during gymnastics) kicking the teacher in the butt. Despite the
assistant-director calling "Cut!" at that point, the actress remained in
character, pointed at the offending student and said "detention!"

My own blooper is pretty funny. I blew my cue during the kiss scene with
Kate. She was great at calming me down but her efforts were negated by
Melanie's constant pestering about wether my (now ex-)girlfriend would
mind. So here I was poised above Kate. After "Action!" she had to breathe
for a couple her times before opening her eyes and gasping which was my cue
for lowering my hideous self onto her. On the second take, I began lowering
on "Action!". Kate opened her eyes and said "Excuse me...what's going on".
I apologised to her and Peter, regained my starting position and we retook
it from there without stopping the camera. However, when the blooper ran.
It played out this way:


Kate:"Excuse me, but what's going on?"

Peter:"It's Okay! Jean blew his cue. Let's just start again"

Me: "Oh I'm sorry! I'm sorry Kate! I'm sorry Peter! Sorry Alun! ...

Peter: "It's okay -just remember to wait for her eyes to open"

Me: "I'm really, really sorry. Sorry Kate...sorry Peter...I'm really sorry..."

...and basically kept on apologising. I thought I had briefly excused
myself on the set but the next day, while watching the rushes the whole
crew got a good laugh at my overlong, pathetic display of humility.

Between being on the set and watching the dailies, I must say I was
fortunate enough to see a lot of the key scenes.

E. Jean Guerin

Director of Programming
FANT-ASIA Film Festival
Montreal, Canada

From: (Jean Guerin)
Subject: Re: Keep things going...
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 00:38:11 -0400

Hi Michael/All,

>Thank you Jean for relating those humourous anecdotes from your
>experiences during filming.

You are welcome. I just love talking about this film.

>One question, did you have lunch with Kate W and Mel L when they were
>still in fake blood? Must have been quite surreal.

At the long dinner table I was sitting next to Peter and Melanie plunked
herself across from him. She was covered in blood and sort of looked down
with her hair obscuring her face when I looked towards her. She would sneak
a look when she thought I wasn't seeing her. I wondered if my being
french-canadian was a curiosity to her. It was to some who were confused as
to why I didn't have a thick accent like the still-photographer, Pierre
Vinet, who was a french-canadian too.

Pierre, by the way, took all the stills from Heavenly Creatures so if you
see any picture that is not a frame blow-up, it's his (superb) work. He has
a cameo in the film as the high school photographer ("Smile!").

Kate was clean when I met her. We shared smokes ("Americans!") She had
taken her bloody coat off. I think she was done eating and was going to get
"splattered" one she finished smoking. I remember getting this impression
of speaking to a thirty year old veteran stage actor trapped in a
Boticelli. And those blue-grey eyes seemed to have hypnotic power gave the
impression of seeing right through your soul.

There was a restaurant in Christchurch, where a few weeks before  a chef
had asked Kate in marriage!!! It reportedly freaked her out a tad. I
jokingly thought he might have gotten an accidental burst of this hypnotic
power. That, like an undiscovered psychic power, she was unaware of how
strong it was (it even registers on film-I'm sure you'll agree!) and it had
these simultaneously both funny and pathetic consequences. She might have
sent him a look to let him know how delicious his Peach Melba Pavlova was.
I've had my first taste of that heavenly desert on my last day there, it
was at that same restaurant. I must admit that that desert might have
gotten me to send wrong vibes to the chef as well (except I might've gotten

Anyway, that's enough for now. I hope it clairifies the detail about who I
had dinner with.

Hideously Yours,

E. Jean Guerin

From: (Jean Guerin)
Subject: Re: Keep things going...
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 01:03:35 -0400

>> One question, did you have lunch with Kate W and Mel L when they were
>> still in fake blood? Must have been quite surreal.
>What an interesting pythonesque idea.... I should try that sometime :)

Hi Tim/All

another Pythonesque touch. The conversation I was having with Peter was of
making a film like "Spider Baby" (where inbreeding causes this family to
degenerate to the level cannibalism) except that this would be the curse of
the Royal Family and that he could call it "Meet the Royals". Peter
chuckled and said "Meet the Windsors" and at that moment I thought I caught
a glimpse of Pauline smiling at me from under her hair. I say Pauline and
not Melanie here because she had this uncanny ability to embody the
character and stay locked in it. It was running overtime there because of
the intensity the scenes of that day required. (This was when they shot the
final short-but-intense color "scream shot" seen in the N-Z cut that is the
piercing scream we hear after the final fadeout in the Miramax Cut).

It's only later when I read, in the script, the line "You didn't say it had
to be the Windsors" that I understood what secret joke we had shared that

The blood, I must patriotically underline, was another Canadian
contribution to the film. The Richard Taylor/Peter Jackson recipe for blood
is 100% Pure Canadian maple syrup, red food dye and a touch of water (to
retard coagulation).
Looks like blood, dryes like blood, tastes canadian! The recipe was
developped on Braindead (aka Dead / Alive) where they used 3 000 gallons
(or 10 000 litres) of canadian maple syrup.

Declaring he had taken gore as far as he cared to, Peter had declared he
wanted to tell something virtually bloodless but creepy. Thus the Heavenly
Creatures project.

E. Jean Guerin

From: orson@CAM.ORG (Jean Guerin)
Subject: Re: Heavenly Creatures - deleted scenes.
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 16:06:58 -0400

>Thanks for all that info, Adam. But I'm wondering... whatever became of the
>(alleged) scene with Juliet at a dinner party at Ilam, being forced to dance
>with some dufus guy, and saying 'I wish Paul was here'? Was that scene ever
>actually filmed, or was it only in the original script? I think (from
>memory) that the scene includes Juliet exclaiming (much to the embarrassment
>of her folks) that her breast is about to pop out of her dress. Does
>anyone else know what became of this scene?
>Shannon   <>
>     'It's everyone else who's bonkers!'

That scene was in the script I read when I was down there. It was shot
(I've seen stills of it in Pierre Vinet's darkroom). I expected to see it
in the NZ cut but it wasn't there so I asked Fran about it. She said that
during editing it became clear that "Pauline was the motor of the film and
they decided to go with her".

As written it was a great scene of Dr. Hulme forcing men on Juliet and of
her intimidating them with the very sexuality they wanted to prey upon.
However, I must agree that it would've fitted awkwardly into the finished
film. Perhaps if Miramax lets Peter do his Criterion LD boxed set it could
be included as an extra chapter.

E. Jean Guerin

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 96 05:11:56 -0400

>Frances Walsh had an appearance in HC during the tram to Victoria Park
>scene. Is this true? Which passenger was she???

She's the young blue eyed lady that is riding just in front of our trio 
of happy picnicers. The older lady next to her is Fran's Aunt Peg ( a rather eccentric lady).

The stout woman riding in the front was the production's accountant.

Other cameos of interest:

The pug (a breed of dog) seen at Xmas is one of Peter and Frans dogs 
which they had  recently bought. Either Clarisse or Clifford.

The dog in the alleyway when Pauline visits "Nicholas" was one of the 
crew's: a mutt called "Hello Brown Dog" which hung around the set (mostly next to the heater).

How's that for contributing trivialities?

Jean Guerin

--------------- MESSAGE heavenly-c.v001.n258.9 ---------------

From: "E. Jean Guerin" 
Subject: Re: chronology...friend or foe?
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 97 17:34:15 -0400
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

>i was watching HC for the millionth time last night, and something that has 
>been bothering me really struck me big time.  maybe it's not all that 
>important, but i have this problem when viewing movies...i notice the most 
>minute details and little inconsistencies nag me to no end.  ok, so here's 
> what order where the scenes filmed? is juliet's short haircut 
>the beginning half of the movie a wig, or did they film the last half of the 
>movie first (after juliet gets out of the hospital)? it seems to me that 
>and mel have longer hair at the end of the movie, esp. kate, and i'm just 
>wondering how they did that and why.  did they think that shorter haircuts 
>the beginning would give an impression of youth? did they want to indicate a 
>passage of time?  i know nothing on how movies are filmed, so maybe someone 
>can clue me in here. perhaps our resident insider, Mr. Orson Welles himself, 
>can explain to me the chronology in which HC was filmed.

Well Maria, Orson Welles cannot answer but I think this reasonnable 
facsimile thereof can.

Movies are never shot in sequence. Although I cannot provide a complete 
schedule of the film's shoot, I can give a taste of what was shot on the 
two weeks I spent there.

On the day of my arrival, they had just wrapped shooting the murder. The 
next day I went on location to Victoria Park where they shot the girls 
running up the hill screaming. Then tey shot more of the girls walking  
down the hill with mum. Later that day they went inside the teahouse to 
film the "Go ahead mum...treat yourself" scene.

Scenes often are grouped according to location, for example, on another 
day, they shot the scene of the girls running out of the Mario Lanza 
movie, the shots inside the Theatre Royal and later that night, my scenes 
with them out in h estreet and in the alley. 

While I was there, they filmed the basketball game ("It's all so 
frightfully romantic"), the scenes with John/Nicholas sneaking in Paul's 
cabin, the scene with Mum taking her breakfast to the cabin, Paul 
sneaking into Jon's room, all the stuff at the movie theatre, the 
seduction scene, the shots where I attack them indoors, the Third man 
footage (the castle of Borovnia's walls served as the background for the 
Vienna sewers), the bus ride up to Victoria Park, the scene whare the 
girls go biking and dance semi-naked in the woods. I might be forgetting 
some because I wasn't on set ALL the time (although I spent as much time 
there as I could).

As for the hair, well they did wear wigs that reflected the way they wore 
their hair at the time of the events. Also their makeup is applied in a 
way that makes them appear subtly older as the film progresses.

Hideously Yours

E.Jean Guerin

Deep Thoughts: Extended Analyses

Questions about a film like this put us in an odd position.  How much can 
we look to the historical record in our interpretations?  
Should we look at it at all?  For my purposes, I'm just going to analyze 
the film as if there was no real-life basis.

Obviously, Pauline was going rather crazy at this point.  Her dreams of 
escaping into the romantic fantasy of a globetrotting, idealized upper 
middle class were rapidly slipping away from her.  Honora became emblematic
of everything she came to despise about her home life, heritage, and social
station.  To Paul, Honora seems so stolidly working-class, so seemingly 
bereft of imagination and vitality, and so mired in the dull drudgery of 
routine that she hardly seems alive.  She's a 'peasant' to be executed, 
or an unfortunate onlooker destined to 'cop' it.  We hardly see her when 
she's not engaged in housework of one kind or another.  And naturally she has
no appreciation whatsoever for any of Pauline's artistic endeavors.

When Pauline kills Honora, I see it more as a symbolic repudiation of all of 
these factors, rather than any kind of practical means to remain with 
Juliet.  Pauline is attempting to destroy who she is and where she comes 
from, in order to transform herself and 'evolve' into a truly heavenly 

So what's going on?  Psychosis, pure and simple.  Hopelessness and 
emotional desperation resulting in a truly 'senseless' act of violence.  
'Senseless' but not meaningless.  Reminds me a bit of 'Taxi Driver,' 
along with a classic quote from Pythonic lore--"A murder is just an 
extroverted suicide."

From: mailcall 
Subject: Re: Digest heavenly-c.v001.n023
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 04:24:53 -0500 (EST)

: For forty years no one has come up with an explanation. Honora was
: only guilty of being a mother. You can see she is actually close to
: her Mom in the beginning. In fact, Honora is a lot more aware of
: something being wrong than anyone else. Her concern is genuine.
: Yvonne's grades are slipping, her daughter's behavior is changing. She
: is not nagging, she is concerned.

right, this is the way it is shown in the film, but was it really like

for one thing, according to the holy scriptures chapter,
glamuzina and laurie checked the school records and found that pauline's
grades weren't slipping after all! but according to paul's diary, mom
really did say the famous line about "why i should keep a horrid little
child like you in school a minute longer." paul -claimed- right after that
that she'd been wanting to leave school but had said nothing to anyone. i
wonder if that's really true or if she was doing an "oh well, i didn't
want to be in school anyhow."

in real life there was no "letter from old stew" until after pauline was
taken out of school, and it was a letter of concern about her having been
taken out, not about her having failed anything.  also, hilda hulme was on
the school board, and wrote a similar letter of concern about pauline's
departure.  hilda is on record as having believed that honora was
-extremely- rough on pauline, not just the understandable worry and
"nagging" we see in the picture. 

in the faq, there is a section for opinions, and sandra bowdler says "I do
think that the answer lies very much in the character of the real Honora
Parker, and it is hard to be sure what that really was. I do agree that
some kind of abuse is unlikely, it would have come out somewhere." 

i know what she means, but remember in those days they did not think of
hitting and yelling as abuse unless it was something very extreme.
otherwise it was just "discipline". likewise with emotional abuse, which
nobody had even heard of in those days.

sandra bowdler also says: "Given the times, Honora Parker might well have
been a very dull, ignorant and hostile working-class NZ housewife. She was
probably a lot less sympathetic than Sarah Peirse's portrayal, and may
have poured scorn on Pauline's aspirations, probably with more venom or at
least irritation than we see in the film. This might be a bit of a class
conflict reading:  Pauline aspiring to a more "refined" existence, and her
mother reacting with scorn and possibly anger at Pauline getting above

what do i think:

i think the key to a lot of paul's natural adolescent rebellion turning to
murderous rage lies in the fact that she was moved from her little shack
to inside the house after nicholas was caught in bed with her. in real
life that house was extremely crowded, even worse than it was shown in the
picture. one of her school friends said pauline's house was "not a home"
and it was "ghastly," you could never have arguments out loud and had to
keep your company face on at all times.

combine this with having left school for digby's, which was also ghastly,
and it's no wonder pauline thought she was going crazy. many kids in that
situation kill themselves, or try to, and paul thought of doing that,
likewise with running away, which they might have done if they hadn't had
their hearts set on leaving the country. 

i think paul became a tinderbox after she was moved into the house, and i
think she did go a little crazy. i also think julie had more to do with
the "moider" decision than the film or julie today are willing to admit. i
don't think borovnia or the 4th world actually had much to do with it. i
think those things more symbolised to her the possibilities of a world and
life outside of the ghastly home situation and school regimentation
(sit-t!). she did have a perfectly reasonable career goal, planning to
become a stewardess at first, continue her writing, publish the books and
earn her living as a writer, as was julie (who did so). she did end up in
a world of books, after all! :) 

mr porter told me that the 4th world was actually part of a complex
religious system the girls were devising that in some ways was very, very
close to mormonism (the latter day saints). actual mormonism must have hit
juliet like a thunderbolt when she discovered it. in real life, the girls
were -much- more mature and sophisticated than is shown in the film, and
many of the reasons why they decided to go through with the moider have
never really come to light. 


From: (Nancy Marth)
Subject: Re: I am actually from England...
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 10:16:41 -0700

>As I've said on the list before, most people seem to like or admire HC in
>some way, but it takes a certain temperament and sensibility to truly
>love it.  To go absolutely bug-fuck crazy for it.  For it to become part
>of your life.
So, what is it about those of us who have become obsessed with this film??
Do we all have some particular trait in common? For instance, do we have a
hidden capacity to become "stark raving mad"?!!  Maybe it's the lure of
becoming so involved in something (like the girls did with Borovnia) and
losing the real sense of self that is appealing. (But I'm not the D&D
type). Or is it the fascinating thought of relating to another being in a
way that they bring out and exercise a brilliantly creative side of
yourself so that it becomes a totally inebriating experience to be with
that person.

Aw, heck, I don't know, but it's interesting to look at a group of people
psychoanalytically to see why they act/think as they do--ah, I think this
is called sociology!


From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: What are we all doing here?
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 12:47:18 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, Nancy wrote:

> So, what is it about those of us who have become obsessed with this film??
> Do we all have some particular trait in common? For instance, do we have a
> hidden capacity to become "stark raving mad"?!!  Maybe it's the lure of
> becoming so involved in something (like the girls did with Borovnia) and
> losing the real sense of self that is appealing.

All of the above, probably.  I think we all find the thought of losing 
ourselves in some romantic fantasy world appealing.  We fall in love with 
Paul and Juliet's world just as they fall in love with each other.  
Perhaps what's so powerful to us are the creative/destructive forces in 
their relationship.  This isn't an ordinary friendship or love affair.  
They don't just swoon over each other or giggle at boys together.  All 
the powerful (sometimes dark) forces in their personalities are brought 
to full bear. Perhaps when we're watching the film, we begin to wonder 
about our own potentialities.  Would we be capable of losing ourselves, 
of losing all other earthly attachments for the sake of one person and 
the amazing world you've jointly created?  I've never experienced this 
myself, but the movie makes it all seem frightfully plausible.

Paul and Juliet react like volatile chemicals when they 
come in contact with each other.  The results are giddy and 
spectacular for a while, until they turn tragic.  The girls are best 
friends, occasionally lovers, and even more than 
that.  They fit each other too well, serving each others psychological 
needs to such a degree that not only are other people superfluous, 
they're downright irritating.  We might call it a terrifying joint ego trip.

I suppose that we get so wrapped up in the girls' world (and Jackson 
takes us to deeply, so thrillingly inside it) that we feel like a third 
party in the relationship.  We don't want their world or their friendship 
to end any more than they do.  When Juliet leaves Paul on the dock at the 
end, in a sense, we're on the dock too.  We're watching Paul, Juliet, the 
Fourth World, and all their other dreams evaporate.  And over the course 
of 100 minutes, in some way they've become our dreams as well.

At least we've got some recourse.  We can just watch the movie again.  Or 
participate in mailing lists and MUSH's.  That's some comfort.


No Time Like The First Time: Introductory HC Experiences

From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: Overlong 'First Time' story
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 00:28:22 -0400 (EDT)

On Sat, 11 May 1996, kate ann jacobson wrote:

>      Does anyone have any interesting stories to tell about where they were
>   the first time they saw HC (on video, at theaters, etc.)?

No, not really.  But I'll relate my initial exposure anyway.

Backstory: I usually stay on top of current films, art-house and 
otherwise.  I had heard of 'Heavenly Creatures' upon its initial release 
in the States.  I even remember reading bits and snatches of the review 
in the Washington Post (They liked it, I think).  So I knew that the film 
was a critical success, but it probably never got released anywhere but 
D.C. and maybe a few other theatres.

I knew who Peter Jackson was.  I had seen 'Braindead,' and although I'd 
enjoyed it heartily, I wouldn't have thought it to be the calling card of 
a cinematic genius.  More of a foreign-born Sam Raimi on cocaine.  
Ignorant jackass that I was, I passed on HC in its theatrical run.

Luckily, I live very near a wonderful store that rents laserdiscs.  
Sometime in the summer of '95 I noticed the disc available for rent.  I 
had a number of titles I was interested in seeing ('Before Sunrise' and 
'Bullets over Broadway' were the others, if I recall), so I pretty much 
flipped a three-sided coin and went with HC.

(Note: If you have to see it on video, do whatever's necessary to see it 
on disc.  That includes buying a disc player.)

When did I realize that I was watching something really special?  It took 
a bit of time to dawn on me.  I was very impressed by all the early 
scenes, and particularly loved 'The Donkey Serenade' sequence.  I also 
loved Juliet twirling on the bridge, followed by that marvelous track in 
on Pauline.  But the movie really started to fly for me when they entered
the 'Fourth World' for the first time.

I think it was the giant butterflies that clinched it.  I don't know.  
Fantastical things like that tend to really grab me.  (I'm a big Terry 
Gilliam fan as well).  It became obvious that there was a profound 
imagination at work here, and a remarkable level of visual invention.

>From then on it gets fuzzy.  I was too wrapped up in the story to notice 
anything else.  The clay Borovnians were a stroke of genius.  Lanza 
singing in the spotlight as the girls waltz.  Juliet's aria.  The last 
walk.  Juliet's hand on the branch.  Pauline's screams.

I kept waiting for the film to falter, to lose its level of invention, to 
deflate...Nope.  When the credits rolled over what happened to already be 
a favorite song of mine ('You'll never walk alone'), I realized I hadn't 
seen anything this good since...ever.

A few days later I went back to the store to purchase the disc, but they 
were all out.  I ordered a copy, and it took an agonizing month for it to 
arrive.  But I was good and ready to see it when it did.  And for months 
afterward, whenever I'd come across the rental disc I'd put it at the 
front of the pile, hoping someone else would notice it and give it a 
try.  I hope someone did.  

Also, when I saw the words 'Sung by Kate Winslet' under the Sono Andati 
credit, I almost lost consciousness.  But that's a whole other story.


From: (Nancy Marth)
Subject: warning: long msg--the lure of that certain "connectivity"
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 1996 12:04:06 -0500
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I went to see HC for the first time December of 1994 with my best friend at
the time.  When the movie ended, I HAD to watch the credits (I usually do
anyway) and even after they were over--I just wanted to sit there and
process everything I just saw.  I was floored. My friend, ask me if I was
ready to go, and I said yes even tho I wanted to linger in the theatre a
while longer.  As we walked out, I looked around at faces and tried to hear
people's comments, wondering if there was anyone else who felt like their
life had just been jolted as a result of viewing this movie.  I asked my
friend how she liked it and said she thought it was ok, but didn't like the
ending.  I was so astonished that she didn't go completely nuts over this
movie.  There she was the same person coming out of the theatre as when she
went in, but I had definitely changed.  I talked about the movie for months
afterword. My friend was SO sick of hearing about it.

To this day, I am still fascinated with the case and the movie.  I bought a
VHS copy of HC--stopped counting how many times I've watched it after
number 20.  Never have seen the other versions but would love to.  Jackson
couldn't have made a better movie.  I've read that some of the events in HC
are not completely accurate or are out of sequence, but he and Fran tried
to stay true to the facts.  I don't believe having more accurate facts or
sequences would affect the emotion this movie evokes from the viewer.  As
mentioned before in posts, he did Paul and Juliet justice by making a movie
where the viewer enters their world and can reach a point of understanding
as to possibly why the murder was committed.

To me, the thought of having a relationship like Paul and Juliet's is
exciting.  And I know that type of connection can be dangerous and in
another sense, unproductive.  I once had an intense friendship that took up
all my free time--time that I had previously spent being productive and
doing things like working on my computer (some people might not call this
productivity!), reading books, getting exercise, writing letters, etc.
After it ended, I found myself  a little lost but slowly shifting back to
reality, which made me realize how much of life I had missed being so
wrapped up in this relationship.  On one hand I missed the friendship
dearly, but I saw that I had alienated others and had wasted a lot of time.
Paul and Juliet might have experienced some of the same feelings while
serving their sentence; to realize what they had done after slowly coming
back down to reality must have been a huge shockeroo.

Ok, that's enough of a novel for now.  I still look for a certain
"connectivity" with others and for a friendship similar to what I once had.
It's like being in love--once it happens and ends, you want it to happen
again.  I've only been in love once.  Before it happened, I thought it
would be a nice thing and that was that. But now since I've experienced it,
I yearn for it again.


Be Seated, Class! The HC Poetry, Tragedy and Comedy Lectures

From: Phil West 
Subject: Pauline's poetry (warning: lecture-length!)
Date: Sun, 11 Aug 1996 22:40:35 +0100 (BST)

I decided that the HC mailing list needs a literary criticism class, so
'SIT-TT.'  Here are a few weekend thoughts on 'The Ones that I Worship',
as delivered exquisitely by Melanie Lynskey (ah, if only it were on the
soundtrack.  If they can put Emma Thompson reading Shakespeare on the
'Much Ado About Nothing' s/t, then I don't see why we can't have Melanie.)
I know the FAQ says Pauline's poetry was psychoanalysed to death, but I
can't help that - I just think it's a good poem and a lot more interesting
than Medlicott's grumpy comment ('extraordinarily exalted') makes out.

Typical of Pauline, I think, to call it 'The Ones that I Worship', when in
fact it isn't about 'Ones' at all, but very definitely about a *Two*, and
the wonderful togetherness of a special pair - 'two beautiful daughters',
'these lovely two', &c.  Why 'Ones', then?  As I see it, part of the
poem's representation of the girls is that it wants to lavish as many
grand-sounding words as possible on them in rapturous celebration of their
'sweet soothingness'.  Hence verbal 'redundancies' (tautologies,
repetitions, &c) run high.  'The Ones that I Worship' could quite easily
be reduced to 'Those I Worship', but it loses that extra noun with its
(naively) impressive monumentality.  (Consider how the tautology in 'We
have had it in our possession for about six months' acts to create a real,
existing, wonderful thing called 'our possession').  In the same way,
Paul's diary is full of repetitions of 'we' this and 'our' that, as the
simple enscription of the plural pronoun gradually became an emotionally
significant act for her - in other words, as she fell (in ways which I
needn't go into, I'm sure) in love. Like doodling the name of a loved one,
or the pastoral cliche of carving a name in the bark of a tree.  Only a
little more intense...

RHYTHM.  The rhythms are wonderfully irregular, and though some lines come
close to standard poetic metre, there is no regularity about which ones!
Try scanning a line yourself, and see if you think there are 4 or 5
stresses in a line (or both); and then there are those 'fourteener'
lines (16-17, the most regular in the poem, cut in the film) with 7.
Pauline uses both trochaic and iambic feet - groups of three and two
syllables, basically - and runs wild with extra syllables whenever the
fancy takes her.  This lack of regularity isn't a problem (though I expect
the psychiatrists of the 50s thought it a sign of deep disturbance or
anarchic tendencies, or something), in fact it's part of the charm of the
thing.  And yet certain other formal features show an awareness of
regularities, especially the implied stanza form of 4-4-3, 4-4-3 lines,
with care taken to rhyme lines 11 and 22.  What I'm saying is that I think
the irregular rhythm is quite deliberate and quite astonishing for a 15
year old.  (If you don't think the rhythm is important, try this *dridful*
metrical rewrite of lines 5-8 (with apologies to PYP):
                        'You cannot know, nor try to guess
                        The soothingness of their caress;
                        Th'outstanding genius of this pair
                        Is known by few, it is so rare.'
Hers is *much* better, and not just because of the different words.)

DEIXIS.  The deictics in the poem (pointing words like 'this' and 'these')
are crucial, delightedly gesturing at its beautiful subjects.  'There are
living', 'this pair', 'these wonderful people' - that's a lot of pointing
for one short poem to do, and strikes me as an extension of Pauline's
desire to lavish loving words on the special relationship (not to mention
the special significance of words like 'This' and 'That' for the girls).
Each deictic is caught up in expressing the greatness of the two - their
genius, their highness over man(kind), that they are Goddesses, that they
are lovely.  They name them intently, and particularly their proximity -
they're definitely close by, here, not there; 'these', not 'those'.
That's why the last line can make such a gentle and tender turn, because
for the first time a proximate deictic ('these wonderful people') morphs
into the poem's speaking voice, 'I' ('are you and I'), something the poem
has been leading us to expect.  Since the first line, the 'lovely two' 
have been referred to in the third person, but all these proximate
deictics have established that they are very close to the narrator; now,
at last, our suspicions are happily confirmed, and the second person
singular appears for the first time.  So - it was written for Juliet all
the time, for the 'you' who has been the invisible addressee until this
last, revealing, remarkable line.  Shivers, please.

Hmm, well, that's the first couple of things I could think of (there's a
lot I could say about this poem, and I haven't even got going on the
diary prose yet, which is even more remarkable - now there's a threat...).
If anyone can suggest any influences on Pauline's poetry, please do,
'cause I'm stumped.  Although I've done some work on 1920s and 30s poets,
my speciality is English Civil War poetry, which is precisely 300 years

Juliet/Anne's favourite poets were/are the 'Georgians', like Rupert Brooke
and G.K. Chesterton, who certainly went in for the sorts of alliterative
effects Pauline uses; but they've little else in common, especially in
formal matters (though there are a few quite surprisingly gentle love
poems worth a quick look.  I've even found things in some Georgian poets -
James Elroy Flecker, I think - like 'burning bright brown eyes', but I
suspect this could be done with almost any poetry).  So who were Pauline's
models or preferred poets?  Other influences - hymn words? (her vocabulary
betrays her Christian background), opera libretto?  Or was she just
(albeit briefly) a bit of an original?  Whaddya think?

Lesson over.  I'm off to the staff room to cadge a cup of tea from that
nice art teacher. Never mind, it's Phys. Ed. next.  'Left, right..'

From: "Jefferson F. Morris" 
Subject: Heavenly Tragedians
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 1996 17:46:32 -0400 (EDT)

On Mon, 19 Aug 1996, Phil West wrote:

> Pontificate...  Does anyone have any observations on HC and the nature of
> tragedy?  (I realise it's quite a large question!!!)

Hmm...I'm trying to recall my college days and what my Shakespeare 
professor told me about tragedy...

But what the hell did he know, really?  I think that HC is an excellent 
example of tragedy in that there is a genuine sense of inevitability to 
the murder, despite its horrible nature and the apparent senselessness of 
it.  I suppose that using the events in Victoria park (along with the 
shipboard fantasy) as a framing device helps hammer this point home.  We 
know that something bad is going to happen to 'Mummy,' and that 
everything in the film is going to lead up to it.  Just like we know that 
Lear, or Oedipus, or Macbeth can only come to unhappy ends.

A film sets a tone for itself from the opening minutes, and we know that 
the film has to resolve itself in that tone eventually.  Paul and 
Juliet's story must end in violence and heartbreak, and that's a large 
part of what makes the giddy heights of their love so extraordinarily 
evocative and powerful.  We're acutely aware of the fact that their 
happiness is transitory (and perhaps also dimly aware of the transitory 
nature of our own lives and moments of true happiness and belonging).

Didn't Wallace Stevens say something like, "Death is the mother of 
beauty?"  I take that to mean that only with the loss of something can we 
come to appreciate its true value.  To me, Paul and Juliet's relationship 
(which spawned an entire vivid, magical world) is something so powerful 
and uncontrollable that it simply couldn't last very long.  And for this 
reason, even despite the matricidal turn it's beautiful.  And 


From: Phil West 
Subject: Playing with genres
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 17:41:46 +0100 (BST)

I've been thinking about this question of HC and genres that Sandra and
others have mentioned.  I know nothing of film studies, but here are
my hopefully-provoking-if-tangled thoughts.

  Genres, I take it, are a matter of convention and convenience.  A genre
acts as a framing device, telling us which sort of film we're watching
by dropping us hints or generic signals.  E.g.:

  Once we know we're watching a thriller (by recognizing generic signals),
we don't bother asking what the criminal had for breakfast, because that's
not what thrillers tell us, and we know that.  Thrillers thrill.  They
have suspense sequences and AK-47s.  UZIs.  If we want breakfast scenes we
watch soap operas (all right, so there was a breakfast scene in 'Leon'
but forget that, OK?). Soap operas, in turn, don't tell us much about
death and terror, because horror movies do that.  And so on.  Such
parcelling out is so familiar to us that we seldom stop to think about it.

Thus the 'world' portrayed in films and TV comes mediated through a host
of genres, each of which takes one area of 'reality' as its province.
This is a convention we know and admit.  Many contemporary directors are
wise to the possibilities of mixing generic signals, and use them to
distract or mislead their audiences.  A classic example is the first half
hour of Kubrick's 'The Shining', which focuses strongly on the mental
powers of the little boy, leading its audience to expect him to be the
cause of trouble during the winter ahead rather than good ol' Jack.  But
far from being a study of telepathy, the film turns out to be a ghost
story of sorts [I nicked this bit from Fredric Jameson's essay].  Such an
approach often gets called 'postmodern'.

Peter Jackson uses plenty of red herrings, and some of them are generic
'plays'.  If Sandra is right, and HC is sui generis, then it's partly
because of the brilliant interplay of different generic signals which
Jackson uses to disorient his audience.  I like that paradox: that HC is
unique because it is like so many other things.  But what sort of film is
it?  Lots of sorts, according to its generic signals (and this holds, I
think, however pastiched the genres actually become).  PJ himself called
it a murder story without villains; a few other generic descriptions
might be:

*Horror.  Already an issue because of PJ's other work.  Then, as Jefferson
pointed out, some of the camera work (like the first liner scene, which
cuts just before Hilda and Henry turn round, as if they're monsters) is
distinctly horror.  And we know PJ was worried about Jean Guerin's photo
of Mel and Kate covered in blood - he knew that it would give the
impression that HC was another blood'n'guts feast, or in other words, that
those blood-soaked faces would act as a generic signal saying 'horror

*Mystery-Whodunnit.  Here PJ is even cannier.  Pauline's 'It's mummy,
she's terribly hurt' never really leaves us in any doubt about who has
been done in (we've read the box, the reviews), but in a lesser film, the
whole plot might have revolved around whether Hilda or Honora is the
victim.  Jackson is telling us that it is NOT a whodunnit by using a faint
echo of this corny whodunnit technique.

*Comedy.  I think I've said enough about Monty Python.  However:

*Cartoons.  Cartoon 'violence' is present in nearly every Monty Python
episode, and when Pauline splurges the Borovnians with red ink, it's as
though we're watching the interval Tom & Jerry or Bugs Bunny.  All those
comic deaths are rather cartoonish as well.  In the NZ/AUS/UK version of
HC (to be known as Abrams3?], Dr. Bennett "dies" twice, just like so many
cartoon baddies, slit open by Diello and then splashed to death by the
girls.  The huge rock looks just like one of those which ends up splatting
that stupied Coyote in Roadrunner (and its trajectory is uncannily like
the catapulted cow in The Holy Grail'...FETCHEZ LA VACHE!)

Hollywood Romance.  In 'Much Ado', Ken'n'Em splashed around in a fountain
in slo-mo as the music swelled.  Jackson's pastiche of this genre is one
better, aided and abetted by Peter Dasent's swirling score: yes, those
track shots in the Princess of Ilam scene, both along and up to Kate, and
then in a swoon in to Mel.  Kenneth 7, Peter 10.

*Rites of passage.  Schoolroom rebellion, problems at home
(especially the bathroom hogging, which in a normal house is just an
excuse for a moan, and doesn't prompt such loathing of mother), sexual
awakenings (which more or less subsumes the "lesbian" part of the film),
and so on.

There are loads more, but I shan't tire you further.  The wonderful thing
is that the technique works brilliantly, and that so many people are
already on Jackson's bizarre generic 'wavelength(s)'.  Or something...  Oh
dear, that's all a bit hazy.  Too many of those TB drugs again.

Well, if you've read all that, I think you deserve nothing less than the
Comfy Chair and the Soft Cushions.  And an egg and salmon sandwich.


'Those girls are up to something in the bathroom.
I think they're sending *email* to each other...'

From: Phil West 
Subject: It's... (take two)
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 23:52:32 +0100 (BST)

A bit more on the Python-infested psyche of Peter 'Two Sheds' Jackson:

*Biggles.  The gay-flyers scene we know, but how could anyone forget Terry
Gilliam's sensitive portrayal of Cardinal Biggles in the Spanish
Inquisition episode?  More proof if it were needed of the inspiration
behind the Biggles goings-on in HC.

*Prof R.J. Gumby repeatedly hitting himself around the head with a brick
whilst singing 'Only make believe I love you'.  Plus other Gumby sketches
involving brick incidents.  Not that the murder in HC is done with any
sense of black humour, as is often pointed out.

*The Lingerie Shop sketch, where the robber ends up buying underwear. 
(All right, it's a bit tenuous, but it might have sparked something in
the mind of PJ, esp. if you add in all those rugged types who turn out
to be transvestites - Mounties, Colonels, explorers &c.)  It's often in a
jumbled-up sort of way like this that writers and artists get their
influence/inspiration.  Eh, Wendy?

*Endless ridiculing of the Royal Family ('Princess Margaret, get back in
the cupboard, you pantomimetic royal personage'), the good old 
British-style education system and the Christian church.  Escaping from
all three of these seems to have fired the Python crew as much as Pauline
and Juliet.

While I'm on the subject, Python has already beaten all you
Hamlet+homosexual theorists (you know who you are) to it, with a closing
titles skit from the 'Hamlet' episode, listing the cast as things like
(oops, sorry, this is from memory):

        GRAHAM CHAPMAN.  A bachelor friend of Hamlet's.

        TERRY GILLIAM.  A quite butch friend of Hamlet, but also a bachelor.

        ERIC IDLE.  A very close friend of Hamlet, but who doesn't see him very
        often these days, though he does wear suspiciously bright shirts.

Right, stop this Python thing, it's silly.


HAMLET (Terry Jones)    The faire *Ophelia*?  Nimph, in thy Orizons
                        Be all my sins remembred.
OPHELIA (Connie Booth)  So anyway, you've got the girl on the bed
                        and her legs are on the mantlepiece...

One Really Great Review

From: Phil West 
Subject: Another heavenly review
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 22:03:51 +0100 (BST)

[Julie Burchill's review for the Sunday Times 12 Feb 95.  She was
obviously completely smitten by HC, as she mentions it in several other
unrelated articles as "the best film of this year... or of any other"!]

...It is part of the power and glory of Peter Jackson's unspeakably
beautiful and terrifying Heavenly Creatures that he nevertheless makes a
friendship that ends in carnage look like the most satisfying and enviable
relationship on earth.
        The Parker-Hulme affair "shocked a nation", apparently.  Seeing as
how the nation in question was the New Zealand of 1954, a time and place
that make modern Ambridge look quite like ancient Rome, this wouldn't
appear to be too difficult.  But it was rather unusual: two 15-year-old
girls, close to the point of insanity, who plotted and carried out the
murder of one of their mothers when they came to lay the blame on her for
their imminent separation.
        Surly schoolgirl Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) is living unhappily in
an Alan Bennet play.  "Who's for a nice bit of mackerel?" her father
cries; "This is a private function!" she scolds a lodger when he disrupts
her putative tea party when she is zapped by beautiful English Juliet, the
new girl at school.  As played by the 17-year-old English actress Kate
Winslet, Juliet is a shockingly original creation.  Humiliating her
teachers in a series of very funny scenes, she makes you constantly aware
that Juliet is not "cheeking" them or even being rebellious, she is simply
a loose canon, recognising no limits.  A classically beautiful English
rose slowly choking on the thorns of her craziness, Juliet-Kate recalls
the young Vivien Leigh - that manic dazzle where madness and glamour meet.
The clumsy beatific love scenes between two teenage girls in bad underwear
somehow make the heterosexual cliches of classic cinema from Rhett and
Scarlett to Harry and Sally look stale and insincere.
        The writer and director Peter Jackson calls Heavenly Creatures "a
murder story about love", and somehow this almost laughable modesty and
simplicity explains just why the film works so beautifully.  It never once
comes within pouting distance of camp or kitsch, not even taking into
consideration Mario Lanza, giant butterflies and teenage matricides.  You
think of what John Waters, David Lynch or some other ugly American could
have done with the same raw material and you shudder.
        As it is, it's just like one of those rides in a theme park where
the sign warns you just before you board that there's no way the ride can
stop, so stay off if you're sick or fearful.  As Juliet and Pauline go in
at the deep end in slo-mo, rejecting the russet rusticity of real life for
the Singing Ringing Tree hyper-reality of their imaginary kingdom,
Borovnia, we go with them all the way.  When the vicars and doctors tell
us we should "spend more time with boys", we rejoice in Juliet's imaginary
executions.  When the girls finally make love, we feel the blissed-out
afterglow so strongly that we want a cigarette.  And when they kill
Pauline's blameless, banal mother, very badly, we feel both her agony and
        Heavenly Creatures is enchantingly funny, horrifically frightening
and quite, quite brilliant.  It is a work of art, and quite literally
unforgettable.  And if it doesn't make you yearn for the glorious
unwholesomeness and hysteria that is so essential to any obsessive
friendship, in all its brutal, beautiful flamboyance, you really might
just as well be dead.