Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meridian (1990)


In the process of working my way through Sherilyn Fenn's filmography (or least the majority of it... I'm likely to give Gilmore Girls a skip unless I get desperate), I came across this bizarre straight-to-video movie from 1990 that must have been made only just before Fenn started working on Twin Peaks. Some guy on IMDB said that this movie was "Fenn-tastic", which sounded just awful enough to get me interested.

Sherilyn Fenn plays an art student who returns to the castle in Italy where she grew up, hooking up with her childhood friend (played by Charlie Spradling, credited here only as "Charlie", a la "Pelé"), who works restoring paintings for a nearby church. While having their first hang in years outside the castle grounds, they come across a travelling sideshow, and seeing as Sherilyn doesn't seem to take issue with a bunch of carnies hanging around her gaff, they check it out. I was pretty happy to see Phil Fondacaro here, whom you may know as the only little person to be employed by Hollywood for the entirety of the 1980s:

In more dubious cast listing, he's only credited as "Dwarf" in this movie. Personally, my favourite Fondacaro moment is his appearance as a Shakespeare-quoting carny hand in Ghoulies 2. So I guess you could say this was my second favourite carny-based performance from him.

It was also good to see MF Doom as part of the carnival, although knowing Doom it probably wasn't even him:

The head carny is a dashing stranger that's half Pierce Brosnan, half Martin Kemp who spends most of the show giving Sherilyn the eye. Our two heroines invite him and his crew to the castle for dinner, during which "Dwarf" flips the lid on too much wine and starts tramping across the table, spilling booze everywhere and generally being a scamp.

This is where things get a tad weird. As it turns out Mr Head Carny has an identical twin brother - the lad who was wearing the MF Doom mask at the carnival - who gets busy with Sherilyn while she's tripping balls after having her drink spiked by Dwarf. To complicate matters, the brother turns into a giant hairy beast during the act but Sherilyn doesn't notice seeing as she's hepped up on goofballs for the entire thing.

This sequence seems to last for about 45 minutes. 

The next day, Sherilyn is suitably weirded out by the fact that she may have slept with an 8 foot tall werewolf/vampire/sasquatch, rather than a suave Pierce Brosnan lookalike, but can't remember exactly what happened. Things don't get any better when she starts having hallucinations about a dead girl in her bed, which it turns out is actually a vision of her aunt who was killed by Mr Suave Head Carny years before. It also turns out that the monster twin actually tried to save her aunt, sparking a twin-on-twin feud that continues to this day. Confused? 

As the time passes, Sherilyn develops a slight obsession with her new "friend", culminating in her making a creepy sculpture of his head, just like in the video for "Hello" by Lionel Richie:

From this point on, the movie kicks into slush mode. It's up to Sherilyn to decide between the suave, non-monster-but-murdered-her-aunt guy or his sasquatch twin, who's actually pretty cool as it turns out. This is confirmed at the end when Mr Evil Twin tries to murder Sherilyn, but his monster brother kills him with a freaking CROSSBOW. What's weird is that Sherilyn seems totally unphased by the whole ordeal.

The Evil Twin dies, and the monster twin returns to normal, using the last 5 seconds of the movie to explain that actually the curse was on both twins, and now that the evil twin is dead the curse has been lifted, leaving them free from monsterism to be together forever. YESSSSS!!!!!

I... Have no idea how to class this movie. It's one of those cases of slow-motion film making, where they could have easily wrapped things up in 45 minutes, but that obviously wasn't going to cut it so they padded everything out with people rambling on and shots of Fenn walking around a castle looking confused and/or bored. For once this actually kind of works though, as the whole movie has a strange dreamy feel to it - and to be honest, if you've seen as many awful movies as I have, anything with professional actors in it is going to seem impressive regardless.

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