I was finally able to watch "Boom!", one of the most notorious, critically and financially failed flops in celluloid history.

Like similar car-crash films such as "Showgirls" it is actually not a bad movie. It just totally mis-judged and missed its potential audience (by miles!).

Thanks to John Waters´ frantic eulogies "Boom!" has become a classic of "failed art" and is treasured by lovers of "bad" cinema. Much has been written about its camp value which it delivers in spades!

The opening sequence sets the tone: Liz writhes in pain during a massage. She throws glasses back at her slave-like servants (yes, one is a midget) while pressing her swollen, diamond-clad fingers onto several intercom devices.
"Pain! Injection!!" are her first words and we know we are in for a wild ride after the camera zooms in on one of her famous Krupps-diamond.
Jennifer Saunders must have seen this over and over to model the character of Edina Monsoon from "Absolutely Fabulous" after Liz´s über-bitch performance.

I really didn´t know what to expect of "Boom!" and so I was totally surprised to see a film that looks like it came straight out of J.G. Ballard´s "The Thousand Dreams of Stella Vista" short-story anthology.

All the characters and images that live in Ballard´s imaginary "Vermillion Sands" desert-resort become flesh in "Boom!": The mysterious, tragic woman who wears the most bizarre outfits, who is permanently surrounded by ticking telex-machines and who relies on a system of "elaborate" intercom devices to communicate with her small world of dependent servants.

The drifting man who follows his obsessions, who becomes a part of this secluded world only to play his role in a play that unfolds with nightmare-logic consequence.

All of this takes place in a setting that is one of the most beautifully shot film-sets ever. The house, that combines the best (or worst) of Dali, Pierre Cardin and the Flitstones, is perched on-top of a rugged cliff in Sicily is the true star of the film.
The angles and rooms serve as a fractal mirror of the characters who live and act in seperate universes, even if they all appear in the same frame.

Ballard himself said that "Pandora and the flying Dutchman" (1953), starring Ava Gardner, influenced his vision of Vermillion Sands. "Boom!" was made in 1968, at a time when many of the "Stellavista"-stories had already been written. Although I doubt that director Joseph Losey and production Designer Richard Macdonald modelled "Boom!" after Ballards ideas.

Still, the similarities between the Sissy Goforth of the movie with all the female characters who inhabit Vermillion Sands are uncanny.

I have captured about 90 stills from the not-so-great-copy I obtained of the film. Despite of the slightly murky quality I made sure to capture the most embarrassing moments in all their intoxicated beauty.
Click on any pic for bigger boom!

"Pain!!! INJECTION!!!"

Easter Island?

The arrival of the witch


"... i was the guest artist at a relief-thing for victims of a Tycoon or Typhoon, or something."

"Blackie! DICTATION!!! Meaning of life!"

cough, cough, cough, etc.


Pbar said...

seen it three times on the big screen... love love love that flick... it's the bomb!

Anonymous said...

Joseph Losey pitched the Film on a
number of levels and when analysed
on deep psychological levels and or literary levels you realise how quickly you get out of your depth.
Losey was smart - He knows how to
enveigle you in shallowness yet have profound meanings lying beneath.The world should miss Mr Losey.