Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Death Becomes Her

US movie (1992). Universal. Pr Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis. Dir Zemeckis. Spfx Michael Lantieri. Vfx Ken Ralston, Industrial Light & Magic. Special body fx Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr. Makeup design Dick Smith. Prosthetic makeup sv Kevin Haney. Screenplay Martin Donovan, David Koepp. Starring Goldie Hawn (Helen Stark), Isabella Rossellini (Lisle Von Rhuman), Meryl Streep (Madeline Ashton), Bruce Willis (Ernest Menville). 104 mins. Colour.

A comedy in which various rich socialites are sold by the Wagnerian Von Rhuman the Elixir of Life, part of their Contract being that, after they have enjoyed a decade of youth in the public eye, they must live out the remainder of their near-Immortality in seclusion in case the secret should leak out – which is why, for example, Elvis Presley is still occasionally sighted. Ashton and Stark have always loathed each other, a loathing enhanced when Ashton steals and weds Stark's fiancé Menville. Their attempts to murder each other achieve only mutilation, and at last, grudgingly, they join forces. The moral comes in AD2022, at Menville's funeral: he has achieved immortality through his children, adopted children and charitable works, while Ashton and Stark are reduced to squabbling over a last can of flesh-coloured touch-up paint. Although slight, DBH handles its themes with flair and pace, and the spfx, achieved in large part through sophisticated computer graphics, are sensational. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.