Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Streeting Today: EDWARD LEE'S HEADER

Edward Lee's novella, "Header", appeared in a limited publication run from Necro Publications in 1995. While I'm a complete geek for Lee's writing, I haven't had enough luck to come across any affordable copies of this hard-to-find book. In recent years, other examples of Lee's works have appeared in affordable paperback editions, including the excellent FLESH GOTHIC and most recently THE GOLEM, so now stout-hearted readers who don't mind strong doses of sex and violence can easily enjoy Lee's special brand of "splatterspunk." In addition, we can also enjoy Archibald Flancrastin's film adaptation of "Header" (released on DVD courtesy of Synapse) which, contrary to even Lee's expectations, comes close to capturing the author's gritty and gruesome style. It's also nice to see Lee acknowledged in the title (which, judging by the DVD cover, is officially EDWARD LEE'S HEADER.) Lee himself appears in a cameo, along with fellow author and kindred spirit in dark letters, Jack Ketchum.

The plot of the film follows the return of Travis Truckton to his backwoods home after a stint in prison. There, he reunites with his "grandpappy," who enlightens him on the truth behind his parents' death, along with the joys of the "header," which, if you know Lee's work, is as bad as it sounds. Eventually, their path crosses that of Stewart Cummings, an ATF agent who carries out his own rule-breaking to care for his invalid girl-friend. All of this ends badly in ways one might not immediately expect.

After the less than satisfying results of GRUBGIRL, an xxx rated version of Lee's Grub Girl character, EDWARD LEE'S HEADER provides us with a surprisingly satisfying visualization of Lee's warped world. The film moves briskly, and visually, we learn the details of a "header" in alarming detail. Cast members play their parts well, especially Dick Mullaney, whose rendition of "Grandpappy" may be destined for a place of honor in horror film history. In the "extras," we find interviews with cast and crew, including Lee and Ketchum. A stand-out moment occurs when director Flancranstin waxes poetic on how he hopes the film will serve to raise our consciences on the horrific nature of violence, "re-sensitizing" us to its reality rather than functioning as mere entertainment. Needless to say, the resulting film does not support this weighty purpose, but thankfully you can just ignore him and watch the film.


Jenn said...

I'm such a sucker for Lee's work, I swear nobody writes hard horror like him. As much as I want to see a film adaptation of one of his works, Header is NOT the one I would have picked. Needless to say, I'll see it any way, even though I can't imagine watching an actual 'header' performed on any one.

Now, somebody make a film version of Lee's Slither and put Linnea Quigley in the role of Ruth and I'm all over it!

The Headless Werewolf said...

I think you're on to something with your casting idea! Now, if only we could get some money together . . .

David A. Zuzelo said...

I'm a big Lee fan as well, and after reading Header years ago I was shocked that this was even going to be attempted.
It couldn't be good?
It is... I really enjoyed the film and I'm looking forward to seeing how the DVD turned out.

Personally, I'd love to see someone try an anthology film using shorts by Lee as the basis. Or...THE BIGHEAD!

The Headless Werewolf said...

Oooh, I love THE BIGHEAD--wouldn't that make a great double feature with HEADER?