Picks and Pans Review: Naked Lunch

updated 02/03/1992 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/03/1992 01:00AM

Peter Weller, Judy Davis

Whacked-out and over-the-top in the extreme, this movie is for those who missed Altered States (1980). Naked Lunch, based on William S. Burroughs's classic autobiographical screed about his drug addiction, tells the story of Bill Lee (Weller), who fails to just say no and ends up losing his grip on what he calls "the reality principle."

Drug-induced paranoia follows. And how: Bloblike creatures with pulsating sex organs skitter about, typewriters metamorphose into beetles who lecture through large anuslike openings, and characters mainline insecticide ("a Kafka high," says Davis). All this is by way of a mini—history lesson on the anything-goes atmosphere in Tangier (called the Interzone here) of the '50s, including characters clearly based on writers Jane (Davis) and Paul Bowles. Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

David (Dead Ringers) Cronenberg, the flamboyant ghoulmeister who adapted and directed Burroughs's book, has laid on the hallucinogenic sequences so thick that most viewers, rather than turning on, will just tune out. (R)

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