Just how far would you go to attain physical perfection? What would you be willing to do to hold onto that beauty once it’s within your grasp? How much would a compromise like that cost: financially, morally, and physically? Being beautiful isn’t easy and there are so many factors that you need to take into consideration: the mass murder, the resurrections, the cannibalism, the head-hoarding, the upkeep of an immortal body steadily declining into rot and, of course, locating somebody tight-lipped enough who’ll supply you with fetal-flavored dumplings as a starter.
The intention of this column is to cast a net over some ladies in the horror genre whose evil grooming techniques resulted in flawless skin, great hair, a high-body count and their own inevitable annihilation.
A word of advice: don’t try any of these beauty regimens at home, kids.
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2: Julia Cotton (dir: Tony Randel) 1988
Self-development through the prism of infernal resurrection is bound to play havoc with a girl’s skincare regime. Just ask Julia Cotton in Tony Randel’s 1988 sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser 2: sexually frustrated housewife, cold-blooded, hammer-yielding man-hater and Queen of Hell. Not only do you need to worry about blood under those expensive manicured fingernails and desiccated corpse meat in that elegantly coiffed volume blow-dry, but also have the added bonus of being gutted by your asshole lover, torn apart by demons and resurrected by a power-hungry mad scientist and the only way to regain that former flawless complexion: subsisting on wenches procured by your new madman. Doesn’t really inspire confidence in your own worth, does it?
Death Becomes Her: Madeleine Ashton and Helen Sharp (dir: Robert Zemeckis) 1992
If you’re an aging starlet, at a confidence low, you should probably avoid referral from a twitchy man who pops up in your local plastic surgery clinic, especially if that referral leads you to a barely-dressed and sultry Isabella Rossellini, who dispenses an immortal youth potion with unforeseen ramifications for those who don’t heed her warning to take care of their bodies. At first this would appear to be the perfect long-term plan for the talent-lacking actress and homicidally embittered Madeleine Ashton (Meryl Street) in Robert Zemeckis’ 1992 fantastically morbid satire Death Becomes Her. As it turns out, Madeleine’s frenemy, the amusingly deranged Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) has also taken the concoction and has conspired with Madeleine’s hen-pecked, “flaccid” husband Ernest (Bruce Willis) to murder Madeleine. When Madeleine is thrown down the stairs by an enraged Ernest and pops right back up with a broken neck and no pulse, much fun body-horror ensues, and a shot-gun reprisal later on Helen Sharp makes poor Ernest only-too-aware it is no miracle and he needs to exit stage-left and quick, before he is stuck with both forever...
Return to Oz: Princess Mombi (dir: Walter Murch) 1985
Who needs make-up artists, hair stylists or cosmetic surgery when you’ve a different head for every day of the week? This is precisely what Princess Mombi does in Walter Murch’s sequel to The Wizard of Oz, The Return to Oz. A pre-teen Fairuza Balk’s Dorothy Gale is caught in Mombi’s cross-hairs and like every textbook witch, stores the girl in an attic with multiple means of escaping, even if one of those does involve enlisting the help of a pumpkin with severe arrested-development issues. With a storage of heads (and therefore brains) at her disposal, you’d think Mombi would’ve given that plan a bit more thought – the irony!
American Horror Story: Coven: Madame Delphine Lalaurie (dir: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk) 2013/14
American Horror Story: Coven’s Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is a 1830’s socialite, sadist, murderer and by her own admission “a visionary” and “a woman of her time.” She also had a “mean streak wider than her backside.” Madame Delphine’s idea of festive felicitations included stuffing her long-suffering daughter Borquita’s mouth full of shit on that most joyful of days: Christmas. Oh, and the mad bitch kept pet slaves she habitually brutalised, murdered and maimed. But Delphine had an Achilles heel: a pursuit of anything that would preserve her youth, this attracts the attention of Voodoo Queen Marie LaVeau (Angela Bassett) who plays up to Delphine’s vanities and the insecurities she has regarding her wayward husband. Of course it isn’t a love potion LaVeau administers, but a veil of her own tears. That guarantees the socialite immortality. Of course, Marie plans on burying racist Madame LaLaurie alive, right after executing her whole family and delivering a profoundly melodramatic monologue. Now that’s poetic justice...
Dumplings: Mrs. Li (dir: Fruit Chan) 2004
You’re only as old as, er, the fetal matter (in a batter coat, of course) you eat. As diet plans go, it’s definitely one of the ickiest and likely to break the Guinness World Record for sheer, unadulterated craziness should it ever catch on. In Fruit Chan’s Hong Kong-based extreme entry Dumplings (adapted loosely from the short film Three...Extremes) Miriam Yeung’s scorned wife Mrs. Li discovers a gruesome alternative to a rigid exercise program and intensive monthly facials - unfortunately it happens to be an especially distasteful way of giving herself that necessary rejuvenation. The extreme preventative measure to the gradual decline of her beauty is: fetuses in baked goods! I don’t think you need me to tell you that this particular take-away was a recipe for disaster...