Friday, June 14, 2013

Andy Warhol's Bad is So Good

Directed by Jed Johnson, Bad (1977) is black comedy at its best. Though Andy Warhol was not involved in the creative product (he merely produced), the mood and themes of Bad are congruent with what Warhol was exploring through his own legendary work...focusing on popular culture through a unique lens, and finding art in the banal.

This startling low-budget picture is about doing naughty things...and being bad.

Desperate Queens housewife Hazel Aiken needs income. Though she has a thriving at-home electrolysis business, it’s not enough for a “money person” like Hazel. So Mrs. Aiken goes to the dark side, acting as agent to match up revenge-thirsty clients with cold-blooded female hoodlums who provide their special services for a price.   

Carroll Baker, former glamour star of big-budget soapers like Giant, Harlow and The Carpetbaggers, uses the Method acting skills she learned from directors like Elia Kazan in Baby Doll to craft an unforgettable yet ultimately pathetic villainness. Hazel Aiken is Baker’s most dimensional acting role.

An incisive and witty script by Pat Hackett and George Abagnalo and a bevy of brilliant character turns elevate this grimy story to a work of pop art worthy of the Warhol brand. Standout performances include Susan Tyrrell as Mrs. Aiken’s neurotic daughter-in-law and Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin (billed as Brigid Polk) as a comically embittered client with a particularly perverse plan for retribution. 

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