Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me

(Joel Hershman, USA, 1992)


“I guess killing your sister, burying your dog and losing your virginity all in one day is a lot for a girl”. So speaks Eli (Max Parrish), the somnambulant hero of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me, to Danni (Adrienne Shelly), a nature-loving innocent who lives in a run-down trailer park.

Eli has already been around the block: as well as having survived a nightmarish tryst with Danni’s nympho sister Sabra (Andrea Naschak), he is also on the run from the ghost of Twinkle (Sean Young), a rich socialite whom he inadvertently killed on their wedding day.

Joel Hershman’s film is an energetic, tasteless romp, keen to fill every spare moment of screen space and time with some bit of business, no matter how silly. Riding on the current wave of American independent cinema, it owes less to Hal Hartley’s droll oeuvre than the kitsch, neurotic visions of John Waters or George Kuchar. But the special, ragged charm of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me takes its knowing audience back even further into cinema history.

This film and Hexed (1993), another hilarious direct-to-video release, propose a spirited return to a singular classic of American screen comedy, Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944). Sturges pitted a passive, helpless hero against a parade of hysterical, grotesque women of all ages. It is too easy to attribute today’s revival of such comedy to male anxiety and the backlash against feminism.

For, like Sturges, Hershman takes a real and palpable delight in the spectacle of his deranged superwomen making life a merry hell for the leading man. Eli, despite a few moments of panic, in fact stays pretty cool throughout. Faced with the kinky perversions, murderous impulses and demented outbursts of his consorts, he usually shrugs and remarks: “Whatever floats your boat .”

© Adrian Martin December 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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