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Naked Lunch (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Nov 11, 2003)
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Criterion Collection
$21.26 $12.24

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Peter Weller, Ian Holm, Roy Scheider, Judy Davis. A drug-addict writer, who is an exterminator part-time, accidentally kills his wife and then hallucinates that his typewriter has become a giant cockroach in this bizarre over-the-edge tale. 1991/color/115 min/R/widescreen.

From the Back Cover

Exterminate all rational thought. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs' hallucinatory, "unfilmable" novel is finally realized on-screen by director David Cronenberg. Part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict Bill Lee (Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish netherworld of the Interzone, pursuing a mysterious project that leads him to confront sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. The fruit of an unholy union between two masters of the hilarious and the macabre, Naked Lunch mingles aspects of Burroughs' novel with incidents from his own life, resulting in a compendium of paranoid fantasies and a searching investigation into the mysteries of the writing process.

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer, approved by director David Cronenberg
  • Audio commentary by Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller
  • "Making Naked Lunch" a London Weekend TV documentary
  • Illustrated essay on the special effects
  • Film stills gallery
  • Examples of the marketing campaign, including a featurette, B-roll montage, TV spots, and theatrical trailer
  • Excerpts from the novel read by author William S. Burroughs
  • A collection of archival stills of author William S. Burroughs
  • 32-page booklet with essays

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: David Cronenberg, William S. Burroughs
  • Producers: Gabriella Martinelli, Jeremy Thomas
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CDUT5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Naked Lunch (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Cronenberg's version of Naked Lunch is a brilliant combination of Burroughs' novel and Burroughs' life. He blends the true story of Burroughs life (and his reason for writing) with the surreal dark-comedy 'routines' of the novel until they become one story. The story is a quiet hallucination featuring exterminators, addiction, typewriters in the form of insects, typewriters that grow genitals, a global conspiracy of intelligence agents, the drug trade, homosexual ambiguity, writer's block, accidental murder, and literary paranoia. None of these elements is explored completely. Instead, Cronenberg touches on each one until they form some strange, underlying logic.
This edition of the DVD has enough extras to make it the only version of Naked Lunch you'll ever have to buy. (They won't release a bigger, better edition later.) The BBC documentary is okay. It's about 45 minutes long, giving Cronenberg and William Burroughs a lot of time to speak. (Burroughs is particularly good, with a dry sense of humor and a habit of saying obvious truths that make people uneasy.) The second disc also has stills from the special effects team, showing how the various creatures and organic typewriters were developed.
But it's the first disc --- the movie itself --- that makes it worth buying and watching. The special audio track, shared by Peter Weller and Cronenberg, adds a lot of useful background information. The film itself is bright and sharp, a perfect example of DVD clarity. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone who is interested in the best films of the 1990s. Naked Lunch didn't make as big an impact in theaters as it did in book stores, but it should have.
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Format: DVD
Criterion makes the very best DVDs and "Naked Lunch" is an amazing addition to the collection. Beautiful in every respect... from booklet and menu design to audio and video transfer quality. And the outstanding supplemental material includes: William Burroughs reading excerpts from his novel, a fascinating commentary from the filmmakers and an hour long documentary on the making of the film. As for the film itself: it's disturbing, beautiful and challenging... just what you'd expect from director David Cronenberg.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I just finished David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. It was released in 1991, and is based on the William S. Burroughs novel of the same name. I've never read any of Burroughs' work, but now, I wouldn't mind researching it.

This film is about an exterminator named Bill Lee - who is played here by Peter Weller of RoboCop fame. Bill is an ex-junkie, and is thrown back into drug addiction once he finds out that his wife is addicted to the bug powder that he uses on the job. He tries it once, and becomes hooked. He starts hallucinating. Giant bugs start spouting conspiracy theories to him. A giant alien-like creature, a "mugwump", has a conversation with him at a bar. Sounds weird, huh? It only gets weirder from there on out. And I mean WEIRD. One night, he and his wife decide to play a random game of William Tell that goes horribly wrong, in that he accidentally shoots his wife in the head, and she dies. He flees the scene, and heads off to the "Interzone," an exotic city that may or may not exist inside of his head. He starts to write a novel, a novel that will eventually become the book Naked Lunch. While he is in the "Interzone," his hallucinations get worse. They become so surreal and weird, that it is hard to differentiate between what is real and what is not. I don't have time to explain it all - some of the hallucinations were so strange, that I can't print them for fear of offending someone - however, one thing is certain: this is definitely a film that requires a second viewing.

The character William Lee is loosely based on author William S. Burroughs. Burroughs really did shoot his wife during a game of William Tell, and this novel was written shortly after that incident.
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Format: DVD
Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is possibly as close as you will likely get to an adaptation of any of Burrough's books. Cronenberg has mostly derived his own version of the Naked Lunch here and a lot of the original book's elements are missing and Cronenberg has come up with some new entries of his own. However this very loose adaptation can be forgiven and if you have read the book then you are probably more than well aware that the vast majority of it is incoherent and devoid of anything you can call structure or plot but it does have a narrative and this can be found here.
Peter Weller is impeccably cast as Bill Lee who is sort of a reworking of Burroughs himself. He plays a writer employed as an exterminator who finds out that his wife is addicted to his bug powder. Under the prying eyes of the drug enforcement agency Bill escapes his life to work for a beetle-typewriter (you have to see that thing!) as an undercover homosexual agent who travels to a place called the "Interzone" to write up daily reports there.
The film is provocative and thoroughly insane in every department. The monsters all look genuinely disturbing but even more so when the characters interact with them in the most indescribable of ways. There is a doctor called Benway (Roy Scheider) who appears to be helping Bill to get through his problems of drug addiction and yet turns up later in the film in the most startling of scenes. For a man who once played the lead in "Jaws" it will certainly blow a few minds to see him unzip his breasts. Judy Davis plays Joan Frost and Joan Lee who appear in both the real world and the fantasy world as wife and curiosity of Bill Lee. Davis is on flying 1950s form as usual.
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