Sunday, January 17

Edward Scissorhands: ’90s Horror Revisited

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Adopting a momentarily nostalgic, though always unsettling, angle for the present instalment, Horror Asylum pays homage to the groundbreaking, razor-sharp work of imagination that is Edward Scissorhands.

Edward Scissorhands – 1990

A nineties fairytale fantasy chilled to the core by legendary director, Tim Burton’s eerie glacial glamour.

A pallid, wild-haired Johnny Depp breathes dark charm and tragedy into Burton’s visionary blade-wielding icon of otherness, Edward Scissorhands.  The incomplete creation of a deceased inventor, Edward’s “hands” of razor-sharp steel compel him to remain concealed from the occupants of creepily kitsch neighbouring town, “Suburbia”.  Edward haunts the confines of a deserted gothic castle until a kindly Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) offers to adopt him.  Weary of the immaculate, yet bland social bubble that is “Suburbia”, the townspeople flock to become acquainted with the mysterious newcomer whose penchant for quirky hairstyles and topiary entertains and astounds them.

Depp assumes this psychologically complex character with organic ease and talent, a remarkable feat given Edward’s limited vocal interactions.  A series of surreal, nightmarish flashbacks assist in character development while composer, Danny Elfman’s sweetly sinister score provides expression in the absence of spoken words.  However, it is Depp’s fragility and endearing bewilderment, which render Edward’s transition, from script to screen, wholly complete.

Co-star Winona Ryder delivers a convincing rendition of suburban adolescence as she initially abhors Edward’s unconventional appearance and then finally warms to his tender disposition.  Their attachment unfolds towards the close of the film, demonstrating sound chemistry between the pair.  As the inventor, Vincent Price exudes precisely the kind of frosty, enigmatic stage presence one would expect from a seasoned horror veteran of his calibre.

Manifested from a teenage flight of imagination, Edward Scissorhands is a tale so blissfully severed from reality as to have acquired an aura of timelessness.  An aesthetic delight of Halloweenish frights and spooky yuletide themes, Edward Scissorhands possesses sufficient creative scope to permit Burton’s imagination to run riot.  Masquerading in a wealth of festive, snowy splendour, the film could, at first glance, be mistaken for a vacuous slab of family fun.  Albeit charming, the film’s initial playful mischief swiftly dissolves like a dream gone bad, reassembling in a warped, menacing guise.  A bittersweet fantasy grounded in the reality of human isolation, Edward Scissorhands presents a haunted, wintertime world of unforgettable beauty.

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