Severed Heads: A Meditation

January 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

"What's in the box?!" Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman Face the Horror in "Se7en"/Courtesy New Line Cinema

Is there any more arresting image than that of a severed human head? As the search for additional body parts continues in Bronson Canyon, one has to feel particularly sorry for the two traumatized women–a professional dogwalker and her mother–who discovered the head on Tuesday afternoon. Conversely, everyone else in the Hollywood Hills is grateful their canine companions weren’t involved. (My own dog not only has a penchant for finding hidden objects–she once pulled an old bra out of a hedge–but for putting mysterious things in her mouth. Needless to say, she would have been all over a severed head.)

Perhaps because no additional body parts were discovered today, the LA Times blog has published a story memorably titled, L.A. has head, hands, feet; Arizona has body, but match unlikely. Yes, a headless torso was found in Tucson, but it’s not our torso. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/01/hollywood-head-arizona-body.html

Which brings us, naturally, to the movies. The strange and horrible cinematic quality of the crime in Bronson Canyon has been noted by journalists and interviewees alike. “My mom and I thought it was a movie prop,” said Lauren Kornberg, the dogwalker. Others have alluded to police dramas and “The Sopranos.”

Right after the discovery, a neighbor emailed me the following YouTube link to a clip from Roman Polanski’s “MacBeth,” which I hadn’t seen before. Apparently it’s considered the best cinematic beheading:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gomhWx017Sc

It brought back memories of David Fincher’s “Se7en,” which ends with the delivery of a box containing a woman’s severed head–Gwyneth Paltrow’s–to her husband, a police detective played by Brad Pitt. Although we (mercifully) never see the head, the moment is so horrifying that it’s as though we did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1giVzxyoclE&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Back at Bronson Canyon, the investigation is coming to a close. The park is due to reopen sometime tomorrow.

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§ 2 Responses to Severed Heads: A Meditation

  • Eric James says:

    Every once in a while I miss the excitement of living in the Hollywood Hills. What I wouldn’t miss, though, is the palpable fear I remember, that was evident throughout the hills during the reign of terror of Charles Manson & company. We all felt that fear linger for almost a week, and even after they were caught. When Cass Elliott died in Nichols Canyon, the first thought was, she was murdered. The murders on Wonderland Ave. in Laurel Canyon, though, top my list for instilling fear. Especially since I often partied at a friend’s house, directly across from the murder house. I remember when Rudy Vallee died in his pink manse atop Rue de Vallee off Mulholland Dr. He died simply, sitting in his easy chair, watching TV. How wonderfully old timey.

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