Monday, April 21, 2008

Udo Kier: An Appreciation

It's very difficult to refute it: Casting or adding Udo Kier makes a movie 20% more interesting than it was before. Would "My Own Private Idaho" and "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" have been as interesting? I think not. Would Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" be as good without him? Impossible.

Would Andy Warhol's "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" be worth watching without Udo Kier? Unthinkable. Even his dubbed-performance in Dario Argento's "Suspiria" is interesting. Kier is one of those actors who could make a turd film more interesting simply because he's in it. Even the parts that he's not in become more interesting. John Waters makes camp, but Udo Kier is camp. He adds so much color to a movie, so much texture.

E. Elias Merhige's pretentious-but-good "Shadow of the Vampire" would be unwatchable without him. He's that one factor that tips a disastrously bad movie into something merely good. None of that matters--if there was no Udo Kier, we would have had to invent him, he's a gas. His presence in Rob Zombie's make-believe "Grindhouse" trailer "Werewolf Women of the SS"was appreciated, if brief.

He's an actor who brings so much to the table. You can tell he's seen a lot in his life, and he brings a presence and an authority to a role that catalyzes just an OK film into something good. He can swing from full camp to a dead seriousness. The statistics don't lie: put Udo Kier into a movie, and it instantly becomes 20% more interesting.