Monte Hellman's IGUANA
Starring Everett McGill (TWIN PEAKS), Hellman's cult pirate-horror film is a haunting masterpiece that remains exemplary of the unruly line between art and exploitation.
Jun 08, 2023, 8:00 PM
2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA
88m, Italy/U.S., DCP, 1988
Pre-recorded introduction by screenwriter Steven Gaydos
The uncompromising American existentialist Monte Hellman (1929-2021) was among the New Hollywood luminaries trained in Roger Corman’s B-movie factory before he directed several of the singular cult art films of the 1970s, including Two-Lane Blacktop and Cockfighter. Lesser-known is his 1988 masterpiece Iguana, a Herzogian pirate film that blends Gothic horror and a Joseph Conrad-esque nihilism into something haunting and unique. Featuring a score by Joni Mitchell, Iguana follows a lone 19th-century sailor (Twin Peaks’ Everett McGill) with a monstrously deformed face who escapes persecution by his fellow mariners to become master of his own domain. Landing on an uninhabited island in the Galapagos, he transforms overnight into a vicious dictator, taking a love affair with an aristocratic Spanish libertine (Maru Valdivielso) while declaring revenge on a world that ostracized him. Hellman’s grim poetry, via elliptical editing and lush landscape photography, elevates Iguana to become something more than mere allegory; dedicated to Warren Oates, it remains exemplary of the unruly line between art and exploitation. (We will be screening the uncut version of the film.)
Winner: Bastone Bianco Award (Special Mention), Venice Film Festival (1988)
“Iguana should have made Monte Hellman a household name." - Quentin Tarantino
Special thanks to Jesse Trussell and R. Emmet Sweeney.