It's the Booze Talkin', Time to Honor David Bowie's Genre Contributions!

Sunday night as I was getting ready for bed, I read the news about the death of David Bowie. This legendary performer was something truly special in a world of one hit wonders and crappy pop music. Bowie was different. He was charismatic. He was controversial. He was one of the most intriguing figures in the history of music. And yes, he was also an incredibly talented actor. It was impossible to get away from this heartbreaking news. In the morning, my local station was playing his incredible music, and I’m not afraid to say that it brought a couple of tears to my eyes. How many modern artists could ever aspire to have the phenomenal career that this trendsetting genius had? And while I just can’t get the song “Heroes” out of my head, on this weeks Booze Talkin’, we thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at Bowie’s wonderful genre entries.

What better place to start than the uber-trippy THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH from 1976. This Nicolas Roeg directed science fiction drama proved that Bowie was not only a brilliant musician, but an unparalleled on-screen presence. It was his first starring role, and it was something truly odd and wonderful. Upon its original release, the critical reaction was mixed and the box office wasn’t huge, but all these years later the film has become a cult classic. Even without Bowie’s music - the soundtrack was ultimately coordinated by John Phillips from The Mamas & the Papas - it created a very vivid portrait from its leading man. Unfortunately for Bowie fans, the Criterion Collection release of this on BluRay is currently out of print.

There are a couple of fascinating films he was involved in including the intense CHRISTIANE F. in 1981 and the stunning JUST A GIGOLO which was released in 1978 - although it was filmed before THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. However, it was Tony Scott who brought us one of the most under appreciated vampire flicks ever produced. The sleek and sexy THE HUNGER in 1983 proved that this transcending talent could hold his own with Catherine Deneuve. The sexual chemistry between Bowie, Deneuve and a gorgeous young redhead by the name of Susan Sarandon was impossible to resist. It is a hauntingly beautiful film, and it was the first time I had witnessed Bowie as an actor thanks to late night cable. I was absolutely electrified.

That same year Bowie, the actor, was featured in the powerful drama MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE. This may not be horror, fantasy or sci-fi, but it may very well be one of his best performances. Either way it continued to prove what an immensely thrilling figure he was on film. While his next couple of films didn’t quite live up to the raw dramatic force of MR. LAWRENCE or the sexually charged vampires of THE HUNGER, it kept him working. And personally, I’ll always have a soft spot for the 1985 flick INTO THE NIGHT with Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. The John Landis dark comedy was a favorite of mine as a kid, and it had Bowie so you can’t go wrong there.

For many film fans, especially when it comes to fantasy, it is almost impossible to not have huge love for LABYRINTH from 1986. In the Jim Henson directed feature, Bowie plays Jareth the Goblin King, and it was the perfect role for the actor. It also didn’t hurt that this co-star was Jennifer Connelly. There was something about his work in movies that truly stretched the viewers imagination, and this enigmatic creature brought these stunning characters to life. His impressive work on-screen also included other non-genre work like the musical ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS (1986), THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988), TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) as well as THE PRESTIGE (2006). Bowie was something special alright. And while he lost his fight to cancer, he leaves an unimaginable wealth of art, music and movies to his fans. Hell, I’ve probably watched his Christmas duet with Bing Crosby one hundred plus times.

Maybe it’s the Booze Talkin’, but we at AITH will never forget Bowie’s genre contributions. This intensely beautiful human being brought joy to audiences for several decades. And of all his feature films, I can’t help but want to celebrate his life with a handful of sci-fi, horror and fantasy classics. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. THE HUNGER. And of course, LABYRINTH. David Bowie was more than just Ziggy Stardust. He was more than Major Tom. He was a true artist. And perhaps I didn’t know him, nor did I meet him face to face, but the impact his work had on so many generations is unmistakable. To all the misfits, and the geeks, and the oddities, Bowie proved that we could all be heroes.

Extra Tidbit: What is your favorite album, song, movie or memory of David Bowie?
Source: AITH



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