The Designer’s Drugs: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Medium: Literature

Stimulus: Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Anno: 2010

Star Wars really destroyed the concept of the trilogy. George Lucas’ original sci-fi epic is really two tales: the introductions featured in A New Hope, followed by the cliffhanger of The Empire Strikes Back and the resolution of Return of the Jedi. Since the Holy Trilogy came out it seems as though this brand of three-parters has become a dominant form. You have The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, Back to the Future, and the new Star Wars trilogy as examples. In the uncertain and high-risk world of cinema, this is an understandable approach. Yet as it comes to Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy – a tale told in books before they were translated to the big screen – the Lucas form of trilogy doesn’t quite work.

Following up on the cliffhangers presented in The Girl Who Played with Fire, (a book which bears more than passing similarities to Empire,) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest concludes the Millenium Trilogy by concerning itself with little more than wrapping up the hanging plot points. The conspiracies set forth in the previous book are expanded upon, yet there’s little sense of danger.

Adding to this are a few more objections. Superhacker Lisbeth Salander, the most compelling character in Larsson’s stories, is largely absent from the proceedings, leaving the straights to untangle her web and detracting from the story’s appeal. Furthermore, there is a completely pointless subplot halfway through involving the stalking of a supporting character. This is Larsson’s biggest misstep in his writing; the stalking plot feels contrived and amateurish, designed to pad the comparatively dry story with cheap intrigue. Finally, the story’s ending could have done without its predictable surprise final confrontation.

On the positive side, Hornet’s Nest is a greater display of Larsson’s skills of multiple characterizations. Though The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is centered on Salander and her straight man counterpart Mikael Blomkvist, the following books bring together the perspectives of a large cast of characters in a way that doesn’t wear thin.

Yet ultimately, this book feels incomplete. The easy way to look at this is to assume that Stieg Larsson, who died before any of his books were published, polished this story the least. That may or may not be true, but what seems clear is that his Millenium Trilogy begins with one of the most captivating mysteries of the last decade in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and falls victim to Lucas Trilogy conventions as it moves on. At least there are no Ewoks in this Return of the Jedi.

Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace

Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace

Movie: Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace (2004)

Directed by: Lee Gordon Demarbre

Starring: Phil Caracas, Jeff Moffet, Ian Driscoll

Written by: Ian Driscoll

After creating Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter – the best movie about Jesus Christ, EVER – Canada’s favorite son Lee Gordon Demarbre continued to amass Bizarro film cred with another glorious entry in his Harry Knuckles series. Phil Caracas, Demarbre’s Scott Bakula-looking Lord, once more dons finger fuzz and fights the forces of evil! Narrated by Barack Obama’s twin brother, the story of Pearl Necklace is a sordid tale of sasquatches, jewelry theft, virtual reality, evil twins, pro wrestling, and hot babes fighting awkwardly.

Mr. Knuckles bursts onto the scene when he foils a pair of thieves who are making off with Bizarro master Menahem Golan’s artwork. From there, a pair of smokin’ fine ladies recruits Harry to track down Bigfoot, who has stolen a radioactive pearl necklace. From the start, these ladies are not who they appear to be, and figuring out their true allegiances comprises a large part of the story.

But they aren’t the only dames with whom Mr. Knuckles crosses paths. Pearl Necklace’s show-stealing moment comes when Harry, always looking for a good bargain, takes his truck to the Unknown Gas Station. Ol’ Unknown, played by writer Ian Driscoll, is a snazzy-dressed gas pumper with a paper bag for a head, who swivels his hips and prances around like a vaudeville kingpin. When he runs afoul of two bondage nuns and gets decked in the face, Unknown’s bag head gets a black eye and he slumps to the ground, leaving Harry $20 worth of gas time to take down the nasty nuns. Following his inevitable victory via vagina punch, Mr. Knuckles drives off to a Nintendo orchestra of triumph.

Yet do not assume that this glorious movie is a one-trick pony! One great moment comes while Mr. Knuckles is digging for clues about the nefarious conspiracy surrounding the pearl necklace. For answers, Harry enters a dark and dingy bar and encounters Bizarro legend Lloyd Kaufman! Wearing a giant sombrero and intermittently spewing coins from his mouth, Kaufman challenges Harry to a drinking contest, and awesomeness ensues. Meanwhile, Harry’s best friend, Mexican luchador hero Santos, is led down the parallel roads of love and betrayal, making an awesome joke about masked safe sex before fighting his way out of a wedding ambush. Ultimately, the goodness and purity of both men prevail. Kind of.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter is a titan of cinema, to be sure, but having watched Pearl Necklace, I have become a committed fan of Lee Gordon Demarbre beyond the Lord. No matter how many pedestrians walk into his shots, Demarbre is a comic genius!