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Keith Ryan

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  1. Keith Ryan

    Episode 239 - Cool World

    Hey everybody! I know that digging for imagery in failed films like Cool World is a fool’s errand, but a backstory became obvious to me whilst watching, probably cos I went to Catholic school (long since reformed)… Cool World is literally hell, and the veil between earth and hell is thinnest in Sin City (which is why it was set in Vegas). The imagery in Cool World is straight up hellish: from the absurd architecture to the grotesque denizens (including demonic goons and gargoyles), to the ghostlike black-and-white doodles that occasionally float through frame. The name “Cool” World is ironic and telling. Gabriel Byrne’s character was able to travel to hell because he killed someone and made a Faustian pact to gain success and notoriety from his art. He was granted visions of hell, which he faithfully reproduces and sells from prison to great acclaim. Holli Would, a classic succubus, begins to tempt him because she wants to become corporeal and seduce as many mortals as possible. The stakes are high: all hell will break loose if beings continue to cross the veil, further weakening it (as we see towards the end of the film). That’s why Brad Pitt’s character has been charged with policing the exchange of noids and doodles between hell and earth. He was dragged, half-dead, into hell because - like Gabriel Byrne’s character - he has also killed, but in a wartime context, which means there is some ethical ambiguity to his sins. This places him in a sort of purgatorial position where he labours for decades (without ageing!) to keep hell and earth separate but can still exist in either one. At the end of the film, he finally dies on earth and is sent permanently to hell, where he becomes a doodle and immediately commits the original sin with his own succubus… now without the risk of her becoming corporeal and wreaking havoc on earth. Though I’ve only watched this stinker once, I can’t recall details of the film that contradict my theory. Feel free to poke holes! PS. Did anyone else think the “spike” scenes parallel the opening of Gozer’s portal in Ghostbusters?