Ricky Hanson Video, Death Becomes Her, 1992
In 1978, narcissistic actress Madeline Ashton performs in the poorly received Broadway musical Songbird! She invites long-time frenemy Helen Sharp, an aspiring writer, backstage along with Helen’s fiancé, plastic surgeon Ernest Menville. Smitten with Madeline, Ernest breaks off his engagement with Helen to marry Madeline instead. Seven years later, Helen is obese, depressed and committed to a psychiatric hospital where she plots revenge on Madeline. Another seven years later, Madeline and Ernest live in Beverly Hills, but they are miserable: Madeline’s acting career has declined and Ernest, now an alcoholic, has been reduced to working as a reconstructive mortician. Receiving an invitation to a party celebrating Helen’s new book, Madeline rushes to a spa where she regularly receives facial treatments. Understanding Madeline’s desperation, the spa owner gives her the business card of Lisle Von Rhuman, a mysterious, wealthy socialite who specializes in rejuvenation.
Madeline and Ernest attend the party for Helen’s novel, Forever Young, and discover that Helen is slim, glamorous and youthful. Dumbfounded and depressed by Helen’s appearance, Madeline witnesses Helen tell Ernest that she blames Madeline for his career decline. After the soiree, Madeline visits her young lover, but discovers he is with a woman his age. Dejected, Madeline drives to Lisle’s home. Lisle, claiming to be 71, but looking decades younger, reveals a potion that promises eternal life and an everlasting youthful appearance. Madeline purchases and drinks the potion and is rejuvenated, regaining her beauty. As a condition of purchase, Lisle warns Madeline to disappear from the public eye after ten years to conceal the potion’s existence, and to treat her body well.
Helen seduces Ernest and convinces him to kill Madeline. When Madeline returns home, she and Ernest argue, during which the latter pushes her down the stairs, breaking her neck. Believing Madeline dead, Ernest phones Helen for advice, but drops the phone in shock when he sees Madeline approach him with her head twisted backward. At Madeline’s request, Ernest drives her to the emergency room. There, Madeline is told by a doctor she is technically dead, and faints. She is taken to the morgue due to her body having no pulse and a temperature below 80 °F (27 °C). After rescuing Madeline, Ernest considers her reanimation a miracle and uses his skills as a mortician to repair her body at home. Helen demands information about Madeline’s situation. Overhearing Helen and Ernest discussing their plot to kill her, Madeline shoots Helen with a shotgun. The blast leaves Helen with a hole in her torso but otherwise unharmed, revealing that she has also taken Lisle’s potion. The two briefly fight before apologizing and reconciling their friendship. Fed up with the pair, Ernest prepares to leave, but Helen and Madeline convince him to repair their bodies one last time. Realizing they will need regular maintenance, they scheme to have Ernest drink the potion to ensure his permanent availability.
The pair knock out Ernest and bring him to Lisle, who offers to give him the potion free of charge in exchange for his surgical skills. Ernest is very tempted, but after some thought he fundamentally disagrees with the idea of immortality, especially considering the consequences Madeline and Helen are already suffering. He pockets the potion and flees, but becomes trapped on the roof. Helen and Madeline implore Ernest to drink the potion to survive an impending fall. Ernest, realizing that they only need him for their own selfish reasons, refuses and drops it to the ground, but after falling he lands in Lisle’s pool and escapes. Lisle banishes Madeline and Helen from her group, leaving the pair to rely on each other for companionship and maintenance.
Thirty-seven years later, Madeline and Helen attend Ernest’s funeral, where he is eulogized as having lived an adventurous and fulfilling life with a large family and friends. Now appearing grotesque, with cracked, peeling paint and putty covering most of their grey and rotting flesh, they mock the eulogy and leave early; outside the church, Helen slips on a dropped can of spray paint and falls down a flight of steps, dragging Madeline with her after she refuses to help her. Their bodies shatter to pieces at the curb, and Helen sardonically asks Madeline if she remembers where she parked their car.