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By Mike Watt | July 19, 2008

There’s an urban myth surrounding the death of actress Lupe Velez. According to the rumors, Lupe couldn’t face getting old, so she wanted to die beautifully. She took an overdose of sleeping pills, which made her ill. Rushing to the bathroom, she slipped and fell head-first into the toilet, breaking her neck and/or drowning. So she would be forever remembered in death.

The story isn’t true, but it is memorable. And once you stop laughing, if you stop laughing, pause to think about if it were true. Our society’s obsessions with beauty, youth, perfection, even death, are all captured in the above legend.

This is the notion behind Vincent Bonacore’s creepy, depressing, morbidly funny and terribly surreal short film, “Pretty”. A neglected, frightened little girl slathers on her mother’s lipstick while gazing into a mirror, declaring herself the prettiest girl in the world. She grows up delusional, fragile, haunted by her own self-image as well as an uncomfortable nightmare sequence broadcast on television as an ersatz kid’s show. As an adult (played superbly by Linnea “Return of the Living Dead” Quigley), the “prettiest girl in the world” lives an unsatisfactory life, and she’s determine to die at her own hands before time ravages her.

And then the horror begins, the very moment she decides to end her life. The horror is grotesquely comic and tragic at the same time. And its beauty lies in its absurdity. You laugh as you cringe and then, just as with the Lupe Velez legend, you stop to think about the movie and its ramifications. As a culture, we put too much emphasis on the body, on the physical, which is really Quigley’s character’s only refuge. This is a short well-worth checking out.

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