I’m not going to apologize for being away from noirwhale.com for so long, but I figure I at least owe everyone an explanation. As some of you know, I’m still attending school while maintaining a full-time job. April just happened to be a particularly brutal work-load convergence, finals on one hand, thousands of dollars worth of needy clients on the other. By the end of the month, I was feeling a bit wrung-out and needed a break. I’ve got a few personal noir projects on the back burner and was able to spend a few joyful weeks tinkering with them (someday I’ll share). Additionally, I’ve been reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and his prose is as seductive as everyone promised. But I’m back now, and eager to share some mighty fine noir.
“Hothouse Bruiser” is a particularly intriguing piece of noir media– It’s a homage to the radio dramas of the pre-tv generation, but feels (and sounds) fresh to death. The drama is thick and cold, and the jazzy soundtrack is catchy and intoxicating. Great vocal talents, snappy dialogue, and creative storytelling collide in a work that is not entirely noir, nor entirely sci-fi. It straddles the neon window like Blade Runner or (more recently) Looper. Both rely on the potent noir atmosphere to set the tone in a futuristic story-scape.
Here is the teaser video:
“Hothouse Bruiser” vs. the noir definition:
1) The Seedy Underworld
The setting for the audio drama is a city-within-a-city, the Los Angeles ‘Quarantine’– supposedly the inhabitants within have contracted a ‘binary virus’, and any contact with someone outside the quarantine will result in both individuals’ deaths. Saeger Corp runs the Quarantine like a maximum security prison, and hand out privileges to those who show obedience.
2) The Anti-Hero
Jason Bruiser is the anti-hero of the story (voiced brilliantly by Paul Nobrega). He’s an ex-cop who’s separated from his family, trapped in the Quarantine. But he’s got connections, on the inside and out, and he’s used them to earn a reputation. Bruiser is conflicted by the man he ought to be and the man he’s becoming- with a teenage boy and little girl on the outside (and neighbor who may be inching in on his wife), he’s struggling to remain pure in a world that rewards the wicked.
3) The Femme Fatale
The Quarantine is full of deadly dames, and they all take their shots at Bruiser. He gives as good as he gets, and the dialogue is a tasty tribute to the noir tradition (just enough cheese and sleaze to keep us tuned in). If I had to choose one of the many as THE femme fatale, Vera Grayle is it (voiced by the famous Traci Lords). She’s the buxom prospector of a local dive, where shots are $100.00 a piece and your secrets are for sale.
Enough of the old school machismo floats around in “Hothouse Bruiser” to raise the temperature of the more feminist listeners– but the dames aren’t all body and beauty, they’re cruel and calculating also. The most obvious misogyny is Bruiser piling threats of physical harm on the broads that cross him.
In the Hothouse redemption is only found beyond the wall, and everyone will do anything to get it. As the plot steeps Bruiser in sin, he begins to lose hope that redemption exists; when his hope evaporates, his morals go with it.
6) Loss of Innocence
Bruiser’s story is framed by the ‘fallen angel’ archetype. Early on, he’s pushing away the lusty ladies, talking about fidelity and refusing to kill no matter the odds. But, as the story winds on… he starts dipping his toes in the gray areas.
One of my favorite lines was something like this: “I flicked the cigarette out of her mouth, and kissed her so she’d know I was serious.”– SO good.
8 ) Emasculation
Bruiser feels handcuffed inside the quarantine. He can’t defend his family from the incursion of men on the outside, and he’s powerless to free himself. He’s like a bird with clipped wings– and too often he’s at the mercy of the owners of the cage.
I love “Hothouse Bruiser”– we need more radio dramas of this quality on the airwaves. Oh? Did I forget to mention that it’s FREE?