Movie Chat: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


This is the last Movie Review I’ll be posting. Courtesy of Toni V Sweeney who has presented many insightful reviews for this blog, which is appreciated. Also find info below on Toni’s interesting horror romance novel Serpent’s Tooth.


This fantasy definitely shows the directorial hand of Terry Gwilliam, one of the Monty Python five, and that makes it while not exactly horrific, definitely bizarre in some instances.  That automatically makes it difficult to summarize.

The gist (I think) is: A monk is tempted by the devil into a series of gambles at the end of which he’ll claim the monk’s daughter.  After thousands of years, the debt comes due. In the meantime the monk, now an itinerant entertainer called Dr. Parnassus, falls in with a celebrity conman and what follows is an attempt to get him out of the debt by delivering five souls to Hell before the devil can call in his markers.

The cast is a good one and the acting frenetic and fast-paced.  The sets are pure Monty Pythonesque.  

The story itself may not be much but in this case, it’s all in the acting…and the actors.

There are recognizable faces if you don’t remember their names. It’s good to see Verne Troyer in something besides his Mini-Me role (Austin Powers).  Indeed the entire story is like a dream—not necessarily a bad one—but definitely one which seems to make sense at the time but later upon wakening, can’t be described at all with any coherency. 

Since Heath Ledger died during filming and was replaced by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law, that line of demarcation is sadly easy to note…about a third way into the film.  All three are actors familiar with movies dealing with the grotesque and the fantastique,  Johnny Depp has done his share from the original Nightmare on Elm Street through the Nineth Gate to Sleepy Hollow and onward.  Collin Farrell did his bit in the remake of Total Recall and A Winter’s Tale, and Jude Law gave us chills in Repo Man, as well as in Gattaca and The Talented Mr. Ripley.  All three portray the same character  at various intervals in the film, giving it their  own personal twists, and the way the replacements are done is clever, making the audience will accept it easily, however.

All in all, an entertaining film, though bordering on indescribable in the graphics or its plot. Like a dream making sense while it’s being experienced but almost unable to relate afterwards, it’s one you have to see, not one to be relayed verbally.


Toni shares information on her novel.

Blurb for Serpent’s Tooth:

A famous rock star disappears…twenty-five years later; a former fan discovers he’s still alive. He takes her to the ranch where he’s hidden for a quarter of a century, but there the love story degenerates into a tale of horror…

Once Travis Brandt, aka Hildebrand, the most famous singer of the 80’s, takes Melissa Powers to his ranch in the Nebraska sandhills, everything takes on a sinister tinge. Travis’ assertions as to why his former marriage was destroyed, and his decision to disappear at the height of his career sound false to his new wife, as does his refusal to have children. When Melissa discovers she’s pregnant in spite of her husband’s careful attempts to prevent it, she learns Travis’ secret…a tale of rags-to-riches, the story of a youngster from Nebraska who became the idol of millions, but wanted more; of a young man who bartered his soul to the Powers of Darkness in return for fame.

Hildebrand wanted it all and got it, and now Travis, Melissa, and their new family must pay for his sins!




Deb and Greg are arguing about today’s English Lit. class, Christopher Marlowe’s Faust. Greg thinks Faust should have fought tooth and nail to keep from paying the satanic piper. Deb thinks the opposite.

“You don’t actually mean he should simply have shrugged and gone to Hell without a whimper?” He sounds as if he can’t believe what he’s hearing. He makes an elaborate gesture and says in a dumb-than-dumber voice, “Duh—okay, Mephisto…yuk, yuk, yuk! Guess ya got the drop on me, you ol’ devil, you!”

“That’s right.” Deb makes a pained don’t-encourage-him grimace, her look daring him to disagree. “After all, he made a bargain. The Devil kept his part, now Faust has to keep his.”

Honor and the Devil. Now there’s a novel approach,” Travis puts in.

“Misphistopheles never said or did anything to indicate he was trying to trick Faust—”

“Faust was a fool!” Travis interrupts, with perhaps just a little more vehemence than expected. “There were plenty of ways he could have gotten what he wanted and still saved himself.”

“Okay, how would you have handled it, Mr. English Major?”

“I’d have made myself indispensable to the Devil. Okay, Mephisto, so I’m damned. Big deal! I’ll be more of an asset to you here than wallowing in some burning lake somewhere. Think of all the souls I can bring in if you just let me stay.” He shrugs, and puts one arm across Kassie’s shoulder, drawing her a little nearer.

She allows him to pull her close but doesn’t look at him.

“I’d still be damned, but at least I wouldn’t get dragged away to Hell. I’d stay right here on Earth and end up with a piece of the action.”

If he took you up on your little proposition.” Cindy straightens in her chair. “And if you could trust him. After all, he wasn’t called the Father of Lies for nothing, was he?”

She’s wearing a tank top, mini skirt, and fishnet stocking with clunky-heeled shoes. Around her neck is a medallion shaped like an Oreo cookie with a bite taken out of it. Braless breasts strain the tank top, nipples pushing against the tight knit.

Travis looks at her and quickly averts his eyes. For a brief moment, the desire he feels for Kassie transfers itself to Cindy. She’s pretty, she’s available, and now that she’s discovered the Loupe, she has no hesitation about jumping into bed. With everybody.

He’d like a little taste of that cookie.

Immediately, he feels a sense of shame, which adds to his anger.

Unaware of his thoughts, Cindy looks around, peering over their heads.

“Who are you looking for?” Kassie asks.

“The Devil. After that little speech, I thought I might see him making a beeline to Trav to make him an offer.”

They all laugh and Travis exclaims, “I wish he would. God, I wish someone would!” The emotion in his voice makes the laughter die away. He cups both hands and raises them to his mouth, calling out in a stage-yell, “Hey, Mephistopheles, Satan, whoever you are! Here I am! Let’s talk!”

They stare at him.

In the silence, he picks up his Coke and drains it, sets the glass down with a gesture of defiance, and looks around at their startled expressions.

“What’s the matter? Can’t you guys take a joke?”

Travid Brandt.

A Ripe little Plum, waiting for the Devil to pluck.


About the Author:

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art and also produces book videos. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. Her novels have garnered awards from The National Writers Association, Preditors & Editors, The Maryland Writers Association, and The Paranormal Romance Guild. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books. She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild.  Recently she was named a professional reader by

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Twitter: @ToniVSweeney