NAKED LUNCH is loosely based on William Burroughs’s life and his 1959 impressionistic novel of addiction and homosexuality. In the film, Bill Lee is an exterminator, who is addicted to his insecticide and hallucinates a huge cockroach who speaks through an anus on its back. The bug expresses suppressed homosexual ideas which Bill would never consciously admit. Just as Burroughs did in life, Bill shoots his wife in a game of William Tell. A Mugwump (a creature that secretes addictive fluid from phalluses on his head) orders Bill to escape to Interzone, a decadent land based on Tangiers, to file his “reports” which become the novel NAKED LUNCH.
NAKED LUNCH implies that murdering his wife, homosexuality and drugs turns Bill into a writer. Actually, Burroughs spent most of his time in Tangiers battling his drug habit and agonizing over his homosexuality, which he called “a horrible sickness.” However, director Cronenberg never portrays Burroughs’s agony, but instead creates a perversely captivating drug induced romp into the bowels of hell where good is bad and bad is good. The demons are there, but now they are witty though disgusting bugs that bring the hero’s unconscious desires to life.
(SSS, Ho, A/D, NNN, LL, VV, O) 12 obscenities & 6 profanities; woman shooting insecticide into her breast, grotesque giant bugs with typewriters in their mouths and talking anuses in their backs, man pulverizes oversized roaches, woman rips open her body to expose a man underneath, & women shot in head; "mugwump" monsters with dripping & squirting phalluses on their heads, graphic fornication, adultery, reference to sexually transmitted diseases & fellatio, transvestism, homosexual kissing, & lesbian & homosexual relationships; male & female nudity; surrealistic & overt depictions of genitalia; witchcraft; and, graphic drug use, drug-induced hallucinations, & alcohol consumption.