Naked Lunch

In 1953 New York, writer Bill Lee works as an exterminator, whereby inhaling an excess of insecticide has distorted his sense of reality. After accidently shooting his wife to death in a drugged haze, he flees to Interzone on the Moroccan coast, the stomping ground for a variety of enigmatic characters. Functioning as a secret agent for a certain Dr Benway, he writes reports about a drug ring involving an American writer couple that mushroom into the novel “Naked Lunch” while the protagonists change their identities at will, and typewriters morph into aggressive insects … “Exterminate all rational thought!” In his adaptation of a novel widely considered unfilmable, David Cronenberg has taken to heart that advice from Bill Lee, William Burrough’s alter ego. In a surrealist brainteaser full of monsters and mutations, body horror and literary allusions to the Beat Generation, what happens onscreen turns out to be a pure cinematic hodgepodge, in which reality, drugged delirium and literary fantasy imperceptibly segue into each other. “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” World premiere of the digitally restored version.
by David Cronenberg
with Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker, Robert A. Silverman, Joseph Scorsiani
United Kingdom / Canada 1991 English 115’ Colour Rating R16


  • Peter Weller
  • Judy Davis
  • Ian Holm
  • Julian Sands
  • Roy Scheider
  • Monique Mercure
  • Nicholas Campbell
  • Michael Zelniker
  • Robert A. Silverman
  • Joseph Scorsiani


Director David Cronenberg
Screenplay David Cronenberg based on the novel by William S. Burroughs
Cinematography Peter Suchitzky
Animation Chris Walas
Editing Ronald Sanders
Music Ornette Coleman, Howard Shore
Sound Bryan Day
Production Design Carol Spier
Art Director James McAteer
Costumes Denise Cronenberg
Make-Up Christine Hart
Producer Jeremy Thomas
Co-Producer Gabriella Martinelli

Additional information

DCP: Recorded Picture Company, London