Twenty-four years ago, in a small Minnesota town, a group of girls vowing for the title of Mount Rose Teen American Princess were under the spiteful eye of a sinister individual who would do anything to make sure that their chosen girl would win the pageant. These girls were not safe in their homes. They were not safe on stage. They were not safe in the public eye.
The young contestants of Mount Rose Teen American Princess were constantly being documented by a camera crew that was filming the journey of these girls throughout the duration of the pageant. The doings of the sinister individual would, on multiple occasions, happen as the cameras were rolling. Poor Tammy Curry was riding her tractor, and “TING”, the tractor and Tammy went up in flames. Jenelle Betz was rehearsing her interpretive dance to Looking Through the Eyes of Love by Melissa Manchester when a light fell from above the stage, sending her to the hospital and eventually causing her to go deaf. Sidenote: This was a dream of Jenelle’s ..being deaf. We wish Jenelle well.
The killer’s target seems to be the contestant with the best chance to win, Amber Atkins. Amber may come from a podunk family, but she’s got what it takes to win. She’s intelligent, she’s beautiful, she’s humble, and she has a tap dance routine that is sure to shoot her to the top. She’s a threat to all of the other girls, but the threat is against her as the sinister individual targets the people Amber loves as well the pageant contestants. A guy that Amber may have a romantic connection with is shot in the head in a supposed hunting accident. Amber’s mom is found ass up in someone’s flower bed with a beer can melted to her hand after her trailer has exploded to smithereens.
Aside from the “hunting accident,” cameras caught it all, but they did not catch the assailant while those acts were committed. It wasn’t until the winner – the sinister individual’s chosen girl – was waiting upon her victory float that the cameras caught who was trying to eliminate these girls. This was when the sinister individual’s plan went down in flames along with the Mount Rose Teen American Princess.
Who is the sinister individual? Is it one of the pageant contestants? Is it one of the three judges? Is it contestant, Leslie Miller’s boyfriend, who comes across as a dumb jock, but could just be covering up his master plan? What about Amber’s biggest competition, Rebecca Ann Leeman? Amber and she are always at each other’s necks, and Rebecca Ann Leeman, “Becky”, is the Vice President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club. How about Becky’s mom, Gladys? She’s a former Mount Rose American Teen Princess titleholder. “Amer-I-Can” is one of the themes that she’s come up with for a past pageant, and “I can” believe that she may have something to do with the murders as she makes obvious advances to destroy Amber’s chances of winning. The town is full of suspects and quirky individuals who could all be behind this master plan to destroy who gets in the way of the perfect girl winning the pageant.
Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the film that the documentary crew put together of the massacre in Mount Rose. The town may be known for its culinary dish, Lutefisk; a codfish dish that has been salted and had a weekly soak in lye. Locals say it’s best with butter. But the teen pageant massacre will surely take its place.
The mystery hasn’t gone unsolved, as the crew was able to catch the reveal of the person responsible for all of the heinous acts that occurred. I won’t spoil it. I’ll leave it up to you, fiend, to watch the documentary.
For this article, we attempted to reach a number of survivors for an interview. Most involved didn’t want to revisit the incident. Some, like Leslie Miller, haven’t been seen since the incident. The only person that was willing to talk to us was Amber Atkin‘s Aunt Loretta. After she had a few drinks and a pack of cigarettes, she seemed willing to talk to us about the incident. If only we could have gotten her to stop telling us we were cute and …other advances. We were able to leave with an autographed picture of Amber, so there’s that.
Sounds like the perfect slasheresque documentary, yeah? You and I know it’s not. It’s the hilarious dark comedy that is 1999’s Drop Dead Gorgeous. Twenty years ago, this quirky mockumentary was released. It wasn’t a smash hit when it premiered, but over time, it has reached the status of cult classic. Rightfully so as it is a film that while enjoyable if viewed in your own home, it is a riot to watch with a crowd.
Quirky and outrageous performances from Allison Janey (Loretta), Kirsten Dunst (Amber Atkins), Ellen Barkin (Annette Atkins), Kirstie Alley (Gladys Leeman), Denise Richards (Rebecca Ann Leeman), Amy Adams (Leslie Miller), Brittany Murphy (Lisa Swenson), Mindy Sterling (Iris Clark), Will Sasso (Hank Vilmes), and Adam West (Himself) explode in every scene. The humor is at times, not as PC as today’s culture would embrace, but it is handled in a respectful manner …or at least as respectful as anorexia, pedophilia, special needs, and cultural appropriation can be.
If anything, the humor in Drop Dead Gorgeous is the perfect spoof for where America is today. After all, the theme for the pageant in the film is “Proud to be an American.” Many of the themes spoofed throws humor at hot topics of today. So dare I say that Drop Dead Gorgeous is a satire that was before its time.
“As my mama says at Sunday supper, come and get it,” and catch Drop Dead Gorgeous as soon as you can. It is currently streaming on Hulu. See it as a slasheresque comedic mockumentary satiric rollicking good time. You’ll also see Denise Richards do a musical number with a stuffed Jesus on a cross. Classic.