The Man Who Beheaded Bijou Phillips

It's been a good run for Lionsgate marketing co-president and shock-artist-in-residence Tim Palen, whose groundbreaking work composing controversial Bijou-Phillips-beheading, Wienerdog-inverting (pictured), and director-dong-exposing imagery to promote the upcoming Hostel: Part II are getting exactly the kind of media attention the studio was surely hoping for, culminating in today's LAT story about his campaigns. But what makes selling a horror flick with an image of a naked Phillips toting her head around like a Prada purse any different than what the much-maligned Captivity crew (coincidentally, a movie also distributed by Lionsgate! Funny how that worked out.) did with their billboard tutorials on how to kidnap, torture, and execute Elisha Cuthbert? Palen explains to the Times::

Palen defends his work in two ways: in terms of context and execution. The poster of a naked Phillips holding her severed head in her hands, he says, "is completely inappropriate to be on a billboard on the street or even in the lobby of our offices." But he says it is suitable for theaters in foreign markets — where people are far less concerned about sexual images — and for hard-core horror fans.

"It's for the boys in the backpacks at these comic conventions, waiting in line for hours to get the posters signed," says Palen.

Palen insists his images are considerably different from the ones that appeared on billboards for "Captivity," whose graphic portrayal of the kidnapping and torture of a woman caused such a furor that they were quickly taken down earlier this year. (The movie, made by After Dark Films, is distributed by Lionsgate, but the company claims it never saw or approved the advertising materials.) Palen says those images were "vulgar" because of the way they were designed and photographed.

But what about his severed-head poster? Why isn't it vulgar too? "There's a way for Bijou to hold her head in her hand and do it elegantly instead of gratuitously," he says. "It's the flourish and technique brought to it that makes all the difference."

We find it hard to disagree; Palen's haunting images are so aesthetically superior to the heavy-handed Captivity snuff work that if he decided to silkscreen one of his creations onto a promotional condom rolled over the biggest building on the Sunset Strip, there would be no outrage about a crass stunt, only profound appreciation of the flourish and technique that went into his loving rendering of Eli Roth's bloated, veiny junk.