By Gregory Crofton
Benjamin Statler’s SOAKED IN BLEACH establishes that the Seattle police conducted virtually no investigation into the death of rock star Kurt Cobain. They ruled his death a suicide on they same day they found him dead, gripping a shotgun with his left hand, on the floor of a small greenhouse above his garage.
Did he die from the gunshot to the head, or was it the extraordinarily large amount of heroin in his blood? No one knows because his autopsy report has never been released. “I think very legitimate questions have been raised about the level of heroin,” says Norm Stamper, police chief of Seattle Police Department at the time of Cobain’s death, in the film. “These are questions that I think deserve answers and in fact require answers.”
Reenacted scenes involving Kurt’s wife Courtney Love, taped phone conversations and interviews make up the film. The documentary reveals, through tapes made by private investigator Tom Grant, that Kurt and Courtney were headed for divorce at the time of his death. Most interesting are recordings Grant made while on the phone with the Cobain’s entertainment lawyer, Rosemary Carroll, who seemed to think that Courtney was in the forgery business.
“That suicide note is a pastiche of things that (Kurt) had written before, I think,” she says in the film. “And of someone copying his handwriting.” SOAKED IN BLEACH is a serviceable documentary made from Grant’s archive of honest investigative work. Statler covers a lot of ground in the film, but a relatively small part of it is new information. You can’t help but to be grateful to the filmmaker for getting the job done. Hopefully it will flush out some new information about the case, or at least prod Seattle police to investigate it. The stories and details reported by the media, i.e. MTV News, according to the film, were built on false information that came from Love.
Another documentary about Kurt Cobain, Brett Morgen’s MONTAGE OF HECK, was released last month. You can read my review of it here. It’s an art film, full of home movies of Cobain when he was a little boy, and his art work, journals, and audio recordings that Morgen was allowed to use with permission from family members. Buzz Osbourne, a high school friend of Cobain and leader of Melvins, a rock band from the Seattle area that Cobain looked up to, recently called the doc 90% bullshit. The two films communicate two completely different stories of the relationship between Love and Cobain. In Morgen’s film, Kurt and Courtney were a couple in love till the very end. Statler’s doc reminds the world that divorce was on the table, and that Kurt was worth millions. You can watch a trailer for the film, or rent or buy it, below.