on the Dance Floor
Deep in the wilds of Greenpoint, Brooklyn,
something bloody queer is afoot: namely, the filming of the upcoming
gay horror action comedy, Dead Serious.
into an unassuming building housing a bar, several apartments, a
rickety stairwell, and a private yard, the tireless and ambitious
cast and crew are embarking on one of the stranger projects I've
heard about lately, and they're doing it in style: fangs are sprouting,
blood is spraying, disco balls are spinning, and God knows what
the neighbors are thinking...
out -- those things'll kill ya.
(from the set of Dead Serious)
You Thought Your Local Gay Bar was a Hellhole
The action unfolds mostly in what looks like
one of a thousand past-prime, tacky gay bars, where glittery fringe
and Donna Summer records try vainly to distract the eye from
chipping paint and more wood paneling than is generally considered
healthy. The story, almost too complicated to get into, goes something
like this: a mad scientist is in cahoots with a secret military
group to develop a syrum which they say will cure homosexuality.
However, instead of turning fags and dykes into the Stepford Queers,
the nifty potion transforms them into the bloodthirsty undead. Toss
in a few nosy investigators, a Christian television camera crew,
a military maneuver gone horribly wrong, and a handful of innocent
homo bystanders, add gallons of blood, and stir.
admit right off the bat that I'm sure I'm missing plenty in that
description, but this is the kind of film that can't be summed up
in a handy log-line. But I think you get the idea -- there's politics,
social commentary, religion, sexuality, media criticism, and gore:
all the things that horror films should really be about. Aside from
the promising premise, the flick also stars genre fave Felissa
Rose (Sleepaway Camp, Satan's Playground) and
features local writer/director Alan Rowe Kelly (I'll Bury
You Tomorrow) as one of "the Volunteers", as well
as a host of fresh (well, as fresh as the undead get these days)
-- I said "Shooters"!!
(an unfortunate victim of Christian television)
set visit last week was fortunately on a night when a handful
of thematic elements came together: in the course of a few
hours, I was witness to a machine-gun-toting mercenary gunning
down a handful of Christian newsmen, a head being splattered
on a cigarette machine, and a group of the queer undead vamping
out (and not in the usual way) and ripping the throat out
of a hunky unfortunate. The atmosphere was high-energy and
the pace quick (as it always is on small-budget projects),
but the cast and crew were in excellent spirits and the common
goal was clear: "let's make a kickass horror flick."
Michael Hein, who wrote and directed the zombie splatter
flick Biohazardous and co-founded the New York City
Horror Film Festival, was firing on all cylinders when
I arrived (and yes, that's a good thing) but took a few minutes
out in between setups to chat.
loved the idea of doing something different with vampires,
a different kind of horror film," says Hein, "and
you're talking to a guy who sees 250 independent horror films
a year... so no more bites on the necks; now they're ripping
out chunks of skin." And the differences between this
and other vampire fare aren't just superficial -- Hein considers
Dead Serious to be at its core a social commentary played
out as a horror thrillride. "(Director) Joe's script
was a statement for the gay community, and knowing that I
was a horror guy, he knew that I could come in and make it
the horror film it wanted to be, and he could still say all
the things he wanted to say as a filmmaker."
certainly a trip through the looking-glass when two gay men
named Richard and Troy are action leads in a vampire film.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg...
Pepe, a NY-based effects man who has been who has been
making quite a name for himself lately, definitely has his
hands full with all the mayhem: "We have a head that
gets set on fire, we have a head that gets a grenade shoved
in its mouth and blown to pieces, we've got 30-40 more gunshot
wounds, an Adam's apple that gets ripped out, lots of stuff.
I worked on Satan's Little Helper, and we did a whole
evisceration with a guy's guts falling out, but this is the
most effects I've done for a single movie." Considering
that Anthony has films like Dead End Massacre, Biohazardous,
and Rockabilly Vampire on his resume, that's no small
was lucky enough to be there to see a particularly nasty prosthetic
setup, which involved Marcus Cliff (who plays the heavy
Rainfeather) getting his throat ripped out by a pack of hungry
vampire homos. Not that you could blame them, as Cliff certainly
adds to the Hunk Factor of the film. In fact, Serious seems
to be avoiding the typical waxed-plucked-and-moisturized aspect
of many gay films. The guys here are not Queer as Folk
-- they're more Two Guys, a Girl, and a Gay Pizza Place.
With the emphasis squarely on social satire, expect more terrorists
and zombies, less bare chests and G-strings.
first hickey from a guy will be one he'll remember... (actor
Joe Sullivan, a soft-spoken, very friendly man who
looks more like the type of person you'd run into at a coffee
shop than on a horror film set (as would I, Joe... as would
I), explained the social satire emphasis this way: "The
reason that genres are so successful is that they speak about
very basic things... horror films, for example, work on the
basic fact that everywhere around us we are surrounded by
death -- how do you deal with this? Today, with the problems
of terrorism and war, the horror genre speaks to concerns
that human beings have." He elaborates: "We are
victims of the world, we are prey of the world, and yet we
must somehow find a way to go on -- that's what attracts me
to horror films".
vampire gloryhole joke HERE.
I asked Joe (who himself is openly gay) who the target audience
was for a gay horror movie, he said, "On the one hand
it's for people who want to see what is hopefully a good horror
film with lots of blood. On the other hand, it's a film for
people who want to see a film about gay people -- and then
again, hopefully people will just want to see the film for
its interesting characters and twisted story. So it's for
the horror audience, the gay audience, and the socially liberal
socially liberated aside, the horror audience hasn't always
been known to be particularly gay-friendly, and there's a
history in the genre for mistreatment of gay relationships
and characters. When I asked Joe how he thought the "Evil
Dead t-shirt-wearing audience" is going to react
to a gay-heavy horror flick, he let out a big laugh. "I
like to fantasize that the people who are truly straight and
not conflicted about it won't give a shit. Is it a cool story?
Is it scary? Is it violent? I like it."
gay people here are turned into vampires by straight characters,
and I think this is a world where gay people are used by straight
people to act out their own fantasies and exploit power. Talk
about a metaphor!"
say! When I asked how he felt gay audiences might feel to
another "Killer Queer" movie, Joe replied, "I've
had people tell me that Deathtrap is a homophobic movie.
It's a movie about two evil people who happen to be gay. There's
no sexual orientation that has a monopoly over virtue or vice."
Beers, and Queers
words, Joe. Now
where's my martini?!
big round of thanks again to the cast and crew, and best of luck
as they wrap up their shooting and move into postproduction. Be
sure to check back here at CampBlood for updates and news!
of Satan, terrorists .... hey -- is that a Donna Summer record?!