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The CampBlood.org Homo Horror Guide: Jesus Wept
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Guide Copyright 2003-4, Stained and Savory  

This is it, folks - an evolving, exhaustive (and exhausting) guide to all things queer in horror cinema. Got suggestions? Send 'em! Updated on a regular basis -- so check back every 5 minutes!

* Please note that I am NOT in the business of "outing" people -- if I make reference to a filmmaker or actor's sexuality, it is because they have either publicly stated the fact or, in the case of artists who have passed away, it is generally considered a true fact. In many cases I will refer to artists as "queer-friendly", which is neither an accusation of gayness nor an insult. Trust me.


American Psycho Mary Harron 2000
One of the smartest and best horror films of the past 10 years, lesbian director Mary Harron's masterful adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's controversial text is one of the most scathing indictments of heterosexual male behavior ever committed to film. It's not just women on the chopping block here -- it's good old-fashioned American Machismo, powered by the excess of the "Me Decade" and the rise of female empowerment and financial self-dependence. Queer elements abound, from the director to the co-writer (Guinevere Turner, who also plays one of the funnier victims) to the character of Luis Carruthers (played with putty-faced aplomb by Matt Ross), who is one of the few victims to escape Patrick Bateman's clutches -- simply because his gayness scares Patrick out of killing him. Smart as a whip but with just enough guilty pleasures to keep things from getting too preachy, the film is dark, funny, bloody, and more insightful than a serial killer movie has any right to be. Extra points for the scene where the excellent Christian Bale runs down a hallway wearing nothing but pristene white tennis shoes and a running chainsaw.
Rating (out of 5):
Amuck! Silvio Amadio 1972
Odd, nasty, and surprisingly not as bad as it should be, Amuck! is one of the better entries into the whole Italians-with-violent-sex-hangups genre. The story is simple but is fortunately played for all it's worth: lovely young typist Greta (Barbara Bouchet) takes a job with reclusive author Richard (confirmed bachelor and horror vet Farley Granger, of Rope, The Prowler, and Strangers on a Train), who lives with his ladyfriend Eleanora (Rosalba Neri, reminding me very much of the secretary from Mad Monster Party -- yes, the puppet) in a decaying mansion in Venice. It seems her friend (and the former secretary) disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and Greta is out to uncover the truth -- and of course uncovers a whole lot more, including herself. Frequently. Aside from being drugged nightly and molested by the nyphomaniac Eleanor, Greta is also revealed to have had a sapphic relationship with her dead friend Sally -- but more importantly, it is revealed that whenever two incredibly hot women have sex in Italy, they do it in slow motion. Farley stands aloof as the impotent/innocent bystander, but after a multitude of fairly intriguing twists no one is really innocent. Lots of swarthy, unctuous men, drop-dead beautiful women, and fairly shocking sex (not to mention a flaming fairy at a "nudie home movie" party who keeps cackling things out like "that's got to be a dildo") make this one a blush-inducing delight that's much more watchable than this kind of film usually is.
Rating (out of 5):
Apology Robert Bierman 1986

The only person that deserves an apology is me, and perhaps my bitchy friends, for being forced to sit through this piece of poop. The bastard child of Eyes of Laura Mars and Cruising, this made-for-HBO crapper aspires to fabulousness but actually causes spontaneous napping. The atrocious Lesley Ann Warren (and it's hard for me to say that, it is -- remember, Clue is one of my favorite films) and the surprisingly handsome Peter Weller bitch, whine, and swat at each other like babies in an insipid soap opera plot disguised as Slaves of New York. It seems that a deranged killer is using sculptor Lily's Apology line (a tape machine that records anonymous apologies from New Yorkers to be used later in an installation) as a confessional, and of course ends up getting a little closer to the artist than she's really comfortable with. It's a damn shame that such a great idea and potentially fertile setup (come on -- New Yorkers apologizing? That's rich!) is played out so limply, leaving us to watch Warren smoke open-handed in an assortment of hideous Eastern European sweaters and shoulder pads that Walter Peyton would have killed for. Not to mention her hair -- I have never seen a woman allow herself to be repeatedly photographed with limper, more woofed-out hair in my life. At one point she actually leaves the house for an event with a plastic clip on her head. That's just wrong.

Now, aside from all the bad hair and outfits, there's also a random secondary plot that had me very confused: apparently there's another killer on the loose who is biting the cocks (or "shlongs" as they like to say) off of "gays" in Manhattan. God knows why, or why it's important here, but hell -- it was the '80s, right? Oddly, although Harvey Fierstein appears in this movie, he does NOT get his gay shlong bitten off, and in fact doesn't even play a gay -- he plays a homeless drunk who ends up gutted and hung upside-down in a stairwell like a dressed deer. So I'm not complaining, but still...

Future Sex in the City-er Chris Noth makes and early, handsome, and short-lived appearance, and there are some nice location shots of the city, but otherwise this one is definitely one to skip: it's boring, horribly acted, and ultimately both pointless and exploitative. To artists, that is. Earns its one skully for prominenly featuring a Nagel painting.

Rating (out of 5):
Apt Pupil Bryan Singer 1998
Horror? Thriller? Eh -- people die. That's good enough for me. Gay director Bryan Singer and gay Englishman Ian McKellen turned in this creepy little gem between Singer's The Usual Suspects and the Unambiguously Gay Duo's ultrasmash X-Men. Loaded with homo subtext and a bizarre scene featuring homeless guy Elias Koteas offering up gay sex to McKellan (now where did I put my wallet ...). The source of yet another lawsuit, this one involving the filming of the scene featuring boys showering. Rumor has it Kevin Spacey made frequent set visits ....
Rating (out of 5):
The Attic Expeditions Jeremy Kasten 2001

An occasionally engaging but entirely too self-conscious "mindfuck film", The Attic Expeditions feels like it was directed by several different people, or perhaps one person on several different drug binges. The beginning is pretty awful, detailing the arrival of Trevor (Andras Jones, of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama) in the dastardly clinic of Dr. Ek (Jeffrey Combs, of several misguided attempts at translating H.P. Lovecraft to the screen, and one good one: Re-Animator), who is a flagrantly evil scientist with something very Scooby-Doo nasty up his sleeve. Thankfully, the action quickly leaves this arena and moves to the House of Love, a rehab grouphouse for crazies, populated with the likes of Douglas (Seth Green of Buffy, Austin Powers, etc.), Dr. Thalama (Wendy Robie, the eye-patched loonie Nadine of Twin Peaks fame, who has since maintained a steady diety of horror poopers like The People Under the Stairs, The Dentist II, and many more), and a few more. Here, at least, things start to get a little fun, and we watch as Trevor starts to hallucinate, have nightmares about a trunk in the attic, get laid by girls both living AND dead, and generally live a decidedly un-therapeutic lifestyle, all under the watchful eye of Ek and his visitor, Dr. Coffee (Ted Raimi, who must have owed someone a favor, as his character seems hastily written in at the last minute and serves absolutely no purpose other than a as sounding board for exposition). Is Trevor being visited by the ghost of his dead fiancee? Is he a murderer? And more importantly, did Douglas REALLY just try to kiss him?

Yes, this film has something queer going on. Early on Douglas tries to place one on Trevor, and I dismissed it as "ooh, crazy people -- they MUST be gay!". But by the end, when the shit has hit the fan and most of the cast is dead, the dead Faith inhabits Douglas, who chases Trevor around covered in blood, yelling things like "I love you!" and trying to make out with him. I'm sure we've all been in this same exact situation, but somehow with Seth Green involved it's a little more interesting to watch. Unfortunately, this glimmer of faggotry is almost completely buried in "look at me!" camera tricks, knockoff set design and plot twists that rob everything from Pink Floyd's The Wall to Beetlejuice, and a plethora of full-frontal female nudity (which is great and all when used properly, but here it's really distracting). While at times the script is clever in its "is-he-or-isn't-he" game (is Trevor nuts, not is Douglas gay), it gets bogged down in its own contrivances and unfortunately can't hold up. I'd say "better luck next time", but after a look at the director's photo on the IMDB (in sunglasses, smoking a cigarette), I say "get over your Vincent Gallo-ed self and make a movie" instead. Some good performances by Green and Robie make it less painful than it could be.

Rating (out of 5):
The Baby Ted Post 1973
One of the most underrated and overlooked horror/thrillers of the past 30 years, this film is excellent at maintaining a consistently creepy tone and atmosphere while building to an unforseeable and shocking climax. Shot like a made-for-TV movie, the story of the Wadsworths is like something out of Joyce Carol Oates on a mushroom trip: mother (the impossibly smoky-voiced Ruth Roman and two sisters (the impossibly perky Alba and lesbian witch Germaine) put aside their own lives and dreams to care for Baby, a fully-grown man who sleeps in a crib and can neither walk nor talk. Presented as a domestic drama, the strangeness of the situation is amplified without tipping into comedy, and the weirdness surrounding the mystery of Baby and his three wards works its way under your skin. The arrival of new social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer, doing her best Betty Buckley) upsets the twisted idyll of the Wadsworths and pushes the events to their twisted finale: will the Wadsworths lose their Baby? are Ann's intentions virtuous? is Baby really developmentally challenged at all? Watch to find out. Not really that queer except for the leering Germaine, and not bad enough to be considered camp, this is nonetheless such an effective little thriller that I had to include it here.
Rating (out of 5):
Bleed Devin Hamilton/Dennis Peterson 2002

The movie that refuses to ask the important questions:

WHY does Debbie Rochon only drink out of red plastic cups?
WHY does Chris have the living room decor of a retired Floridian gay couple?
WHY are there so many naked male asses in a film featuring 3 -- count 'em -- 3 scream queens?

A psychological thriller that is neither psyhological NOR thrilling, Bleed is a pathetic entry into the dwindling genre of sincere slashers. Non-ironic and humorless (I consider this a good thing), the film is nonetheless completely sunk by atrocious writing, hammy acting, and what has to be the worst videography I have ever seen make it to wide DVD distribution. Budding B-queen Debbie Rochon plays Maddie, a transplant with a secret (and a not-altogether-interesting one, ultimately) who falls for a hunky and perhaps mildly retarded fella whose friends convince her that they murder people for fun. During an altercation at a parking garage, Maddie beats the living shit out of an annoying woman, and christens herself part of the club. Of course, the club was a hoax and now the California 7 have a killer on their hands, and the bodies start piling up.

This one is hard to figure out, really -- and I don't mean the inane plot. There's more male nudity than I've ever seen in a horror film and in the opening scene the victim is inexplicably in drag (and has his groin slit through his tidy-whities). This plus the scream-queen quotient leads me to believe that something queer is afoot in the proceedings. Look for Eric Cartman in the credits as "Production Accountant". And then look for something good to watch. Only worth viewing for the horrific continuity and lighting and for some amusing gore. And the asses.

Rating (out of 5):
Blood Moon (aka Wolf Girl) Thom Fitzgerald 2001

Carnies, repressed homo teens, and Leslie-Ann Warren -- what more could you want from a Canadian film?!

Well, ask for it and you'll get it from gay director Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden, Beefcake, The Event) in this stunning, surprisingly queer tale of alienation, fear, and hatred in Canadian Suburbia. When the carnival comes to town, a group of mean-spirited local teens (including X-Men's Iceman, Shawn Ashmore) decide to go hunting for freaks -- their target? The poor, follicly-enhanced "Wolf Girl", Tara (Victoria Sanchez). Tara isn't really a Wolf, but when these nasty kids start messing with her, it brings out her inner Lobo and, well, things get hairy. Throw in Tim Curry as the Ringmaster, Grace Jones (!!) as the He-She, full musical numbers, and Trannie carnies dressed as coquettes (who shockingly doff their kit), and you've got the makings of an eerie queer musing on sexual repression and self-hatred (the revealing of the repressed lesbianism of one of the characters is quite effective in the final reel). Much like his earlier works, Fitzgerald's film is intelligent, quirky, and sincere. Let's hope he dabbles in the genre again.

Rating (out of 5):
Bloody Mallory Julien Magnat 2002

It's really a drag when you have to watch big heaping quantities of your favorite ingredients (ghouls, drag queens, evil children, priests, hair dye) thrown together into a cinematic Dump Cake like this. Basic premise: Mallory, a once virginal bride, is set upon by her demon husband on their wedding night and kills him, committing herself to a lifetime tied to the forces of darkness. Mallory forms a motley crew of demon-slayers, including drag queen Vena Cava and mute telepath child Talking Tina, and spends her time between spectral visits from her Jack Skellington-inspired dead hubby slaying foul hoardes. When a new type of baddie appears, kidnapping the pope and impregnating nuns with ghoul-babies, it is up to the Manic Panic gang to save the world. Toss in kung-fu priests (wait -- make that HOT kung-fu priests), disappearing towns, mouthless succubi, and beheaded French vampiresses, and you can't go wrong, right?

Wrong. I don't know if it's because it's French or because it's badly lit or what, but much like my baptism (according to my mother), the movie just doesn't take. And as Martin Balsam once said: if it don't gel, it ain't aspic.

Bloody Mallory does have some clever and amusing bits, but the whole thing is way too broad to support the serious moments and too brooding to be real popcorn entertainment. The Mallory/dead husband relationship is way too Buffy/Angel to be taken seriously and Vena Cava is obviously just there for camp value and cheap laughs. Even delicious little moments like a maniacally laughing child running through the streets with an electric meat knife are so cheapy executed that they fall flat. And honestly, who could take a gang of evil-fighters seriously that rides Razors scooters? In all, this has the feeling of a made-for-Sci-Fi version of To Wong Foo.

Rating (out of 5):
Booby Trap Dwayne Avery 1970
Godawful sleaze exploitation flick from "legendary" producer Harry Novak and Box Office International (also responsible for gems like The Toy Box and The Child). A crazy ex-army guy steals a boxful of live mines and goes on a cross-country trip in a Winnebago to plant them at the site of an upcoming rock concert (?!). Now, considering the music usually used in these crappy flicks, I can't blame the guy. There's lots of senseless shouting and violence and some pretty great late 60's stripclub action, but all the good sex has been cut out and there's nothing gory or ridiculous enough to really get a chuckle. I'm including it here because of the presence of a mincing queer who stalks the heroine's guitar-player boyfriend, hatches a scheme to steal the club owner's money, gets slapped a lot, has the shit kicked out of him by a guy who can't be over 5 feet tall, and gets called "faggot" by nearly every single character in the movie at some point or another. In such bad taste it's not even good for a laugh.
Rating (out of 5): NONE
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Joe Berlinger 2000
I think I'm one of about 6 people who liked this movie (as my friend David said as we left the theatre, "Book of SHIT"). It's wantonly manipulative and meanders like Anne Heche in the Hollywood Hills, but in the end I think it redeems itself by showing just how insidious and clever that ol' Witch is at getting us poor humans to carry out her evil bidding. The cast is a hodgepodge -- lead wacko Jeffrey Donovan takes a group of tourists on camping trip which visits the supposedly real sites of the original film, and of course mayhem ensues. Resident goth Kim Director (Summer of Sam) is the one to watch here -- she delivers a multilayered performance in what is usually a throwaway role, and her final scene is the gripping highlight of the movie. At several points, she and resident Wicca Erica Leerhsen (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) get down to some dirty touchin', but then again just about everyone in this movie gets down with almost everyone else (except the guys, of course). Confusing, tiring, and for most not worth it -- but give it a chance and it might surprise you.
Rating (out of 5):
Bride of Chucky Ronny Yu 1998
Arguably the best (perhaps besides the original) in the franchise, this fun little flick is notable in that it features a gay lead character, who surprisingly does not meet his end at the business end of Chucky's Mr. Pointy. Not that he lives until the end of the film, but hey -- at least he was there, not comic relief, and not punished for his queerness by a fucking talking doll. Also features superfag Alexis Arquette (Wigstock, Frisk) as Jennifer Tilly's boyfriend, not to mention a completely random shirtless car-washing scene from the lead eye-candy, Nick Stabile (Sunset Beach, Undressed).
Rating (out of 5):
Bride of Frankenstein James Whale 1935
A definitive piece of classic horror moviemaking, Bride of Frankenstein has it all: lush sets and costumes, thrills and chills, comic relief, arch British humor, and a sweeping orchestral score that is so out-of-place for a horror film that it is, indeed, pitch-perfect for this one. See, "Bride" is not your typical Universal horror pic. Gay director James Whale, hot off the success of the original and other efforts, set out to make a scary, wacky dark comedy that would scare, amuse, and move his audience -- an enormous feat and one that he and his talented cast and crew somehow manage to pull off. Between murky, creepy scenes in graveyards, towers, and burned-out windmills, we have scenes featuring goofy miniature-sized royalty and "Miracle Worker"-style subplots where an old blind hermit teaches the Monster to speak. Above it all, we have the campy Ernest Thesiger as the evil Doctor Pretorius, the most seething, slimy homo-flavoured villian of his day, and the stunning, albeit brief, appearance of the freakish Bride herself, played by Elsa Lanchester (wife of the closeted Charles Laughton) with a bird-like, fidgety stuntedness that is truly unsettling. The incessant dolly moves and cutting edge photographic effects keep things moving at a quick pace, and the film seems short even as it clocks in at 75 minutes. The final scene featuring the birth of the Bride is a must-watch: the rapid-fire cutting was revolutionary for the day.
Rating (out of 5):
The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks David DeCoteau 2001

Another in the seemingly endless series of David DeCoteau "D&A" diet-horror films, The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks is entirely without redeeming value beyond some assorted eye-candy that would seem more at home in a Gillette Mach 3 razor commercial.
The cute but apparently retarded John and his friends are outcasts at their prepschool until Luc, "the new kid", arrives and starts throwing his mojo around. Besides looking like every male flight attendant I've ever had, Luc is otherwise unthreatening, and the boys are even willing to engage in a "Girls Gone Wild"-style underwear pool party -- Seagram's and all! There's lots of shirtless men (including one of the most heinous actors I've ever seen -- keep your eyes peeled for Toad-Boy and you'll know exactly what I mean), not much plot, and when all is said and done nothing is any more shocking than what you'd see on an episode of Goosebumps. I mean, come on -- there's no nudity, no gore, not even profanity. If you're into SoloFlex infomercials, you'll find the same painfully overstated gay subtext and ham-handed filmmaking at work here.

Rating (out of 5):
Cabin Fever Eli Roth 2002
The seemingly endless parade of disappointing horror films continues, with this mess of a film stacking up somewhere between House of 1000 (er, make it 7) Corpses and Freddy vs. Jason vs. Monica Keena's Cleavage. Swinging wildly between parody and gross-out movie, the film starts promisingly with a tacked-on credits sequence that sets up a foreboding mood entirely absent from the rest of the film. The movie is populated with dozens of stupid throwaway characters (which all but scream "I went to high school with the director and I'm really fun at parties!") and the last 5 minutes lapses bizarrely into a Naked Gun movie. There are a few icky gross-out moments, but nothing even remotely scary -- imagine a horror film of someone sneezing on a crowded bus for 90 minutes and you've pretty much got it. The words of the day are: silly, pretentious, uneven, and dull. Oh, yeah - and what's the significance to a gay audience? They use the word "fag" in a defiant, non-PC way! Crazy kids. For a full review, click HERE.
Rating (out of 5):
Cemetery Man (Dellamorte, Dellamorte) Michele Soavi 1994

A very, very odd film. Based on a graphhic novel about a cemetery groundskeeper whose real job is dispatching the zombies that rise from their graves every night, Cemetery Man is part horror film, part romance, and part existentialist drama -- all carried on the waxed and moisturized bare shoulders of gay actor (and Madonna collaborator) Rupert Everett. Along with his mute sidekick Gnaghi, Dellamorte keeps the undead at bay until he falls for the breathtaking Anna Falchi at her husband's funeral. After having some hot graveyard-sex, she's bitten and he must dispatch of her. But wait -- she comes back; so does this mean when he killed her the first time she wasn't a zombie? Things get very complicated for our oft-naked hero, and in the end we've wandered into decidedly post-modern territory, with our heroes at the end of the earth and Gnaghi speaking the final line. Although this destination might not be everyone's cup of tea, the trip there is quite interesting, with lots of splatter, fantastic cinematography, and plenty of naked Rupert. Director Michele Soavi, known for his giallo-influenced gore flicks of the 80's (the gay-friendly Stage Fright, The Church), is in fine form here.

Rating (out of 5):
Cherry Falls Geoffrey Wright 2000
Arrghhhh. Very frustrating slasher movie that bumps up against greatness but sadly falls short. The concept: killer stalks virgins in a small town to punish the parents for a past misdeed. The idea of "stealing innocence" is fantastic, and the twist on the whole punitive killer idea flips all slasher tropes on their head -- instead of the bad kids getting it, here the good kids have to give it up to take themselves off the hit list. So how is this queer? Well, heroine Brittany Murphy has a gay friend (camped up by real-life genderpolitico Keram Malicki-Sánchez, also in the wretched Happy Campers, the "Earshot" episode of Buffy, and much more) who of course gets it, as queers in a small-town high schools generally don't have much chance to get their rocks off until they move away to a big city and go to college. Not that I speak from experience. Anyway, I say "frustrating" because the film released on DVD is obiously not the dark, mean, nasty film that director Wright (known for the hyper-violent Romper Stomper) shot -- the studio cut oodles of nasty gore footage to tame it down. So what could have been a shocking treatment of what happens when middle-class morals are violenty threatened and teens are forced to entertain their primal urges (rather than suppress them) becomes a middle-of-the-road slasher with blatant gaps in pacing and tone. Where's the director's cut?! Also features horror and/or queer-friendly regulars Jesse Bradford (Bring It On, Swimfan) Clementine Ford (Cybill Shepherd's daughter, who here was originally the victim in what was reportedly the longest death scene ever filmed, before it was of course cut from the movie), Douglas Spain (Star Maps, But I'm a Cheerleader, Nightstalker), Jay Mohr (Go), and of course Murphy (Freeway, Drop Dead Gorgeous). Still worth a look.
Rating (out of 5):
A Chronicle of Corpses Andrew Repasky McElhinny 2000

As far as mesages from Planet Pretentia go, I have to say A Chronicle of Corpses is certainly better than most. Sure, it's incredibly mannered, hyper-stylized, self-important, and more than a little bit boring -- but it's also relentless, unwavering, and downright creepy. The story (using the term as loosely as is possible) involves the once-affluent Elliot family and their various slaves and servants as they are set upon by a mystery killer apparently intent on bumping off the lot one by one. The 19th-century plantation setting is certainly a change of pace from typical slasher flicks (or at least the costumes are -- I guess woods and barns are pretty much the same regardless of time period), as is the thrust of the film, which hovers between a meditation on the decline of the colonial farm family (lost both to inner decay and the rise of cities) and a bizarre indictment of class, religion, marriage, and just about anything else that America apparently stands for.

In reality, it's an "art film" wrapped up in a slasher package (and not the other way around, which is usually a disaster), and the bleak inevitability of the killer's progress (a true chronicle of corpses) is hypnotic and quite disturbing in its detached presentation. The acting (though very stylized in a "stare directly in front of you without wavering and deliver your lines without a hint of emotion" sort of way) is uniformly excellent, and the rhythm of monologues that carries the plot and allows each character his or her say is nostalgic of avante-garde theatre (or it at least owes more to this than to Friday the 13th). The costumes and period feel are very well accomplished (aided by excellent cinematography and a classical score), and quite queer in their affinity for a quainter, more formal time. I guess in the end you could say that A Chronicle of Corpses is the film that Andy Milligan would have made had he had any clue as to where to put a camera or how to direct an actor (commence hate-mail now).

But in addition to being simply affected, Corpses boasts an overt queer element as well -- the patriarch of the family has been having a love affair with his wife's brother for years (as his wife has been occupied with the stable boy). The relationship between the two men is touching in that wistful, naturally-lit Merchant/Ivory sort of way, and is presented bluntly and without judgement (at least, without any more judgement than befalls anyone else -- all are equally killed). The closing monologue by the elderly matriarch (Marj Dusay) is a drag performance just waiting to happen -- she's a tough broad on par with the best Grand Old Dames. I was a bit troubled by the surprising ending (as I was supposed to be, I guess), and in the end can't quite discern what writer/director Andrew Repasky McElhinny is getting at -- but like the best pretentious art films, Corpses at least inspires me to try and figure it out. Definitely worth a look for tangent-genre completists and those with a high threshold for vacant staring.

Rating (out of 5):
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer Ross Hagan and John Stewart 1989

Two words: WHITE. HOT.

This is simply one of the hottest movies EVER MADE. Completely incomprehensible and lacking of all criteria that generally make a movie watchable, Click fortunately has enough teased-out hair and women in bikinis firing automatic weapons to more than make up for it.

The plost is entirely nonexistent: an ugly old photographer lures a group of women to his California ranch to ostensibly shoot a calendar of women brandishing deadly weapons (we don't see it, but we assume that mountains of cocaine are involved in this transaction). Unfortunately, the man is a thinly-veiled freakshow who, thanks to early-year abuse at the hand of a fat nurse, dresses up in drag and kills any woman he gets a hardon for. Think Psycho starring Sally Struthers as Mrs. Bates and you've pretty much summed it up. Fortunately, the filmmakers don't let things like plot get in the way -- nor, for that matter, film, acting, dialogue, continuity, or taste: what lies between the proximal ends of this 79-minute wonder is a treasure trove of bad filmmaking cliches and aggressively bad fashion. Think Eyes of Laura Mars meets Spookies. Think The Fan meets Gator Bait. Think whatever the hell you want -- there's no getting around the undisputable power of a woman in a crop-top screaming in agony as she fires a machine gun, only to be yelled at by the photographer, "You're holding on to it like a limp dick!".

Crossdressing and woofed-out hair aside, there's tons of camp elements here. The token male models have a very iffy relationship (one even gives the other a flower in a tender scene, prompting him to shyly respond, "You may not be so dumb after all") and one spends most of the time either shirtless or spasming in one of many bulletstorms he's forced to endure in the name of "high fashion". The girls are uniformly preposterous, with some of the most gloriously misguided costumes in the history of the cinema (watch for the "Bow Trio" accessory ensemble that makes the lead's head look like it came straight from a Sears Bridal Registry). Even the fact that Troy Donahue stumbles through a few scenes can't lend any cache to the tacky proceedings, and an endless parade of pathetic plot elements (such as the world's oldest private detective, a Britney Fox ripoff party band, and any number of mind-numbingly ridiculous photo shoot scenes, most of which closely resemble the last 15 minutes of The Wild Bunch -- only with more taffeta) keeps things intensely watchable. Turn it into a drinking game -- a shot every time they switch from film to video -- and you're in for a night of trashy, fabulous fun.

Side note: keep your eyes open for genre vets Susan Jennifer Sullivan (Friday 7), Jack Vogel (Demon Wind), and sequel queen Juliette Cummins (Friday 5, Psycho 3, Slumber Party Massacre 2).

Rating (out of 5):
Clownhouse Victor Salva 1988
Wow. This movie is remarkable in that it would be scary even if you didn't know about the lawsuit that stemmed from its production -- namely that Victor Salva had inappropriate relations with one of the underage actors. Some genuinely good scares and looming sense of dread keep this little chiller from dipping into medeocrity. A young Sam Rockwell shows strong signs of the charismatic actor he'll grow into. Members of NAMBLA will put this in heavy rotation.
Rating (out of 5):
Criminal Lovers Francois Ozon 1999

Former Enfant Terrible Francois Ozon (who matured enormously in his fantastic later films, including Under the Sand, Swimming Pool, and 8 Women) turned in this nasty little gay fable early in his career, when his metaphors were a bit more up-front and his touch less graceful. Still, the film is an interesting watch and has some fantastic sexual tension and a clever play on the Hansel and Gretel tale.

Luc and Alice (the Lovers of the title) kill a classmate in a shower (upon Alice's request) and make a run for the countryside, where they hit a rabbit with their car and are taken hostage by a strange mountain man. Luc is then made to be the man's servant and eventual love object, while Alice is locked in the basement. Luc's sexual awakening (he was impotent with Alice) at the hands of this creepy man is interesting to watch, and his eventual ability to make love to Alice after their escape raises questions regarding sexual aggression and passivity more than just orientation. Of course, as this is a horror film, their Eden (complete with frolicking animals) is short-lived and Ozon deals out the punishment as he sees fit: death for one, incarceration for another, the isolation of self-knowledge for the third. Watch to find out which comes to whom.

Rating (out of 5):
Cut Kimble Rendall 2000

How can you not love a film featuring none other than Australia's answer to Madonna herself, Kylie Minogue?

Well, when it's Cut -- that's how. Shoddy, cliched horror/spoof about a film crew trying to finish a film started years earlier, where production was halted to to some bloody murders -- including Miss Minogue herself, thus ending any reason to watch the rest of the film. Molly Ringwald, however, is unfortunately allowed to live (some horrible accounting error in Hell?) and is brought back years later by a plucky group of film students who have discovered the "curse" on the project (it's called "Hot-Blooded" -- eew) and want to finish the filming.

Fortunately, included in this group is a feisty lesbian (Hester, played by Sarah Kants), who is allowed a quick kiss on-screen and is NOT, oddly enough, used for tittilation purposes. Of course, she ends up in a log saw -- but baby steps, people -- baby steps! The flick has a few decent scare scenes (I liked the kitchen scene myself) but has such a stupid ending that ultimately you'll be disappointed. But on the bright side -- the killer's tagline, "Now... you die" (in a great Aussie accent) gave my friend David and I months of voicemail enjoyment.

Rating (out of 5):
Dahmer David Jacobson 2002

Surprisingly sensitive and well-made account of Jeffrey Dahmer's spiral into madness. The film bases the origins of Dahmer's psychosis on a fumbled gay encounter in high school, which led to a cycle of shame and violence. Thankfully we are not made to watch any killing -- the story focuses more on the Whys than the Hows. Jeremy Renner gives a complex and admirable performance -- his attractiveness (which Dahmer shared) drives home the tragedy -- if Dahmer had not been so convinced that no one would love him, he would have done pretty well for himself (and of course spared dozens of innocent lives).

Rating (out of 5):
Delta Delta Die Devin Hamilton 2003

Let me be clear -- it's not a horror movie. Although there's lots of blood and some icky cannibalism stuff thrown around, this is a straight-up comedy with gratuitous male and female nudity and lots of over-the-top acting. And while I generally frown upon comedies masquerading as horror films, this one is so tied into the trashy B tradition (as opposed to just being a half-assed, middle-of-the-road "horror" movie that's watered down for the WB audience) that I have no qualms recommending it.

Julie Strain is, in a word, insane. Anyone who bares her breasts as much as she does in this film must either have some skin condition that makes her breasts sensitive to clothing or an endorsement deal with her plastic surgeon. Her portrayal of a house mother in a cannibalistic SoCal sorority is the best of its kind. The girls themselves (including half-sister Lizzie Strain and d-t-v staple Tiffany Shepis -- also seen in the club kid opus Shampoo Horns as the girl who takes too much ecstasy and wanders into traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge) are adequate, but Strain and Brinke Stevens really steal the show here. In one scene Brinke actually tosses her hair over her right shoulder before explaining how she and her friend fell into cannibalism as a necessity back in the 80's.

For a full review, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Do You Wanna Know a Secret? Thomas Bradford 2002

Wow -- lit like a soap opera, acted like a lost episode of Saved by the Bell, and populated by intergenerational television has-beens, this one is really something special. This incomprehensible film starts in Connecticut (I think) with a scene stolen out of Exorcist 3 and then moves to Florida (I think) where we're treated to all the fun trappings of direct-to-video horror, namely: rich kids with the run of a gigantic house, nudity-free sex, booze, racial profiling, "raves", random FBI involvement, goofy masks, murders unrelated to the plot, and horrendous music. I mean, REALLY horrendous music. I will admit that there were a few clever scares (the fold-up ironing board, a tried-and-true gag since Clue, is still effective here), but mostly it was horribly contrived. Famously "outed" Dr. Quinn alum Chad Allen somehow reminds me of Anthony Michael Hall in his awkward Johnny B. Good phase, only with an added prescription medication addiction. Take note of the name of the lead actress - and avoid ever watching anything with her in it EVER AGAIN (it is telling that she plays "Young Martha Stewart" in the tv biopic). And it shakes me to the bone that I am about to write this -- Joey Lawrence is one of the strong points of the movie. Whew. I said it. Whoa!

Rating (out of 5):
The Doom Generation Gregg Araki 1995

Self-conscious and silly, this installment in gay director Araki's crusade to convince the world that LA is full of absolute maniacs boasts a handful of queer (or queer-friendly) glitterati: Amanda Bearse, Margaret Cho, Parker Posey, and -- get this -- gay porn star Zak Spears (billed as Khristofor Rossianov). The dialogue is painful, especially when coming out of Rose McGowan, and the gags are flat. Still, the ending pushes things just far enough to be a disturbance, and the battering of sexual boundaries of all kinds sets this apart from the crowd.

Rating (out of 5):
Embrace of the Vampire Anne Goursaud 1994

Desperately trying to keep its greasy head above the Skinemax water level, Embrace of the Vampire is a movie that can't commit to anything and therefore ends up as nothing. Pre-Charmed Alyssa Milano find her inner Shannon Tweed in this breast-fueled crapfest, which is staffed by one of the most confusing casts in recent memory: Milano, Martin Kemp, Rachel True, Jordan Ladd, and Jennifer Tilly all were somehow coerced into appearing in this by-the-book erotic vampire nudie. Was it the fact that the director, Anne Goursaud, was long-time editor for Francis Ford Coppola and had cut his epic Bram Stoker's Dracula? If so, pity for them -- this mess is more akin to One From the Heart.
In short, Alyssa is a Polly Purebred goodie-two-shoes who was raised by nuns and has a hunky yet "understanding" boyfriend. But of course, she is the possible reincarnated long-lost love of our resident nameless vampire, who is unfortunately cast by the homely (at best) Kemp. Right off the bat we have a problem: it is virtually impossible (in my mind, at least) to be either aroused or frightened by a man who looks like Alan Cumming dressed up for a Sadie Hawkins dance. In flashbacks stolen shot-for-shot from Legend, we see that the vampire was stolen from his bride by a few Penthouse Pets with fangs and cursed with his condition (and perpetually greasy hair) for eternity. When he sees virginal co-ed Charlotte, he decides to claim her. Enter the local bimbos, who try to get Charlotte laid any which way they can -- not to save her from the vampire, mind you, just because she's a drag. She proceeds to start snogging everyone in sight, including sharing an improbable yet fairly hot lesbian tryst with her photographer neighbor while her boyfriend nurses a terminal case of blueballs and the vampire follows her around like a Hare Krishna. Her boyfriend is eventually very nearly seduced by Tilly in the strangest scene of the film: Tilly is about to work some magic on him on a fire escape, when he comes to his senses and pushes her away. Recoiling, he sees that Tilly was actually Kemp in disguise (true -- the only thing more horrifying than potentially receiving oral pleasure from Jennifer Tilly would be potentially receiving oral pleasure from Martin Kemp)! This somehow clues him in to the fact that Charlotte is in danger and he saves her, and vampire returns to his loft to sulk and, hopefully, deep-condition. Wasted actors, no script, no gore, nothing. Unless you want to see Alyssa bring out the girls a few times, this is one to skip.

Rating (out of 5):
Evil Laugh Dominic Brascia 1988

A completely inept late-period slasher (the craze was on its last legs by this point), Evil Laugh (directed by Dominic Braschia, the fat kid who gets the axe in his back in Friday 5, and written by and starring none other than Scott Baio's brother Stephen Baio) nonetheless manages to be a pretty entertaining watch purely for camp value. Easily one of the gayest slashers out there, Laugh features an abundance of male skin (including a full-frontal flash, if you're quick with your remote), the grabbiest bunch of guys I've ever seen, and a prolonged discussion about one of the male (and straight) characters' sexuality (the "kids" argue as to whether he's gay or not, for no apparent reason).

The setup and plot are standard stuff (group of students spend the weekend at the site of a former murder and are picked off), the kills are mostly bloodless and nothing interesting (the much-touted microwave murder is laaaame), and the acting is some of the worst I've ever seen, but this movie kicks ass for one reason: cleaning montage. Yes, kids -- any movie with a montage of people cleaning to bad pop music is instantly bound for infamy, in my book. Aside from the tacky scrubbing frenzy, there's also the intense fetishization of Mark (the weatherman-handsome and very fit Myles O'Brien) to deal with -- he's either in short-shorts, a Speedo, or bareass naked for almost the entire film (lucky us!). Check out the bizarre homoerotic scene where a nude Mark gets it on with a semi-nude Tina (Jody Gibson) and a man's hand comes up through the mattress and begins stroking Mark's buns. It turns out to be resident homophobe Barney (Jerold Pearson) playing a "joke", but the moment certainly lingers beyond your standard fratboy prank. If you're a fan of trashy, bad slashers and horrifying late-80's fashion, this one's definitely worth a look. Also of note is the lead performance of Kim McKamy (Creepozoids), who would shortly after become hardcore legend Ashlyn Gere (oddly, her nude scene in this film looks like it was done with a body double!) before returning to genre work in the Willard remake.

Rating (out of 5):
The Exorcist William Friedkin 1973

Some may wonder why this film would end up on a homo horror shopping list, but there is a striking, if subtle, gay subplot at work here.
We all know the story by now, but it's the telling that makes Friedkin's 1973 film a classic. Restrained (as restrained as a film that features a 12-year-old stabbing herself in the vagina with a crucifix while screaming "Let Jesus fuck you!" could be, anyway), meticulously paced, and boasting one of the most hushed tones I've ever seen (listen for the now-famous "Tubular Bells" theme, and you'll only find it once in the entire film -- and hardly a half-dozen other music cues besides). You have the feeling that you're spying on these people, and this forced intimacy is what pulls us into the microcosmic battle between good and evil. The performances are impeccable (Ellen Burstyn is at the same time a doting mother and a selfish bitch, and blameless in both regards, while Linda Blair has the distinction of reaching her acting apex before needing a training bra), the photography beautiful, and the mood impenetrable.

So what's the gay angle? Father Karras has a notable attachment to his mother (beyond just being Italian, that is), and is friends with a visibly effeminate priest who plays piano at Hollywood-type cocktail parties and is the last person to be with Karras before he dies (in a very tender moment at the close of the film). When the devil (through Regan) tells Karras to fuck father Merrin (Max von Sydow - not a pleasant thought even when not suggested by the living embodiment of evil), he's getting at something that's only hinted at in the film but in the novel (by William Peter Blatty) is the concrete cause of Karras's overriding malaise: his repressed sexuality. The film does not have a homo agenda by any means, but a queer reading does shed some light on what is an otherwise severely underdeveloped main character.

Rating (out of 5):
Eyes of Laura Mars Irvin Kershner 1975

Now this movie has it ALL! Mommie Dearest herself Faye Dunaway plays a fashion photographer who likes to stage her supermodels in scenes of boody carnage. Her queer assistant Rene Auberjonois throws piano bar birthday parties for the sissy elite in his apartment. She has a pair of lesbianic models who live together and have a funny answering machine. Suddenly people start dying in scenes that mimic Laura's photos, and what do you know -- Laura can actually see through the killer's eyes as the murders happen! There's more camp in this movie than in Yellowstone fucking Park. The scene of Laura being chased through the warehouse while she sees herself running away through the killer's eyes -- screaming "Donaaaaaaaaaald! Donaaaaaaaaaaaaaaald!!" the whole time -- is one of the best scenes in film history. I can't believe that drag queens don't reenact this entire film word for word on an annual basis. Clever, gloriously shot, and with a fantastic 70's feel, this is one of the best queer-infused horror flicks out there. Oh -- and did I mention that Barbra Streisand did the theme song?

Rating (out of 5):
The Faculty Robert Rodriquez 1998

One of gay screenwriter Kevin Williamson's Big Three (along with I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream), The Faculty is similarly referential fodder for horror and sci-fi geeks. Loaded with references to horror movies and teen movies alike, The Faculty takes the whole Body Snatcher structure and puts in a Texas high school that is oddly staffed by some fantastic character actors (Bebe Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, John Stewart, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen). The kids themselves aren't anything to snigger at either, with career-launching appearances by Clea DuVall (Identity, Carnivale), Josh Hartnett (Halloween H2O), Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings), and Jordana Brewster (um... she dated Derek Jeter?). Fun, fast, and clever, the movie is actually a fun ride, with lots of references to keep you busy and some interesting gore and effects. DuVall stands out as the girl that everyone calls "dyke", and Wood emerges from puberty blissfully unscathed and ready for a career as an adult. Hats off to Robert Rodriguez for showing high school as the nasty, brutal place it is, and for giving the spotlight to the underdogs (in this tale, the pretty people aren't the ones you root for).

Rating (out of 5):
The Fan Edward Bianchi 1981

One of the most ridiculous and entertaining major disasters to ever hit screens. Lauren Bacall plays Sally Ross, a pickled old movie star trying to resurrect her career with a Broadway show called "Never Say Never". Unfortunately, her tobacco-stained idyll is threatened by the persistence of her biggest fan, Douglas (Michael Biehn at his cutest). As Douglas starts haphazardly slicing his way through the set pieces (including a YMCA, a gay bar, and Maureen Stapleton), Sally smokes her weight in 120's and desperately tries to keep James Garner from fleeing the picture altogether. Trashy, scareless, and boasting one of the most horrific musical sequences in history, The Fan is absolutely essential viewing for any horror homo.

For a complete review of this trainwreck, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Fear No Evil Frank LaLoggia 1981

"Meet Andrew. The Road to Hell is Paved with His Victims."

Apparently this tag-line is supposed to encapsulate one of the most mind-numbingly scattered horror films I've ever seen. Part Omen, part Carrie, part Exorcist, part Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, part Deadly Blessing, and yes, even part Jaws, Fear no Evil is a confusing, uneven, but very sincere mess of a film that doesn't scare you so much as boggle you, and is a proud leader in the horror subgenre I like to call Jockstrap Horror: horror films that take place mostly in gym locker rooms.

Ubercamp Stefan Arngrim plays Andrew, a queeny, skinny mess of a high school senior who gets full rides to Harvard and Yale but can't seem to make it through gym class without being beaten or molested (sound familiar, fellas?). Of course, he is the embodiment of pure evil -- Lucifer -- and has been reborn to enslave the entire human race. And for this, his classmates hate him. No, wait -- they don't know about the whole "devil made flesh" thing -- they just hate him because he's fey and gets good grades. The school tough (think John Travolta in "Carrie") picks on him in the shower and actually kisses him for some ungodly reason, and he loses his cool and forces the gym coach to kill a fellow student with a dodgeball. Before you can say "reincarnated-archangel-old-biddies-and-puffy-faced-hotties", Michael and Gabriel are hot on his trail, forcing him to lash out at a beachfront Passion Play, inducing stigmata left and right, creating a Christian riot, and striking Jesus with lightning. A group of dumb kids get attacked by his zombies, and he appears in a Bob Mackie-inspired evening gown and gives the toughie character breasts (at which point he of course stabs himself to death in shame).

For the last ten minutes Andrew is less Lucifer and more Frankenfurter, running about in a flowing gown and vogueing on stairways. Finally Lucifurter is hunted down and set on fire in a special effects display of Xanaduian proportions. Folks, it doesn't get much campier than this. Toss in early punk hits like God Save the Queen, I Don't Like Mondays, Psycho Killer, and Sheena Is a Punk Rocker, as well as the bloodiest baptism I've seen in a while, and you've got the makings of a truly puzzling but ultimately amusing piece of filmmaking.

Rating (out of 5):
Frankenstein J. Searle Dawley 1910

Produced by Thomas Edison. Yes, THE Thomas Edison. Arguably the first horror film (or at least the first that has been uncovered), this little gem is a fascinating insight into theatrical conventions and technology of the day, as well as a strangely queer telling of the Frankenstein tale. Long-considered by some to be a queer metaphor, Mary Shelley's text is here told as a Bizarre Love Triangle amongst Man, Woman, and Monster. The Monster is oddly feminine, with long hair and fingers and a mincing gait, and his advances on the Doctor are just that -- the advances of a lover, not a killer. When Frankenstein (played by the camp Augustus Phiillips) returns to his bride-to-be, the arrival of the Monster fills him not with fear but with shame; humiliated at the sight of the embodiment of his "Evil" desires, he hides the Monster, who returns to annoy him, even jealously throwing aside a flower that the lady placed in Frankenstein's lapel. When the lady faints at the sight of the Monster, the Monster pleads with Frankenstein to be with him instead (the title card even reads "Overcome with jealousy of his beautiful bride"). When he is rejected yet again, he runs off and disappears into a mirror; when Frankenstein looks into the mirror, he sees the Monster, which then fades to reveal his own reflection. His bride returns, they embrace, and all is well. In all, a clever and strange story of a man's "twisted" lusts unleashed into the world -- where they disrupt the sexual status quo -- and finally returned to their place, tucked back inside the man. I'm not usually in favor of reading the Frankenstein story as queer, but in this case the proof is in the pudding.

Rating (out of 5):
Fright Night Tom Holland 1985

Classic horror moviemaking, with a decidedly queer bent: Charlie Brewster is a teen with a single mom and outcast friend, whose only worries are his hyperlibidinous girlfriend and trigonometry -- that is, until mysterious Mr. Dandridge moves in next door. See, although Jerry and his "roommate" Bill seem like harmless gay antiques dealers, they harbor a more terrible secret: they are the undead, and have targeted Charlie and his ragtag pals as lunch. Loaded with sly queer references, gay actors (Roddy McDowall and Amanda Bearse, as well as gay-porn-star-to-be Stephen Geoffreys), and great doses of humor and gore, this is one smart, fun movie. Chris Sarandon camps up the traditional "sexy vampire" role by playing gay (in order to fit into the neighborhood?), complete with turtlenecks and wide-lapeled trenchcoats that would have made Oscar Wilde proud. When he puts his arms around his manservant (the butch Jonathan Stark), it'll give you chills, as will the tender moment when he outs Evil Ed and literally takes him under his wing ("I know what it's like to be different"). Other queer bits include a Roddy receiving a series of hysterical facial money-shots (of blood, but the joke is definitely there), and the immortal line, "He'll be able to suck his way through the entire town". Add in the fact that Charlie is literally thrown into the closet when Jerry first attacks him -- in his bedroom, of course -- and you've got a clever little piece on 'monstrous sexuality' that's still fun to watch. Also features some wicked pre-CGI effects and a classic mid-80's nightclub scene. Odd bit of trivia: although director Tom Holland has a son, Josh, he directed the male-nudity-heavy Tales from the Crypt episode Lover Come Hack to Me. Even odder: son Josh appeared in the gay romantic comedy The Fluffer. Hmm.

Rating (out of 5):
The Frightening David DeCoteau 2001

It's a shame that something so needlessly homoerotic is also so BORING! Poor Matt Twining plays a decent actor stuck in a Disturbing Behavior ripoff with a bunch of swarthy go-go boys moonlighting as high school students. No, wait -- that's not the plot, that's the movie. Anyway, DeCoteau has slid FAR, FAR, FAR from his days of genius (Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, anyone?) to this, one cookie-cutter installment in a series of over-edited, underwritten, horribly acted and directed formula films that he churns out by-the-numbers at an alarming rate. So the guys have nice torsos. So they hang out in their boxer briefs. WHO CARES?! It's not near enough to sustain an entire film. I'd call it The Stepford Twinks, but that would be an insult to the original. Earns one extra point in the final act due to a ridiculous plot twist that, although an hour late and a rental fee short, is amusing in its moxie.

Rating (out of 5):
Frisk Todd Verow 1995

Exploitative, graceless, mean-spirited gay serial-killer movie. Horribly acted, for the most part, and wasting what talent it does boast (Parker Posey, Craig Chester, Alexis Arquette). Apparently based on a book -- doesn't exactly motivate one to read it. Not sure whom in the story one is supposed to associate with. Makes reviewers write in sentence fragments.

Rating (out of 5): NONE
Full Moon High Larry Cohen 1981

A mishmashed comedy from It's Alive and God Told Me To creator Larry Cohen (uh, note that his resume is light on comedies, and that those comedies include the dreadful Bette Davis-killer Wicked Stepmother), Full Moon High plays as a combination of Pandemonium, Student Bodies, Phantom of the Paradise, and I Was a Teenage Werewolf, all of which are far superior films. Adam Arkin (creepily, much like his cursed character, he looks exactly the same in real life now as he did then) leads a spectacularly miscast group of B-list actors that includes a surprisingly funny Ed McMahon and an unsurprisingly nellie Jm. Bullock (before the middle J.). There are goofy queer elements everywhere, starting with the opening shower-room scene, which is less shocking for its portrayal of a predatory homo gym teacher than it is for showing a nearly-full-frontal Bob Saget (something that I do not wish upon my worst enemies - yes, even the people behind Baby Geniuses). A few jokes are admittedly hilarious (a series of attacks on women culminates in a "Dude Totally Looked Like a Chick from Behind" gag that, however predictable, is still very funny), but the movie for the most part seriously looks like Cohen just got a bunch of his reportedly funny friends together and let them ad-lib for 96 minutes. It's terribly shot and horribly edited, and some might take some offense to the relentless queer jokes, which are so prominent that they draw attention to the motives behind them (between this and God Told Me To, Cohen was on a tear!). But ultimately, you could do worse with horror comedies (Scary Movie 3, anyone?) - and how can you not appreciate a film that features a werewolf who only 'nibbles' his victims on the ass?

Rating (out of 5):
Gacy Clive Saunders 2003

Simply terrible. Charlie Weber plays Tom Kovacs, who moves in with the titular (pun intended) chubby, who outwardly is a successful businessman but secretly rapes and kills young men and boys and buries them under his house. The very fact that Frances from Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Mark Holton) is playing one of America's most notorious serial killers should tip you off that something is terribly wrong with this wretchedly made biopic - what, was Otho from Beetlejuice not available? The direction is dull and clumsy, and you are neither encouraged to sympathize with the many victims nor the neighbors and family (who are painted as horribly stupid bystanders). A sad follow-up to the thoughful Dahmer.

Rating (out of 5): NONE
The Ghastly Ones Andy Milligan 1968

Queer gore/sex meistro Andy Milligan turned in this odd mystery-slasher that centers around three sisters and their spouses who meet at the family estate for the reading of their father's will. Of course, as the evening progresses the attendees are picked off one-by-one, but who is the murderer? This somewhat progressive merging of the family mystery with all-out gore certainly predated the slasher film by a few years, but the really remarkable thing about The Ghastly Ones is that it's a period film. Yes, I'm talking bustles and bonnets and hot water bottles and candles and all such nonsense. The sheer audacity of making a gorefest Barry Lyndon on a shoestring budget alone makes this one worth watching, as do some hilarious moments (the final axe-in-the-head is worth about 40 replays) and eerily earnest dialogue and acting. Considering Milligan was a raging homo, it's no surprise that the film's men are prettier than you'd usually find in this kind of film (not to mention a bit on the fey side), and the guy in the opening scene is simply fabulous, prancing about in the fields with his lady with a giant parasol. Curious, mincing, and deadpan -- much better than you might expect.

Rating (out of 5):
Ginger Snaps John Fawcett 2000

Although not explicitly queer in any way, the themes of this fantastic horror film -- teen alienation, body terror, out-of-control or destructive sexuality -- resonate with queer audiences. The story of two sisters who are pulled apart by one's movement into sexual maturity (and, well ... lycanthropism), Ginger Snaps is a Carrie for the goth age: where an oustider girl finds herself overcome by strange new powers that correlate with the arrival of her period. Only this time, she's not alone -- unlike the solitary Carrie, Ginger has her sister hanging on to try to keep her grounded, and if she fails, to ultimately take her out. This sisterly bond adds a human element that grounds the film and makes it very accessible, even touching. Excellent performances by the young heroines and a fantastic supporting show by Mimi Rogers as their suburban mother bring the clever, sometimes nasty script to life with crackling intensity and humor. Director Fawcett (The Boy's Club, Queer as Folk) and co-scribe Karen Walton have turned in a tale that entertains even as it goes for the throat regarding the politics of female sexual power.

Rating (out of 5):
Girls Nite Out Robert Deubel 1984

A great "mystery killer" slasher from the mid-eighties (when the fad was already waning), Girls Nite Out is a nasty, clever, and oddly serious piece of horror fluff. The concept (which is oddly almost identical to the horror parody Pandemonium and even shares several exact scenes) is simple: an inmate at a local asylum commits suicide -- we think -- and then his body disappears at the burial site when the gravediggers are mysteriously killed. Meanwhile, the local college pretties are fucking like rabbits and putting Melrose Place to shame with their infidelities: see, rather than just punish people for drinking, smoking, and fornicating, in this flick the killer only kills sluts. Except for the gravediggers, I guess -- unless there's some backstory that was left out. Anyway, the killer whacks the horndog basketball team mascot and steals the bear suit, which he then outfits with real knives as claws, and proceeds to start hacking hos to bits during the annual scavenger hunt. Throw in some really bloody killings, a few well-planned scares, and Hal Holbrook, and you've got the makings of a better-than-average slashfest. Again, the really odd thing here is the amount of time that's dedicated to encouraging you to actively dislike the characters for being such whores -- everyone is fucking someone behind someone else's back, so you really have to tuck any middle-class morality you might have into your pocket if you want to get invested in any of these folks. Besides a decidedly gender-bender of an ending (I won't give it away, but it involves one of the funniest uses of a magic marker and some of the best audio mixing I've ever seen), there are queer elements galore: from the opening basketball game shower scene heroes Maniac (Mart McChesney, who could easily pass for a pre-op Bea Arthur) and Teddy (James Carroll) act like spouses, at various points touching each other while shirtless, pouring whiskey into each other's open mouths, and even showing up at a costume party as a leather daddy and his "gimp" (who is strapped-up and led on a leash). There's also a couple of crazy wisecracking goofballs who are always the life of the party, even if it entails playing gay to get a laugh. Factor in countless shirtless athletes, a complete lack of female nudity, and some well-placed uses of "anal" and "ass" and you can be pretty sure that someone involved in this film was having a blast slipping these things by. Watch for appearances by countless horror alums, including Rutanya Alda (Amityville 2, Mommie Dearest), Suzanne Barnes (The Children), Lauren-Marie Taylor (Friday 2), David Holbrook (Creepshow 2), and Carrick Glenn (The Burning).

Rating (out of 5):
Graduation Day Herb Freed 1981

One of the spate of many "Theme-Day" horror flicks of the late 70's/early 80's (Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, April Fool's Day), Graduation Day starts off with what is perhaps the most alarming opening credits sequences I HAVE EVER SEEN. Edited by the last pre-Ritalin Steenbeck operator, this rapid-cut, disco-charged sequence could send an epileptic to the emergency room. Poor, pretty Laura dies while running a sprint, and soon after, her trackmates begin dying at the gloved hands of a stranger with a stopwatch. Could it be the broken-hearted photographer boyfriend? The Naval officer sister? The track coach? The creepy janitor? Actually, there is no janitor, but this movie reminded me so much of the spoof Student Bodiesthat there may as well have been. There are 3 jump-worthy moments that are very cleverly executed, and again -- the editing is INSANE! The scene that intercuts Linnea Quigley and her boyfriend getting it in the woods with a lipsticked glam band playing at a roller rink seriously nearly made me rupture a blood vessel. Notable for an early appearance of none other than Vanna White as a prissy classmate and Christopher George (of Grizzly and City of the Living Dead) as -- get this -- Coach George Michaels. The presence of a music teacher who is basically channeleing Paul Lynde, bizarre and prominent lesbianic overtones involving the Naval sister, and more men in track shorts than you can shake a hipster at make this a deserving entry.

Rating (out of 5):
Hard John Huckert 1998

A queer cop thriller, Hard is surprisingly dull for a movie that boasts a shitload of gay sex, blood, and sadism. Due mostly to a poor casting choice in the part of the lead character (detective Raymond Vates, played with a stunning lack of intensity by Noel Palomaria) and some clumsy directoral choices, Hard is easy to dislike but even easier to ignore completely. More Matlock than Cruising, this by-the-numbers closeted-cop-meets-hot-sadist story provides no surprises, no tension, but a decent supply of full-frontal male nudity and bland S&M imagery, if that's your thing. Malcolm Moorman (as Jack, the lovable psycho) and Michael Waite (as Andy, his married-with-children buttboy) come off looking the best, and provide the more interesting scenes in the film, but still can't save this "safe" gay entry into the police procedural genre from collapsing under the weight of its own good intentions (for a complete review, click HERE).

Rating (out of 5):
The Haunting Robert Wise 1963

Yummy Yummy Yummy. A scary, restrained, and clever ghost thriller by veteran director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and a genre entry for Audrey Rose), based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House, by creepmeister Shirley Jackson (The Lottery). The film gets rolling with some absolutely eerie history of the cursed house and its effect on innocent young women, and brings us up to date where a group of subjects are brought to the house to study paranormal phenomena, including the poor Eleanor (Julie Harris), who seems to have "VICTIM" stamped on her forehead from the get-go. Claire Bloom is seductive and smart as her thinly-veiled lesbian roomate, Theodora, who tries to give Ellie a little comfort when creepy goings-on start happening after lights-out.

The really notable thing about this film is its use of sound design to set a tone and reveal plot -- the ghosts are not seen, they are heard -- and the quiet, faceless visitations that sometimes escalate to a roar in the mansion's hallways are some of the most brilliantly conceived fright scenes of all time. The downbeat ending shouldn't be surprising to anyone who is familiar with Jackson's fatalistic tales, and in this case (in one scene, anyway) the writing is literally on the wall.

Rent a good copy of this one, kill all the lights, and cop a good feel during the scary bits.

Rating (out of 5):
The Haunting Jan DeBont 1999

We haven't seen a big-budget BM of these proportions since Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John skated through Xanadu all those years ago. Granted, the house is big. It's quite big, actually -- and that fact almost impressed me until I realized that it was only offering the cast and director more rooms to overact and be lame in.

Liam "I did this movie years ago and it was called High Spirits and at least it had Beverly D'Angelo" Neeson, Catherine "I'm not Welsh when I'm not yelling" Zeta-Jones, and Lili "Joe lies, i just sell out" Taylor try their hardest to upstage a bunch of computer-generated golden children that apparently want something from the human guests -- the result is rather like a gothic Honeycomb commercial shot in dolby surround. Todd Field, making a name for himself as 'that infinitely discardable guy' in epic disasters (see also: Eyes Wide Shut), and the assistant girl are the lucky ones, getting kicked out of the house before the acting starts (although I think that her piano-wire-to-the-eye is a stunning metaphor for this moviegoing experience as a whole). So what's the special significance to a gay horror fan? The entirely ABSENT lesbian subplot, dropped from the original. Avoid watching when not zonked on Nyquil.

Rating (out of 5):
Hell House George Ratliff 2001

It might seem odd that I have a documentary about a Pentacostal church in here, but even if this film were not about a haunted house attraction, it would still be one of the scariest things I've ever seen.

This documentary chronicles a season in the life of Texas' famed Hell House, a haunted house designed by a Pentacostal church to literally "scare the devil" out of teenagers. By graphically recreating such horrors as botched abortions, AIDS death, rape, school shootings, suicide, and drunk driving accidents (and then showing the perpetrators dragged off to hell by masked demons), the church hopes to redirect "the lost" to the path of righteousness. More likely, they succeed in scarring and confusing the young, entertaining those with enough sense to see through the thinly-veiled attempt at pew-stuffing, and comforting their own smug selves that they have managed to keep evil at bay for one more year. For a group of righteous people, they spend an awful lot of time discussing and recreating violent and horrific acts -- it's no wonder that one interviewee calls the world an "evil place" (that she goes on to rhapsodize about Jesus returning to earth to choose his bride will not be discussed here). Mixed into the "let's-put-on-a-midfuck!" hijinx we see scenes of parishoners speaking in tongues, an overstressed father caring for his 5 children -- one who is prone to seizures -- without the help of a spouse, and lots of confusion as to exactly what evils the good folks are battling (including exactly which "date rape drug" they are warning against and what Magic: the Gathering is. Also look for the "pentagrams" in one scene, which are actually Stars of David.).

You might look at this and think that it's too good to be true, from a people-watching perspective, and it is, ultimately -- as with most documentaries, the line between simply recording and exploiting is crossed early on and left behind at a sprint. Sure, these people are fanatical -- there's no doubting it. But the selection of the scenes, camera placement, and editing make this conclusion for you before you have a chance to reach it on your own (anyone who saw Todd Solondz's excellent Storytelling might recognize that this is a dilemma inherent to documentary filmmakers, particularly those who lose respect for their subjects). In the end, those who buy a ticket to see some loony folks from the South overstepping their moral bounds and being paraded about like fools will get just that -- but in this, aren't the filmmakers preaching to the choir much as the real "Hell House" does?

Regardless, watching a young man being dragged to hell for refusing to renounce his homosexual lifestyle (after of course contracting HIV) in front of a crowd of children was just about as creepy as it gets for yours truly. Thanks, Hell House!

Rating (out of 5):
Hell Night Tom DeSimone 1981

Tom DeSimone, AKA Lancer Brooks (his gay porn directing name) turned in this foundational piece of 80'r horror somewhere in between the talking-vagina comedy Chatterbox and the Wendy O. Williams opus Reform School Girls where Wendy ends up on an electrical tower wearing duct tape and -- if I'm not mistaken -- a fat warden stomps a kitten to death with sensible heels.

At any rate, "Hell Night" has it all: chicks, dudes, creepy houses, monsters, booze, 'ludes, and Linda Blair. An oddly small group of fraternity pledges is forced by evil house leaders to stay in an admittedly imposing mansion that is apparently haunted by both living and dead nasties. The combination of Halloween costumes, a kickass haunted mansion, and ghost stories is already better than anyone has any right to expect from a film that came out at the height of the slasher craze: add to the mix an offbeat sense of humor, shocking gore, and excellent photography, and you've got the makings of a classic. I have to say that the filmmakers make a mistake by killing off the pranksters too soon -- nothing is more fun than kids trying to scare other kids while real danger circles them both. After the first hour it gets a bit slow, with a few pointless "stalk" scenes that don't amount to anything, but it is brought back to life by a hilariously overdone ending that is unlike any I've seen (when was the last time you saw the heroine jump in a car that won't start and then actually GET UNDER THE HOOD TO FIX IT?!).

The film has the distinction of being bawdy and wholesome at the same time; there is ample suggestion of sex and rowdiness but no nudity (although surferboy Seth spends literally half the film in a pair of tight boxer shorts). The token "bad girl" is actually a very likeable, wry british girl who may take too many drugs but is incredibly likeable when she does (her fabulous line, "These quaaludes are murder on my skin," is one of the best). But tanned torsos and sassy Brits aside, the real star of the show here is Our Miss Blair. Looking alarmingly puffy in her velveteen cotillion gown, she somehow manages to turn heads at the Hell Night party (the producers were being kind, to say the least) and plays the rest of the film earnestly but without a lick of glamour, or even self-respect. Two examples to illustrate the fact that Linda's image consultant was not on-set: Gate-Climbing Linda, where she essentially recreates the scene in Animal Farm when Snowball the piglet tries to escape the vicious dobermans; and House-Climbing Linda, where she essentially recreates the scene in The Great Muppet Caper where Miss Piggy breaks into Charles Grodin's house (if I'm not mistaken, they even wear the same knee-length high-heeled white boots). The porcine comparisons are no coincidence -- the chubster looks more like Bruce McCollough's Kids in the Hall secretary character than the little girl from The Exorcist, but again, she's out there trying, and for that we are proud.

Rating (out of 5):
Hellraiser Clive Barker 1987

The first feature film from the undisputed Queen of Horror, Clive Barker. Tried and true gay themes of unrequited lust and body terror permeate the bloody proceedings, and the arrival of the Cenobites is simply wonderful. Julia is simply the Alpha Bitch (check out the sequel as well): Lady MacBeth, Hedda Gabler, Clytemnestra and Medea rolled into one. The lengths to which she'll go to relive that one perfect lay are incredible. Gory, sexy, and brutal.

Rating (out of 5):
Hide and Go Shriek Skip Schoolnik 1988

A classic example of how having an overt queer plot can sometimes do absolutely nothing to rescue a film from utter awfulness if that's the only thing it's got going for it. In this tepid and agonizingly boring slasher, a group of high school kids hang out in a furniture store, for no reason other than to save the filmmakers cash on locations. Unfortunately, the budget also didn't make allowances for electricity: the entire movie is shot in almost complete darkness (the kids aren't allowed to turn the lights on, apparently), making it nearly impossible to pay attention to the generic cast and their tedious activities (they split up and reconvene about 30 times, and complain about eating -- that's about it). There's naturally a killer in the store who, in a somewhat interesting move, takes on the appearance of each victim he kills (see also: Terror Train), but it's not executed well enough to be creepy. In the end we find out that it wasn't the slimy loading-dock worker who lives in the basement who's killed all the kids, but rather the slimy loading-dock worker's prison boyfriend, who apparently can't deal with the separation from his pokey Papi and is now cycling through personalities faster than J.Lo changes husbands, trying to find one that he might like. Things do admittedly get kind of fun in the last 20 minutes after the kids lose their collective shit and start throwing hissy fits all over the increasingly bloody store, but the first hour is just intolerable. Extra point for a hilariously prolonged and in-your-face queer confrontation in the climactic scene, but the mincing, pathetic killer queen is just insulting and more fuel for the anti-gay fire in the end. Director Skip Schoolnik wisely never directed another feature film (he's a good enough editor to rely on that instead -- he cut Halloween 2 and eps of Buffy); look for Slumber Party Massacre 3 alum Brittain Frye (granting a few ass-shots and running around shirtless for the third act -- yum) modeling the best in Max Headroom-inspired fashion.

Rating (out of 5):
The Hunger Tony Scott 1983

Catherine Deneuve. David Bowie. Susan Sarandon. Vampires. What more do you want? Operatically overdramatic and fantastically stylized, this arthouse horror gem features a droolworthy sex scene between Sarandon and Deneuve, some truly disturbing murders, and enough 1983 New York gothic imagery to fill the CBGB Gallery (look for appearances by art/music scene staples Peter Murphy of Bauhaus and Ann Magnuson, as well as a young Willem Dafoe). Rapturously photographed and scored, this one's great to watch on a rainy night with the volume cranked. Scott followed this one up with the even more homoerotic Top Gun.

Rating (out of 5):
I Know What You Did Last Summer David Gillespie 1997

Arguably the film that started the "horror renaissance", gay scribe Kevin Williamson's perfectly competent slasher is smarter than it needs to be and more fun than was expected. As usual, Williamson takes a ready-made story (kids kill someone accidentally and decide to cover it up, victim comes after them, blah blah) an infuses it with wit, 90's attitude, unexpected twists, and lots of young skin (see also: The Faculty, the Scream movies). This formula served Williamson well until he tried to plug legendary comedy 9 to 5 into his equation (the result, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, is a pale shadow of the original), and he caught shitloads of flack for being the one responsible for the glut of crappy ironic horror flicks that flooded the market after Scream (a pretty stupid accusation). But it's good to remember that in the end he's a talented storyteller who brings a very queer sensibility to what was a tired, played-out genre. Buffy fans will rewatch SMG's chase scene until the tape wears out. Ryan Phillipe fans -- oh heck, anybody -- will enjoy the locker room sequence. Extra queer points for the unexpected appearance of sometime-lesbian Anne Heche, here apparently preparing for the insane suburban wandering that would later sink her career.

Rating (out of 5):
I'll Bury You Tomorrow Alan Rowe Kelly 2002

The brainchild of a uniquely distorted and delirious queer mind, I'll Bury You Tomorrow features necrophilia, incest, murder, dismemberment, cross-dressing, evisceration, and a nice cup of tea. Alan Rowe Kelly, the writer/director/star, ambitiously pits a creepy newcomer in a small town against a hoard of genuine freaks and weirdos (graverobbers, morticians, druggies, hookers, nurses) and lets the blood boil for a while before it flows. After a slow buildup, things start getting deliciously nasty and by the end the whole town has erupted into a bloodbath. Despite some uneven performances and a longer running time than may be necessary, this is low-budget fun with smarts and respect for both the audience and the genre. Extra-special points for hottie cop Mitch, played by Jerry Murdock (he actually pulls off a clever double-duty here) and the ethereally creepy Linda Leven as Nurse Olive.

Rating (out of 5):
Jack Be Nimble Garth Maxwell 1993

An overlooked gem. Gay actor Alexis Arquette plays it straight -- and how! -- in this Kiwi gothic horror tale by writer/director Garth Maxwell (When Love Comes). Dora is a sometimes violent teen and a bad typist. Jack wants to get revenge on his horrible foster-family. Will these two twisted siblings reuinite? Impressive atmosphere and some fantastic classic horror imagery (one shot of the 3 wicked sisters walking in a storm is particularly effective). Bloody and dark, well-shot, and lots of fun.

Rating (out of 5):
Jaws: The Revenge Joseph Sargent 1987

This is one bad movie, folks. One of the last things that Joe Sargent directed before he was relegated to TV-Movie land (he had previously directed the anthology Nightmares, which included the excellent Terror in Topanga and the bit where Emilio Esteves gets trapped in a real-life video game), the last of the Jaws franchise featured Lorraine "Will Work for Food" Gary as the oft-maligned Ellen Brody, who in this installment is followed all the way to Jamaica by yet another killer shark (the novelization of the film explained the persistence of the little critter by making him a totem of an evil Jamaican drug lord, who is punishing the Michael Brody for not letting him use his plane to traffic dope). Lance "Still Waiting for Last Starfighter 2" Guest, Mario "My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad" Van Peebles and yes, even Michael Caine round out the lopsided cast, although the real star is, of course, the titular muncher. The plot is, of course, ridiculous, the continuity notoriously bad (the scene where Caine emerges from the water entirely dry is a famous one), and the scare scenes pretty weak, with the exception of the fabulously ill-executed Banana Boat scene, in which a group of children are attacked by the meanie (of course, the adult chaperone is the only one actually eaten. Damn.). What's the queer angle? In the opening scene, the Brodys are celebrating the holidays when Sean (played by openly gay Party of Five alum Mitchell Anderson) is called to the dock, where he has his arm bitten off and is then devoured in a decidedly un-Christmaslike manner. Fitting that the first Brody to actually get eaten by one of the sharks played for the pink team. The movie is otherwise unremarkable, and caused one of the funniest Oscar moments in history when Michael Caine was unable to accept his award for Hannah and Her Sisters because he was on location filming this crap.

Rating (out of 5):
Jeepers Creepers Victor Salva 2001

Promising but ultimately disappointing creature feature from notorious gay director Victor Salva. While no rampant homoerotic themes are on parade here (check out Clownhouse if you're into that), still a bit left-of-center, particularly the strange and decidedly punitive ending (Salva must have an axe to grind with a Keanu Reaves knockoff). Britney Spears fans get a bonus -- her Crossroads opposite stars here.

Rating (out of 5):
Jeepers Creepers 2 Victor Salva 2003

This time ol' Vic gets it right. Part horror, part drama, part action thriller, Jeepers Creepers 2 far surpasses its tepid predecessor and has a much stronger sense of what kind of movie it is -- while still managing to be a fun ride. Picking up where the original left off, a farm family and group of kids on a school bus are thrown into the path of the hungry varmint, and Lifeboat-style, Salva uses the circumstances to investigate how groups of people behave under life-threatening conditions. The oceanic parallel with Lifeboat is oddly appropriate -- Jeepers 2 reads like Jaws 2 meets Moby Dick, as played by the cast of The Faculty. The action is excellently executed and fun (it boasts 2 of the best car crashes I've seen in a long time), and the scare scenes are clever, if not tipping toward cutesy on a few occasions. The real goldmine here is the cast and their corresponding characters, who are refreshingly left-of-center: there's a would-be (might-be) homo, a clairvouyant cheerleader, a dykey bus driver, a crazed farmer, a neonazi basketball player and his decent, unbelieving girlfriend, and lots more. And yes, the guys are hot, and often shirtless (for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Ahem.). Major queer points for being written and directed by a gay man, boasting a gay character (and lots of gay-oriented dialogue, both supportive and not) and a gay-friendly actor (the fantastic Diane Delano, Popular's Bobbi/Jessi Glass and Bunny from The Ellen Show). It's also refreshing to see a big-budget teen horror film with such a strong visual sense -- something that the Scream-teen flicks seemed to forget about entirely.

Rating (out of 5):
Just Before Dawn Jeff Lieberman 1981

Just Before Dawn is a teens-in-the-woods slasher with something a little different going for it. First, the location and atmosphere are fantastic. Second, there is a feeling of casualness to the scenes that has been all but lost in our polished, tech-heavy thrillers of today. The kids talk about nothing. Sometimes they don't talk at all. We enter scenes at the end of jokes, sometimes barely hearing the conversation, as if we were eavesdropping. This, combined with the sparseness of the score, gives a normalcy to the proceedings that makes the fright scenes all the more creepy. I honestly have not seen many films where this has been done to better effect (think Burstyn and Blair's dialogue scenes from "The Exorcist"). Plus, the fright elements are tucked within shots with the characters, not announced with cuts or fanfare (the man swinging onto the back of the camper is a shiver-inducing example), and the results are unsettling. But the element of "Dawn" that really sets it apart from the rest is the character arc of the "last female". At the onset, she is like a lesbian Girl Scout denleader, complete with a sensible French Twist and trousers (as opposed to the tarty redhead, who is a dead ringer for Sideshow Bob and brings makeup with her... into the mountains). But as the story progresses she becomes more feminine, tying her shirt up, letting her hair down, wearing makeup and Daisy Dukes. Oddly, it seems that every time we see her do something feminine, some tradedy befalls the group. By the end of the film Connie is tarted up like a French whore, and even goes so far as to apply a fresh coat after being knocked out of a tree and then nearly smothered by the evil fattie. It is in this easy, breezy, beautiful Glamourshots getup that she confronts the final baddie, literally stuffing her fist down this throat as her patently useless boyfriend watches, blabbering like a baby. Quite a far cry from the usual character arc of the "last girl", who is almost always masculinized as she finds her strength.

So where's the queer angle? Well, it's something that was unfortunately lost in development: according to screenwriter Mark Arywitz, the character of Daniel (the nerdy photographer) was originally supposed to be gay, and even had a coming-out scene (right before he was killed, of course). Earlier in the film he was to be caught looking at muscle magazines. In watching the film, this revelation wouldn't have been entirely surprising: the character is artistic, a bit awkward, and single -- different from his athletic, relaxed, coupled friends. Arywitz doesn't know why the gay element was removed (he claims that the film didn't end up being the one he wrote at all), but it's interesting to know that it was there in the first place, and only adds to the relationships.

For a full review, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Looking for Mr. Goodbar Richard Brooks 1977

Some folks call this a drama, but it's about as horrific as they come. Didactic, insulting, and painfully conservative, this downer of a film is like a Christian comic book set to film with a disco sountrack. Diane Keaton plays the ill-fated heroine who, after finding release in the fast-living world of single 70's Manhattan, is killed by a psycho as apparent punishment for her sluttishness. As if that weren't haughty enough, get this -- the killer is none other than a gay man who, after fighting with his lover after being heckled at the Gay Pride Parade (he shouts "I'm a pitcher, not a catcher!" while running off), picks up Keaton in a singles bar, takes her home, and when unable to perform, rapes and brutally kills her. The situation is not at all improved by the fact that the man is played by a young Tom Berenger. Worth watching for its sheer balls, but a horribly misguided effort on the whole.

Rating (out of 5):
Make a Wish Sharon Ferranti 2002

Despite featuring an almost exclusively female cast (like Slumber Party Massacre) playing open lesbians (whereas in SPM they were merely a women's basketball team. Ahem.), the film is surprisingly dull, and unfortunately so middle-of-the-road in just about every regard that it manages to wriggle out of being recommendation-worthy in spite of itself. The premise is a natural extension of an old theme: a guarded, potentially dangerous person invites a group of friends (in this case, exes) out to a remote location, at which point they are unceremoniously bumped off. As the location here is a campsite, one might expect that the atmosphere would be like Sleepaway Camp. Unfortunately, it's more akin to Sleepaway Camp 3.

Though we started with a great idea (all-girl slasher in the woods, offering a great chance to deconstruct same-sex relationships, pull off some classic campsite scares, and get some laughs at our own queer expense), what we have ended up with is basically yet another by-the-numbers gay relationship movie (Cheating. Bitching. Preening.), only one-by-one the castmembers are accosted my a mystery guest who does something to them before we cut to another scene (it could be murder, it could be hot-oil conditioning, it could be backrubs.) As most of the killings are bloodless or happen off-screen, we're not sure, and in the end the film is not scary enough to be a horror film and not funny enough to be a comedy, and so lands squarely in the middle with so many other failed attempts (check your local video store for hundreds of direct-to-video examples).

Rating (out of 5):
May Lucky McKee 2002

One of the better horror films to be released in 2002, May treads some well-worn territory (outcast weirdo with a taste for the dark side, unrequited love, carnage) but throws enough curveballs to keep things fresh. For one, this girl is fucking NUTS! Instead of a mousy-yet-lovable Carrie type, Angela Bettis's May is a bona-fide freakattack just waiting to pop. Things get creepy when horror buff Adam (the ever-excellent Jeremy Sisto) gets close and May starts to unravel. Following a confusing affair with her predatory lesbian co-w/orker (the ever-fantastic Anna Faris, who here gets to utter the immortal line, "Shut up, Hooker!") and continued rejection from everyone around her, May decides to stop putting up with imperfect people and work on making a new kind of friend. Rife with ocular trauma imagery (in the tradition of the Italian greats -- Argento is even referenced) and featuring a very intense final reel, May is a refreshing change from the silly, safe "horror" garbage that's been dumped into theatres recently. Oh - also notable for featuring one of the funniest "student film" parodies I've ever seen. "My baby does the hanky-panky ..."

Rating (out of 5):
Motel Hell Kevin Connor 1980

A misunderstood and underappreciated film, Motel Hell tells the story of Farmer Vincent and his sister Ida, who run a fritter company that uses meat from unsuspecting travelers who are trapped and buried up to their necks until fat enough to harvest. When lovely Terry arrives, her boyfriend is meat but she's kept around for both twisted siblings to pine after and eventually to blow the lid off their operation. Rory Calhoun is excellent as the well-intentioned but misguided Vincent but Nancy Parsons (better known to many as Ballbricker from Porky's) almost steals the show as the psychotic lesbian sister. Director Connor went back to directing mostly television (including Moonlighting and Hart to Hart), but this creepy, funny, and smart flick may be what he's best remembered for.

Rating (out of 5):
Murder Weapon David DeCoteau (as Ellen Cabot) 1990

The most interesting thing about this awful piece of trash is that there are three people in the credits with the last name "Squatpump". Taking into consideration that "Betty Flinstone" and "Wilma Rubble" are also listed, I looked on the trusty IMDB to see if these "Squatpumps" were real, and it does indeed seem that Yolanda (the matriarch of the clan?) has a few more credits under her belt, including The Usual Suspects, and may therefore actually exist. But back to the film: the wordless, pointless 10-minute intro actually made me wonder if the filmmakers couldn't afford sound equipment. The next scene, an agonizingly long dialogue scene between Linnea Quigley and her shrink, proved that yes, they did have sound equipment, but that they had apparently lost their sets, as the scene takes place in a black hole.

So I actually continued watching this crap. And about an hour later I was treated to a downright hilarious sledgehammer-(mannequin)-head-beating and an even better shotgun-to-the-(mannequin)-head death. Ultimately one of the frizzy-haired psycho girls killed everybody, apparently. I don't know. I actually was more entertained picturing David DeCoteau, who directed under the odd alias Ellen Cabot, showing up to the set every day in a smart grey skirt suit and sensible shoes (as, in my mind, someone named Ellen Cabot would).

Rating (out of 5):
Necropolis David Hickey 1986

If you're a fan of 80's New York movies, this is an absolute must. Close cousin to Liquid Sky and Times Square, this New Wave-soaked trashfest has it all: mouthy hookers, Italian cops, gay hustlers, junkies, punk rockers, motorcycles, clubs, spike heels, demons, and reincarnation.

After her 18th-century ritual is interrupted by a black servant, platinum-haired bitch Eva vows to return to fulfill her evil legacy. This legacy apparently consists of flashdancing, wearing fishnets, and making herself up to look like a Nagel painting. The very glamorous Eva then begins possessing downtowners in order to recover her precious Devil's Ring, which she needs to complete her ceremony, and uses her evil powers of suggestion to get people to do things for her, be it kill themselves or each other. In one notable scene she even turns one girl's repressed lesbian past against her -- for no apparent reason ("remember how you used to sleep with Nancy?"), as the girl just winds up dead. Along the way we meet other reincarnated folks who stumble on to the plot and their former lives, and even find love ("Awww..."). In the end the witch is vanquished again -- or so it seems, until her disembodied hand tracks down the heroine, possesses her and kills her boyfriend, in one of the more downer endings I've seen in a while.

Along the way, though, things are much more bouyant. Ex-junkie Philly admits to being a gay-for-pay hustler. Eva gets in a fabulous catfight with a spicy hooker named Candy. The forensic doctor is a bitchy queen who calls everyone "sweetheart". And plenty of victims turn up, all covered with a white, sticky "ectoplasm", which also plays a central role in a memorable scene where Eva grows four extra breasts that begin oozing goo onto her mush-faced goblin "children". In fact, there is more white sticky goo in this film than in a Times Square video booth -- or so I've heard.

Anyway, the music is loud, the clothes are garish, and the lead baddie is a dead ringer for the lead singer of Roxette. How can you lose?

(Special note: none of the actors went on to do anything. But Jennifer Stahl, who played the repressed punk-rock lesbian Cat, was one of three people brutally killed in her apartment above the Carnegie Deli in 2001. The much-publicized murders were drug-related.)

Rating (out of 5):
The New York Ripper Lucio Fulci 1982

It's nasty! It's badly scored! It's horribly dubbed and lurid! It must be a Fulci. In one of maestro Lucio's nastier turns (and we're talking about a man who went down in history for a prolonged depiction of a woman's eye being popped by a splinter), a serial killer who talks like Donald Duck (?!) stalks the women of New York in all its early 80's trash glory. If you're into live sex shows (um, yeah), exploding heads (mmm... could be), blatant racial and sexual stereotypes (yup), and graphic toe-fuckin (NO! NONONONONONO!), this one's for you. Completely incoherant, lit like a porno, and starring the most unctious group of actors I've ever seen (we're talking just-rubbed-with-a-Steak-Umm greasy here), New York Ripper is classless, clumsy, and dumb. But I have to say: regardless of how bad the film is, I will remember that toe-fucking like some people remember Kennedy's assassination.

The film does have a few refreshing elements, most notably a queer pschology professor who helps out on the case (in theory only -- he's pretty helpless) when he's not busy covertly buying porno at the local newsstand (ahh -- the days when you could buy a Blueboy and a paper for $3!). The murders themselves are gory to the point of ridiculousness -- we're dangerously approaching Peter Jackson's Brain Dead territory here. The characters themselves are also somewhat colorful (again, in theory -- they all get pretty boring after a minute or two): a lead girl who looks like Reese Witherspoon when she's happy and Kirsten Dunst when she's being beaten or stalked; a lead prettyboy who looks like Keanu Reeves -- only he's a math genius; a little girl who's missing an arm; a creepy muscleguy who's missing two fingers; a cop whose life is thrown into a tailspin when his favorite hooker is slaughtered; a woman who is tanned and polished like a wingtip who tapes sounds of sexshows to take home to her crippled husband, and so on. Apparently Fulci really didn't think much of New York to populate the city with such trash -- even though they are all obviously Italian actors playing American roles. In all, really dirty, very bloody, and one of Lucio's more embarrassing efforts. If seeing a woman get stabbed in the cheezit with a broken bottle is your cup of tea, check it out.

Rating (out of 5):
Night After Night After Night Lindsay Shonteff 1969

Okay, so this one’s a bit tricky. See, this schizophrenic whodunit/slasher/sexual satire starts out heading in one direction (namely, toward starched British oblivion), takes a brief detour on the way (in Swinging Sixties London-Land), and ends up jumping the tracks entirely in the third act (where in the blink of an eye it mutates into a Freudian Mrs. Doubtfire on acid).

It appears that some sort of madman is killing hookers and the like in swinging London, and we are presented with a handful of pervy, maladjusted, or Just Plain British likely suspects: there’s the uptight Judge, his weaselly porn-loving assistant, a free-wheeling party boy who just loves “making birds”, and a few other gloriously screwed-up characters who have not benefited from the sexual revolution in the least. As the bodies pile up (which sounds more wonderfully debaucherous than it actually is, unless you have a thing for butchering grown women who wear opaque hose and Mary Janes), detective and very recent widow (his wife was one of the victims) Bill Rowan (the sort-of-handsome Gilbert Wynne) essentially begins stalking the playboy fella, convinced he’s the killer.

But actually, the killer ends up being someone else entirely (um, spoiler to follow): in one of the most hilarious elbow-curves in tone that I’ve ever seen, dear, pickled Judge Jack May is revealed to be a foaming, batshit-crazy murderer, who – get this – puts on a Prince Valiant wig and leather outfit before popping out to slaughter strippers on his tea-break. From the moment that the fuddy-duddy May dons this getup in his nudie-mag-papered squatter’s hovel, the movie becomes a thing of pure beauty. When May is interrupted while attacking a hooker and forced to flee via rooftop, he breaks into an apartment and steals the wig, makeup, and lilac pantsuit of the lady who lives there – and wears the sensible getup for the remainder of the film. Now, while this in itself is not queer (he’s obviously VERY straight, as he’s got an incredibly unhealthy sexual appetite for the ladies), he is gay-bashed on the street by a guy in an Irish-knit sweater (oh, the indignity…), whom he slashes with the blade in his weave (okay, the blade in his pocket – but I can dream…). I’d almost recommend fast-forwarding to the last 20 minutes, as the first two acts show no promise of the lunacy that is to follow, but they’re really not that bad and give a fun glimpse into the pervie underworld of the time. Totally worth it just to see May's white-hot meltdown, which includes a full-on Lipstick Freakout, harm to porno, and some deliciously clumsy stumbling in heels.

Rating (out of 5):
Night of the Creeps Fred Dekker 1986

Fantastic and often overlooked film that succeeds where hundreds before and after it have failed: in combining laughs and thrills to equal effect. A masterful blending of a half-dozen genres (sci-fi, 50's monster movie, zombie, college comedy, film noir, slasher), Creeps is bursting with energy, smarts, and affection for its material and those that inspired it. The plots are almost too much to summarize, but basically you've got alien test subjects in the form of slugs that crashland on Earth in the 50's and get frozen in the dead boyfriend of a gal who's hacked up by an axe-weilding psycho. Fast-forward to the 80's and two likeable goofs thaw out the dead host in order to impress a girl, and end up enlisting the ex-boyfriend of the dead chick for help when the slugs turn half the campus into the walking undead. Make sense? Somehow, it does -- writer/director Fred Dekker keeps all the balls in the air with amazing skill and manages to add real humanity to the characters in the process -- especially in the character of J.C., the hero's gay sidekick. The real emotional centerpiece of the film is the bond between these two friends, and the gay theme is handled subtly and with real respect.

For a full review of this great flick, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Night School Ken Hughes 1981

The basic setup: the colossally un-handsome and preposterously named Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) is out to catch a killer, whom he believes to be the colossally un-handsome and preposterously named Vincent Millett (Drew Snyder), a college prof whose lovely students are unfortunatly being beheaded at a rapid rate. The ladies attend an all-girls school run by the lecherously lesbianic Helene Griffin (Annette Miller). Although all the girls seem to be balling Mr. Millett (in a grand sweep of improbable ugly male fantasy), Alpha Ho Rachel Ward holds sway over all, serving as both his Teaching Assistant and his pincushion. Fittingly, Ms. Ward's hair is constantly in a state of disarray, giving her that coveted "just banged in an alley" look that was apparently all the rage.

Why is this slasher any different from the rest? Well, for one, the killer is quite distinct and the "mask" a bit disturbing: the slasher wears a slick black motorcycle helmet and full fitted riding leathers, giving a futuristic, glossy gleam that you don't generally find on killers, who are usually more apt to put on their best potato-sack-and-flannel combo than something that looks like it drove out of Knight Rider. Second, the murders themselves, though not particularly graphic, are quite brutal -- the killer slashes the victims a few times with a huge, angled machete before dispatching them, and you really get the sense that the victims are being toyed with and punished rather than just rubbed out. After a series of brutal murders, buddy-cop character development, and girls-school intrigue, the film suddenly takes a turn for the surreal in the introduction of a new element: humor. In a scene that Clouzot would have been proud of, we watch a couple of blue-collar diner-goers eat what could very well be waitress-head stew, based on what we've seen. The director draws the suspense out wonderfully, and thankfully has the tact to resolve the gag in a -- ahem, tasteful -- manner. Things chug along to a natural but not entirely obvious conclusion, and we get to see something we very rarely get to see in these films: actual character development. I won't give away what happens, but after the killer is revealed another character behaves in a very strange way, suggesting hidden emotions and adding a great psychological layer onto a simple whodunit slasher. Rachel Ward gets to flip her tousled hair, the predatory lesbian gets to feel up one of her students, and we get to go home entertained.

For a full review of this flick, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Night Warning William Asher 1981


That this movie even exists is, in and of itself, amazing. That it's also well-made and fairly enjoyable is even better. It's hard to explain this one without giving too much away, but I can at least say that it's got more homoerotic overtones than one of the Brotherhood movies and a central gay relationship that is pretty shocking for its existence in a genre film such as this. Pretty much everyone in this film is fairly nuts, but Susan Tyrrell really takes the cake as Aunt Cheryl -- a great performance by a prolific but perhaps overlooked character actor (her resume ranges from Forbidden Zone to Andy Warhol's Bad to Cry Baby to Big Top Pee Wee). Also watch for a early appearances by Bill Paxton (Frailty, Near Dark) and Julia Duffy (Newhart, Wacko). Director Asher, best know for his beach movies and television work, has extensive camp connections through his work on The Paul Lynde Show and Muscle Beach Party. Eighties porn lovers will no doubt thrill over the Colt Studios character knockoffs (football coach, plumber, policeman, quarterback) and the delicious twist that brings two of these men together. Also known as Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (God knows why): a must-see for any queer horror fan.

Rating (out of 5):
Nightbreed Clive Barker 1990

A mostly-forgotten notch in Clive Barker's bedpost, Nightbreed is an old-fashioned monster movie that throws religion, psychology, human nature, authority, the supernatural, and Craig Sheffer in a big kettle and heats to boiling. Sheffer plays Boone, a leather-jacket-wearing sensitive guy who is plagued by nightmares about a hidden city of monsters, which his shrink (played by David Cronenberg. Yes, David Cronenberg.) suggests might link him to a series of brutal murders in the area. Ignoring the help of his well-meaning but staggeringly unglamorous girlfriend Lori (Ann Bobby), Boone flees a police inquiry and finds Midian, an ancient graveyard that is also the secret entrance to an underground city of monsters, an assortment of well-meaning abominations that are descendent of the original tribes. Shot down in a flurry of bullets (instigated by his shrink, who of course turns out to be the masked slasher haunting the area), Boone is off his slab in a matter of hours and back at Midian in full-on Nightbreed mode, and turns out to be the savior foretold centuries before who would lead the tribes to their new home.

If you're into monsters, this flick is for you -- it's a prosthetician's wet dream as all sorts of freaks are paraded about. The slasher mask that Cronenberg wears is also VERY creepy and some of the violence is quite disturbing. Sheffer is likeable but seems sort of awkward, while Bobby is quite a decent actor who is unfortunately coiffed and dressed here, making her kind of dated and silly. But there's monsters!

Of course, the queer connections here are many: first and foremost, Barker is one of the premier gay voices in horror (Hellraiser), and here he has created a fascinating allegory about discovering one's true nature and finding a home in a group of subordinated, "underground" outcasts whom society wants to destroy. As if that weren't queer enough, there are overt gay references, including a cute Nightbreed who clutches a Boston Terrier and scampers, another Nightbreed whose unreciprocated gay overtures lead him to mutter "Sailors...", and a reference to the Wizard of Oz in the film's most quotable line ("God is an astronaut, Oz IS over the rainbow, and Midian's where the monsters live"). The film's comments on patriarchal authority (the police being sadists who gang up and brutalize Boone), religion (a drunk priest ends up deliriously worshipping the ressurrected slasher-killer) are also patently queer, and Barker is able to get quite a bit of bite out of his barks -- a lot of the commentary is so built in to the structure that it slips right by if you aren't looking for it.

Besides being a bit dated in terms of fashion, this is an impressive effort -- there are tons of effects, a large cast, and the entire second half of the film happens amidst total chaos, with half of the set on fire and bullets flying everywhere. Smart, gross, and very entertaining, this one's definitely worth checking out.

Rating (out of 5):
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge Jack Sholder 1985

Simply stated, the Gayest Horror Film Ever Made.

There is definitely something queer in the state of Indiana. Check out the gratuitous leather bar and "Death By Bareass Towel Whipping". Check out the creepy Sweaty Man Wrestling poster in the gym coach's office. Check out the Probe board game oddly prominent in Jesse's closet. And repeated dialogue like "There's a man who's trying to get inside me" sticks out once piled upon all this thinly-veiled queer subtext. In the end, Freddy's Revenge might well be the definitive metaphor for queer teen sexual horror: the emergence of a terrifying, powerful and destructive force which exacts fantasy punishment on that which it is attracted to (gay leather bars, hot jocks, scantily-clad pool party boys) and alienates the teen from his family and the affection of a well-meaning but sexually predatory girl. In the end, the kiss of the girl pushes the destructive gay libido back into remission, but of course ultimately the force is too strong and all in its path are destroyed.

Going too far? I honestly don't think so. See for yourself -- fortunately, the film is a good watch either way, with some really creepy scenes and some decent acting by Mark Patton (almost too sincere for a horror film), and great FX. All in all, a deserving title-holder of the Gayest Horror Film of All Time.

For a complete review of this fucking awesome movie, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Nikos the Impaler Andreas Schnaas 2003

Believe it or not, this American installation of director Andreas Schnaas’s Violent Shit series: A) isn’t that bad; and B) boasts a surprising amount of queer content for a film about a resurrected impaler from Eastern Europe set loose upon modern-day New York City (actually, I take that back – if you consider the elements of that sentence separately, it makes perfect sense). Featuring a gay couple who actually get a considerable amount of screen time devoted to establishing their relationship (they have a completely disposable cutesy dialogue scene; we also see one of the men cry when his partner is killed, and is sincerely consoled by a somewhat gruff-looking fella also trapped in the art gallery). Gay men in horror films usually aren’t given much to do other than flounce and bitch, but these guys are actually given characters and screen time, and aren’t mutilated any worse than anyone else (one even dies off-screen!). Later, our heroine (the severely underused Felissa Rose) chases Nikos into a frighteningly realistic-looking lesbian bar – if the bar were in West Virginia, that is. These ladies don’t fare as well, and the classic “predatory dyke” card is played, turning what could have been a fun scene into a groaner. Still, the presence of so many gay characters in this film at all is simply mind-boggling. Direct-to-video vet Joe Zaso co-stars, and cameos abound from Debbie Rochon, Lloyd Kaufman, Tina Krause, and others. Despite rambling at the end (and featuring an unfortunate subplot about Hitler that just plays as a late-game bad joke), there is enough carnage, humor, and action to keep things moving. All in all not nearly as bad as I was expecting.

Rating (out of 5):
The Old Dark House James Whale 1932

The original "Queen of Hollywood", James Whale (the subject of the biopic Gods and Monsters, starring current "Queen of Hollywood" Ian McKellan), turned in this creepy little freakfest as a horror follow-up to his blockbuster Frankenstein. A group of weary travellers get stuck in a big old creepy house occupied by the wacky Femm family (?!), who have been harboring a terrible secret that has driven them all mad. Rocky Horror fans will find plenty to chew on, as the glam musical obviously borrows heavily from this film (as well as Whale's others). But the sheer sense of perverted glee with which the story is told is the real centerpiece here: the film is packed with gags and black humor that is delivered so, uh, straight that you wonder if it is even intentional (it is). Ernest Thesiger, who once famously brought a Hollywood party to silence by announcing "Who's in for a spot of buggery?", is fantastic as the nellie Horace Femm, and Melvyn Douglas could charm the tarnish off a doorknob as the caddish Penderel. Gay actor Charles Laughton is also very funny, and the patriarch of the Femm family is oddly played by a woman! In all, a camp and creepy entertaining film that still holds up today. (Note: the film was remade by shlockmeister William Castle, to lesser results, in 1963).

Rating (out of 5):
Out of the Dark Michael Schroder 1989

Take my advice if you're actually thinking of watching this: turn off the television immediately following the moped murder and watch Terror Train instead. What starts out as a trashy, fun slasher from the seedier side of L.A. (boasting appearances by such B-list illuminati as Lainie Kazan, Tab Hunter, Paul Bartel, Bud Cort, Karen Black, Cameron Dye, and Divine) sadly turns quickly into a crappy, overlit Silk Stalkings episode with breasts. I know, I liked Silk Stalkings too -- but this dog doesn't hold up to the comparison and spins into a tired slasher with an annoying clown-masked killer and a plot with more holes than a truckstop toilet stall. The eighties photoshoot fabulousness that makes the beginning ufortunately turns into lots of purple and green lighting that makes the actors look alternately nauseous or hepatitis-stricken, and even the sight of a disembodied hootchie in a motel bathroom can elevate this one to cult status. Divine makes a rare out-of-drag appearance (although, in a trenchcoat and fedora, sporting a fake moustache and eyebrows, he looks just as much in drag as ever), and Paul Bartel plays a dorky queer motelier, but otherwise the camp value is sadly low for such potentially fabulous material.

Rating (out of 5):
The Phantom of the Paradise Brian De Palma 1974

This is a film that would have gone down in history as a "one-of-a-kind masterpiece" had it not been eclipsed a mere year later with the catchier and blatanlty derivative Rocky Horror Picture Show (still a great film in its own right, although the checklist of similarities is ridiculous). Part Phantom of the Opera, part Faust, part Dorian Gray, part Frankenstein, and all De Palma, this musical, candy-colored romp is a celebration of all things Victorian and horror-related, right down to its goofy silent-era piano score and velvet-draped production design. Winslow Leach is a poor, idealistic songwriter who is taken to the bank by the evil Swan (Paul Williams, who, in an oddly self-referential twist, actually wrote the music), but returns in disfigured form to woo the beautiful young Phoenix and see Swan pay for years of greed and cruelty. The appearance of the uber-nellie Beef (a prototype of both Rocky and Frankenfurter) brings the saturated queerness to the forefront, and Beef's onstage machismo versus backstage mincing is a clever twist on the crypto-homo glam rockers of the time (who instead camped it up for the audiences). Jessica Harper (Suspiria) is likeable and strangely creepy in her song-and-dance numbers (she would likely have rated as a "hot mama" in the day), and makes one wonder what might have happened had De Palma stuck to the brunettes of his early work (Harper, Margot Kidder, Amy Irving, Genevieve Bujold) instead of moving, full-on Hitchcock-style, into his icy blond period (Angie Dickinson, Melanie Griffith, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, and the oft-used Nancy Allen). High points: the rock opera in which Beef meets his untimely end is pure pageantry, complete with Caligari-esque sets and dismembered fans (the deft handling of crowd scenes made De Palma a shoo-in for one of his next projects, Carrie); Paul Williams looks like Judi Dench in a David Cassidy wig and speaks like he's eating Jujubees the entire film; and the Phantom himself is a genuinely creepy creation, with silver teeth, a birdlike helmet (the film is full of Hitchcockian bird-like imagery), and an eerie modulated speaking voice that sticks with you after the credits roll. In all, a smart, fun piece of work that doesn't take itself too seriously and encourages you to to the same.

Rating (out of 5):
Pieces Juan Piquer Simón 1982

Easily one of the stupidest films ever made, Pieces is so bad you'd think it's Italian. In reality, it was filmed half in Madrid, so at least we're in the ballpark. The ten-finger-foreheaded Linda Day George, her tobacco-stained, chronically dehydrated monkey-hubby Christopher George, and the ever-sexy John Saxon flew across the pond to shoot this pooper about a repressed killer who, after dispatching mommy with an axe after being punished for putting together a puzzle of a naked woman... you just GUESS what he gets up to! Yes, he's killing women and putting them together, like a puzzle. And they even named the movie Pieces in case we were all just too damn stoned or retarded to figure it out. Thanks, guys. Wait -- did I say John Saxon? He's not actually even in this movie -- but I'm sure he flew over anyway.

Anyway, in a series of utterly preposterous events that include a random kung-fu attack (the attacker blames his violence on "bad chop suey"), a few hot freak-outs by Miz Linda ("Bastard! Bastaaaaaaaaard!!"), and some unexpected full-frontal male nudity, Linda, an ex-tennis-pro-turned-undercover detective (who tells the first person she meets that she's a cop -- good move, Linda!) tries to find the killer with the help of her wizened Jerky Treat of a real-life husband, Christopher. Bluto from Robert Altman's Popeye shows up, still squinting, and there are some pretty gory deaths, but ultimately the stupidity and predictability of it all sink the movie entirely.

So why's it here? Well, to cast suspicion on anyone other than the dean of the school -- oops! Did I give something away?! -- we are treated with a lovely stereotyped gay teacher, who may as well walk around with the words Red Herring on the front of his jacket and Predatory Fag on the back. The dean's mini-speech about keeping a queer teacher on-staff is kind of funny, and this, the copious blood, hilariously bad dubbing, and tried-and-true overacting of Day George pull Pieces out of a Zero.

Rating (out of 5):
Poison Todd Haynes 1991

There is simply far too much to be said about this film.

Though only one-third of this triptych is titled "Horror" (the other segments are "Hero" and "Homo"), the dread that pervades the entire film is palpable and unshakable. Gay auteur Todd Haynes (now famous for such greats as Far From Heaven, Safe, and Velvet Goldmine) turned in this early feature in 1991, at the beginnings of the queer wave of cinema. Groundbreaking, intelligent, and creepy, Poison reflects upon three aspects of the gay male psyche using three film genres: documentary, 50's horror/sci-fi, and nouveau prison drama. Part AIDS allegory, part alienation tale, part mystery, part tragedy, the film grabs you from the opening frames and holds you until the unsettling conclusions of each of the segments, which are intercut brilliantly. It's no surprise that Haynes came out of as semiotics program; the film is loaded with cultural signs and symbols, and uses film conventions (such as the different genres, voiceover, flashback, and visual effects) to approach the subject matter from entirely fresh angles (an approach that will he will carry to his later films, with equal effectiveness). More experimental in nature than his later work (more akin to his Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story than anything else), the film is hallucinatory, shocking, and brilliant, and a must for any queer film buff.

Rating (out of 5):
Possession Andrzej Zulawksi 1981

Confounding, pretentious, bloody, loud, and incomprehensible, Possession is one of my favorite batshit-crazy movies ever. Isabelle Adjani (who would go on to win several awards for her scenery-devouring performance) and Sam Neill (who would go on to... well, act with more women who win several awards for their scenery-devouring performances) star as disaffected lovers whose rage and betrayal births a hideous love affair that ends in bloodshed. I really can't get too much further into it without giving too much away, but suffice it to say that there are multiple murders, exploding milk, raw meat, squid sex, precocious children, political intrigue, and flagrantly insane Germans in the mix. Adjani's performance is the stuff of legend, as she takes her role as permission to behave like an absolute nutter from start to finish. Try though as he might, Neill is unable to out-act her, and things end in a sticky red mess for pretty much all involved.

But wait -- this admittedly delightful-sounding little three-ring circus appears to be about straight people, right? Well, yes. But there is an oddly prominent gay love affair between two private detectives that comes pretty much out of nowhere (and is played for emotional effect, not for laughs or shock), and Adjani's wacko Deutche boyfriend nearly rapes Neill on their first meeting. In all, absolutely not to be missed.

Rating (out of 5):
Psycho Gus Van Sant 1998

Yeah, yeah, I know -- remake Hitchcock blasphemy blah blah ptttttttth. But director Van Sant adds some well-placed comments into the text of the piece while more or less remaining within the confines of his remake "experiment". For example: Norman's masturbating while watching Marion through the wall. This thankfully NOT gay serial killer would have been far more likely to snap into punitive Mother Mode after having climaxed (masturbating has been culturally determined to be a "dirty" and "shameful" thing to do): hence the murder of Marion, the woman "responsible" for his act. Notable for starring Dyke-for-a-Day Anne Heche and displaying Viggo Mortenson's ass. And hetero crossdressing!

Rating (out of 5):
Psycho Beach Party Robert Lee King 2000

More Camp than Blood, this queerathalon nonetheless pays homage to the drive-in horror of the fifties and contains enough gore moments to qualify for the list. Endlessly creative and amusing, this unholy blend of beach movie and slasher flick has everything a queer horror fan could want: beheadings, bitchy women, drag queens, multiple personality disorder, gay lust, dance numbers, fabulous costumes, and more genre celebrity sightings than you can shake a limbo stick at: Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under; she would later publicly rue appearing in this film), Thomas Gibson (Tales of the City, Unidentified Human Remains), Nicholas Brendan (Buffy), Matt Keeslar (Urbania, Splendor, Scream 3), Kathleen Robertson (Nowhere, Scary Movie 2), Nathan Bexton (Nowhere, The In Crowd), Channon Roe (Buffy, the gay-basher in Boogie Nights) -- and of course, the incomparable Beth Broderick (Maternal Instincts, Sabrina the Teenage Witch). This candy-colored insanity is all brought to us thanks to queer writer and star Charles Busch, creator of such stage camp horror classics as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Theodora, She Bitch of Byzantium (also known from his turn as murderous drag queen Natalie on Oz), and Robert Lee King, an up-and-coming gay director.

Rating (out of 5):
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Richard O'Brien 2000

Sure, it's annoyingly over-quoted. Sure, you once had to suffer through a live performance in college with a bunch of Goth geeks in homemade costumes (one of whom tried to tapdance). And yes, "The Time Warp" can be very grating when played half a dozen times at a Halloween party. But love it or hate it (I still love it), Rocky Horror Picture Show broke about every rule in the book, and to enormous success. With its roots set firmly in classic horror (the film is almost a scene-for-scene retelling of The Old Dark House), the film adds in color, music, and "lotsa larfs and sex" to create a dizzying. candy-colored valentine that still seems fresh today. True, Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise did it first (and perhaps better), but Frankenfurter and his motley gang really took hold, and got people dancing in the aisles for generations to come. Tim Curry hit his career peak quite early with a fabulously bitchy performance that references everything from Frankenstein to the women's pictures of the fifties ("My own children hate me"), and Susan Sarandon and Meatloaf add considerable cache to the wacky proceedings. For those of you who can't stand it, I ask you: how can you not appreciate a musical that rhymes the word "butt-dart"? And anything that was enough of a cultural phenom to merit a scene in the movie Fame is definitely one for the record books. Followed by a seldom-seen and not very good sequel, Shock Treatment.

Rating (out of 5):
Savage Weekend David Paulsen 1979

A "city-folk in the big bad upstate" film par excellence, Savage Weekend boasts one of the most aggressive gay characters in the history of horror films with Nicky, a mincing slip of a man who nonetheless can take down two thugs in a barfight and without even ruffling his short-shorts. The film itself loses steam halfway through, but the mix of psychosexual volleys and lowbrow, Deliverance-style terror is fun and ususally interesting. Features dum hick Larry from Newhart (William Sanderson) as, well, a dumb hick, and Witchblade's Yancy Butler as "Little Girl in Bar". Also features frequent appearances by the boom microphone and more moustaches than you can shake a "Men Seeking Men" personals section at.

For a full review, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
Scream Wes Craven 1996

The film that spawned a million imitators (all of them horrible), Scream introduced self-referentiality into the horror genre, to incredibly successful (almost $200M worldwide theatrical) and unfortunately influential (rent any horror movie made since) results. Gay writer Kevin Williamson started it all with his clever script that skewered genre conventions and gave its characters (including the killers) a working knowledge of how to survive a horror movie. Almost solely responsible for reviving the career of genre fave Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy). Forget the fallout and enjoy it for what it is -- fast-paced, smart, and scary. The two sequels are not as good, but still worth watching.

Rating (out of 5):
Scream Bloody Murder   2003

Atrociously shot but occasionally well-written shot-on-video camper about a group of schoolgirls who end up in a junkyard overnight with their stuffy teacher. Notable for the oddly prominent lesbian relationship between the teacher and one student, which doesn't simply devolve into straight male fantasy, but is rather a topic for discussion. Of course the dykes get it in the end.

Rating (out of 5):
The Seduction David Schmoeller 1982

"Alone... frightened... trapped like an animal!" The perfect tagline for a film whose biggest selling point is the sheer volume of Morgan Fairchild's minklike coiffe. Looking for the most part like a cornered rodent, Fairchild plays anchorwoman Jamie Douglas, who always manages to look like she just stepped out of a salon, even when she's fighting for her life against a psychotic stalker. Now this might seem like a load of fun to you, but in truth it's The Fan light, without the trashiness of Never Say Never or the cigarette breath of Lauran Bacall to keep things fun. No, The Seduction is pretty by-the-book, although it does feature a pretty decent on-air hissy-fit and a strange deus-ex-machina ending in the form of, well, yet another stalker!

High points: Fairchild's hair, which should make every woman in Texas shriek in shame and order wholesale Aqua-Net immediately. Love interest Michael Sarrazin is utterly horrifying, and strongly resembles one of the doctors in the "Eye of the Beholder" Twilight Zone episode -- was he really supposed to be a sex symbol?!!. Colleen Camp is... well, camp -- as a supermodel or something whose sole chore here is to act like a pig and make Fairchild look glamorous by comparison (apparently James Belushi was unavailable). Kevin Brophy is random as hell and utterly disposable as Fairchild's gay assistant, but at least he doesn't get killed. Actually, hardly anyone gets killed -- isn't this supposed to be a thriller or something? Director David Schmoeller would go on to helm the odd Klaus Kinski voyeur flick Crawlspace before sliding home in the Puppet Master series. Andrew Stevens shows the first glimmers of the Peeping Tom genius that would later blossom into Night Eyes, Illicit Dreams, Night Eyes 2, Subliminal Seduction, Night Eyes 4, and others (not to mention becoming one of the most prolific producers in Hollywood today).

Rating (out of 5):
The Sentinel Michael Winner 1977

Painfully unwatchable supernatural horror flop featuring a parade of over-the-hill greats (Martin Balsam, Jose Ferrer, John Carradine, Ava Gardner, Sylvia Miles, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach) and the nubile yet wretched Cristina Raines (best-remembered from the "Terror in Topanga" segment of the Nightmares anthology). Queer connection? The out-of-left field lesbian coupling of Ms. Miles and Beverly D'Angelo, who doesn't speak at all but within a minute of appearing on-screen begins masturbating in front of the heroine through her leotard. Yowch!! The parade of disfigured actors at the end as Satan's minions is insulting at best, and it's very hard to imagine how such a lineup of actors (Christopher Walken and Chris Sarandon are also involved) was duped into appearing in such dreck.

Rating (out of 5):
Shark Attack 2 David Worth 2000

Comfortably sandwiched between the likewise entertainingly-horrible Shark Attack and Shark Attack 3, Shark Attack 2 boasts the same formula: get a buff actor, some stock shark footage, and a big piece of foam rubber, head out to a sunny locale and make a cheezy, no-frills thriller that doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. In this particular installment the hunk is soap stud Thorsten Kaye (Port Charles, One Life to Live), the location is Cape Town, and the rest is really irrelevant. While the horrible effects and bad dialogue are entertaining, the great thing about this flick in particular is the unabashed homoerotic tension between hero Nick Harris (Kaye) and snarky Crocodile Hunter ripoff Roy Bishop (the impossibly pecced Daniel Alexander). Ranging from comments about the Village People to more lingering stares than generally found in a Merchant Ivory film, the obvious attraction between the two Beefensteins is so blatant that it completely overpowers what quickly becomes the most unconvincing romance in screen history, between Nick and Samantha (the atrocious and five-finger-foreheaded Nikita Ager). Watch for a particularly great scene where Nick leaves Roy in a huff, leaving Roy to turn and check out his ass on the way out. While nothing obviously happens between the two, the added thrill of these two fellas egging each other on is WAY more interesting than the rest of the film, which leaves Samantha behind to act like a piece of furniture (it doesn't help that she is one of the least expressive actresses alive -- she reacts to seeing 5 men get eaten by sharks with an expression I might wear when learning that Golden Dragon forgot to send a fortune cookie with my delivery). But hey -- when there's blood, bods, and beef, acting is the last thing on my mind.

Rating (out of 5):
Shivers David Cronenberg 1975

David Cronenberg is at it again with his body terror thing -- and this time he's got hotties Barbara Steele and Susan Petrie to help him. In a twisted story about sexually transmitted disease (in the form of parasites) in an Edenic high-rise apartment building, Cronenberg leaves few taboos untouched, including what looks like incest and lesbianism. Vamp legend Steele puts the lip-lock on Petrie in an unusually hot kiss for a "mainstream" film (there is another girl-girl kiss later), but then again Cronenberg is no stranger to same-sex themes (Crash, Naked Lunch) in his exploration of how our bodies undermine us. The film is creepy, sick, and fun. Also released under the name They Came from Within.

Rating (out of 5):
Single White Female Barbet Schroeder 1992

With a screenplay by queer scribe Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, The Colbys) and helmed by gay-friendly Barbet Schroeder (Our Lady of the Assassins), it's no surprise to find a positive gay character here (Bridget Fonda's downright heroic upstairs neighbor), as well as lots of lesbian undercurrents. If watching women watching women diddle the skittle is your bag, walk -- don't run -- to your local Blockbuster.

Rating (out of 5):
Sleepaway Camp Robert Hiltzik 1983

A nasty must. This tale of an acute sexual confusion and its bloody aftermath continues to shock audiences today: young Angela goes off to summer camp and the bodies start to pile up. Could she be responsible for the horrific murders (and I do mean horrific -- the infamous "curling iron up the cho-cho" scene still brings shivers)? What kind of scarring event could lead someone to such acts? Laden with gay elements (including a rather disturbing scene where two children spy on their father having sex with another man), Camp brought gender identity and sexual dysmorphia into the slasher genre. It may not have done much to further understanding of transgendered individuals, but the film made a clear point that the character was forced into living as another sex, and that his violent behavior was a result of this trauma, not of his actual sexuality. And though it may be as guilty a pleasure as they come, the shocking finale is one of the most memorable scenes in slasher history. Almost everyone in this film has faded into obscurity, save the recent comeback of the heroine, Felissa Rose (Horror, Nikos the Impaler). Watch for Robert Earl Jones (father of James) in a late-career appearance as Ben.

Rating (out of 5):
Slumber Party Massacre Amy Holden Jones 1982

Feminist horror, slasher-style. This, the first of a strange subgenre of lesbian-created slasher films (generally held to be a misogynistic genre -- see also American Psycho), was the film that spawned a handful of sequels and imitators (including Sorority House Massacre and its offspring) and a loyal following. New girl Val is too butch for the other girls (she's good at basketball!), so she opts out of the slumber party at Trish's house, and ends up missing all the T&A and having to save the day by dispatching a psycho killer with a drill. With a script by Rita Mae Brown (she dated Martina Navratilova and wrote Rubyfruit Jungle, a foundational lesbian text) and directed by Amy Jones (she went on to write all of the Beethoven films, oddly enough), this flick is hypersexed, nasty, and fun. Watch for Brinke Stevens' ass and Val's younger sister's romance with a Playgirl and a banana, probably the most disturbing part of the film. Phallic imagery and random lesbian supporting characters (the dykey gym coach comes to save the day; also look for a female phone repairwoman and a carpenter named Pam) are wholesale here.

Rating (out of 5):
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things Thomas Casey 1971

I don't know how to describe this film without unintentionally making it sound interesting -- which it is certainly not. Stanley (Wayne Crawford)and Paul (Abe Zwick) are thieves who are hiding out in a quiet neighborhood, with Paul diguising himself as Stanley's Aunt Martha (yes, he has to spend most of the film in drag). Stanley, meanwhile, is a druggie loser who hangs out with the ugliest people imaginible and sometimes brings girls home with him, although he freaks out if they touch him and begs Martha to kill them for him (which, of course, she does). I just reread that and it already sounds way better than it really is -- this movie is BORING and so badly made that I couldn't get through it on first sitting and had to force myself to finish it so that I could recap it here. I mean honestly -- it pains me to have to write that a movie featuring a sequence where a junkie crook knocks over a pregnant woman carrying a cake and squashes her, leading another character to give her a kitchen-knife ceasarian in the woodshed is BORING. There should belaws, dammit! By the end of the film, what had the potential to be a gender-bending horror comedy has devolved into a standard Killer Queer flick, with the lovestruck (and psychotic) homo Paul (having dispatched all the threatening females) kidnapping Stanley, writing SLUT on his face in lipstick, dressing him up in pearls, then depantsing and stabbing him. In the end, nobody gets what they want (including the audience) and the queer element is really only there for "ooh!" effect, with no real boundaries crossed. Skip it.

Rating (out of 5):
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama David DeCoteau 1988

Almost too much to say here. Besides being one of the first truly excellent camp horror flicks I saw as a young'n, this remains one of the best. Alpha Homo Horror Director David DeCoteau really got things rolling with this sublime mash-up of horror, comedy, and sex farce that pits some nerds, sorority chicks, and leatherettes against an evil Imp in a bowling trophy, all trapped in the basement of a mall. There's appearances by all the greats here -- Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, and the lesser-known but cute Andras Jones, who would later go on to star in Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master as the brother with the spikey hair who wouldn't die. Anyway, DeCoteau's legacy speaks for itself, but he never really got back to the balls-out campy fun of this early gem. Memo to David -- drop the homoerotic prep-school movies and give us some Imps!!

Rating (out of 5):
Soul Survivors Stephen Carpenter 2001

A mess of a movie, really -- and the lesbian subplot seems to only be there for "shock value" (although, in 2001 I think they may be a bit behind the mark). A carful of teens survives an accident -- or do they? -- in this "Carnival of Souls" ripoff. The over-hyped R-rated "Killer Cut" (the theatrical release was PG-13) features Buffy alum Eliza Dushku making out awkwardly with aggressively creepy Angela Featherstone (who is actually supposed to pass as a man for several scenes, apparently) and doing something with her in a bathroom stall. Aside from that, utterly unremarkable -- lead Melissa Sagemiller is COMPLETELY forgettable, as is most of the plot, and once-golden boy Wes Bentley (American Beauty) buys his one-way ticket to obscurity with this crappy mess. Random appearance by Luke Wilson does nothing to improve matters.

Rating (out of 5):
Stage Fright Michele Soavi 1987

Great piece of Italian horror from the generally decent Michele Soavi (The Church, The Sect, and the ubergay Cemetary Man). A theatre troop is putting on a musical about -- get this -- a serial killer who wears a bird mask and dances in between killing hookers dressed up as Marilyn Monroe who play the saxaphone. Or something. The rest of the plot involves an escaped madman who terrorizes the cast and crew of the play on a rainy night, but the real point of the film is to deliver arty, gory mayhem on a grand scale. We've got beheadings, vivesections, axes, chainsaws, drills, and just about everything else you can think of. Already camp as hell (come on -- a serial killer dance musical?!), the film also features an aggressively nelly actor (genre vet Giovanni Lombardo Radice, billed as John Morgan) who manages to get a few quips off and piss off the rest of the cast before meeting his end (tastefully done off-screen, a dignified end not generally afforded sissies in slasher movies!). Gory, tacky Italian fun.

Rating (out of 5):
Strange Behavior Michael Laughlin 1981

A very odd film indeed. Dreamed up by gay writer Bill Condon (who would go on to direct Candyman 2 and Gods and Monsters, among others) and directed by straight director Michael Laughlin, Strange Behavior (originally titled Dead Kids) is a tale of scientific experiments gone horribly wrong in small-town America. Packed with references to classic genre films (from sci-fi to noir to horror to Hitchcock), the film captures the feel of the midwest, albeit refracted through the lens of 1950's drive-in fare. The murders are very strange indeed, especially since they seem to almost happen out of nowhere, interspersed between pastoral shots of fields of grain or long, single-take domestic dialogue scenes. The film ultimately ends up an homage to mad scientist films, but it does have a fun time getting there, with a likeable cast (except for Michael Murphy, who is entirely miscast as the sheriff/father) and some bizarre flourishes, including a full dance number set to Lou Christie 's "Lightening Strikes " and the very presence of Louise Fletcher as a dutiful waitress from the Steak'n'Shake. Note: definitely get this one on DVD, as the photography is beautiful and the 2.35 ratio restored. And also be sure to check out the audio commentary by Condon and stars Dan Shor and Dey Young, which is almost more fun to listen to than the soundtrack. Packed with great details, the conversation offers a great insight into the work and mind of this openly gay filmmaker (anecdotes about a Mauri drag bar and Shor's bareass scene making him popular in West Hollywood -- and rightly so -- are very amusing).

Rating (out of 5):
Switch Killer Mack Hail 2005

A supposed queer horror movie that still somehow seems straighter than your average issue of Maxim, Switch Killer (AKA Transamerican Killer) tells the story of Jamie (Cara Jo Bosso), a girl who leaves her abusive boyfriend Bobby (Eric Bishop) for another woman, Brooke (Monique Chachere). Jamie and Brooke move to Las Vegas and a few months later a strange "woman" appears on the scene who starts chopping up the people close to Jamie. Sounds passable, right? Well, not really. The first problem is that Jamie is a stripper -- no problem in and of itself, except that it means that all the people around Jamie are strippers, which means that we have to sit through an hour of cheesy strip-club scenes set to bad German techno before the strippers are dispatched (see also: Murder-Set-Pieces). Now, this would be boring enough, but it isn't helped by the fact that a few of the actors are, shall we say, of sub-professional quality, and a few of the others are honestly so strange-looking that it's impossible to get even mildly tangled in the thin story. Bobby, as the post-op transsexual killer (a full change in 6 months! Impressive!), is thoroughly unconvincing as a woman, and also not too terribly discreet, as he has a habit of lounging around strip clubs with giant butcher knives (which, of course, no one seems to notice). Throw in a truly disturbing unsuspecting-man-on-trannie sex scene, a few admirably bloody deaths, and a pool party, and things wind down to a predictable close. On the one hand, it's interesting to see lesbian relationships and transsexual people so promimently featured in a horror film, but in the end it just feels like so much empty exploitation: the sex change is used as a horror element ("Eew! The guy like, totally cut his dick off!"), and in the end Jamie admits to not really being a lesbian anyway, which in effect negates the entire point of the film and makes it just another "selfish straight girl in trouble" flick. Bloody and boasting lots of skin, Switch Killer nonetheless doesn't manage to provide much beyond an occasionally amusing camp moment.

Rating (out of 5):
The Talented Mr. Ripley Anthony Minghella 1999

Yes, another shameful gay serial-killer flick. But this one at least looks good! Although very nearly sunk by the painful over-acting of Gwynnie, this is a nasty, beautiful, and ultimately well-told story. Bonus points for featuring Philip Seymour Bitch in yet another fantastically cunty role, and for giving us Jude Law as the ultimate hetero victim of gay lust (complete with great ass and piano-bar prowess) ... before beating him to death with an oar.

Rating (out of 5):
The Tenant Roman Polanski 1976

A truly befuddling psychological thriller that pits Roman Polanski himself against an apartment building full of fussy weirdos, The Tenant is a funny, unsettling, and gorgeously crafted film that manages to elevate the mundane to the truly sinister without tipping into unintended camp. The huggably browbeaten Polanski plays the huggably browbeaten Trelkovsky, a Polish French citizen who takes the recently vacated apartment of the ailing Simone Choule, who jumped from her window in a failed suicide attempt and now lays in head-to-toe plaster in the hospital. When Simone dies, Trelkovsky gets the apartment (which seems like an overpriced dive to me…) and becomes quickly embroiled in what he believes is a plot launched by the other tenants to drive him to a similar end. Before you can say “urban paranoia”, our wee hero is finding teeth in his wall, inadvertently fueling feuds between neighbors, and seeing a strange assortment of characters hanging out in the bathroom across the courtyard. Nearly incomprehensible due to its quirky complexity and determination not to pander to classic suspense conventions, The Tenant nonetheless manages to remain compelling thanks to a masterfully-executed sense of pervading dread and fantastically watchable performances by Polanski and the wacky yet mysterious Isabelle Adjani (as Stella, a friend of the deceased – between this and her bizarre turn in Possession, she just about walks away with the title of “insaniac French girl of the late 20th Century”). A character-actor-lover’s wet dream, The Tenant features Melvyn Douglas, Lila Kedrova, Rufus, and of course Shelly Winters as the Concierge. Although some of the random plot elements can be frustrating (the tangent involving a man in love with the deceased Simone goes on a bit long for such an insignificant subplot; the Egyptology theme, while quite intriguing, isn’t fully explored; Trelkovsky’s mental health seems to take a sharp nosedive in the last act after a fairly even keel throughout), the smack-in-the-face ending puts a nice cap on an entertaining puzzlebox of a setup. So what’s the queer significance? Some might consider Polanski’s eventual cross-dressing (he becomes convinced that the neighbors are trying to turn him into Simone, and calls their bluff) pretty queer, even though it isn’t, technically. But more directly: before her tumble out the window, Simone Choule was a lesbian.

Rating (out of 5):
Tenebre (Unsane) Dario Argento 1982

This entire film is one big guilty pleasure. Rife with condescension to gays (mincing, hissing queer journalist/psychopath, slutty lesbians who cheat on one another with men), this film should be offensive, but it's just way too much fun to be taken seriously. The fact that the killer is killing "sexual deviants" and then ends up being one is more amusing than upsetting, and the whole ordeal is really just a setup for the real story (which I won't reveal). This film boasts one of the goriest things ever committed to celluloid: the arm-chopping scene which has been immortalized in the Skinny Puppy Warlock video and countless fanboy screensavers. Very eighties (Dynasty-style outfits all around), very bloody, very fabulous.

Rating (out of 5):
Theatre of Blood Douglas Hickox 1973

Drama queens and grand guignol fans alike will adore this campy, gory, smartly-made and exhaustibly theatrical tale of revenge and madness in the West End. Vincent Price is delicious as ever as Edward Lionheart, a snubbed Shakespearian actor who, with the help of his cross-dressing daughter (the luscious Diana Rigg, in a role that would no doubt inspire the insipid Jane March thriller Color of Night decades later), picks off virtually the entire Critic's Circle in methods gleaned from the Bard's tragedies. Those fans of "we know the killer and we're actually on HIS side" flicks (Price nearly made a career out of them with his loveable fey loonies) and elaborate deathscene setups will adore this one -- the filmmakers and cast obviously had a hoot updating the gory murders to swinging London. Camp factor? Enormous. Aside from pink-suit-wearing, poodle-cuddling sissy critic Meredith Merridew (the ever-excellent Robert Morley), we have Vincent himself dolled up as an afro-ed queer hairstylist, who rhapsodizes "Dishy, dishy hair!" to Coral Browne before electrocuting her under a dryer. The performances are uniformly excellent, and it's utter pleasure to watch these vets squeeze every possible nuance out of their outlandish characters. My only complaint is that the Shakespeare bits do run a bit long sometimes, but it's hardly enough to sully the film as a whole. A must. Trivia bit -- director Douglas Hickox is father of Waxwork director Anthony Hickox, which similarly played with referential horror.

Rating (out of 5):
Thundercrack! Curt McDowell 1975

This one even caught jaded ol' me by surprise. Combining comedic, horrific, erotic, and surrealist elements, Thundercrack! is essentially a re-telling of The Old Dark House as -- get this -- a pansexual harcore porn comedy. Jimmy Whale would be pirouetting in his grave.

The film stars Marion Eaton as Gertrude, the lonely widow and sole inhabitant (at least, so she says) of a rural farmhouse that she repeatedly refers to as "Prairie Blossom". She drinks heavily, eats Ritz crackers and babbles on about her dead husband and Charlie McCarthy (not sure why), until a storm brings a bevy of assorted perverts to her dark doorstep. They include: Willene, the Baptist wife of absent country-rock singer Simon Cassidy; Sash and Rue, a pair of nymphos; Toydy, a queer tough; Chandler, the widower of a girdle heiress who died in a horrible accident; Bond, a hitchhiking hustler; Bing, a carnie transporting an assortment of circus animals; and Medusa, a female gorilla who craves sex with young men. Gert tarts herself up for her guests, although in her drunken state she paints on eyebrows like Annette Funicello and pukes in her wig: the ultimate effect is rather like a blowsy Joan Crawford on ecstasy. She sends the guests to change in the back bedroom, and then proceeds to spy on them, Norman Bates-style -- although Norman didn't screw himself with a cucumber while watching Janet Leigh. Yes, folks, hardcore vegetable sex. And that's just the beginning...

Willene gets Gert off in the bathtub. Chandler uses a penis pump that's lying in the bedroom (which is full of sex toys), and Toydy screws a blow-up doll while taking a dildo up his ass. Bond and one of the ho's go at it. Willene gets fed the soiled cucumber and has the used dildo tossed at her for good measure (religious types never fare well in these films, eh?), and Gert prepares dinner. We learn that Chandler only has sex with rough trade now that his wife is dead, so Ho #1 dresses up as a man (complete with dildo) to seduce him ("You'd rather I told you at midnight out by the trash cans behind the Greyhound station, you cheap hustler!"). It works, although he's still got the hots for Bond (whom he felt up in his car earlier), who has meanwhile moved on to porking the Baptist (not a euphamism; she's really Baptist). Toydy wants to know what's behind the locked door in the living room, so he seduces Gert in the kitchen, preparing to take her up the shitter using bacon grease as a lubricant. When she won't give him the key to the door, he refuses to do it and she tries to cut off his penis with a cleaver.

Later, Bing arrives after having crashed the animal truck; the crazed beasts are now surrounding the house, trapping everyone inside. Not that they could care less, at this point -- there's plenty of donuts on the table (not a euphamism; there really are donuts on the table) and everyone's getting laid left and right. Toydy gets off of watching Bond and Willene do it, and Ho #2 tries to get some action (she'd already taken care of Bond earlier). She reveals that she has the keys, and trades them to Toydy for some "extra cream gravy" (the food metaphors are far too frequent -- and tasteless, hehe -- to get into). Toydy then tells Bond that he happens to have a crate of bananas (not a euphamism; he does, oddly, have a crate of bananas), which Bond and his new love can use to get past the dangerous, horny gorilla. Of course, Bond will have to grab his ankles for it. Bond agrees to this, and Toydy porks him as Chandler watches, telling a story about his wife's sexual pecadillos (something about a parakeet pooping in her mouth) as they get down (he's even kind enough to give Bond a popper). In the big climax, Toydy unlocks the door, unleashing the thought-deceased son, who has been locked away due to his enormous gonads (says doting mother Gert, "The one thing that made his life worth living was being crushed under the weight of his own testicles"); meanwhile, Medusa breaks in and Bing, dressed in a wedding gown, consummates his forbidden love for her. After her guests leave, Gert shares a bottle of red wine with the pickled remains of her husband (who was eaten by locusts), and in the first ever display of "One for me, one for my homies", pours his glass directly into his mason jar.

Whew. Needless to say, this is one fucked-up movie. And even stranger still is that, despite being overlong and at times clumsily shot, it is very watchable and at times incredibly funny. The whole deal is very vaudevillian in feel; we get the impression that these folks are all part of some underground theatre troop who do too many drugs together (much like Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things). But some of the performances, especially Marion Easton, are fascinating to watch. The period (seventies) details are hysterical: every man has facial hair (they're impossible to tell apart for the first 15 minutes), and the house is littered with Bill Keane "sad eyed children" paintings and crocheted poodles. It's actually refreshing to see a film that spoofs sex films along with genre films; you really get the sense of a much freer time, when hardcore sex was on the verge of becoming mainstream (it didn't quite make it), along with horror, exploitation, and the like. I have to admit I was shocked to see hardcore gay sex mixed with straight sex -- in a horror comedy, no less -- but again, freer times. Director Curt McDowell went on to direct a series of cult films (including Sparkle's Tavern, which featured much of the same cast) before dying of AIDS in the eighties, and co-writer and Bing portrayer George Kuchar was a successful experimental comedy player (kind of a dimestore Andy Kaufman). My favorite detail? There is a character named Chandler, and a character named Bing. Coincidence?

Rating (out of 5):
Troll 2 Claudio Fragasso 1990

Folks, this is not a film -- this is shit at 24 frames-per-second. If this sounds fun to you, watch it. I actually had fun, but I'm a sick fuck. The gay subtext is preposterous, from Joshua's relationship with his mom to the sister's demands for her boyfriend to choose between her and his "boys", to the infamous corn-cobbing. Not surprising coming from the man who directed Zombie 4, starring gay porn legend Jeff Stryker. With the bad acting, obsession with vegetation, and queer underpinnings, the whole thing reads like a Juiceman infomercial featuring Richard Simmons.

For a full review of this crap, click HERE.

Rating (out of 5):
The Unborn Rodman Flender 1991

Well thank God I'm not a pregnant woman! This one's a real doozie, complete with exploding fetuses, killer toddlers, atrocious costuming, killer lesbians, back alley abortions, and Brooke Adams finally living up to the acting promise that she displayed in Days of Heaven.

Seriously, if ever there were a film to make gay men more horrified of the female body and the union of man and woman, I challenge you to find it. Vagina -- that is, Virginia Marshall (Adams) and her husband Brad (Jeff Hayenga) are unable to have children, so they visit the clinic of Dr. Meyerling (James Karen of Return of the Living Dead), which may as well have a neon sign reading "DOCTOR MOREAU'S HOUSE OF GENETIC HOOTENANNIES" on the roof. Before you can say "turkey-baster chimneysweep", Vagina -- that is, Virginia, is pregnant with what is sure to be the spawn of the devil or another Olsen twin. Sure enough, other women who have given the good doctor access behind their velvet curtains start breaking out in hives and exploding, not to mention stabbing their bellies with kitchen knives and attacking their partners with hammers. Will Brooke succumb to the wicked wiles of her evil tummytrophy? Will lesbian midwife Kathy Griffin seduce her into her sapphic birthing circle? Will Lisa Kudrow's agent manage to get all remaining copies of this film pulled to bury her early brunette appearance as a quirky receptionist? Considering the snappy dialogue, freakyass characters, and staggeringly distasteful subject matter, it's worth watching The Unborn to find out.

Rating (out of 5):
Visiting Hours Jean-Claude Lord 1982

One of a venerable line of early-80's thrillers in which former America's Sweethearts are forced to run the slasher gauntlet (think Eyes of Laura Mars, The Fan), and to similarly queer results. This time it's Lee Grant who's being chased down in designer pumps, and the puffy Michael Ironside (doing his best pre-emptive Vincent Dinofrio) who plays the requisite misogynist killer. Despite a feminist-ish plot and message that border on Lifetime-ready, Visiting Hours does provide some good scares, clever writing, and genuinely uncomfortable moments, most of which involve women-in-peril. Although Grant's do-gooder television journalist (again, another in a venerable line -- were the networks trying to actively scare women away from careers in telejournalism?!) is the central victim, her boisterous overacting and awful muffin-top haircut quickly redirect our sympathies to second-fiddle Linda Purl, who initially comes across as a freakishly small busybody but soon wins us over with her pluck, strength, and sensible footwear (Lee, take notes). Strange queer gracenotes appear throughout, including a truly odd television program with a flaming queen fashionista, an uncomfortable suggestion of pederasty on the part of Ironside's father, and the odd and unexplained fact that Ironsides himself first attacks Grant while wearing every piece of jewelry she owns. But the most prominent queer element is Purl's unexplained relationship with her female "babysitter", who seems to sleep at the house an awful lot (in absence of a male figure) and is first seen flopping down on a bed next to Purl wearing only a towel. In all, another fine contribution from our friendly neighbors to the north.

Rating (out of 5):
The Well Samantha Lang 1997

Excellent little character study of an older woman whose unhealthy affection for her younger maid puts her at risk financially and physically. When a man falls (or doesn't fall) into their well, their trust is put to the test. Miranda Otto (now big-time with the Lord of the Rings) and the excellent but apparently no longer working Pamela Rabe star in this underpromoted and worth-finding Aussie flick.

Rating (out of 5):
White of the Eye Donald Cammell 1987

Oh dear God make it STOP!

A pretentious, nearly unwatchable neo-noir crapfest from Donald Cammell (Demon Seed), who here turns in the worst Nicholas Roeg film that Nicholas Roeg never made. Cathy Moriarty (Soapdish) and David Keith (Firestarter) star as Mr. and Mrs. White, a strange couple who live in Arizona with their apparently retarded and apparently genderless child (I believe she was revealed to be a girl at some point, much to my surprise). Someone is apparently killing any rich women who look like they belong in Nagel paintings, and doing so with flair -- the opening murder scene is a fragmented mess that's actually brilliant in its DePalma-on-K grandeur. Unfortunately, after that things instantly become unwatchable as we watch Cathy and David meet, fight, and fuck in the present AND in flashback, all the while just begging for another preposterous murder. When one finally comes it's way too late, and the "shock" twist and subsequent 45-minute climax are utterly horrible. Why's it on this list? Well, in the great tradition of repressed-homo-sex-killers, the lazy slasher (a bodycount to be ashamed of!) is revealed to be a closet case who ends up killing rich women out of disdain and blowing himself and the inexplicable object of his desire into smithereens at the end. Were it not for the lovely, Grape-Nut-throated Moriarty and an early appearance by the excellent Alberta Watson (Spanking the Monkey, The Sweet Hereafter), this one would be completely worthless -- watch at your own risk.

Rating (out of 5):
Wild Zero Tetsuro Takeuchi 2000

This is a hard one to categorize, or even to understand: Zombies contaminated with some kind of Biogunk are eating their way through the countryside, where some Yakuza and punk rock kids are hanging out. Will our hero and his new demure Japanese girlfriend (who narrowly escapes a gas-station shootout) live to see their love blossom? Luckily, Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf are around to save the world from the zombies. Sound queer? Didn't think so. But get this: in perhaps the strangest plot twist in zombie movie history, the hero's new demure Japanese girlfriend is revealed to be ... a guy! Even stranger, when the hero decides to let the he-she die at the hands of the zombies, Guitar Wolf himself appears in a vision to tell him that love is blind to such things as genetalia. Sure enough, the hero changes his mind and rushes to save his new demure Japanese boyfriend. Such dives into the psychosexual are not common in this kind of film, so I applaud the filmmakers for going for it here. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie sucks.

Rating (out of 5):
Zombie 4: After Death Claudio Fragasso 1988

This horrible mistake of a film boasts the distinction of starring gay (for pay) porn legend Jeff Stryker (listed as "Chuck Peyton") as its hero. Hardcore fans will be disappointed when Jeff doesn't resort to using the impressive weapon clearly visible in his jeans to kill the ridiculous ninja-zombies -- it would have made for a far better film. It's saying something when the most horrifying moment in the film is when an overweight actor bares his man-breasts to the camera in the opening scene. Whoa!

Rating (out of 5):