I swear by Manon, I spent the first half of this series’ round in a food coma. Quaker Oats rice cakes and candy corn. Not only because I knew I’d be watching Kristy Swanson‘s most lauded role since “Kristy Boner” in Dude, Where’s My Car?
Truly, it was because I had to flee Manhattan (the diverse melting pot that’s become skin-melting), escape Gozer, and recharge my AAA’s in the air-conditioned home of … Dun-Dun-DUN! My parents! Stars of 1989′s Parents. (My dad looks suspiciously like Bob Balaban.)
It was off to New Jersey for me, where if you listen just closely enough, you may hear the hopeful laments of Ellen Greene.
Several trains and frozen yogurts later, I’m just too excited, gassy, and ready to take on the category Wicked Little Girls: Buffy & The Craft, in our quest for the Gayest ’90s Horror. High school senior gals in the skimpiest skirts come into a serious amount of supernatural responsibility before graduation – and unsurprisingly, a lotta kids get killed.
Strap your boots! It’s the second round of…
What is the Gayest ’90s Horror Movie? is a recurring feature that compares and contrasts many freaky and furry films of the hot-button decade that brought us Tammy: Telling It My Way. Following ’80s franchise gore and gay visibility, preceding the past ten years of inclusivity and self-aware features, the ’90s boasts a challenge. This dedicated fool hosts you in a search. Tweeter beware, you’re in for a scare: @GingerBredhaus
ON THIS WEEK’S MEAT RACK:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer! (Fran Kuzui, 1992)
- The Craft! (Andrew Fleming, 1996)
- Words from filmmaker Darren Stein, Gay ’90s Hall-of-Famer
That possessed China doll on my desk keeps telling me I should more often than not rely on the kindness of eccentric pals. I’d planned to scour the interweb for a copy of this early-decade Buffy movie, the cheese-drenched inspiration for the conglomerate Q-Horror TV series to come, when my faghag Maddi pointed to the late ’80s / early ’90s Tuff Gurl section of her DVD’s. Indeed, sandwiched between Veronica Sawyer and Angela Chase was a demure Buffy in white.
(Picture that sandwich. Those ladies. With relish.)
Natch, snatched. But silly-nilly me, I left it in Brooklyn. For this first, NJ-set half of Wicked Little Girls, bootleg video file would satiate:
Joss Whedon probably poo’ed his X-Men briefs when his penned feature from 1992 was resurrected for the huge-ass television series starring SMG, seven seasons of his deepest wet dreams come true (well, five seasons, and then just one episode in the sixth and one in seventh, for good reason.)
Do you think he foresaw that future while writing jokes for cavity-causing sweet tush Luke Perry?
Whether yes or no, he crafted a fun and ahead of its time, girly, gay-ish comedic horror with this teen action pic. Unfortch, it made no bank, possibly because it was pre-Heckerling. It may have bombed, but not for us…
Buffy’s Mom totally fell out of Raquel Welch‘s butt.
Deadly Friend star Swanson dons the pom-poms and yellow jumper to play the original, big-screen Buff. She’s approached by homely drunkard Donald Sutherland and is knighted The Girl Who Will Slay. She’s, like, abominably opposed – but grows aware of and accepts her ancestral reflexes faster than you can say Emma Caulfield. (I wonder if Caulfield gets a ping every time a queer horror site drops her name. Hey, Anya Bananyas!)
Outfits, prom jokes, and supporting cast are such chipper fun, but more than anything, the tongue-in-cheek attitude is shockingly welcome, and dare I say, chic? The sideways-glance vibe could easily get annoying… Like the fingerknives-glove-on-a-chalkboard irritability of dialogue-heavy, action-sparse fare of more second tier Kevin Williamson pics…
But, hey, I found this one finely balanced by action sequences. As limited as they are (high kick! angsty ponytail whip!), they’re there. Short, quick, and painless.
7/10 for Camp Acting: everyone has their moments - Hilary Swank (above) straight from the trailer park as Hilarious Skank #2, Stephen Root as an LSD-raddled principal, even blink-and-you-miss-it basketballer Ben Affleck. Dialogue gets a full 5/5 for a stuffed bag of Whedonized chuckleworthies; I love Hilary’s “GET OUT OF MY FACIAL.”
The low points for nonspecial music, zero Gay Characters, and no T&A hurt its score, but for Fun Value, I’m unabashedly ranking this a high-ish 16/20. As a midnight movie for a gay fans? Our protag’s school of lovable airhead fish have a whole debate on their town’s cinemas! (“They don’t even have Dolby!!”)
9/20 Queer Theme points have to be rewarded to the underlying what’s-going-on-heres… More than a few times, male characters share homophobic panic jokes mere seconds from getting their necks rimmed by a hungry male vamp, usually Paul Reubens (even gayer). David Arquette‘s slimepunk is asexual and spends the whole film trying to get Luke Perry in the sack.
+1 point for Swanson’s backflip through pink fog in her prom dress. Total Queer Value: 51/100
I bind you, Fairuza Balk, from doing harm against your Return to Oz collectable wardrobe on eBay.
I bind you, Robin Tunney, from doing harm against your head in Empire Records.
I bind you, Rachel True, from doing harm against yourself with more Noah’s Arc.
I bind you, Neve Campbell, from doing harm against whoever decided to make Sidney a dying swan theater star in Scream 2. (Maybe it was your adorably gay brother Christian who starred in Trick.)
I bind you, director Andrew Fleming, with my balls.
Have you seen The Craft? If so, you may be harboring same-sex attractions. It’s perfectly normal. This movie has been known to alter sexual orientations without consent. It literally rapes you of your straightness, makes you beg for mercy until you admit: yes, you are a flamer. For this, we are grateful.
Fleming is the out director behind this unconventional, gorgeously messy, smoke-wind-and-chimes infused supernatural teen melodrama horror, released mere months before Scream shook the windows and broke the glass. The Craft stars Balk, True, and Campbell as three modern day Bitches of Eastwick, who rule the school with a silent but deadly goth-outsiderdom. Hobby: witchcraft. Tunney is the new girl who completes their foursome, and they prosper.
Balk plays Nancy, the bitch in heat who has a black noose hanging in her locker. Just in case?
The movie is, suffice to say, enormously entertaining, incredibly mid-nineties, and abnormally queer for a film of its time. The four girls grow together in magic and in power, and their friendship becomes a four-way road to outcast paradise. Though they’re all decidedly heterosexual, they swear off boys’ degradation and go so far as to manipulate their feeble male minds.
They’re monsters, and they’re our protagonists. How many other movies actually accomplish that and follow through to the end? There’s no ‘normal’ force ready to defeat or normalize them. They’re just batshit insane.
The Craft is a movie where we watch average people go very, very bad in the best way, and the filmmakers make sure the ride is as fun as possible. The girls smoke, drink, disobey, cast spells, revel in evil, and they love themselves. A perfect balance of wild bitchiness and sad vulnerability makes them, well, just like queers.
Because The Craft is exceptional in its display of girl-rebellion against the status quo, Camp Blood sought out the man who very, very memorably wrote and directed that other gorgeously monstrous foursome – namely Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, and Judy Greer – for the mainstream ’90s MTV audience in classic Jawbreaker, sleepover-party movie for devils everywhere.
He’s the warm Darren Stein, who has gone on to bring further original work to screens in independent film (Wild Tigers I Have Known, Peaches Christ’s All About Evil).
Naturally, and luckily, Stein is as obsessed as you are. His words don’t only support the queer love for The Craft – he validates it, focusing on what more often than not is on everybody’s mind:
I will always love The Craft thanks to Fairuza Balk’s High Goth, balls-to-the-wall, bad witch/insane bitch performance. Just her dark lipstick, eyeliner and sunglasses on the school bus were enough to make her instantly obsess-worthy. Her performance is the film’s ultimate special effect, though the actual effects serve up complete wonderment in a single spinning pencil or the levitating Fairuza dragging her witchy shoes along the wood floor.
And then he dropped a bomb.
I also have a very personal connection to the film, which I will always hold in my heart.
More, after this Tunney.
Fairuza lived in the apartment below me in a Hollywood courtyard building called the Villa Carlotta. The night of The Craft’s premiere, I crouched under my cracked open window, so I could hear Fairuza and her girlfriends laughing and galavanting as Fairuza got her make-up done for the premiere. I didn’t have a ticket to the premiere that night, but it was magic enough for me to hear her on the phone, screaming for “more red wine and cigarettes!” as she readied herself for her big night.
I’m going to let that speak for itself, and add: I am bowled the fuck over with jealousy.
High, high points all around the board – the film’s special effects, nearly all female cast, feminist centrality, themes of alienation and revenge, quiet moments of sadness, fearless “balls to the wall” bravery, iconic place in goth culture, the glamour scene, and Rachel True’s shoulder pads make this one a Gay ’90s Horror Classic!
9/10 for camp acting – Lesbian Magic Shop Owner among my personal favorites. 5/5 for music – Graeme Revell‘s superbly feminine “nature noises” in the score are top notch, plus a soundtrack of Letters to Cleo, Jewel, and, literally, the theme from Charmed. High in production values (the most effects-laden final battle). High in dialogue (“We are the weirdos, mister”). Super high in queer theme and in queer-friendly crew.
Fun Value? A whopping 19/20. The only thing missing is Fairuza in nothing but a tar-soaked boa riverdancing on Skeet Ulrich‘s intestines. Let’s add +2 for Christine Taylor balding in a public shower, and +2 for the always necessary, always empowering slo-mo catwalk thru the high school hallway to a nineties beat.
Total: 77/100 - our new forerunner.
Queerest Horror of this category: THE CRAFT (1996)
Remember to follow the adventure here! twitter.com/GingerBredhaus
Next in #Gay90sHorror: Burton & Depp: Straight Queers -
Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), & Sleepy Hollow (1999)