Friday, October 30, 2009

Can we gay it down a notch?

"His whole life is a movie!"


I have a hard time with the gays who cannot deal with being gay. These are the kids who pretend to have girlfriends in other states and fixate on celebrities (“I’m saving myself for Fiona Apple”). It’s dark-sided. The not-gay gays always end up letting their darkness fester until they’re wearing trench coats and gunning down the drama club, or being taken away by Chris Hansen after a ten year sexless marriage to a zaftig woman who wore pleated pants! It’s hard enough to like oneself after eight years of George Bush telling the nation that the gays were responsible for 9/11 and an election cycle here in California that encouraged people to openly discriminate against their gay neighbors (I shan’t pretend that I didn’t throw a hot coffee at a Christian activist who called me a “sodomite”. I’m mature).  It’s just love, y’all. Who cares!? It’s impossible to rationalize with these not-gay-gays and when you hang out with them; it’s like hanging out with Paul Lynde and he’s riding big pink and purple elephant and you’re not allowed to give the elephant peanuts! I don’t like it. This brings us to Fade to Black (1980).


Have you ever wondered what happens when a boy refuses to participate in the outside world - choosing instead to live in the land of comic books and horror movies and the rent free confines of his elderly parent's house? He becomes a sociopath. Fade to Black explores the dark side of being a fanboy with the tale of Eric Binford. Eric Binford lives with his crippled aunt, Stella. He's far too old to still be living at home, but ambition is waylaid by his compulsive obsession with old movies. He just sits in his dark, smelly bedroom day after day, night after night, chain-smoking in his underwear and pawning over old videos (taking the occasional break to masturbate to Marilyn Monroe cutouts and Meryl Streep fanzines). When Eric meets a girl who looks like Marilyn at a diner and decides that they are meant to live happily ever after together, reality comes crashing in on him. Marilyn can smell the crazy on him from 6 feet away, the rejection of which causes Eric to go on a killing spree. Conveniently enough, he has a degree in cosmetology and begins dressing up to reenact scenes from his favorite movies, whether the Mummy or Dracula or Jimmy Cagney... the movie kind of ends there. Eric doesn't even physically kill most of them, he just happens to "scare" them to death. He shoots Mickey Rourke for no good reason other than Mickey being more attractive and popular than he is. Without any keys to Eric's childhood or him having a clear objective, the whole bloodless affair is pointless.


Fade to Black has a great concept - a sociopathic loner becomes a serial killer who stages scenes from classic movies; but Fade to Black is not well executed. It plays like an old movie of the week. The film-makers bend over backward trying to make Eric Binford a sympathetic character, an underdog victim of a culture obsessed with media consumption, and it doesn't work. Aside from a clever finale shot inside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Fade to Black is a pass. There is an important lesson to be learned here, kids: when making a horror movie, don't shy away from the fact that losers are losers and they kill people with no remorse - that's the real terror!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Curious Case of Damien Thorn

"What's the matter, Thorn, don't you like it on your back?"


When you are about to get into your town car and someone runs up, harried, insisting that they talk to you this very instant, then chances pretty good that you are the legal guardian of the spawn of Satan.


The Omen films(1976-1981) were the precedent for the Final Destination movies: a series of deadly coincidences kill off characters one by one. Rather than pander to the lowest common denominator audience, The Omen franchise was almost too clever for its own good. These films move at a glacial pace, expounding upon the Holy Land and the Book of Revelations. Rich white people shoulder-deep in foreign affairs are the protagonists. Our heroines are delicate, barren women of discernible age, clad entirely in St John, who are the second wives to CEOs and dignitaries.


Evil kid movies are hard to pull off without becoming unintentionally comical. Somehow, with Richard Donner directing Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, and a stable of brilliant, English character actors, The Omen successfully managed to be a spooky classic - constantly teetering on the edge of good taste and sensationalism. On the other hand, Damien: Omen II (1978) jumps off the cliff of good taste and nosedives face first into the realm of camp classic!


An elderly woman wakes up in bed wearing earings and a full face of makeup to find a raven perched on her bedpost. She begins wailing, throwing herself dramatically to the ground and playing dead. Nothing, at any point actually touches her. An English reporter (clad in red fur and wearing several pounds of someone else's hair) finds her car breaking down in the middle of an abandoned highway. She begins saying things like “Oh dear, oh no.” as she is suddenly pecked alive by wild ravens and crushed by a speeding Mack truck. Damien: Omen II is nothing if not tasteful.


Instead of nesting with foreign league ambassadors, this time around Damien is living in Chicago with his uncle, William Holden (continuing in the long line of Network actors who ran off to do the first horror film they were offered). William Holden is the CEO of Thorn Industries. Thorn Industries has a stronghold in electronics and is branching out into controlling the world’s produce supply as well. This is a conveniently evil corporate backdrop for our story and not-so-subtle metaphor for the real evil behind our dependence on foreign oil. Life would be a bowl of cherries for Damien if it weren’t for the matter of his cousin, Mark. Mark is heir to the Thorn Empire, not Damien. Luckily, the son of Satan has many a minion; William Holden’s second in command at Thorn Industries takes a peculiar interest in shepherding Damien from boyhood to full grown Antichrist. There are a lot of pregnant pauses and lingering eyes shared between these two. I’m not saying Damien is gay, but he definitely exerts the powers of evil by giving his enemies a stink-eye that can cause day-players to spontaneously thrash themselves into walls and clutch feverishly at their chests!


I don't want to be the gay who cried wolf, but there is something queer about Damien: Omen II. Could it be the matter of having Lee Grant as your female lead, doing her best drag queen impression of a loving mother? Is it the presence of Sylvia Sidney as the most irascible house guest since that bitch in Titanic who did nothing but complain for hours and hours until she finally died on the boat, leaving strangers to dispose of her stinking, elderly remains? Do Damien's eyeliner and standard American falsetto dialect work in conjunction to create an overall impression of homo-eroticism? Maybe. Call me crazy.

Damien: Omen II is a tricky case to diagnose. For every moment of schlock (Meschach Taylor plumeting to his death in a cardboard elevator set) is countered with something clever (contemporary corporate land ownership as the devil incarnate). Jerry Goldsmith's score is sick and there are scenes at the all boys military academy and in the woods covered in snow that rival anything seen in the first film. Regardless of sexual persuasion, Damien: Omen II is the perfect horror movie to fall asleep to, like a warm blanket on a brisk autumn day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Silver Shamrock!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bewitched

“You said you wanted to help me! WHERE ARE YOU?!”


I love Lars Von Trier. I do.



In a Lars film, characters are dropped into the most harrowing and emotionally overwrought situations imaginable (sincere virgins lose their husbands, single mothers lose their eyesight, statuesque women get gang raped by entire towns) and Lars, from a safe distance, laughs at them. He wants us to see their genuine experience as folly – meant to reflect our real lives and how foolish we are to take everything so very seriously. It’s all very Danish and it’s not for everyone. Personally, I love guttural emoting. Give me a woman squatting and bellowing from the diaphragm and I’m a happy boy! So you can imagine my elation when Lars Von Trier made a straight-forward horror narrative, Antichrist (2009).


Above all else, Antichrist is about grief and depression. None of us are truly prepared for grief or its many stages when a tragedy strikes. Polite society insists that we cover up raw emotion as something to be kept behind closed doors. Charlotte Gainsbourg is mourning the loss of her son. Willem Dafoe is her husband. He's emotionally distant and arrogant. He spent all his time working while Charlotte raised their baby boy. The only time they are okay is when they're fucking. But, while fucking, their baby boy tosses himself out the third story window, so now everything is awful! Charlotte is not okay. Despite the fact that he is not an MD and he cannot prescribe medication, Willem believes that he can cure Charlotte better than any hospital. He takes it upon himself to get her off medicine (prematurely) and to confront the things she fears the most in the name of "wellness". For two acts, the film is quiet and steady. What proceeds is a study in psychological and sexual abuse that forces us to examine the fine line between physical and emotional violence.

Antichrist is Lars Von Trier remaking The Shining. Like The Shining, Antichrist strikes a curious, dreamlike tone juxtaposed alongside beautiful images, static pacing, and heightened performances building to a third act that is completely off the rails. The horror here is much more pronounced and graphic than anything that goes on in The Shining. People in the audience screamed, laughed, walked out, cried... I've never seen anything like it and doubt I will again. This film is not dismissible by any means. Shot on film, Antichrist used a real director of photography, Slumdog Millionaire's Anthony Dod Mantle (a nervous breakdown prior to shooting prevented Lars from being able to write/produce/direct/and operate his chest-mounted "Larscam" this time around). This collaboration has yielded, far and away, the most gorgeous looking movie in the Von Trier canon - effortlessly weaving in and out of highspeed-slowmotion photography, black and white, and computer-generated shots that layer contrasting elements in a single image to create live-action paintings in every shot.


Much has been made of the graphic nature of Antichrist's denouement. I find what happens between Charlotte and Willem to be a far more appropriate and resonant use of violence than what we've seen before in film. Movies like Saw depict graphic violence free of character, emotion, or context. Antichrist is a thousand times more powerful and disturbing because it goes to horrifically graphic and gory places only after we are attached to sincere characters functioning in a real place and telling a story. Horror only works when we care about what we’re seeing. No one cares if a big-titted, dead-eyed model/actress gets her arm hacked off in a remake of a remake, but when Charlotte goes after Willem with a monkey wrench, it’s terrifying! I left Antichrist believing in witches, believing in the evil power of nature, and empathizing with Charlotte more than I probably should. Love it or hate it, Antichrist is a horror movie in its purest form and not to be missed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Remarkable Woman


"I bought a gorgeous new lucite frame for one of your most famous pictures."


When I was Pippin in a Boston production of Pippin, I had a fan. A diminutive fraggle-like girl would leave me poems at the stage door night after night. First, she wrote a sonnet about my radiance, which soon turned to a limerick on how I was an icy glacier that she was trying to climb but the sun kept melting her down, and finally a haiku about how she was going to cut off my head and use the blood to write the next poem. I got a restraining order and never made eye contact with anyone at the stage door again. You see, once upon a time, there was a thing called a Broadway star - women who lit up the great white way, entertaining packed houses and holding court at Sardi’s night after night! Despite having a three-note vocal range and fighting a losing battle with her addiction to Virginia Slims, Lauren Bacall was the most glamorous star ever to grace the Broadway stage. In The Fan (1981), Lauren learns to deal with a stalker on her terms while clawing her way back to the top in a Marvin Hamlisch musical!

Lauren Bacall is playing Sally Ross and Sally Ross is going through it. She’s feeling old and alone. She has two friends: her assistant and her maid. Sally's love life is stale (James Garner, stale). She has countless devoted fans, but she can’t take a fan home to bed with her because everyone knows that when you do, they invariably want to skin you alive. Normally, Lauren Bacall’s midlife crisis coupled with some fabulously atonal musical numbers would be enough to make this movie a camp classic, but The Fan has a trick up its sleeve: Michael Biehn (pre-Aliens)…playing a gay! A gay obsessed with Lauren Bacall!


Michael is unlike real life stalkers in that he is gorgeous. He dresses impeccably (if not a bit preppy), but he hates himself for being gay and is deluded into believing that he has a relationship with Lauren Bacall (like how Richard Simmons asked Barbra Streisand to marry him a few years back, only Michael sends Lauren pictures of his Johnson instead of a diamond ring). Meanwhile, Sally cannot be alone so she becomes fast friends with the dance captain of her musical (indicated to be gay by his hand gestures, big toothy smiles, and preternatural thinness). Soon enough, she is flaunting her new gay all over town, the ultimate accessory to the aging diva. But it’s exhausting keeping Sally Ross propped up all the time and her gay needs to sometimes go off to the bathhouse to let off some steam. Michael Biehn is jealous, so he gets half naked and box-cuts his rival right there in pool! Gay on gay crime is bad news, Michael means business.



"There's some fruitcake out there who, apparently, wants to kill me!"


With her best friends dropping like flies at the hand of a homicidal homosexual, Sally runs off to her Hamptons beach house to pontificate on mortality. She stops taking Michael's calls and he gets real down, running straight to the local gay bar for some companionship. Sally's rejection gives Michael the nerve to finally take a guy up to the roof for a quick BJ. If he didn't have this tiresome angst around his sexuality, this could be the starting point for a lovely romantic comedy - but no such luck for the other guy! The Fan(1981) understands that no third act is complete without a gay being sliced at the throat and set ablaze on a Manhattan rooftop!


Listen: I know how offensive it can be to have gay characters ALWAYS be the vengeful maniacs or the tragic martyrs serving to advance a story for the heroine...but this movie is a riot. The Fan is compulsively watchable. It's got fake blood, old women being chased in sequins and musical numbers involving leather S&M gear and neon lights! Need I say more?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesdays with Hitler

“This concludes our week on the holocaust.”


When I was a little boy, I loved Dennis the Menace and, apparently, so did Bryan Singer. Apt Pupil (1998) recreates Dennis the Menace, only set in 1984 and Dennis is Brad Renfro (RIP) and Mr. Wilson the homosexual Nazi who lives next door.


Horror movies have always examined the darker side of the human experience, holding a mirror up to society and our fears. When our nation was obsessed with communism, the horror of that period focused on aliens and pod people taking over our collective consciousness. After Dawn of the Dead, it’s impossible to see zombies as anything but a metaphor for our mindless consumerism. When hippies like the Manson family threatened the security of our homes, the horror evolved into slasher films of the 1970s (Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper exploited this best with Last House on the Left and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, respectively). The female protagonists (“final girl”) of these slasher films echoed the feminist movement; woman surviving and thriving in a world of abuse and sexual violation. Yet, despite all that horror has been able to touch upon, there have been a few subjects that have been conspicuously verboten. Specifically, the horror of the Holocaust.

Apt Pupil sets out to examine the holocaust as well its social and emotional ramifications that were felt a full 40years later. Except something gets in the way of the narrative…Apt Pupil is really gay.


Brad Renfro plays a boy who has no interest in dating girls because he only cares about the Holocaust. Brad would have been a brilliant documentarian for the Shoah Foundation if he weren't so darned sadomasochistic! This sixteen year old boy takes it upon himself to conduct a yearlong series of interviews with his elderly, seemingly retired-Nazi neighbor. Brad's interest, however, is not out of empathy. He is almost gleeful being regaled with stories of Jewish corpses and suffering. But the roleplay is not at all one sided in this bizarre little film (adapted from a 1982 Stephen King novella); the Nazi next door has just as much power in this game. When Brad goes so far as making Ian wear his old S.S. uniform, Ian one-ups him by going off and masturbating in it! Apt Pupil forces us to ask ourselves who is more evil - the man who oversaw the death of thousands or the boy who fetishizes him. They are two peas in a pod, these two. Ian is soon tutoring Brad in his studies, both academic and personal. Things get a bit too intense between them. Brad takes a break, goes back to school, starts kissing a girl. He seems to be on the mend until he's drawn back Ian like a moth to an pedophilic flame. Evil ensues.


"Oh, my dear boy, don't you see? We are fucking each other."


Why is Brad so fixated on Ian? How can so much evil come from a boy brought up with money and education in an all American suburb? How can one feel no sympathy for being the cause of death and pain to thousands? None of these questions are answered in this film because none of these questions are answered in real life. Apt Pupil, while much more psychological than physically violent, is as much a horror film as any Saw movie. Before he got sidetracked with bloated, big budget studio movies and before he was flanked by teenage boys, Bryan Singer was an amazing filmmaker! With a much simpler premise than The Usual Suspects, Singer is able to put all his focus on the film making here. It's slickly edited and beautifully shot - every frame looks like something out of a comic book! A film that demands multiple viewings, Apt Pupil is contextually dense, dealing with issues of dominance and submission, masculine and feminine, and good and evil. What a man is capable of doing to another man can be terrifying and Apt Pupil explores this without ever pandering or reaching for the lowest common denominator.

(Horror Nerd Alert: Be sure to keep an eye out for Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood 's main gay, Kevin Spiritas as paramedic #1!)

babysitter blues



There is nothing really gay about The House of the Devil, but I love it. I love it a lot.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Daddy Dearest

"You were in a coma."


Hanukkah came early this year thanks to our good friends over at Screen Gems! Coming out this weekend, like a made for Lifetime movie directed by David DeCoteau: The Stepfather (2009)!

The original Stepfather (1987) was about the baby-boom generation learning to let go of their manufactured American Dream.  Terry O'Quinn played a man who couldn't seem to let go of his fantasy of a demure, loving wife with obedient children; he wanted to have a two-car garage, and all the trappings of consumerism.  When his dream wasn't capable of actualizing itself, Terry went on a killing spree from town to town like a divorcee Goldilocks, trying on different families until one finally fit (maybe the problem is you, Terry).  This meant something in the late 1980s as the country was crawling up from a period of great excess and soberly awakening to a fiscal recession, the age of grunge, and the dawn of the female CEO.  There was no longer such thing as a "traditional family" and  Terry had a right to be upset!  But today, in the post 9/11 recession, this character lacks any and all motivation - so they have him terrorizing the other boy from Gossip Girl, who is playing a swimmer so he can be shirtless the entire film.  Fair enough.


Sela Ward is a woman with three kids.   Sela Ward has no job or husband, but she has a five million dollar home.  How nice.  Sela Ward is lit like Morgan Fairchild and. more importantly, Sela Ward is pumped full of juvederm - so much juvederm that she actually looks substantially younger than her son in most scenes (the other guy from Gossip Girl).  Lucky for us, all the characters in The Stepfather (2009) speak in exposition!  Sela's eldest son has a checkered past.  We don't know why he had a checkered past and he never actually unleashes any kind of rage that would suggest he was once a hood rat (most thugged out kids don't sob in their bedroom over their lack of male role models while his headphones blast an emo-powerballad), but the exposition says he is a tough guy and I take their word.  Sela's son refuses to have sex with his insanely hot girlfriend because he is fixated on his mom's fiancee (the guy from Nip/Tuck and Congo).  He and his mom's fiancee share a bottle of Cabo Wabo in the basement; they exchange long glances, it's deep.  The other kid from Gossip Girl even takes his mom's fiancee's picture to bed with him at night.  Now, Sela Ward doesn't question any of this because she just needs a man.  Yes, sure it's really offensive to women and totally backwards and don't even get me started on Sela's lesbian sister, Aunt Jackie (I'm not being funny, her name is really Aunt Jackie).

The real star of The Stepfather (2009) is Amber Heard as the other kid from Gossip Girl's thankless girlfriend.  I had never seen this girl before and she's EXTRAORDINARY.  She has the hottest body ever and she can actually act her ass off (and her tits and probably her vag', but they never let us see her and the other kid from Gossip Girl do anything but swim).  Why they didn't just remake The Stepfather with Amber Heard in the lead?  Why remake The Stepfather at all?  We will never know.  I do know that I want this Amber Heard girl at all my pool parties and I want to set her up with all of my guy friends and I kind of want to watch her touch herself.  Well played, Amber Heard.

The third act of The Stepfather (2009) is the exact same as the third act from Beyonce's Obsessed.  That's a win!  The film ends on a freeze frame image.  Another win!  This movie is god-awful, but it is good laughs from start to finish.  It's like eating a bag of candy corn in one sitting - you know it's bad for you, but you can't stop yourself.  Most scenes play as though the cast is putting on a high school play version of the original Stepfather - there are even background actors striking set pieces mid-scene!  Go pay to see Where the Wild Things are and then sneak into The Stepfather afterward for free.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gross Anatomy

"You stole the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble headed co-ed!"

For every fabulous gay that can be found regaling his friends at dinner parties with stories of Sharon Stone and sample sales, there is a schlubby and socially awkward gay, holed up in his parent’s basement eating Doritos and looking at internet porn for hours at a time until he no longer feels anything. Whether by shame or lack of social skills, these gays are to be avoided at all costs! Don’t think you can help them transform into a Pygmalion Adonis with some cetaphil and a gym membership – this kind of gay is a succubus who won’t be stopped until everyone is as miserable as he. This is the evil gay.

Take, for instance, the story of Herbert West in Re-Animator (1985).  Herbert is very smart, almost too smart. His intellect makes him arrogant without merit. He is one of those guys who can only function inside the world of academia, someone who has never had to learn real life lessons or the keys to social interaction. Herbert West is like those bad kids in middle school who’d light cats on fire and call it an experiment. Jeffrey Dahmer kinds of gays. Sociopaths have a hard time getting things like apartments and grants; this conundrum leads him to Dan Cain. Dan is in his third year residency and he is always shirtless; he blows off steam built up from working twenty-hour days with cadavers by having lots of sex with his girlfriend, Meg. Meg happens to be the Dean of Student’s daughter. Dan knows what he’s doing. Dan is pretty, he has a spare room in his apartment, and the staff of Misketonic Medical School universally adores him.  Herbert needs Dan.


Is Herbert West a gay? Probably, yeah. But he's not a fun happy gay at all. He doesn't have sex; he'd rather sublimate all physical needs into his all-consuming “work.” He hates women. He only tests his potions on well built men and has a personal vendetta set against Dan’s girlfriend, killing her cat and making snide comments about her hair and the diameter of her hips - going so far as to have her father mutilated to drive his point home. Evil.  As his appetite for power and carnage grows, Herbert becomes smug, almost hot!  Of course, such arrogance and homosexuality can only end in being suffocated by another man's large intestine, but I digress.



Re-Animator is "iconic" for a reason.  It delivers on all counts; moments sampling Bernard Herrmann's Psycho theme coupled with zombies and gobs of gore transcend the genre.  Herbert West often breaks the fourth wall, as though the audience is part of his fevered psyche along for the ride. It is baffling to me that more H.P. Lovecraft adaptations aren't made; Re-Animator works so well! Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve longed for syringes full of glow-stick ooze.  With gobs of male nudity and a pitch perfect horror-comedy tone, Re-Animator is a classic for this or any other season.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beethoven's Massacre

“Over. Done with. Gone.”


Imagine, if you will, a live-action Disney cartoon shot by Jan De Bont. A bunny rabbit is frolicking gaily through the forest as the camera pans out to reveal a beautiful Saint Bernard playing with her. Butterflies are flying, hummingbirds are flapping their gossamer wings in the meadow and everything is peaceful. Without warning, our happy puppy is attacked mercilessly by vicious, pestilence spreading VAMPIRE BATS!!! This is the story of Cujo.

Across town, a little gay boy (Danny Pintauro) is trying to go to sleep but cannot keep from pretending to be all the grande dames in British literature and imaging terrible monsters in his closet. His mom, Dee Wallace (formerly Stone), is over it. She has herself embroiled in a bit of a Harold Pinter situation, fucking the neighborhood handyman behind her loving husband's back. She knows that Danny loves his dad much more than he loves her and she’s looking for a way out! She never really wanted this family or this life that she finds herself stuck in. Dee Wallace (formerly Stone) is a moron. They have a six-bedroom home overlooking the ocean, Dee’s husband has a sick body, he makes good money, he’s a wonderful father, and her son delivers line readings as though they are all original thoughts! Some women just love to self-sabotage. Much to Danny’s disappointment, Dee finally drives her husband away and the two of them are left alone together with their broken down Chevette.

That lovable Saint Bernard, Cujo, lives with the white trash family from The Prince of Tides. They are too preoccupied skinning animals and drinking Mountain Dew to realize that their dog is now covered in open sores and dripping with novelty machine slime. Cujo has himself a case of the rage and Dee Wallace and Danny are in the wrong place at the wrong time. My mom was always dragging my gay ass on errands as a kid. Usually I’d wind up in the back seat talking to myself or singing showtunes with the windows rolled up for hours at a time while she exchanged stockings or got her nails done. Dee Wallace (formerly Stone) is much the same.
Cujo is a domestic drama that takes lots of time to establish character and location. By making us care about these people and their lives, Cujo is a terrifying film when the shit finally hits the proverbial fan!  Danny Pintauro is not an actor. Danny Pintauro believes without any question in his mind or heart that the mangy dog outside their car is going to kill him and his mother. Danny Pintauro becomes so unhinged, so hysterical that he brings Dee Wallace and the entire film to a level of genius seldom seen before or since. Dee's suburban ennui transforms into something primal and raw as she fights for a life she once took for granted. Despite the ludicrous nature of a monster Saint Bernard, this movie is very well edited and full of real emotions - thus garnering my gay stamp of approval.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rear Window

"Your friend needs a psychiatrist, not a vampire killer!"


In high school, I had a guy best friend and a girl best friend. Clandestinely, I was deeply in love with my guy friend who, in turn, hooked up with my girl friend. My girl friend wound up being a lesbian a couple years later and we all lived happily ever after. This is the story of Fright Night.

Fright Night is about three kids who are confused about their sexy times until a couple of gays move in next door and set them right. It's like Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music only, instead of Julie Andrews, they’re set right by an evil gay vampire and the Queen of Hollywood, Roddy McDowall!


Charlie Brewster is the only child of a single-mom. She is off working and he is left to his own devices day after day. Usually this is confined to talking trash with his twitchy best friend, Ed, or making out with his best girl friend, Marcy D'Arcy, but all Charlie wants to do lately is snoop on the people next door. Charlie finds it a bit odd that his new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge, along with his “live-in carpenter," insists on moving all of his priceless antiques in after dark…but you know how private the gays can be, especially in these smaller towns. This minor curiosity soon turns into an obsession. He starts spending all his nights eating junk food alone in his room, staring at his neighbors through binoculars. Maybe it’s the pressure of not passing trigonometry, but Charlie fixates until he has gays literally coming out of his closet!


When my high school best guy friend started dating and kissing girls, I got dark. I didn't want to talk about it so I would go running on the beach late at night. Likewise, "Evil"Ed goes walking alone down dark alleys at night while Charlie and Marcy are off not having sex.  Lonely and sad, Ed finds himself in the embrace of a vampire who extends his overly manicured hand and makes him full fledged gay vampire himself with the promise of never having to be an outsider again.


Jerry Dandridge sets his lecherous sights on Marcy D’Arcy next, appealing to her inner lesbian by staging the nightclub scene from Basic Instinct. This straw breaks Charlie's back and sends him to the godfather of all homosexuals, Roddy McDowell, for advice and assistance. Roddy Mcdowall as Peter Vincent: Vampire Killer is the heart and soul of Fright Night. Besides being about all these tangential characters coming to terms with their sexuality through the help of some sweater-clad vampires, Fright Night is about the divide that existed between the classic Universal and Hammer years of old Hollywood horror movie glamour and the disposable slasher films of the 1980s. Peter Vincent is feeling washed up and under appreciated. Kids today don’t care about how Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken killed Natalie Wood or how he coaxed Dame Elizabeth Taylor out of her great depression after Monty Clift’s accident outside her mansion. Only by helping Charlie get those pesky vampires out of town, does Peter Vincent/Roddy McDowall realize the national treasure that he truly is. We miss you Roddy.

Three of the five men in this film weep openly. That's pretty much a win in my book.  Masterfully directed by Tom Holland, this film is a master class in the power of tight, coherent film-making - every single seed pays off by the end, nothing is wasted and everything is for a purpose.  Fright Night is a wonderful example of the care and attention that went into horror in the 1980s.