Friday, November 20, 2009
"That's enough with the biting."
I’m gonna tell you a secret: sometimes I get a little hungry for a happy ending. Ugly girls with no marketable skills and borderline lesbian tendencies get to swoon over sparkley vampires and Mexican werewolves. Women of a certain age have Nancy Meyers romantic dramedies with terrible overhead lighting and self-hating female leads. For me, escapism is imagining a world where gays can live happily ever after in functional relationships with a craftsman homes and reasonable taxation. While it’s wicked awesome that Milk and Brokeback Mountain can make piles of money and get progressive soccer moms to feel like they’re reaching out to minorities – these movies still make a martyr of the homo. Can we ever live happily ever after?
From time to time, when starved for any reflection of the contemporary gay experience, one begins to see gay subtext in the mainstream. You don’t have to be Nancy Drew to see that the Neil Jordan/Jodie Foster movie, The Brave One, was clearly intended to be a lesbian revenge thriller…who gets bashed for being heterosexual in Manhattan?? Once you look at Top Gun through the gay kaleidoscope, it’s impossible to see it as anything but a story of two men coming to terms with their love for each other…no straight guy would sing karaoke to Kelly McGillis. Wes Craven (always a friend to the gays) and Kevin Williamson (always gay) made a movie that no one saw called Cursed (2005). Cursed uses werewolf bloodlust as a metaphor for dormant sexuality with the 1990s popcorn horror paradigm as its model, only it was released in 2004. Both pastiche and ahead of its time, Cursed is the gayest entry in the Craven oeuvre and it comes SO close to presenting a gay happily ever after that it merits exploration.
Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci are siblings touched by The Wolf. Christina wears ill-fitting business suits and styles her hair in a bun to imply that their parents are dead. Like Judy Greer and Portia DeRossi (who also ham it up in Cursed), Christina doesn’t exist without a gay audience. She is by no means a good actress, making a lot of faces and indicating everything. She is drawn to emotionally distant men (amen) and, for some inexplicable reason, men are drawn to her. Pacey from Dawson’s Creek is her boyfriend and he has perpetual stubble on his face to indicate that he is a werewolf. Milo Ventimiglia is the captain of the high school wrestling team. He drives a camaro (when camaros were still hot) and he’s in love with Jesse Eisenberg. They pretend to compete for the attention of an anorexic girl to make her feel better about herself, it’s very sweet, but they really just want to wrestle with each other. When push comes to shove, Milo comes out to Jesse and, together, they fend off the werewolf hoards and still have time to go out on the town with Lance Bass and his obnoxious friends.
Let there be no question that when a movie has its climax in front of a Cher mannequin, it's a GAY MOVIE. So why does Jesse never say, "Hey cool, Milo - I think my neurotic misanthropy is actually a smokescreen to cover-up my stifled homosexuality as well, let's make out!"? Why must we read between the lines? How can a movie be so queer as to have Judy Greer play an evil publicist who happens to be the Queen of the computer-generated Wolves in a Bob Mackie slit-to-the-crotch purple gown and not have the balls to just let its secondary lead live happily ever after with a hot (albeit diminutive) boyfriend? Considering that Hollywood still refuses to let women carry movies, I suppose it really isn't homophobia or mysogyny as much as the bottom line. At this point in his career, post-Scream and Dawson's Creek, Williamson could have done better. He could have pushed boundaries instead of uncle tom-ing his gays. If you try to appeal to everyone, you wind up making no money and the movie is castrated. Lesson learned.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
“You’re an abomination, an outrage against nature!”
Catherine Hicks was a shopgirl. All her son, Andy, wanted is a doll for his birthday. Conveniently enough, the wacky homeless back alley peddler had a special on talking dolls and she was able to make his dreams come true as only a doting single mom could! Andy proceeded to act out his model for a perfect relationship with his new doll, Chucky. They shared clothes, watched the evening news together; cuddled until they fell fast asleep. It was bliss. Then people started to die. Everyone blamed Andy. Andy panicked, fearing that it may be his relationship with Chucky that was causing people all this pain. This led to Andy renouncing his former life with Chucky, going so far as burning his former companion alive in the fireplace! Andy's soul is clean. How rude.
"Well, to come to terms with something he couldn't possibly understand, he turned it all into a kind of fairy tale."
Andy can't quit Chucky, no matter how many adults die in their wake. Luckily, transsexual Kyle is there to save the day this time - teaching Andy that he can be whoever he wants to be without his toxic relationship. God loves everyone just the same. Leave it to a Trans to make everything good again!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"That's not Carol Anne."
I was never like the other little boys. Nana loved her National Enquirers and I remember stealing away to my bedroom with their expose on Heather O’Rourke’s sudden death and sobbing hysterically, holding onto my toy chest with all my might and wishing that God hadn’t taken her away from us. This was my first encounter with the death of someone who I really cared about. I was nine years old. Poltergeist III (1988) was released about six months later and has gone on to be one of the most bizarre sequels ever made. It's best not to think of Poltergeist III in relation to Poltergeist at all; for it exists in a bizarro world where Carol Anne’s parents (despite the fact that they moved heaven and hell to keep her safe) decide that they’ve finally had enough of Carol Anne and abandon her with distant relatives on the east coast. You know I love a film where parents up and leave their children for no good reason, Poltergeist III is no exception!
Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen (at a reasonable weight) play the most leathery and emotionally vacant couple imaginable. Like the cold, steel high rise they call home, Tom and Nancy are devoid of sympathy for little Carol Anne. For reasons unknown, they take her in as a ward, but they hate her - in fact, everyone in this movie hates her! Carol Anne goes to a savant school in Chicago where she’s treated by a catty, gay psychoanalyst named Doctor Satan (spelled Seaton). Reverend Kane, like her guardian angel from Hell, doesn’t approve of her new living situation one bit so he… wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
A haunted house movie set in a luxury skyscraper in the middle of a big city is an awesome concept. Gary Sherman had directed Dead & Buried, which is one of the better horror movies, and he came on board with the best of intentions: to make a contemporary haunted house movie using mirrors and practical on set effects. A high society art dealer is married to an older, distinguished man with a teenage daughter who has a penchant for late night pool parties with her horny girlfriends and their fashion conscious gay best friends. Being a family of narcissists, they are surrounded by reflective surfaces. Ghosts are trapped in the reflections adding an air or spookiness to their modern, city living. This could have been a good movie, but something went terribly wrong along the way.
“Well, that’s a lot of crap that doesn’t mean anything.”
Making this a Poltergeist movie was a mistake bordering on exploitation. Heather was really sick and in no condition to make a movie, it’s actually hard to watch. The precious little angel from Poltergeist was fighting for her life and they let the cameras roll. Without Jerry Goldsmith’s score, or Jobeth Williams emoting, or the attention to every minute detail that made Poltergeist the classic it is, Poltergeist III is the black sheep of the series. Poltergeist II: the Other Side goes off the rails and is missing the crucial Dominique Dunne element, but the performance of Julian Beck (who was on death’s door himself) as Reverend Kane and its exploration of Native American mysticism as well as the long tradition of paranormal sensitivity among the women in Carol Anne’s family made it a worthwhile endeavor (also, please note: Craig T. Nelson is ridiculously hot). Poltergeist III has no Julian Beck, no Jobeth, no Dominique, and we all know that Tom Skerritt is no Craig T. Nelson. Tom Skerritt looks like an ash tray and Nancy’s base is at least a shade lighter than her natural skin tone and Carol Anne is a little bit too old to be wearing that primary red onesie.
Regardless, I kind of love this movie. Had they not tried to incorporate Carol Anne - if Tangina and JoBeth’s sister were the sole connection to the franchise, it would have been a much more effective and interesting movie. This movie is not well shot, there’s no continuity or logic to speak of, and the synthesized score is just awful when compared to the masterpiece scores of Poltergeist and Poltergeist II: the Other Side…so why is Poltergeist III such a delicious guilty pleasure? Well, in addition to having an apathetic, heavily made up, barren, second-wife female lead with shoulderpads, Poltergeist III has haunted ice cars and magical amulets and Lara Flynn Boyle in V lizard makeup. How can you resist it?!
For all there is to know about this movie - how it came to be, what went wrong and why (it’s production history rivals that of Heaven’s Gate), be sure check out David Furtney’s brilliant website: http://www.poltergeistiii.com/. It’s everything!
Monday, November 9, 2009
"There's a lot about me you don't know."
Once upon a time, the gays didn’t have AIDS. This was a joyous time, post sexual revolution, where gay boys could be boys – and boys love to eff each other! One of the defining characteristics of the homosexual male is that he is, contrary to commercial stereotyping, a man. Men are overtly sexual. If given the opportunity to have casual sex in the back of an Albertsons supermarket, who wouldn’t? So, aside from dodging bricks and having your house set ablaze by Anita Bryant and her minions (America has not evolved in that regard), life as a gay male was well on its way to improving by the late 1970s. Gone were the days of wearing frocks and mincing around like minstrels and taking its place was a more masculine, confident ease of sexuality. Sporting mustaches, denim, and fitted flannel shirts, the gays of 1970s were hell bent on being defined by their more masculine attributes. Just bros helping bros – bros who happened to enjoy a late night Bette Midler show at the Continental Baths! However, in a Puritanical nation, such sexual freedom invariably comes with a cost. Your life! Diane Keaton learned that lesson in Looking for Mister Goodbar, and it was high time for the gays to learn that you can’t have it all!
In my twenties, the thing that kept me from being a whore was an underlying fear of serial killers. I was always sure that I’d go home with someone and find myself stapled to their floor while they cut out my internal organs and fed them to their Maltese. William Friedken, the mastermind behind The Exorcist (and no stranger to homosexuals, having made the grossly underrated Boys in the Band), saw what was going on with the gays having their free sex and dancing to their Donna Summer hits, and he made Cruising (1980) to teach us all a lesson.
Al Pacino plays an ordinary, gay-hating undercover cop who has to bury himself, ass-deep, in the world of Manhattan’s underground club scene to fish out a serial killer preying on multitudinous male libidos. Set in the meatpacking district (obvious pun intended), Cruising explores a city where the police are too busy getting BJs from tranny hookers to notice that a serial killer is plucking off the gays – not just killing them, but having sex with them and then dismembering their gay corpses. Pacino goes all kinds of method with his new job: he starts working out, stops eating bread, does poppers on the dance floor then he goes home and hate-fucks his thankless girlfriend (Karen Allen)… it doesn’t take Mister Wizard to get the impression that there’s more to this gig than just an undercover assignment! Al Pacino is going gay. He makes fast friends with his gay neighbor and he, along with the audience, learns that gay people are just like normal people – they have relationships, they eat at diners, they pay their rent, and they are scared of being slaughtered post-coitus.
Sex and trust go hand in hand. When someone can be inside you one moment, then turn around and cuts you into bits before you even have a chance to pull your pants back up, that’s terrifying! This breach of the unspoken contract between sex and trust combined with the fact that Friedken coyly intercuts scenes of violence with scenes of sexual penetration, makes Cruising really scary. Not only is Cruising a good horror movie, it is super gay, and not in a pandering or necessarily offensive way. Do all gays walk around with shit on their ass and carry briefcases full of sex toys and poppers? No, they do not. Does Cruising go out of its way to show the most perverse and twisted sides to a night at the club? Yes, it does. There are unnecessary bits (like a 300pound black man in a jockstrap coming into an interrogation room to slap Pacino and then leaving without a word), but at least Friedken made sure to depict men who were acting like men. Even the tranny prostitute/police informers are tough as nails. The scenes of man on man sex are surprisingly graphic and aggressive, not shying away from the sex and masculinity in homosexuality. Like it or not, there is a dichotomy between who we are at work and at brunch and who we are when we're having sexy times or staring down a guy on the subway platform. I actually love Cruising. It's a time capsule that showed how disenfranchised and misunderstood the gay community was, far ahead of its time.
One can’t help but wonder if AIDS had not come and ravaged the entire community – with mainstream America suddenly mortally afraid their gay friends as carriers of contagion, and having wiped out an entire generation of artists and activists - would we be in a better place now? Of course we would! However, AIDS necessitated our generation to be defined outside of who we have sex with. While still far too close in our mutual past to forget, I hope that we are approaching a new era in which our problems are fair taxation and dealing with the internal politics of making more money than our partners - not being pistol whipped by a cop for no reason or having our dicks cut off by repressed psychopaths with daddy issues.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I may or may not have already seen a big-budget remake of a 1980s horror film very close to my heart coming out next spring and it may or may not have been GODAWFUL, but one thing I can say for certain: Katie Cassidy is super glamorous. Watch the Black Christmas remake and you'll get the idea. She may well be our generation's Linnea Quigley, God bless her heart (under those big fake titties and pounds of makeup and hair extensions). Congratulations, Katie, you get my gay stamp of approval - your grapefruit basket is in the mail!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
After yet another state decided that gays are third-class citizens, I think we can all use a little Christmas. In the great tradition of Screen Gems horror films being written purely through exposition, I present you with the following photo essay in honor of Renny Harlin's Steven Strait epic set amongst New England witches who just so happen to be muscled up gay boys, The Covenant (2006)!
"They're supposedly descendants of the five families that settled the Ipswich colonies in the 1700s."
"I've got to run some errands for my mother."
"What are you looking at, faggot?"
"That thing between your legs. It's like a penis, only smaller."
"Lucky for you, Chase was there to get you out before you sucked up the pool."
"If what you're saying is true and Hagen Pope is the bastard son of John Putnam, then the fifth bloodline in the Covenant didn't end in Salem."
"It's you that I'm gonna hurt, and you're just my bait to get to Caleb."
"Let's just keep this between the sons of Ipswich."
"You can't imagine what it was like growing up not knowing what this was!"
"How about I make you my wee-atch?"
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I grew up with a single mom and a Nana. One day mom decided she wanted Nana to go away so she tried out the old lady downstairs as a babysitter. When the old lady refused to let me watch Once Bitten on HBO, I all but lost my shit! We never saw that old lady again.