Friday, August 31, 2018

guilty of love - in the first degree

Hands down, the creepiest thing I do in my old age is click "like" with reckless abandon on the all of hot Australian guy from Alien: Covenant's Instagram pictures.  As much as I love him from afar, he's not terribly famous, so it must be noticeable.

Whatever.  He's best thing that's come out of that film.  I don't talk about Prometheus here, but I love it.  I love it a lot.  It's holy.  Prometheus is a movie about what it means to keep living despite the fact that God is dead and we're all a freak accident.  We're doomed to live past the ones who made us and there's no higher meaning to anything - it's all a trick.  All we can do is have some champagne and enjoy each other.  Also, Prometheus is prohibitively expensive - my favorite genre of film!

Alien Covenant takes away all the good ideas and all the feminism of Prometheus.  It's a movie about boys breaking things - a movie embarrassed by its own inception, trying to create a mystery where there's none - trying to be high-minded and inane at once.  It's Alien by way of the Saw franchise.  Worse, Alien Covenant violates Elizabeth Shaw, the mother, the scientist, the believer.  I suppose that ultimately just goes to prove the thesis of Prometheus, that we exist beyond our creator, but I hate it.

That said, there are 15 amazing minutes in the film because those are the 15 minutes when the hot Australian guy from Alien Covenant is in Alien Covenant and that's when Amy Seimitz gives the most brilliant performance in the film and that's because Billy Crudup's overall look is really good - he almost approximates the cool design stuff from Prometheus.

Turn it off after that - nothing good happens.  It's cheaper than Prometheus.  It's not as artful as Prometheus.  It's fan fiction for basement nerds and it's Ridley Scott operating to appease an audience who doesn't even care.  Overall, it's a futile endeavor - except the hot Australian guy from Alien Covenant who lives here in LA and who's probably going to file a restraining order against me any day now.  In which case, someone please bail me out because I don't get paid til the 15th.

Monday, August 27, 2018

crossing party lines

My biological family is dead, so the closest thing I have to the experience y'all have of being simultaneously mortified by a loved one's behavior, but still desperately craving their love and attention, comes from watching Joe Bob Briggs.

After Elvira went full Hollywood and Rhonda Shear got tired of maintaining her upper register, Joe Bob owned horror movie nights on cable.  First on The Movie Channel in the 80s and then over at TNT where Monster-Vision reigned supreme through the mid-late 90s.  While I worshiped at the altar of Up and Night and wore out my VHS copy of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Joe-Bob had something they didn't - specifically, he was hot as fuck.

I'm not one to lust after straight men, but Joe Bob wasn't just hot, he was smart too - he wrote books!  He knew everything about the films he was showing, the making-of the films and the context in which we received the films.  His graphics packages were all day-glo and he had icons like Linnea Quigley come to visit his DIY trailer park set to chat.  I'm starting to sweat just thinking about it.

When a little birdie told me that Shudder was bringing back Joe Bob to work his magic on some titles in their streaming library, I was skeptical - more than skeptical, I didn't want it.  He's a straight white guy from Texas - proudly.  More complicated than being a straight white guy from Texas, he's a boomer.  With that, comes a lot of messy opinions and a general lack of desire to "read the room."  He doesn't really care about the hideous underpinning of the supreme court case on gay cakes, he casually mocks the controversy around Colin Kaepernick and he still loves to objectify ladies in bikinis.  This isn't a person I would be friends with any more than he'd want to come over my place to talk about Light in the Piazza and how quickly Antoni from Queer Eye sold out his entire online footprint to sponsored content (good angle for a Phantom of the Paradise reboot - you're welcome).

So, this last Friday the 13th, me and my bestie Mark sat down to watch The Last Drive-In on Shudder.  We had beer and pizza and we were prepared for anything.  Apparently we weren't the only ones, the feed crashed before the show even started.  Joe Bob broke the internet.

Three minutes in and he makes a reference to "Indians" and he's dropped a casual rape joke, but you know what?  We're doing this.  It's fine.  We're fine.  Like a couple of Patty Hearsts, we sat there transfixed by Joe Bob's dulcet tones.  If we closed our eyes, it was 1996 and we were safe in the comfort of something tied to our adolescence playing out as though no time passed.   It also didn't hurt that the first movie was Tourist Trap - a gay mid-summer classic!

"They're not perverts" - Joe Bob, re: the Trans community.

Next up is Sleepaway Camp and I want to die.  Joe Bob goes on for about twenty minutes about trans bathroom bills and "gender confusion," but is he woke?  Maybe.  He's mocking the notion that someone would carry a birth certificate with them to go to the bathroom and all the wasted resources that went into bigotry and, you know what, I'll take it.  In addition to being the gayest summer camp movie, I forgot how spectacularly vulgar Sleepaway Camp is - there's something truly magic about underage children swearing like they're in a Scorsese film!  

Then grown-up Felissa Rose shows up on the Joe Bob set wearing the most horrible pair of patent pleather, baby pink, bargain-basement stripper shoes with black tights and a thick black glitter dress (in the middle of summer).  I think it's safe to say Felissa isn't doing a lot to advance trans representation - if she had a queer friend, she'd know that you can't clash lipstick with your shoes, but what do I know.  Maybe this wasn't the place to have that conversation.  Maybe I'm part of the problem. 

Then came Rabid, a Cronenberg movie I'd never seen that Mark referred to as "gnarly" before heading out to a midnight screening of Jason Lives.  I have a strong aversion to vaginal body horror, so I had my first nap while Joe Bob talked in my dreams.

I woke up the next morning like Christmas day - racing to the TV with my Eggo waffles to catch up.  Joe Bob was still at it - maybe it was my coffee, but he was making good points about our over-dependence on cell phones and late-stage capitalism.   I love him.  Is this how the gays felt at Jonestown?

So much of my identity is has been tied to rejecting straight culture, avoiding the water cooler at work, rebuking sports, defying buffet lines and refusing to be a member of a club that not only doesn't want me as a member, but a club that's proven itself completely illegitimate.   The one thing Trump culture has done is expose that "traditional marriage" and "the rule of law" were all a gag.  These were systems put in place to give people power over other people.  We were lied to - straight, gay, all of us.  But here I am, watching b-movies and momentarily forgetting all that self-righteous indignation - allowing myself to enjoy a television program, homophobic warts and all.

So, yeah - we contain multitudes.  Joe Bob talked about AIDS, the FLQ,  he mocked Streisand and the first amendment and there was gay-panic humor and I still had the time of my life watching this entire marathon.  I want this on every Friday until I finally die. 

Long live Shudder - Long live the new flesh!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

ciao, grazia, molto linguine!

I've been watching a lot of The Sopranos lately.  It calms me.   Last night I was inspired enough to make the most delicious eggplant parmesan/baked rigatoni dish.  Why make just one recipe when you can have two!  It got me thinking about Italy.

Even though I look like 1996 Claire Danes if she were a boy with glasses, I'm Italian.  My grandparents were "off the boat" and didn't speak English.  I never really had strong family ties, but do I love Italy.  I love the bustling streets of Rome, the perilous cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, the museums and cobblestones of Florence.  The pizza on every corner.  The secret covens of witches living amid the ruins and running prestigious dance academies...

But you don't have to take my word for it, just ask Susy Bannion.  Susy loved Italians so much that she followed them to Germany.  Everyone knows that when Germans aren't plotting the decimation of the Jewish people, there's nothing they enjoy more than the art of Dance.  Italians are smart - they go where the work is.  If the Germans want dance theatre, then the Italians are going to give it to them, goddammit.

Being an American, Susy doesn't let the fact that she's not a dancer get in the way of her dreams - she packs her duffle bag and heads to Germany to learn the art of Italian dance.  She found a sultry Italian roommate who wore a lot of silk and defiantly refused to condition her hair.  Everything seemed to be going just great until she gets a cold.

Everyone has their favorite Italian horror masterpiece.  For some, it's Fulci's The Beyond, for others it's Tenebre or Cannibal Holocaust or Demons... I could go on for a week (I won't go on for a week).  I'm wanted to be a ballet dancer, but my mom said it was "faggy," so I love Suspiria.  Ballet dancers wearing overalls, exotic locales, hand sculpted wood finishes covered in technicolor lacquer, how could I resist it?

Obviously I'll be seeing the Luca Guadagnino remake at least four times.  Amazon has already started hosting gay tastemaker screenings to stir us into a social media tizzy and, you know what, good for them!  The only way to out-gay Call Me By Your Name, with its Sufjan Stevens ballads and casually discarded $400 vintage bathing suits, is by adapting Suspiria with Tilda Swinton and Melanie Griffith's daughter.  I'm already planning my outfit.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Love, Charlie

I used to think that Fright Night was the gay horror equivalent to Wizard of Oz.  We take for granted how good both films are - friendly and commercial, never too offensive or too scary.  But, the more I think about it, that's an unfair comparison.  You see, Dorothy in Oz actually cared about people - she was a good friend to the scarecrow and the lion and she loved Toto and she tried to make everyone's lives better before (correctly) realizing that that's the best anyone can do - living on a ranch with gay farmers, a dog and farm to table produce.   Charlie is nothing like Dorothy.

Don't get me wrong - Fright Night's still super queer - it's a movie about a boy who becomes obsessed with the couple who moves in next door to renovate their vintage victorian.

Fright Night reads as gay film because "Evil" Ed, Charlie's high school bestie, is a queer kid who's mocked for having dirty blood before being turned into a vampire by the aforementioned house-flipping bisexual vampire next-door and then used as trade to "take care of" Roddy McDowell (also gay).  Think about that for a second: in a time when homosexuality was confined behind closed doors, when multiple aging Hollywood stars were closeted and subsequently murdered by trade - to have a rent boy show up at an aging queen's apartment door to prey upon his loneliness is a real dick move.  It's the first scene in the film where Roddy McDowell and Stephen Geoffreys authentically come alive and it's still transgressive all these years later.

Fright Night had three openly queer actors in lead roles (take notes, Disney!) and, whether intentionally or just by happy accident, it wound up become something more than the sum of its parts as a result.  And in the middle of all this gay iconography (and legitimately amazing practical VFX) was Charlie Brewster.

Charle is not gay.  I know he's straight because he's a bad friend and he's a terrible boyfriend.  If Fright Night was taking place today, he'd have a Bernie 2020 poster in his already messy bedroom.  Charlie's the kinda guy who pressures his girlfriend into having sex with him, then rebuffs her when she reciprocates interest and then calls her a "slut" when she eventually finds comfort in the arms of the attractive bisexual vampire next door.  Charlie's the kind of guy who offers to take you to drinks, then assumes you're paying after ranting about how Daisy Ridley isn't a good enough actress to handle the complexity of the Star Wars franchise.  Charlie sucks.

"Do you know how to use your lips, Charlie?"

4 years pass between the events of Fright Night and Fright Night Part 2 and Charlie is still bad at sex and he's still a jerk.  This time around, he has a new queer best friend to leave for dead and he's got a new girlfriend to gaslight in order to make up for his own sexual inadequacies.

Roddy McDowell is still around too, only this time he's got a much nicer apartment, which makes me feel good because I think it's criminal how we treat our elders.  If you see Melanie Griffith or Kathleen Turner on the street, give them some money, or at least take them to a salad and let them talk at you for a while - we owe them so much.

In keeping with its queer roots, Fright Night Part 2's antagonist is a performance artist named Regine.  Imagine if Lady Gaga actually had friends, that's Regine.  Regine was Chris Sarandon's sister, so she's out for blood since Charlie and Roddy killed him and his life partner and ruined their vintage victorian house which she probably could have had a gay friend restore and flip for her.

A vindictive mess who plays from the Real Housewives playbook, Regine is determined to ruin Roddy's career.  More important than any plotpoint, however, Regine travels with a queen named Belle and let me tell you...!

Miss Belle is Gender-Non-Confirming and black and too chic for words.  She wears roller skates for optimum fabric flow and never leaves the house without full hair and makeup.  I'm obsessed.  Belle elevates Fright Night 2 into the stratosphere.  We aren't worthy.  This movie was on AmazonPrime for a hot minute in January and the MAGA Chuds were losing their minds on twitter!  She makes people upset, even thirty years later!  Long Live Belle!  In case you needed more of an excuse to stan, Belle was played by Russell Clark, who choreographed Teen Witch in 1989.  Get into her.

I'm in a minority of people who like Fright Night Part 2 as much as the original.   This was a movie that was constantly on HBO during my formative years (the coupling of this with Vamp and Once Bitten no doubt defined my terrible taste in thin, pale, unobtainable vampire men who only hold me in medium esteem).

As an adult, I like Fright Night Part 2 because it's much more feminist-forward than its predecessor.  Charlie's new girlfriend, Alex, is hyper-intellectual and she's never used as a sexual pawn and she has complete control of her narrative in ways that Amy in Fright Night wasn't able to.  Alex is smart and she's stunning and wears glasses like a pro.  Charlie's best gay this time around is Merritt Butrick, who played Kirk's son in Wrath of Kahn - he was living with AIDS during the filming and open about his status with the cast and crew.  Between Russell and Merritt, Fright Night Part 2 was way ahead in terms of queer representation and a worthy sequel to the original, but you don't have to take my word for it - someone was good enough to upload the entire (increasingly hard to find) film to youtube in HD.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Back from the Dead

"time time time - see what's become of me" - Susanna Hoffs, also me

Once upon a time in Hollywood, I was an assistant who had a really bad breakup and started a gay horror blog - then the gay horror blog got me a job as a Development Executive at a horror cable network, which was like Videodrome but without problematic James Woods.  I had fun - people gave me things and I got to meet all my heroes (let me tell you: Heather Langenkamp is a CLASS ACT), but then the network shut down and no one would talk to me anymore (DM me and I'll name names - spoiler: they're all at Blumhouse now).

I stopped writing because horror movies stopped being fun and they stopped being gay, plus I lost at least a year to being a slut after I got on PrEP - but now we're stuck in the dredges of summer (don't trust anyone who likes August) and I think we could all use a little something special to get us motivated for better days.  So, here I am - it's just another Sunday night of dreading work tomorrow.  I'm here at home, minding my business, trying to figure out how to lose 15 pounds by September using myfitnesspal and I'm watching FRIGHT NIGHT for Drew Mackie's podcast and guess what...

I'm inspired.  It's been almost ten years since I started this blog.  The world is different, but we are still starved for queer representation.   I'm a little older, a little wiser and, starting here and now, I'm officially back to continue my exploration of the gay horror films that made me who I am and the films that continue to inspire and disappoint.

It's good to see you again.
Joe Seely, I'll call you tomorrow.