Sunday, June 28, 2015

10 Notable LGBT Scary Movies

End the landmark week with a notable LGBT horror movie. As usual, my scary movie recommendations range a broad spectrum of sub-genres, some freaky, some cheeky, some new, some old, and some downright foreign. Let's also agree that while LGBT depictions in scary movies historically have been less than favorable, some films do manage to steer clear of mean-spirited offensiveness. It's understood that you can't please everyone. Here's a quick list of notable LGBT Scary Movies:

10. Stage Fright
This campy film is probably the first gay horror musical. Set in a summer theater camp, a blood-thirsty killer is picking off anyone involved in the big musical production. It's way over the top, ridiculous, and hilariously entertaining.

9. Hellbent
Marketed as the first gay horror flick, this slasher film gives equal opportunity to ditzy males eager to show their P&A (pecs & ass). It never quite escapes its low budget thriller status, but it's moody, bloody, and set during a never-ending Halloween party that seems like a great time.

8. Dracula’s Daughter
This direct sequel to the 1931 classic finds Dracula's daughter in London grappling with her own curse. The lesbian-tinged scenes are both subtle, due to the Hays Code which prohibited taboo subjects in film, and omnipresent throughout the film. The film is chastised by some for presenting homosexuality in a negative, predatory light. But vampires are still monsters, right?

7. Stranger by the Lake
This French drama-thriller has won over the critics, earned 8 Cesar Award nominations in 2014, and has been called "the sexiest and most elegant thriller in years." Set in a cruisey lakeside, a man named Franck falls for a mysterious man who might be a murder.

6. The Hunger
Growing up I always remembered it as the lesbian vampire movie. It features the beautiful Catherine Deneuve, the fiery Susan Sarandon, and an always cool David Bowie in a I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Ridley-Scott totally 80's movie (actually directed by his brother Tony Scott).

5. Chuecatown
This little known farce from Spain features the DNA of Pedro Almodovar in a darkly humored look at gentrification. An up-and-coming district in Madrid is slowly becoming the "it" neighborhood for wealthy gays but old, die-hard tenants stand in the way of progress and profitability. Presumably, murder of the elderly ensues.

4. Nine Dead Gay Guys
This cartoonish farce from the UK pits two down on their luck Irish lads who become rent boys to make a living, Unfortunately, they're not very good at it, and leave of trail of accidental death in their wake and a carful of bodies to deal with.

3. Deathtrap
Ira Levin's film adaptation of his Broadway murder mystery features Michael Caine as a washed up playwright, Christopher Reeve as the up-and-coming ingenue, and Dyan Cannon as the witless wife between them and a successful union.

2. Rope
Alfred Hitchcock's controversial psychological thriller deals with two implicitly gay friends who chose to commit the "perfect crime" as an intellectual exercise. At the time, the notorious Hays Code prohibited depiction of "immoral subjects" in film so the character's orientation was not directly addressed. It was however based on true events that were widely reported, and subsequently many theaters chose to ban it completely.

1. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
One of the biggest horror camp classics of all time is chockfull of gay subtext, and apparently this went completely unnoticed by the director and studio. In the documentary Never Sleep Again, the screenwriter admitted the homosexual subtext was all intended and the even the now-out actor who played the protagonist also knew what was going on. (Visit the Decider site for a fully illustrated breakdown of the film's gay attributes.) It wasn't a great film but it did take an unusual direction that retrospectively was pretty cool for a major motion picture.





Sunday, June 14, 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3: Review

The Insidious franchise has always felt a little old-fashioned: from the practical effects, to the unhurried pace, to the utmost reliance on atmosphere, lighting and sound effects. Insidious: Chapter 3 is a new story built as a prequel to the first two installments with previous director James Wan stepping down and actor Leigh Whannell (one of the Spectral Sightings goofballs) taking over the reigns. The heart and soul of the franchise remains mostly intact, but the first time director struggles with a plodding and clumsy execution. Gone are the clever shots and shocks milked to maximum effect, and instead beats last a little too long, the reveals are often mistimed, and the uneven script is left rather exposed.

But then the most wonderful thing happens: actress Lin Shaye shows up and saves the film with a harrowing and resonant performance. Shaye plays Elise Rainier who is a psychic force to be reckoned with in the subsequent films, but here we see her brittle and defeated start in this ghost busting business. She is an incredible character actor who brings gravitas to proceedings and elevates everyone around her. The marketing may not reveal it, but this is her story – not the young girl featured on the poster and trailer.

Ultimately, this movie will not win over many new viewers and definitely geared to the hardcore fans of the franchise and only marginally recommended. As sequels go, it does take some risks in the storytelling, reveals more about the character that holds this franchise together, has some unexpected humor, and sets up what could be a very unorthodox fourth chapter.