Tag Archives: lgbtqia films

Killer Queen

Death Drop Gorgeous

by Rachel Willis

Don’t let the low-budget look of Death Drop Gorgeous deter you from watching this film because if you do, you’ll miss out on a hilarious, campy slasher film.

Recently dumped, Dwayne (Wayne Gonsalves) has returned to Providence and begged back his old job as a bartender at The Aut Haus. Rooming with best friend, Brian (Christopher Dalpe), Dwayne comes back to work just as a serial killer begins hunting the queens and patrons of The Aut Haus. Using the dating app, Poundr, the killer lures his victims to their doom.

Populated by drag queens and serious shade, this movie sends up some of the best of 80’s camp horror. Writers, directors and stars Dalpe, Michael J. Ahern and Brandon Perras manage a lot with a low budget. By doing double and triple duty with their cast and crew, they mine every bit of talent they can from what they have available.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its distractions. The camerawork and lighting are occasionally poor. However, there are also times when it perfectly sets the tone. Some of the actors, most of whom have no previous acting experience, are better than others. Michael McAdam is perfectly cast as gloriously named Gloria Hole, a queen who no longer commands the respect she used to. McAdam plays perfectly against younger, hotter queen Janet Fitness (Matthew Pidge). Their nasty back and forth offers some of the film’s stand-out moments.

A few scenes toward the beginning of the film are a bit longer than necessary. But the pace picks up in the second act as more and more people are dispatched in gruesome ways. You’ll probably never look at a meat grinder the same again.

Social commentary is delivered via catty banter and barroom brawls. The culture surrounding Dwayne and Brian is quick to deride certain qualities. One man goes so far as to say Brian is “too fem” and that he doesn’t date “blacks” in reference to Dwayne. Gloria Hole is shamed simply for aging. This is deeper content than one might expect from a campy slasher flick, but it works.

The writers and the actors camp it up for all its worth, and it makes Death Drop Gorgeous a cut above many films benefiting from a bigger budget.

Straddling Borders

I Carry You with Me

by Hope Madden

If the final act of I Carry You with Me has a documentary feel about it, that makes good sense. Director/co-writer Heidi Ewing—known primarily for docs including Jesus Camp and The Boys of Baraka—takes on her first narrative feature by spinning a love story based in fact.

Ewing’s subjects, Iván Garcia and Gerardo Zabaleta, are NYC restauranteurs who fell in love in Mexico in the 1990s. Though Ewing grounds her fable in their present day, the bulk of the film waxes youthful and romantic back in Mexico.

Young, closeted Iván (Armando Espitia) dreams of putting his culinary skills to use so he can provide for his young son, whose mother rarely allows him to visit. He meets Gerardo (Christian Vazquez) and they fall in love, but dreams of the success that evades him at home propel Iván north.

And though the film’s title aptly captures the longing between separated lovers, it carries with it a great deal more. Ewing conjures the phantom ache that follows Iván the rest of his life without his son, his family and the home he knew.

Yes, the film, co-written with Alan Page, leads inevitably to the couple’s modern-day dilemma. They’ve worked their way up from nothing, lived and achieved the American dream, but are essentially caged. Iván’s son has grown up without him. He will never be allowed to come here, and if Iván returns to Mexico to see him he risks losing Gerardo and his American dream forever.

I Carry You with Me never feels like a blunt instrument. In much the way Ewing did with her documentaries, she weaves true tales with humanity and honesty so they resonate. A documentary’s best chance of affecting change is by helping an audience see themselves in the lives on the screen. Ewing did that with her many docs. She does it again here.

Tin Soldiers


by Samantha Harden

“Moffie” is a derogatory term used in South Africa meaning an “effeminate homosexual man.” Moffie is also the name of the South African-British biographical war film.

The film was written and directed by Oliver Hermanus. With help from his co-writer Jack Sidey, the two created a love story that encapsulates struggles, racism and homophobia. You feel stressed right from the beginning.

The year is 1981, South Africa’s white minority government is entangled in conflicts at its borders with communist-led Angola. All white men between the ages of 17 and 60 must complete two years of mandatory military service.

Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) was drafted into South Africa’s military, but he knows he is different from the other men serving. Another recruit develops an intimate relationship with Van der Swart and they realize that they are both in danger. 

This is just an incredible performance by Brummer. You could feel his emotions, the worry and the sadness and most of all, fear. Throughout the movie you rarely saw even the slightest smile. 

The first scene begins with suspenseful music that feels as though it belongs in a horror movie. Of course for young Nick, it is a horror movie.

But once Nick meets Dylan Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) and begins to fit in (at least a little), the music changes to classical opera. Later the music makes another change, and then another, and another. Braam du Toit’s score continues to change throughout the film to match Nick’s moods, an excellent detail.

Moffie not only has an aesthetically pleasing score but it is an aesthetic pleasure of the highest order, on nearly every level. 

The movie is so bright and beautiful even if the story is heartbreaking. In a flashback we see young Nick at the public pool with his parents. The camera follows him underwater and for a moment, Nick is happy and carefree. 

We see Nick again underwater, but this time he isn’t a carefree young child anymore. Now Nick is a soldier in the South African military and he just lost a friend. The world has been cruel to Nicholas Van der Swart, Moffie captured that cruelty.