Tag Archives: The Lost Boys

Fright Club: Gay Themes in Horror

Senior Gay Correspondent Jon Theiss joins us this week to talk through our five favorite horror films with gay themes. To narrow down, first we threw out all films with girl-on-girl action intended to titillate a heterosexual male audience. We could dedicate an entire show to the female vampire and her ripe bosoms. We’re not going to, though.

What were we looking for? Films that – whether intentionally or not – seemed preoccupied with homosexual themes. In some cases, gay characters get to be actual characters and not just props for vilification or comedy. In others, teenage boys pretend to date Jami Gertz just to be closer to Kiefer Sutherland.

5. The Lost Boys (1987)

Out and proud Hollywood director Joel Schumacher spins a yarn of Santa Carla, a town with a perpetual coastal carnival and the nation’s highest murder rate. A roving band of cycle-riding vampires haunts the carnival and accounts for the carnage, until Diane Weist moves her family to town. While hottie Michael (Jason Patric) is being seduced into the demon brethren, younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) teams up with local goofballs the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to stake all bloodsuckers.

Sure, Schumacher finds sex appeal in the vampire tale – who doesn’t, though?

What’s interesting is that he finds sexuality that swings. This would certainly become somewhat standard fare in later works (the image of an evil, blond vampire seducing an introverted brunette innocent certainly informed the 1994 Tom Cruise v Brad Pitt bite-off Interview with a Vampire). But back in ‘87, The Lost Boys was sort of the Top Gun of vampire films. (Oh, like that movie wasn’t gay!)

Though it’s Michael and David (Kiefer Sutherland) who do the “will he or won’t he?” dance, it’s Corey Haim’s character that puts this over the top. The androgyny, the shoulder pads! Is that a Rob Lowe poster?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_lwtRMg0ts

4. Night Warning (1982)

Here’s a weird one. And convoluted, too. Orphaned Billy (Jimmy McNichol) lives with his horny Aunt (Susan Tyrrell), plays basketball, and necks with his girlfriend Julia (Julia Duffy). Aunt Cheryl kills the TV repairman, claiming he was trying to rape her. When police realize the TV repairman was actually the longtime lover of Billy’s basketball coach, an evenhanded treatment of homophobia arises – surprising, given the time period. Not that it’s the point of the film, but it is the biggest surprise.

No one is really trying to unravel the murder mysteries piling up here. Aunt Cheryl is too busy trying to keep Billy to herself while small town cop Joe Carlson (go-to bigoted cop figure throughout the 70s and 80s, Bo Svenson) just wants to know whether or not Billy’s gay.

This is very definitely a low budget, early Eighties horror flick. Don’t get your hopes up. But it is such a peculiar movie. Everyone – the cop, the girlfriend, the aunt – seems to want to have sex with Billy, except his coach, who loses his job over the fear that he might want to. Longtime character actor Steve Eastin offers a commendably layered performance, given the film itself. His Coach Landers is the only genuinely decent adult in the entire movie, which really says a lot for the film.

Susan Tyrrell is fascinatingly unhinged and so, so creepy that you cannot look away, and if you’re up for one hot mess of a movie, this is an especially absorbing time waster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL8pbcWPk28

3. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

A seriously subversive film with blatant homosexual undertones, Sleepaway Camp is a bizarre take on the summer camp slasher.

It may be the shocking finale that gave the film its cult status, but it’s writer/director Robert Hilzik’s off-center approach to horror that makes it interesting. Dreamy flashbacks, weirdly gruesome murders, and a creepy (yet somehow refreshing) preoccupation with beefcake separate this one from the pack.

It’s not scary, certainly, but it is all manner of wrong. Let’s take the honest to god awesome Aunt Martha – I have looked and looked, and I can find no evidence in real life that Desiree Gould is a drag queen. Aside from the obvious evidence of this particular film.

The kill sequences are hugely imaginative, and the subversive approach to the entire film makes it hard for me to believe more people haven’t seen this gem.

2. May (2002)

How about a tale of a wallflower, the blossom of new love, and the efficient use of veterinary surgical equipment and a good-sized freezer? Few horror films are as touching, funny, heartbreaking or bloody as May.

As the title character, Angela Bettis inhabits this painfully gawky, socially awkward wallflower with utter perfection. Director Lucky McKee’s screenplay is as darkly funny as it is genuinely touching, and we’re given the opportunity to care about the characters: fragile May, laid back love interest Adam (a faultless Jeremy Sisto), hot and horny Polly (a wonderful Anna Faris).

By day Polly flirts with a confused but needy May during their workday as veterinary assistants, and by night May pines for her tragically hip and beloved Adam. May just really wants somebody who will love her.

McKee’s film pulls no punches, mining awkward moments until they’re almost unendurable and spilling plenty of blood when the time is right. He deftly leads us from the sunny “anything could happen” first act through a darker, edgier coming of age middle, and finally to a carnage-laden climax that feels sad, satisfying and somehow inevitable.

1. Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2004)

That’s right – it’s Calvaire again. We come up with topics just so we can talk about this movie.

The backwoods horror subgenre is often driven by a rape hysteria – either those giant, illiterate, inbred freaks are going to rape our women, or they like the look of Ned Beatty’s purty mouth. It is not homophobia, exactly – more of a fear of losing our place atop the food chain. So, why put Calvaire atop this list?

Because writer/director Fabrice du Welz takes a somewhat familiar idea and infuses it with so much fascinating, subversive, unexplained insanity – and he examines sexual identity, love, longing, masculinity, femininity, and dance while he’s at it.

Delicate Marc (an absolutely perfect Laurent Lucas) performs as a semi-amateur, highly bedazzled crooner. We open during a show at a retirement home, where the elderly women swoon and one nurse does more. Marc is compassionate but uninterested.

Later his van breaks down well off the beaten path and we learn that basically everyone is sweet on Marc.

The unanswered questions in this film create the most bizarrely mysterious environment – there’s a backstory here that you just feel sure you don’t really want to know. What we do know is that, somehow, there’s not one human female for miles. How the men of the area have compensated is a deeply peculiar tale to unravel, and it’s the absence of the feminine that makes Marc’s presence so volatile.

Whether Marc is gay or straight is beside the point, but the fact that his own sexuality is unclear helps du Welz sidestep the patriarchal, mainstream dread usually generated by this type of film. Lucas’s delicate, supremely compassionate performance and du Welz’s use of darkest humor give the entire film a “what next?” quality that is absolutely unshakable. It may not be the gayest movie on this list, but it is absolutely the best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgB9JTdrXhg

Listen to the whole conversation at FRIGHT CLUB.

Countdown: Guilty Pleasures of the Eighties

Hope is hosting a Girls Night Out event at Studio Movie Grill Arena Grand this Wednesday with a celebration of that great Eighties guilty pleasure, Footloose. That’s right, the epic about a town that has outlawed dancing! Well not if Kevin Bacon and his wifebeater have anything to say about it! Let’s hear it for the boy!

In case you have a hankerin’ for other of the great cheese decade’s guilty pleasures, we’ve put together a countdown of some of our favorites.

 

5. Monster Squad (1987)

Who remembers this one? A bunch of pre-adolescent monster movie nerds uncover a plot by Dracula and his minions to find an amulet (it’s always an amulet) and take over the world. Very Goonies-esque, with its band of misfits on a parent-free adventure, but less annoying, and with more monsters – always a plus!

4. Better Off Dead (1985)

The greatest offbeat Eighties heartthrob John Cusack stars as a dumped teen Lane Myers, who just wants to kill himself. Instead, he is bullied into a ski-off and stalked by his newspaperboy. It’s a ridiculous little comedy that both lampoons and celebrates its genre while throwing as many utterly bizarre sight gags at the screen as its 97 minute running time can handle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWTouGjZt6A

3. RoboCop (1987)

Paul Verhoeven infuses a weird sense of humor into one of the greatEighties exploitation features, about a dystopian Detroit and the part man/part machine/part repressed memories cop who will rid the city of crime. It’s an outstanding premise, brought to gloriously over-the-top life by Peter Weller as the titanium-and-kevlar crime fighter and Kurtwood Smith, always outstanding in a badass role.

2. Dirty Dancing (1987)

No way this movie should have worked as well as it did. Credit surprisingly insightful humor and a charmingly awkward performance by Jennifer Grey –  not to mention Patrick Swayze’s smooth moves – for a good girl/bad boy romance that overcomes some of its predictable trappings and many of its dialog pitfalls to leave us with a giddy fun mash note to romance.

1. The Lost Boys (1987)

The mullets, the pseudo-goth soundtrack, the Coreys – director Joel Schumacher’s only watchable film represents the very height of all things 80s. He spins a yarn of Santa Carla, a town with a perpetual coastal carnival and the nation’s highest murder rate. A roving band of cycle-riding vampires haunts the carnival and accounts for the carnage. While hottie Michael (Jason Patric) is being seduced into the demon brethren, younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) teams up with local goofballs the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to stake all bloodsuckers. The film is mediocre at best, but anything that screams 1987 quite this loudly is just too garishly compelling to ignore.

Counting Down with Pride (and Jon Theiss!)

 

It’s time to celebrate Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival in Columbus, and the town is absolutely giddy. Gay, even. But how can anyone properly celebrate without our former The Other Paper colleague, the genius behind the column That’s So Gay (pause here to picture the unicorn/rainbow logo), Jon Billy Theiss? Well, that’s a conundrum, and one we weren’t willing to face. So we brought him back to help us celebrate by counting down Hollywood’s five gayest “straight” films.

 5. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Vampires have been fabulous since Nosferatu, but when Tom Cruise bit Brad Pitt’s neck, heterosexual women the world over finally understood the straight man’s girl-on-girl fixation.

Jon says:

Vampires have always represented weird penetration allegories and the bourgeoisie’s penchant for wearing knee-highs and gaudy cocktail rings, so it makes sense that pint-size primadonna Tom Cruise would spend the majority of the movie wearing iridescent vests and a sun-kissed fingerwave.

 

4. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Spock, do you know why Kirk nearly died and nearly killed his entire crew to save you? Because he loves you. Love him back, you cold bastard!

Jon says:

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto could co-star in a Judd Apatow movie called These Heterosexual Men Love Touching Boobies and it would still be gayer than My Own Private Idaho.

 

3. The Lost Boys (1987)

Sure, David (Keiffer Sutherland) spends the whole film trying to seduce Michael (Jason Patric), but you had us at the Rob Lowe poster on Corey Haim’s bedroom wall.

Jon says:

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman: The closest thing Hollywood ever got to twincest.

 

2. 300 (2006)

Do you like gladiator movies? How about men with ridiculous abs wearing little more than capes and jewelry?  You’ll love 300.

Jon says:

This sword-crossing fantasy finally answers the question: Was antiquity really that gay? Yes. Yes it was.

 

1.Top Gun (1986)

The locker rooms? Iceman’s playful bite? Kelly McGillis as the love interest? The title? The only way this could have been gayer is if Harvey Fierstein played the volleyball coach. And even then, only a little.

Jon says:

Top Gun’s slow-motion baby-oil-fueled beach scenes, coupled with a cinematographer who’s glued to Val Kilmer’s body like your weird uncle who doesn’t blink during Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders performances, got me through puberty. These brilliant celluloid moments notwithstanding, Cruise’s other epic metaphor for gay sex, Days of Thunder, inspired my favorite post-coital victory cheer: “Rubbin’s racin’!”

 

Thanks, buddy! We miss you! Happy Pride everyone!