Swooning for Rope

The latest episode of our little podcast delves into true crime – but don’t worry we’re not sick of horror movies just yet.

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Hitchcock’s 1948 classic ‘Rope’ might not be one of his most celebrated films, but it is definitely his most queer. Starring John Dall and Farley Granger, the movie is based on a play of the same name, which in turn is based on the grisly true story of Leopold and Loeb. Rich privileged Jewish boys in the 20s, Leopold and Loeb were also a couple. Spoiled, arrogant and becoming increasingly obsessed with Nietszche’s philosopy of the Ubermensch (the superior man, who justifies the existence of the human race), they decided they were too rich clever and beautiful to adhere to the law of the common man. Obsessed with finding the next thrill and the perfect crime, they murdered a young boy just to see if they could get away with it.

They didn’t. And the rest of the story is on our podcast so listen at the link below! We talk through Rope and the 1992 avant garde queer movie ‘Swoon’ which told a more explicitly homoerotic version of the story. Picture a Bruce Weber Pet Shop Boys video with added child murder and you’re half way there.

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We love your feedback so listen below and then leave a comment here and tell us what you think of the episode. I can’t promise we’ll care, but you never know…

(JL)

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Horror Hotties for Halloween

Nothing says Halloween like a trawl through your favourite horror movies. We all know the genre is notorious for that excuse to perv off scantily clad ladies running as fast as their boobs can carry them to avoid being skewered by a psychopath or a demon. How’s that for Freudian? But in the interests of redressing the balance the Screaming Queenz are here to show you it ain’t all about the chicks – sometimes it’s about the dicks too.

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Horror has given a queer audience the excuse to let off steam since its inception – whether you’re rooting for the underdog to overcome the odds, whether you’re identifying with the wicked lady who’s bucking the patriarchy and slaying her way through society’s pecking order with fangs or a blade, or if you just want to indulge your fetish for camp melodrama – horror has got your back. It’s also got its fair share of hot men in not many clothes so sit back, spread out and enjoy our run down of horror hotties!

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JAMES BROLIN – Amityville Horror

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Okay so shirtless Ryan Reynolds set many a popcorn-munching chick’s heart a-flutter when he brandished the axe in the 2005 remake, but if you want a real man look no further than hairy wall of flesh James Brolin. Before he goes mad and tries to massacre his family – well, it can be excused, apart from the fabulous Margot Kidder they’re a tad annoying AND moving house is very stressful – James has a tendency to walk around in a pullover and tighty whities. Coupled with his big hair and beard he’s giving us 70s gay porn daddy realness and I, for one, am happy to take it!

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JOHNNY DEPP – A Nightmare On Elm Street

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Before he shot to fame as Edward Scissorhands, donned an angora sweater as crossdressing trash genius Ed Wood, then descended into parody as Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp was setting our loins alight as twink next door Glenn in the original Freddy Krueger outing. Whether he was stifling his hormones listening to his best friends have sex, or lounging about in sweat pants and a crop top whilst perving over Miss Nude America, Glenn was all wide-eyed innocence and pulsating teen horniness wrapped up in one tight bow. He was eventually eaten by his bed. I’m with the bed on this one.

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Honorable mention goes to Nick Corri as Rod Lane in the same film. My early years of lusting over men are dominated by the creak of his leather jacket and the sweat on his chest as he flees from daddy John Saxon. More of him later…

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ANTHONY PERKINS – Psycho

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OK so he has a slightly unhealthy relationship with his mother, and watching women take a shower unleashes something a tad dangerous in him, but he does make an excellent cheese sandwich. Imbuing the demented Norman Bates with vulnerability and making him sympathetic was no mean feat, but surprisingly Anthony Perkins made him absolutely gorgeous at the same time. So he gets a little stabby now and then, we all go a little mad sometimes!

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ROBERT RUSLER – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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OK so Nightmare 2 is well-known as being one of the gayest horror movies ever made. But you can keep your leather-daddy coach and your camp screaming queen hero – gay boys needed look no further than Robert Rusler as Grady. The classic high school jock, he was not fond of shirts and opted for little shorts and a glistening six pack for the movie’s most crucial moments. There’s even a flash of jockstrap just to tip you over the edge. Look out for Rusler in not very many clothes in the classic Grace Jones flick VAMP too – which earns queer stripes for its Keith Haring body paint and… GRACE FUCKING JONES.

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JOHN GAVIN – Psycho

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OK we’ve been at the Bates Motel once before. But with clientele like this wouldn’t you come back? Divorced hardware store owner Sam Loomis oozes masculinity, especially when renting hotel rooms by the hour to get down and dirty with Marion Crane. When she promises to ‘lick the stamps’ on his alimony payments you know exactly what she means – and Loomis stood there shirtless is flesh for fantasy that leaves even Janet Leigh in a shadow. When Loomis goes head to head with Norman Bates towards the end of the film it’s a porno-preamble that’s too good to be true…

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TREY SONGZ – Texas Chainsaw 3D

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Make no mistake about it I was not a fan of this movie, it had every cliché in the book badly rammed down our throats, but whenever Trey Songz was onscreen as Ryan the throat-ramming didn’t seem so bad. Say no more.

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JAY HERNANDEZ – Hostel

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Eli Roth is hot as fuck. But I maintain he should stay in front of the camera and never get behind it again. Whilst not a fan of his movies – and especially not a fan of Hostel – I do think it’s an interesting view for a queer audience. Boys in peril being one of my favourite subgenres, to see this group of boys who use homophobic language like it’s going out of fashion, subjected to hideous methods of torture is… interesting shall we say. Paxton, the cute-as-a-button asshole who manages to get to the end relatively unscathed, is played by the gorgeous Jay Hernandez. And even though he loses his head in the superior Part 2, he will forever have a place in my dungeon.

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DYLAN McDERMOTT – American Horror Story: Murder House

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Ryan Murphy’s inconsistent style-over-substance horror series has become a mainstay in pop culture horror TV entertainment. For better or worse, its thinly-stretched plotlines can be forgiven for two things. Fabulously camp leading ladies, and an endless stream of gorgeous manflesh on show. Like it or not, AHS is queering up horror all over TV and for that I’m grateful. Dylan McDermott’s turn as sexually frustrated daddy Ben Harmon kept us hooked from the moment we saw him jerking off whilst flexing those mounds of manbun in episode 1.

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And while we’re at it, a honourable mention goes to the stunning Evan Peters who has treated us to his cute tush and tighty whities for most seasons of the show so far…

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And…

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Oh and…

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TRAVIS SCHIFFNER – Jeepers Creepers 2

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“Izzy or Izznt he from Jeepers Creepers 2 was a crush before I realised I iz” is the direct quote from our resident filth-bucket Stephen. We’ll skip lightly over the fact that having throbbed through the homoerotic boys-on-a-schoolbus horror Jeepers Creepers 2 we realised the director was a convicted sex offender. There’s no denying the trashy Jeepers Creepers 2 had its place in many a queer heart purely for the male flesh on show. And it was there in abundance. Izzy Bohen was mocked by the rest of the football team who thought he might be a bit gay. We’ve all been there. Not locked on a bus with a sweaty football team who like to have pissing contests, more’s the pity.

TONY TODD – Candyman

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OK so I admit my choice here is a little off-the-wall. The baby-stealing, dog-beheading villain the Candyman isn’t the type of guy you’d take home to mother. But he does carry a certain romantic edge in his eyes – full of soul, tears and a longing for love and death. He also likes to eat bees. I know. I’m fighting a losing battle here but fuck y’all. I love me some Tony Todd. The minute he said ‘Be my victim’ I was hooked.

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JOHN SAXON – Cannibal Apocalypse

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Put genre staple John Saxon in a police uniform and I’m putty in your hands. Put him in a soldier’s rig-out and then strip him for some hairy topless action and I’m even happier. In Cannibal Apocalypse he’s a Vietnam vet grappling with cannibalism but the quintessential daddy of horror has spread his hairy charms all over exploitation and action movies, NOT to mention gialli, oh and he was a hot oil tycoon in Dynasty… OK I could ramble here for a long time about how much I love this man. And what a man. Never too proud to star in a terrible movie (Tunnels, anyone) he also happens to have appeared in two of the genre’s most influential films, on the right side of the law in Black Christmas AND Nightmare on Elm Street. Handsome, butch and a damn fine actor to boot.

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All of the Camp Counsellors – SLEEPAWAY CAMP

Er… where do we start? Crop-tops, thrush-inducing short shorts, skinny-dips and Angela’s hot gay dad! Sleepaway Camp gave us queer subversive horror with non-PC jaw-droppers from beginning to end. Essential viewing for more than one reason…

I could go on all day but quite frankly I’ve run out of Kleenex. Who’s your horror hottie of choice? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me at @jonnylarkin. Happy hunky Halloween!

JL

Beautiful Stranger

The Countess comes to Liverpool…

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We’ve been talking to Liverpool Pride about bringing queer horror to a scouse audience and they could not have been more excited. As a result, one of our favourite movies EVER is coming to Picturehouse at FACT for Halloween. Well, the day after to be precise. On Wednesday 1st November 2017 ‘Daughters of Darkness’ will be screened to an unsuspecting audience. This under-appreciated gem needs a new audience… and we’re hoping people crawl out of their crypts to enjoy it. But why?

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“I’m just an outmoded character, nothing more. You know, the beautiful stranger, slightly sad, slightly mysterious, who haunts one place after another. Two weeks ago in Nice and Monte Carlo, two days ago in Bruges….”

The gays love a tragic heroine. Throw in the glamour of this beautiful shadow of a woman languishing in the heat of the South of France, sipping cocktails and longing to be eternally youthful and you’ve got camp dynamite. Only we don’t pick up The Countess in Nice or Monaco, but in a rainy, out of season, desolate hotel in Ostend. However we do get languishing, we do get cocktails (of the troubling green variety), and we do get a tragic figure… if not a heroine, then a timely echo of the youth-obsessed culture we’re more immersed in than ever…

Countess Elizabeth Báthory doesn’t fill her face with Botox to maintain a youthful glow – but the blood of virgins. By any means necessary. She swans across Europe, her cape billowing in the wind, shimmering in an impossibly glam outfit that she got from Marlene Dietrich, with her companion du jour at her side. Right now it’s Ilona, the glum-faced young beauty styled after Louise Brooks. The Countess isn’t particularly interested with finding a hunky young man to carry her hat boxes and tuck her in at night (or should that be at dawn?), but with nubile young women just desperate to be plucked from a life of patriarchal servitude and treated to a life of luxury, trailing on her aristrocatic fur coat-tails from one penthouse to the next. Only Ilona doesn’t look too happy about it. At one point she even moans “You call this living?” The Countess, obsessed with the surface beauty of eternal youth and bourgeouis excess, fails to acknowledge that she’s not saving enslaved women and liberating them – she’s just taking them out of the frying pan and plonking them mid-sizzle into her cool blue fire. She doesn’t particularly care whether they like it or not, they just have to match her purple ostrich feather ensembles and look good on her arm at the ambassador’s party.

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If Ilona hates the ‘life’ she’s been blood-sucked into then her luck might just be in. Because when we check in with the vamps we meet newlyweds Stefan and Valerie, fresh off an overnight train having had a whirlwind marriage, en route back to England where Valerie is to meet Stefan’s formidable mother. But all is not what it seems. Stefan is a sadistic misogynist who believes women should do his bidding, and Valerie is far from happy. Stefan is also keeping a pretty big secret about his Mother – one I won’t spoil here but let’s just say the film’s queer credentials don’t end at Sapphic vampirism…

So begins a ridiculously camp and stylish tale of the seduction of Valerie by Countess Elizabeth. Made in 1970 (released in 71), the film is loaded down with problematic attitudes to both women and homosexuality. But never let that get in the way of a good horror film. Especially one as beautiful as this. Delphine Seyrig – the best damn Marlene Dietrich you’re gonna get post-Marlene Dietrich – imbues her immortal lesbian vampire with both a coquettish brass nerve and a sad, longing vulnerability. In a film with more than its share of humdinger lines and hammy performances she’s shockingly plausible as a seductress, and engaging to the very end. Whether she’s spreading her sparkly cape to warm the chilled shoulders of her shivering charge and resembling a Weimar-era giant bat in the process, or recounting graphic tales of torture whilst sipping her crème de menthe in the hotel bar, you just cannot get enough of her. She carries the film, with the other players curled at her feet. Eagle-eyed viewers of a certain age may notice that posh-boy-wifebeater Stefan is played by John Karlen, who smartened up his act ten years later, got a job on a building site and married Mary Beth in the role of Harv in Cagney and Lacey. Or you might just be too distracted by his ever-so-short tomato robe and slippers. Not to mention the fact that he treats poor Valerie like absolute dirt.

But rest assured he gets his comeuppance. This being a 70s Eurotrash lesbian vampire movie, it’s not long before Valerie falls under the spell of the Countess. Ilona, for all her whingeing, isn’t going to be happy about that – and neither is Stefan. The blood flows in some of the most awkward and inexplicable death scenes you’ll ever witness. For softcore horror fans – don’t be put off by this. The blood is minimal. However there’s plenty of nudity, with an impromptu naked moon dance from Ilona that has to be seen to be believed.

You’ll come out scratching your head – what was the film saying? Was it demonizing misogyny, the aristocracy, or was it aligning homosexuality with deviance and decadence? Or was it subverting the genre with the marabou slipper suddenly on the other foot as the Countess toys with Stefan’s masculinity and casts him aside to swoop in on his new bride? Maybe you’ll still be under the spell of the Countess and you won’t care. Whatever happens, sit back and let this languid, beautiful movie wash over you.

Fans of Screaming Queenz will remember our podcast on the movie. But if you haven’t heard it then click away below. There are spoilers so beware…

Get your tickets for this screening here. We’ll be there, possibly in our purple ostrich feathers. Come and get your teeth into it and we’ll have a good old laugh in the bar after!

http://www.fact.co.uk/whats-on/current/halloween-at-fact-with-liverpool-pride-flis-mitchell.aspx

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Bottoms up…

JL

Previously, on Screaming Queenz…

We’ll be back after our little Summer break next week. Meanwhile have you caught up on all our podcast episodes so far? Here’s a selection for your delectation. A mix of vampires, witches, Italian slashers and good old-fashioned monster movies. All of them come with an unhealthy dose of camp humour, poor taste and disgusting language!

From Peter Cushing to porno, the references for Fright Night come thick and fast…

So who the fuck died and made the Babadook a gay icon? With a little help from The Village People we decipher just why this demonic children’s fable cashed in on the pink pound…

Who knew the eternally young Lost Boys would ever hit 30? Well they just did, so reminisce with big hair, 80s power rock, and the dark underbelly of Hollywood paedophiles…

Which witch are you? A badass 90s high-schooler or a psychadelic 70s lesbian with a penchant for S&M? Check out our two-parter on witches in horror, both parts here:

Do you like giallo? We love giallo. What the fuck is giallo? Find out here:

There’s like 37 more episodes for you to get your teeth into over on SoundCloud but you can also hear them via Podbean and Itunes, links below. So listen, laugh, loathe if you must. Get in touch and let us know your thoughts, get me on twitter @jonnylarkin or email us at Screamingqueenz@gmail.com!

JL

http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screaming-queenz/id1070845275?mt=2

Pathos/Obsession – A Taste for Fear (1988)

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A late 80s hidden gem, Pathos, or its American title Obsession – A Taste For Fear comes off like a soft porn take on The Eyes of Laura Mars, doped up on Quaaludes and Campari…

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A late entry in the cannon of Italian sleaze with more than a stab at giallo, Piccio Raffainini’s only credited filmic outing stars Virginia Hey, who will be familiar to fans of Mad Max 2, Farscape and, believe it or not, Prisoner Cell Block H. She plays Diane, an upmarket fashion photographer working in Rome. Bisexual, oozing an icy coolness to match her sharp cheekbones and wicked tongue, she’s shacked up with her lesbian lover Valerie (Gioia Scola) who shows more than a hint of jealousy when Diane’s eye wanders…

Her shoot is suddenly plagued by grisly fetishistic murders, gialloesque insofar as the killer brandishes a blade in black gloves and takes great delight in the torture of scantily clad ladies.  Diane finds herself plunged into a murder mystery that takes her deep underground into the nightlife of Rome, whilst dealing with a jealous lesbian lover and a burgeoning romance with the investigating officer…

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Bizarrely the film is also set in the future, with hints of this coming from Hey’s choice of car – some bizarre hovering hybrid that zooms through the streets of Rome at night – not to mention guns that shoot some sort of laser zapper… Without those clues you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the coked-up brainchild of an 80s New York clubkid in the making. Shoulder-pads, afros and makeup that would make a drag queen gag abound in this uber-stylish little curiosity.

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Queer viewers can revel in the neon-lit fashions, the icy cool bitchiness of most its female cast, the labyrinthine gay club ‘Agony and Ecstasy’ and the surprise appearance of the fabulous Grace Jones track ‘Private Life’. Man candy comes in the form of Dario Parisini, giving us 80s George Michael facial stubble with more than a whiff of ‘assume the position’ porno cop realness.

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High on lesbianism that puts the tit in titillation, low on any semblance of plot with more time spent on the fashions, the interiors and the naked ladies, this VHS treasure can be found in its entirety on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3K3OJW2ecM

Revel in the blurry pan and scan quality and pretend you’re watching a dodgy third generation copy late at night after one too many Babychams. Surprisingly this piece of Eurotrash looks so good in bad quality I’d actually pay for a HD upgrade should that ever come about. Stranger things have happened. 88 Films I’m looking at you!

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Cheers to the fabulous Rachael Nisbet for alerting me to this neon wonder. Her amazing indepth review can be found here:

http://hypnoticcrescendos.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/obsession-taste-for-fear-1988.html

JL

Five Desperate Women!

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OK so there is no exclamation point in the original title of this TV movie from 1971, but surely it deserves one? Growing up a queer teenager with a love for glossy American soaps like Dynasty and Melrose Place, there were two words that would set my little gay heart alight at the mere hint of them. Aaron Spelling. So confronted with the possibility of a proto-slasher TV movie produced by the very man himself – and starring Stefanie Powers to boot – you could colour me very excited.

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Having struck up a Twitter friendship with the fabulous Amanda Reyes and invested in her amazing book, ‘Are You In The House Alone: A TV Movie Compendium’, my trawl through American TV movies with a campy horror edge had to begin with this gem. The premise is simple – five female friends head out to a remote island for their college reunion. Only an escaped lunatic is on the loose and looks set to pick them off one by one. So far, so slasher. But remember this is 1971, and apart from Bay of Blood (Mario Bava), slasher movies as we know them were still in their infancy. This, coupled with the fact that a TV movie couldn’t get away with showing explicit gore, nudity or a particularly high body count, meant that ‘Five Desperate Women’ would be low on the kills and the blood.

But what it’s high on is the camp! The cast of five women consists of Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart), Joan Hackett, Jill Sommars, Denise Nicholas and the fabulously named Anjanette Comer. In that lineup you get a Southern belle drunkard, an effortlessly stylish lady of colour, a sardonic cynic, and a mentally unstable pathological liar. You can’t go wrong. Particularly when these ladies dress to impress in the best that early 70s beach-wear has to offer. Think Biba-60s it-girl by way of middle class housewife chic and you’re halfway there. In fact here’s some devastating imagery to better explain!

Our ladies are taken to the island by captain Meeker (Bradford Dillman), a shifty drifter type who’s immediately set up as the would-be killer. But once they get to the island and meet the more heroic and affable handyman Wylie – played by Robert Conrad – it becomes obvious to us hardened horror hounds that the more placid, respectable male eye candy is the one to watch. Eagle-eyed queer viewers like myself will also have one extra advantage on their side when sniffing out the bad guy. In the prologue we see the escaped convict bump off an unsuspecting man on a beach, but to keep the villain’s identity a secret we only ever see him from the waist down. To put it mildly, Captain Meeker’s posterior doesn’t match up to the killer’s, so we know the minute we see Wylie’s peachy behind that he must be the psycho!

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Like any good TV movie, Five Desperate Women is efficient in its pacing. It only has one hour ten minutes (if you take out the ad breaks) to get the job done so there is no messing around. But there’s still time for some great character development as we see dippy Dorian (Hackett) become overly attached to a stray dog and go off at the deep end in glorious camp fashion when it meets a grisly end. Spoiler – she’s also the killer’s first female victim, meeting her maker in a surprisingly scary strangling scene.

Meanwhile the other ladies turn to booze and histrionics to cope with the realisation they’re stuck on an island with a crazy person. The only way off is their boat, which of course explodes before they can reach it. So faced with spending the night here they actually do all the right things – namely they lock both men out of the house and hunker down to wait for daylight and tomorrow’s supply boat. This gives us time for some juicy dialogue between surprisingly well drawn and brilliantly acted (except for a dodgy Southern accent) characters.

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So whilst we don’t get a Michael Myers style stalk and slash massacre we do get all of the camp fun vintage TV boxes ticked. One inexplicable moment, which can only have come from a misguided attempt to eek out the tension, shows Mary Grace (Sommars) being strangled by Wylie whilst the three remaining women simply stand there and throw rocks! After almost a minute of head-scratching they do finally leap to their friend’s rescue and club the villain to death. But what the hell took them so long? Were they so whacked out on Dorian’s valium and vodka that they couldn’t bring themselves to bare their claws?

A minor quibble. Five Desperate Women is a fabulous way to pass an hour or so and well worth the watch for fans of big hair, big female voices and a nice build of tension and drama. See it here in all its VHS glory:

Thank you Amanda Reyes for bringing this gem to my attention. Grab her book here:

JL

 

Let me get a BABALEWK: The Rise, Justification for and Inevitable Fall of our Latest LGBT ICON

Just in case your wifi has been down for the last few weeks (I know that’s scary even to type) The Babadook is now the biggest LGBT icon since Dorothy dropped a house on a witch just to steal her shoes. Don’t believe me? Well check out tumblr – we aren’t even friends of Dorothy anymore! #girlbye

The Screaming Queenz blinked and missed the origins of this one and we were all left wondering what the baba-fuck? How did we miss the queerness of a film we have all praised? Silly me thought it was discussion on mental health, postnatal depression, grief and suppression of feelings all cleverly hidden behind a classic boogeyman story. Alas I was wrong, it was just a story about a monster coming out as gay, well it is 2017 now so I suppose #LoveWins.


It took a few days of bewilderment before I found out why the Babadook was now gay but it’s filled me with great joy that it was all down to simple mistagging of genre on Netflix that we homosexuals were not going to let die for at least the rest of Pride season.


It’s genuinely amazes me how quick people grabbed this idea and ran with it. They took one of the scariest films of recent years and made it into to a camp classic in a few days with nothing but a few feather boas, gay flags, an abundance of RuPaul’s Drag Race Memes… oh and a douche…

But now the glitter has settled I’m left with a few questions:

Q1. Does the Babadook actually have any right to be a gay icon?

So to be a gay icon you should have talent, a signature look, a general camp fun attitude and fight for the rights of LGBT people.

When it comes to talent I’d say he would need to be in a lot more than one film. Madonna for example has done 23, though thinking about it they have all been rather critically lame when compared to Babadook’s 98% on rotten tomatoes critical acclaim, so 1 point to Babadook.

Then I’ve seen multiple memes that have shown the Babadook can both twerk and vogue the house down boots YASSSS BABA!!!!

So talent he has in Ba-Babundance but what about a look?

Well I don’t mean to be shady because the Babadooks early 2000s smoky eye is shady enough, but Detox did the whole Black and white make up look first at the season 5 Drag Race reunion. You can’t argue that his look is instantly iconic though… he even got his face on the cover of Gay Times!

Ok then what about his camp queer attitude. I’m drawing the line here. There is no way his behaviour can be considered CAMP. He made a Mum kill her dog and didn’t even fix her dodgy hair for her. Oh wait… a quick flick through tumblr and twitter has proved me wrong.


Ok can’t argue with facts.

But wait…

“He doesn’t do anything actually positive for gay community?” I exclaim.

“Neither does Caitlin Jenner or any of the Kardashians” I hear you reply.

“Exactly, that’s why they’re not gay icons” I rebuke.

So that’s it – he fell at the last hurdle. Nice try Baba. Oh wait…


I’ll allow it then, he’s a Gay Icon and certainly a better gay role model than Sam Smith.

Q2. Is it possible to actually take a queer reading from the Babadook film?

In case you don’t know, a queer reading is when you look at a film, book, TV series or any form of art really and draw from it an LGBT subtext. It doesn’t have to be overly fact based – it’s more about a queer interpretation of the subject than “this is 100% what this artist meant to say”. Sometimes the queer subtext is on purpose but often it’s by accident or completely fan made. So can you Queer Read the Babadook?

As I stated before the film deals a lot with motherhood and mental health issues which I praised the film for when it came out. That doesn’t mean there isn’t also a gay reading there too.

I theorise that the son in the Babadook might be a homosexual character. The mother tries to deny that her son is different to her sister and the school. She repeatedly asks him why he can’t just be normal. This coupled with the lacking of a male role model and his only friend being his mother suggests a potential queerness.

Perhaps then the Babadook is the manifestation of the child trying to suppress his homosexuality for his mother. He’s so scared of being his true self he literally creates a “closet monster” that, if it gets out, will hurt his family.

The mother is traumatised by the events but with love of her son being stronger than anything she learns to slowly accept him. The Babadook is released from the closet but at least for now is kept deep down in the basement unbeknownst to anyone but the mother and son. Though they now willingly visit the subject together when the time is right.

Am I reaching…. of course I fucking am but I’m 5ft 2 I reach for everything! It’s still probably better argued than most queer readings.

Q3. Is the Babadook the first LGBT horror Icon?

Short answer NO!!!

This has been my only problem with the Babadook phenomenon. He is not the first and he’s won’t be the last Gay Horror Icon so why is everyone acting like he is?

The 2nd nightmare on elm street showed us Freddy obviously swings both ways as he seduces the male protagonist Jesse and tries to “get inside of his body”.

Jeepers Creepers’ villain is also not very shy about his need to hunt down a bus of semi naked jocks (and neither am I).

Then we have Elvira who’s camp as tits – literally.  We have transgender characters in Seed of Chucky and Sleepaway Camp, which also incidentally has gay daddies and jocks in crop tops.

There is queerness in Bride of Frankenstein, Daughters of Darkness, every Giallo film ever and the screaming Queenz personally recommend Cursed (2004) 😂

There is also that one girl Gremlin who even had a Rupaul review before the Babadook…

Q4. is the babadook here to SLAY?

So my final question is about how long this will all last. I can say after writing this I’m over it. Officially. The internet and gays are fickle – I give this til the end of pride season to be overused and discarded with a brief revival due in every gay club on the 31st October.

However the film itself is here to stay. It came out in 2014 to much praise from critics and the public. This new exposure will do nothing but further promote the film and it will deservedly grow as a fantastic example of a horror film with a deeper meaning than most.

So I say embrace the lunacy and watch a great scary film. Be prepared to be BABASHOOK!!!!

Hear our podcast on the Babadook here:

“WE ALL GO A LITTLE MAD SOMETIMES”

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So much about Pscyho fascinates me. A balls-out, in-your-face shocker from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, it hit the big screen in 1960 to very mixed reviews. It was seen as a cheap schlockfest, it was seen as scandalous in how it stuck two fingers up to the moral decency code that had made movies keep their clothes on for years, but most of all it thrilled the general public. So no matter how sniffy the critics might have been, it got bums on seats and became the blueprint for every slasher movie that followed over a decade later.

From its opening bars, literally coming at you thanks to the strings of Bernard Herrmann, you know you’re not in for a subtle time. Then the first scene, sliding through an open window on a hot Arizona day to find a couple of lovers half naked and post-coital, sets the tone for a film that is about sex and loneliness. Heroine Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) wants to be respectable and settle down to the life society thinks she should lead, but shock horror she’s in love with the recently separated Sam Loomis (John Gavin) who isn’t divorced yet. So like a pair of adulterers they’re forced to meet in hotel rooms that you rent by the hour for a little afternoon delight. Personally meeting John Gavin for a sex session every week in a stuffy hotel room would suit me down to the ground, but things were very different for an office working female in the 60s.

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She’s boiling over, desperate for escape, trapped in a rut by her financial situation and Sam’s. So when opportunity presents itself in the form of $40,000 waved under her nose by a rich Texan, she makes a snap decision that will change her life forever, and dare I say – SPOILER – end it.

Marion jumps from one trap into another, and when she stops at the Bates Motel she meets the shy, awkward but rather gorgeous Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). He’s trapped by his own circumstances – a domineering mother, a life unfulfilled, and his crippling shyness belies a desperate loneliness. In a fantastically written and played scene Norman and Marion compare battle scars of those who are trapped and alone, and Norman convinces Marion to turn on her heels and dig herself out of her hole. But before she can do that, she needs to take a shower. And Norman’s mother isn’t happy to find her son perving over this naked lady as she switches on the hot water and begins to cleanse herself of past mistakes.

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Anyone who doesn’t know the twist that comes when Marion hops into the shower has either been living under a rock their whole life or is very lucky. In recording this podcast, Martin was surprised to find his partner Matt was indeed one of the lucky ones. What an absolute thrill to be taken by surprise when the inevitable fate befalls our heroine. That’s the thing with Psycho, there is a sense of inevitability and doom that scores its entire first half. You’re asked to sit and watch as Marion makes mistake after mistake, when all you want to do is reach into the TV and shake her, tell her to keep driving or to go back. But she doesn’t, and that’s what is so shocking. Not only does it make you feel voyeuristic and helpless, it leaves you conflicted. Because when Norman’s got a mess on his hands, you kinda want him to get away with it. A film of two halves that set the bar for shock twists as, we tend to forget, not only does it have the shock shower scene… but there is another twist 10 minutes before the ending, when Mrs Bates shows her bony face.

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Hitchcock had a wicked old sense of humour. He took glee and relish in horrifying us whether it was a bird attack on the fabulous Tippi Hedren or a dead body in a trunk whilst the corpse’s loved ones sipped wine and wondered where he’d got to. In Psycho his wicked humour plays out like a carnival ghost train. He tips a wink to the audience whilst traumatising us, which is perfectly summed up in the comedic and macabre trailer for Psycho. Here Hitch takes us around the scene of a crime, beckoning us into darkened rooms, daring us to feast our eyes on the horrors within.

Many rumours exist over the making of Psycho. That Hitch shocked Janet Leigh with cold water in the shower scene, that Anthony Perkins drew from real life (and very disturbing) experience for Norman’s mother/son relationship, and that it was the first movie to ever feature a flushing toilet! Not to mention Marion’s license plate – was it on purpose? To find out give our new podcast a listen. It’s a feature length episode with clips and music aplenty, and one where we discuss everything from Pat Hitchcock’s tranquilisers to the sad death of Anthony Perkins from Aids.

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At the heart of it we talk about our love for the movie and just what makes Psycho a bona fide slasher movie to beat them all. Apologies in advance for my constant references to Gavin and Perkins indulging in sodomy. What can I say? They were made for each other!

Get the podcast via iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screaming-queenz-ep-36-psycho/id1070845275?i=1000384397368&mt=2

Enjoy. You might need a shower afterwards…

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(JL)

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

(aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters and a lot of other titles)

(Spoilers ahead)

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I’ll be honest, I had two reasons to track down Cannibal Apocalypse. First up, with a title like that I was sure it would be quality exploitation trash – especially as it was one of the infamous Video Nasties. Secondly, I’ve got a major daddy crush on John Saxon. Ever since Nightmare on Elm Street he turned my head, then his brown-face ‘it’s OK it was the 80s’ portrayal of Rashid Ahmed in Dynasty sealed the deal. He’s a heaving hunk of man flesh.

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Cannibal Apocalypse delivered on both counts. Opening in the middle of the Vietnam War, where Captain Norman Hopper (Saxon) storms a POW camp to rescue a couple of soldiers, we’re not even five minutes into the battle when a Vietnamese lady is cannibalised by the POWs… tits first! And it’s not the only time a female character loses her boobs to the chomping of a hungry cannibal. In the middle of the carnage Norman manages to get himself bitten too, but survives the attack. He wakes sweating from a dream a year later, still traumatised by his time in Nam.

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Former POW cannibal Bukowski (John Morghen aka Giovanni Lombardo Radice of Cannibal Ferox fame) gets out of hospital and invites Norman out for a drink and a catch up. Bad timing, as Norman’s about to be seduced by jailbait neighbour Mary. A scene that can only be described as sleazetastic ensues, as Mary throws herself at Norman and… he bites her?

Yep, Norman got bit in ‘Nam, by Bukowski, and before long we find out that the bites are contagious. And if you survive a bite, you get carnivorous too! So having been stood up by Norman, Bukowski takes himself off to the local flea pit cinema where he watches a couple getting into some serious heavy petting in the next row. He decides to join in – only he takes it that step further by chowing down on the girl’s neck. All hell breaks loose from here on in…

The cannibal part of the title is more than justified, although when I saw the word ‘apocalypse’ I was thinking more Dawn of the Dead, end of the world type action. Instead we find Norman teaming up with the other cannibals and going on the run. In a strange twist we’re expected to sympathise with the cannibals and not the cops on their trail.

You can read as much or as little into this movie as you like. On the surface it’s a straight up hard-boiled video shop classic, with dodgy dubbing on almost everyone in the cast except Saxon, and some howlers in the script. Whilst Bukowski is holed up taking pot-shots at the cops, the police captain, hard-boiled in the old fashioned sense of the word, demands to know “Is he a subversive, a queer, a black, a commy, a muslim, what the hell is he?”

Cringes and laughs aside, part of me came away wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a metaphor for PTSD. We’re privy to the suffering of Norman and his bity comrades, but the psychological trauma they suffer is met with confusion, apathy and suspicion. They infect all they come into contact with, spreading madness and terror, the horrors they’ve encountered tainting those around them. They’re a lost cause, with no resources or understanding to address the suffering they’ve had all in the name of protecting and serving their country. Sounds familiar… Eerily in the final act, Norman dons his old army uniform and opts to put himself out of his misery so as not to drag out his suffering and that of his wife, Jane (Elizabeth Turner). In an added tragic twist Jane decides to die with her husband, and both hero and heroine go out in a suicide pact. But not to leave us totally depressed, a cheeky last bite comes when we realise jailbait Mary next door and her brother have succumbed to the spreading disease and have got their old aunt chopped up for later in the freezer.

So as an exploitation movie this stands up amongst the best. Director Antonio Margheriti also had a hand in Andy Warhol’s queertastic Frankenstein and Dracula outings. And for a macho blood and guts flick we get plenty of lingering shots on John Saxon in his boxer shorts and later in just a towel. We might actually see more of his tits than any of the ladies. As always he puts in a strong performance clothed or otherwise.

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So take from it what you will. A comment on the trauma of war and the devastating after effects on its cannon fodder, or a good old-fashioned beer-and-pizza cannibal flick? I’m happy to see it as both. But then I’m greedy. Now where did I put those entrails?

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As always, get me on twitter to vent if you disagree, or just kiss my ass if you love what I do! Either works for me! @jonnylarkin

JL

VIOLATION OF THE BITCH (1978)

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Euro trash exploitation turns out to be a languid dreamscape oozing queer sensibilities!

Spoilers ahead…

Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know. That title! But in my defense… well there is no defense. A couple of years ago my husband who’s a very talented artist, made my portrait from a collage of VHS covers ranging from The Exorcist to Salon Kitty to… well, Violation of the Bitch. Neither of us had seen it, but a title that lurid and offensive just had to be included in the collage as a token of his love for me. Isn’t that sweet?

So since then I’ve been trying to track it down, and strangely enough since I watched it last night I’ve discovered you can watch it on an array of porn sites across the sticky dirty internet. Thankfully I’d got hold of a copy before I had to watch it covered in pop-ups of Polish housewives flicking themselves off on their kitchen tables. Being the fevered shock-seeking bag of filth I am I sat down waiting to be appalled by a film that carried such a title, only to be pleasantly surprised.

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First up, its original title is ‘The Coming of Sin’ and whatever image that invokes for you is probably closer to the film you get than the filth ‘Violation…’ conjures up. The plot is simple. Rich white artist Lorna (Patricia Granada) takes in a simple (yet seductive) gypsy girl called Triana (Lidia Zuazo) whilst her employers are off on a business trip in the UK. Triana is plagued by frightening yet erotic nightmares in which a naked man rides around on a stallion splashing through water. To this viewer that would obviously be more of a wet dream than a nightmare but for some reason Triana is horrified and wakes in terror each time. Almost inexplicably Triana starts to make romantic overtures towards Lorna and thus begins a psycho-sexual drama, complicated further when the naked dream man turns up in the real world, named Chico, and things start to get messy…

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Director José Ramon Larraz, Barcelona-born auteur of high trash, was also a doctor of philosophy and fine artist. Not merely an old pervert churning out flesh flicks for the grubby 42nd Street crowd, he managed to score the official British Palme d’Or entry at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival with ‘Symptoms’. The same year his film Vampyres, a lurid tale of lesbian vampirism, was put out to the exploitation market and has since become revered as a cult classic.

‘The Coming of Sin’ was Larraz’s answer to the hugely successful Emmanuelle. Dreamy, languid and running over with arthouse erotic imagery, the film he made was not the film I expected. At one point Triana dreams she is trapped naked and bent double inside a Trojan Horse, with Chico coming up behind her on his stallion, ready to mount. Freud would have a field day, but most softcore porno fans would be left scratching their heads.

Coming at this film from a queer perspective its certainly rich with subversive storytelling. Chico – played by the stunning Rafael Machado – spends just as much, if not more, screen time naked than the female cast members. Astride a stallion splashing through water, green eyes shimmering in the sun, he’s a feast for the queer eye. Aside from that, the exploration of gender roles in this film proved intriguing. Lorna, when not swanning about the place in a fabulous tassled shawl, dons a pants suit and takes Triana out into the real world for an education. After a sashay around the local art gallery, she takes Triana to a flamenco club. Triana, dressed very much like the ‘lady’ of the two, flanks the masculine, suit-wearing Lorna as they watch the flamenco dance. And who should be up there onstage, one in the traditional male garb and the other in a more glamorous flamenco dress? Two ladies.

The men in this movie, for the first half at least, are sidelined, with the male and female roles being played out largely by women. But the threat is always there on the horizon. Chico is looming, balls out, atop his steed, ready to man up their world. Blurring the lines of dream and reality, Chico strides out into the real world and just as you’re thinking that this film might not actually live up to the gaudy ‘Violation’ title it was branded with… he tries to rape Triana.

He then turns up at Lorna’s front door, unfortunately – clothed -and rather than be turned away, shamed, chastised for his rapey ways, he’s invited in! Lorna treats him like her new dark-skinned savage toy, demoting Triana to the role of servant girl. “So what if he tried to rape you, go and make him a coffee!” Not actual dialogue, but not far from it. In fact she scolds Triana for not being so welcoming to her would-be rapist with the classic line, “The least you could do is thank him for returning your necklace!” Lost in translation on the dub? Sadly I doubt it.

After a quick talk on Salomé and John the Baptist – Lorna is determined to educate these lowly gyspsy types – a random three way ensues with Lorna tied to the bed and feasted upon by Chico and Triana at the same time.

But the nightmares continue for Triana – just what is she so scared of? Men? Sex? The film constantly keeps you questioning both the characters’ motives, and those of the director. It’s Spain, in the 70s, you’re not going to get the most forward-thinking, balanced view of sexuality by any means. But surprisingly, lesbianism in the first act isn’t seen as particularly subversive or perverse. Nobody questions it.

In fact Triana was left in the care of Lorna by her previous employers because she bewitched the wife and the husband got jealous. Before and after Chico comes on the scene Lorna is fully in control of her sexuality. She likes women. She likes men. Even when Chico gets aggressive, flips her over in bed and takes her from behind you’re left questioning whether she orchestrated that too. Nothing is simple or straight forward. For a softcore slow paced exploiter it does get your brain ticking over.

Thrown into the melting pot of sin and soft focus we get a hint at the supernatural. Triana’s fear of Chico is explained when she visits a local witch, who re-affirms what Triana has been told before. It’s in her palm, in her destiny, that if she has sexual relations with a man, then someone will die.

Inevitably it happens, with the sexually liberated Lorna falling at the barrels of Triana’s shotgun, blasted to death by the jealous gypsy girl, who then helps Chico bury the body before they ride off on horseback together having helped themselves to her fabulous jewellery collection.

“She was taking advantage of the two of us,” Chico reasons. “They’re all pigs!”

So in the end Lorna must be punished. But for what? For her sexual freedom, or for being the rich white woman who sees the local gypsies as subjects, play-things to dress, educate and manipulate?

Whichever way you look at it, ‘The Coming of Sin’ delivers on its promises. You want nudity? Check. You want dreamy, arty imagery? Check. It’s an exploitation movie from 70s Spain so I’m assuming you want dodgy dubbing? Check check check. In fact Triana appears to have been dubbed by a drunk cockney sparrow.

Type either of its titles into a search engine and you’ll find it. The version I watched, 84 minutes long, comes with cuts unfortunately, one of them being a slightly more explicit rape scene. You’ll fork out about £90 for a dodgy cut DVD on Amazon so I do recommend you seek it out online.

As always you can give me your feedback on twitter @jonnylarkin What did you think of the movie? Do you agree with my take on it? We’ll be sticking with the Spanish theme in a future podcast, looking at the video nasty ‘The Cannibal Man’, so be sure to listen out for that. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for naked swarthy men on horseback, sauntering through the tall grass…

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JL