Frisk (1995). Based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Dennis Cooper, this delightful charmer tells the story of gay stoic psychopath Dennis (Michael Gunther) who early on developed a taste for murder and necrophilia after coming across some snuff magazines. Dennisâ€™s letters to his friend Julian (Jaie Laplante) who is having an incestuous relationship with his younger brother Kevin (Raoul Oâ€™Connell) and to prospective murder victim, Uhrs (Michael Stock)- who shares them with his femme fatale fiend friend Ferguson (Parker Posey)- form the main means through which the story is propelled.
Delighted with the goings-on, Ferguson and her pal join in on the murder and mayhem and the three lunatics form a deadly menage a trois, that even manages to kill Alexis Arquette. Featuring a soundtrack by Coil-who previously produced an unused soundtrack for Hellraiser- this is a fiercely f*cked flick (pun absolutely intended).
Cruising (1980). Keeping on the theme of movies about gay serial killers for a moment, William Friedkinâ€™s Cruising is probably the most prominent example and famously caused a great deal of controversy during its production and lots of fulminating since. Itâ€™s unfortunate that the movie is probably better known for the controversy surrounding it, rather than the film itself-which most detractors have probably never even actually seen-because it is in my opinion both William Friedkin and Al Pacinoâ€™s best movie.
Set in the world of gay S&M culture and clubs and featuring many real-life participants of said lifestyle as extras, Pacino goes undercover (a minor pun) as a nominally straight cop in order to root out a serial killer, preying on the denizens of these dank and dark coteries and ends up becoming beguiled. Itâ€™s a dark film about distasteful subjects with a very real force punctuated by its ominous open-ended finale.
The film has many parallels with the real world and as of yet unsolved â€œDoodlerâ€ murders in San Francisco and the â€œFag in a Bagâ€ murders in New York City, committed by Paul Bateson, who had previously appeared in The Exorcist as the radiological technician that gave Reagan the cerebral angiography. Punk rock fans will also be intrigued to know that The Germs contributed several songs to the soundtrack, although only one made it into the film.
Windows (1980). Counterbalancing Cruising, Windows plays like a sapphic Cruising. Aberrosexual rage and lust abound in this tale of obsessive love and the ends one will go to possess someone they canâ€™t have. Shot in my backyard of Brooklyn Heights and featuring such memorable moments as Rockyâ€™s Adrian (Talia Shire) being molested by a rather odious cabbie; Adrianâ€™s lady love using an audio recording of the assault as masturbation material and more telescopic voyeurism than Hitchcockâ€™s Rear Window can shake a stick at.
This tale of the mentally disturbed is very interesting for its cinematography as it was directed by Gordon â€œThe Prince of Darknessâ€ Willis, who handled the duties on such milestones as The Godfather series and several of Woody Allenâ€™s cinematic offerings.
Eating Raoul (1982). This film is hilarious; a married couple Paul and Mary (Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov) devise a scheme by which they lure rich perverts to their humble abode in order to slaughter them via frying pan, steal their money and thereby open their dream restaurant. The works are fouled up when a self-styled, self-assured suave Mexican conman and thief named Raoul (Robert Beltran) that they have rather reluctantly placed under their tutelage, enters the picture.
Raoul sells the corpses to a dog food manufacturer, thus making their enterprise doubly lucrative. Raoul then cuckolds Paul in an attempt, to steal, his woman, his money and his life; but true love wins out in the end when Mary turns the tables and brains Raoul with the frying pan, fade to black.
But no, that is not all, their realtor was promised a fancy dinner and they forgot; never fear though, because thanks to some quick thinking on the part of the deadly duo, Raoul becomes the main course. A great politically incorrect satire that has gone overlooked for far too long.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddyâ€™s Revenge (1985). Iâ€™m not a huge Freddy fan; definitely more of a Jason junkie. This however, is my favorite of the series and I feel it is underappreciated- the first and third entries I feel unfairly take the lion’s share of the reverence- it features Freddyâ€™s best look, it keeps a steady pace, has the greatest set piece of the entire series in the pool party massacre and what I believe to be a genuinely good acting job on the part of Mark Patton as Jesse Walsh.
Before you point it out and given the subject matter of most of the movies Iâ€™ve reviewed so far; I saw this when I was a kid, so the â€œsubtextâ€ or â€œovertonesâ€ or whatever was lost on me and yes, it is there if youâ€™re looking for it; but it isnâ€™t a central aspect of the story.
Wicked, Wicked (1973). A gimmick movie definitely, but a pretty interesting one. Presented in â€œDuo-Vision” this is a slasher movie before there was such a thing and one that to my knowledge doesnâ€™t get mentioned when there is talk about the genre and its primogenitors.
A masked psychopathic killer is stalking a sprawling Victorian beachfront hotel with a cop on his trail trying to save his singer ex-wife who happens to be in the killerâ€™s sights. This is a fun and oftentimes funny little movie, that deserves better than to be relegated to oblivion.
Viy (1967). Based on Nikolai Gogolâ€™s story of the same name, this was the first Soviet horror film to be released and tells the story of Khoma, a seminary student who winds up being bedeviled by a witch and her demon minions. A very cool film, indeed.
The Night of the Devils (1972)
Another film based on a Russian writerâ€™s work, this time A.K. Tolstoyâ€™s The Family of the Vourdalak. This Italian-Spanish co-production directed by Giorgio Ferroni, chronicles the misadventure of Nicola, an ultra-hip and modern 1970â€™s businessman, lately gone insane after reluctantly stumbling into some old-timey weirdness in the woods surrounding a peasant household near the Yugoslavian border, that suffers from a familial curse whereby, they are haunted by a witch-vampire hybrid that attacks them and turns them into vampire-zombie hybrids feeding on loneliness, sorrow and blood.
Nicola tries to persuade them through rationality that none of this can be true but what he cannot contend with is the irrational nature of things, far older and far beyond the horizons of his parochial comprehension. The Night of the Devils oozes creepy atmosphere and in my opinion, is an unsung horror gem that shows that no one does horror better than the Italians.
Thanks for these interesting picks!
I forgot Parker Posey was in FRISK. I have to say, I remember reading a Dennis Cooper short story that scared the hell out of me. Not sure what the title of it was now. He actually linked to Kindertrauma back in our early days!
CRUISING is a classic and the fact that the killer itâ€™s based on was in tHE EXORCIST is completely mind-blowing and freaks me out to this day. There is so much uncanny stuff circling both THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARYâ€™s BABY.
EATING RAOL is awesome. I remember watching it on late night cable back in the day. Absolutely love Bartel & Woronov!
I gotta say I find the gay aspect of ANOES 2 to be way exaggerated myself these days. I saw it in the theaters when it was out and even as a gay guy I didnâ€™t find it all that blatant or overwhelming. It was the eighties after all! WHAM and Culture Club barely registered as gay back then! Itâ€™s one of my favorites as well and I think its a better film then all of the movies after part 3 (besides maybe New Nightmare). Itâ€™s weird that people see it as the black sheep of the franchise now. I loved it when it came out and so did everyone I knew back then. Also it was only the second in the series so really the â€œrulesâ€ were not exactly written in stone. I think maybe people see it as the oddball looking back through the lens of the entire series that didnâ€™t even exist yet but thatâ€™s only because the rest of the series copied the part 3 template.
The only one Iâ€™ve missed here is NIGHT OF THE DEVILS and I now realize itâ€™s the same story that was in Bavaâ€™s BLACK SABATH! I never realized that, Iâ€™ll have to check it out!
parker posey is so hot.
I’ll never get over the fact that Parker Posey is in SUPERMAN RETURNS but does not play Louis Lane! some fool thought Kate Bosworth would be a better Lois? It’s maddening.
Very cool that Dennis Cooper linked to the site. I just recently came across Frisk (the book and the movie) and thought they were both pretty good. I wish the director or some director would take on Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite, because that book is probably the sickest thing I’ve ever read.
That scene in The Exorcist always freaked me out but when I found out that guy is a real life killer, it added a whole new freaky weight to it that was not there previously. I can definitely see it in the look on his face. Cruising is a great movie, although I always found Al Pacino’s character to be the creepiest aspect of it; that pic of him you used as the bumper is nightmare inducing to me, lol. I also dig that Joe Spinell, James Remar and Ed O’Neill-all hail Al Bundy- are in it.
I love the characters of Paul and Mary Bland, they also reprised the roles in Chopping Mall and sort of kind of in Mortuary Academy which also featured my guys in Radio Werewolf.
I am not the type that tries to inject sex into everything and that goes for slashers as well. I saw the Friday the 13th’s, Halloween’s, Nightmare on Elm Street’s and Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s when I was a kid, so I didn’t and still don’t see them as anti-sex morality tales or sex=death movies the way some people have characterized them. It never even occurred to me until someone somewhere pointed it out that that is an interpretation of them or that sex had anything more to do with them other than maybe as a gimmick to get horny teenagers to see them through the enticement of nudity. I know that once I hit puberty, it worked for me on that level.
As for NOES2, I’m straight as an arrow but I never thought of it as a gay film until just a few years ago when I saw a video someone did about it pointing a bunch of things out; I didn’t even know Mark Patton was gay- I don’t go investigating people’s lives like that, I just thought of the character as shy and awkward, like myself.
Indeed, Black Sabbath-another great movie-used the same story.
Dang – Ghastly went on a tear in this post. Some very interesting stuff. Is Wicked-Wicked online to watch? What about Viy?
Man, Eating Raoul was one of those early HBO flicks that they promoted like hell. It was like “Carly Simon Live” promo, and then “Eating Raoul” and then more Carly Simon ad infinitum. Seemed like it was this very high-profile flick when I was a kid.
Here ya go:
I watched Windows a couple of years ago. In spite of the general sordidness, and good acting, the movie is very dull. Even the scenes that should have been pushing buttons (like the police asking Shire to maintain contact with her rapist, the cab driver) are so un-engaging that nothing really registers. There’s a thematic parallel between Shire and Elizabeth Ashley as two lonely city dwellers who try to relieve their isolation in different ways, but the movie just doesn’t do anything with the idea. I kept thinking what the movie could have been with Brian DePalma (or Friedkin, for that matter) directing.
There are two things in the movie’s favor, though. It looks great (which is what you would expect from a movie directed by one of the best cinematographers), and Ennio Morricone composed an excellent score, which is much better than the movie deserves.
Wicked Wicked – Randolph Roberts, one of the two Chuck Cunninghams from Happy Days, is in it. Fun to think about while watching the movie. The “duo vision” (a split screen with two camera angles telling the story from different POVs that occasionally intersect) is interesting. DePalma did something similar with Sisters the same year (to much better effect), but I’m guessing it’s a coincidence.
Cruising – I think this movie really holds up, decades later. It’s less a mystery, or even a serial killer procedural, and more of a psychological portrait of Pacino’s character. Friedkin cannily cast different actors as the killer (on camera, and by voice over), so the “whodunit” is pretty much besides the point. It’s more about Pacino’s (and the viewer’s) perception as he investigates.