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. Dennis’s letters to his friend Julian (Jaie Laplante) who is having an incestuous relationship with his younger brother Kevin (Raoul O’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 Friedkin’s Cruising is probably the most prominent example and famously caused a great deal of controversy during its production and lots of fulminating since. It’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 Pacino’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. It’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 “Doodler” murders in San Francisco and the “Fag in a Bag” 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 can’t have. Shot in my backyard of Brooklyn Heights and featuring such memorable moments as Rocky’s Adrian (Talia Shire) being molested by a rather odious cabbie; Adrian’s lady love using an audio recording of the assault as masturbation material and more telescopic voyeurism than Hitchcock’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 “The Prince of Darkness” Willis, who handled the duties on such milestones as The Godfather series and several of Woody Allen’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: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). I’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 Freddy’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 I’ve reviewed so far; I saw this when I was a kid, so the “subtext” or “overtones” or whatever was lost on me and yes, it is there if you’re looking for it; but it isn’t a central aspect of the story.
Wicked, Wicked (1973). A gimmick movie definitely, but a pretty interesting one. Presented in “Duo-Vision” this is a slasher movie before there was such a thing and one that to my knowledge doesn’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 killer’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 Gogol’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 writer’s work, this time A.K. Tolstoy’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 1970’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.