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Monday, May 30, 2011

GRADUATION DAY


Sorry for the quality. Of the picture and the film

STATS:
1981
Directed by Herb Freed
Written by Herb Freed, Anne Marisse, and David Baughn
Starring: Patch Mackenzie, E. Danny Murphy, and other teens who look like they’re a hard thirty

Doesn't this photo remind you of It's Pat

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A young track stars drops dead after winning a race, and now a gloved killer is wandering the campus picking off the other track stars, who don’t seem to get the hint that they shouldn’t wander around alone. It’s a who-done-it without any clues.

I always suspect the guy in the ascot. That's
probably why I'm usually surprised
at the end of Scooby Doo.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“You have lovely eyes. My sister had eyes like yours. She’s dead now.”

“You like snakes? I call this my little cobra.”

Though not exactly a quote, I did enjoy this little caption. I’ll let it speak for itself:

Why did the director focus on this sign?
It has nothing to do with anything.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
Well, I’ve been waiting for months to review a movie like this: a pure, brainless slasher. (And I do mean brainless. At one point, our heroine flees through a clearly populated suburb and runs straight into the empty school. Because she is stupid.)
And she runs like a special person.

It would be completely disingenuous on my part to write a horror movie blog and not include awful 80s slashers. I’m talking about holiday-themed cash-grabs like Silent Night, Deadly Night and New Years Evil, which is so bad that it doesn’t even include an apostrophe in its stupid title. Technically, graduation day isn’t a holiday, per se (except for me, as I gleefully danced on the grave of my high school experience), but it has the same exploitative stench to it. God I love these movies.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
There is some nudity, but strictly of the female variety, though we do get some welcome early-80s bulges:


To highlight how this film (and by extension all similar slashers) treats its T and A quota, let’s look at one of its many death scenes: A teenage gymnast does gymnastics on the uneven bars in slow motion whilst opera music plays. The adult male characters leer at her accordingly. In the next scene, she’s stripping down in the locker room when the killer comes with a big, phallic fencing sword and pokes her to death.

This example illustrates the titillation/death/titillation/death pattern of this movie and countless others. That’s why most of the victims are female and barely clothed.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
See above.

PLOT HOLES AND CRAZINESS:
Like 100% of slasher films from this era, Graduation Day ends with one final shocker. The main girl is asleep in her bed when the killer (still bleeding through his chest wounds) comes back in holding a knife… Wait. It wasn’t the killer. It was just… her drunk father about to hit her with a bottle? Okay. All better.

And that, my friends, is how to end a film.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Much like the similar picture Prom Night, Graduation Day has its own theme song: Graduation Day Blues. Interestingly, the singalong scene is immediately followed by another musical number which has nothing to do with anything. It’s catchier, but irrelevant. Can you say filler?

This film is produced (or at least distributed) by Troma Studios, the company behind the Toxic Avenger and various other horror movies with inappropriate humor. Is it just a coincidence that Troma rhymes with “soma,” the pleasure drug from Brave New World? Yes. Yes it is.

Here is a butt:


OK. IS IT GAY?
When the film opens, my first thought was, “Oh my God. This is really gay!” It starts with a young male athlete holding balls…


…Then there’s the title accompanied by disco music. Cha-ching, right? I thought it would be an hour and a half of thirty-somethings in short-shorts running around playing teens in short-shorts.

Alas, the very next scene shows the cheering crowd at a track meet, and we get close-ups of a young fan basically climaxing over someone else’s race.


At that point, I realized this film wasn’t intentionally gay or straight. It was just weirdly sexual and inept.

Sure, there are some lesbian undertones. For example, there’s a scene where the gruff army cadet lady follows a girl into the woods, confronts her, compliments her eyes, and starts fondling her necklace. It’s meant to make her seem suspicious and other-y, but it’s just kind of dumb.

For the most part, though, the cast is rounded out by adult males who treat their underage female students like kibble, bits, and meat. The principal tells his assistant to be “quick like a bunny,” the music teacher stays late to serenade his students, and the track coach leers a lot. Sure, they all get their comeuppance, but so do the women who, for the most part, are never guilty of anything. There are some very muddled morals here, as is typical of this genre.

So what’s my verdict? Graduation Day isn’t gay; it’s just very 80s and sexual and dumb. So let’s give this two Christopher Atkins and a Steve Guttenberg.



One final thought: if there were any gay men on set, then they wouldn't have chosen mustard yellow graduation gowns. Just saying.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

GINGERDEAD MAN 2: THE PASSION OF THE CRUST


STATS:
2008
Directed by: Silvia St. Croix (a female director!)
Written by: William Butler, Muffy Bolding (the killer from April Fool's Day), and Aaron Strongoni
Starring: Not Gary Busey


WHA’ HAPPENED?
The Gingerdead Man is back for some reason and goes nuts at a movie studio. He makes food puns, kills a bunch of people, and humps a puppet. Then he gets crucified.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“This is gonna be a f#$%ing cake-walk.”

“It’s time to send you back to Hell…’s Kitchen.”


ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
Aside from having one of the greatest subtitles in the history of filmdom…

…which it totally earns, by the way…

Gingerdead Man 2 is a prime example of latter-day Full Moon videos. It’s full of puppets and gory murders, but it’s also very self-effacing. The film takes places at Cheatum Studios, which is a low-rent direct-to-video company much like Full Moon. Its main franchise is a Puppetmaster rip-off, subbing Leech Woman and The Jester for creatures like “Shit-for-Brains” and “The Haunted Dildo.” It is a pretty brutal statement on the quality of these films.

From a gay standpoint, it has a well-known David DeCoteau cameo, and some clever winks to the gay horror fans out there.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
There’s some male beefcake (particularly in the Decoteau scene), but a lot more emphasis on women. However, the film has a pronounced affinity for plus-sizes.

Which is weirdly progressive, I guess.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
Limbs are hacked off, eyes dangle, and the killer cookie impales two people with one meat cleaver (which is physically impossible, but slightly more realistic than when he drove a car in part one). There’s also a lot of fake-poop-splatter.


OK. IS IT GAY?
Honestly, I thought this film would be smooth sailing. I thought that with the involvement of DeCoteau (and other horror “celebrities” like John Buechler and Adam Green), the film would be wholesome, inclusive horror. I didn’t expect a prancing queen who gets raped and murdered by a curling iron… and likes it.

No other gay-positive scenes can atone for that mean-spirited murder. The Gingerdead Man calls the character a “creampuff,” a “fruitcake,” and a few other pastry-related puns, and he takes more delight in murdering him than any of the straight victims. It’s not in good fun like the other murders. I have to give this two Pat Robertsons.

 

Friday, May 27, 2011

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES


STATS:
1983
Directed by: Jack Clayton (The Innocents)
Written by: Ray Bradbury (a whole bunch of awesomeness)
Starring: Jason Robards (that douche from Philadelphia), Jonathan Pryce (Brazil)

WHA’ HAPPENED?
An evil carnival comes to town and does abstractly evil things to people who ride its carousel. There’s also a spider-lady.


WHAT YOU SAY?
“Don’t talk death!”

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This film is from a dark time in the history of the Disney studios. It scared a bunch of kids and lost a crapload of money.


Normally, that would be enough to draw my attention. But on top of that, I have fond memories of watching this on the Disney Channel around Halloween time. They used to play this every year (along with Hocus Pocus and Frankenstein and Me). I would always catch parts of it and get pretty scared.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Nooooope. The only eye candy is female… and blind… and in the movie for about two minutes… and female.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
There weren’t any murders or gore, but there was genuine terror in this film. Mr. Dark is truly a villain for the ages. He plays with the main characters and taunts them. Just watch the scene where he offers Jason Robards if he wants to wish for youth. His opening offer is for the old man to be 30 again, but the old man refuses. So he offers him 31. Then 32. Then 33. Every time a year passes by, he rips another page from his book. It’s a dramatic, actor-y scene, and it’s freaking harrowing.

The film’s fatal flaw, however, is the completely non-expressive child actors, who sleepwalk through all the horror. There’s a scene where dozens of spiders crawl all over them, and the blonde kid practically yawns. Whenever they’re on screen, it saps the film of any real suspense.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Movie carnivals come in two forms: the romantic comedy version and the horror movie version. One involves a couple bonding over cheap toys and the bright lights of a Ferris wheel. The other involves evil. This film does not have Ferris wheels.

Sadly, this movie does.

Fun fact: During filming, Ray Bradbury got pissed with the director for straying too much from his original story (and for hiring another writer to zhoosh up the script, which… burn). There was a big falling out, but after some bad test screenings, Disney brought Bradbury back to tweak the opening and closing. That’s why we have unnecessary narration that comes out of nowhere.

Stop talking, VOICE. You're ruining the moment.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Look, this is definitely of interest to the horror fan. Even though it was made for family audiences, it’s stylish and freaking scary. (And pretty stupid at times, too. I’m not going to ignore the guy who catches a football with his fakey fake arm stump.) Basically, any “family-friendly” children’s movie from that period is going to be horrifying. (Watcher in the Woods, anyone?)

But is it queer? Nope. It doesn’t celebrate the outsider. It doesn’t challenge gender roles and family dynamics. It has no sense of humor about itself. It’s just a creepy piece of Americana and spiders. For that, I’d give this a Ross Perot on the gayness scale.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE ANIMATED SERIES



STATS:
1987-1988
Created by Jim Henson, et al.

WHA’ HAPPENED?
This spin-off to the much-beloved Fraggle Rock is a half-hour series; each episode is split into -minute stories (much like the oft-repeated Nicktoons model).

Plagiarists

All of the same characters are back, along with some new background characters…

Um. What ARE these?

Unfortunately, the songs are mostly gone, as is the famous Muppet spirit. In its place, we have animation like this…

“Look, Ma. I caught a Fwaggle.

Sure, this looks like the Junior Gorg that we know and love, but there’s just something… wrong with him. I can’t place my finger on it, and I wouldn’t want to because it looks diseased.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“We’re going to the Gorg’s garden to fetch a radish.”

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
The original Fraggle Rock is beloved the world over. It was filled with great songs, impressive puppetry, and pure, good-natured fun. It had a message of inclusion and acceptance that seemed much less rote than other children’s entertainment.

Yeah, we’re all equal… blah blah… race… blah

That was the original. This is the short-lived animated spin-off, which had all the same ingredients, but just didn’t work. It has now been swallowed up by Muppet Babies and forgotten by time and space.


Suck it, Moki. We have a cult following.

Also, I’m doing a retrospective on the whole series for our sister-blog horribleTV, which kind of tells you my general attitude toward this program.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
While the original series put its characters in serious peril and moral dilemmas, this one replaces the danger and high stakes with boring chase scenes and subpar animation.

I mean, seriously, what ARE these?

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Why does every Fraggle look so surprised all the time?

What? Another rock?

OK. IS IT GAY?
Actually, yeah. Before I starting writing this post, I figured that I would totally tear into this show because it’s so inferior to the original. And it is. But it retains a lot of the original’s inclusiveness and sense of equality among all the characters.

Let’s take a look at the gender dynamics of this show. Rather than being submissive love interests and helpless damsels, the girl Fraggles (particularly Red) are usually the strongest and bravest of the bunch. In the first episode alone, it’s the she-Fraggles who plan expeditions into the Gorg garden, rescue their friends, and lead the group discussions when everyone starts panicking.

And the male characters are similarly unaware of the Saturday morning clich├ęs. Take Boober, for example. He’s timid and shy (and hard-working and loyal), and he doesn’t fit into the archetype of the male adventurer. Here he is doing all the other characters’ laundry:


It seems like the world of the Fraggles is completely unaware of our society’s gender norms. And that is a very gay-friendly place to be. Even though this isn't nearly as good as the Muppet-tastic original, it still has some positive messages for the kids. To pay tribute to our fellow fabricated Americans, I give this show two Bert and Ernies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HUMAN CENTIPEDE


I think Yogi Bear had a similar theatrical poster.

Human Centipede is a horrible horrible abomination (which is what it’s trying to be… so… good job?) Read the synopsis and you’ll understand exactly how much enjoyment you’ll derive from this film. If it’s your thing, go for it. If it’s not your thing (or if you enjoy scientific accuracy), then stay away.

However, I highly recommend the musical version on Youtube.


This video single-handedly made the word “butt” funny again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

FAT ALBERT'S HALLOWEEN SPECIAL



STATS:
Fat Albert’s Halloween Special
1977
With Bill Cosby as Everybody

"Hey hey hey. Dig these cool homemade outfits."

WHA’ HAPPENED?
Fat Albert and the gang decide to scare a bunch of old people for Halloween. Why? Because they’re creepy.

Point taken.

Eventually, they scare an old lady and she’s so happy that they gave her attention that she gives them candy or something. Then the gang realizes that old people are cool.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“We don’t wanna scare Old Mudfoot. What did he ever do anyway?” “He got old, that’s what.”

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This is a 22-minute-long holiday special from Filmation, the studio behind Mission Magic, My Favorite Martians, and ARK II. It hasn’t exactly stood the test of time.

Except for the character designs. They’re timeless.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
I think my overall opinion of this lackluster Saturday morning distraction can best be summed up with Fat Albert’s final line of the evening: “Hey hey hey. This is really okay.”

The old people in this episode have names like Mudfoot Brown, Searchlight Johnson, and Clayface McGee. One of those three names is made up.

Doesn't one of Fat Albert's buddies look like Dr. Bailey from Grey's Anatomy?


OK. IS IT GAY?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at one of Fat Albert’s skinny friends. I think he gives off a vibe.


You know, I’m probably not being fair. Let’s see what he chooses for his costume.


Hmm… He also dresses like a witch and trips all over his dress. I don’t have a screen capture, because by that time in the episode, I was crazy-drunk. (Because I skipped the anti-alcohol Christmas episode. Also, because I took a shot every time Fat Albert rhymed.)

Look, I’m taking some cheap shots at a minor Fat Albert character for his weirdly revealing fashion sense, but that’s probably just a byproduct of the 70s. The character wasn’t gay. Nothing in this episode was. It’s just from a simpler time when guys showed their midriff because they could. On a gayness scale, I’ll give this a Jack Tripper.


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Alchemist

The Alchemist
1984
Directed by Charles Band
Written by Alan J. Adler

I couldn’t sit through the film (mostly because the audio was bad and the… well, the everything was bad). But I would like to give a shout-out to this cover. It’s a vial o’ demon lady with a glowing crotch. God bless America.



LEVIATHAN


STATS:
LEVIATHAN
1989
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Written by: David Peoples and Jeb Stuart
Starring: Peter Weller, Meg Foster, Hector Elizondo, Ernie Hdson, Daniel Stern, Richard Crenna

WHA’ HAPPENED?
Rather than writing a fully thought-out synopsis of this film, I’m going to give you a check-list of events.
1.                  deep sea exploration
2.                  tainted Cold War vodka
3.                  ocean storm
4.                  chest-burster scene from Alien
5.                  Meg Foster screwing everyone over
6.                  people getting eaten
7.                  escape
8.                  Meg Foster getting punched in the stupid face
9.                  credits

BAM! Bitch goes down!

WHAT YOU SAY?
“It’s cold out here.”

“One tiny little hole in a fucking toe of his suit, man. No bigger than your dick. Yeah, the way the ocean came in, the pressure just crammed his whole body up into his helmet. We just buried his helmet. That would have been you, DeJesus.”

“Look at my foot! This bitch put a goddamn sea monster in my bunk!”

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This film is the Volcano to James Cameron’s Dante’s Peak, the Deep Impact to his Armageddon. This film came out shortly after The Abyss, and while turophiles may choose this over the classier deep sea film, it still feels like an also-ran.

It could be worse. It could be Deepstar Six.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Nothing memorable. Everybody gets really sweaty though.


BLOOD AND GUTS:
Hector Elizondo grows a mouth on his palm, thus making the hand- and blow- prefixes interchangeable. A bunch of other D-listers get really sick, then turn into creatures.

Notice the horrifying results.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Fun fact: this is still the number one film involving Peter Weller and the ocean.

Turophile: lover of cheese.


OK. IS IT GAY?
Naw. It’s cheesy and great… and the effects are a-mazing, but there is zero queer sensibility. Like other sci-fi action films (James Cameron’s output, for example), there is a fair amount of gender-based ribbing amongst the soldiers. (Peter Weller’s “Don’t call me Becky,” for example.) And the Sixpack/DeJesus bromance is certainly something.

And that “something” is short-lived.

But there’s not much else to report. This film gets half a John Wayne.

Stay away from the tentacles, pilgrim.