So I popped in my DVD of low-budget slasher Evil Laugh for the next installment of my “80s slasher vaults” series…and soon realized this movie was going to have to break away from the herd and become a part of a very different blog.
As I’m watching the movie, I’m noticing a whole lot of questionable moments—hints of gayness that straight viewers might detect because they’re candy-coated with implications of horny heterosexual guys just messing around. I, however, got the sense that the man calling the shots was doing some personal psychological exploration while making this movie. So I looked to see who the director was…
Turns out it’s one Dominick Brascia, best known to horror audiences as the mentally challenged chocolate bar kid who gets hacked up in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.
I also learned more than I cared to know. I’ve dealt with enough whack jobs that need something way stronger than meds (aka: removal from society in padded cells) to want to get too deep into issues that might be lurking behind the camera lens here. All I’ll say is it appears Brascia became a conservative radio guy with a checklist of psycho conservative views, got fired at some point (I didn’t delve into why), has posted videos on YouTube in which he’s completely tripping and readily admits he took his drugs that day, and made a film called “My Life as a Troll” with Corey Feldman about a guy dealing with being gay. That was all I needed to make my head spin. If you want the full story, you’re on your own.
Now to the two horror films Brascia directed in the 1980s.
EVIL LAUGH (1986)
Going beyond the fact that Scott Baio’s brother co-wrote the script with Brascia and stars in Evil Laugh, this is pretty much an 80s VHS crap slasher classic. A bunch of med students comes to an old orphanage with a dark past, planning to fix it up and make it a foster home for kids. They spend a lot of the film trying to have sex and listening to some ridiculously 80s pop songs (beginning with the intro credits track “I’m Overworked”), before a masked killer with a pervy giggle shows up on the scene to hack them up.
But let’s get to the gay stuff. When we meet a trio of guys that are heading to the place, two are shirtless and changing a tire while a third guy—a huge fan of horror films—is reading an issue of Fangoria with Friday the 13th: A New Beginning on the cover. Wink wink. This character is seriously an early version of Randy from Scream—the one in the group who knows all the bad signs of actually living a horror movie.
One guy goes to take a piss, and doesn’t realize he’s peeing on a couple lying on a blanket at the bottom of the hill. Actually, he’s pretty much giving a golden shower to a gay leather daddy lying on a blanket with a woman. She starts crying out at the feeling, but the leather daddy just soaks it in for a moment with his eyes closed, telling her to ignore it….
Next, we see the killer has a delivery boy tied to a chair. The delivery boy says to the killer, “This is not cool, dude. I’m not into S&M.” He doesn’t say something like, “I ain’t no queer,” which you would assume a straight guy would say no matter what type of sex he thinks another guy wants to have with him. So this delivery boy might as well be saying, “I’ll suck your dick, but I don’t go for being tied up and whipped.”
When the guys arrive at the place, the first thing they hear is someone talking in a closet, and they think it’s one of their buddies. One of them says, “What the fuck is Jerry doing in the closet?” No big deal until you consider the fact that a little while later, one of the guys tells Jerry’s girlfriend that Jerry’s gay and hot for his body. Hm.
Next, we have a real estate agent that pops in to see how they’re doing. My immediate thought was that he seemed very gay. As he’s leaving the house, he looks the stud of the group up and down and says, “If you need anything, call me. And I mean anything.” It turns out, his nagging wife is in the car—the same wife he later tries to passively demand sex from, so she just laughs in his pussy boy face.
As the guys in the group talk about the chances of having sex with the girls that weekend, horror guy gets a love tap on the ass from Scott Baio’s brother. Also, as Scott Baio’s brother watches on, the hot guy gives an intimate hug to the horror guy and asks, “If you were a girl, wouldn’t you want me?”
There’s an 80s cleaning house/dance montage sent from heaven. Not actually gay but…really gay.
Playing a prank, the horror guy cuts a hole in a bed so he can reach his hand up through the mattress while the hot guy is having sex. He spends way more than a split second squeezing the hot guy’s ass before the hot guy realizes that’s not his girlfriend’s hand.
There are a couple of kills as various other characters enter the picture (pretty standard slasher kills of the time, with a little blood thrown in to make it feel gory), the group hears a horror story around the fireplace about what really happened in the orphanage years before, and then it’s time for some more sex.
A guy with a rockin’ little body puts on the gayest BD outfit ever (a black Speedo and a dog collar), ties up his girlfriend while she’s still wearing a bikini, slips on a silky robe…and leaves the room.
Out at the pool, hot boy shows off his Speedo and teaches Scott Baio’s brother how to rub his own tits—which really confuses the girl he does it in front of a minute later.
Meanwhile, the real estate agent returns and gets some reversed anal in the basement. By that, I mean he’s stabbed through the groin and it comes out his ass.
When Brascia finally gets the gay out of his system, it’s on to traditional slasher territory. We get to see the killer’s mask during a string of death scenes, including one in which a guy gets his head blown off…in an open microwave.
Overall, this final act delivers what we wanted from slashers back then, including the main girl in a chase scene – by herself. Seriously, she runs around the house with a gun, but no one is chasing her.
Then there’s a good old body reveal moment, and finally, a battle with the giggling killer. Sadly, the killer’s identity is disappointingly cliché.
HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE (1988)
Equally as perfect a video rental, Hard Rock Nightmare jumps on the tour bus of 80s heavy metal horror films, with a band going to the house where one of the kids did something awesomely horrible to his dick grandfather when he was a kid (which makes for a great opening scene).
This “hard rock” band is really more of a power rock band—these aren’t hair band guys, but preps in leather jackets and torn jeans—and performs several totally 80s rock tunes all the way through during the course of the film. There’s even – I’m not kidding – a love scene in which one of the guys puts on a tape of a power ballad he wrote for his woman. Awesome.
The general premise of the film is that the band members and their girls get slaughtered by a werewolf in the woods! This is a cool 80s rubber costume werewolf. Meanwhile, the main guy is having bad flashbacks, and is convinced his dead grandfather has somehow returned to the house.
Hard Rock Nightmare is a better balance of gay stuff and general 80s horror fun. In the RV during the road trip, two band members lean against each other while chatting, and one mentions coming up with the band’s name – Bad Boys. The other guy claims it sounds like a bad gay porno movie.
Meanwhile, the lead guy has a cool nightmare that his friends turn into vampires.
Next, one of the groupie girls references sex symbols like David Lee Roth and Mick Jagger, plus we get some major showing off of this hot body.
Once talk circulates around the group about vampires and werewolves, one guy claims he’d be more afraid of a guy in the woods in a hockey mask (yep, another wink wink). Meanwhile, a couple is attacked in the woods by the werewolf, and the guy’s drunken reaction to his woman being slaughtered is pretty funny.
The main guy has a dream that all his buddies are dressed in ladies’ underwear and have renamed themselves the Hot Girls, which one of them refers to as “fabulous.” It’s quite a long dream sequence of guys prancing around in bras and panties.
When a couple of the band members walk through the woods, they talk about…the Friday the 13th soundtrack. Brascia is so proud of having been in a Jason film. After some cool werewolf attacks, one guy finds his dying buddy in the woods and caresses his face and practically kisses him.
Finally, there’s a nice little twist, and Troy Donahue, who plays the main guy’s uncle, sounds quite gay as he gives a monologue. Apparently, he spent a lifetime denying rumors of it to the press, so, you know, maybe he was sound really really gay on purpose for the role….