As every gay male horror fan clings to the hope for a definitive, worthy all-gay entry in the horror genre, indie filmmakers continue to pour their blood, sweat, and tears into low budget productions hoping to break the gay horror curse. Problem is, in an industry that has even makers of mainstream horror begging for money to produce their films and barely reaching their budget goals, the chances of gay directors getting enough funding to put together a film that even vaguely lives up to their vision are slim.
Keep that in mind with a really open mind when watching Bear Creek. Celebrate the fact that Bear Creek takes the simple slasher formula of young, pretty straight people heading into the woods for a weekend of camping only to be killed off by a masked killer and swapped in burly, furry, cute gay bears. Because Bear Creek is a rough production and it shows from the start.
You can expect frustrating audio problems—for instance voice levels are all over the place so numerous lines of dialogue are completely lost, and mikes are slammed by outdoor wind conditions, also drowning out dialogue. Video is generally good, but there are odd moments of film quality changing, most noticeably during a campfire scene. A sudden downgrade in quality and steadiness between camera angle shifts had me thinking perhaps killer POV was being implied, but then the same change in quality suddenly happened mid straight-on shot. There are also varying levels of acting abilities. Some guys are more natural, some seem like their main goal is just to deliver their lines…and make sure they can remember their next line. The really good news is that our final bear is not only adorable, he is one heck of a screamer.
Yeah, I’m talking about you, so stop giving me that look or the letters on my keyboard are going to be sticking pretty soon and I won’t be able to finish this blog.
The final bear helps make the final act of this film the highlight, so let’s get to it. I’ll start off by noting that I watched the film on Amazon Prime and it had a running time of 68 minutes, while it’s listed as running 90 minutes on imdb. Either imdb has an incorrect time, or the film has been butchered for Prime now that Amazon is demanding major censoring of many of its movies—particularly horror films and films with male nudity. I hope that’s not the case, but if so, I really need to see what I’ve missed by grabbing a copy of the disc, which you can get here. I’ll see if I can get director George Climer to verify for me if there is a 90-minute version.
The setup is basic. A bunch of bears (and one pseudo cub) are hanging at a bar and decide to go camping at Bear Creek. The setup is so basic that there’s a bit too much filler here, such as unnecessary focus on the bartender mixing the guys drinks –time that could have been used to better establish the relationships between the guys or to at least give them some fun lines that would endear them to us. We really don’t get much of that at all before everyone starts getting killed off (it’s also possible I just couldn’t hear them).
Bear Creek also does no slasher embellishing beyond a scary campfire story, and not even that ends with a traditional jerky prank scare, such as a bear jumping out in a hockey mask. There is no encounter with a local weirdo warning the guys away from the woods. No one gets the unnerving feeling that he’s being watched. There is no killer POV. No shadows suddenly dart across screen behind characters. There are no extraneous characters to provide us with a warm-up kill. The only suspense created before the murders begin comes via misplaced, ominous music cues, and it’s an issue I see (or hear) time and again in indie horror. A sustained tension chord is played for no reason at completely inappropriate times with no payoff, not even a cheap bogus scare: while a guy is just sitting smoking, while a guy is fishing, while two bears are walking and enjoying some playful flirtation. This not only clashes with the tone of the on-screen situation, it also creates a false alarm scenario, numbing viewers for when the time comes to actually deliver the horror.
But before we even get to the horror, there’s the sex. Some find it very frustrating that gay horror movies include pointless sex and nudity because it adds nothing to the horror and portrays gay men as nothing more than sex fiends. I understand what they’re saying and I wholeheartedly think they should shut the fuck up. As a horror-devouring teen in the 80s, I had to put up with endless unnecessary female tits, ass, and 80s bush in my horror, so I want tons of big fat hairy moobs, asses, and dicks in my gay horror now.
In fact, I hope there is a 90-minute cut of Bear Creek and the extra 22 minutes is predominantly sex and nudity. In the 68-minute version, there’s just some brief threesome foreplay, and the climactic moment of our final bear taking it like a man—with a smile on his face.
Look at that smile. I said the smile. Guys, the smile.
And then the killing begins…
Conveniently, the next morning, all the guys get up and split up to go off into the woods to do their own thing.
The kill scenes are of the classic 80s slasher sort, they’re all cutaway kills, and they all take place during the day.
My favorite is actually a straightforward knife kill because the setup shot is so simple yet highly effective, the attack is fast, furious, and brutal, and the musical score in that moment kicks ass, reminding me of good old 80s Euro horror music. There are also several appearances of the bear killer that made me jump without relying on a musical sting, so color me impressed.
And then we have our final bear’s fight to the death with the killer. It just tickles my whiskers seeing a big bear rolling around on the ground with a knife-wielding killer. I was so psyched when he knocked the fucker out and reached to take the mask off…but then looked away and decided against it! WTF? Well guess what? Audio problems strike again. It turns out a cop car was pulling up in the distance and that’s what makes the final bear walk away from the killer before the unmasking, you just can’t hear it. The cop’s arrival brings even more indie horror quirks. The final bear leads the cop into the woods where he left the killer in broad daylight, and when the camera cuts, it’s pitch black night and the cop is carrying a flashlight!
The final final battle involves some good old torture and our scream bear delivers big time. All I’m going to say is, only in a gay horror movie would an iron come into play in the middle of the woods.
This is what I’d call a “leftfield” killer: has absolutely no connection to anything that happened previously in the movie and therefore a whole lot of exposition is suddenly necessary to give the audience a backstory.
Will there be a sequel? It’s quite possible based on the final frame, which actually gave me and my hubby chuckles rather than chills. Even so, it accomplished its task. I will so be back to watch our final bear’s seam again…I mean, to watch our final bear scream again.