STREAM QUEEN: when a triple feature gets unexpectedly queer

I guess my gaydar was working overtime not only when I tossed these three into my watchlist, but also when I randomly watched them one after the other. They’ve all landed places on both my die, gay guy die! list and my homo horror movies list, so let’s get into them.

TERROR ON DEAD ISLAND (2010)

Lately I find myself rewriting movies in my head…and then blogging about it. So here goes another one.

This is a 70-minute found footage home invasion film that doesn’t do much until the invasion finally hits near the end. While there are hints of creepiness that seem to be building to an intriguing outcome, pretty much everything about this low budget film goes nowhere. The plot sort of just bottoms out, which could have been remedied using what was right at the heart of the script.

This husband, wife, daughter, and son move to a new house on an island (that gets its name because it is home to a dead volcano that has no bearing on the movie whatsoever). The kids constantly film with their phones (which begs the question, why do scenes fade when footage on a camera phone simply cuts once you hit the stop button?). They keep seeing a creepy neighbor watching them. Ew! Look at that creepy neighbor watching us film him…

They are immediately accosted by the friendliest girl in school on their first day, who won’t leave them alone. They film their entire first meeting with the principal and he never complains, yet their teacher immediately takes the phones from them and says the school has a zero tolerance policy for phones. Huh?

Interestingly, when the brother and sister are hanging out filming each other, several times she questions his sexuality and references him hooking up with a guy. He (undecidedly) says he’s not gay, but admits he hooked up with the guy, never denies his attraction to guys, and later rejects a girl’s advances. I mean, are we even supposed to question the possibility that nature wasted these lips on a straight guy?

I assumed his sexuality was going to have some major bearing on how the film unfolds…but it absolutely doesn’t.

It’s totally obvious who will be responsible for the home invasion, which is where this dangling gay subplot is frustrating, along with several other things the siblings film. While it kind of comes across as the invasion happening just because the invaders felt like it and the new folks were there (The Strangers approach is just not enough for me anymore), the kids’ footage actually provides motivation that could have been used as a weapon against the family during the invasion.

Their phones are confiscated at school more than once. The invaders actually use the phones during those periods. All the kids’ dirty secrets are on videos on the phones, from his sexuality issues to their snotty attitudes about their new town and the people in it. So I simply can’t understand why this one didn’t allow the invaders to have a little more character motivation by expounding on their reasons for targeting this family.

The way things play out, it feels like we’re just to assume the invaders chose them simply because they were outsiders. Although, there is a sort of underlying suggestion that the invaders were also enthralled by the big city technology these kids had in the palms of their hands, which I think (?) could be the intended takeaway.

BLOOD IS BLOOD (2018)

Argh. Blood is Blood feels too invested in its own bombardment of plot devices to allow viewers (or at least this one) to make any sense of it or enjoy it. Everything that’s chilling, disturbing, and engrossing is absolutely swallowed up whole by time shifts, questions of reality vs. mental states, excessive secrets and dark sides of every single character, and preconceived notions each character has about the other.

So let me cut straight through it all as cleanly as possible to outline the basics. Two brothers, two sisters. One Johnathon Schaech looking brother is engaged and secretly likes to wear a creepy mask.

The sisters hate the fiancée, but the other brother, a cross-dresser who loves origami, has the hots for her.

The masked brother goes psycho and chases his sisters, which results in…one of the sisters ending up in a mental institution!

And that all happens within the first fifteen minutes. Perhaps everything that transpires after is all in the mind of the institutionalized sister (played by Brad Dourif’s daughter Fiona). Maybe she has split personality and there are no siblings. I have no idea.

But she’s still being terrorized by the masked brother even in the hospital, so she escapes, returns to her sister, and they are chased and terrorized by both the masked brother and the drag brother, who seem to be psycho killers that torture the ones they love down in a basement lair.

And honestly, I would swear from the start that the two brothers might be having an incestuous relationship.

CUPID’S GUILLOTINE (2017)

Hold on to your genitals before entering this haunted attraction. I never would have guessed this would be my favorite film of this trio.

I really had no idea what I was in for when I began watching Cupid’s Guillotine. It begins with a guy setting up the haunted house with a friend so that he can later show the new changes they’ve made to his fiancée. He reminds me of Hal Sparks, she reminds me of that actress who reminds me of Helen Hunt. You’d know who I’m talking about if you saw her…or if you’ve seen Joyride.

The film initially had me cringing, with the actors delivering dialogue in a passionless and halting manner that got on my nerves fast. However, some video tour guide then came up on a screen in the attraction and I was thinking, “This guy’s got gay face (gay 80s face, to be more specific). What’s going on here?” So I continued watching.

At first I felt that a really fascinating and thought-provoking look at how transgenderism changes lives and relationships was being disastrously wasted in a terribly low budget production, but by the end of the film I realized that this could easily be a cult classic in another place and time because its bad aspects are what make it so mesmerizing and consumable.

Along with its serious and challenging assessment of transgender identity, it is actually campy as hell, whether intentional or not, and should be treated as such to be appreciated. Unfortunately, in this day and age of hypersensitivity, what is actually a very positive outlook on trans acceptance will most likely be judged as some sort of exploitation of or mockery of the subject—as the forced sex change action film The Assignment with Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver was.

So the guy takes his woman through the attraction, but something goes horribly wrong. The sets have been changed and are even more grotesque and morbid than he created. Suddenly they’re running for their lives…but only one of them gets out.

The other is captured…and given a sex change operation before being released! WTF?

This crazy movie then delves into the couple trying to cope with this irreversible change right before their wedding. In fact, it’s virtually preachy in its demand for recognition and acceptance of gender identity. Can their love survive a person being the same on the inside but different on the outside?

Will they ever be able to have sexual relations that challenge gender norms?

Will the people in their lives—parents, gay best friend, therapist—help them come together or just make matters worse?

And why does this virtual tour guide at the haunted attraction have so much power over them and keep calling them back to the house to experience more horror?

We get a trans catfight, hilariously odd parents that are surprisingly open to the possibilities of transgender love, a ridiculous flooding scene in the house, and yes, there’s a guillotine, so no heads are safe…

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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