Ah, the 80s. The decade when even respected veteran actors like Mike “Mannix” Connors got in on the slasher craze. But Connors wasn’t going to get chased around on Halloween or hacked up by a guy in a hockey mask. He did it on his own terms, by producing the 1985 “mystery” Too Scared To Scream himself…and simply copycatting Hitchcock’s Psycho concept while completely exploiting every gay stereotype possible.
Before I start completely spoiling the entire film discussing the gay elements, let me first look at it from an 80s slasher perspective. Female tenants of an upscale apartment building begin turning up dead, so Connors is on the case with the help of his partner, played by pre-Fatal Attraction Anne Archer.
While Too Scared To Scream has all the elements of sleazy New York City horror of the early to mid-80s – female nudity, prostitution, porn strips, hot tubs – it generally feels like a cheesy 80s cop show. It simply doesn’t look gritty enough. There’s no gore – nothing graphic during kill scenes (a raised hand with a knife is the extent of it), and the most blood we see is on victims during body reveals.
There are loads of those, including one on Halloween! The holiday isn’t specifically mentioned, but trick or treaters and costumes are cleverly integrated into a scene right before the best body drop of all.
This isn’t a masked killer slasher, so it’s mostly shots of weapon in hand or approaching feet. Some kills don’t even happen on screen; they’re either implied or revealed when the body pops up. However, the few kills we do see feature by-the-book 80s slasher suspense, and the climactic chase scene with Archer as the “final girl” is the horror highlight of the film.
Now to delve into the gay insanity. Be warned, it’s all coming out of the closet.
It’s pretty obvious it’s going to be the gay blame game from the very start. During the opening credits, veteran actor Ian McShane is getting all dolled up in makeup as he stares in a mirror with that “I’m so fierce I’ll stab a bitch” look. You know the one I’m talking about.
Turns out Ian is the odd yet adored night doorman at the apartment building. Hell, women who live there even call him up to see if he’s free to come turn the knob on their doors. He lives with his mother, who is confined to a wheelchair and can’t move or speak, the result of a tragic car accident. He also becomes the prime suspect because all the murders happen on his watch. When Connors comes to question him, his mother is all wide-eyed and seems like she wants to scream something out to Connors. Something like, “My son is a huge makeup wearing cocksucker!”
Meanwhile, the first victim was a prostitute, so Connors tracks down the client who dropped her off the night she was murdered. He finds the guy naked, tied up and gagged, with cigarette burns all over his ass.
After screaming bloody murder upon being freed (men are not too scared to scream), the guy lays on the couch with his ass up in the air as Connors interrogates him and applies a wet cloth. The guy says his chauffeur assaulted him because he’s jealous and to go get the fucker. Connors thanks him by slapping him on his scorched ass. After all, violent sexual assault against a male is funny and worthy of a good playful slap on the ass.
A co-worker at the office pulls up a file on the chauffeur that shows he has a record: male prostitution, two attempts of rape, child molestation (the writers must have heard it on the street that they all go hand-in-hand). Connors again jokes about what the chauffeur did to the poor guy’s ass by looking at his cigarette and commenting that it makes him want to give them up. Later on, his co-worker, who sleeps on a cot in a secret room during a stakeout, curls up on it to take a nap facing a wall, realizes his ass is sticking out and vulnerable to attack, and flips over. The power of gay panic.
Meanwhile, the chauffeur is later caught…in the porn district of the city…and arrested. When Connors confronts him about the ass burns, he makes some snarky comment about it making Connors wet in the pants…because sexual deviants have absolutely no fears of repercussions and still think only of sex and perversion when they’ve been caught and are face to face with authority figures?
Now to our doorman with his blank stares, aloof behavior around women, and rather cold treatment of his mother. Anne Archer goes undercover as a new tenant in the building and tries to strike up a friendship with him. He’s very touchy when questioned about why he’s single and doesn’t have a woman in his life. He doesn’t take kindly to that question at all.
Is it any surprise Anne becomes a target when she’s in her apartment alone, jazzercising? What’s more surprising is that someone agreed to give Anne a role in Fatal Attraction after she committed this solo jazzercise scene to celluloid. Oh how I pray this never gets removed from YouTube…
This kicks off the final chase, which is deliciously long…and suddenly has Archer acting not like a fricking trained detective with a gun, but like an actual terrified, screaming and crying final girl who can only be saved when Connors eventually comes in with his powerful manhood pointed straight out in front of him and blows the guy away. WTF?
AND NOW…THE BIG GAY TWIST! See, there was this other doorman. The day doorman. He had minor interaction with the night doorman while changing shifts, but the weirdo night doorman seemed uninterested in chatting with him. Yet they seem to have a past, because he laments the fact that the night doorman no longer goes to the theatre. Uh-oh…
That’s right! The doorman by day and doorman by night were backdoor men together when off duty! At first we’re supposed to think perhaps the night doorman’s mother is actually the killer, for someone in a dress is rolling around in a wheelchair knocking the last few people off to get to Archer.
But when the killer finally chases Archer on foot and corners her, things get very Norman Bates. Archer is horrified when the killer whips off a wig to reveal she is…the big gay day doorman!
And he reveals all. He and the night doorman were in a theatre group together several years before (hence the reason Ian McShane was seen putting on makeup during the opening credits), and they were in love. But the night doorman’s mother was against it and tried to keep them apart. She is not in a wheelchair due to a tragic accident. The night doorman crashed their car on purpose because he wanted to die when she forbid him to be with the man he loved: the classic suicidal gay boy.
And so now, the day doorman has tracked his former lover down and taken a job to be close to him, but is still being rejected. So he started killing all the women in the building because he hates them for stealing all his lover’s attention, just like the mother. This woman-hating gay finally just killed her, too, and then dressed up as her to bring her back to life. But not even a last ditch effort to conform to societal norms by becoming a woman for his man worked, so now the night doorman is upstairs dead, too.
What’s a girl to do about all these fucking psycho faggots?
Emasculate them even more! Archer knees him in the balls, of course. Connors pops in just in time to shoot him, catch Archer in his arms, and request a kiss, thereby restoring heteronormativity. The end.