With the way it plays out, Tempus Torentum is a fascinating horror film if taken as an allegory for one man’s denial of and fear of his homosexuality, which might be exactly what it is.
The symbolism is definitely up to that interpretation from this gay guy’s POV, but I can’t guarantee it’s correct.
The film begins with a guy hitching a ride with a dude who gives him lecherous looks. After being dropped off, he passes a very cordial cowboy on a dark street at night, and then gets judgmental looks from a big beary hotel clerk, who tells him he’s “come to the right place.”
Coincidental positioning, or is this bear a horny devil?
At a diner, he is intently observed by three guys at a nearby table and panics when he sees one of them shooting up in a bathroom stall.
You’re garden variety of gays?
He spends the rest of the film getting repeatedly chased, drugged, and violated by three guys in leather gimp masks in various ways that are never directly sexual.
For instance, he’s strapped down with a clamp holding his lips open so some creature with a long, dripping, phallic appendage can release its nasty “ejaculate” into his mouth.
Bizarre scenarios abound with each chase through neon lit locations. During a cat and mouse in a warehouse, the main guy witnesses one of his tormentors sexually fingering a female mannequin…then furiously beating up a male mannequin he thinks is watching him.
When the main guy stops at a stranger’s house and insists he needs help and is “not trying to do anything funny,” the dude starts telling him he needs to turn to Jesus. Looking for protection in a church with a priest doesn’t save him, either. Has it ever saved any guy…?
Things shift to black and white when he encounters a woman he claims to love.
It shift back to color once he snaps out of it to realize he’s back with the three men (Wizard of Oz much?).
He’s constantly envisioning being inducted into a masked cult and ends up at a club where everyone is hidden behind masks. When he tells one woman his story of abduction and describes the leader of the gang (the mannequin fucker), she comments that it sounds like he’s describing himself…
They put him into what looks like an electrocution chair to be impaled by a woman, then place a mask over his face, and put him in a box, after which he finally sees the light and heads for it. If that isn’t symbolism for gay conversion therapy and the death of your true soul, I don’t know what is.
Yeah, I really have to read this trippy film as a nightmare of internalized homophobia to truly get the most out of it. I’d love to know what anyone else thinks. If you want to check it out, it’s on Amazon Prime as of this writing. Keep your gaydar peeled for all the visual and verbal signs…