When masked killers target gay subcultures

The gay slasher genre has gotten a good dose of new entries in the past few years, and here are two more to add to my homo horror movies pages.

THE GETAWAY (2018)

Imagine a cheesy low budget David DeCoteau indie with a more mature, black, out and proud cast of characters, deliciously explicit gay sex scenes, and an actual slasher plot, and you have The Getaway.

Cheesy low budget indie aspect aside, everything else makes this a more enjoyable gay horror experience than the softcore footage DeCoteau slaps together of pretty white boys pleasuring themselves in their white undies…and then markets as horror movies.

The Getaway starts with a super hot sex scene drenched in red horror light, which leads to the first appearance of the masked killer and (off screen) deaths.

A good horror score is a plus, although it is overused in scenes in which it doesn’t really belong, causing it to forget its purpose at times.

Next we meet all our sexy couples. Incredibly satisfying to see a bunch of gay couples portrayed as both loving and sexually realized partners.

They get invited to a retreat at a house in the woods, where they are welcomed by a REALLY out of place old white man in colonial attire. Just didn’t understand that part at all.

After that, the film experiences a common indie slasher pitfall: pacing problems. It attempts to develop characters and their connections with only dialogue driven exposition that isn’t exactly entertaining. But it’s worth sitting through to get to the good parts. Actually, the best part.

A gorgeous muscle hunk goes to town on a cutie in a softcore sex scene of fingering…

spanking…

ass eating…

a fricking closer ass eating shot in case we questioned the authenticity…

and pounding…

plus there’s a nice thick cock shot.

I felt like I’d stepped into one of my own sexually charged horror novels all of a sudden. What I’m saying is, despite any flaws, I applaud this film for not wimping out. It’s a gay slasher that revels in what makes gay horror different than straight horror—sexuality.  

The film even addresses the issue in a meta conversation between two characters about the typical portrayals of gay men in TV and film…one of them being oversexualization.

After the sex scene (that I kind of wish was a hardcore porn because it’s that hot), we get into classic slasher territory. The film doesn’t exactly deliver chilling atmosphere, gore effects, or anything super scary, but the staples of slashers are there—body reveals, chases, a final confrontation, and an unmasking. 

The unmasking monologue is another strong point of the story, as it deals directly with issues of sexuality, particularly those that impact the African-American community.

KILLER UNICORN (2018)

Killer Unicorn is another bold and unapologetic gay slasher that focuses on a completely different gay subculture: drag queens and club kids. 20 to 30 years ago I could see this campy portrayal of club debauchery being an underground cult classic, but these days I’m not so sure it will be as fully embraced by the current climate in our incredibly divided “gay community.”

Killer Unicorn is essentially the antithesis of The Getaway. Whereas that film features assimilated couples quite reflective of many gay relationships today, this one strikes me as a throwback to 1990s gay life, with clubbing, drugging, and promiscuous sex galore (such fun was ruined in New York City when they closed down all the clubs).

This is essentially a full-fledged drag queen slasher, and even those few characters that aren’t in drag are so affected in their behaviors and conversation (it’s strictly nonstop bitchy quips to the point of overkill) it might not quite strike a chord with some gay hardcore horror fans. It’s as gay as a film gets with a side order of horror rather than a horror film that just happens to revolve around gay characters.

But from a gay underground film perspective it perfectly taps into the subversive side of gay culture and sex fetishes, dabbles in the fun of the RuPaul’s Draq Race era, and offers up several montages of drag performances. I saw the film at its New York City premiere, and the audience’s response highlighted just how gay it is. It truly is a gay film meant for gay consumption. Heck, the director even told a story of a screening in which a shocked 90-something old lady said after that it exposed her to a world she didn’t know existed. If you’re making a true gay film, that’s exactly the response you want…

Along with the fun and games, there are also notable commentaries on urban gay life, including homophobia, dangers of anonymous sex, and the creation of a support system within gay circles. Plus, we get a strong dose of diversity rather than a generic pretty white boy cast.

The film is big on camp, and while there are some intense kill scenes, to me they felt somewhat watered down due to the level of camp. I didn’t always feel a sense of horror or dread as the hot bodied killer in tiny shorts and a unicorn mask offed victims, because I was always anticipating the funny, campy quip or reaction from the victim.

For me, the strongest horror elements come during the major massacre sequence in the final act. The killer chases victims through a labyrinth of eerie halls in the back of a dance club as the lights strobe on and off quite slowly, leaving us in pitch darkness for more than a blink at a time. It’s not only creepy but manages to create quite a disorienting atmosphere. 

Most satisfying of all is that the finale mixes up expectations of the usual slasher formula and gay film formula. For instance, it seems almost predictable that despite this being a film filled with drag queens, the two final boys are non-drag love interests. However, it is the queens who absolutely step it up when it’s time to fight back against the killer.

What surprised me most is that with all the fresh and gory death scenes sprinkled throughout the film, the most obvious weapon is never used: the unicorn horn! This entire film could have taken on a new life if the whole point was that the killer used the horn to do all kinds of unthinkable damage. The horn instead looks like it is made of fabric. For unicorn horn deaths you’ll have to check out CarousHELL. Personally, I’d still watch this one again over that one.

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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