It’s gays vs. the supernatural, gays vs. a masked killer, and gays vs. zombies in my latest marathon, which lands some new films on both the homo horror movies page and the does the gay guy die? page.
Running a little over 15 minutes long, this silly little short film is a good warm up for this gay horror marathon. Not to be confused with the French film Poltergay, this is…sort of a brief take on the same plot.
A straight, religious couple moves into a new home and quickly discovers there are a couple of gay ghosts in the house.
Initially the humor felt dated, cliché, and corny to me.
However, it finds its rhythm when Halloween hits and the couple tries to exorcise the ghosts.
The comic timing of all four actors is perfect, thanks in part to the fact that the writing suddenly gets much quicker and smarter.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REBIRTH (2020)
Night of the Living Dead gets slightly reimagined, with scream queen Roger Conners, who directs and stars, playing the Judith O’Dea character as a gay man.
Understand that Roger plays the role just as she did, with the character basically being helpless, useless, and in a daze for most of the film, so if you’re looking for a gay horror hero character, this ain’t it.
There are minor changes in the details, but if you’ve seen the original (who hasn’t?), you know what to expect.
Most notably different is that the zombies’ eyes glow.
It’s never quite explained why this happens, but I found that it added a little something different to the worn out zombie genre, and the effect reminded me of the ghostly pirates in The Fog.
There’s also some updating to provide social commentary in a queer context. For instance, the self-centered asshole is an anti-gay religious nut this time, something not surprising in bringing the character into the new millennium.
The little girl with the garden tool scene is intact, but there’s just no topping the way it’s presented in the original film. For me, the final act is the most exciting part, with a disorienting slow strobing light effect as the zombies infiltrate the dark house. It’s also where we get the most gore.
And just for fun, there’s some zombutt.
If you’re like me, the only question you’ll have the entire time is, who’s going to be the last man standing, the gay guy or the gorgeous Black guy?
TEACHER SHORTAGE (2020)
With his third slasher, director Troy Escamilla (Party Night, Mrs. Claus) goes for the gay. Teacher Shortage lands an honorary spot on the homo horror movies page because the final boy is gay. Having said that, I still feel Party Night, his first film, is his strongest slasher yet.
The plot focuses on a gay teacher having an affair with the high school principal, played by none other than Roger Conners.
Personally, I much prefer his gay character and performance here because his Rebirth character is as annoying as Judith O’Dea was in Night of the Living Dead. That’s right, I said it. I’ve never liked her character.
The gay teacher joins a group of English teachers for a dinner party, and they begin getting picked off one by one by a masked killer.
There’s a whole lot of talk in between kills, most of it awkward dialogue that slows down the pacing while adding nothing to the plot. The acting is also a mixed bag.
For instance, beary actor David McMahon shines, effortlessly creating a character with loads of character, while others around him basically just recite their lines or overact, causing inconsistency within scenes.
There are some gory kills and the killer’s mask is a goodie, but there are also some odd choices, like every setting abruptly and illogically turning Argento red when the killer takes care of business. It is reminiscent of a technique used in Creepshow, where it works perfectly with the horror comic book structure, while here it feels like a forced 80s nostalgia gimmick. The lighting choice works best in this kind of film when it’s somehow logically incorporated into the setting, such as the scene at a bar, which would most likely have dim lighting drenched with color light coming from neon beer brand signs on the walls.
Also, the 80s inspired score isn’t used sparingly to highlight or enhance kill scenes. Instead, there’s almost always some sort of ominous music playing in the background regardless of context, like in the very first scene when yearbooks are being distributed in class.
The final gay gets a chase scene that doesn’t quite have the oomph longtime slasher fans look for. Rather than scary or suspenseful, it comes across as campy, which I don’t think was the intention. However, I do think the film would have benefited by going with that tone instead, especially since the main character is a gay teacher banging the principal! Awesome. I will totally be adding this one to my collection of gay horror flix.
NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT (2020)
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a pretty damn good backwoods slasher to check out if you need a fix.
At a summer camp designed to get kids off their devices and off the grid, a counselor takes a small group out on a hike. All the tropes are in place and get the job done.
- someone is feeding something in a basement
- the hikers find a mutilated animal
- the guys have a fight, including anti-gay sentiments
- one of the guys is actually gay
- a couple has sex in woods
- one kid knows all the rules of horror
- the group finds a creepy house in the woods
- victims end up imprisoned in a basement lair
- flashbacks reveal the killer’s back story
Along with all that, the killer is gnarly looking, the kills are gory, and there are plenty of suspense scenes, making this a satisfying yet familiar experience.
A STRANGER AMONG THE LIVING (2019)
While not as gay as his film Triggered, this film features director Chris Moore playing as a gay character with a husband, plus a few lines seem to suggest that our cute, bald, leading man is gay.
This eerie little indie is a cross between It Follows and The Sixth Sense. The main guy is a teacher who manages to survive a school shooting when Fate intervenes.
He spends the rest of the film seeing and being followed by creepy apparitions.
There are some excellent suspense scenes, but the film does get a bit repetitive, and despite an effectively timed score, it is guilty of too many stinger scares. There are plenty used during genuine horror scares, so the faux scare moments are entirely unnecessary.
Even so, this is predominantly a smartly produced supernatural indie that keeps you engrossed and on edge. Plus, Chris is a hoot in his role.