I filled in a gap in my collection of essential horror by finally purchasing The Bad Seed, plus I added two recently released 80s horror flicks I had never seen, one of which has a major gay plot.
THE BAD SEED (1956)
A classic of the psychological thriller genre, The Bad Seed novel was soon turned into a play that was then adapted into this movie with most of the same cast. The movie pans out like a play with the story unfolding through talk, not action. For that reason alone it could have been trimmed down from its whopping 129-minute length, because the dialogue becomes quite repetitive after a while, especially between the mother and her evil daughter.
The plot should be familiar to everyone—people seem to die around a little girl, and pretty soon her mother figures out that she’s a killer who doesn’t feel pity.
Funny thing is…there are no onscreen deaths. In fact, there are only three people killed through the course of the narrative, and it’s always off screen. The first is a little boy the bad seed goes on a school trip with and drowns in a lake. This is what starts the mother suspecting she’s a killer, and eventually the daughter confesses to it by describing what happened.
The daughter then also describes how she killed an older woman they knew after her mother presses her about the woman’s death.
The final murder comes after a gardener figures out the daughter killed the boy. She ends up burning him alive, and this is the most “graphic” scene in the movie. We hear his screams of pain and smoke coming through basement doors. And yet to lessen the gruesome implications, the little girl is playing a loud whimsical song on the piano during the scene.
This comes after the mother has already tried to cover up the murder of the boy. That’s what’s most compelling about this film—the mother struggles with accepting her daughter’s mental issue while also loving her and wanting to protect her.
**SPOILER** Another interesting thing about the movie adaptation is that the ending is altered. The novel is very The Omen in its final moments; just as the father of Damien fails to kill his evil son and dies while the son goes on to cause more murderous havoc, the evil daughter in The Bad Seed book remains alive while her mother dies from a murder/suicide attempt. I guess that seemed like too dark of an ending for 1956. And yet, the movie ends with the mother living and the evil girl dying! You kind of gotta love that allowing a bad girl to live was considered inappropriate back then, but killing off a little girl was seen as a happy ending. Tee hee.
The good news is that nothing happens to the hot father…
And as if to negate all the craziness of a making a movie about a little killer girl, the film’s closing credits are presented like a play, with all of the cast members coming out to take a bow…and then a playful moment where the mother spanks her daughter. Weird.
HANGING HEART (1983)
This totally lost film of the early 80s (just released on Blu-ray in the Homegrown Horror Collection 2) suffers from Elm Street 2 syndrome—it seems like the gayest film ever, but all the delicious homoerotism (which demands loads of screenshots) merely exploits the fact that the film is inherently anti-gay.
The beautiful pretty boy lead spends much of the film in his tighty-whities right from the first scene.
He’s a struggling actor performing in what seems to be a very queer play and living with his doting gay lawyer, which is helpful when he becomes the prime suspect in a string of murders.
This is a pseudo-slasher in that there’s a disguised murderer killing women, but the body count is low, and the killer simply chokes victims to death with a stocking.
The numerous nightmares the main hottie has deliver the only blood—and even that isn’t much.
More than a slasher, this is sort of like a giallo/erotic thriller mashup. It’s drawn out and nonsensical at times, with loads of sexploitation and the main guy going through a whole lot of weird shit before all is said and done.
But most importantly, this gets an honorary spot on the homo horror movies page because it is just so queer…and anti-queer. It tries to throw every awful gay stereotype found in horror at that time into one film. Here’s what you can expect:
- The main guy has homoerotic dreams about getting sexual with his lawyer in the shower yet seems to be suffering from homosexual panic
- The main guy is sexually confused due to a past that involves being sexually abused by his stepfather
- The main guy has sex with women but is also presented as being jealous of women, and is even accused of hating women
- The main guy gets arrested and is given an anal cavity search
- The main guy is tossed in a jail cell with a male “couple” that wants a piece of his ass
- The main guy is forced to watch the guys in the jail cell have anal sex
- The main guy ends up in a mental institution and gets whipped by an inmate wearing girlie undies while other inmates watch
- The main guy is found wearing a wig and makeup while in a daze
- The lawyer has guilt about abandoning his father and is in love with the main guy
- The lawyer feels up a statue of Jesus on the crucifix and envisions Jesus as the main guy
- There are James Dean posters on the walls in the lawyers house
- The lawyer is beat with a bat by an angry dude who then calls him a faggot
- The killer looks like the Dressed to Kill killer with a black wig instead of blonde
- It’s really obvious who the killer is, and it’s no surprise that the killer is queer and that the killer’s queerness is the reason for killing women
- Once all the fun is done and the killer is captured, the killer passionately kisses another guy
While the film is slow and not particularly scary as far as killer-in-drag movies go, it does a whole lot of exploration into sexual dysfunction. Sexual desire is presented as sin that needs to be cleansed through turning to religion; homosexuality is equated with nightmares, being in jail, and being committed to a mental institution; homosexuality and an inability to connect with the opposite sex are painted as being the result of troubled childhoods and unhealthy relationships with fathers. Hey, at least the father gets the blame for a change instead of this being another film about a queer momma’s boy killer.
BLOOD DELIRIUM (1988)
This slice of late 80s Euro horror sleaze simply is what it is. You either go for this skanky, gory crap set to clashing melodramatic music or you don’t.
An artist who believes he is Van Gogh and that his wife is his muse feels defeated after her untimely death. Then he discovers his butler licking and fucking her dead pussy before she’s buried.
But he doesn’t fire the butler…because who better than Niles the necro to help him dig up the body once she’s buried so she can continue to be his muse?
Meanwhile, the artist brings home a woman who looks exactly like his wife and romances her…while essentially keeping her captive.
She eventually discovers there are gruesome things happening to women in the house while she also experiences what appears to be a haunting.
If you love Euro trash of the 80s, this is good bottom of the garbage truck fodder to check out.