I’ve been following this upcoming drag slasher for quite some time, and at last it is on its way to being unveiled to the world—and hopefully released on DVD so I can add it to my gay horror collection (I’ve already added it to the full homo horror movies page on the site).
Death Drop Gorgeous is co-written and co-directed by trio Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, and Brandon Perras. Brandon even plays a mob boss type who owns the drag club where the movie takes place…and where he keeps a (big beary leather daddy son of a) bitch on a leash just for the fun of it.
Our cute main guy (who nails the comic timing) gets his old job back at the drag club, where the queer crowd is dealing with the ageism, racism, and femme-phobia that run rampant in the community…plenty of reasons for someone to want to start killing off a bunch of queens!
Perhaps because there are three creators behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on here. Death Drop Gorgeous has hints of 80s slashers (a masked killer and CGI-free gore), giallo elements (detectives on the case and scenes drenched in pink/purple lighting), and a 90s club scene vibe (bitchy drag queens performing thumping house tracks). It’s like recent gay horror flicks Killer Unicorn and Knife + Heart were placed in a meat grinder with RuPaul’s Drag Race.
It’s a lot to juggle, and like most giallos, it delivers a convoluted plot and scattered subplots, as well as numerous extraneous characters, which makes it hard to pinpoint the ones we need to focus on to carry us through the story. For the most part, the film is just what you’d expect from an indie drag slasher—there’s loads of fun to have here as long as you can overlook rookie mistakes. You can’t go into Death Drop Gorgeous expecting a sleek mainstream production, but if you love VHS-era slashers and also good, trashy drag performances, this is a movie for you.
Let’s start off with the showstoppers—literally. The film runs 103 minutes long, a dangerous length for a slasher (consider that both Halloween 1978 and Friday the 13th 1980 hover around 90 minutes). Naturally if you’re going to cast drag queens in your horror movie and they get dolled up for the camera, they’re all going to expect a moment in the spotlight. With the number of drag queens in this film, that makes for a lot of moments. While there’s clearly a need to showcase some drag performances, they work best for the flow of the film when they’re interspersed with or serve as the background for a scene (or death scene) that propels the film forward. Even slashers of the eighties that felt the need to highlight some struggling new wave, power pop, or metal band often only gave them one full number.
The other issues that slow down the pacing are two common problems we see in indie films all the time. First there are irrelevant scenes that pad the run time without helping to tell the story or develop characters and aren’t entertaining enough to keep the audience engaged while waiting for the next kill. And then there’s character response time. It’s that feeling of actors taking a few seconds too long to react, almost as if they’re trying to remember their next line, waiting to make sure the other actor is completely done speaking, or waiting for someone to call “action!”. Some of that could have been fixed if split seconds had been edited out between the camera cutting from one character to another, and some of it could have been smoothed over if the directors had lightly coached some of the actors to pick up the pace and not fall off the beat.
There. I covered the film’s problems so you’re prepared for them. Let’s get to the good stuff (including the butt above). There are bearded, bearish guys, like co-creator Brandon, if that’s you’re thing (mmmm, papa!).
The drag queens look fantastic—one even reminds me of Gaga. There are good songs, and early on one queen performs a “Death Drop Gorgeous” theme song that sounds like a 90s club track. Awesome. The horror score is drenched in 80s synth vibes, and the soundtrack includes some great “now wave” artists I’ve either played on my Future Flashbacks show (Boy Hasher, Bright Light Bright Light) or plan to now that this movie introduced them to me (Beta Motel, Sapphic Lasers).
There’s just enough bod, butt, and dick to prove the film has the balls to be unapologetically gay without leaning entirely on sex and nudity to captivate its niche audience.
Even more captivating are the vicious kills. I wouldn’t change a thing about them, and I would have gladly welcomed more, as well as a chase scene or two, which we don’t get here. We do, however, experience what is probably my favorite horror scene in the film—a tarp maze that is right out of Argento and perfectly demonstrates the creative vision these filmmakers have in them.
In fact, the final act is when we are hit with the bulk of the horror. There are some unexpected plot twists, an iconic scream queen makes a brief cameo without distracting us, and the killer’s performance is an absolute hoot, rising to the occasion for this gay slasher comedy’s campy tone.
I’ll keep you posted as the film becomes available to watch, but do check out the deathdropgorgeous.com website and follow them on social media.