Yay! It’s gay directors and actors I’ve followed for years giving us gay characters in three different films that I’ll be adding to the homo horror movies page. Let’s get right into this queer trio.
BEFORE THE NIGHT IS OVER (2020)
Richard Griffin, one of my fave gay indie directors, returns to horror with a gay vengeance.
After the death of her parents, a young woman comes to live with her aunt…in a gay whorehouse. Awesome.
The slow mo, in-your-face, man-on-man action as soon as the main girl enters the whorehouse foyer is delicious, and it’s pretty much nonstop from there, including full-frontal action.
The setting has that feeling of classic haunted mansion movies, the staff is perfectly weird (as they should be), and it wouldn’t be a creepy mansion movie without a mysterious locked door.
Much of the focus is on (mostly queer male) characters dealing with their relationships and their sexual proclivities, with a nice dose of judgment against religion thrown in for good measure.
There also happens to be a killer on the loose. If there’s one downside here, it’s that there are only a few death scenes and barely visible flashes of the killer. Sure there’s a large naked man count, but there’s a low dead body count. Even so, one scene involving a sort of cannibalism by proxy situation is, dare I say it? Delicious!
The film might not be for everyone, but the final act captures the vibe of trippy, weird, supernatural occult horror of the early 1970s where you didn’t quite know exactly what the hell was going on, but you knew it wasn’t going to end well for the characters.
LGBT: LETHAL GAY BUTCHER OF DEATH (2023)
This indie film has been given a flashy, gay slasher style cover, but don’t get your hopes up. There are only two kills, and both look like they were shot on the same corner, with the same setup—guy going to his car gets injected by the killer and is then found gutted the next day.
There are no scares here. This is instead a long-winded police procedural loaded with actors who bring absolutely zero energy to their performances.
The killer does wear the mask that is featured in the poster, but it’s irrelevant, because he removes it after the first attack, and we know who he is for the rest of the film. In other words, there’s no mystery here either.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—my gay perspective as a New Yorker is quite different than that of filmmakers from the Midwest and south. My goal when writing my gay horror novels is to present mostly happy gay men who just happen to land in horrific situations. Movies such as this one, which comes from Ohio, seem to be a cathartic project for the filmmakers, focusing on gay dysfunction—drugs, alcohol, cheating, compulsive sex—stemming from guilt and shame over being gay while being ostracized by all of society. Although it is too heavy-handed for my tastes, it is telling the stories of other less privileged gays who grow up and live in oppressive parts of the country, so we can’t take that away from it, and there are viewers who will feel quite connected to the story.
Even the title of this film originally carried weight. I’d say the name change made for release was smart. On IMDb it’s called Leviticus. The title Lethal Gay Butcher of Death is much more fun, but alas, this gloomy movie doesn’t live up to it.
Aside from the lack of horror, the writing suffers from plot holes. For instance, the detectives (one of which is a cute red bear) keep following leads on information the audience is never given, such as knowing exactly what the killer looks like!
And then there’s the moment they conclude that the killer has a “type”. The only two victims we get are not the same type at all, and the cop they use as bait to catch the killer is not the same type as either of the victims. Suffice it to say, my husband and I watched the film with another gay couple and this didn’t go over well as our movie night selection.
On the bright side, I was happy to see my social media buddy and scream king Roger Conners in the cast, playing a character named Roger Conners! Plus, the gay men in this film all look like regular guys, not pretty muscle boys, and there’s a nice amount of gay bear representation.
WHEN THE TRASH MAN KNOCKS (2023)
I’ve been watching Chris Moore films for years. Not unlike Lethal Gay Butcher of Death, his previous film Children of Sin is one that I found to be more of a story about the horrors of queer hate rather than a horror ride that happened to be about queer characters.
He bypasses the social commentary with the slasher When the Trash Man Knocks, which goes for fantastic atmosphere, great setup shots, violent and gory kills, and loads of nods to the original Halloween. It takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, so it’s going on the holiday horror page, plus Chris stars in the movie as well and plays a gay character.
If there’s any flaw here, it’s in the story. First off, there’s a great “legend” presented about The Trash Man, who comes knocking on Thanksgiving. If you answer the door, he butchers you and stuffs your body parts in his trash bags, inevitably collecting enough body parts to build his own family. That legend is played upon in the first half of the film but then all but forgotten for the second half, so don’t expect a body reveal Thanksgiving dinner party, which would have been awesome.
The other issue is that the script seems to have too much backstory. The main character and his mom both suffer from some form of PTSD—he sees visions of his brother, she sees and talks to her dead mother. The brother is the threat here, locked away after committing murder, then escaping, killing more people, and disappearing again. Therefore, the entire plot line about the mother’s mother is unnecessary, muddies the focus, and causes the film to run too long in an effort to flesh out the details of her issues.
To help the audience make sense of how the mother and son connect to the Trash Man lore, Chris gets a big monologue 75 minutes into the movie. At that point, it doesn’t seem to matter that much, because we’re mostly invested in the slasher elements and not looking for disruptive exposition.
You just have to overlook all that, because the death scenes show just how great Chris is at tapping into classic slasher style and delivering suspense and scares. Even the use of orchestral stabs for jump scares works to full effect numerous times and brings to mind the original Halloween. Chris also successfully uses the twist trope near the end to deliver a moment you really won’t see coming.
On top of all that, Chris’s love interest is a sizzling hot daddy—I don’t blame Chris for casting him….
Also of note is that the mother is played by an actress who first appeared in the 1983 Fred Olen Ray horror flick Scalps!