Play Dead – gay weekend at Bernie’s?

play dead bigger cover

It’s amazing that a gay (surprisingly light) dark comedy came out in 2001 about a gay babysitter who wants to bang the dead high school wrestler he has a crush on…and completely disappeared. Play Dead seems to have never been on DVD, isn’t available from streaming services, and good luck finding it online.

Maybe the extreme subject matter being handled so play(dead)fully was too much for even campy gay audiences? How sick and twisted do you have to be to get enjoyment out of a film about a kid who bangs his dead teen crush?

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I loved this movie. It’s just so adorable and funny. No. Really. And it’s concise and to the point, running a quick hour and nineteen minutes. Dale is babysitting for a big drunken MILF, played by scream queen Sherrie Rose (Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Devil in the Flesh, Night Claws). After flirting with him and just before departing, she tells him her daughter Dustine is out in the yard, sprawled on the ground playing dead.

This little red-haired girl is destined to be a future Ginger Snaps! I adore her. And her interactions and conversations with Dale totally steal the show—or at least, they’re in a tight race with the big sex scene.

With Dustine faux dead in the backyard dirt, Dale hatches a plan to get hunky high school wrestler Raymond over to the house—and it involves a free bottle of Vodka. Their scene together totally captures the dilemma of adolescent gay longing. Things don’t exactly go as planned and Raymond leaves with the liquor.

play dead diva zappa

In comes Dale’s friend Violet (Diva Zappa—yes, daughter of Frank and sister of Moon Unit and Dweezil), looking all butch and boyish, to inform Dale that she killed a guy in a car accident and fled the scene. Guess who it was.

What ensues is Three’s Company meets Weekend at Bernie’s as Dale, Violet, and little Dustine juggle the body while trying to decide what to do with it. Of course, Dale knows exactly what he wants to do with it. It’s amazing how whimsically director Jeff Jenkins handles the subject matter….

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After all is said and done, Dale wants to court Raymond’s corpse! I know it sounds sick and depraved, but Play Dead is too silly and coy to be taken seriously. Not to mention, the girls refuse to be the third and fourth wheels!

Aside from the fantastic cast, you also get to see some nice shots of Raymond’s butt (fear not. It’s when he’s alive), and the film delivers one priceless line: “What the fuck did I sit on?” Trust me. You have to see it in context to appreciate it.

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Maybe distributors were too afraid of the concept to even touch it, but I really hope Play Dead gets a second chance. And to any gays who get in an uproar about a film that paints gay guys as sick corpse bangers, I say, bite me! Heteros have been fucking corpses in horror flicks for decades!

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
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