It’s four uniquely different queer titles, including a forced sex change abduction film, a gay Black murder mystery show, a gay ghost comedy, and a queer manfish movie!
Of course Sleepaway Camp is a classic that delves in the forced sex change subgenre, but the 2000-teens had its fair share of movies with that concept, including The Assignment with Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, The Skin I Live In with Antonio Banderas, and this one.
What’s interesting about Victim in current times is that it taps into phobia and paranoia about transgenderism and involuntary gender reassignment controversies created by right-wing nuts. While it could be seen as offensive to some for feeding into those phobia, it can also be an eye-opener for others if they just took the time to give it some deeper thought. On the surface, it’s obviously terrifying for a cisgender person to imagine having their physical body altered so it doesn’t match what they feel inside. Yet right there lies the key to what many cisgender people don’t want to even try to comprehend—the turmoil that transgender people experience because they don’t feel that their outside matches their inside.
Sex change angle aside, this is a traditional “abducted and experimented on” plot. After striking out with a pretty blonde woman, a young man leaves a bar, where he is attacked and abducted.
When he wakes up in a cell he is immediately abused and tortured by a mad doctor and his mute goon assistant. This eventually leads to the doctor doing a series of operations on the lead to turn him into a woman. The whole goal for viewers is to get to the end of the film to find out why exactly the doctor is doing this.
In the meantime, we get the usual abduction plot points: the young man tries to escape, he tries to call for help, a detective shows up to snoop around the doctor’s mansion, etc.
But what’s most compelling is the process of breaking the young man so he forgets his past and starts to accept his new gender identity. While a forced sex change might not be a reason to call this a queer film, there is a queer element—the mute goon seems lustful for the young man from the very start, to the point that he makes the young man feel uncomfortable and objectified—the way cis straight men are known to make women feel.
And since this is a horror/thriller, you can expect that the mute goon is eventually going to act out on his desires in a violent way.
Victim is short and simple in its general structure, but there is definitely some notable exploration into variations in gender identity, sexuality, male/female roles, and what physically constitutes being male or female. If I have one gripe, it’s that the final step in completing the young man’s transformation includes makeup, a dress, and a wig!
They had this guy imprisoned for quite some time, during which his real hair would have grown long and could have been styled and colored to get the look the doctor wanted. The wig takes the sex change into drag queen territory and kind of negates the whole trans operation narrative.
This 5-episode series runs about 2-1/2 hours in total, so it’s easy to binge in one sitting.
Focusing primarily on Black characters, it has plenty of sexy bodies and sexy scenes, several drag performances, and murder.
The problem is that this low budget effort doesn’t give us enough killer thrills. Even a couple of mysterious delivery moments turn out to be bogus promises.
I would have more than welcomed a dick in a box.
The very first death scene has a classic slasher feel with horror-esque lighting, but that’s all we get beyond a bloody body reveal in a later episode.
The show does a lot of character development using flashbacks that tend to make the flow of the narrative a bit confusing (for instance, murdered people suddenly appearing on screen all alive again).
Exploring queer Black identity, white queer privilege, and how the two collide, the idea is that the murderers link a variety of different closeted, married white men and the men of color who sleep with them.
I’m psyched that this is a Black, erotic thriller mystery show, but I just wish they had ramped up the murderer and kill aspects to bring more tension and suspense.
It wouldn’t have been hard to add some intense chase scenes to the mix as well. Not to mention, the whole story revolves around the idea that closeted white gay men are being murdered, but there simply aren’t enough murders.
MARRY MY DEAD BODY (2022)
This gay Taiwanese ghost comedy is the perfect blend of romantic, sexy, funny, and heartwarming, and it even has a great car chase scene and fight scene.
A homophobic cop suddenly finds himself “married to a male ghost” thanks to some grandmotherly magic. Grandma supported her grandson in fighting for marriage equality, and promised to be there for his wedding. But then he tragically got hit by a car and died.
So when grandma has an encounter with the homophobic cop, she curses him and says his life will be hell unless he agrees to marry her grandson’s ghost.
What transpires is a charming comedy in which the living cop and dead grandson not only learn to live with each other, but also work together to determine who was in the car that killed the grandson.
It’s a sort of gay, supernatural buddy movie that at times brings to mind the relationship between Oda Mae and Sam in Ghost.
The 130-minute runtime is a little excessive, so the film does slow down in the middle.
However, once the “couple” gets closer to solving the case and gets tangled up with an organized crime gang, the action picks up and offers up a whole lot of fun.
And as cute as the guys are, and as sexy as some nude scenes are, this film doesn’t rely on any actual sex scenes to entice a gay audience.
This can easily be looked upon as a male-on-male version of The Shape of Water, but it’s a little more complicated than that…and it also leaves us with a lot of questions by the end.
In an opening scene that takes place in 1991, a man is dragged from the shore into the ocean. Is this supposed to imply that he becomes the manfish years later? I’m not sure.
Next we meet Terry, a dude with a bitter wife and a miserable brother.
With little fanfare, Terry discovers the manfish on the beach. His wife decides they’re going to take it home and then sell it to make money.
The film is sort of slow at first, yet the plot moves quickly with little time taken to develop the plot points. Before you know it, Terry and the manfish are sleeping together!
We also learn in passing that dogs have gone missing in the neighborhood, and it’s implied that the manfish ate them. He’s also capable of tearing humans to pieces when he feels threatened, but that also gets handled fleetingly.
Running only 80 minutes long, the film is charming, with some light humor and some dark undertones, but I really feel like more time was needed to expand on the storyline.