This was a treat. Not only was it a triple feature of flicks in various subgenres, but each one also included gay male characters…including one that was a total gay horror romance, landing these films on the does the gay guy die? page and the homo horror movies page.
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (2023)
Despite this being a period piece, I really hope this hidden gay horror romance gets a physical media release, because it’s something different and has some cool vampire monsters.
I’ll just note that in this negative and nasty age we live in, I noticed keyboard warriors on IMDb criticizing the film because the characters are wearing modern T-shirts. Seriously, this is where we are at as a horror viewing community. And who knows? As someone who mostly loathes period pieces, maybe I liked this film because the dudes were wearing modern T-shirts…
But seriously, I don’t give a crap if dudes are wearing contemporary T-shirts when there’s a much bigger picture here…partially because I’m just waiting for them to take the shirts off, but more importantly because this film dares to create a totally gay love story set during World War II with a good vampire vibe moving the story forward. Sure, the movie has its moments of feeling like there were budget constraints, but overall I felt it did a fine job of creating its universe, capturing the essence of the time period and offering up some impressive sets.
The story is simple and straightforward. After a mysterious encounter with a red-robed figure on the battlefield, two soldiers get away from the explosions and encounter a pretty boy who offers to bring them to his father’s home for shelter.
Once at the house, we quickly learn it’s the son’s job to bring home “food” for him and the dad. Problem is he falls in love with one of the two young soldiers.
The film touches upon the effects of religion on young gay men and brings forth the parallels between vampires and gays both being considered monsters in society. Personally, I was drawn to the look and style of the film. It’s sexy, it’s romantic, it has some ominous atmosphere, and there’s a satisfying vampire battle in the final act.
There was only one scene that didn’t work for me and made me giggle, and it involved two German soldiers shooting at the main characters, with one guy behind the other and shooting a machine gun willy-nilly, which definitely would have hit the guy in front.
It’s not often that one of the movies I watch proves to be more interesting than all the fun to be had on my iPad, but this drug trippy film starts strong and kept me fixated for a while. It feels sort of like backwoods horror sprinkled with a dash of folk horror.
A group of friends of varying gender identities and orientations vacations in a beachside house to party and have sex. After attending a rave, they begin to experience some very odd situations. An old lady at a shop they stop in appears to be pregnant (very freaky scene).
A weird plumber dude fishes things out of their toilet with his hands.
And then, while the group is doing drugs on the beach, one of them sees some sort of fireside occult ritual.
An intense buildup, a warped sense of reality thanks to the recreational drug use (or have they been roofied?), and sexual indulgences all establish the onset of something frightening and intriguing, but somehow the film fails to take advantage of the very elements it introduces. There’s so much that could have been explored, but the plot simply doesn’t commit to fully realizing the horrors at its disposal.
For instance, there’s a sort of backwoods vibe, in large part due to the fact that after the rave there seems to be no one else in the town but the old pregnant lady and the plumber. Where did everyone go? A cult aspect comes into play, but the few cult members only show up as needed to satisfy suspense scenes—the old lady and the plumber are the predominant threats. What the hell happened to the rest of the cult?
Even as the friends get abducted and gruesomely prodded in a secret lair for an extraction of sorts, the details of what is going on are fuzzy—the “cult” (of two) is only in need of one virgin for some sort of fertility ritual. And it’s not even a thrilling ritual, making for a very anticlimactic finale.
THE SLAUGHTER (2022)
In the wake of Scream back in 1996, we were inundated with loads of copycat slashers, and it was awesome! Even Euro horror took the sleek modern slasher route. Italian film The Slaughter, which is actually an English language movie, very much feels like a throwback to that era.
Imagine my surprise when the movie begins with an interracial gay male couple. They even share a quick kiss. I had high hopes for them.
Well, those homo hopes were dashed pretty fast. The white dude has no interest in hanging with the Black guy’s friends, so he’s immediately written out of the film. And once the slasher action starts, the gay Black guy, who is a hardcore horror fan and should recognize all the slasher signals in his reality as soon as they appear, somehow manages to be the first one to die. Sigh. Meanwhile, a lesbian couple gets a nude sex scene. No fair.
Anyway, the friends sneak into an abandoned movie studio and are welcomed by a creepy caretaker dude. As in Rage, this group offers a range of sexualities, and they’re looking to have sex, which is amplified after they each pop a pill.
The eerie, empty building set is great, and the slasher elements are classic if not cliché. It’s very American in style, with only one death scene that felt like an homage to old school Italian death scenes.
The killer wears a baby face mask reminiscent of masks from movies like Valentine and Happy Death Day. There are several good chase scenes, and the killer uses a variety of murder techniques—electrocution, acid bath, stabbing, etc.
While it’s mostly straightforward, the film seems to allude to other elements that are simply never expanded upon. The group finds and watches what appears to be a snuff film, but there’s never any concrete explanation as to its relevance to the current kills. There is some security camera POV that seems to imply there are supernatural elements. At one point, one characters flashes demon eyes and I seriously thought we were heading into Demons territory rather than slasher mode (that would have been awesome). And brace yourself. Near the end of the film the killer suddenly begins to make a Grudge sound! WTF? Did the filmmakers just assume everyone who watches the movie would know what that signifies so we could draw our own conclusions as to why the kills were happening? But if it’s a supernatural situation, why was the killer wearing a mask? Sigh.