Regent Releasing, 2005

Paul Etheredge-Ouzts

Starring: Dylan Fergus,Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips

Rated R, 83 minutes

Another Gay Movie
TLA Releasing, 2006

Todd Stephens

Starring: Michael Carbonardo, Jonah Blechman, Jonathan Chase, Mitch Morris, Ashlie Atkinson, Scott Thompson, Graham Norton, Darryl Stephens, Lypsinka, Richard Hatch

Unrated, 93 minutes

This Is Progress?
by Michael D. Klemm
Reprinted from Outcome, January, 2007



African American and Queer films share amazing similarities. Here's a short history lesson. People of color during the silent era were often caucasians wearing black face. Stereotypes like Amos and Andy ruled the roost until the 1960s when socially conscious films appeared (A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner), but even these movies were targeted more towards white folks. The 1970s began splendidly with Sounder and Roots but mainstream success came with the dreaded "blaxploitation films" like Shaft, Cleopatra Jones and Blacula. Such films are still with us (Big Momma's House) but the 1980s ushered in Spike Lee and more racially integrated Hollywood blockbusters.

Though it has taken us even longer to achieve screen equality, gay films are charting the same course. First came the screaming queens, then an attempt at more serious films (for straight people) like Making Love and Philadelphia. A period of experimentation amongst queer directors ensued during the 1990s, while Hollywood pictures began to add lovable sassy gay sidekicks (in much the same vein as the lovable sassy colored maids in Gone With The Wind). 2005 was a great year with Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica and numerous others but now we seem to going the "blaxploitation" route ourselves. For better or worse, we now have our own slasher flick and raunchy teen sex comedy.

I suppose that adding a queer angle is one way to resuscitate an old tired genre. Now, don't get me wrong; I can enjoy a good scare film (like Hitchcock's Psycho or Kubrick's The Shining). I like the ones that frighten while still having a strong script and nicely rounded characters who you can emphasize with. What I don't like is the same old Friday The 13th formula regurgitated ad nauseum. You all know what I mean; the ones where a psycho killer murders a bunch of attractive young dimwits (who you couldn't care less about) one by one - usually after they have had sex or are somewhere in the vicinity of a shower.

Hellbent, billed as the first gay slasher film, comes from the same assembly line. Let's see... a group of attractive horny young men fall prey to an exceptionally well-built shirtless killer wearing a devil mask. The first victims are decapitated while having sex in their car. (Slasher Flick 101: practice abstinence or you will die - are these movies secretly funded by Pat Robertson?) Another makes the mistake of letting his lover handcuff him to the bed. One horny victim stupidly follows the killer, trying to hook up. I should note that most of the film takes place at the West Hollywood Halloween Festival but, even so, would you walk up and flirt with a man holding a sickle, and a bag that is dripping blood, when you know that there is maniac, who kills gay men by cutting off their heads, on the loose?

Character development is usually not the norm in such movies; it is almost nonexistent in this one. The killer's only targets are young gay men but no reason for this is given. This actually could be a good thing because at least there are no pretensions of a homophobia allegory. For those who like slasher flicks, I suppose this one is no worse than the rest. It is loaded with eye candy and the Halloween Festival is actually fun to watch. A hot, shirtless Henry Rollins type of punk rocker and porn star-turned-singer Colton Ford are amongst the performers and revelers. And the love story between the two male leads is rather sweet.

[Reviewer's note later that year: I have since learned that the "hot, shirtless Henry Rollins type of punk rocker" is out singer Kent James, performing as his now-retired punk alter ego, Nick Name. That's him at right. He was the movie's highlight.]

The makers of Hellbent seem to have an inflated idea of this film's importance on the DVD's extras. This is not a watershed moment in cinema history like, say, Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. But when you ponder that lesbian novelist Rita Mae Brown penned the screenplay to Slumber Party Massacre in 1982, maybe a gay slasher film isn't that much of an aberration. But come on, we can do better than this.


Ditto for Todd Stephens's Another Gay Movie, proudly described by its makers as the first gay Porky's. Re-imagining the usual dumb horny hetero jocks as a bunch of fabulous gay flirts is hardly a cause for celebration. Yet The Advocate calls this a good thing because we are getting more mainstream. Yeah, mainstream like Scream Blacula Scream.

Perhaps it was meant as a spoof. I hope so because if you take away the gay angle there is nothing original about this movie. Does this sound familiar? Four horny homo high school grads pledge to lose their virginity by the end of the summer. The only difference is the added complication of whether to be a top or a bottom - and that these boys will do it with a quiche lorraine rather than an apple pie. The film opens with one of our lads laying in bed and fantasizing about getting it on with his math teacher (played by Graham Norton, the first of many celebrity co-stars). His parents (Scott Thompson and Lypsinka) barge in as he hides a carrot under the sheets. Mother remarks that she can't find the cucumbers, then looks into an empty pet cage and asks "What happened to your gerbil?" Already my head is reeling.

Then the march of the stereotypes begins. When we first meet the boys in the band they look like a bunch of refuges from Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. And I have to ask: do gay teens really say things like "He puts the Z's in Abercrombie?" Then there's their lesbian biker friend, Muffler, who could be the matron in one of those 1950s women prison movies.

I might have tolerated some of this had it not been for the other stereotypes and I am referring here to the Asian women, and especially to the cheap blind jokes. The queeniest guy has a blind (and blonde) girlfriend who is unaware that he is gay. Having her stumble into the room where he is about to have sex with Survivor's Richard Hatch is the lowest form of fratboy humor. (By the way, Hatch bares all in this scene.) It was also pointless. It does nothing to further the plot for this guy to have a girlfriend, let alone a blind one whose only reason for being there is to be the butt of some really insensitive jokes. Was this really written and directed by the same man who wrote the delightful Edge of Seventeen?

Obviously there is an audience for raunchy teen comedies but do filmmakers have to resort to so much toilet humor to get laughs? Okay, the math teacher's online screenname of Rodzilla was funny. There were also occasional forays into subtlety like their gay friendly school ironically being named San Torum High. And of course there is a lot of eye candy so there is at least some reason to watch it. There is a very sexy scene involving Noah's Arc's Darryl Stephens.

But the pluses are eclipsed by all the amplified farting and sucking noises that dominate the soundtrack. Couple this with over-the-top acting, and cinematography influenced by episodes of The Brady Bunch (with matching music), and this all adds up to one annoying movie - starting with the Nancy Sinatra theme song and following through every gross bodily function joke you can imagine. Maybe I should lighten up but I don't want to witness the birth of a new genre called "Fagsploitation Films." Okay, a movie can be fun mindless entertainment. But there is karaoke and there is opera. Which one is art?


More on Todd Stephens:
Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!
Edge Of Seventeen

Scott Thompson, Jonah Blechman
and Lypsinka also appear in:

Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!

Darryl Stephens also appears in:
Boy Culture

Hot Guys With Guns

Stephanie McVay also appears in:
Edge Of Seventeen

Nick Name also appears in
Nick Name and the Normals