William Friedkin’s 1980 film “Cruising” is a puzzling shocker whose controversial reputation is well-earned. The director of “The Exorcist” was no stranger to this kind of negative publicity, and while he agreed to place a disclaimer in front of his film testifying to the fact that it’s not meant as a criticism of gays in general, this did approximately NOTHING to placate those who were already suspicious of Friedkin’s motives. The film tracks police detective Steve Burns (played with a strange brand of naivete by Al Pacino) as he goes undercover in New York City’s gay S&M scene in an attempt to learn the identity of a serial killer. He’s set up in what would now be a $3,000-a-month-plus Greenwich Village apartment and has to learn the ways of the leather daddy scene in an iron-pumping, hanky-code-learning montage. Note: Don’t wear the yellow hanky unless you MEAN it, boys. As Burns repeatedly visits these underground nightclubs (located in the now-posh Meatpacking District–I like to think that Burns attended Precinct Night at the RamRod in what is now the Alexander McQueen boutique space or a Tory Burch retailer), he finds himself increasingly fascinated by the raw sexuality on display, even as he begins to question the motives of his fellow policemen in tracking down the killer. At the time of its filming and initial release, the movie raised the ire of gay rights activists who objected to its perceived implication that violence is inherent to the homosexual lifestyle. The film’s coda, which involves a murder committed after the incarceration of the Real Killer and the resurfacing of a sinister character from the beginning of the story, points to an uncomfortable ambiguity that could be perceived in this way, but the story is, at its heart, something far more straight-forward than all that.
1. Let your outrageous eye makeup do the talking. You can’t have artifice without art. Words to live by.
Ohhhh Horror Community–how I struggle with my relationship with you. Some of your numbers are awesome (please look to Screen Right if you care to visit some of THOSE people’s blogs), but the vast unwashed portion that makes up your ranks–plainly put–causes me no end of frustration. Particularly now that Being A Nerd has somehow, in some bizarro universe, become a sign of Ironic Downtown Coolness. I vastly prefer the movie-watching company of overly-caffeinated and enthusiastic teenagers over that of Pubey-Bearded Horror Film Dilettantes and their Idiot Girlfriends.
I’ll come right out hand confess it–I’ve been spoiled by the internet. The ease with which one can come across unusual entertainment and forbidden delights is extraordinary, and that’s made the Joy Of Discovery almost obsolete.
Seth Holt, a director whose brief filmography included the superior 1965 chiller “The Nanny” with Bette Davis, was at one point attached to a film adaptation of “Diabolik” which would have starred Jean Sorel (the handsome actor who would go on to star in “Belle du Jour” as well as several notable genre efforts including “Perversion Story,” where he appeared opposite Marisa Mell of Bava’s “Diabolik”) and Elsa Martinelli (who also appeared in “Perversion Story”). The project doesn’t appear to have progressed past the promotional stage, and all that exists at this point are some promotional photos of Sorel and Martinelli in costume. There may have been some film footage shot, but seems to have been lost or intentionally destroyed when the financing for the project failed to materialize. Below is an image from the promotional campaign as reprinted in Bizarre Sinema! Archive’s “Cinefumetto” book:
I’ve been seriously neglecting my man-crushes around here over the past several weeks, and I’m grateful that The Costuminatrix has brought this to my attention this afternoon. Let’s take a moment out to reflect upon the icy Teutonic gorgeousness of Helmut Berger and his many amazing cinematic fashion statements, shall we?
It should probably bother me that any human being can wear a leather S.S. uniform with such elan, but some human beings were born with the kind of inner dandy that allows them to rise above such limiting factors as “playing characters with deeply problematic political points of view.” I’d posit that Mr. Berger is just such a human being.
One of the things that fascinates me about horror entertainment is how the ideas portrayed therein over the past 200 years or so have created a multi-generational line of spookyvolk that’s linked by almost-unchanged shared aesthetics. Someone reading “Carmilla” around the time of its publication in 1872 would be able to put “The Vampire Lovers” into context immediately (even if he might arch an eyebrow at some of the costume design in that film).
Gallery Magazine as it existed in the early 1980s occupies an interesting space in the men’s magazine continuum, sort of a low-rent cousin to Hustler, with its “girl next door” amateur photo contests consisting of exhausted- or strung-out-looking swinger wives, articles on muscle cars, and interviews with B-movie celebs. Much like the reader of Oui might fancy himself a continental jet-setter, the reader of Gallery is a red-blooded American man’s man, greasy handprints on his coveralls and ice-cold Coors clenched in a meaty fist, hungry for accessible neighborhood pussy.
As fate would have it, FEARNet On Demand just added the military-themed thriller “Outpost” to its lineup and, in so doing, dramatically shortened the amount of time between my asking Baron XIII what he wanted to watch and the ensuing decision. We’re analytical (some might say “fussy”) people, so this can be a rather elaborate process. Unlike the somewhat similar-feeling trenches of WWI shocker “Deathwatch,” which the Baron loved and which didn’t really make the cut for me, “Outpost” was a winner for both of us. The plot is simple: seven mercenaries accompany a wealthy client to a mysterious WWII-era bunker and terrible secrets are uncovered. It’s a straightforward thriller that achieves its goals of creating a haunted house atmosphere in a Nazi bunker inhabited by some pretty damn formidable ghouls. There’s nothing fancy or complicated about the structure or the characters that inhabit the film–instead, it’s a movie that’s composed of a series of refreshingly *right* choices within the bounds of established genre conventions.
Folks can badmouth Twitter all they want, but there’s a REASON that I follow almost a hundred accounts. Nuggets of info abound, and it’s nice to have a semi-constant stream of bite-sized weirdness coming into my day.