So this is equality? The low-budget slasher flick HellBent advertises itself as the first-ever gay horror movie, which, on the list of advancements in gay society, ranks considerably below marriage rights, anti-hate-crime legislation and the outlawing of Chers Believe.
Never mind that horror movies and their creators are, by nature, pretty queer. In what other genre are nubile young men and women punished for indulging in rampant, consensual heterosexual sex? Besides, writers and directors like Kevin Williamson (Scream), Clive Barker (Hellraiser) and Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers) have been working gay themes and characters into their movies for years, and last summer, there was even an all-lesbian indie shocker, Make a Wish.
So HellBent is hardly a milestone in queer culture. But if youre clamoring to see butch, muscle-bound L.A. airheads lose their lives to a shirtless, chiseled dude wielding a gargantuan, um, blade, then it might just be the movie for you. For anyone who ever wished death and dismemberment upon the insufferable characters in Queer as Folk, it might be a cathartic experience provided you can get past the fact that writer-director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts actually wants you to sympathize with these self-obsessed studs.
A serial killer has been plaguing West Hollywoods buffest and most brainless pretty boys; lopping off the tops of their skulls with a scythe, the nameless butcher gives new meaning to the term giving head. The murders reach their peak during the neighborhoods infamous Halloween Carnival, when earnest wannabe-cop Eddie (Dylan Fergus) and his slutty pals hit the streets for a little action. Eddie has his eye on a piece of tattooed rough trade, Jake (Bryan Kirkwood), who has a fondness for rough sex (no kissing, please). Could Eddies danger boy be the killer?
Gay or straight, any slasher flick worth its running time should deliver the goods, and this one doesnt. Theres no bloodletting for about 40 minutes, and, in the meantime, the banter among the straight-acting hotties is, to put it politely, low on wit. The movies best and funniest moment comes when two raging queens stumble across an icky headless corpse in a mens-room stall. Worse, HellBent misses the opportunity to give its killer any sort of rationale, or even subtext. Horror movies have long used drooling murderers as stand-ins for the AIDS scourge or sexual repression or simply as punishment for bad behavior. But in this flick, the killer is just supposed to be jealous of our heroes perfectly waxed pecs. Eddies buddy Chaz (Andrew Levitas) puts it best when he utters the line, Wouldnt you want to kill us? Were fucking fabulous!
Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111).
Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].