2/28/12

Father's Day

A Queer Horror Fan Says Thank You


So Troma's / Astron-6's Father's Day has been the topic of much debate tonight over on Facebook and while I won't get into some of the arguments made for and against it, I do wanna impart a wee bit of sincerity here. Years ago, one of the masters of our genre, Clive Barker, said that he would no longer pursue any cinematic endeavors until Hollywood got over its homophobia. By that, all Barker has been striving for was the option of creating a horror film with a leading gay character. It wasn't to be about him being gay mind you, he just was, end of story. Hollywood's reasoning of course was that unless they were acknowledging the gay factor in every scene, audiences wouldn't accept a gay character who just was (oh I dunno, like it was normal and everyday or something). As a gay film fan, I've been so over films beating me over the head with the gay shit for a decade now. I know that film has the ability to educate and enlighten and for those reasons the occasional story about queerness has it's place. However, as someone who happens to be gay yet is not defined by being gay, I want to see something a bit more close to the truth, something a bit more honest. Where is my gay hit man, action hero, super villain, scream queen or any number of other film defined characteristics? Nowhere in sight. Sadly us queers are still regulated to the stereotypical role of queen / gal pal. This is 2012 now right? Someone shoot me.

Adam Brooks as Ahab. Just look at that badassery.

Which brings me to Father's Day. As a gay horror film fan, I can't express how much something so small has meant to me as Father's Day being inclusive of us homos....without making a big deal about it. Though there are leading gay characters in the film, I do not view Father's Day as a queer film, which is the point (and arguably what Mr. Barker has strived for). It is a grade A horror / exploitation / grindhouse throwback with gay characters, incidentally. The simmering homophobia that lurks under the surface in some reviewer's write ups about the movie is staggering. You'd think it was wall to wall cock and balls orchestrated by Chi Chi Larue if you were to listen to some of those asshats. It's not. The leading man is straight. There is more female nudity than male (yet 20 seconds of male genitalia is enough to send some nerds screaming back to their parents basement in order to denounce the film as a whole online....something tells me if you aren't mature enough to handle nudity of any stripe, you aren't mature enough to watching Troma's admittedly immature antics). One supporting player is questionable and finally another is in fact gay. But it isn't a big deal. It's neither a crutch or a crux that the film rests itself on. That queer character, though flawed, is ultimately as heroic and honorable as any of the movie's other monster fighters (an eclectic group comprised of a ex-con drifter, a priest and a stripper) and fits right in with the film's lead character who is unquestionably modeled after stoic, brawn, manly men (the antithesis of someone who would accept a fey thing named Twink fighting by his side, but accept him he does). It might not be a queer film per se, but strike a mighty blow it does for equality in the horror genre (it's s shame that in 2012 this is still something that I feel needs singled out and praised, but there it is nonetheless ladies and gentlemen...we still have a long road to hoe). Maybe Father's Day and its attendant echo of inclusiveness won't be heard by everyone, but I certainly heard it. And for this I would like to thank every one at Astron-6 (the Canadian production company behind Father's Day); Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney and Steven Kostanski. Thanks to Troma Films and Lloyd Kaufman for taking a chance with this film and giving it a generous push and granting it distribution. Thank you guys first and foremost for making an asskicking, rude, anarchic, gory, fun horror film and thank you again for being a voice for gays and lesbians in horror films (whether you intended to or not) by making us gratifyingly....incidental. Either way, you would have had me at "Lock up your fathers." Now how about that sequel?

To visit Astron-6, you may do so by clicking here.

To visit the film's official site to discover what cities it will be playing and when, simply click here.

11 comments:

  1. Great post Justin! And thanks for bringing my attention to a film I wasn't already aware of. The only thing for me that springs to mind when it comes to gay characters that are convincing, well rounded and not defined by their sexuality, is The Wire. Not sure if you're familiar with it, but if you're not, it's well worth investing your time in. In terms of horror cinema, I struggle to think of anything that doesn't portray gay people as 2D characters completely defined by who they're attracted to. Sure, there's stuff like HellBent, but that wasn't anywhere near as daring or original as I'd hoped. The whole crux of its originality stems from the fact that all the lead characters are gay; so I’m not sure if it can even be cited as an example. The ultra low-budget George's Intervention however boasted a gay protagonist (played by Peter Stickles I think) and as far as I can remember, that wasn't the most interesting, or even sole aspect of his character. May and Tobe Hooper’s Mortuary also had gay characters who were better rounded out than most. Your post has certainly given me food for thought!

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  2. Thanks for the props re:FATHERS DAY But this is not the first Troma movie to do what you perceptively want.Please Check out Troma's KILLER CONDOM from 20 years ago.The protagonist is a a cop who just happens to be gay---of course we lost $$ on this Troamazing movie.

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  3. Thanks for this post Justin. I think a lot of people tend to believe that homophobic attitudes aren't as prevalent as they actually are, especially within the horror fan community. The truth is there is still a big segment of the population that can look at tits all day and never bat an eye but will completely freak the fuck out over a dick or even just a homosexual character that isn't some undignified stereotype.

    It's something the horror community has a hard time talking about, but I think the conversation needs to continue and I applaud you for bringing it up here.

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  4. James, thank you so much for the kind words. I'm aware of The Wire and I've heard that it is a really amazing show but I have yet to see an episode. I'm a little iffy on cop dramas even though I hear it is different and exceptional.

    Perhaps my expectations were low, but the most I had hoped for going into Hellbent was not to be subjected to grating stereotypes. And though they weren't completely absent I surprisingly found myself caring about who lived or died at about the halfway mark. I guess I see that film as a moderate success seeing as all they were seemingly try to do was make a gay slasher film.

    George's Intervention has been on my radar for about a month now and I've been meaning to get to it. However, I had no idea that the lead was gay. Cool!

    It's a shame about Hooper's Mortuary because I was actually really into it's silliness before he bit off more than he could chew with the last act (budgetary constraints and whatnot. I remember that the gay teenager being a breath of fresh air.

    I'd cite Bride of Chucky as being an okay example of having a notable gay supporting character. He was likable and brave and got the best, goriest death in the whole film, lol.

    I think a really good example of what I am talking about would be a little seen film called Burnt Money (plata quemada). It's about two gay thugs that plan to hold up an armored truck with seasoned gangsters in the 60's (I think). That movie is about the crime first and foremost, yet they manage to be gay AND bad ass simultaneously (well, as "bad ass' as morally corrupt thugs can be). Well worth a watch. I think Strand Releasing put that out.

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  5. Mr. Kaufman thank you so much for stopping by and setting me straight. I actually own and love that film so how it slipped my mind when throwing this little piece together is beyond me. I remember first and foremost reading about it in the pages of Fangoria in my teens and thinking to myself "H.R. Giger, a killer condom, Troma...get outta town!" It went on to be the very first subtitled film I ever watched, I think. My silly teenaged prejudices about subtitles being put on the back burner in favor of witnessing such a gloriously weird vision. You could say that because of this Troma was responsible in my formative years for enlightening me to the joys of foreign film. Who'd a thunk it? Sorry to hear about it losing you money as it's certainly a worthwhile, hilarious movie.

    Regarding Father's Day....well, I'm serious about that sequel! Hahaha.

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  6. Thank you for that Dave. I 100% agree. I debated long and hard with myself before starting this site about what it's angle was going to be. Would I turn off potential readers by being "too queer" occasionally? Would I be ghettoized as a niche site? Should I shy away from the gay stuff? I decided that no, it's an inherent part of myself and it is gonna come through in my pieces one way or the other as long as I am writing from the heart so I might as well just be upfront about it. However, like the argument I made above, I wanted that content to be incidental. This site is about horror first and the queer aspects just happen to pop in every so often as a natural extension of this writer's personality. But in the end I wanted everyone to feel welcome here. The photography featured in the La Petite Mort section of this blog frequently features female nudity and eroticism and I appreciate and enjoy those photos every bit as much as the ones featuring men. I hope whoever visits this site feels the same way.

    Okay, I'm getting off track here. I guess that I just assume that there are more queers working within the genre than anyone realizes. I mean, it's the friggin' arts for crying out loud, we are definitely a presence. So it's really disappointing when we get shafted in stories and films as just another wrinkle in the fabric of life. It's even more disappointing when that prejudice or fear comes from fellow fans. There is an amazing sense of community within the genre. At conventions, one can almost feel like they have stepped into their own special world created just for their strange, geeky appetites. No judgements from society about how different you are, because we're all there for the same reason. So it's always a bummer when you encounter some immature turd who is homophobic and kinda ruins the good vibes. It reminds me of years ago when I was watching the underrated Copycat in a packed theater and some assholes lept shouting "faggot" at the screen whenever Siqourney Weaver's homosexual nurse appeared to take care of her. The audiences generally cheered this display of ignorance and I just kinda sat there feeling targeted by dozens of faceless, hateful people in the dark. That and it seriously distracted me from the great time I was having with the movie. Granted that was some years ago but it is still present here and there.

    I'm not about demanding filmmakers or screenwriters to include minorities for the sake of inclusion if they aren't already an organic part of that artist's vision (it's THEIR art and I'm not so dickish as to insist someone go paint on someone elses painting, so to speak). I AM about studios getting that big stick outta their ass about "how will middle America receive the presence of a gay character and will it hurt our box office" attitude thus denying an artist the creative freedom to include us if he do desires to.

    Like I said above, it's 2012 for Christs sakes. I know this country is on one big backward slide as far as common sense is concerned in the realms of social issues and equality but it's really ridiculous that in the realm of film there has been so little progress. It's the arts, progress is supposed to blossom in this world.

    Anyway, wow, pardon my rant and nobody trip over my soap box on the way out. Sorry Dave, I think my reply to you got a little out of hand and all over the place. I haven't had any coffee yet, lol. Thank you for dropping in and participating though.

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  7. I think I made a more focused argument about these issues here:

    http://theoctobercountryhorror.blogspot.com/2011/04/dear-kevin-williamson-where-da-gay-at.html

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  8. I had never heard of this one but I will definitely be checking it out. I'm glad you chose the angle you did with this site and this was a fantastic post.

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  9. Thank you so much for saying so Cody. Appreciated.

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    HBA Curator

    ReplyDelete
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