Friday, October 30, 2009

"I'll Stake My Life On It!": Love Bites (1988)

Well folks, here is part two of my XXXtravaganza after a brief pumpkin retreat. I settled down to watch this softcore Dracula flick, hoping it would live up to the scholarly and critical praise I have come across while researching Dracula porn. It's been a while since I watched a VHS tape (the only format you can get this movie in) and when I pressed play, my heart sank: blurry, a "red glow," and the familiar "double vision" of the late-80s, shot-on-video movie, complete with that tinny audio that accompanies really low-budget fare, kind of like the walls of the set are thin. Sigh.

Well, it may come as a surprise to you (as it did to me) that by the end of the movie I was in tears - as in, I was literally crying. With happiness! I'm writing this full of a gooey romantic feeling, as well as a sense of joy that a great script, committed actors, and a particular level of passion and charm can really make a movie, regardless of budget.

It's the late-80s in West Hollywood, and Jake (Tom Wagner - a cross between Peter Saarsgard and Joaquin Phoenix), our vampire-obsessed protagonist, is telling his douchebag boyfriend that there's "activity" in West Hollywood, and he plans to exterminate the West Hollywood Count (writer and producer, Kevin M. Glover). Jake's douchebag boyfriend is only interested in one thing, and breaks up with Jake, telling him, "I can't deal with weird in my life right now." Good riddance - he was a hindrance to our hero's quest. Go to the Count's house, Jake!

Jake arrives at the Count's house, breaks in, and is mistaken for a trick - procured for Manfield the servant (Bernard Barnes Jarvis) by his pimp, the Count. Yes, it appears the Count is pimping out Manfield these days, but Manfield seems more interested in eating flies than fucking. We discover that Leslie (Christopher Ladd) - a Texan "fag" who looks like a be-mulletted David Spade and has the best lines in the movie - is the trick. After lots of confusion, and a moment of animal magnetism between the Count and Jake, Jake runs off with Leslie, much to the love-struck Count's disappointment. After Jake has convinced Leslie to help him kick Dracula's ass, they return to Dracula's home, and the remainder of the film takes place there. Is Dracula really the monster the movies have made him out to be? Should Jake listen to his heart? Should he drive a stake through Dracula's heart? Could it ever work between a mortal and a 347-year-old gay vampire? Most of these questions are answered in this genuinely funny, energetic, high-camp romp.

One of the things I noticed right off the bat was that everyone in the movie is gay, yet it's not seen as odd - in fact it's assumed to be the case, kind of like how we assume everyone to be straight. The only character whose gayness is remarked on as unusual is Dracula himself - and it is he who has had the most trouble with sexual relationships. Another interesting element of the film is the way it counteracts typical mainstream representations of homosexuality - I find most of these representations to focus on the "sex" aspect of gay identity, and in society as a whole there's the homophobic assumption that all gay guys are going to fuck each other. One of the refreshing aspects of Love Bites was the non-sexual relationship between Jake and Leslie - initially, Leslie, in all his outrageous, Texan fabulousness, hits on Jake and is constantly flirting with him. But before long, they establish a genuine and touching friendship, complete with a couple of tense moments, followed by reaffirmations of their friendship. When they do both find love, there is a scene in which they playfully share in each other's happiness which I found to be really sweet and unexpectedly moving. The tone of the film is really fun and silly, but these moments of tenderness shine through, and caught me unawares a few times.

Ladd, as Leslie, basically steals the movie, performing his role with gusto. Jake and Leslie's arrival at the Count's home, planning to kill him, is a stand-out scene. Leslie is terrified, and Jake tells him to "try and butch it up a little" in case the neighbors see. Leslie minces around, before flexing his muscles out, and performing his "butch" role with a stilted deep voice: "Yo, fuckin' A! How about those Dodgers? No one plays football like them, eh? How about them cheerleaders? That's primo pussy!" I don't think I'll ever stop finding queer impressions of straight guys funny, and Ladd takes the cake. Once inside, they discover Dracula's coffin, and looking at the stake in his hand, Leslie asks, "Well, did you bring any lube, or do we just drive it in dry?" Classic.

Ultimately, Love Bites makes "an attempt to draw out or exorcise the monster from the queer," as scholar Harry M. Benshoff puts it, rewriting Count Dracula as a misunderstood "monster" who, it turns out, just wants to find love. The film ends with Jake and a bedraggled Dracula (having been almost killed by "fag bashers") facing the impending sunrise together, hoping that Dracula may survive it through pure love. Jake bites the Count's neck in a hopelessly romantic effort to perhaps reverse the effects of vampirism, and as they walk out into the sunrise to the swelling sounds of Tchaikovsky, we're left not quite knowing whether or not their love won out against the Count's "curse."

That's when I started welling up, and realised I really gave a shit about these people - even Manfield, who falls in love with Leslie and asks permission to not be Dracula's servant anymore. Totally unexpected. I recommend this to those who like discovering little gems, and can actually find a copy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Here is my pumpkin - it took 2 hours to trace off the TV, transfer to pumpkin, and carve.

Oh, and while I'm here, I'm going to plug my netbud, Ms. Savoy, who has a new blog offering her nerdtastic views in XXX - go subscribe!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween XXXtravaganza = XXX Disappointment

Hey folks. Things aren't going so well in GGG world. I'm in a fucking fabulous mood, thanks to all my gay porn shenanigans (more on that in a moment), but the bad news is that none of the movies I ordered well over two weeks ago have arrived except The Hole and Love Bites (review on its way). Driller is apparently so sought after that no copies exist (still workin' on it), and meanwhile my copy of Hardgore is floating around in postal space somewhere, not to arrive until early November. Those motherfuckers.

Anyway, I went to the local store to see what I could find, and they had nothing appropriate - I was hoping for Porn of the Dead, which I saw a couple of years ago, or perhaps Belladonna's My Ass Is Haunted, but they had neither. I left with a copy of Married With Children XXX, which is hardly very spooky.

So, basically, my XXXtravaganza is a big XXX disaster. Speaking of which, since I started talking about gay porn, I've had the fewest comments of my blogging career, and lost two followers. Oh, and I received a nasty homophobic comment that I decided not to publish. Well, whaddya know.

So, taking advice from a colleague, I would like to issue the following disclaimer: In spite of the headline for my review of The Hole, reading my review of the movie has not proven to turn people gay in seven days as far as I'm aware.* In addition, commenting on my posts about gay porn is not proven to make you gay, nor make you appear gay to other people, as far as I'm aware.**

With that out of the way, I will be posting my review of the highly acclaimed Love Bites within the next couple of days - see y'all!

* If you read my review of The Hole and you turn gay, GGG takes no responsibility.
** If you comment and turn gay, or people think you're gay, GGG takes no responsibility.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"In Seven Days You Will Be Gay!": The Hole (2003)

Hey folks! So begins my Halloween XXXtravaganza, with the first movie to arrive at my door, The Hole, written and directed by Wash West, who has since moved on to non-hardcore fare, with a couple of indie movies under his belt, including Echo Park, L.A., and Hello Darkness, still in pre-production. West seems to be respected by his adult film peers, and so I went into this movie with pretty high hopes.

I also approached this movie with the awareness that I know next to nothing about gay hardcore - my only other contact with gay porn is Oliver Twink (2007), which was really a tragedy to watch. Not only was it poorly made, but no one seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sex scenes, which is something of a requirement of mine. Call me crazy. Part of this feeling stemmed, I think, from the fact that none of the "bottoms" had boners - yet, after seeing The Hole, and doing a little research, it turns out some guys can, some guys can't, but ultimately it's not an indication of pleasure. So, perhaps I was going into The Hole with a heteronormative view of sex. Nevertheless, expressions of enjoyment are a must, in my book, and there were a few scenes in which the performers made no sound or articulations of joy, and the whole thing felt cold. More about that in a moment.

The Hole, a parody of The Ring (1998/2002), stays impressively faithful to its source text: Josh, played by Josh Hammer, has watched a video with his two jock friends, Eric (Jason Adonis) and Tom (Sam Tyson); now, according to his friend Pete (Derec Lang), he will get a phone call in seven days and turn gay. Sure enough, Josh receives a phone call, and, with the help of his "straight" friend Pete, they find a way to test his gayness, if you know what I mean. Sure enough, he's gay (Pete,on the other hand,is not - "I'm still straight, but my girlfriend's out for the night."). Benny Benson (cover boy, Tag Eriksson) from the San Francisco Examiner stops by to investigate the strange occurrences, and the hunt for the origins of the video begin.

Let me start out by saying that the acting in this movie is absolutely terrible. Let my also add that the script was fucking awesome - line after quotable line of awesomeness; I was really spoiled, and I laughed a lot. West's playful mockery of frat boy masculinity is on point, and frequently hilarious. It's a shame, then, that the actors couldn't pull it off - the only person who does a fairly good job is Sam Tyson as Tom, and he also takes the crown for best sex performance as a very enthusiastic "power bottom." What the other scenes lacked in vocality and passion, Tyson, in his scene with Jason Adonis, made up for.

The thing I most appreciate about The Hole is the way the filmmakers took a concept - the "threat" of queerness - that horror exploits on a regular basis, making literal monsters of queerness, satirized it, and ultimately defused the threat. Each "bro" that watches the video ultimately enjoys being gay once they're "turned," in spite of their initial fear. Furthermore, being gay is not presented as something that suddenly happens once you see "the hole" - rather, each dude who has watched the tape starts questioning their sexuality during the seven days leading up to the notorious phone call. In this way, the film suggests that once the seed of alternate sexualities is planted, a man may consider these alternatives and open their mind to being queer. Indeed, the final coupling of Benny and Josh, the latter of whom has expressed his attraction to Benny from the outset, occurs when they both think Benny must have turned gay - following their ravishing of each other, we discover the clock is broken and that Benny turned gay voluntarily, before he was "turned." The phone rings, and the familiar voice says, "You're gay." Benny retorts, "I already know that," turns to kiss his lover, and the phone drops to the floor. Ending the movie in this way de-fangs the satirical premise of homosexuality as a horrific threat, presenting it instead as an unexplored site of pleasure for many "straight" men.

Ultimately, it's difficult not to find The Hole charming. The outstanding script still shines even when being delivered in monotone, and the actors' impersonations of stereotypical frat boys is a constant source of laughs, particularly when enunciated during sex - "Man, being gay totally rocks." - "Yeah, being gay is bad ass, dude." Killer, dude.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween XXXtravaganza!

Hey folks - it's been a while, I know. I've been horribly busy, people in town, and am just getting over a sickness. But now I'm back and ready to be a good student again, starting off with a special Halloween-themed set of reviews. I will be watching and meditating over (and writing about) a series of X-rated horror movies, ones that I have been meaning to watch for some time (so, no Halloweenie or Texas Vibrator Massacre - I want to watch some quality fare, or at least something that will be really weird*).

So, keeping it simple, I've whittled my choices down to four at the moment, but as always, recommendations are warmly encouraged. Here are my intended four:

Driller (Joyce James, 1984)
This X-rated spoof of Michael Jackson's/John Landis' Thriller seems appropriate, not only to celebrate Halloween, but also to mourn the passing of the King of Pop. What better way to pour out a 40 than to watch what one Imdb-er describes as "like no film you will ever see."Add to that a lead performance by Taija Rae, and reports that the special effects are comparable to those in the original video, and I think we're on to a winner (even if it does indeed turn out to be a terrible film, as the consensus seems to be). We shall see...

The Hole (Dir. Wash West, 2003)
I've been wanting to see a Wash West movie for a while, ever since reading Franklin Melendez's essay, "Video Pornography, Visual Pleasure, and the Return of the Sublime," where he analyzes West's Naked Highway (2000) as a postmodern text. The Hole is a parody of The Ring, with a twist. As the tagline says, "You see a videotape. You get a menacing phone call in the night...and seven days later you're GAY!" 

Hardgore (Dir. Michael Hugo, 1974)
Hardgore has been recommended to me by a number of people, and it feels like the right time to finally watch it. From what I can tell, this film involves satanic worship, and features blood, masks, and some levitating penises. It's hard to say no to levitating penises, regardless of the quality of the film itself. Roll on Hardgore.

Love Bites (Dir. Kevin M. Glover, 1992)
This one might be seen as cheating, seeing as it's softcore, but I wanted to add something from a recent project I did on Dracula in porn. There were a number of films to choose from, but Love Bites was one that critics seem to think is a cut above the rest. A vampire killer travels out to Hollywood to slay Dracula, but they unexpectedly fall in love. Apparently it's funny, clever, and well-made for a low budget film. I've also read that it's fairly subversive in its attempts to give this classic tale of demonic queer sexuality a happy ending. Sweet!

* NB. Halloweenie is pretty weird in its own way, as is Texas Vibrator, I guess. They're just not that good, and I've seen them already anyway.


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