HellBent 2004 ★★★

This isn't the first gay slasher by any means - that distinction ostensibly belongs to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. But this is by all means the best example of a film that so faithfully follows the formula, at least that I can call to mind.

We've got a group of gay guys out in West Hollywood for Halloween, just trying to have a good time and being killed for their sins by a stranger in a devil-horned mask. It's funny how precisely things are translated from your typical slasher. Replace the high-school stereotypes (jock, cheerleader, stoner, nerd) with a handful of gay stereotypes (drag queen, twink, "bi" guy) and then punish them not simply for their debauchery, but for the way that it is uniquely "gay". It's not just sex and substance abuse that deserve death, but restroom-stall hookups, poppers on the dancefloor, and really bad drag. Religious fundamentalists might find something to love in this film, except for, you know, all the half-naked dudes and guys kissing guys.

Story-wise, absolutely nothing new is brought to the table, but you know what? I'm okay with it here. For once, here's a trashy slasher directing its exploitation straight towards me. I've seen enough bare breasts in horror films to last me a thousand lifetimes. Give me a guy in a hot police costume! Bring on the leather! By necessity, this won't hold mainstream appeal, but it's nice to have a film that sheds the subtext and lays it all out on the line so unpretentiously.

Anyone who points their finger at Otto: Up With Dead People when the subject of gay horror comes up can go to hell. I'll be over here being pandered to by movies like this.

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