Reviews

GORE UP YOUR GAY PRIDE: 10 Films of Homosexual Horror

By Michael Varrati

Hail, bloody Marys!

June is upon us, and for most of the continental United States (Illinois is in question as of late), the month long celebration of Gay Pride has begun!

This June is especially gay for those of us here at Midnight Mass HQ, because in addition to our usual celebrating, Peaches is currently gearing up to welcome horror’s most illustrious male scream queen, Mark Patton, to join her for a June 22nd screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Long celebrated for its overt gay subtext, Nightmare 2 is the perfect flick for blood-thirsty gays who are looking to add some chills to their Pride thrills.

Of course, Nightmare 2 isn’t the only horror film out there that adds a little queer to its fear, so today we’re going to delve a little deeper into some homo-horrors and provide for you the absolute best assortment of horror films to give your Pride party a little zest.

Luckily, as multi-faceted as my friendship with Peaches Christ may be, the one thing above all else that we share in common is our love of silver screen scares. As such, this article provided the two of us the marvelous opportunity to sit down and do what we ghoulfriends do best: Gab about gore.

Of course, beyond Midnight Mass, Peaches is no slouch when it comes to injecting a bit of the old homosexual hijinks into a genre flick. Her own movie, All About Evil (directed by her alter-ego, Joshua Grannell) saw drag queens and camp icons alike join together to face off against a murderous character played by Natasha Lyonne, and the film has already inspired a number of cult screenings worldwide. Of course, humility dictates that we shouldn’t include it in our list, but I’m going to give it an honorable mention. After all, this is Peaches’ site, and furthermore, it’s a damn good movie, which is something I’d say even if I wasn’t part of the PC team. Besides, Christ gives so much for us all, I think watching All About Evil this month is a good way to give back to Christ.

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Richie Valens Rising: An Interview with Rob Fatal, Director of LA BAMBA 2: Hell is a Drag

By Michael Varrati

Watching the kaleidoscopic fever dream that is Rob Fatal’s La Bamba 2: Hell is a Drag leaves the viewer with the indelible impression that the very zeitgeist is having a revolution.

As the title suggests, La Bamba 2 is something of a spiritual sequel to the 1987 film starring Lou Diamond Phillips, which, in of itself, is a bit of a conundrum. After all, how does one make a sequel to a film that is based on such true, extremely finite events as the life of Richie Valens? If you’re Rob Fatal, you do it with panache, surrealism, and no small amount of camp.

La Bamba 2, which will have its world premiere at the San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival (hosted by our own Peaches Christ and Sam Sharkey), is as much an ode to Valens as it is to Fatal’s own personal and cinematic explorations of self and culture. Moreover, it is a film that isn’t confined by any one set of rules, utilizing the biography of an icon to explore the hopes and dreams of an individual seeking an identity of his own.

The plot of La Bamba 2 mostly concerns itself with the character of Rob Fatal (playing some semblance of himself), whose idolization of Richie Valens has led to a lifetime of yearning and identity crisis. However, Fatal gets the chance to come face-to-face with his hero when the rocker is taken captive by the forces of the underworld, and Fatal is pulled down to Hell to help in the search. Read More…


VOGUE ON FILM: Cinematic Dance Realness

By Michael Varrati

A predator in Prada, her eyes sweep the runway with a cold gaze. In the world of high fashion, Anna Wintour’s opinion is everything, and as the editor of Vogue, she evokes…

…wait, what?

I’ve just been informed by another of Peaches’ undead minions that, despite the grand flourishes of Anna Wintour’s Midnight Mass-esque persona, hers is not the vogue we’re here to talk about today. Instead, I’m here to take you to the floor and highlight the world of voguing, a dance movement that came from the gay Harlem ballroom scene and emerged into a cultural phenomenon.

To be fair, I knew all along this piece wasn’t about Ms. Wintour, but I couldn’t resist. After all, despite their worlds of difference, the Queen of Fashion and the Queens of the Ball have one huge thing in common: They both understand that presentation is everything.

As Peaches prepares to unleash Paris is Burning this weekend at the Castro Theater (with legendary guest star Latrice Royale), my dear ghoulfriend and I thought it wise to revisit the cultural impact of voguing on gay culture and beyond. Now, to truly explore the significance of this movement would require far more time than our little space here allows, so we decided to focus on one aspect that Peaches and I are always ready to celebrate: Film.

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Cult Filmmakers You Should Know #21: HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS

By Michael Varrati

If you’ve ever been thrilled by the ruby red splatter of blood or gasped in glee at images of sinewy guts, then there’s a strong chance you owe a debt of honor to Herschell Gordon Lewis.

A towering figure in the pantheon of fright, Lewis has been hailed by many as “The Godfather of Gore,” and it’s a title he’s earned every right to hold. Though blood and violence onscreen existed long before the audacious auteur hit the scene, it was with a veritable sense of sleaze that Herschell Gordon Lewis literally upped the ante of the horror genre to the visceral level it exists at today.

Declared by John Waters to be one of “the greatest filmmakers of all time,” Herschell Gordon Lewis began his legacy in fright films for the rather simple reason of needing to make a quick buck. In the late 50s, Lewis was working as a humanities teacher and ad man in Chicago, directing commercials in his spare time to supplement his income. After buying out the advertising studio he produced commercials for, Lewis turned his attention to larger projects: Film.

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MASTER OF THE MASSACRE: An Interview with Filmmaker Jeff Burr

By Michael Varrati

In the midst of a discussion about the pitfalls of filmmaking, I suggest to iconic director Jeff Burr that he should teach a master class on the subject. Burr laughs me off with a word of polite thanks before moving onward, but I remain serious in my assertion.

Known by many genre fans for his contributions to existent franchises and off-beat indie fare, Burr has made an impact on the horror community over the last three decades by pushing ever forward with his craft. Although likely most identified as the man who gave the Sawyer family life anew in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Burr’s wide body of work encompasses a plethora of thrills and chills that have helped give him the insight to inspire and advise a new generation of filmmakers.

In fact, it is Burr’s place as an inspiration to those that have grown up with his films that led to our little fireside chat today. Recently contacted by Henrique Couto, an Ohio-based independent filmmaker, Burr was surprised to discover that one of his lesser known films, Eddie Presley, had served as an inspiration to Couto on his own forthcoming feature, Depression: The Movie. Now, thanks to the cinematic kinship of the two films, Eddie Presley and Depression are set to play a once in a lifetime double bill at the Hollywood Theater in Pittsburgh, PA…and Burr couldn’t be more tickled about the idea.

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Stephen King Gets into Gear: Directing MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and Beyond…!

By Michael Varrati

In the world of horror, Stephen King is a man who requires no introduction.

Since the publication of his first novel in 1974, King’s work has gone on to shape the very zeitgeist of the genre. Endlessly celebrated and imitated, Stephen King is to horror what Bob Dylan is to rock. The man almost singlehandedly ushered us into the modern-era of fright, and is unequivocally one of the very best of us.

I’m an unabashed fan of King’s, and have never really been able to understand those who don’t care for his oeuvre. I’ve always chalked up any distaste for the author to pretentious snobbery or a rally against his popularity. However, love him or hate him, there’s no denying that he’s left an impact on pop culture.

Having written over sixty novels, many of which have been adapted for screen, King’s presence in horror is hardly waning four decades later. Echoes of Carrie and The Shining permeate modern fright films, and many of King’s adaptations have become milestone movies of their own. It almost goes without saying that Stephen King is as much at home at the theater as he is at the library. Read More…


THE NEW OLD REAL FAKE ONES: The Cabin in the Woods

The New Old Real Fake Ones

The Conspiracy and Spectacle of The Cabin in the Woods

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by Conner Habib

If you don’t believe in a world ruled by secret, unseen forces that control how we think, feel, and treat others, there’s a quick remedy to your delusion: Tear a twenty dollar bill  into tiny, useless pieces.  Better yet, do it in front of a friend.  One or both of you will gasp, feel sick, feel remorse.  All over a little piece of paper.

Of course, it’s not the paper itself, but the meaning in the paper (and “in” isn’t the proper word here, since meaning isn’t ever “in” anything, it’s not spatial) that is sacred to us.

If you prefer to spend your money instead of tearing it up, you could learn a bit about these forces by buying a ticket for Drew Goddard’s and Joss Whedon’s Lovecraftian film of horror, spectacle, and conspiracy, The Cabin in the Woods.

In one of its strangest and most potent moments, Marty (Fran Kranz), the nerdy Shaggy-like stoner character points out, when we’re in the sway of these secret forces, which is always, “We are not who we are.”

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Cult Filmmakers You Should Know #20: PAUL BARTEL

By Michael Varrati

In gazing upon the kindly visage of Paul Bartel, the first images to arise are certainly not those of “suburban cannibal” or “high-octane racer.”

Prior to his untimely death in 2000, the seemingly reserved Bartel had made a career out of portraying the lovable curmudgeon, winning hearts in movies such as Rock ’n’ Roll High School and Tim Burton’s original Frankenweenie. For a whole generation who was used to seeing him as the befuddled teacher or loveable uncle, it seemed unfathomable that something far more subversive lurked beneath the surface of Paul Bartel. Yet, for those in the know, Bartel has always been more than just a mere character actor. True cult aficionados are aware that Paul Bartel can be cited as the man responsible for some of midnight cinema’s finest moments.

Openly gay in an era where it was considered taboo, Bartel found being upfront about his sexuality afforded him a lot more opportunities in the independent film world than mainstream Hollywood. An outlaw from the beginning, Bartel almost instantly fell in with the “King of the B-Movies,” Roger Corman. In 1972, Corman and his brother passed along a horror script to Bartel, a tale of skid-row lodgers and living dolls called Private Parts. Bartel gave the film his own macabre touch, morphing the horror piece into an outrageous black comedy.  With Private Parts, the actor-turned-director was able to establish a presence in the world of cinema, creating an original, outlandish voice that shined from the very beginning. Read More…


Cult Filmmakers You Should Know #19: ASIA ARGENTO

By Michael Varrati

Stepping out of the shadows of the previous generation can be a process for anybody, but when your parents are two of cinema’s most notorious luminaries, there’s bound to be an extra measure of complication.

For Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, contending with famous parents has always been a fact of life. Her mother, noted actress and screenwriter Daria Nicolodi (Suspira, Deep Red), blazed a bloody trail for the women of Italian horror throughout the 1970s and beyond. Similarly, her father, the hugely celebrated filmmaker Dario Argento, literally changed the face of genre cinema forever.

With two titans of terror as parents and various other relatives in the business, Asia’s childhood was one ruled by the movies. By her own confession, she initially turned to acting not to establish her own identity, but because she sought her father’s attention. Read More…


ROCKY HORROR: The CITIZEN KANE of Cult

By Michael Varrati

With the imminent arrival of Barry Bostwick to Midnight Mass HQ, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering the phenomenon that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Created by Richard O’Brien and directed by Jim Sharman, the film with the longest run in theatrical history has blazed a bizarre, yet unparalleled trail through the history of cinema. Rocky Horror has throngs of fans who still crowd into movie theaters on a weekly basis, shouting and singing along in a fanatical fervor akin to religious devotion. For many creatures of the night, RHPS is more than a movie, it’s a way of life.

Of course, worshipping at the altar of a beloved film is not a foreign concept to me or my boss lady, Peaches Christ.

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ALL ABOUT EVIL is now screening on PeachesChrist.com - Be sure to catch the screenings of everyone's new favorite Horror Film by
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Take a peek inside the main office over at Peaches Christ Productions. This short film stars all your favorites, including Martiny, Lady Bear, and L. Ron Hubby.

Ever wonder about how Peaches’ wigs are made? Or how she’s always able to keep up with the demand for her fabulous merchandise? What about this constant touring and relentless appearance calendar? How does she keep at it? Just who or what is behind the satanic machinery that is Peaches Christ Productions? What keeps it going? All these questions and more are answered in Children of the Popcorn. Watch, and become one of us!

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