After a splatter prologue, this opens with a funny, catchy title song (‘Watch Out for the Straights’) warbled by an in-vision performer in the style of 1960s AIP musicals (or, more precisely, Psycho Beach Party) and then crossbreeds gay indie relationships soap moviemaking with 1980s-style goremongery. Helen (Mari Marks), proprietress of a supposedly gay-friendly guest house in the middle of nowhere, is actually a murdering Christian conservative intent on luring sinning gays to her place so she can ‘convert’ one of the men into a suitable husband who’ll cure her repressed daughter Luella (Georgia Jean) of liking ‘pretty girls’ and murder everyone else. A clutch of couples show up for a big gay party held nearby – which we never get to see, cutting down on the need for extras, music clearances and the like – and spend a reel or two squabbling, cheating, being bitchy, taking showers, rolling around naked in edible body paint, doing schtick about various gay tribal subcultures (‘I’m the reigning Mr Leather, Alex … Christ, you think they’d hold a room’) and having illicit sex before the killings start again. Helen offs some folks, and her half-worm horror-mouthed cannibal son Manfred (Noah Taylor) chomps down on others, but they get edged aside by a lesbian folk singer in a tuxedo (Hilary Schwartz) and a just-ditched drag diva (Michael Soldier) who take over the slaughter (and the b&b) in the last reel.
At nearly two hours, it’s way too long for its slender premise and can’t decide whether to be a complete send-up (‘we saw a severed head in the coke machine!’) or to ply its exploitation – as it were – straight (there are gay and lesbian sex, nudity and death scenes staged almost exactly as they would be in a regular hetero rubbish movie). Marks goes aptly over the top as the haggard diva, though she seems to be cheating some drag queen out of a role – presumably, a woman was cast so one of the supporting cast could be an actual drag queen. Director-writer Jaymes Thompson – who also plays ‘Mr Leather’ – could have done with some editorial advice, since this could probably be pruned down into a much more satisfying picture. The ‘80s slasher cycle (which has already been ‘done gay’ in Hellbent) isn’t an especially gay-friendly genre, so this keeps defaulting to jabs at the 1960s ‘mad mommy’ movies already sent up more amusingly in Psycho Beach Party. Helen explains that Manfred (whose lower-body-in-a-slimy-sleeping-bag look evokes The Worm Eaters) was begotten in a parody of the Freddy Krueger origin set in the washroom at the 1980 Republican National Convention (‘That’s right. My Manfred is the illegitimate lovechild of one hundred Republican convention delegates!’). Most of the performances are on a level with the acting found in regular slasher movies; which means I’m not sure whether it’s an irony or a convention that several cast members, especially the ‘pretty girl’ lesbians (Shannon Lee, Denise Heller) and the ripped guys who take showers or go swimming (Robert Borzych, Derek Long), look a lot better than they sound.