31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 25- Zombie High (1987)

31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 25- Zombie High (1987)

A very exclusive school is lobotomising (what is it about lobotomies in my choice of films for this year’s 31 Days of Halloween?!) it’s students so that they become the kind of upstanding captains of industry that makes society great. This is the High School version of The Stepford Wives. 

Played more for comedy than horror, this film isn’t as irritating as many other horror-comedies. Great characters, especially the unconventional supporting players and nice art direction help proceedings pass very well indeed.

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The idea of the school being a kind of sausage factory to make capitalist highflyers out of isn’t really explored enough but who cares as this is a late 80’s horror comedy yarn after all.

Notable for it’s cast which includes Virginia Madsen, Sherilyn ‘Laura Palmer’ Fenn and Richard ‘Cruising’ Cox all of whom should be known to cult film/TV fans. 

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*** out of *****

31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 10- Bloody New Year (1987)

31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 10- Bloody New Year (1987)

I knew very little about Bloody New Year prior to watching it for this review. I thought it might be another slasher movie themed around yet another public holiday just like New Year’s Evil.

How wrong I was! Every now and again I watch a film that is so ‘out there’ that I think to myself ‘What the hell was that?!’ Bloody New Year is one such film.

We see New Year celebrations at a small coastal hotel with the guests forming a conga and leaving the function room with only one woman remaining. The action then shoots forward to the 80’s whereby some young adults are at a funfair and see an American girl being harassed on the waltzers by some locals/carnies. They decide to rescue her but piss off the carnies in the process who chase after them. They all get into a boat and sail away to a small local island to escape them. They run aground and have to swim/wade to shore. Once there they see a small hotel in the distance and decide to go there to dry off and freshen up. Things turn increasingly weird when they get there.

This film is actually British made and feels like one of the Look and Read dramas that were made for schools in the UK in the 80’s. In fact I seem to remember seeing one which was called Fairground! (loving the exclamation mark!) in 1983. Its almost like this film was written for (and possibly by) a bunch of 8 years olds. That’s not to put the film down but just to point out that the whole film holds a remarkably non-jaded and innocent air to events that unfurl within the movie. 

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Notice the embossed video sleeve for the UK release. Maybe this is where the majority of the film’s budget went towards.

Bloody New Year is cheaply made, the special effects are sub-par, the events that happen within the hotel feel like a string of cliches. In fact, the film feels like a bunch of kids were given some video nasties to watch and then the film’s writers asked them what they had seen and noted their exaggerated recollections down and used them as the plot of this movie.

Whilst all of these points feel like criticisms, amazingly THEY’RE NOT! I watched it, was left with the feeling of ‘What the…?!’ when it finished but also realised that I had loved it! And that is one of the things about cult cinema- the film you hold dear might be completely inept and a poorly executed movie resplendent with shoddy production values. But it might have an air or an atmosphere to it that is specific to that film and that film alone. And Bloody New Year has this in spades. 

I love the fact that it is British made, with the male characters looking like contestants from a 1987 episode of Blind Date. They’re all mullets and C&A/Burton’s clothing. The fashions exhibited by the female characters is no better. It’s such a shame when they decide to change out of their clothes into the 1950’s togs they find at the hotel. 

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Mullets and clothes from C&A. One of many reasons to love Bloody New Year

The chain of events that happen in the seemingly possessed hotel feel like a million miles away from The Shining. In fact, instead of merely regurgitating the events from Kubrick’s film albeit with a fraction of the budget (although there are unavoidable similarities regarding past events being held in both locales), the film seemingly goes down the route of using The Evil Dead as a primary influence. This is interesting as the filmmakers must have seen the film, admired it’s low budget ethos (they knew that this was the route to go down for their film with it’s apparent lack of a sizeable budget) and how it worked admirably for Sam Raimi (and also how the film was absolutely huge and not just in the UK because of the video nasty furore and the film being banned but also worldwide) . Thus within Bloody New Year we get bodily dismemberment, characters turning into zombies/demons and even a male character who returns to the hotel only to then turn into a zombie/demon. There even a scene that takes place in the woods near the hotel in which they seemingly come to life and sounds of people’s laughter (in reality possibly a sitcom laugh track obtained by the filmmakers) being heard by the characters trying to escape this particular madness. There is even a POV shot with the camera rushing at the characters through the woods like Raimi used to great effect in his film. 

Then there is the make-up used for the effects in the film that looks like it was done by a GCSE art group. A trick within low budget filmmaking is not to focus on the make up or effects for too long especially if they were done on the cheap. This film bravely chooses to go the opposite route and focus on them in lingering shots. Potentially not a wise move but another quality of the film that makes it so endearing.

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The makeup and hair expertise of the film

I’m loving the fact that one of the deaths was seemingly inspired by The Exorcist with a character’s neck (one of the carnies from the beginning of the film who hated the group so much that they actually went to the trouble of finding another boat and sailing to the island after the youngsters to wreak revenge) being twisted around not just once but multiple times for added horror effect.

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Also within this mess is the fact that within the hotel seemingly inanimate objects have the power to come alive and attack the group (a fishing net and carved head on a bannister being but two), the character of a ghost chambermaid who reappears and then disappears numerous times during the film’s running time and a sequence involving all of the monsters/demons/zombies coming together to ask the two human characters to just give in and ‘join us’ (again, The Evil Dead influence resounds loudly!).

Look out for the scene near the end where the house seemingly gets bored of the couple of characters who are still human and just chucks them out of one of it’s windows. Hilarious.

Blend all of these ingredients together and you have a cheap horror movie made for the straight to video market in the UK where the whole ‘video nasty’ moral panic was going through a second wave (possibly because Sam Raimi had just released The Evil Dead 2, ironically). Bloody New Year should have been bogged down by it’s seemingly negative aspects and forgotten about.

But that’s the thing. Even though it should be rubbish, it’s not! One major plus is that it’s never boring. My interest never flagged during the runtime and I was gripped until the end. The film has so much wide-eyed innocence to it and that fact that it feels like an especially bloody ‘made for schools’ special or episode of Dramarama that it works. It also has heart. This is cult cinema at it’s purest and before you ask I would never call this ‘so bad, it’s good’ (I would never call any film that redundant term). It has qualities that any number of big budget horror films will never have. I’d see this again in a heartbeat. I think this is infinitely better than It and the recent Halloween reimagining put together.

And the strange thing is that others agree with me. I thought I was going mad at how much I enjoyed this film and so I did something that I rarely do- I search online for other reviews. Sure there were the idiots who said that this was trash. But there were others who loved the film also despite it’s flaws or limitations. I’m not mad after all! There’s even a Cinema Snob episode devoted to it.

I look forward to buying the Blu Ray release of this from the States on Vinegar Syndrome. Fortunately this film is also on YouTube here.

**** out of *****

Top 10 Horror Movies From 1987

Top 10 Horror Movies From 1987

There is a video for this list here.

10. The Video Dead

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A demonic television only shows the black and white horror film Zombie Blood Nightmare. The zombies can also escape the TV set to come into real life and kill the film’s viewers.

When I first saw this video on the shelves of my local video store I thought, ‘Whoa! A horror film about home video on home video!’ I also loved the cool sleeve artwork.

This film does what it says on the tin. Grotesque zombies, cool kills…and I love a horror film that has rules as to how to defeat your prey. In this instance the zombies hate mirrors as it reminds them of how ugly they are and they only attack when they sense fear coming from their would be targets.

I love the fact that at the end of the movie one of the survivors is in a sanitarium after her ordeal but is brought the demonic TV set by her parents as they feel something familiar from home might help her recovery. If only they knew.

9. Near Dark

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A young man called Caleb is bitten by a female vampire and then joins the travelling posse of nomadic vampires who she travels with. As he’s been bitten he’s a vampire himself now (with sunlight adversely affecting him) but refuses to kill people, instead feeding from the wrist of the girl Mae who bit him in the first place. But whilst Caleb is now with the group, he doesn’t realise that his father is in hot pursuit of him and his new companions.

This is a fantastic film that pays homage to the vampire genre but also updates and subverts it. The effects and make-up are excellent as is the costume design and conceptualisation of the travelling band of vampires. They look like a band who are on the road with Bill Paxton as Severen looking every inch the rockstar with his shades and leathers.

Near Dark came slap back in the middle of a vampire revival with The Lost Boys making a ton of money and making vampires an extension of the John Hughes genre of movies. Near Dark is a long way from The Lost Boys (and thats not to criticise the latter as it’s a great film) thematically and conceptually. Near Dark is dirtier, grimier and bloodier than it’s teen movie cousin and thats exactly why I love it so much.

8. Dolls

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This film is from Stuart Gordon who made Re-animator so you know it’s going to be great. If you think those old-fashioned porcelain dolls have a real capacity for evil, this isn’t the film for you.

A group of people seek sanctuary from a storm in a mansion owned by a toymaker and his wife. What they don’t know is that the dolls and toys within are all alive and have murderous intent.

This film is so well conceptualised with a vision as unique as the dolls depicted. They really do some damage to their victims too. The scene where a young punk’s skull is used as a battering ram into a skirting board is very painful to watch. The dolls with razorblade teeth taking chunks out of human limbs brings to mind the scene from Barbarella.

This film would unwittingly invent a whole horror sub-genre of killer toy movies with Dolly Dearest, Demonic Toys and The Puppet Master joining the fray and even crossing over at one point.

7.  A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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The closeted first sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street may not have been the sequel I wanted after the first film but I still really enjoyed it.

With the release of Part 3: The Dream Warriors it felt like the series was back on the right track. Nancy appears again, the plot is interesting and the special effects were innovative, horrifying and sometimes gut-wrenching (veins being used as puppet strings, anyone?!).

The film concerns a group of teens who are experiencing sleep trauma because a certain Mr Freddy Krueger is terrorising their dreams. Thankfully Nancy Thompson who was in a similar position in the original film is employed at the centre as she has now graduated to become a doctor specialising in sleep disorders. Nancy however has a few ideas as to how to try to do battle with Freddy in their dreams though.

Just as we had supervillains with Superman’s powers going up against him in Superman 2, this was a similar idea but translated to the horror genre with ANOES 3. Or, at least, thats what we thought. Whilst each of the kids in the facility has their own power or special identity in the dream world, they still pretty much get demolished easily by Freddy. But it’s fun to see the patient’s new identities such as Jennifer Rubin’s punk girl resplendent with switchblades, the young geek who has to use a wheelchair in real life being found to be able to walk in his dreams and being a kind of Dungeon Master (this whole film seems to be aimed at Dungeon and Dragon players and anyone else who owns a 20 sided dice) and Joey the mute who finds that he has a voice and uses it to breaks a hall of mirrors in the dream world.

Whilst the second film was closeted and unsure of itself, Part 3 is out, proud and camp as fuck! ANOES 3 lets it’s freak flag fly.

6. The Gate

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This film depicts three kids who are left alone for three days and the carnage that can happen when such an event happens.

When these three kids are left alone for the weekend they see that an uprooted tree has left in it’s place a gateway for demons previously buried beneath to enter the outside world.

This is a great horror film that seems more to be aimed at kids or the inner child of adult viewers. I saw this film when I was about 12 and still love it possibly because I first saw it at such an early age.

There are some great instances of stop motion animation and some very cool visual effects which have aged incredibly well indeed.

This film features a very young Stephen Dorff, years before he became Cecil B Demented. This is a low-key delight that has garnered a cult following as the years have gone by.

5. Opera

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When the diva of a daring production of Verdi’s Macbeth directed by Marco has an accident, the young opera singer Betty successfully replaces her. Soon a psychopath obsessed by Betty kills all who are close to her. Who might be the killer?

This is one of Dario Argento’s best films in my opinion. It contains his usual stylishly depicted murders, scenarios and kills so ingeniously that they beggar belief.

Take one which shows a woman looking through a peephole only to be shot through it. We see in slow motion the bullet travelling down the barrel of the gun used, through the peephole and through the back of the victim’s head after it has entered her eye.

Also, there is another sequence in which the killer breaks into protagonist Betty’s boyfriend’s apartment, uses duct tape to gag her after tying her up, places a strip of duct tape with needles sticking up from it under each of her eyes so that she can’t close them (her eyelids will be pierced by the needles if she tries to) so that she is forced to watch what happens next. She then witnesses her boyfriend being killed in front of her.

The locale of the opera world is also inspired with the story revolving around a production of Macbeth which is a nice nod to another tale of horror.

4. Angel Heart

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A New York private investigator Harry Angel is hired to look into a singer called Johnny Favourite by a shadowy figure called Louis Cyphre. The search begins in New York with all of the usual noir and hard-boiled ingredients in place- murders, beatings and blood.

Soon his research takes him to New Orleans. This setting lends a lot to the movie with religion, voodoo and the supernatural becoming imbued with the narrative. Tropes of the film noir genre seem to go hand in hand with those of horror which makes for a cracking movie which is much more than just a simple genre piece.

This film is amazingly directed by Alan Parker with the look of the movie lending itself to the themes of the film and the genres it’s straddling. Angel Heart doesn’t feel a triumph of style over substance either as it has enough substance to avoid this. The plot is all-consuming and engaging from start to finish. We feel fully in the thrall of Harry Angel with Mickey Rourke being perfectly cast as the hard as nails PI and certainly looking the part with his stubble, shabby long coat and long greased hair brushed back.

Robert De Niro as the enigmatic Cyphre is, of course, as brilliant as ever. The ponytail, piercing black eyes, the sharpened pointed fingernails, the cane and pentagrammed ring on his finger are all perfect. The scene where he eats an egg is something to behold. He tells Angel that in some cultures an egg represents the soul. No shit.

Lisa Bonet proves herself fantastically as being much more than ‘the girl from The Cosby Show’. Her chicken dance is one of the film’s highlights.

Charlotte Rampling rounds off the uniformly impressive cast.

The film had to be trimmed by 10 seconds to get an R rating from the MPAA.

Angel Heart was a case of a horror/noir tinged film that had the budget, innovation, originality and cast to garner applause from the critics. It’s easy to see why. It’s also easy to see why it’s one of the best films of 1987.

3. Predator

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A paramilitary rescue team on a mission to save hostages in Central America cross paths with a murderous space alien known as The Predator who sets out to kill them one by one.

Theres so much to love about this film. First of all it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a film from his Imperial Phase. At that time it seemed that every film he was making was amazing, reaping serious takings at the cinema box office before doing the same on home video. Every Arnie release in these days was a real event. His brand of action movies were perfect for video and Arnie can be seen as one of the actors whose rise to fame was intertwined with many people’s rose spectacled reminiscences regarding home video.

The Predator himself rocked. Stan Winston realised the creature and it felt like he was impossible to beat, even with Arnie battling against him. The Predator exhibited the best of both worlds- the feral and natural characteristics of some wild beast and the technological components of an advanced being unseen on Earth before. We even get to see the jungle terrain from the alien’s POV- a form of thermal imaging due to the body temperature of his prey. Arnie uses this to his advantage near the film’s climax when he covers himself in mud so as not to be detected by the alien.

The action sequences within the film are amazing and whilst this film may be seen by many as not being specifically horror (the film straddles action, horror and sci-fi) there was gore galore. From the scene in which Dillon (played by Carl Weathers) is firing at the beast but then has the arm taken off his body with said appendage seen still firing his gun after it’s left his body, to the character of Mac having his head explode after the Predator’s three red sight lights have appeared on him, the film certainly wasn’t prudish when it depicted it’s horror allegiances.

There was also the homoerotic subtext of the film which I wrote about here. From the greeting between Arnie and Dillon which consists of a grasping of hands with the camera oogling on each man’s bulging and glistening biceps to the bromance between two of the men (and there were only men on the crew), the subtext, like so much, is there is you know what to look for and recognise the signifiers. And there were plenty of signifiers. I how many 80’s action/horror fans have watched this film countless times and not twigged. Or they’ve had something awakened inside them.

2. Evil Dead 2 : Dead by Dawn

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Sam Raimi makes a sequel to the most notorious Video Nasty of all time. Balls. Of. Steel. Christian busybody and professional puritan Mary Whitehouse wanted to have the film buried and crucified in the media (even though she admitted to having never actually seen it) in the midst of the Video Nasties moral panic but instead Raimi gets funding to make a bigger, budget sequel. Thanks, Mary.

Actually, Stephen King was responsible for helping obtaining financing for this sequel. When King found out that Raimi wanted to make a sequel he personally called Dino De Laurentiis who funded the movie.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is really a more expansive remake of the first film with a proper crew rather than a bunch of friends making a (genius) labour of love. The plot suggests that the events of the first film didn’t happen at all. The basic outline of the start of the film is very similar to that of the first except there are only two characters who venture to the cabin. They are joined by others later.

Ash takes his girlfriend Linda to said cabin in the woods where they find a tape belonging to the guy who was there before, archeologist Raymond Knowby. The tape involves passages of the fabled Book of the Dead being spoken out loud which unleashes all manner of skullfuckery.

Bigger budget, more ambitious ideas, more gruesome horror but the same sick sense of humour are present in this second film. Highlights include Ash’s hand wanting to kill him after it becomes possessed and so he removes it with a chainsaw. Theres also a funny episode involving a character swallowing an eyeball which has shot from another character’s head. We even get to see what Ash would look like as a demon. If these scenes don’t make you want to see this opus then nothing will.

The ending lays the foundations for the next film which Raimi actually wanted to make as the basis for this installment but producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted a movie more resembling the first film.

1 The Stepfather

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Henry Morrison is a chameleon like serial killer who assumes an identity, invades a chosen family and then decimates it. We see him change his identity, leave the family home within which hes killed all of the family members (their bodies are still strewn around) and go off to repeat the whole process again.

He picks a widow with a teenaged daughter and worms his way in again.

The Stepfather felt like it was part of a new trend in horror- films that were polished, brilliantly made but very, very violent. It feels so raw and brutal that it makes for uncomfortable viewing especially when you find out that the film is based on a true story. John List had killed his family, cleaned up the murder scene (their house), told neighbours that his family were going away for a while and then vanished. He had even cut himself out of all of the family photographs. Brian Garfield based The Stepfather on this true life case.

There is deft direction, great performances all round but especially from Terry O’Quinn as the central character. And what a performance! It’s one of the most unnerved, deranged and fucked up turns I’ve ever seen in a movie. Yes, it’s up there with Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees and Andrew Robinson as Scorpio in Dirty Harry. It’s that crazy! Also, watch for all of the nuances to his performance and his OCD obsession with everything being ordered and regimented.

Theres also something deeply disturbing about seeing these violent acts being carried out in a home that is so perfect that it looks like it’s from the world of advertising.

This relatively low-key film’s reputation has snowballed over the years and is now regarded as a cult classic.

The Stepfather’s director went on to make a film even more controversial- The Good Son starring Macaulay Culkin.

No Homo: John McTiernan’s Predator (1987)

No Homo: <em>John McTiernan’s Predator</em> (1987)

I had the honour and privilege to be able to see Predator (1987) in 4K and on the big screen the other day. It felt like visiting an old friend.

Predator belongs in Arnie’s Imperial Phase which for my money runs from the Conan films up until Red Heat. At this time he was making action movies that defined the genre, pushed its boundaries but fully exploited their future status on the medium of video- in other words they were violent and gory as hell.

Predator works on so many different levels.

The film is the perfect example of a comic book come to life on celluloid. The film possesses the kind of exaggeration and imagination that normally couldn’t satisfactorily be translated to film. Predator shows that these forays into the surreal and its larger than life action sequences can be successfully conveyed. All of the characters could equally be seen in comic book panels as much as they could be on film. The film is so gung-ho that it feels like a war comic crossed with a shoot em up video game at times.

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The Predator’s thermal vision that the audience is privy to is also a comic book device.

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Another sequence that is reminiscent of a comic book is when Dillon’s arm is cut off but continues to fire a gun.

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Also, just as action and horror movies were massively successful on video in its infancy  and its growth as a medium, Predator combines elements of both genres and turns them up to 11. The sequence involving Dillon’s arm is a great example of a sequence that appeals to both action and horror fans.

In fact the film is extremely subversive as it starts as a jungle commando action vehicle but then suddenly changes direction. This could have failed to work and come across as forced and completely contrived if handled in the wrong way. But instead it works brilliantly.

The horror and more specifically the slasher conventions within Predator show that the film wasn’t just appealing to the fans of action movies. The Predator’s handiwork is shown as the jungle crew discover the skinned bodies of others hanging upside down. The crew soon find themselves to be the quarry rather than the hunters in the same way that a group of teenagers would be in a stalk n slash movie. They are easy meat.

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The film also contains the same kind of kills found in a slasher movie with skulls, intestines and exploding heads all featuring.

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Another slasher staple that features in Predator is the unmasking of the killer which of course prompts Dutch to exclaim ‘You are one ugly motherfucker!’ The unmasking sequence is especially a staple of the Friday 13th films in which Jason Voorhees is regularly unmasked to reveal his true face.

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A mug you wouldn’t chug- the unmasking of the predator

Predator also goes the extra mile when it comes to its action genre ingredients. There are guns and muscles aplenty. But where Predator tries to excel when it deals with these components, in doing so it instantly becomes very very homoerotic.

There must have been something distinctly gay in the air in some Hollywood quarters in 1986/7 as two other unintentionally/intentionally homoerotic films were also made around the same time- Top Gun and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.

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The homoeroticism of Top Gun (1986) and

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1986)

In fact, Predator is so proudly masculine, homoerotic and therefore camp that to take any of these variants further would topple the film headlong into the genre of gay pornography.

It doesn’t take a lot for the ultra masculine to turn ultra homoerotic and camp. Let me illustrate- think of a clockface as representing all of the different variants of masculinity- 1 represents the camp, effete and effeminate (two examples are Quentin Crisp and Julian Clary) and 12 represents the ultra masculine, musclebound and testosterone soaked (Arnie, your average MMA fighter, the larger WWE wrestlers). There isn’t that much of a distance from 1 to 12 on the clockface is there? Also, just because a man might be camp or effeminate doesn’t mean that he isn’t without balls of steel. Do you think it was easy for Julian Clary and Quentin Crisp to be openly gay and effeminate when they first came to light in the public gaze? No- it took guts and moral fortitude. They are far from being submissive sissies. There are paradoxes at the more extreme positions on the clock.

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Whilst number 12 on the clockface is seen as the most masculine its also, paradoxically very camp and homoerotic also. The male who wishes to assert his masculinity more potently will build up his physique and muscles. To display this ‘uber masculinity’ he will expose his body more thus paradoxically instantly appeal to the some members of the same sex. He wants to accentuate his masculinity and has at the same time become more camp, desirable and homoerotic because of this.

This heady brew of the masculine and homoerotic is first seen in the film when Dutch comes across his old friend Dillon again. A handshake turns into an epic display of biceps and a very manly (and very camp) arm-wrestle. You could be forgiven that this is in fact some kind of 1980’s gay porno movie.

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The camera seems to relish and luxuriate upon the male cast in the film. There are many shots of gleaming muscles, sometimes clutching huge guns. Predator is a glistening, sweaty jerk-off fest for the gay gaze.

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The bead of sweat rolling down the ample chest of the character of Billy is one such example of this. The same character later on in the film decides to ‘take it like a man’ by slitting open his well built chest to prompt the predator out of hiding so that they can go one on one. Its a startling display of machismo that is instantly appealing to the action fan and those who are sexually aroused by such testosterone fuelled exhibitionism. ‘Taking it like a man’ means something very different in gay circles. The pitcher becomes receiver. He decides to ‘receive’ the alien.

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Within the film there is also the spectacle of the slow striptease of Dutch. Throughout the course of the film Arnold appears in varying degrees of undress and displays more flesh and more muscle. There is also an unbelievable shot when the crew arrive in the jungle. Dutch crawls through undergrowth with the camera just above his body as he does this, resplendent with an amazing shot of his arse. Ever wanted to know what it would be like to be on top of the film’s lead character? The camera realises this for the spectator.

Arnold’s striptease cumulates with his character covered in mud (!) with a lit torch in one hand and giving a manly bellow to the heavens to alert the alien that he is ready for battle. Man vs alien- and no ugly extra-terrestrial is going to kick Arnie’s alpha-male butt. Whilst this scene is intended not only to signify the potency of the masculinity on display its also the ultimate in homoeroticism and camp iconography- a distillation of the whole film in one sequence.

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Theres also the bromance/relationship between Mac and Blain. After Blain is killed there is a palpable longing on the part of Mac which suggests that he misses him for being more than just a fellow soldier. This pining between two male characters is reminiscent of Peter being distraught by the passing of Roger in George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Or the ending of Brokeback Mountain. Yes, nothing gay here.

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Male longing- Brokeback Mountain

In fact Blain recalls the ‘macho man’ archetype in the same way that The Village People’s leather-clad biker does- moustache, sexually potent (Blaine describes himself as a ‘sexual tyrannosaurus’), whilst looking down on others who aren’t as masculine. Blaine refers to those people as ‘slack jawed faggots’ the way a leather fan might look down on the camper constituents of his community. Also, notice the use of the word ‘faggots’- Blaine doth protest too much. Or hes just trying to deflect from the obvious conclusions.

With the character of Blaine there also the issue of guns, the size of those guns and the ‘gun as phallus/symbol of manhood’ baggage that is imbued with such imagery. Just as Blaine has stated that he is a ‘sexual tyrannosaurus’ he qualifies this with the gun he carries- a huge gun that can fire countless bullets at once and has a barrel that rotates as its doing this. Blaine calls the gun ‘Old Painless’ and at one point says that its time to bring it out of its bag. This recalls the way a man might say its time to ‘unleash the beast’. Never has a gun represented a penis so obviously.

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Blain and his impressive weapon

Also within the film there seems to be a celebration of gun size as an extension of manhood for each character. There are many shots of gleaming muscles and equally huge guns held proudly by each character. Theres also the incredible scene in which the muscled components of the crew fire their guns into the jungle when they happen to see the alien. The scene goes on for way too long, prompting the audience to question why this is. A joyous piece of action genre abandon? A display of unabashed masculinity? Or the film’s equivalent of a circle jerk? This scene is as close as the film can come to each character having his cock out to show who really is King Dong.

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The Predator circle jerk

In fact the film early on introduces a female character into the proceedings to seemingly try to stop the film being a solely male musclefest. Shes also introduced to make the film homosocial- a female distraction from the otherwise all male action and to show that, ”y’know, we’re not actually faggots or nuthin’ ”.

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Predator’s all male cast. Nothing gay here.

Anna Gonsalves however isn’t the kind of weak and spineless female character who requires a man to save her from any encroaching danger. She is resourceful and an equal. She spends her formative scenes trying to escape from the crew but then is seen as someone more than willing to pitch in to save herself and the lives of the others in the crew from the predator. She is self-sufficent and with this all male crew, thats pretty much for the best. Saving women would take away from their self-love and exhibitionism.

Ultimately what was Predator’s demographic and who it was made for- the laydeez? Of course not. It was made for male action and horror fans. This vehicle of muscles and macho posturing with the odd splatter scene was made for men. It makes the film even gayer/homoerotic.

Even the behind the scenes stills from Predator were homoerotic. Hers a picture of Arnie holding a huge snake.

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But whilst most of society was a homophobic cesspit when Predator was released the world seems to have changed since. Homophobia is thankfully being seen as unjust, outdated and as never being valid in the first place. Arnie is now a successful Republican politician. Whilst everyone was celebrating the amendment that allowed Gay Marriage in America people on Facebook were changing their profile pictures so that they had a rainbow flag filter. Arnie did the same. Most welcomed this. However some old school action fans did not. Arnie’s comeback was epic.

Things really were changing. Just as Arnie was finally embracing gay marriage and equality, was it possible that he knew that Predator was in fact a homoerotic musclefest all along? It would be great if someone from the Predator crew came forward to say that that this was actually the intention. Just imagine the uproar!