Films That Fell Through the Cracks: Slash (2002)

Welcome to Films That Fell Through the Cracks where we discuss notable motion pictures that failed to generate the kind of buzz worthy of the so-called “cult classic.” Today, “Locker Arms” author Zakary McGaha delves into the horror-comedy hilarity of 2002’s Slash.

“Slash” Film Review 

by Zakary McGaha

Slash (2002) is horror-comedy gold. If you’re like me, you’ve always been very picky when it comes to horror comedies. I must admit: I’m more easily won over by films that take themselves seriously and don’t derive comedic value from self-awareness.

Self-awareness has always taken me out of a story; it’s made me think negatively of the creators. Hmm. They must be pretty cool…too cool to make serious movies. Nevertheless, sometimes it works. We can all think of the more mainstream classics: Evil Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead, Seed of Chucky (okay, that one’s hotly debated), the Leprechaun franchise…the list could go on and on.

All the movies listed above have something in common: they’re known by pretty much everyone. They’re lost somewhere between mainstream and cult. They’re not “indie” or “cult” in the shoestring-budget type of way (these films had budgets and talented crews who knew what they were doing), but they’re not getting discussed on the morning news’s movie segment. Still, they’re known to virtually all people who are into this type of thing, and are universally highly regarded (even if some people hate Seed of Chucky…damn cretins).

That being said, it is my opinion, based on years of experience, that most horror comedies suck. The best ones are the exception to this rule and, thus, become remembered by everyone who sees them. However, every now and then, I’ll see one that knocks my socks off. Slash did just that. It deserves a place in the Horror Comedy Hall of Fame, as well as a spot in the Killer Scarecrow Movie Hall of Fame, but, sadly, to the majority of horror fans, it doesn’t have a place in either.


Slash follows a grungy pop-rocker who’s returning to a farm he spent time on as a kid, with his band in tow. Said band consists of a colorful cast of semi-charming knuckleheads, all of whom have their own personalities. For the most part, they’re less than enthused about leaving the city for the country…especially when they’re on the cusp of a record deal…which sets things up for some good comedy later on.

There are two stand-out performances in this movie: Steve Railsback as Jeremiah, the somewhat creepy (but humorous) head of the farm, and Nick Boraine as Billy Bob, a dim-witted country boy with bad teeth. Side note: if you’re a fan of movies about real-life serial killers, you may recognize Nick Boraine as Ed Gein from the film bearing his namesake…Ed Gein (2000)…which is, in my opinion, the go-to dramatization of the murders.

The comedy in Slash comes from the characters, but it’s never in a stand-up sort of way. The clashing of different personalities is where most of the humor is found, which is refreshing compared to a lot of modern stuff.

In terms of gore, you won’t find anything outstanding here, but the movie isn’t aiming to please gore hounds. Instead, it’s aiming to tell a strange story that is equal parts cartoonish humor and slasher horror. It works as a blend of the two, where one doesn’t act in opposition to the other: the folks churning out movies like the It remake and The Meg adaptation should take note!

“Scary” is something the film never achieves, but it works in this simple, foolproof way: the characters are awesome, so it builds suspense when you see them getting stalked, and eventually slashed, by a scarecrow.

This film isn’t smart, nor is it scary, but it is fun, entertaining, and memorable. It’s almost masterful in its ability to keep you glued into its fictional realm. Most movies have plusses and minuses that get you thinking in critical terms…(too much of this, not enough of that)…whereas Slash possesses that rare ability to entrance you. Also, the song played at the end of the film is something you’ll be singing in the shower for days afterward!

4/5…Highly recommended!

The Best Black Comedies You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

By Bob Freville

When some of us hear the word “dark,” it conjures up things like the Dark Tower movie, based on Stephen King’s iconic book series, or Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but others among us immediately picture something completely different.

Dark comedy movies haven’t always been popular, but they’ve always been distinct from your run-of-the-mill Hollywood comedy. Where so-called comedy classics typically rely on fart jokes and gay panic humor, black comedies depend on something more nuanced.

Operating in much the same way as a horror movie does, the black comedy plays on our fears, prejudices and inadequacies to craft something that is both irreverent and arresting. Many of these films are light years ahead of their time.

For every Fargo that ends up being immediately embraced by pop culture, there are a dozen flicks like Rubin & Ed or The Cable Guy that slowly find their fanbase over a period of decades.

Here are a few of the very best black comedies around, all of which I challenge you to quote off the top of your dome.

Neighbors (1981, Avilsen)

No, I’m not talking about that appropriately sophomoric frat comedy with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, nor am I talking about its egregious sequel that served as little more than an excuse for Hollywood to once again sexualize child star Chloe Grace-Moretz.

No, we’re talkin’ John G. Avildsen’s manic, macabre adaptation of the equally weird Thomas Berger novel. This demented tale about a sexless suburban businessman (John Belushi in an uncharacteristically subdued performance) who lives on a deserted cul-de-sac beside a dangerous electrical tower explores upward-mobile ennui like few others.

Neighbors concerns what happens when the life of a bored middle-aged couple is disturbed by the arrival of a strange, swinging twosome (Dan Aykroyd and Cathy Moriarty) with a penchant for lies, manipulation, loud music and shotguns.

The role of Vic is easily Aykroyd’s greatest role to date with his oddly disquieting contact lenses, gold tooth, cheap bottle blond dye job and towering presence. The movie is made that much stranger by Bill Conti’s anachronistic theremin score that seems pulled from an old Ed Wood alien movie.

Straight to Hell (1987, Cox)

Alex Cox had already proven himself a pioneer with the punk rock pastiche Repo Man when he and Clash frontman Joe Strummer decided to make a sort of pseudo-concert movie together. This psychedelic spaghetti western isn’t exactly Quadraphoenia or Tommy: The Who, but it’s certainly a roundup of the most interesting acts in punk rock from the time.

The rag tag cast of rugged characters includes Cox regular Dick Rude as well as the members of The Pogues and a pre-nose job Courtney Love. The plot is half-baked at best (a group of inept bank robbers tear up a desert town full of derelicts when they’re not swilling coffee or slicking their hair back with gasoline), but the real treat is the manic passion of its eclectic cast.

In his book, X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker, Cox talks about what a nightmare it was trying to coax a performance out of the very wooden Jim Jarmusch, a noted indie auteur in his own right and an occasional character actor.

Today, Straight to Hell has achieved cult status, but at the time, this shoestring action-comedy slipped through the cracks, no doubt in part because of its bizarre blend of gallows humor and over-the-top ensemble.

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989, Robinson)

Before Bizarro became a literary genre, filmmakers like David Cronenberg and Terry Gilliam gave us weird visions unlike anything we’d seen before or have really seen since. One such filmmaker was Bruce Robinson.

The British director is best known for the Gonzo drunks on holiday picture Withnail & I. Weird and wild in its own right, ‘Withnail’ is best remembered for the brilliant and infinitely quotable performance of Richard E. Grant as the titular souse who spouts proclamations like “I feel like a pig shat in my head” and “We want the finest wines known to humanity. And we want them here and we want them now!”

Grant returned to top form for this forgotten gem, a film Robinson fondly or not-so-fondly refers to as “The Boil.” Grant plays Dennis Dimbleby Bagley, a shrewd young marketing exec struggling to hatch an ad slogan for a new pimple cream.

Dennis’s frustration ends up growing into a boil on his neck, a boil which soon transforms into an even more repulsive version of him. To say any more would be to spoil a movie that is every bit as relevant and weird today as it was on the cusp of the Nineties.

Meet the Applegates (1990, Lehmann)

This one is up there with underrated greats like 1985’s Transylvania 6-5000 and 1989’s The ‘Burbs when it comes to twisted black comedies. After he delivered the pitch black anti-rom-com Heathers but before he gave us the armed rock n’ roll wannabes comedy Airheads, Michael Lehmann infested movie theaters with this smart satire about American mores.

Meet the Applegates is the story of Dick, Jane, Sally and Johnny Applegate, a foursome of giant, killer bugs from a South American rainforest who pose as a Leave it to Beaver-style suburban family in order to take down a nuclear power plant.

Of course, things don’t go as planned and blood is spilled as the Applegates eliminate the “homo sapien scum.” A fun and fucked up little romp, Meet the Applegates holds up in 2018 because its subject matter remains a problematic issue in the age of fracking and toxic shock.

Rubin & Ed (1991, Harris)

Some will recognize Crispin Glover’s Rubin from his now-notorious appearance on Letterman, but it was here that audiences (you know who you are) really got to know the guy with the long, bushy hair, ill-fitting bellbottoms and platform boots.

It’s really impossible to describe this zany, unpredictable flick without doing it a disservice. Yes, it’s a satire of self-help gurus, a riff on ancient cultures and a portrait of the awkward bond that develops among men. But it’s also a movie about a cat who can eat a whole watermelon.

Writer-director Trent Harris (Plan 10 from Outer Space) is currently crowdfunding a spiritual sequel to Rubin & Ed called Echo People. To learn more about it, you can click here.

The Dark Backward (1991, Rifkin)

Easily the strangest story about stand-up comedy ever committed to celluloid, The Dark Backward follows the journey of Marty Malt (a career-defying turn by Brat Packer Judd Nelson), the world’s worst stand-up comic. Marty is a garbageman whose only fan is his obnoxious and manipulative co-worker Gus (the late-Bill Paxton at his most unbridled).

Marty and Gus live in a trash-strewn world illuminated in queasy green and brown hues, a world that feels perpetually blighted by grease and decay. When Marty grows a third arm out of his back, Gus tells him he’s a “weirdie,” but he also suggests that this might be the big break they’ve both been dreaming of.

When a sleazy third-rate talent agent named Jackie Chrome (Wayne Newton with a John Waters mustache) learns of this deformity, he decides to leverage it as a gimmick to get Marty and his accordion-playing garbage buddy a gig on a daytime variety show.

This doesn’t begin to cover the highs and lows of grue and grotesquerie on display in Adam Rifkin (Look, Detroit Rock City)’s debut film, but it does scratch the grotty surface. Viewers will be treated to plenty of oddball humor and unforgettable lines like, “Well, pickle my tongue!” They’ll also watch legendary actor James Caan (The Godfather) play the screen’s worst doctor.

The Dark Backward is the darkest of comedies, but it’s also one of the absolute best. Watch it on repeat for all of the Blump’s easter eggs hidden throughout.

The Vagrant (1992, Walas)

Bill Paxton was back for another bugfuck black comedy with this psychological quagmire. The Vagrant follows Graham Krakowski (Paxton), here pronounced “crack house ski,” a young professional who buys a house in an unnamed city and sets about living the high life before a peculiar hobo sets up shop across the street and begins driving Crackhouseski up a fucking wall.

Graham believes that this slobbering, deformed vagrant is not only taunting him but actually breaking into his home. As paranoia mounts and his friends turn their backs on him, Graham becomes obsessed with a mysterious paperback book left for him in his bathroom.

The book may just hold the key to figuring out who the vagrant is and what his intentions for poor Mr. Crackhouseski are. This one is a wild ride with a gloriously batty original score and the kind of inimitable production design pioneered by The Dark Backward before it.

Ed & His Dead Mother (1993, Wacks)

Steve Buscemi is one of the godfathers of the black comedy, having appeared in everything from Barton Fink and Fargo to In the Soup and Living in Oblivion, but this early-Nineties bizarrothon is one of his weirdest.

In the pic, Buscemi plays a sexless mama’s boy who runs the family hardware store and mourns the passing of his beloved matriarch…until John Glover shows up looking like Mephistopheles…if Mephistopheles dressed like Tom Wolfe.

Glover works for the Happy People Corporation, a spurious entity that carries an LLC on its name (of course). Glover says that his company is in the business of making people happy and swears that, for a nominal fee (everything Buscemi’s got), he can bring mama back from the dead, “good as new.”

Mama comes back alright with a taste for cockroaches and a case of blood lust. If that doesn’t sound crackers enough, just you wait. You’ll never think of a John Deere the same again.

Lucky (2004, Cuden)

Nope, this isn’t the introspective 2017 drama starring Harry Dean Stanton, rather it is a microbudget horror fantasy with a decidedly demented sense of humor. Following the floundering life of alcoholic cartoon writer Millard Mudd, Lucky presents what happens when a loser’s claustrophobic world collapses in on itself, giving way to delusion.

In the flick, Millard’s whole world turns around with the arrival of a talking dog whose name is Lucky. Lucky’s presence in Millard’s life leads to Millard meeting the love of his life. But Lucky has a plan for Millard’s future and there is no room in that plan for a love interest.

Lucky’s warped visual and tonal perspective is best represented by the sheer volume of empty beer cans strewn around Millard’s apartment in impressively huge piles. Everything about this film is oversized and outrageous, but this excess is expertly rendered in a measured way.

This one predates the exceptional talking animal Ryan Reynolds comedy The Voices by ten years, but it’s every bit as awesome as its successor.

God Bless America (2011, Goldthwait)

Bobcat Goldthwait is, perhaps, the best and most original independent filmmaker working in America today (check out his genre-bending anthology series Monsters & Misfits on truTV). It is only fitting that he should make a movie with America in the title.

Fed up with his shitty family, his shitty neighbors and the shitty culture that would exploit the oblivious for laughs, Frank Murdoch (played by the woefully unsung Joel Murray) fantasizes about murder until one too many egregious reality TV shows sends him running for the gun closet.

What follows is a misguided murder spree with a damaged teenage girl as the self-appointed Bonnie to his disgruntled and middle aged Clyde. In interviews, Goldthwait has said that he likes to make comedies out of the material that would normally be used for drama which explains this colorful mashup of Badlands, Bonnie & Clyde and Harold & Maude.

If you’ve ever dreamed of mowing down inconsiderate teens who talk during a movie screening or imagined how satisfying it would be to take down a spoiled cunt in a tiara on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen then this is the black comedy for you. Bloody good stuff!

There are many excellent black comedies that didn’t make this list, but it’s not for lack of quality. If you’ve already seen all these incredible titles, consider checking out Steven Soderbergh’s Schizopolis, Derek Jarman’s charmingly wacked Jubilee or Peter Berg’s underrated yet highly influential Very Bad Things.

10 Teen Movies That Are Totally Fucked Up

By Bob Freville


Teen movies have always been profoundly fucked up. Don’t believe me? Just revisit Revenge of the Nerds (1984) today and tell me it’s totally acceptable for a buck-toothed creeper to disguise himself as some Betties’ boyfriend in order to have sex with her.

Even more fucked up? Watch how Betty ends up falling for the creeper in question because of his sexual prowess. Tell me that shit would fly today and please…tell me that shit with a straight face.

Teen movies are historically fucked for a number of different reasons, some of them cool, others not so much. For example, those of us who grew up in the 80s hold a special place in our heart for the angsty, verbose detention dramedy The Breakfast Club. However, in retrospect, it’s not exactly awesome or rad for the high school jock to fall for the basket case only after she’s been painted up to look conventionally pretty.

Teen movies of yesteryear have delivered a lot of questionable messages to the impressionable youth of America, from the rampant narcissism and sociopathy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to the self-aggrandizing of Hollywood’s Less Than Zero film adaptation.

None of it is worth a wet fart in a diaper compared to the extremity of the following titles, each of which have been carefully curated to form what could be an all-night movie marathon of misanthropy, molestation, moodiness and murder.


1. Totally F***ed Up (1993)

How can you make a list of totally fucked up movies without including a film titled Totally Fucked Up? Strand Releasing added the asterisks for advertising purposes after acquiring the flick in the early-90s, but producer-editor-writer-director Gregg Araki (The Living End) always intended it to be called Totally Fucked Up.

This Godardian indie tells the story of an insular group of gay LA teens in a series of vignettes that reveal how funny, normal, alienated and, ultimately, doomed most of them are. When a young lesbian couple pass a bowl and a turkey baster around to collect their gay male friends’ semen we see just how innocent they really are. These girls are actually young and naive enough to believe that this is a viable means of insemination.

The film introduced many of us to James Duval, a character actor who would go on to serve as Araki’s muse for the duration of his Teen Angst Trilogy (and then some) and become a fixture on the horror convention circuit thanks to his role as Frank the Bunny in the cult hit Donnie Darko.

Totally Fucked Up earns its moniker thanks to the no-holds-barred approach taken by Araki and his inexperienced cast. After witnessing mutual masturbation, a gay bashing, an AIDS scare and a painful breakup, the film ends in the emotionally stunned aftermath of a suicide, one that fans of The Sopranos will recognize at once.


2. The Doom Generation (1995)

“I feel like a gerbil smothering in Richard Gere’s butthole.”

That’s an actual line from the second installment in Gregg Araki’s Teen Angst Trilogy, and it goes far towards explaining how so many young people feel in the modern world. It’s a sentiment that has been echoed in other classic teen movies like Pump Up the Volume in which Christian Slater played an angry teen with a pirate radio show on which he connected with other depressed youth.

As Slater’s Happy Harry Hard-On said in PUTV, “All the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks.” There’s a universal feeling in both movies that a life worth living has already passed and that the current generation has been left with table scraps.

The characters in The Doom Generation compensate for this apparent fact by eating shitty food from convenience stores, rhapsodizing about emo rock bands and engaging in some unique sexual acts.

How fucked up is this flick? Every time Xavier Red (Johnathan Schaech), Jordan White (Duval) or Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) buy a snack or order a drink, the total comes to $6.66, an omen that first crops up when they accidentally blow the head off a militant cashier…a head that lands in a produce display before coughing up guacamole and demanding “Six dolla sixty six cent!”

When our innocent young lovers lose their virginity to each other in a motel bathroom, their new pseudo-companion stands in the doorway, jerking off before eating his own climax. Scrumdiddlyumptious!


3. Nowhere (1997)

Think Araki maxed out the teen extremity quotient with The Doom Generation?

Think again.

At first blush, 1997’s Nowhere might seem like a gorgeous ambient sexual fantasy, but once its protagonist’s ornery mother (Beverly D’Angelo in a hideous face mask) snaps him out of his masturbatory reverie, the film’s true reality is revealed.

Dark (James Duval) is a sensitive film student who videotapes everything because he believes he’ll capture his own “spectacular” death on camera. His friends and acquaintances are equally fucked. Mel (Rachel True) is a promiscuous bisexual who keeps her cantankerous girlfriend (Kathleen Robertson) around in much the same way Paris Hilton used to keep her little shit dog around, like an accessory that reminds Dark that he will always have to share her with someone else.

Throughout the movie’s running time, we bear witness to alien abductions, a clown carrying a dead dog, glammed out drag queens brandishing automatic weapons, a sadomasochistic biker making his girlfriend spank his ass raw and, later, beating a guy to death with a Campbell’s soup can, a junkie teenager killing himself by sticking his head in an oven, a bulimic girl getting violently raped by the star of her favorite teen soap opera, John fucking Ritter sermonizing the impressionable youth into suicide via televangelism and a guy fingering his girlfriend with a piece of chocolate before making her lick it off his fingers.

All of this occurs before a very bloody and very bizarre final sequence that seems like it was ripped from one of Franz Kafka’s fever dreams.

This wouldn’t be the last time that Araki would make a fucked up teen movie. In 2004, he would adapt Scott Heim’s grim novel Mysterious Skin for the screen, giving the world teen heartthrob Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a 17-year old hustler who was molested as a child by his little league coach (Bill Sage).

In 2010, Araki reunited with James Duval for the batshit conspiracy-crazed teen sex romp Kaboom. Neither of these movies touched on the anarchic spirit of the Teen Angst Trilogy.


4. The Boys Next Door (1985)

Before she ended up becoming a gun for hire (see: Wayne’s World, The Little Rascals) Penelope Spheeris was a punk rock documentarian (The Decline of Western Civilization) who segued into narrative features with gritty urban films about a generation of orphaned punks (Suburbia, Dudes).

Spheeris directed this early Charlie Sheen vehicle from a script by future Final Destination scribes Glen Morgan and James Wong. As anyone who saw Suburbia could probably guess, this one was not pretty.

After their high school graduation, Bo (Sheen) and Roy (Maxwell Caulfield) take a road trip to Los Angeles where they end up on a murder spree after Roy strangles one of their dates to death. The film may seem tame by today’s standards, which really says something about us as a society, but at the time it ranked right up there with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer as one unflinching look at the homicidal mind.

Caulfield may be best known by Gen-Xers as Rex Manning from Allan Moyle’s cult comedy Empire Records, but at the time he was a Teen Beat sensation who was making panties moist with his turn in Grease 2. Looking like a squintier, more brooding Ricky Schroeder, Caulfield captivates here because you never know what he’s thinking…but you know it ain’t good.

The Boys Next Door retains its shock factor today because it speaks to one of our greatest fears—the notion that evil can look like that friendly bagboy who offers to carry your groceries to your car.


5. Bully (2001)

Not nearly as well-known or successful as director Larry Clark’s first film, the Harmony Korine-penned “Kids,” Bully is one of the most fucked up movies ever made. Period. That the characters are teenagers only makes the action that unfolds that much more egregious.

The movie’s central antagonist is Bobby Kent (Nick Stahl), a nasty, entitled and severely demented kid with sociopathic tendencies and homosexual predilections. I bring up his homosexual proclivities not to disparage homosexuality, rather to broach one of the film’s more cringe-worthy elements.

The flick opens on a bunch of underage twinks dancing in their underwear in a gay bar, much to the delight of lecherous middle-aged men. Bobby sits at the bar and negotiates a cash deal with one of the patrons for his “best friend,” the beleaguered Marty (the late Brad Renfro), to disrobe for the patron’s pleasure. Bobby then forces Marty to strip on stage. Shortly thereafter, he makes fun of Marty, insisting that Marty liked doing it. Later on, we discover that Bobby has coerced Marty into performing lewd sex acts on himself on videotapes which Bobby then sells to clients.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as Bobby goes on to date rape not only his own date but Marty’s girlfriend as well. When Marty’s girlfriend Lisa, the film’s second most deranged character (played brilliantly by Rachel Miner), finds out that she is pregnant we are never clear on whether it is Marty’s baby or Bobby’s.

None of that matters, of course, since Marty and his girlfriend ultimately end up conspiring with a group of friends and a dubious hitman (Leo Fitzpatrick) to kill Bobby. The murder is one of the most realistic ones in cinematic history. It is agonizingly protracted and lacks the quick, bloodless quality favored by most mainstream films.


6. The Stoned Age (1994)

Before directing the funny but forgettable Jerky Boys movie for Miramax, James Melkovian got his start with this largely forgettable direct-to-video stoner comedy. Technically, it’s a period piece set in the 1970s, but due to its low budget, you can clearly see cars from the Nineties driving past in the opening scenes.

Budgetary flaws aside, what makes this movie notable is its total disregard for morals or decency. Coming as it did on the footsteps of Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused, one would expect this to be a marijuana-fueled movie about kids partying and having a good time. Which is what it tries to pass itself off as…when it’s not too busy showcasing the finer points of petty thievery, bullying, betrayal and rape culture.

Oh, yeah. And Frankie Avalon. Because the 70s, right?

In the flick, Joe (Michael Kopelow) and Hubbs (Bradford Tatum) are two “best buds” who like to drive around in their shitty jalopy, smoking “skank weed” and eating old ass burritos they find on the car’s litter-strewn floorboards.

Their goal is to get some trim because this movie doesn’t know if it wants to be American Graffiti or Porky’s. When they find out about two chicks that have been promised to an ex-con upon his release from prison(they are literally referred to as property, i.e. “Tack’s chicks”), they decide to ditch the dude who told them about the girls and head to the girls’ house for themselves.

To go into how fuckity this movie’s concept of male-on-female contact is would take far too many paragraphs to sum up, but suffice it to say that this is one that needs to be seen in order to be believed.

Before he made the Teen Angst Trilogy, the aforementioned Gregg Araki blew the film festival circuit away with his gay lovers on the lam flick The Living End. At the time, Araki billed the film as “an irresponsible movie by gregg araki.” Sorry, Greg. This one’s got you beat. Truly a fucked up teen movie that reflects the climate in which it was created.


7. Rock & Roll High School (1979)

It pains me to say this now after having grown up adoring this movie and the Ramones as a band, but Allan Arkush’s film about a teenage girl convincing the legendary NYC pop-punk band to play at her high school is all sorts of inappropriate.

Granted, it’s a comedy and I’m not here to play P.C. Principal, but this Roger Corman-produced pastiche is pretty fucking fucked, fuckers. I mean, you’ve got a grown ass man (Clint Howard no less!) hiding inside of a bathroom stall in a high school, waiting to spring out to sell contraband to kids and to offer them misguided sexual advice.

At one point, Howard’s Eagle Bauer—a name that couldn’t sound more like a sexual predator—gets kids to sign contracts to go on dates together and promises Tom, the film’s horned up leading man, that he’ll get laid. A blowup doll is used for practice and a rape van with a wet bar in the back is loaned out for Tom’s rendezvous with the flick’s virginal second female lead.

Basically, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is one 90-minute rape fantasy wherein scuzzy guys in leather jackets invade the bedroom and bathroom of an underage girl, a grown ass woman (Mary Woronov as the crazed, dictator-like Principal Togar) attacks children, a grown ass man teaches teenagers how to date rape chicks and blowing up one’s high school is considered a happy ending.


8. The Last American Virgin (1982)

Israeli-born auteur Boaz Davidson may be best known for his erotic 1978 opus, Lemon Popsicle, a West German sex romp that took place in the Fifties and may have led to the success of Porky’s. Like Porky’s and The Last American Virgin, it followed the exploits of young men who were out to get their dicks wet. That’s where the similarities end.

Where Lemon Popsicle can be viewed as a sophomoric and even playfully infantile take on the innocence of teen love and lust, The Last American Virgin subverts the teen sex comedy by showing the stark contrast between idealized love and the reality surrounding such infatuation.

This one’s fucked up for a number of reasons, not least of which is its gritty take on the teens go to a whorehouse scenario. This is not the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, this is just plain grotty and kind of sad for all parties concerned.

The film only gets worse from there as we watch sad sack pizza boy Gary (Lawrence Monoson) sacrifice everything that’s dear to him for the unrequited love of a village bicycle. By that, I mean that Gary borrows scrilla from his boss at the pizzeria in order to pay for town slot machine Karen’s abortion and all but blows a dirty stranger in order to buy her a gold locket…only to find her making out with his best friend.

Unlike a visit to a whorehouse, there is no happy ending here.


9. Deadgirl (2008)

Genre fans might know the name Trent Haaga from the gloriously fucked up Netflix movie Cheap Thrills or his recent adaptation of 68 Kill, but before he became a director Haaga wrote this masterful cumming-of-age horror-drama about two high school friends who discover a living dead girl in an abandoned mental hospital.

If you’re anything like me, you may have grown up exploring places that you didn’t belong. Old mental hospitals are always high on that list. I vividly remember walking through the ruins of  Pilgrim State Psychiatric with my old drug dealer and his girlfriend’s college roommates, trying to summon the spirit of Allen Ginsberg’s mother who had been a patient there.

Deadgirl is all about going to places where you don’t belong, both literally and figuratively. In the pic, timid outcast Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and his rapscallion pal JT (genre mainstay Noah Segan) find a woman tied to a table in the bowels of an asylum.

Rickie books it out of there in terror, but JT sticks around to sexually abuse the presumably reanimated corpse chick. As if this wasn’t sick enough, JT eventually converts the deadgirl’s room into a makeshift brothel, hanging Christmas lights from the walls and inviting classmates to come and have their way with the deadgirl.

Described by one reviewer as “the most feminist horror movie I’ve seen this side of Teeth,” Deadgirl builds to a revolting but satisfying climax that hammers home the flick’s message about moral integrity and the consequences of unbridled lust.


10. Super Dark Times (2017)

Like Deadgirl, this one can be considered a coming-of-age picture, but it’s definitely not Catcher in the Rye. The story revolves around a small group of friends who are driven into a state of paranoia after an accidental death occurs among them.

To say too much more than that would really spoil this solid indie flick, but the bottom line is that this is an eldritch tale of teen violence that recalls the emotional numbness of The River’s Edge and the shocking outbursts of The Lord of the Flies.

The last fifteen minutes are guaranteed to leave mouths slack and chests heaving as it presents a display of horror that is brutally abrupt, almost comically awkward and painfully real.

Best Horror Movies for the Gender Fluid Age

by Bob Freville

Maybe you’re looking for a scary movie that’s not some cis-gender fantasy. Or, perhaps, you just want something that’s a bit different than your grandfather’s scary movie. After all, the world is changing, the culture is changing…so why shouldn’t the horror genre change?

The truth is, horror has been heading in a progressive direction long before society as a whole was. The 1975 sci-fi horror musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show played with gender neutrality before that was even a prevalent term. Written by “third sex” playwright Richard O’ Brien, who has long identified as being gender fluid, the flick may have been the mainstream’s first taste of pansexuality.

In the film, Dr. Frankenfurter (Tim Curry), the self-proclaimed  “sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania” beds men and women alike and struts around confidently in studded heels and fishnet stockings. The flick introduced the world to a new kind of anti-hero, a post-gender figure who could be every bit as sexy as a biological woman and every bit as dangerous as a hulking slasher villain.

In the ensuing years, many other movies have come along that shake up traditional concepts of gender dynamics. Today, we’ll take a look at the five best horror movies for the gender fluid generation.


1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Yeah, I know, I know. We already covered this one in the intro. Why beat a dead horse, right?

Except this one is far from a dead horse. On the contrary, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one horror movie with more longevity than just about any other picture in the genre.

Not only do revivals of the Rocky Horror stage play continue to this day but midnight screenings of the film are staged across America and beyond, each of them attended by passionate proponents who come dressed like their favorite characters and armed with rice and other ephemera to throw at the screen at key moments.

The celebration that people avail them of at Rocky Horror screenings speaks volumes about the role this film has played in influencing people’s perceptions of gender roles and sexuality. I mean, dammit, Janet! When a movie’s lead character can captivate generation after generation of audiences with lines like “Give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh,” you know that movie is doing something right.


2. Psycho (1960)

Some have cited Hitchcock’s classic adaptation of Robert Bloch’s Psycho as an example of Hollywood demonizing the trans community, but when taken in context, the film actually illustrates a certain form of female empowerment.

Consider this: Norman Bates (played by homosexual actor Anthony Perkins) is portrayed as a timid, jumpy little man who, in his “mother”’s own words “couldn’t hurt a fly.” The final line by the maternal voice in his head is fitting because it explains everything that occurred beforehand.

To wit: Throughout the film, all of the murders committed by Norman are committed only when he assumes the identity of his mother. Dressed in a gray wig and a simple house dress, Norman transforms from an impotent manchild into an empowered and scorned woman capable of kicking some ass.

When read in this light, it becomes clear that Psycho can be viewed today as one of the earliest examples of gender-bending horror. Don’t believe me? Consider the fact that Bloch’s novel was inspired by the real-life case of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein who had a penchant for cross-dressing and may have worn the severed vaginas of his victims.


3. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

This early-80s slasher has been the subject of some controversy in recent years. In 2015, a journal of film and feminism published an article that accused the movie of Transmisogyny.

In the piece, the author writes, “When it is eventually revealed that Angela (Felissa Rose) is responsible for the rising body count, what could have been a Carrie White-esque narrative twist contorts into something altogether more sinister. Angela shifts from martyr to monster with a second reveal that she is not in fact Angela, but Peter.”

The author is, of course, referencing the third act reveal…of Angela’s penis. In Sleepaway Camp, the Frankenstein-like villain turns out to be a shy, awkward girl who has been mocked and nearly molested throughout the bulk of the film’s running time.

I believe there is an argument to be made here that Angela/Peter isn’t so much a villain as she is a victim who is bullied to her breaking point. Taken in context, the film actually serves as a commentary on what happens when a person’s assumed gender identity is used to make them fair game for cruel teenage pranksters and sexual predators.


4. Splice (2009)

This French-Canadian sci-fi shocker from Cube director Vincenzo Natali deftly explores gender politics within the framework of a genetic thriller. The sharply written and beautifully rendered film tells the story of a pair of young geneticists (Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, respectively) who are trying to harness cell and DNA technology for the purpose of finding a way to treat diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

They also happen to be in a relationship, sharing an apartment together and arguing over whether or not to have children. In their attempts to create a new animal hybrid gene, they end up breaking protocol by splicing together animal DNA with human DNA.

This gives birth to a bizarre and fast-evolving creature they call Dren. At one point, they discover that Dren is a sequential hermaphrodite. At another point, Brody’s Clive Nicoli cheats on Polley’s Elsa with the now-teenage Dren.

The scene in question explores a number of hot button issues, from the age of consent to the Lolita complex to scientific ethics and, of course, human sexuality. Since Dren is a hermaphrodite, is Clive engaged in carnal knowledge of the third sex?

It is an interesting and ponderous sequence, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the film’s overarching exploration of gender roles in general. In the film, the traditional genre trope of the woman in peril is swapped out as we discover that Clive is the weaker of the two, both mentally and emotionally.

In the end, Polley’s Elsa is revealed to be the strong, determined female, breaking from the stereotypes common of the horror genre. Some could argue that she emerges as the villain, but when one considers that her man’s been getting some strange from a creature that came to represent their child, she can be forgiven for her actions.

The movie’s got a lot on its mind and is even more interesting today than when it was first released back in 2009. It is a perfect choice for a double-feature if paired with the following flick.  


5. Little Evil (2017)

Don’t write this Netflix film off as just another goofy horror-comedy without checking it out at least once if not twice. This Adam Scott vehicle is not Bad Seed or The Omen, although it plays with the tropes of such“spawn of Satan” staples.

A lot of Hollywood comedies—and horror films, for that matter—rely on gay panic and trans panic jokes to elicit laughs, but Little Evil subverts this by casting rising comic Bridget Everett of Trainwreck fame in the role of Al, a woman who never explicitly identifies as a man but who drives a monster truck, belongs to a support group for stepfathers and coaches little league.

While all of this could simply be seen as zany eccentricity, it is never treated as such, either by the film’s other characters or the people behind the film’s creation.

In recent years, the horror genre has been accused of stigmatizing the LGBTQ community because of films like Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

From the 2004 film, Hellbent, which gave us drag queens and a gay male lead going toe to toe with a scythe-wielding maniac to television’s American Horror Story: Hotel, which portrayed a trans character as one of series’ few redemptive characters, the horror realm is becoming a more and more diverse landscape.