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‘70’s Queersploitation


Early Fridays in April

'70's Queersploitation

The sexual revolution of the '70s gave filmmakers an unlimited bounty of kink to work with, and the umbrella of homosexual themes was suddenly low-hanging fruit for the lazy film producer. These films weren't made to better humanity, they weren't made to extend tolerance--they were made for the money. The results were full of cheap psychology, equating homosexuality with all forms of psychosis, deviance and criminality--all ingredients for some kick-ass exploitation. When these films were the only representations of queerness in cinema, they were viewed with skepticism and hatred, but today we can enjoy them for their full-blooded craziness, their campy outdatedness, and, occasionally, for just being a damned good movie.

April 3 @ 7:30pm

shown with

For equal opportunity skank in queer cinema, you can't get much nastier than this incendiary pair of thrillers from 1980 which delve deep into the underbelly of New York's post-disco gay scene and come up covered in grime. William Friedkin's Cruising sparked a storm of protests as rookie cop Al Pacino goes undercover as a leather-clad bar boy hunting down a serial killer who knifes his hogtied victims in the back. Al learns how to sniff poppers and thrash around hilariously on the dance floor before finally getting his man... or does he? In depicting the underground gay bar scene in the most raw and uncompromising fashion, and in piling on layer after layer of claustrophobic red herring twists to deliberately make the audience as confused as Pacino's character, Friedkin created a masterwork of ill ease, one of his greatest films to stand alongside The Exorcist and The French Connection.

Cinematographer Gordon Willis (The Godfather trilogy, Manhattan) got his one shot at directing and inadvertently ended up appalling an entire minority with Windows. This nihilistic guilty pleasure stars a confused-looking Talia Shire as a single gal living in a NYC tenement, and velvety-throated Elizabeth Ashley as her scary dyke neighbor who's so obsessed with her that she hires a scumbag cabbie to rape Talia and tape record the whole ordeal--in the hopes that Talia will crack up and seek a little lovin' consolation. Things go from sick to worse when Talia starts doing the nasty with the policeman helping her out, turning our villainess into a full-blown psycho. Basic Instinct ain't got nothin' on this one, baby. Nominated for five Razzies during the award's inaugural year, Windows is a slick, sick lesbian chick flick.

Cruising Dir. William Friedkin, 1980, 35mm, 106 min.
Windows Dir. Gordon Willis, 1980, 35mm, 96 min.
Tickets - $10

April 10 @ 7:30pm

Fortune and Men's Eyes
shown with
Caged Men

Canadian playwright John Herbert threw the theater world into an uproar with his revolutionary 1967 penitentiary play "Fortune and Men’s Eyes", most famously staged with Sal Mineo and Don Johnson. Incredibly, this unflinching tale came to the screen completely undiluted four years later and today holds up as one of the ‘70s most revolutionary gay-themed films, leaving far more dated fare like Boys in the Band in the dust. Smitty, a young piece of fresh meat, winds up in the slammer, where he quickly learns that dominance and sex are the only laws that count. The entire picture has an intense, Jean Genet-style atmosphere that lingers long after the last scene, and Michael Greer (The Gay Deceivers, Messiah Of Evil) steals the film as Queenie, the drag-performing belle behind bars--a character based on the author’s own experience doing time. Come and see exactly where HBO’s "Oz" got many of its best ideas.

While not ostensibly a "gay" film, Caged Men, aka I'm Going To Get You...Elliot Boy, does its best to go both ways. Our hero, the hetero bank robber, is ratted out by his duplicitous, white-hot hippy girlfriend (with the filmmakers using the Brokeback Mountain technique of throwing a bone[r] to the straight dudes by giving them a really hot naked girl to look at), and ends up in the clink, with lots and lots of fit, handsome, often shirtless, often pantsless men. Cages and cages of them. Never has a movie looked more like a torso-heavy illustration on the cover of a yellowing 70s gay porno paperback. Almost completely lost (did this thing even come out?), and recently rediscovered by the folks at the Code Red DVD label, Caged Men is a fast-paced, garish grindhouse winner--with a twist (wink, wink!)

Fortune And Men's Eyes Dir. Harvey Hart, 1971, 35mm, 102 min.
Caged Men Dir. Ed Forsyth, 1971, 35mm, 97 min.
Tickets - $10

April 17 @ 8pm

Myra Breckinridge
shown with
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things

The big-budget outrage that almost collapsed a studio, Myra Breckinridge is now famous as the X-rated piece of madness from Gore Vidal's bestseller featuring film critic Rex Reed in his sole starring role as Myron, a confused movie buff who gets a sex change (under the knife of John Carradine) and turns into voluptuous goddess Myra (Raquel Welch), a Hollywood hellcat bent on bringing mankind to its knees. Mae West came out of retirement to play an insatiable agent dedicated to her casting couch, while John Huston and Farrah Fawcett seem to orbiting off on different planets. Featuring rapid-fire editing and utterly lewd use of vintage movie clips, Myra is now either jaw-dropping campy trash or a brilliant, hilarious forerunner to today's postmodern, music video-addled generation; watch for yourself and decide. Either way, you'll never look at Judy Garland the same way again.

Cross-dressing, dementia, backdoor Cesarean sections and murder populate this curio from the very early days of gaysploitation, when same-sex relationship films were diabolical psychodramas filled with mental (and sometimes physical) torture. For example, “Aunt Martha” is actually Paul, a hoodlum hiding out in an all-American neighborhood dressed up as the auntie of his boyfriend, Stanley, a bi-curious lug. When Stanley brings home one strumpet too many, Aunt Martha snaps and--well, does some really dreadful things. Played like a dinner theater version of a Joe Orton play splashed with gore, this indie oddity (shot under the title of Don’t Spank Baby) features "hateful spirits, go-for-broke performances, and the constant disruption of innocent expectations, [which] all push the film into startling, confined madness." ( A rare, gritty treat.

Myra Breckinridge Dir. Michael Sarne, 1970, 35mm, 91 min.
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things Dir. Thomas Casey, 1971, 35mm, 95 min.
Tickets - $10



B-movie / Grindhouse