Jeff and Will kick off the show talking about two movies they’ve recently seen: the film adaptation of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and the Hallmark Channel original Notes of Autumn.
They also have recommendations perfect for your Halloween viewing, including Dante’s Cove, Chucky, Interview with the Vampire, Out of Body, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, Midnight Kiss, Hellbent, The Covenant, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.
Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Monday, October 23.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe movie website
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Notes of Autumn on Hallmark Channel website
- Dante’s Cove on Amazon Prime Video | Here TV
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Dante’s Cove Recap Episodes
- Chucky on SyFy | Peacock
- Interview with the Vampire on AMC | AMC+ | Max
- Out of Body on Amazon Prime Video
- The Paul Lynde Halloween Special on Amazon Prime Video
- Midnight Kiss on Hulu
- Hellbent on Amazon Prime Video | Here TV
- The Covenant on Amazon Prime Video
- A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge on Amazon Prime Video
- Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street on Tubi | Pluto TV
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we get ready for Halloween, talking about some viewing options perfect for the season.
Will: Welcome to episode 438 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Will, and with me, as always, is my co-host and husband, Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It’s great to have you here for another episode of the show.
As always, this podcast is brought to you by our remarkable community on Patreon. Thanks to David for recently increasing their support. If you’d like more information about what we offer to patrons, including the opportunity to ask questions of our upcoming guests, and to make suggestions about who you’d like us to talk to, go to patreon.com/BigGayFictionPodcast.
Notes of Autumn
Will: Now, before we get into some of the seasonally supernatural and spooky things that we want to talk about, we wanted to mention a couple of things that we’ve been watching recently.
And we simply could not let another episode of the show pass without mentioning how much we loved the recent Hallmark movie, “Notes of Autumn.” this movie is about two best friends who happen to live in separate cities. They’re played by Hallmark Channel favorites Ashley Williams and Luke Macfarlane. And for each of them, life hasn’t exactly gone the way that they had planned. They’re kind of in a rut. So in true rom-com fashion, they decide to swap houses.
They pack their bags, she heads up to his place in Canada, and he comes for a short visit at her place in the big city. While he’s working on his latest book, he has to navigate sharing a kitchen with her chef friend. He’s working on some experimental recipes for a restaurant that he hopes to open soon. This inventive and passionate chef is played by another Hallmark favorite, Peter Porte. And in true rom com style, love begins to bloom and sparks are flying as each of our main characters are able to get out of their rut and rediscover a passion for life.
I love this movie. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s romantic, and it manages to perfectly execute and deliver on all of the promised tropes. We all know that Hallmark Channel’s bread and butter is the Christmas season, and there aren’t a lot of fall themed movies out there. I happen to think that “Notes of Autumn” is just about as perfect and cute as you can get.
Jeff: Absolutely. I loved it so much. As you said, it fulfills all the promises that you expect from the tropes and from a house swap movie. And who doesn’t want to watch Luke Macfarlane and Peter Porte fall in love? Between a writer and a chef. I mean, come on.
Will: I know. I know.
Jeff: I do have to shout out something that I found absolutely adorable that I think the writers who watch this movie will appreciate. Kavan Smith and Pascale Hutton, who are Hallmark Channel stars of their own right, star in many movies, they co-star in “When Calls the Heart.” They play the characters in the novel that Luke Macfarlane is trying to write, and they show up when he’s writing scenes. They are a hoot. Oh my gosh, the writers will very much appreciate them.
But you can look for “Notes of Autumn” probably a time or two more before Hallmark goes into full tilt Christmas mode on Friday, October 20th. So check it out in the listings. We’ll have a link to its page on the Hallmark site. It’ll help you find where you can watch this delightful film.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Jeff: We also have to mention that we actually went out to the movies for the first time in 2023 recently to see the film adaptation of the best selling book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” which of course was written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
This movie is currently in limited release in theaters and will no doubt be turning up on streaming services in the coming months. I have to say, this is just an exquisite adaptation of this book. The stars Max Pelayo, who is Ari, and Reese Gonzales as Dante, they are so perfectly cast as the Texas teens who develop a friendship that might be something more and plays itself out over the course of just about a year.
Ah, I loved this movie so, so much. And just the care that the filmmakers brought to the story to really let it develop with these two teenage characters. I mean, if you’ve read the book, you know that they go through so much sorting their own feelings, having to deal with growing up in rural Texas in the 1980s. I just thought it was so, so perfect.
Will: Yeah, this movie is so special. It’s so damn good. I went into it without really any expectations because I haven’t actually read the books. But of course I haven’t been living under the rock. I understand how amazing “Aristotle and Dante” is. And I think this movie adaptation is just magical.
But I’ll tell you, I am deeply frustrated by the release of this movie. As Jeff mentioned, it’s unfortunately, a very limited release, and because of a confluence of several different reasons the studio has essentially dropped the ball. There’s been no marketing at all. I would hazard to guess that most fans of the book don’t even know this movie exists, which is a real shame, because it’s full of heart and charm. It really is very special.
So hopefully in the coming months, when it reaches streaming services, a wider audience, we’ll get to enjoy this wonderful story.
Jeff: Yeah, I absolutely hope you’re right that it gets a push when it makes it out to Blu-Ray and DVD and streaming and all that stuff, because it’s really deserving of it.
Will: So in addition to those recommendations, we also wanted to talk about some seasonal Halloween stuff.
Jeff: So yeah, we’ve got some quick recommendations here for you. Now, if you were listening to the show back in 2022, you know we talked about one of our very favorite supernatural paranormal shows, “Dante’s Cove.” we love that show so much that we devoted 10 episodes to talking about it. This soapy, sexy, two boys trying to fall in love with all sorts of crazy witchy things happening around them. This is available on Amazon Prime Video and on Here TV, so you could stream it. And you can find our 10 episode recap listed on our website at BigGayFictionPodcast.com/cove. And of course you can find all these episodes in your podcatchers as well. If you haven’t checked out this awesome show, you should really give it a look.
Jeff: We are also thrilled that our favorite possessed doll is back, as “Chucky” Season 3 has just kicked off last week on SyFy and USA Network. Now if you haven’t checked out this very smart, very clever continuation of Chucky’s story, we highly suggest you give it a try. It’s got a great teenage love story playing out between Jake and Devon as they try to bring down Chucky for good. There’s also the fabulous Jennifer Tilly, who has her own troubles with the demon doll. If you need to catch up on the series, you can find the first two seasons streaming on Peacock.
Interview with the Vampire
Jeff: If you didn’t watch the AMC series adaptation of “Interview with the Vampire” when it premiered last year, it’s the perfect month for viewing it. This is a sexy, very queer take on Anne Rice’s classic story, and it was so, so good. You can find Season 1 streaming through AMC+ and for a limited time on Max. Meanwhile, Season 2 is slated to air in 2024, and while we haven’t seen an exact premiere date for that yet, the teaser trailer that dropped recently was like, wow, and I’m super eager to get to that. We’ll link up to that trailer in the show notes in case you missed it .
Out of Body
Jeff: And, we also want to suggest the paranormal rom-com “Out of Body,” which is based on a wonderful book by Suzanne Brockman, and was adapted into a film by Suze and her son Jason Gaffney. This is a great friends to lovers story with a pretty amazing supernatural twist. You see, after a kiss on Halloween, Malcolm disappears, and Henry is left to wonder what exactly happened. But then it seems that he’s being haunted by Malcolm’s ghost. Now Malcolm thinks, you know, as all ghosts due, that they can’t move on until he helps Henry do something and he thinks that’s to find love.
But what he doesn’t quite know initially is that the love is actually that he and Henry are supposed to be together. But you know what? It is a rom-com, and that means love conquers all here. And they do find their way to an HEA. The movie and the book are such a delight, and a very lovely and non scary way to celebrate the season.
And how often can you celebrate Halloween in a non scary way?
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
Jeff: Now, let’s take a few minutes and talk about a very, very special variety special.
I didn’t know what to expect when you slid this in front of me. “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” from 1976, which of course was the heyday of the variety special and even variety series because “Donny and Marie” was on by then. Every week we were getting variety in the home. This was unique.
Will: It is very, very unique, and I think it is the perfect way to celebrate the season. Let’s just go through the special point by point and talk about its utter uniqueness.
Jeff: I think we should because it’s, it’s… I’ll say as we get started, it’s not quite as bonkers ridiculous as the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” but it is in that echelon of like, what were you thinking folks? What were you thinking?
Will: It is really unique. Okay. Paul Lynde, who of course, most people know from “Match Game.”
Jeff: “Hollywood Squares”.
Will: Oh crap. “Hollywood Squares.”
Jeff: He was the center square on “Hollywood Squares” forever. He might’ve done a “Match Game” stint somewhere, but he was Mr. Hollywood Squares.
Will: If he did, and he was on the same episode with Charles Nelson Reilly I think the world would have just kind of collapsed in on itself with the whole… that’s just too much gay, too much gay for television in the 1970s to handle.
Jeff: Because, realize, I am older than Will, so I was like 8 in 76, and you were, you were but 4.
Will: I was like, yeah. I was a little baby.
Jeff: He was a little baby tot who had not yet experienced “Hollywood Squares” and the Halloween special. Although I don’t remember watching this particular one. It would have flown over my head anyway.
Will: Okay, so the show opens with Paul Lynde at home. He’s like, “welcome to my home.” And he’s trying to celebrate… because this is a TV special… he starts off celebrating Christmas, but then his maid, Margaret Hamilton, explains that it’s not Christmas time, Paul. So then he celebrates Easter and Valentine’s Day until finally Margaret tells him, “You know what, Paul? It’s Halloween. This is a Halloween special.”
And he’s like, “Oh, yes, of course.” So he sings a revised version of his song “Kids” from the musical “Bye, Bye Birdie.” That’s where Paul then first like made his name. He was in the Broadway show and then in the Ann-Margaret movie. So he sings this ridiculous song with a bunch of people dancing around beside him.
Jeff: It’s insane.
Will: It’s a little bit bonkers.
Jeff: This is a clue of what’s to come.
Will: And once that’s all over he kind of does an opening monologue filled with comedy.
Jeff: Major air quotes there, folks.
Will: It’s just really a bunch of really horrible dad jokes all strung together. So after the commercial break, we come back and Margaret is driving Paul out of town. They want to get away from all of those mischievous kids. And celebrate the holiday in some peace and quiet and they’re going to Margaret’s sister’s house who turns out to be none other than Witchiepoo from “H.R. Pufnstuf” played by the incomparable Billie Hayes. Oh gosh, she’s so amazing. It is then that Margaret reveals to Paul that they are indeed two witches and they are trying to talk him in to using his celebrity to do some PR for them.
Witches are getting a bad rap and they want to show the world that they aren’t that bad after all. And in trade, they’re going to give Paul three wishes. So, what’s Paul’s first wish? He wants to be a trucker.
Jeff: Of course, because, yeah, why not? And we should take a moment here before we get too far to say that Margaret is essentially playing the Wicked Witch of the West. Although it’s never called that, obviously, for rights reasons, but she’s all made up in green, and she’s all in black, and you know exactly what she’s doing.
Will: Yeah. Yeah so the whole trucker thing. It’s… it’s so stupid and just completely insane.
Jeff: He was causing truck accidents folks.
Will: So okay, the whole trucker thing is because at this specific point in time truckers were inexplicably celebrating a high point in the published public consciousness because of movies like “Convoy,” and then there was like “B.J. and the Bear.” For some reason, it was a thing in the middle 70s.
Jeff: And he tried to play on that. I’m surprised he didn’t sing “Convoy” in the middle of that somewhere.
Will: Oh, Lord have mercy. So, so, Paul plays a trucker and he is vying for the affections of a truck stop waitress, played by Roz Kelley. And if you don’t know who Roz Kelley, she is none other than Pinky Tescadero from “Happy Days.” And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I feel really bad for you.
Jeff: Go watch some “Happy Days.”
Will: Pinky Tuscadero was essentially a recurring character on the show, and she was essentially the cool chick who was Fonzie’s, you know, main squeeze.
Anyway vying for Pinky’s affections is Tim Conway being, you know, Tim Conway. So there is an incredibly long comedy sketch about these truckers fighting over the right to date Pinky Tuscadero which ends in a big musical number, of course. And it’s just, oh boy. It’s really weird.
Jeff: It’s brilliantly, brilliantly, brilliantly bad.
Will: I also forgot to mention that Betty White makes an appearance in this special. She is Miss Halloween 1976. She pops in for literally half a second, tells some really dumb jokes, and kind of rips on Paul before she literally disappears. It’s very strange.
Jeff: I’m not even sure she was back for curtain call.
Will: No, she was not. There’s a big finale number. Betty wasn’t there.
Let’s continue, shall we? So, after the whole trucker thing Paul says he might be into listening to some music. So the witches introduce their house band. It’s none other than Kiss making their broadcast television debut and they sing their hit “Detroit Rock City.” And it is filled with glitter, and glam, and smoke, and pyrotechnics, it is bonkers.
Jeff: And it belongs in this show about as much as Jefferson Starship belonged in the “Star Wars” special. Yeah. It’s really incongruous to everything else that we’ve seen thus far. And they’ll be back later.
Will: Exactly. So, Paul’s next wish is that he were anywhere but here. He essentially says he wishes he was in the middle of the Saharan desert. So the witches grant him his wish, setting the stage for the next comedy sketch in which Paul plays the Sheik to Florence Henderson’s Wilting Violet. And it’s, oh god, it’s more comedy. Tim Conway as well. It’s really, really weird. Really weird stuff.
Jeff: I get how Tim Conway’s here because this is his kind of thing, but I don’t understand how Florence and Betty got involved here. Unless it was a favor to the producers or something or to Paul or who knows.
Will: You gotta pay the bills.
Jeff: True. True, true.
Will: So after that interlude, Paul asks the witches what they want and he gives them his final wish. They don’t get out very often, and they would really love to a disco. So they use their magic to transform their home into the rockinest Halloween disco you have ever seen. And Florence Henderson comes back, and she sings a disco cover of “That Old Black Magic.” Kudos to Florence. She 100% commits to it. She’s like, you know, she’s into it. She’s doing her best. And it’s actually not that terrible.
Jeff: But you know, she knows how to play this game. Now, I don’t know in the overall variety series timeline, but she got stuck in one of these with the “Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” so she knows how to play this game.
Will: I think the “Variety Hour” may have come just after this.
Will: But, yeah. Florence knows how to play the game. She’s, yeah, she’s savvy. Anyway, so after that Kiss comes back with a power ballad of their hit, “Beth.” And then everyone gathers for the big disco finale, a cover of the Johnnie Taylor classic “Disco Lady.” Although they changed the lyrics to “Disco Baby,” maybe to be more, I don’t know who knows. So everyone ends the show, they’re dancing, they’re singing, they’re singing a silly song. Paul Lynde tells the audience thank you for joining him and everyone has a happy Halloween.
Jeff: Did they? Maybe?
Will: I think so. I think they did.
Jeff: I have to say for as weird as all this sounds, and it does sound weird, I enjoyed it. It was an interesting time capsule of its era.
Will: Yes, it is pure 100% 1970s cheese. They do not make them like this anymore.
Jeff: That is for sure. And they haven’t made ’em like this since the early eighties. Yeah, for sure. And you know what? You could see all this if you’ve got Amazon Prime.
Will: It’s streaming online if you are brave enough to enjoy this unique holiday classic. We highly recommend the “Paul Lynde Halloween Special.”
Jeff: I think the perfect way to like, do it would be to watch the “Halloween Special” and then cleanse your palate with like, “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Will: Yeah, that would work.
Jeff: You know, one, a bit of weirdness and then a familiar favorite. Could be the perfect evening.
Will: Now, if you’d like a little more blood with your Halloween viewing, we’ve also got some fabulous slasher movies to recommend.
Now, if graphic violence isn’t your thing, you can just ignore us. But we happen to enjoy these two movies, the first of which is “Midnight Kiss,” that’s available on Hulu right now.
And it’s about a group of L. A. friends who have a yearly tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve together. And on that night, they play a game. They pick a total stranger to be their midnight kiss. And in that moment, they can either choose to spend the night with that particular person or leave it with a kiss.
This year, the friends have gathered once again in a luxury home in the desert just outside of Palm Springs. Only this time they’re being stalked by someone who did not enjoy being left behind many years ago after experiencing someone’s New Year’s kiss.
Jeff: I really liked this movie and I’ll say up front, I am the biggest wuss when it comes to like horror films and neither of these movies that we’re talking about freaked me out in any way.
I don’t think I even jumped once in them. I was more kind of caught up in the mystery trying to solve, you know, who’s doing these things to these people. “Midnight Kiss,” in particular, I thought was a really smart take on a slasher film. I enjoyed its sensibilities. I enjoyed how it rolled the tale out and I enjoyed that I did not figure it out. So I really enjoyed it.
And I think a lot of it too, the actors in this were particularly good. They knew what they were making and they gave it the right amount of seriousness and thought. And one of the things I liked a lot is that in many ways, nobody made stupid moves. There were a few along the way, but they tried to play it smart and not horror movie stupid.
Will: Yeah. I think what this movie did particularly well is that it combines classic slasher tropes along with classic thriller ideas as well. And you’re right. Everyone on the cast is really excellent. And the story takes its time in order for us to get to know them, which makes the terror towards the end of the movie that much more impactful.
And I think that’s an important thing that you shouldn’t miss when you’re dealing with a classic slasher scenario. Because if the killer is just killing random people, that’s not particularly interesting. Unless you’re into torture porn, but…
Jeff: I’m not.
Will: But I think “Midnight Kiss” really sells the relationships of these friends and the killer who’s coming after them. Special shout out to Scott Evans, he’s one of the members of the cast. And Augustus Prew, who even though this is essentially an ensemble, he’s kind of our lead character. We’re kind of experiencing things through his eyes. I think he does a really excellent job here. I have a bit of a crush on him. He’s adorable, but in an average guy kind of way. I find it very appealing.
Jeff: Yeah, he was really good. The entire cast, as you said, was really good and I hadn’t really thought about it when we were watching it or afterwards, but you’re right. One of the things that makes this work is that you get a moment to really understand and get a feel for these characters before they’re starting to get offed. So you care about who’s getting stabbed and why along the way. So yeah, really good movie.
Will: As a quick aside, Scott Evans and Augustus Prew play exes in this particular movie. But last year in a Netflix drama called “Almost Love,” they played contentious boyfriends. It’s a story about 20 and 30 somethings as they try to figure their way and navigate life in New York City. I like this movie a lot more than Jeff did. But I think it’s main selling point is a really terrific ensemble cast. And plus, Scott Evans and Augustus Prew are really terrific in that movie, too.
Jeff: Yeah, I’d agree with that. And you’re right, we had a little differing opinion on that movie, but the cast, and in particular those two actors, were really outstanding. And it’s nice to see the contrasts between the two roles for them.
Will: And next up is the classic gay slasher “Hellbent” from 2004. This movie premiered on Here TV 15 years ago and is about a group of friends in West Hollywood and how they spend their Halloween night being chased by an incredibly buff stalker in a devil mask.
Jeff: This is much more of a standard slasher film than “Midnight Kiss” was. You’ve got the stalker honing in on his victims because they torment him. Stupid people don’t torment the slasher, especially when you know there’s one on the loose. They do a lot more stupid stuff in this movie than they did at “Midnight Kiss.” You know, I said, “Midnight Kiss” had a smart ensemble. The people in this movie are not smart. They are typical slasher movie kind of tropes behavior in play here, which is not to say that it’s not a fun movie. Seeing how these various characters end up and get offed along the way.
I really enjoyed kind of revisiting this. I’d kind of forgotten about this movie. I know we watched it back in the day and it was vaguely familiar, but coming back to it, it’s like, that was kind of a fun, you know, slasher movie, like some of the classics like “Friday the 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street” kind of thing.
Will: Yeah, this one is funny and it’s sexy and it’s violent and ridiculous in equal turns.
Jeff: It is way ridiculous towards the end folks. Oh my God.
Will: The finale. The finale in which our main hero and his hookup. are terrorized by the killer in his apartment. It’s really fun and very inventive, especially with a movie that has such an obviously limited budget. I like “Hellbent” an awful lot, but the only criticism I really have for it is that I suspect that this movie was probably shot using what, at the time, would have been an incredibly high tech digital camera.
But now the resolution of the movie doesn’t hold up. The entire thing is sort of soft and fuzzy looking, and the colors are kind of washed out. This isn’t the fault of the director or the director of photography. The movie itself is, like I said, fun and very well done. Everyone I believe is working at the peak of their talents.
I just think that it’s kind of let down by the technology that they were using. Essentially the iPhones that we carry around now would shoot higher resolution video then this particular movie had available.
Jeff: And yeah, you can’t fault the folks for using the best tech they had at the time to shoot a cheap, low budget movie by any means.
And I like our lead guy here too. He’s good looking. He navigates what he has to do to stay alive. So yeah, I really enjoyed that. The one thing I would call out on this movie that makes it not age well in some ways is that there is some language in it that we would not be using today and that would be considered offensive. So to that degree, it is a portrait of its time in 2004.
Will: The leading man that Jeff just mentioned is Dylan Fergus. He’s very adorable, handsome, very likable. He went on to spend several years on the soap “Passions,” right after he did this movie.
Jeff: He would be an excellent soap guy. He’s got the look of the soap guy.
Will: Yeah, so Jeff and I had an awful lot of fun watching “Midnight Kiss” and “Hellbent.”
You can find “Hellbent” on Amazon Prime Video and on Here TV.
No discussion of Halloween favorites would be complete without mentioning the 2006 cult classic, “The Covenant,” directed by Renny Harlin, who is probably best known as an action director. He did, like, “Die Hard 2” and a bunch of other things. My personal feelings about Renny Harlin is that his movies may not always be good, but they’re never boring. You’re never going to be bored by a Renny Harlin movie, and I think that applies to “The Covenant.” So I think I would probably describe “The Covenant” as sort of a, an occult paranormal thriller, which makes it appropriate for our Halloween theme.
And if I had to describe it to you in like a Hollywood pitch kind of way, I would say it’s like “The Craft,” but with boy witches. It’s also kind of like “The Lost Boys,” but instead of vampires, you’ve got boy witches.
So the movie centers around a group of friends who everyone in the movie refers to as the Sons of Ipswich. They’re these kind of hot, wealthy, indeterminately young, white guys who kind of own the town. They’re hot shit. And everyone treats them with respect. And they’re the heroes of our movie. Which I don’t think is, in that particular aspect, it hasn’t aged particularly well. It’s like, these douchebags are our heroes? What?
They’re just douchey rich white guys who just happen to be witches. And they’ve got special powers. They’re descendants from New England witches, like, way back in the day. Each of the four friends sort of get, like, a taste of their powers when they turn 13. But when they turn 18 and ascend they are in full possession of all of their inherited witchy powers.
So, the cast includes Steven Strait, he is essentially our main character. And some of his other friends are played by Taylor Kitsch. This was right before he became well known from “Friday Night Lights.” Another friend is played by Chance Crawford. This was also right before he became well known for “Gossip Girl.” So, the dude bros are out being all witchy and doing their thing but there are some like weird shenanigans going on in their like small New England town .
Jeff: Small New England towns. Boy. So much goes on there.
Will: If Stephen King has taught us anything.
Jeff: Stay out of Maine.
Will: Oh God yeah. Okay so, a local teen gets murdered and there’s some weird stuff going on and Stephen Strait suspects some of his friends of like using their powers for evil. And so they’re kind of eyeing each other, watching one another. But it’s actually none of them. It’s the new boy in town, played by Sebastian Stan. This was roughly five years before he became known as Bucky slash the Winter Soldier in the “Captain America” movies.
This movie is so… it’s so ridiculous, which is why I love it so much. I watched it again, and it was just like, “Oh yeah, I remember this movie.” I like it a lot cause it’s so stupid.
I’m not exactly sure what they were thinking when they made this movie. I think they were riffing on the idea of “The Craft,” but this was supposed to appeal to teenage girls. I think it’s, you know, put some hot guys in some witchy occult situations, it’s like yeah, it’ll be a hit. It doesn’t completely work in that way because there’s a lot of really strange and hilarious homoerotic sexual tension going on in this movie, especially between good guy Steven Strait and bad boy Sebastian Stan.
It’s like, so hot. It’s like, what? There are, you know, girlfriends for all of the main characters in this movie, but they’ve got, like, they’re so inconsequential, they’ve got nothing to do with anything. Like, total window dressing.
So, this is a ridiculous and sexy movie. All of the Sons of Ipswich are on the… I guess they’re like in a high school prep school situation. It’s one of those like… You know in the movies where they’re all gorgeous and they’re in their 20s, but they’re supposed to be teenagers?
We’re kind of in that situation and all the Sons of Ipswich are on the school swimming team.
Jeff: Of course they are.
Will: Which means we get lots of wonderfully gratuitous speedo porn. And there’s also some rather delightful male nudity in some locker room scenes. It’s like, oh, hello. So they’re like, they’re completely exploiting these guys. And all of the girls keep their clothes on the entire movie. So that’s what we’re dealing with right here. And as I mentioned before despite the gratuitous naked guy stuff, I mentioned the sexual tension. It’s not particularly subtle between Steven Strait and Sebastian Stan. There’s like one confrontation scene, where they have where, Sebastian literally kisses Steven and calls him brother.
So, the story, as much as there is in this movie, is that Sebastian has come to town. He is like the long lost son of one of the founding members of the town. So he’s, like, come into some of his witchy powers, and he’s come to town to steal Steven Strait’s power when he ascends when Steven turns 18. So, that’s why he’s come to town. He wants more power! Which leads to a ridiculous showdown at an empty barn.
The thing about this movie is that there’s, like, no traditional witchy occult stuff going on. There’s like no spells or anything particularly magical. They all use their powers for these, like, really dumb dude bro kind of stuff. Which is, like, epitomized in this final scene where they use their powers to just, like, you know, knock the crap out of one another. It’s this prolonged action sequence with this, like, really ridiculous wire work and wonky CGI. And it’s so strange and so silly. Anyway, eventually, you know, good wins the day and they defeat evil Sebastian Stan and there you go.
Do you remember watching this movie?
Jeff: I don’t.
Will: We went to the theaters and we saw it in the theaters.
Jeff: So I’m gonna have to go, like, at some point recheck this out. Where can people find this awesome piece of entertainment if they want to partake of it?
Will: It is available in most places. You can rent it online. Stream it at the normal places. I happen to watch it on Amazon Prime.
Jeff: Cool. Check that out. Cause who doesn’t want to watch Taylor Kitsch and Chance Crawford and Sebastian Stan in their underwear?
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
Now the other movie to talk about is a surprising entry, perhaps, “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.”
Will: Most people refer to Nightmare 2 as the gayest horror movie Hollywood has ever made.
Jeff: You know, I hadn’t seen 2 maybe since it came out and had forgotten it, but oh, good lord.
And I will say this before he gets into the description of the film. For all of the smart horror film content that happened in the original “Nightmare on Elm Street,” because it is one of the better slasher films of the 80s, because it really had some smart stuff going on in it. This movie’s bonkers and really it’s like, what the hell are you people thinking? What? What is this? It barely even connects to the first one. It’s a tiny little thread. But anyway, please give us the rundown here.
Will: As Jeff mentioned “Nightmare 2” is genuinely bonkers. And it has been a while since I’ve seen it as well.
And boy howdy, what a movie. Were you scared? You’re kind of a horror movie wimp.
Jeff: I am a horror movie wimp and I was not scared. There was a couple of places to jump which was mostly because of the music cues and not so much of the actual content on screen. Plus, I’ve always… The Freddy movies in particular rarely scare me.
Will: Mm hmm. Yeah, I can agree.
Jeff: They’re just… and they’re not really suspenseful. I can’t say why, because there are truly scary aspects of the first one. But this one’s more, this was, this was a hoot.
Will: Okay, real quick, to recap the plot of “Nightmare 2.” A new family moves into the main house on Elm Street and the teenager of the family is Jesse, kind of a weird, goofy, awkward guy.
Jeff: With great hair.
Will: Well, he has some nice eighties hair. Kind of floofy and anyway. So Jesse is played by a young guy named Mark Patton, who we’ll talk about in just a little bit later. And he has a girlfriend played by Lisa Weber who is so pretty. She’s so wonderful. She’s got this really fresh like 1980s girl next door, Molly Ringwald thing going on.
I thought she was really lovely in this incredibly stupid movie. I thought she was so, so pretty and so nice. We’ll get back to her in another second as well. And Jesse’s friend Grady is played by Robert Rusler, who is so, like, so smokin hot in the most 1980s way possible.
Jeff: Yep. That’s a perfect way to put it.
Will: Anyway, so, Jesse and his family move into the house on Elm Street. And he has, like, various, you know, average, everyday teenage problems that he’s trying to work through. But he’s also, he can’t get to sleep at night. He’s haunted by these dreams of Freddy. And in this particular movie Freddy is looking to move beyond some of the violence he portrayed in the first film.
What he wants to do is essentially possess Jesse that way he can wreak mayhem out into the real world instead of the dream world. And that’s basically the premise of the movie. Jesse has to like fight and come to terms with this like evil spirit trying to possess him. And all that sort of stuff. All of which culminates in a scene in which Jesse goes to Grady’s house and asks to sleep over and keep an eye on him and just in case he gets possessed by Freddy which he ends up doing and this is sort of a tentpole scene in the movie where Freddy literally comes out of Jesse.
The scene is like a real prolonged body horror sequence. It’s sort of a low budget riff on the gooey, gory transformation sequence in “American Werewolf in London.” This sort of body horror was sort of like hip around the time the movie came out. So this is, this movie’s like super low budget version of that. There are a lot of like gross out effects in this movie, but they’re so dorky and cheap looking and weird that they’re kind of funny and endearing.
Jeff: I was going to go with quaint, but funny and endearing works too.
Will: Even Robert Englund’s Freddy makeup is sort of like, off. It doesn’t look particularly good. It’s like they got some other makeup artist this time around and it’s just kind of like, it’s not right. The look isn’t quite there.
So, once Jesse gets possessed by Freddy and Freddy makes his way into the real world. He goes and wreaks havoc on a pool party and once some teens die there it’s time to move on to the big showdown at the power plant where Freddy used to work. And it’s up to Jesse’s girlfriend to save the day and use the power of love to save him from Freddy’s evil clutches.
Jeff: There could have been a Night Ranger song in there somewhere to show the power of love.
Will: So that’s sort of what the movie is about. Shall we kind of dig into some of the wonderful weirdness that this film has to offer? What are some of your initial takeaways.
Jeff: It’s truly amazing some of this… I mean certainly they, they objectify Jesse a lot. The boy is drowsed in sweat because the air conditioner doesn’t work right in the house theoretically, and he’s trying to be possessed.
So there’s a lot of shirtless underwear moments with Jesse. And Grady gets more than a few similar at least shirtless scenes. The chemistry between those two is somewhere between Grady being a bully and the two boys crushing on each other all the time. It’s a weird, I wouldn’t even call it a bro dynamic, which didn’t really exist in 1984 anyway, but it’s, It’s really weird what they were trying to paint between those two who are like…
Will: They’re kind of… the movie starts out, they end up like beating up on each other out on the baseball field at school. But then all of a sudden, they’re like best friends.
Will: It’s a super strange dynamic that is never actually explained. It’s weird.
Jeff: The effects are really bad. Really bad. Even by 1984 standards, better effects were possible than we got in this movie. And that’s one of the strange things given how much money “Nightmare on Elm Street” the original racked up, you would expect the second film to have similar, if not necessarily better, production standards than they actually had.
Will: Well, I’m going to get into that in half a second.
Jeff: Oh, good, because he knows stuff.
I love the pool scene. The pool scene is actually what I remember.
Will: It played a big part in the trailers.
Jeff: That might have been a part of it too.
Will: Especially when like, when Freddy jumps out and there’s like the flames and the boiling pool and yeah, all that sort of stuff.
Jeff: Cause I couldn’t remember if it was in this movie, but I remember it and I’m like, oh yeah, the pool, it’s this movie. Which was actually a really good scene. Except for some of the low budget effects that they had to do in it. But yeah Grady and Jesse make this an amazingly gay film in a lot of ways.
I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it, but it was a fun watch to see the shenanigans. Now, give us the dirt.
Will: Okay, first of all if you are interested, I highly recommend everyone check out “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy.” This is a behind the scenes documentary that just happens to be four hours long.
Will: But there’s a reason for that. When the original “Nightmare” films came out on DVD and then were like put into a box set there was supplemental material on each of those discs. And essentially they took all of the extensive material and put it together in this one documentary, which is why it’s four hours long. But if you’re… Even if you’re not particularly interested in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films, this is a really super interesting kind of behind the scenes look at filmmaking in general and sort of the birth of New Line Cinema specifically.
New Line is often referred to as the house that Freddy built because the first “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie was their Really super big hit, right when they were getting started. And it was the money from the subsequent “Nightmare” films that kept those studio doors open for pretty much the rest of the decade. So this incredibly long but really interesting and detailed documentary touches on the making of essentially the birth of the franchise and the first “Nightmare” movie and then some of the behind the scenes stuff that went on with all the subsequent other films.
I think it goes all the way up to “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.” So I think that’s well worth checking out. It’s really interesting stuff. Plus, it’s also where we get the down low on why “Freddy’s Revenge” is such a weird movie. I think it looks so janky because New Line was a new studio and they didn’t have a ton of resources or a ton of money to spend on a, you know, big, complicated sequel. So they didn’t have a ton of money and they didn’t have a lot of time. They wanted to get it out, like, right away to take advantage of the, like, momentum that the franchise was you know, eventually going to have. Because for a very, very long time, there was a “Nightmare” movie every single year.
Jeff: True. Yeah.
Will: And this was the beginning of that. So, that’s why some of it doesn’t look quite right, probably. They were trying their best, guys. I really, truly believe that. Also, some of what we eventually find out in this particular documentary on “Nightmare 2” is that they talk to all of the actors and all the producers and everyone behind the scenes and the writer finally puts to rest is that, yes, there was gay subtext in the original script.
He meant it as subtext, but the director didn’t get it at all. And it ended up becoming text. It was all like right there in front of you. There was nothing subtle about any of it. He, he was really trying to go for, with the Jesse character, there was like subtextually, it was sort of like the, the angst and the pain of like, being a teenager and coming out and sort of drawing the analogy or the parallels between the horror and the possession and you know, the angst of being a teenager in general, especially in the mid 80s.
It was all supposed to be subtext, but it is all right there front and center right in your face. And it’s pretty ridiculous, and it’s why this movie is so very special. Also they talk to the star, Mark Patton, who is a gay man himself. And he talks about his experience on this particular movie and its unique place in gay cinema history, essentially.
And I think it was… that material that got some different filmmakers interested in kind of focusing on Mark Patton’s own personal journey, especially concerning this particular film. There is a new documentary called “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street,” and it, as I said, it focuses on Mark’s own personal journey he was a very young actor when he made “Nightmare 2.” I think it was one of his very first roles.
Jeff: Because he actually seems age appropriate, so he might have been like 17, 18, something.
Will: He was a really young guy. Not quite out of the closet just yet. Kind of trying to like come to terms with, you know, his own sexuality and what it meant to be like out in Hollywood, especially, Oh God, in the mid eighties, what a nightmare. So it sort of focuses on that and the reputation that the film has and how that’s grown over the years.
Jeff: And the gay content we didn’t even talk about here, because there’s so much between Grady and Jesse. They go to a gay bar in this movie.
Will: There’s this really strange sequence where the Jesse character is essentially possessed and wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to a gay bar where he encounters his high school coach, who’s all decked out in leather gear. It’s like, what? Yeah, no subtext at all. And so, they end up back at the high school for this really weird sequence where…
Jeff: Well, Jesse’s running laps. Initially, and I think that’s because the coach was like, you shouldn’t be drinking, we’re gonna go run laps.
Will: I guess that’s sort of an excuse.
Will: So it, there’s this, essentially it all leads to this sequence where… this shower scene where the coach is like flailed by Freddie. It’s super odd. Weird. And as I mentioned in what I just said about “The Covenant” there’s no female T and A in “Nightmare 2.”
Jeff: The most you’d get are some bikinis at the pool party.
Will: But there are a whole lot of naked guy butts in this movie. So it’s like, once again, I’m not… what were they doing? How? I don’t know.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s crazy.
You can find “Nightmare 2” and “Never Sleep Again” on most streaming services. “Scream, Queen!” is available to stream for free on Tubi or Pluto TV or you can rent it on most other streaming platforms.
Jeff: And there you have it. Our recommendations for a whole bunch of wonderful, weird, sexy, spooky TV leading up to Halloween.
And now I can let you know that this episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read our conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast. com. We’ve got links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode, so you can find it to watch.
Will: All right. I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next on Monday, October 23rd, we’re going to keep up the ghostly vibes, and we’re going to be talking about some spooky books perfect for the spooky season.
Jeff: We’ve read some great Halloween books, and we’ll be highlighting some of those in the next episode, including revisiting one of our favorites from the Big Gay Fiction Book Club, “The Mystery of Brackenwell Hall” by Gillian St. Kevern.
Will: Thank you so much for listening. We hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories we all love. The big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.