Color, 2014, 68m.
Directed by T.S. Slaughter
Starring Frank Holliday, Flip Jorgensen, Mike Russnak, Chris Tanner, Matthew Benjamin, Nicholas Wilder
BTB Productions (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
One of the more overlooked subgenres of sleaze cinema is the gaysploitation film, a fascinating development that gave us everything from The Pink Angels to The Gay Deceivers to The Meatrack. Keeping that spirit alive is director T.S. Slaughter, who started off with the moody thriller Skull & Bones and whose second feature, The Gays, paints a madcap, raunchy veneer over the formula of '70s sitcoms.
While hanging out at the local watering hole, Alex (Russnak) tells one of his prospective choices for the night (Wilder) about his unusual back story. For example, he and his brother, Tommy (Jorgensen), are the children of Rod (Holliday) and cross-dressing Bob (Tanner). (Of course, they explain how that's physically accomplished.) The trappings of gay culture are a fixture around the house right from birth (ranging from campy to filthy) as the boys are reared with tips about how to thrive in a culture completely different from the heteronomrative one familiar to most Americans. Along the way we get plenty of situational humor involving the kids and their quirky parents, touching a few unexpected kinks along the way before the big climactic yuletide finale.
Broadly but skillfully acted by a stable of committed actors (most of whom will be first-time faces for viewers), The Gays takes a basic idea that reaches at least as far back as La cage aux folles and runs completely wild. Obviously it's geared primarily for an LGBT audience, but if you have no problem watching the more outrageous extremes offered by John Waters and Francois Ozon, there isn't anything too beyond the pale here (apart from one brief moment that treads a little closer to porn than the film may have needed). Tanner gets the juiciest moment as one of the screen's more unusual mothers, amping up stereotypes through the roof and setting the tone for a film that has little interest in playing by the rules of reality.
BTB Productions' independently-released, no-frills DVD of The Gays sports an anamorphic transfer that looks about as good as the digitally-shot feature will probably allow in SD and allows plenty of breathing room for the 68-minute feature. (Really, they couldn't find a way to tack one more minute on there?) The intentionally bold, stylized colors look fine, with the final few minutes containing a riot of red for obvious reasons. The stereo mix sounds solid with every dirty joke coming through loud and clear. A quirky and often ridiculously silly film that shoves a lot of potentially offensive tropes into the stratosphere, it's definitely one to throw on at a party if you want to grab someone's attention. Just don't show it to anyone without a sense of humor.