RADIANT CIRCUS is launching a new sideshow project inspired by Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon. Over the next 12 months, we will try to see & blog about every film made by prolific North American director David DeCoteau. That’s c.135 features (& counting…). Here’s our plan of attack.
Adventurous moving pictures aren’t only projected on the big screen. They lurk on the shiny discs of home cinema special editions, on streaming media services and in boxes of VHS tapes forever trapped in our attics by the progression of time and technology.
We’ve been looking for a home cinema project to keep us entertained when we aren’t blogging about London’s indie screens and we think we’ve found it.
Inspiration came – as it often does – deep underground at The Horse Hospital.
Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon
One of our favourite events of last year involved going back to school with the Miskatonic Institute Of Horror Studies. The class in question was Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon (12 OCT 2017, The Horse Hospital).
Launching his book of the same name (available from all good booksellers), Newman debated How to talk about ‘Psychotronic Cinema’ with Anna Bogutskaya (BFI/The Final Girls), and screened a number of trailers to whet our appetites. Full of films that most people ignore, the evening was a stirring hymn to the overlooked and un(der)appreciated. You can read our writeup here.
Michael J. Weldon coined the term ‘psychotronic’ in his magazine Psychotronic Video (1989 – 2006). He used it to describe movies: “traditionally ignored or ridiculed by mainstream critics at the time of their release: horror, exploitation, action, science fiction, and movies that used to play in drive-ins or inner city grindhouses”.
With on demand services opening up new frontiers of cinematic adventure, the stream of psychotronic cinema hasn’t diminished and there’s ample scope for ongoing investigation.
Back at the Video Dungeon, we won the audience ‘best question’ award for speaking up in defence of prolific North American moviemaker David DeCoteau. We now want to put our Miskatonic learnings to the test by venturing further into his delirious fictions. Introducing…
‘Token Homo’: The Complete Psychotronic Cinema of David DeCoteau
David DeCoteau is now famous for making rapid-fire horror films with a gay male gaze for a straight, bi or genre-curious female audience (so he claims…). He started out as a production assistant at Roger Corman’s legendary New World Pictures before working with Charles Band at cult factory Full Moon and founding his own production house, Rapid Heart. His early experiences in exploitation moviemaking gave us our title:
“I was sort of the ‘token homo’ in the business, and most of the day I’d be filming naked women and crashing cars,” David DeCoteau quoted in Meet David DeCoteau, The King Of Homoerotic On Demand Schlock by Will Sloan, Flavorwire.com, 28 OCT 2014.
He has directed a remarkable number of films and seems to be picking up pace. Seminal titles include CREEPOZOIDS (1987 – Blu-ray, DVD or On Demand), VOODOO ACADEMY (2000 – DVD or On Demand) and a whole bunch of films shot mainly in and around the same location. The notorious 1313 series even started its own sub-genre, Boxer Briefs Horror, beginning with NIGHTMARE MANSION (2011 – DVD or On Demand), and including GIANT KILLER BEES! (2011 – DVD or On Demand), COUGAR CULT (2012 – On Demand) and FRANKENQUEEN (2012 – On Demand).
Setting ourselves a challenge to see all of his movies in 12 months should offer ample insight into his micro-budget universe. We might even find something meaningful to say about queering cinema’s myriad genres, dealing with desire and diversity in the digital drive-in, the rebirth of exploitation on demand and the creative economies of producing so many movies for a mass market.
The rules of ‘Token Homo’
It wouldn’t be fun without some basic rules. Over the next 12 months, we will try to see and blog about:
- Every feature film title directed by David DeCoteau as listed at IMDb;
- Films that are available legitimately in the UK, avoiding pirates & torrents;*
- All that is good, bad and everything that lurks in-between without getting snarky (we promise, not even for A TALKING CAT!?!… and yes, the punctuation is in the actual title).
Along the way, we will want to:
- Take a deep dive into DeCoteau’s early contracts at New World/Full Moon and subsequent collabs with his many cinematic muses (Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Eric Roberts et al);
- Explore every one of his passing pseudonyms (Mary Crawford, Julian Breen, Victoria Sloan etc.);
- Gaze beyond the unbranded boxer briefs worn by his toned male stars to give a fan-fuelled appreciation of every plot (such as they are…) and performance (ditto).
Putting it out there
We imagine there will be three main thrusts to our project:
- SEARCHING & SCREENING: where we hunt down DeCoteau’s films;
- RESEARCHING & WRITING: where we share everything that we’ve seen;
- MAKING & SHARING: where we produce something wonderful with the results (a zine? an e-book?… some limited edition boxer briefs?).
Following Kim Newman’s lead, our writeups will remain free from star ratings – “which I hate anyway but which are useless for these kinds of movies” – and we will do our best to avoid going “bankrupt” in pursuit of any hard to reach titles.**
We want to hear from you if you are interested in contributing to whatever ‘thing’ comes out of our efforts. Maybe you’re an editor, illustrator or enthusiastic crafter with a passion for queer horror? Maybe you’re a musician, performance poet or filmmaker keen to share your emotional response to DeCoteau’s cotton-clad oeuvres? Or maybe you want to write some erotic fan fiction inspired by his films or pen something distinctly more cerebral about the state of streaming cinema?
Whatever you fancy doing, contact us via email using the subject line Giant Killer Bees!
And that’s the meat of it…
Hungry for more?
For the uninitiated, we’ll post a new TEN-IN-ONE guide to some of DeCoteau’s titles very soon.
Before then, head over to YouTube where Rapid Heart TV will tempt you with trailers for DeCoteau’s films as well as discussion of Camp Grindhouse (sadly, not an actual place).
You can also read about the director’s work here:
- BLOODY DISGUSTING: [posted under Horror Queers] The Delicious Homoeroticism Of ‘The Covenant’ And ‘The Brotherhood’, Joe Lispett & Trace Thurman, 08 MAR 2018.
- COMING SOON: Catching Up With Director David DeCoteau, Chris Alexander, 24 MAR 2016.
- FLAVORWIRE: Meet David DeCoteau, The King Of Homoerotic On Demand Schlock, Will Sloan, 28 OCT 2014.
- SEAN MUNGER: Let’s Hear It For The Boys: The Curious Homoerotic Cinema Of David DeCoteau [probably NSFW], Sean Munger, 02 SEP 2013.
Until we post again, AN EASTER BUNNY PUPPY needs a belly rub.
> We are using this project to launch our new affiliate scheme at Amazon UK. Whilst we are committed to keeping RADIANT CIRCUS free of generic ads, like many creators, we need to recover some of our blogging costs…. Your shopping & subscriptions will help us build & grow.
Join the hunt for adventurous moving pictures.
Never miss a frame with a new monthly membership at Patreon.
Featured image: NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1988).
* RADIANT CIRCUS prefers artists to be paid which means we need to pay – or follow legitimate routes – to see their work. It’s simple (but will probably get very complicated with DeCoteau…).
** “I’m fascinated to see how many people get this book and then go bankrupt.” Kim Newman, Video Dungeon at The Horse Hospital, 12 OCT 2017.