Ah, the beauty of gay hook-up apps. You either receive amazing head from a stranger or your dick is shoved through a meat-grinder. It’s a toss up, really, and something about “the scene” that I don’t miss now that I’m married. It’s amusing to me, seeing an app called POUNDR as part of the underlying story in Death Drop Gorgeous, a new horror film starting its film festival run. A major collaboration between writers/directors Michael Joseph Ahern, Chris Dalpe and Brandon Perras-Sanchez, Death Drop Gorgeous takes place in Rhode Island, where young gay men from a local drag club are stalked, lured and massacred every night by a predator using the POUNDR app. As the body count rises, it’s up to the club’s owner and crooked detectives to find the killer and end the murder spree before it becomes national news. Michael McAdam/Payton St. James, Wayne Gonsalves, Johnny Sederquist/Ninny Nothin, Sean Murphy, Brandon Perras-Sanchez, Chris Dalpe, Matthew Pidge, Michael Ahern and scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons, Return of the Living Dead) star. Death Drop Gorgeous is a campy, kinky, gory slasher flick that contributes to the emergence of gay horror cinema in a very serious way.
Death Drop Gorgeous is the perfect combination of 80’s slashers – like Maniac and The Prowler – and the over-the-top nature of queer dramas. This is a movie that was truly birthed, produced and executed with its target audience in mind. Drugs, drag queens, strippers, blood splatters, torture and suspense, what else could you want from a story that delivers exactly what it promises? I also found the contrast between old school drag queens and current gay culture to be interesting, which added more depth to the movie than I was expecting. And, yes, my mind keeps diverting back to the scene of a lovely penis being forced through a meat grinder. It’s jarring and the most legitimate example of “torture porn,” but it’s also a stand-out visual that audiences won’t forget. Whether it makes them laugh, cry or scoff, Death Drop Gorgeous has a singular scene that it will be remembered by; so it already triumphs over many independent horror films that are easily forgettable. Props to executive producers Philip Gelatt and Victoria Dalpe, cinematographer Brandon Perras-Sanchez, editors Perras-Sanchez and Ryan Miller, and special effects artists Scott C. Miller and Victoria Elizabeth Black for crafting a movie that is as disturbing as it is glamorous and memorable.
Despite my positive comments thus far, there are two things I’d like to point out as erroneous critiques. Both comments stem from needing to get the job done well instead of just getting it done. The club scenes were great and reminded me of something you’d see on dry-humor sitcoms, but the directors should have worked their angles better to utilize the crowd surrounding the stage. While the performers are giving it their all, there isn’t a big crowd – no more than a dozen spectators – and the element of entertainment is lost. It becomes obvious, as a viewer, that the film suffered from a lack of extras. Had they hyper-focused on the audience instead of doing wider angles, that error would have been remedied. Also, the intensity of the final fight was lost during filming. It was lackluster and slow, and further takes, more practice with choreography or new ideas should have been invoked to save a pivotal part of the movie. When you have such an A+ title, which Death Drop Gorgeous certainly is, anything that looks like a C- stands out in the worst way and subtracts from overall quality. Although Death Drop Gorgeous has looks that could kill – literally, metaphorically and as a production – these scenes left me wanting a make-over.
Still, all things considered, Death Drop Gorgeous is a wonderfully vampy, zany and sickening clash between three walks of life. Predators, prey and primadonna drag divas. Between the horror and drama, you’ll find tidbits of comedy, real world themes, and supernatural elements. Plus, whoever cast this movie gets my applause for hiring the actors who filled the hot cop roles with breathtaking fashion. Death Drop Gorgeous will screen as part of Reels of the Dead on March 20th in Vegas, and you should definitely check it out if you’re in the area. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.