COMPLETE DECOTEAU

1313: HAUNTED FRAT (2011)

“Aren’t you the brains of this outfit?”

6th in the series (as listed on IMDb) and the bitter truth is starting to sink in: if DeCoteau had shot these films on 35mm short ends (a technique using unexposed film stock from the end of reels often used to shoot low budget projects…) in the 1950s (I’m channelling Bob Mizer’s Athletic Model Guild here….), we would probably be seeing major retrospectives of his work at galleries across the US and UK (or maybe just in France where they seem to appreciate off-kilter talent…). Instead, they were shot in unforgiving digital detail with a cast of now unfashionable body types, and have drifted into the same relative obscurity as the Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bags his cast once adorned…

1313: HAUNTED FRAT features returning ‘DeCoteau Boy’ Luke Allen who is probably the one member of the recurrent company TOKEN HOMO would dine with over burgers (i.e. he brings some personality to proceedings and would surely have some stories to tell… ). Allen appeared in three of the 1313 franchise (his others were ACTOR SLASH MODEL and WICKED STEPBROTHER) and has made a recent return to filmmaking after a decade-long gap: Steven Vasquez’s 2021 experimental film, DANCING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, seems to have some queer interest ripped right out of the DeCoteau play book…

DANCING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (2021).

I haven’t seen that film (yet…) but I’d wonder what Allen would say about 1313: HAUNTED FRAT? That it contains the leanest script or story of any of the franchise? That his extended shower scene was enough to satisfy his acting appetite (at least, for a while…)? Or that, seeing as I keep on mentioning it in this blog, DeCoteau was indeed inspired by Samuel Beckett and all the emptiness, failed departures, and inability to truly connect in his 1313 films is in fact a statement on the futility of existence rather than merely a series of money and continuity saving techniques… (I realised while watching Allen in the shower why the twinks all wash without soap… it makes it easier for DeCoteau to cut footage together…)?

But enough speculation…. What happens here? Not very much. The film begins with a tantalising title card that suggests we will be treated to “actual surveillance footage, personal video recordings” and – perhaps laughably, given what’s to follow – scenes the filmmakers have “dramatically re-created” to document an inexplicable occurrence at a “chapter of the [name witheld (sic) to protect privacy] fraternity”.

Sadly, none of this stylistic innovation comes to pass…

The film opens with a random twink enduring a protracted day-for-night fever dream, wandering around a very familiar mansion in his equally familiar underwear. Upon waking, he takes a shower to a very porny synth score… And not a word is spoken… He gets 19 minutes of franchise real estate all to himself…

It turns out, Smiley (Freddy Roy) is stuck at the frat house writing an essay during Spring Break. We later discover a young woman in black, stalking the twinks and taking possession of their flesh (in sequences that remind me of a line from PERSONAL SERVICES, “look, but not to touch…”). The Spirit Girl continues to cast her spell on our frat boys (who can’t see her…) causing them to assault each other off camera in random cotton-clad formations. Over time – and interspersed with frat boy ball games, one borderline erotic possession by fingertips, and an hilariously misplaced orchid… – we learn there may well have been an old asylum on the same site as the mansion and just maybe a young woman was unable to escape her padded cell when the asylum burnt down. Her spirit now stalks the corridors enacting ghostly revenge on any passing victims. That the site is now a frat house suggests she has developed a taste for fresh meat…. Which, as a plot summary, is delivered in almost as many sentences of rushed exposition in the actual film…

Fun fact 1: some friends asked me about the kind of films I write about at TOKEN HOMO during a mid-COVID dinner party (between lockdowns, before you alert anyone…). To illustrate my point, I took the opportunity to show them a title at random from Amazon Prime (which turned out to be HAUNTED FRAT long before I’d get round to reviewing it here….). Having told them all about the mansion, the twinks, the underwear and the seemingly interminable amount of padding DeCoteau uses to give his features adequate length, we hit gold with the first 20 minutes of this one.

Fun fact 2: The same friends messaged me the next night to say they had watched the rest of the film and enjoyed it (one of them is an experimental filmmaker of some regard…). Sometimes this blogging lark pays off… (although their DeCoteau updates have dried up of late…).

IN BRIEF: A vengeful spirit takes possession of the fresh meat on campus.

IN BRIEFS: DeCoteau bravely sacrifices plot to bring you more of what you love…

CAST NOTES

Aforementioned Luke Allen has been in three of the 1313 saga following an appearance in TV series VICTORIOUS (also 2011). If I get round to watching DANCING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (2013), you will be amongst the first to know about it.

Freddy Roy (Smiley) is only credited on IMDb for this film, and Adam Phebus (Liam) is only credited for this and GIANT KILLER BEES! Graham Rogers has an extensive TV career, and David A. Flannery (Andrew) has continued to work in films and shorts after having also appeared in ACTOR SLASH MODEL and BOY CRAZIES (the legendary DeCoteau duo shot B2B over one weekend).

Kristen Glass (The Spirit Girl) had a few bit roles before encountering DeCoteau but seemingly has not worked since. Conversely, Zach Cuddeback (Cliff) appeared in a couple of other DeCoteaus before enjoying a run as the auteur’s right-hand-man performing art direction / production design on such varied shoots as THE GREAT HALLOWEEN PUPPY ADVENTURE (2012), MY STEPBROTHER IS A VAMPIRE!?! (2013), and THE WRONG CHILD (2016) at which point they appear to have parted company.

Streamed early one Saturday morning, and then again later the same day for research purposes on Prime Video, 15 May 2021.

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