1313: NIGHTMARE MANSION (2011)

1313 NIGHTMARE MANSION

The mothership… 1313: NIGHTMARE MANSION is where the series set in the modern Malibu cliff-top property – David DeCoteau’s self-styled “address of terror” – all started. It’s a neat little affair, but you wouldn’t guess it would kickstart a 14-strong film franchise, even if all of those films were, somewhat incredibly, released over a two year period.

DeCoteau – “the director, producer and all-around slave boy” on this franchise – explains in the DVD commentary that it was “a fever dream one morning… more like a fever nightmare…” that spawned the franchise. Overwhelmed by images of a “Calvin Klein cologne commercial…. guys in underwear, a supernatural, crazy, insane story…” DeCoteau promptly picked up the phone and called screenwriter Moses Rutegar. Despite this being the sprawling franchise’s rude awakening, it didn’t limit DeCoteau’s creativity, unleashing a total of 20 features in 2011/12 alone. This extensive slate includes such varied fare as CHRISTMAS SPIRIT (2011), 2: VOODOO ACADEMY (2012), and, under the guise of his regular pseudonym Mary Crawford, THE GREAT HALLOWEEN PUPPY ADVENTURE (2012).

Unlike others in the series, NIGHTMARE MANSION has decent character and avoids – or more accurately, delays – some of the padding that drugs later editions. You actually get the sense of something being created rather than churned out here. DeCoteau even boasts sweetly on the commentary about how his lighting and colour coding were attempts to ape the legendary Dario Argento (not quite David…). On the same chat track, he also talks about his micro dolly, a tool that reduces the need for extra crew and allows the camera to glide gracefully over the mansion’s marble floors in pursuit of the underclad cast. This DIY shooting style introduces scope for error – such as an entirely accidental shooting star and the many Speedo/rig reflections in the signature shower scene – but also polishes the film’s veneer. Despite being shot in three days (DeCoteau normally prefers four…), the appropriately episodic run time feels right, reminding us that he can direct – a fact that gets a little lost in the cotton-clad conveyor belt that follows.

The film is helped along by its eye-candy cast, particularly Stephan White as Saddler (aka Satan Jnr.), who communicates a queer malevolence as the reaper of souls. The plot involves Saddler inviting a series of twinks to a party so he can abduct them into a strange secondary world where their clothes disappear and sins harvested, all so that he can deal with his missing mommy / daddy issues. Given DeCoteau’s hands-on casting, all of the assembled sinners give good (enough) ‘twink in headlights’, including Myles Tufts who was apparently auditioned in a late night donut shop. In a strike for equality, there’s even a female victim (Sara Fletcher), who remains dressed in far more than any of the guys.

Overall, it’s a steamier than usual affair, putting paid to criticisms that DeCoteau’s twinks are always self-laceratingly asexual. In addition to DeCoteau’s usual “celebration of the male form”, we get a kinky kiss of a knife blade, a closeted guy finally strokes same-sex skin, and a bewitched hetero couple make-out in the pool as Saddler strokes himself on the sun lounger (not a euphemism…), before joining in.

Once the story is done, we can enjoy the extra padding with scenes that were originally intended to be earlier in the movie. We get the shower scene (from future SURVIVOR winner, Jud Birza) and a bedtime masturbatory fantasy that draws on DeCoteau’s early career porn skillset (“This is Cody [Matthew Blymire] going for it. God bless him.”). Of course, by saving the padding to the end, NIGHTMARE MANSION reminds you that for much of the 1313 franchise, padding becomes the entire movie.

1313: NIGHTMARE MANSION is an enjoyable if protein/plasma-light straight-to-streaming horror flick. Step over the threshold of its charms and let the delirium of the entire cast appearing in only their undies take hold. The minimalist wardrobe kinda, maybe makes sense and the hand drawn artwork in the party invitations given to each of the victims adds a nice tactile dimension to the myth-making. In a masterstroke of mise-en-scène, the tipped-over alter candles by the poolside – each one representing a sinner’s soul – convey something far more sexually sinister than anything in the rest of the series.

One of our favourites.

We’ll tackle the strapline A Supernatural Thriller For Girls! in a future sidebar… but the addition of some punctation around the word “Girls” just about fixes it.

In brief? The devil’s spawn harvests twinks’ sins in an attempt to get his mommy back.

In boxer briefs? 5 out of 5. An arousing inaugural entry in the 1313 series.

Prone to losing garments, Cody Matthew Blymire went on to play ‘GoGo Boy’ in Caytha Jentis’ queer comedy THE ONE (2011). Jud Birza reappears in MY STEPBROTHER IS A VAMPIRE!?! (DeCoteau as Mary Crawford again, 2013) and then 90210 SHARK ATTACK (2014, also DeCoteau). Mak DeGennero appears in the title – if not film! – of our times, Craig Edwards & Samuel Morris’ FAKE NEWS (2017). Sarah Fletcher gives good TV for much of here career before appearing in something that sounds like a DeCoteau/Mary Crawford vehicle, but actually isn’t… PAWPARAZZI (by Ari Novak, 2018).

Moses Rutegar gets the screenplay credit.

Watched late on DVD, 26 MAY 2019 .

1313: UFO INVASION (2012)

1313 UFO INVASION

UFO INVASION is the last of David DeCoteau’s 14 films from the titular “address of terror”. Inspired by Oakley Court, Hammer’s own house of horror, the mansion is very much “part of the brand” like DeCoteau’s boys and their boxer briefs, giving the series consistent flavour: “I wanted a very similar modern castle on the hill, which is what that mansion is in the Malibu area of Los Angeles” (1).

Most of the guys are here and I’d hate for you to see us accidentally naked or anything.

On the one hand, UFO INVASION is a Beckettian nightmare, with twink after twink searching in vain for his buddies within the sterile interiors of the Malibu mansion: “Anybody home?!” On the other, it’s classic exploitation cinema, serving up a banquet of fresh meat (2). DeCoteau’s boys take turns performing a burlesque dance of death, each exploring, getting captured, stripped and strapped to the bed, flexing to break free.

Come on guys, you know I don’t like being strapped.

This is enjoyable, if silly, science fiction. Following his previous look at toxic masculinity in BIGFOOT ISLAND, DeCoteau grapples here with the genocide of indigenous peoples (yes, really…). Plot wise, Adam (capably handsome Aaron Thornton) has hired a mansion in New Mexico to pursue a Roswell research trip with his buddies. The owner is a cougar/MILF (Monique Parent) who is both sensitive to sunlight and committed to evil. Over the run time, boys are harvested and tension builds to the quite shocking (for these films…) climax.

Throughout, Harry Manfredini’s music does a good job of creating atmosphere, DeCoteau’s camera moves gracefully down the mansion’s marble floors (and over the bodies of his young cast…) and we actually have actors in the same shot (which helps with the overall sense of threat). If you haven’t sampled the 1313 movies before, you could do worse than stripping down to your tighty-whities and taking a dip with Willyboy (Christian Lake).

In brief? Alien invaders harvest assorted jocks, hunks and twinks for their valuable natural resources.

In boxer briefs? 5 out of 5. This is the whole cotton-clad enchilada.

Aaron Thornton came from 1313: COUGAR CULT (2012) and went on to TEEN WOLF on TV (2015-16). Monique Parent’s extensive career as “The Thinking Man’s Sex Symbol” includes 1313: BOY CRAZIES (2011) and Fred Olen Ray’s VOODOO DOLLZ (2008). Christian Lake has DeCoteau previous with 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011).

Screened late from DVD, 07 NOV 2018.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): 1313: UFO INVASION (2012), DVD Commentary Track, David DeCoteau, Rapid Heart.

(2): “BOLD! SHOCKING! DARING! TRUE! A history of exploitation films, 1919-1959”, Eric Schaefer (1999).

1313: BIGFOOT ISLAND (2012)

1313 BIGFOOT ISLAND

The thoughts of slender young actor Alex Fox as he stands in a shower cubicle (playing Peter, but not with his peter…), water glistening over a fresh outbreak of hives on his face and back, are lost to time. We do learn from director David DeCoteau’s DVD commentary (1) that Fox’s dedication saw him power through an “allergic reaction to some meds he was taking” to deliver the “very tasteful, yet sexy” shower scene required of all 1313 films. A game player in DeCoteau’s rapid-fire exploitation regime – one actor, one day, no makeup artist – Fox delivers that old adage: “the show(er) must go on”.

Need some sugar? We have sugar for you.

BIGFOOT is DeCoteau’s comment on campus rape culture. A group of young men head to a remote island for a break in their studies before being picked off one by one by the titular creature. The ancient forest spirit is at the meditative command of Danielle, wronged by the guys on previous trip.

BIGFOOT constitutes a break in the 1313 series from the otherwise ever-present Malibu mansion and is one of a trilogy of titles given over to unexplained phenomena (the others are UFO INVASION and BERMUDA TRIANGLE). There is none of the perverse tied to the bed sado-masochism to be found in other titles. Instead, we get “Abercrombie frat boys go back-packing”, complete with a cast of mostly objectionable idiots who say things like: “Kiss my butt, you bum”.

For production reasons, DeCoteau adopts a free-form spatial elasticity throughout that gives BIGFOOT a rather trippy vibe (2). Multiple location shoots – hot-swapping the arid scrub of L.A. for the lush Canadian backwoods – mean that key actors are often in entirely different forests. As if to reinforce this bizarre continuity, the lumbering threat is never encountered directly by its victims – lunging into camera as they, reverse shot, react – and the thriftstore monster has the same shade, and menace, as a Banana Split.

In brief? A riff on contemporary campus rape culture where a wronged island maiden summons supernatural fur to bring balance to the forest.

In boxer briefs? 3 out of 5. By DeCoteau’s own admission, there’s less “underwear work” here.

Alex Fox went on to appear in DeCoteau’s 2: VOODOO ACADEMY (2012) before disappearing from IMDb. Kathryn Collins has appeared in DeCoteau’s HANSEL & GRETEL: WARRIORS OF WITCHCRAFT (2013) amongst other fine work. Charlie Meadows gets a writing credit.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): 1313: BIGFOOT ISLAND (2012), DVD Commentary Track, David DeCoteau, Rapid Heart.

(2): “BOLD! SHOCKING! DARING! TRUE! A history of exploitation films, 1919-1959”, Eric Schaefer (1999) pp48: “Sparse sets and errors in continuity contribute to the bizarre timeless and placeless feel that is conveyed by many exploitation movies.”