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 .

ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO (1961)

ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO

EXTRA PADDING: where TOKEN HOMO momentarily strays from admiring DeCoteau’s well-stuffed briefs.


ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO lobby card

A cautionary tale… THE VIOLENT YEARS (1956) on Amazon Prime Video UK is not what you think it is… Select “Watch Now with Prime” on your Fire TV Stick and instead of the Ed. Wood Jr. penned girl gang movie, you get an Ed Wood Jr. part-penned – possibly under the pseudonym Larry Lee (1) – boy gang movie. Regardless of what you came looking for, ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO (1961) is a fun take on trad juvenile delinquency themes.

Hunkered down in a shack with his buddies, Chet (Darell Howe) vows revenge for the death row execution of his big brother, the man who kept his younger siblings from the orphanage whilst pursuing a career as a murderous hoodlum. Ignoring his sister Pat (Pamela Lincoln), Chet starts out blind to his brother’s shortcomings (“He didn’t do it, he told me!”), before going off the rails – and ultimately up a pylon – driven by the titular emotional unravelling.

Directed by Brooke L. Peters (aka Boris Petroff) and shot in inky B&W with beyond paygrade exteriors by Joel Colman, the acting occasionally misfires. There’s some deliriously diva-ish pouting from otherwise handsome Howe and a jail cell encounter between father (Russell Bender, we kid you not…) and pretty boy son (Ronnie Burns) that gets twisted out of shape: the line “I’m scared Dad” is delivered with too quivering a lip and the buttward glance of a correctional officer as “Dad” leaves the cell caps off a curiously cruisy vibe…

Such a film wouldn’t be complete without the delicate whiff of a sissy boy subplot, and here Bobby (Frank Killmond) protects the man he “loves” – landing an innocent-ish man in prison – before finally cracking under ‘intense’ police pressure (“I think I know that boy better than you do, let’s wait a few more minutes…”). Fearlessly escalating it’s own excess, our favourite moment involves an (anti-)heroic reveal of Chet’s facial scar from an earlier scrap which surely prefigures John Waters’ own juvie crime drama – and TOKEN HOMO fave – FEMALE TROUBLE (1974).

Of course, this is a chaste tale from another era, where a hoodlum waits outside for his “girl” to slip into a nightdress whilst sporting his own retro J Crew combo of pressed shirt, creased chinos and fuck-me pumps. But there are some handsome sites to behold… Hang around long enough and you’ll be rewarded with a few glimpses of Chet’s exposed midriff as he scraps his way to hell. Come the final confrontation – and echoing his fall even as he rises – Chet’s sagging jeans slip further as he mounts a power pylon, tantalisingly revealing the band of his tighty whities as he clambers to crisis (“Get away from me!! I didn’t do nothing!!”).

Swerving a retributive firestorm, ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO ends with an attempt to reassure us that, despite his crimes, mentally ill Chet will be taken care of by the same criminal justice system that recently gassed his bro… “You can trust me boy. I’m not gonna hurt you, see?” Now, where have we heard that before…?

In brief? A scarred but still handsome hoodlum pursues a downward spiral of insanity leading to mayhem and murder

In boxer briefs? 1 out of 5. Like lingering too long in the locker room before you finally catch a glimpse. But it’s a tantalising peach.

Streamed late from Amazon Prime Video UK, 28 DEC 2018.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_of_a_Psycho

1313: BERMUDA TRIANGLE (2012)

The third in our look at the 1313 “unexplained phenomena” trilogy. Treasure hunter cum murderer, wannabe reality TV star and perpetual dickwad, Sean (Stefan Gatt), recruits a cohort of youthful scientific “experts” to join him on an adventure in the Caribbean (although the majority of the film is still shot in the titular Malibu mansion).

The gathering also includes one of David DeCoteau’s several serial muses, Michelle Bauer, who makes an appearance here as Echo, island blogger and investigative reporter extraordinaire (“I deal with facts not theories”). Promised an ‘access all experts’ exclusive on Sean’s find of the century, she helps unravel his criminal backstory but, overcome by his general assholery, misses the real scoop and skidaddles before we discover what’s really going on…

I couldn’t help noticing that all of Sean’s experts are…” “…Young? Yeah, we’re cheap too.

The setup is full of the soft core traditions familiar to fans of the 1313 series, with DeCoteau’s Boys serially arriving for duty in their board shorts before stripping down for a playfully seductive swim scene or two. The twinks here give good Esther Williams, cavorting gaily in the sparkling waters of the Malibu mansion, their splashing gently underscored by Harry Manfredini’s elevator electronica (the same porny muzak gets rinsed and reused elsewhere in the series whenever the 1313 underwear gets wet). For admirers of musclemass, protein-friendly Sean takes a tasteful shower, revealing the kind of abs you are forced to imagine running your tongue over.

Throughout, Sean’s barely dressed team members utter their scripted pseudo science with varying degrees of plausibility, but their expert credentials are the least of his concerns… The geek squad has been infiltrated by an unscrupulous Atlantis hunter (Tom, Scott Jordan) and a time travelling agent of the lost city (Clay, Kip Canyon) who is hellbent on seeking revenge for stolen artefacts. As this is a 1313 movie, ‘revenge’ is enacted by means of kinkily stripping and strapping the twinks to various items of gym equipment – as well as bedposts, bannisters and shower heads – before ‘experimenting’ on them with in-camera lighting FX (and occasional flashes of post-production whimsy).

Sacrifice is necessary to advance.

The jaunty music, attractive location shots, and torture-porn-lite burlesque routines make this one stand out from the 1313 crowd, as does the more varied than usual smorgasbord of talent. We get musclebound Sean (Gatt went on to play a character called The Hulk in his next/last film, FUN SIZE), a skinny twink (Joshua Blake Shiver, playing himself), acned jock (David Baracskai, now Meza, sans acne) and Jamel King (playing doomed local fixer, Francisco).

Just as the unexpected ending sucks wind from the plot’s sails with a sudden, revisionist explanation of the Bermuda Triangle, so DeCoteau rewards us with extra run time via some classic exploitation ‘padding’; an(other) anonymous washboard twink enters the mansion only to get zapped and tied to the shower head… Extreme low angle shots of his writhing, clenching buttocks serve to perpetuate the eternal mystery.

In brief? A treasure hunter’s hubris is punished by a fishy menace from beyond the 4th dimension.

In boxer briefs? 4 out of 5. Plenty of underwear work here as DeCoteau’s Boys get tied up and ‘tortured’ for our pleasure.

Michelle Bauer has a long and distinguished exploitation career, with plenty of previous DeCoteau, including: 3 SCREAM QUEENS (2014); 2: VOODOO ACADEMY (2012); 1313: COUGAR CULT (2012); 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011); PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON’S REVENGE (1991); DR ALIEN (1989); MURDER WEAPON (1989); NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1988); and, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1988). She also appears in equally prolific Fred Olen Ray’s extensive filmography e.g. ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTREFOLD (1995) and HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS (1988).

Stefan Gatt went on to appear in Josh Schwartz’s FUN SIZE (also 2012) before disappearing from IMDb. Jamel King has made a minor career in DeCoteau’s latest franchise, the WRONG series: THE WRONG FRIEND (2018); THE WRONG STUDENT (2017); THE WRONG CHILD (2016); THE WRONG ROOMMATE (2016). David Baracskai also reappears in THE WRONG ROOMMATE (2016) whilst Kip Canyon appears in BADASS SHOWDOWN (2013) as well as hopping franchises to appear in Charles Band’s PUPPET MASTER X: AXIS RISING (2012) and PUPPET MASTER: AXIS TERMINATION (2017).

Streamed late on Prime Video, 03 DEC 2018 .