To Live and Dine in L.A. : THE PERFECT HOST

Nick Tomnay's, The Perfect Host is a clever little thriller that serves up twists, shocks and even a few laughs.

Clayne Crawford plays John Taylor, a charismatic criminal who is trying to outrun the law after he pulls off a daring mid-day bank hold- up.  Realizing that the police are hot on his trail, our bad boy worms his way into the swanky Bel Air home of Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce), a seemingly fastidious man planning a dinner party.  Initially, John misrepresents himself as a friend of a friend whose luggage was lost at the airport but eventually Warwick discovers who Wilson really is...and then the fun begins.

The secret to enjoying The Perfect Host, is to know as little about it as possible, and so, I will not reveal anything more about the plot here.  Suffice to say, if you like mind games, turned tables, red herrings and surprising twists and turns, this one is for you.

Major kudos to the principals; Hyde Pierce is a revelation as the titular character, and if you only know him as Frazier Crane's fussy brother, prepare to be pleasantly surprised (that said, there is something of Niles Crane in Warwick Wilson, but that's just the tip of this iceberg, baby).  Meanwhile, Clayne Crawford plays the hell out of John Taylor...is he a desperado, a dupe, a sociopath, or just a love-sick guy who made a foolish choice?  Well, you'll have to watch the film to decide.

Finally, in taking the theme of a so called "home invasion" and turning it on it's ear, The Perfect Host is a welcome piece of intelligent, witty, and bloody fabulous film making.

The Perfect Host is currently On Demand and hits theaters later in June.


He Was Legend

NOTE: This was originally posted in 2007 right before the remake of  I Am Legend was released.  I am dusting it off and re-posting it in honor of what would be Mr. Price's 100th Birthday:

This weekend the fan-boys and girls will be flocking to their local cineplex to bask in the latest bastardization of a classic story; I Am Legend, re-imagined, and reworked for the MTV generation - complete with a tacked on happy ending (or so I hear).

If you've ever read Richard Matheson's chilling novella about a scientist who inexplicably survives a plague that leaves the rest of humanity either dead or turned into vampire-like creatures, you know what a powerful but ultimately, depressing tale Legend truly is.

The story was adapted twice before it's current incarnation as Will Smith's latest blockbuster - in 1971 it was presented as, The Omega Man ( a dreadful adaptation that stared Charlton Heston), and prior to that it was released as The Last Man on Earth in 1964 and stared the quintessential sci-fi/horror thespian of all time, Mr. Vincent Price.

Born into a wealthy family from St. Louis Missouri in 1911, Price began his acting career in the late 1930s and was celebrated for his rather urbane style. He made several films with screen beauty, Gene Tierney including the melodrama, Laura, and the forerunner to Fatal Attraction; Leave Her To Heaven.

But for most of us, Vincent Price will always be remembered for his numerous roles in horror and science fiction. From The Fly to Dr. Phibes, Price seemed at home in morbid cinematic offerings, whether he was playing the villain or the victim.

So what are we doing celebrating Mr. Price on a "queer horror film blog"? Because, rumors concerning his sexuality were rampant thorough out his life. And though he married three times (not that means anything at all - Hello, Tom Cruise); there are stories that many in the business assumed he was gay.

Of course it might be all circumstantial; but what circumstances. For instance:

* Price's former gardener was none other than gay porn star, Fred Halstead.

* His third wife, Coral Brown, was said to have been an infamous 'fag hag', and was rumored to be a lesbian as well.

* Price's daughter, Victoria, (an out lesbian) has acknowledged that her father's sexuality was often discussed in Hollywood, though she indicates that she has never met anyone who could concretely answer the question concerning the subject.

* According to Victoria, when Price got older, a group of mostly gay men became his care-givers.

The world will probably never know the real story about this genteel man who collected art, was an accomplished cook (he published several cook books), and, from all accounts,  was a genuinely nice guy.

What we are left with is an impressive body of film work that ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, several recordings (including voice overs for pop songs from both Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson) , and countless television appearances.

The last time America saw Vincent Price on the silver screen was in Edward Scissorhands where he played the kindly old inventor who was about to give Edward a heart made from a cookie, but before he could do this, his character died. - An appropriate final act from a man who gave so much of his own heart.

Gay or straight, Vincent Price was one of a kind. He Was Legend.


Be It Ever So Convoluted : HOUSE

Directed by Robby Henson, 2008's House  is a great big mess of a movie that will either win the viewer over despite it's numerous flaws, or leave them hurling the DVD into a garbage can.

A young couple are driving the back-roads of Alabama when they have a blow out and are left stranded.  

With no mobile phone signal available (of course) , they traipse through the woods until they come upon a big spooky house (cue the thunder and lightning).  Once inside, they meet another stranded couple, as well as the creepy caretakers of the old dark house (Leslie Easterbrook - who is quickly becoming this generation's Shelly WintersBill Mosley - whose charms I have yet to fully understand; and Lew Temple play a lite version of The Firefly family, or maybe the Texas Chainsaw clan - you'll have them pinned as weirdos within a heartbeat).

But an old dark house, and a somewhat sinister family is just the start!  We've also got a masked killer, a little ghost girl (who sort of looks like Samara from The Ring, but has a much better temper), portals to different places of existence, and a Satanic cult! 

While it would be easy to tear this film apart, I found myself enjoying it.  Despite the Rob Zombie-like-vibe the film maker was going for, House feels much more like something that might have come out before we all became jaded - in fact it even has a happy ending (but not without a rather predictable twist tacked on).

This is a popcorn movie, kids.  Turn it on, turn your brain off, and sit back and enjoy yourself.


Horror Movie DILF : The Car

Name : Wade Parent

Occupation: Sheriff of Santa Ynez, Utah.

Family:  Divorced, ex-wife's name unknown.  Daughters, Lynn Marie & Debbie.

Why is he a DILF? :  Because he sports a porn stache, wears Aqua Velva, drinks a bit too much, is bitter over his divorce, recklessly drives a dirt bike...and yet, despite all of this, he's a caring father to his two little girls and devoted to his girlfriend (the local marching band coach, Lauren).  

And then, when a demonic coupe begins to terrorize his town, Sheriff  Parent gets it together,  and along with his posse of fellow law men, leads the Satanic sedan to a fiery end.
 Played by: James Brolin


Grindhouse - Outhouse: DOGHOUSE

2009's Doghouse is about a recently divorced Brit licking his wounds, and his mates who decide to take him on a get-away weekend in the country.

With an opening ripped directly from the style book of Guy Ritchie, and a liberal nod to  Shaun of the Dead, Doghouse begins on a promising note, but quickly falls apart.

Early on we are made to understand that each of these guys is living with a woman who is a harridan - and the one gay guy in the group is living with his stereotypically bitchy, needy boyfriend.  OK, message received:  All Women are Bitches, All Gay Boyfriends, The Same. 

Offended yet?  I was.  
 The fellows are all portrayed as man/boys.  Moronic half wits who can't commit to anything other than their relationship to each other, beer and their libidos. 

So eventually, the guys end up in a secluded hamlet deep in the English woods, all of the men in this town are missing and all of the women have turned into flesh eating zombies.  That's right, big breasted, shrieking zombies - oh and look, the first ghoul shown is a bride! Gee, what's that supposed to represent?
Loaded with misogynistic, homophobic, sophomoric wit, Doghouse thinks it's a smart throwback to grindhouse when actually it's more like a trip to the outhouse.