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Skull & Bones - A Tale Of Homicidal Mania

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Nov 23, 2007
Skull & Bones - A Tale Of Homicidal Mania

If there only one no-budget gay-themed film you see this year, make it this one. While that may seem to damn it with faint praise, when you consider all of the gay films that flood the market these days, it's actually a pretty strong recommendation.

T.S. Slaughter (great name!) has composed a revenge fantasy that will especially appeal to punks, skinheads, leather queens, S/M and bondage enthusiasts, and the just-plain warped. (Put me in the last category.)

Two blue-collar students at one of those nondescript community colleges that don't even rise to the level of diploma mills share a bed, but the potion's definitely gone out of the motion. "Lesbian bed death" is how Nathan describes it to Justin.

The writer-director immediately gives us a good sense of exactly where these two stand. One man has a chip on his shoulder, in some vague, class-sense way and a distinctly kinky imagination. His fuck buddy (they'd probably reject "boyfriend" or "partner" as namby-pamby) is a born follower. Slaughter stacks the deck by setting the film in New Haven, Conn., a hardscrabble town where the dominating institution, Yale University, dominates the landscape like a nobleman's castle compound in a medieval village.

Soon enough (the movie is nothing if not fast paced), the two plot the first of what becomes a pattern of serial killing. If it sounds gruesome, it is, but it's done with so much tongue-in-cheek humor that the viewer becomes complicit in the crimes. It's as though John Waters had directed Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci in Monster (now there's a concept).

The wild murders accelerate until they finally reach the realm of the hallucinogenic. While I would never recommend the ingestion of illegal substances, this is the kind of film that may best be enjoyed while self-inducing an increased state of intoxication of one form or another, until, by the last murder, you're stoned or bombed on your ass.

The film is not without its longueurs. I understand that using the same pick-up line on the Yalie victims is supposed to be humorous because it shows how unthinking these future leaders of the republic are underneath their prep-school glossed exterior, but it still gets wearying. Also, a kidnapping and ransom is handled ham-fistedly.

But these are minor qualms. Again, this film is definitely not for Sound of Music-happy hearts. If you want your gay boys full of political idealism and moral rectitude, look elsewhere. I'm talking about gay-on-gay violence, rape, erotic use of snakes and burying people alive - just for starters. But if you just got home from a long (and probably frustrating) night at the local Eagle and feel like being bad - or, more precisely, living vicariously through two very, very bad boys - then pop Skull & Bones into the DVD player, get out the PBR and Maker's Mark, pour out a boiler maker, and settle in for a wild ride.

If you need a justification for watching something so seemingly unredeeming, keep in mind that Slaughter has used Grade Z Hollywood clich?s to construct a rather witty satire of the class structure that has become as rigid in the United States of the '00s as Regency England or pre-Revolution France. Using his two naughty protagonists, Slaughter constructs a revenge fable that scores some potent political points.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


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