May 22, 2013

Gay Self-Defense in 1982: Siege

In an era where gay people were portrayed as sashaying male "fruitcakes" and murderous lesbian psychopaths, the Canadian movie Siege, aka Self-Defense (1982) is a rarity: a gay guy as hero.

During the 1981 Halifax, Nova Scotia police strike, a group of homophobic cops called the N.O. ("New Order") decide to invade a gay bar and terrorize the patrons at gunpoint.  The patrons fight back, and the bartender is accidentally killed.  So N.O. leader Cage (Douglas Lenox) orders his men to kill all the witnesses.

Only Daniel (Terry-David Despres, left) escapes.  He seeks refuge in the home of a heterosexual couple, Horatio (Tom Nardini) and Barbara (Brenda Bazinet), who are minding a pair of blind teenagers for the weekend (Jack Blum and Keith Knight, both veterans of the gay-subtext Meatballs).  The N.O. arrives and lays siege to the house.

 Daniel and his new friends defend themselves with anything they can find, including a homemade bow and arrow.  Eventually they move next door, where a survivalist buddy (Daryl Haney) has a stash of weapons.

The homophobes start throwing tear gas.  Daniel and company start firing rockets.  There's a bloody climactic battle.

The movie is actually grim, bloody, and unpleasant, and shot with a dark palette that makes it difficult to see anything.  A lot of people get killed, and there's not time for much buddy-bonding.  But it's worth it to see a gay guy standing up to homophobes in 1982.

Tom Nardini was a fixture of juvenile delinquent and cowboy movies in the 1960s, so he has some shirtless and tight-pants shots elsewhere.

You can see it on youtube.