Dec 29, 2017

Dan Shor Takes Off His Pants and Changes the World

Sometime in the 1990s we rented Strange Behavior (1981), mainly because the cover blurb said something about Galesburg, Illinois, which is near the Quad Cities. 

We weren't aware that it was written by a gay man, it stars a gay man, and it features the first "real" male butt shot.

Actually, no local Galesburg sites are mentioned; the writer apparently just picked a town at random on a map of "the flyover," the vast empty expanse that everyone flies over en route from L.A. to NYC and back.  It was actually filmed in New Zealand.

Strange Behavior is only the U.S. title.  In Australia it's called Dead Kids, in the U.K.Human Experiments, and in West Germany Blutige Schrie (Bloody Scream). 

It's about a mad scientist named Dr. Le Sange (Dr. Blood), who turns the teenagers of a small town into blood-crazed monsters, but that's not important right now.  What's important is the main teenager, Pete Brady (like the guy on The Brady Bunch).  He's a tow-headed, long-in-the-tooth high school senior played by 23-year old Dan Shor.

Born in New York in 1956, Dan Shor studied acting in England, then moved to Hollywood, where he landed roles in Studs Lonigan, Friendly Fire, and other dramas.  He would go on to an impressive career as actor, writer, and director.  An interview I read as research for this post mentions a wife, but I'm sure I read a lot of interviews in the 1990s where he stated that he was gay. Maybe he's bisexual.

The co-writer, Bill Condon, was also gay, a year older than Dan Shor, a recent graduate of Columbia University.  This was his first job in Hollywood.  He would go on to direct such gay-themed classics as Gods and Monsters and Kinsey.

The other co-writer and director, Michael Laughlin, had produced a few long-forgotten horror movies and dramas, such as The Whisperers (1967) and The Christian Licorice Store (1971).  This was his first directing job.

In an early scene, Pete and his father have just gotten up in the morning.  As dad shaves, Pete approaches him to discuss something.  Naked.  He then moves toward the shower.  We get an extended shot of his butt as he walks away.

It wasn't the first nude butt on film, but it was the first extended butt shot that wasn't for a comedic purpose.

There is no other nudity, male or female, in the film, not even a shirtless shot.  What was the directorial decision to film Dan Shor nude?

The most obvious reason is that the writers and director liked looking at naked men, and Shor was happy to oblige.  But, in an interview I read in the 1990s, he also said that it was a political act, an acknowledgement of gay potential in the homophobic 1980s. It disrupted the heterosexual male gaze, giving primacy to the love of men for men.

And it was hot.

I can't post the shot here, of course.  You can see it on Gay Celebrity Stories.

1 comment:

  1. That title did make me crack. Thanks for that, babe! ^_^


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