Jul 10, 2020

Strangers from Hell: When You Don't Know You're Dead

I don't usually watch Korean tv shows.  They'll never show a gay character, and there is an annoying emphasis on boy-girl romance.  But I watched Strangers from Hell because it had an intriguing premise: a rundown hotel from which there is No Exit.

Prologue: Two men walk down a narrow hallway, red-lit, draped in darkness.  Very dark color palette, hard to see anything. The young, attractive Jong-u (Im Si Wan) narrates: "I thought the world I lived in was hell, but this place is the real hell."

Wait -- is he lying in the room with blood on his face?  Is he dead?

Scene 1: Jong-u rides a bus across, I assume, Seoul, gets out his stuff.  .A guy accidentally crashes into him, then walks off without a word.  He exclaims "My goodness!"  Really weird translation of a common Korean expletive.

The Girl calls to make sure he's gotten there ok, ans says "You don't sound well."  Uh-oh, he's dead.

Scene 2: Jong-u looks at residences (like dormitories, with single rooms and shared baths).  A nice one costs 550,000 won ($417) per month.  "My goodness!  That's too expensive!"  The next costs 450,000 won.  A crappy one costs 270,000 won.  "My goodness!  Still too expensive!"

Scene 3:  Finally he walks up a long, steep hill and then a long, steep staircase to the Eden Residence, where a cheerful "My goodness!"-spouting lady offers him a room for only 240,000.  The building is going to be torn down for redevelopment, so only a few residents are left, long-term, crazy. 

She leads him down the dark, red-lit, decrepit hall, past three residents: Surly Guy snaps at him; Staring Guy stares; Giggling Guy giggles maniacally.  Plus it's a horrible, dingy room, with filty walls.   "It's cheap because a resident committed suicide." My Goodness says.

You know, the other room was only about $20 per month more.  Why take this one?  Unless you already took it, and you're forced to live your horrible death over and over.

Scene 4: Up on the roof. Jong-u calls The Girl and asks to hang out, but she's busy with her boss's birthday party.  My Goodness appears and tells him to be careful, some of the floors are decrepit.  Ya think?

Scene 5: Jong-u tries to sleep in his horrible room, where he can hear the screams, moans, and arguments of the other residents.  He gives up and starts to write a story about a man with an "odd gait" and a maniacal laugh, who carries a plastic bag full of....dead cats?  Gross!

Scene 6: We switch to the Cat Guy -- is this still a story Jong-u is writing?  He meets and is threatened by his superior, who carries a sinister suitcase.   "You have to be more quiet at night."

After stealing some iced coffee, Cat Guy goes into the Eden residents, where My Goodness nags him for killing so many cats.  Then he talks to Staring Guy about how, if someone dies in the residence, no one will care.

Scene 7: Jong-o wakes up in the morning, and decides to explore.  He hears a noise from the off-limits Fourth Floor, and is about to investigate, when Cat Guy interrupts him, carrying a gun. "My Goodness!" he exclaims.  But Cat Guy isn't planning to shoot him; he's going off to get shot.

Scene 8: Two cops are investigating all the plastic bags full of dead cats that keep popping up all over the neighborhood.   They're worried because the last time, the dead cats were followed by dead people.

Scene 9: The lady cop goes to the dentist.  I don't know why, except to give the dentist the opportunity to say "My Goodness, your cavity looks bad."

The dentist, played by Lee-dong Wook  (left), is important to the plot.  He gets second billing.

Scene 10: Jong-o is having a beer with Jae-ho, his new boss (it's just an unpaid internship)  Out on the street, he sees two guys fighting and flashes back to a fight of his own, when he was in the army (all Korean men serve for 1 to 2 years after their 18th birthday).  So, is this how he died?

Jong-o intervenes.   Afterwards, Jae-ho wants to continue their drinking, but Jong-u excuses himself and leaves.

Scene 11: Back at the residence, he meets Laconic Guy, another resident, who tells him that they're all in a long tunnel from which there is no escape (ya think?).

He goes down to take a shower, and is completely shocked by the sight of Cat Guy showering. Cat Guy actually doesn't have a bad physique.

He cooks dinner -- ramen.  Surly Guy warns him about the other residents. They're all crazy.  Who knows what they are capable of?

Later, everyone congregates in the hall.  Staring Guy stares, Cat Guy giggles, and Surly Guy yells.    Jong-u is most upset over Staring Guy, and yells at him.  Narrating, he says "I shouldn't have done that."  We see that Staring Guy is holding a meat cleaver behind his back.

Scene 12: Jong-u is trying to sleep amid the screams and giggles and scuffling.  Staring Guy stands in front of his door, trying to decide whether to kill him.  Surly Guy plays with a knife of his own.

Scene 13: Jong-u gets up in the night.  Staring Guy is asking "Do you want me to kill you now, or what?"  He goes to Staring Guy's room, and gets stabbed.  His life flashes before his eyes.

Wait -- he wakes up in bed.  It was a dream.  Or a flashback to his death, which he's reliving over and over.

Out in the hall, Surly Guy is arguing with Cat Guy.  But then Cat Guy comes walking down the hall.  Huh?

Surly Guy is just as confused as I am.

Laconic Guy comes out of his room, and calms everyone down.

The end.

Beefcake: Jong-o and Cat Guy showering.  Most of the actors are quite hunky.

Other Sights:  Some of Seoul.

Gay Characters:  Probably not.  But no one expresses any heterosexual interest.  It's not even clear whether The Girl is Jong-u's girlfriend or sister.

Weirdness:  I have no idea what's going on.

Will I Continue Watching:  Probably not.

The Baby Sitter Club: Kinder, Gentler Teenagers

I never read any ofthe Baby Sitter Club books, because they first appeared in 1986, when I was 25 years old, and because...well, I'm a boy.   But I wanted something light and easy, teenagers who weren't taking their clothes off every five minutes or developing supernatural powers or stumbling across a secret conspiracy, so I tuned into the new Netflix adaption.

Scene 1: Kristy and Mary Anne are walking home from Stoneybrook Middle School through a ridiculously beautiful suburb, discussing women's empoewrment (girls who speak up in class get detention).  Mary Anne goes into her mansion.  Kristy stops to say hello to a boy-crazy neighbor and to help a little boy (her brother?), who peed his pants, then goes into her working class house.

Scene 2: Mom brings in three large pizzas to feed five people, including Kristy and her three brothers: the pants-wetter, a Girls! Girls! Girls! horndog, and an artistic type (Ethan Farrell, left, Dylan Kingwell)..

The babysitter for tomorrow night cancelled, and the babysitting app costs too much, so Mom asks if Kristy and Mary Anne can do it.  Suddenly Kristy gets an idea -- why can't teenage girls (and boys) babysit? They're just as responsible as adults and they will charge less!

Scene 3: At school, Kristy tells her second-best friend, artistic Claudia, about the idea. Later  they all congregate at Claudia's  house.  We meet the Goth lesbian big sister Janine.  Claudia has brought in a fourth member, the sophisticated New Yorker Stacey. They discuss the logistics of the business, and come up with good reasons why they'll use fliers instead of social media, and get jobs via a landline instead of texts.

Scene 4:  Dinner.  Mom's rich boyfriend Watson (Mark Feuerstein, top photo) loves the idea -- teenager girls (and boys) babysitting, what an innovation!  Then he announces that he and Mom are getting married, and Kristy gets mad and storms off.

Scene 5: They start distributing the fliers in their ridiculously elegant cafe-and-boutique filled downtown.. Mary Anne goes to the library, and gets gushy over a boy reading to the kids (Ryan McCririck).

Scene 6: Waiting around, waiting for the phone to ring.  Finally it does: Kristy's future stepfather, Watson, needs someone to babysit his two kids.  Obviously a pity job. Kristy orders the other girls not to take the job   Claudia has art class, Stacey will be in New York, but Mary Anne says she will do it. Kristy is incensed.

Scene 7: The next day, Kristy jogs through the ridicuously ritzy neighborhood where Watson lives t odo some spying on her so-called friend. Good grief, the kids have their own bounce house.  Suddenly the next door neighbor confrontts her, her cover is blown, and she runs away.

Suddenly she runs into Stacey and her parents.  She lied to get out of a babysitting gig!  Betrayal! (I would have just said I didn't want to do it, but I'm not 13).

Scene 8:  Mom and Kristy have a heart-to-heart.  About her being bitchy to Watson?  No, aout Stacey's betrayal!

Scene 9: Kristy brings pizza to the next Baby Sitter's Club meeting, two large pizzas for four people (smart way to keep them happy, but can they really eat that much?  I don't think  I could).She apologizes for being bossy.

The phone rings.  A real job!  And another.  All recommended by Watson.  Maybe he's not so bad after all.

Beefcake: Watson is cute.  Maybe the older brother.  There are more "dreamy boys" and hot Dads in the cast.

Gay Characters: Goth lesbian Janine, maybe Kristy's sensitive artistic brother.

Plus every episode seems to have a throwaway gay character or reference to LGBT people.

In Episode 4, Mary Anne babysits a transgender girl (played by real life transgender girl Kai Shappley) who has just come out, so she's still listed as a boy on her medical records.  When she gets sick, Mary Anne rushes her to the hospital, and has to educate the "Let's take a look at the little man" doctor.

In Episode 7,  Mary Anne meets a boy at the beach, who casually references a crush on a boy. 

Heterosexism:  Claudia is boy-crazy.  Otherwise not a lot.

Class Consciousness: Kristy's family is poor (i.e., middle class) in a nieghborhood populated entirely by the 1%, and she feels bad about it.

Boy Babysitters: They keep saying that boys can be babysitters, but nothing ever comes of it.

Will I Continue Watching: Definitely

Pinky and the Brain

The WB Network's Pinky and the Brain (1993-1999), a spin-off of the execrable Animaniacs, was about two intelligent lab rats who shared a cage and collaborated on schemes to take over the world.  At first they were coded as coworkers and bunk mates, not as romantic partners. Both had outside love affairs; Pinky was especially promiscuous, falling in love with a horse, a sea lion, and children's book heroine Pippy Longstocking.

However, there were gay "jokes" from the beginning. In a running gag, Brain has a sudden insight and asks Pinky "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" Pinky replies with a nonsequiter that can often be read as sexual, or at least dirty, such as "I think so, Brain, but how can we get seven dwarves to shave their legs?" or "I think so, Brain, but isn't a cucumber that small called a gherkin?"

Of seventy-five recorded "pondering" responses, thirteen concern transvestism or fetish costumes — "I think so, Brain, but this time you wear the tutu" — and twelve evoke sexual double entendres — "I think so, Brain, but apply North Pole to what?"

The tag line of each episode, after the most recent plan for world domination has failed, similarly allows for a homoerotic reading:
  Brain: Let us go back to the lab and prepare for tomorrow night.
  Pinky: Why, Brain? What are we going to do tomorrow night?
  Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. [Pause, while we ponder just what it is that they do every night] Try to take over the world.

When Pinky and the Brain moved to prime time in 1995, plotlines became more complex, with movie and television parodies and recreations of the basic scenario in various historic periods. The writers also added what Warner Brother's head of programming referred to as "family and romantic element."  Potential heterosexual partners did appear occasionally, and Brain was somewhat swayable, but Pinky steadfastly chose the Brain over any other love.

Most of the romantic elements, however, involved the duo's attraction to each other, which Pinky celebrated and the Brain grudgingly admitted. In "Just Say Narf", Pinky sings and flirts with a despondent Brain: he bats his eyes seductively, lays his head cozily in Brain's lap, and twirls him about in a waltz before Brain finally cheers up.

Even when the Brain takes up smoking, Pinky's attraction does not diminish: "Hello there, stinky smelly smoky boy," he says with a leer, "Do you have a monkey in your pants?" He "means" to say "Do you have a monkey on your back?", a metaphor for addiction. When he says "pants" instead, the "mistake" produces a striking metaphor that is not not sexual.

Pinky and the Brain share more than physical attraction, however; they begin to represent themselves as a closeted gay couple. A prospective employer asks Brain, "Are you married?" After a brief, awkward pause, he responds "No. I do have a ... roommate." Considering various responses and then deciding on "roommate" is — or was — a familiar strategy for hiding same-sex partners from potential homophobes. Brain gets the job and enters corporate culture as a closeted gay man — or mouse — clumsily rejecting a female suitor and inventing a lame explanation for the picture of Pinky on his desk.

When Brain's parents visit, Brain again introduces Pinky as "my ... um ... roommate." The liberated 1990's parents are not fooled, however; while constantly criticizing Brain for his poor housekeeping, poor cooking, and unrealistic career goals, they never nag him to "meet a nice girl" and get married; obviously they are aware that he already has a partner. At the end of the episode, Mom and Dad invite the two to visit as a couple at Thanksgiving.

No other cartoon of the 1990's portrayed same-sex relationships so overtly.

See also: Animaniacs

Jul 8, 2020

"Going Postal: You'll Go Postal if You are Forced to Slog Through This Mess

Going Postal means "going beserk," based upon some incidents during the 1970s when postal employees shot up their offices.  So why are the actors on the icon wearing Victorian costumes?  That's enough to pique my interest  in the tv series on Amazon Prime.

Prologue: We're in a weird steampunk world, with guys clang-clanging machines and pulling levers on a high tower.  Suddenly the tower becomes sentient and knocks a worker off to his death.  Darn, he was cute.

Scene 1: Moist Von Lapwig (Richard Coyle) narrates a montage of his life as a conman  It all seems perfectly ordinary, except for the chief constable being a werewolf, until he is caught, imprisoned, and then hanged.

By the way, the town or country is Ankh-Morpork, but they speak English and use dollars.

Scene 2: He wakes up, not dead at all.  The rich, officious Lord Vertenari (Chales Dance) has resurrected him to offer him a job: to re-open the Ankh-Morpork post office.  It sounds horrible, but the other alternative is to be tossed off the edge of the world, so Moist agrees.

Scene 3: As soon as he is free, Moist reneges and runs away.  He stops at an inn for the night.  I'm pleased that he doesn't mentioned dalliances with bar maids.  

Suddenly a red-eyed clay-like being,  a Medieval Jewish golem, grabs him -- his Parole Officer (named Mr. Pump, body by Marnix van den Broeke, below).

Scene 4: Back at Lord Vertenari's office, Moist is told to do the job right this time.  He complains: no one uses the post anymore.  Everyone sends messages via clack-clacks (steampunk email).

Scene 5: Mr. Pump escorts Moist to the post office, a decrepit building with a dome, abandoned for so long that the words on the plaque outside is nearly rubbed off:"No gu-lom of nit can stay these mes engers abot their duty."  The interior is even worse, cages full of undelivered mail from a century ago.

Two extremely ugly guys, Reacher and Horsefry (David Suchet, Madav Sharna), watch from a building across the street, and make fun of the new "sucker" who's going to try to open the post office. 

Moist meets his staff: the elderly Junior Postman Groat (Andrew Sachs), who has been working in the deserted building since he was a boy, and Stanley (Ian Boanr), who knows everything about pins.  Stanley woulld be attractive, except he's all greasy and has a weird haunted look.

Moist insults them both for not doing any work, and for being...well, daft.

20 minutes in, and we haven't met The Girl yet.  A good sign.

Scene 6: Lord Vertenari is lambasting Reacher from Scene 5 for doing a bad job running the clack-clacks, and announces that he is re-opening the post office.  He and Horsefry storm out in anger and discuss the terrible things they're going to do to the new postmaster, Moist.

Scene 7: Moist tours the post office: corridors of undelivered mail, overflowing even in his apartment.

Scene 8: Deciding that Stanley will be the most easily manipualted among the staff, Moist goes to the Pin Emporium and browses among the many pin-aficionado magazines.  He asks for "advanced" items, and the proprietor takes him into the back.

Scene 9: Moist returns to the post office and gives Stanley the fabulous pin he bought (a number three broad head edge extra long), and makes him an ally.    Then he gives Groat a promotion, and makes him an ally.  They tell him that four previous postmasters died under gruesome circumstances.

Moist wants to flee, but Mr. Pump won't allow it.  Well, maybe he can de-activate the golem.

Scene 10: That night, Moist breaks itno the Golem Trust to gather intel.  A  woman, Adora Belle Dearheart,  accosts him with a bow and arrow

Uh--oh, could she be The Girl?

She explains that the office was recently vandalized in an anti-golem hate crime.  She's a golem rights activist, and in mourning for her dead brother  Moist is totally stricken by her loveliness.

The Girl!  It took awhile, but here's the heteronormativity!

I'll fast forward through the rest of the "episode" (actually a 1 1/2 hour long movie).   Moist gets the post office running again through the novel invention of the postage stamp, but he starts seeing the ghosts of the people who died after he conned them, and he's being stalked by a professional assassin (the same one that killed the previous postmasters).  Meanwhile, The Girl, whose father lost out on the patent to the clackers, tries to sabotage it with clacker hackers.  End of Part 1

Beefcake: Moist takes a bath.  All of  the others were apparently hired for their overwhelming ugliness. or are wearing ugly costumes  The only cute guys in the cast are the golem and the  one who was thrown off the tower in the first scene (Tam├ís Mohai, left).  Was this filmed in Budapest?

Gay Characters: No one expresses any heterosexual interest except Moist.  I figured Stanley was canonically gay, but actor Ian Bonar posted a homophobic tweet.  Surely a homophobe wouldn't agree to play a gay role.

Heterosexism: Moist and Adele kiss.

World: Steampunk Victorian England, with everything ugly, grimy, moist, and unpleasant to look at.  Lots of steam, puddles, and gears.

Author: I didn't know that this was based on Terry Pratchett's humorous steampunk fantasy novels set in a world that is sitting on the back of a giant tortoise.  I could never get into his stuff.  I like my movies humorous but my fiction serious, and besides, Pratchett never wrote a single gay character (ship the Good Omens guys all you want).

My Grade: D

Avengers: End Game: "I Couldn't Save Her." Times Eighteen

I have seen Avengers: End Game (2019).  Sort of.  I was completely lost through most of it, and kept asking "Who is he?" until Bob said "Just read the synopsis on Wikipedia."  So I did, and I was still lost. But here are my takeaway points:

At the end of the last movie, a Gray Guy used a glove embedded with magical gems to vanish exactly one half of all sentient beings.  On every planet in every solar system in every galaxy in the entire universe!

I don't know why he would do such a thing.  It's random, so he couldn't specify people he didn't like.  And he didn't try to take over afterwards.  Maybe it was explained in the previous movie.

FIve or ten years later (the timeline is all jagged), San Francisco and New York seem completely depopulated.  I guess many more than the half died  in the ensuing economic collapse and civil unrest.  Everyone is trying to move on; at a support group, a guy talks about his first date since the Event.  The other guy cried during the entree, he cried during desert, but they're seeing each other again..

A reference to same-sex romance!  Score!

The superheroes are all drunken, over-eating wrecks due to guilt over not stopping the Event, and the loss of "her."  (About 18 of "I wish I could have saved her.").  They come across a way to maybe reverse the Event by going to the past and creating alternate timelines, then borrowing the stones and...well, the story mostly involves visiting superheroes in their funk and convincing them to join the team.

They do -- after a lot of boring chitchat about "not saving her," every Marvel superhero you've ever heard of, and lots that you haven't, from various timelines:  Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, the Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Captain Marvel, Ant Man, Nebula, Rocket, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, the Destroyer, and a cameo from Stan Lee (his last screen appearance).  Except no X-Men.

A climactic battle involves both magical and science fiction superheroes, so ray gun zaps and magical zaps, flying horses and alien spaceships.

And they reverse the Event.  Almost everyone comes back.  It's 5 or 10 years later, but they haven't aged, so how are they going to re-inteegrate into a society that has gone on without them?  And the civil unrest and economic collapse still happened, right?

No matter, everyone just hugs.

Same-sex hugs:
1.  Iron Man reunites with Spiderman (who apparently was vanished), and they hug.

2. At the end, Thor and a guy I don't know become co-leaders of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and fly off with the raccoon, the tree person, and the rest

3. Two high school boys hug.  Wait -- how can the one who stayed behind still be in high school?

But those glimmers of same-sex desire are inundated by 18 scenes where a superhero is depressed because "she" didn't reappear.  He saved the universe, but couldn't save "her."

One after the other, until you are yelling "Get on with it!" at the screen.

Captain America has to go back to the alternate  timelines and return the gems.  Everything has to be precise, gauged to the microsecond.  But then that plot point is forgotten: after returning the gems, he decided to stick around in tthe post-World War II world  (where he came from originally) and spend thirty years with "her" before returning. They dance to 1940s music in a post-War  suburban house.  They kiss  The end.

I sat through three hours of depression, "I couldn't save her," and clobbering  for a boring, cliched She is the Meaning of Life ending?  I am disgustipated!

There isn't even any beefcake, in spite of all the hunks in the cast.

Jul 6, 2020

Escaping Rancala with Your Boyfriend and Your Lesbian Pals

The Final Level: Escaping Rancala: When a girl discovers that her brother is trapped in a video game....

Sounds cheesy, but that's such an unusual configuration.  Not a boyfriend?  Or a boy saving his girlfriend?  So I tune in.

Scene 1: 10 years ago, teenage Jake (Cooper Hagen, an actor/model in his mid-20s) and his sister Sarah are playing antiquated video games in an old-fashioned arcade.  She teases him about being a superior player, then goes outside, where Mom is waiting in the car.  Jake pauses at a new game: Rancala.

It calls to him: "Join your friends in the quest of a lifetime.  Meet the King."  The goal is a guy, not a beautiful princess?  I'd play that.  Jake touches the console and vanishes

Scene 2:  Today, Sarah (redhead) and her two hot warrior babe-video game geek friends, Chrissy (blonde) and Rae (brunette), are opening a retro video game arcade/bar to let 30 year old geeks get their nostalgia on.  Also in a memorial to Jake, who vanished without a trace and is assumed dead. Apparently they were all close friends in high school (close friends with girls, huh?  Definitely gay!).

The retro game Rancala arrives, and the player icon looks like Jake.  Weird!  But they conclude that it has been stuck on the Start Screen of a game that Jake began just before he was grabbed by the kidnapper.  So it could be a clue....

They decide to play.  Rae pushes the "Player" button, and vanishes.  Then Chrissy.  Assuming, withut proof, that it is transporting them to another world instead of dissolving their molecules, Sarah pushes the button.

Level 1: And appears on a desolate, rocky beach, where the ladies are wearing bikinis, for some reason (it's how their icons were created?)>  They fight flying sharks before a "Come with me if you want to live" guy shows up and gives them a plot dump: They must make it to the War Camp on the other side of the island and defeat the Superboss before their timers expire, or they will be trapped forever.

These developments do not surprise them in the least.  I guess people get trapped in video games a lot. {Plus they decide,with no evidence, that Jake is being held captive by the King (or Superboss) at the War Camp.

Level 2: Yay!  They change into less gross outfits to tromp through the woods.  They encounter a villager who withheld taxes from the King, and is about to be executed by some of the King's goons.  It's clobbering time!

Separated from the others, Sarah has to fight the Level Boss, a gruff Orc, to reach the next level. Do you think she is successful?

Level 3: Alone, Sarah is attacked by a dinosaur that rips at her clothes like those horny monsters in 1930s movies.  She dies, but fortunately she has two lives left.

The other ladies join her.  She kicks herself over not trying to help Jake before. (Yeah, if people are often trapped in video games, that's the first place I would look).

They have to fight the Level Boss, an Australian "G'day, ladies" bloke.

Level 4: Walking through woods for a long time.  Well, even the Fellowship of the Ring did a lot of walking.  They come to some tents covered with cellophane (the special effects aren't great), deserted except for a Crone, who reveals that Jake is not a prisoner (the King's boyfriend, then?)

This level's Boss Fight consists of three crones who make swimming motions with their arms and shriek

Final Level:  They approach the War Camp, passing a guard wearing a social distancing mask.  This is a Medieval world,but everyone has guns

They find Jake (Brandon Root, second photo),but he doesn't remember them, and he is evil now.  This world hasgiven him everytning he's ever wanted: "Power, recognition, infamy."  He's the King's second in command (and boyfriend?)

Jake brings them to the king's...um...platform in the woods, where he is busy sentencing villagers to death. and yells "Silence!",like no one ever in real life.  The King (Taylor Behrens, ridiculously overacting) explains: "Do you know why they call the King?  Because I am the King."

He locks them in barbed wire, planning to brainwash them, like he did Jake. But an ally, an elderly, crazy-as-a-loon woman, helps them escape. 

They fight the guards and minions, who no longer have guns, and the King does that slow-hand-clap thing

Some platitudes about the importance of family melt Jake's heart. and he starts to remember his old life, when he and the girls were best friends. They all hug.

They still have to defeat the Superboss/King,so there's another fight, with "Now you will pay for your insolence!" blathering.  I suppose he does live in a cheesy video game, so cheesy dialogue is to be expected.

After the King's defeat, a portal opens up, and the gang leaves. Not to worry, the elderly, crazy-as-a-loon lady who helped them escape stays behind to rule the video game. Does she..er...have any political experience?

The girls return to the video arcade, but not Jake.  They look around for him, and find the teenage version of Jake and The King ("I couldn't leave him there.")

The King -- Martin (Austin Skaggs) -- apologizes for trying to kill them: "Spending half your life in a video game does serious damage to your psyche!"  Dude, you've killed countless people during your decade-long reign of terror. Will a "sorry" be enough?

Jake and Martin are teenagers again, but with ten years of memories intact .  They've been together for most of that time, and they're going to stay together.  Obviously a gay couple, but without all that evil stuff.

Their parents will be rather surprised,but...

There's a fade out kiss, between Chrissy and Rae. I didn't notice the romance there.

This was a very bad movie, no sets except for some platforms in the woods, overwrought acting, plot holes for days, no beefcake, lots of girl boobs.  But there was not even a hint of heterosexual interest expressed by anyone, and it ended with two gay couples.

I loved it.

Interestingly, the writer, Daniel Lusko, is a fundamentalist Christian whose other works are about Christians being persecuted by liberals.  This was obviously not what he intended.

My grade: A.

Shaun Cassidy: Not Just David Cassidy's Little Brother

Growing up in the shadow of his brother David, Shaun Cassidy began singing at the age of fourteen, but no one took him seriously until, at eighteen, he landed a role as cleancut teen sleuth Joe Hardy in The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977-79), alongside Parker Stevenson’s Frank. The plots were simple: sleuthing, a touch of danger, followed by jokes and dazzling smiles, with ample swimsuit and shirtless scenes and the camera lingering lovingly on the teenage bodies. Endless teen magazine pin-up spreads followed.

Joe was frequently thrust into peril, tied up in old barns, menaced by madmen, in need of rescuing and subsequent hugging by his older brother or some other hunk. In a two-parter, wealthy rescuer Jocco Halsey (Kevin Brophy), invites Joe to move in with him.

And Joe rarely expressed any interest in girls. In “Campus Terror” (May 1978), guest star Valerie Bertinelli says “I love you,” and Joe responds dryly: "You've had a long day.”   What gay boy could afford to miss such a revelation?

Unlike many Tiger Beat fave raves, Shaun actually had a brief singing career; between 1977 and 1979, his albums went platinum, and his singles topped the charts. A surprising number of his songs were gender-ambiguous, and "You're Using Me" even alluded to a relationship with a boy.

The cover of the album Room Service (1979) shows Shaun in a hotel room, smiling invitingly at the voyeur who peers through the Venetian blinds. The voyeur's gender is ambiguous (though, if you look very carefully, you can see sharp fingernails). Shaun seems to be openly acknowledging the romantic interest of both male and female teens.


Teen idol careers are brief. Shaun tried reinventing himself as a hard rocker, complete with leather pants bulge, but still, his star faded by 1980, and he moved into writing and production. He’s been married to women three times, but he (like his brothers David, Patrick, and Ryan) remains a gay ally.

See also: Trying to Escape Church
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