Mar 30, 2023

"The Uncanny Counter": A Gay-Subtext "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from Korea


The Uncanny Counter:
 "Noodle shop employees by day and demon hunters by night, the Counters use special abilities to chase down malevolent spirits that prey on humans."  Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Korea might be interesting, with demons derived from Buddhism rather than Christianity.  And it's a weekly series, which I actually prefer over dumping a whole season at once.  Plus one of the characters is bound to be gay.

Scene 1: Mom and Dad  (Gwon), drive their young son (Mun) through the dark suburban streets of Jungjin, Korea. They are planning to drop him off at his grandparents and go off by themselves, but when Mun paints them into his picture, they magically decide to stay with him.  Creepy powers, kid!

Cut to a rain-soaked young man, Detective Ga, standing on a building roof.  He calls Gwon: "Be careful!  Be sure you survive!  You have to!"  Then he jumps off the roof.

A truck crashes into the car.  The driver approaches., slowly, as Mun loses consciousness.

Scene 2:  Seven years later, the teenage Mun (Jo Byung-gyu, below) is trying to bathe his senile grandmother, who is combative and blames him for his parents' deaths: "You killed my daughter!  Why are you still alive?" Meanwhile Grandpa is making breakfast Personally, I would have Grandpa bathe ihs wife and Mun cook).  

Mun rushes to get dressed.  We see his  art awards, his superhero sketches.  He walks with a limp due to the accident.

Scene 3: On the way to the noodle shop Mun, Boy Friend, and Girl Friend (they don't get names) discuss they superhero characters for their video game or manga.  Mun insists that they stop to pick up a flier about a missing person. Maybe this will be important later?

Scene 4: The noodle shop is very famous, and packed, with a line around the block outside. It's run by people with super powers: when Young Man's kinfe breaks, Middle Aged Woman throws a new one across the room, and he catches it by the handle!. Meanwhile Young Woman carries four 50-liter jugs of water through the back alley.  Isn't the first rule of scriptwriting to identify your characters by name?. 

Young Woman has a vision of someone being killed, and rushes back into the noodle shop to announce that it's a Level 2, Maybe a Level 3.  They all leave their customers and jump into the  Mystery Machine.  Mun and his friends, who have been waiting in line, protest.

Mun and Boy Friend comment "She's pretty."  To identify themselves as heterosexual? 

Scene 5: The Demon Slayers  arrive at the demon-sighting location, put on red hoodies and black masks, and call the middle-aged Cheoi-jung, who is wearing a stupid-looking toupee.  He says he'll get there as fast as he can.

The Demon is a cute guy in a black hoodie.  They chase him over rooftops and fight him with Asian martial arts.  In the end, he gets away, Cheoi-jung is killed, and a ball of energy shoots off into the sky.  So far we've had four characters named, and three of them died immediately.

Scene 6:  Back at the noodle shop, Mun and his friends finally sit down to eat.  They gush annoyingly over how good the food is.  Even after they lealve, they continue to gush over the food.

Do we really need to spend five minutes of air hearing "it was so good!" over and over?  At least use a thesaurus!

The ball of energy zaps into Mun, who rises into the air, falls back down again, loses consciousness, and suddenly has the same bad toupee as Cheoi-jung!  

Scene 7: Mun goes home.  It's his birthday, so Grandpa made him a cake.  This is the first I'm hearing of it.  Neither of his friends mentioned that it was his birthday, or gave him presents.  Maybe that's the custom in Korea?

Scene 8: Mun washes his hair, but the bad toupee is still there.  He falls asleep and awakens in his bed on a vast, muddy lake.  An elderly woman introduces herself as Wi-Gen. And he wakes up.

Scene 9:
  In the library the next day, Mun discusses the experience with Girl Friend.   She kids him that it was an erotic dream.  Suddenly he sees the bullies extorting money out of Boy Friend. -- he finally gets a name, Ung-min.  

Mun intervenes, with a lot of gay subtext buddy bonding rhetoric: "You're my friend!  I would die for you!"

Head Bully (Lee Hong-nae), who has red hair to make him more sinister, happens to be the Mayor's son.

Scene 10: Scary Sunglass Guy climbs out of his limousine feet first. Interesting -- it's usually a woman who gets out of a car feet first, so the audience can perv on her high-heel shoes. 

He bows at the shrine set up for the memory of Cheoi-jung (who died in Scene 5). Then he visits the Demon Slayers and announces that the mourning period is over, so it's time to get back to work: the Level Three Demon captured Cheoi-jung's soul, but Wi-Gen (whom Mun dreamed of) got out and latched onto the body of a "splendid guy." He was just walking around, not even in a coma.

A boy possessed by the soul of an elderly woman!  Sounds interesting!

They are shocked.  How can someone who is not in a coma become a Counter?  

Scary Sunglasses Guy asks Mo-Tak to mentor the boy, make something of him, so they can catch the Level Three Demon who ate Cheoi-jung's soul. So, which one is Mo-Tak?

Scene 11: A male and female detective are bickering at the scene of Cheoi-jung's "suicide." Wait-- the morning period is over and they're still investigating?  Don't you mourn for like six months?

. Everyone criticizes the woman: "What an attention whore!  We need to get her married off!"  So, in Korea married women can't be cops?   

Apparently the police are in bed with the demons, so all of the evidence has been removed and destroyed.

Scene 12: The Mayor and his assistant discuss Cheoi-jung's "suicide" while passing protesters: "Keep our city safe!" "The mayor is killing our children!"  Uh-oh, the mayor is in bed with the demons, too.

Scene 13: At school. Boy Friend is angry with Mun for standing up to the bullies.  Now he'll be beat up, or even killed, which would be bad because...well, you know how I feel.   Girl Friend agrees with him: now they'll both be killed.  

Scene 14: On
the way home, Mun runs into the bullies, but they're more interested in taunting him and stealing his stuff than killing him.  Young Woman (is she Mo-Tak?) intervenes, beats up the bullies, and tells Mun "You'd better come with me."

She takes him to headquarters for pizza and an exposition dump: The Demon Slayers hunt down dead souls who have escaped from Hell   Mun thinks they're all crazy.

Aha! The Young Man is Mo-Tak (Yoo Jun-Sang, left).  He refuses to train someone so weak and wimpy.  

Middle-Aged Woman shows Mun how to visit the afterlife.  It looks different to evreyone, but for him, it's a vast muddy lake.  

More exposition dump: when bad people escape from the afterlife, they possess the body of a living person (Level 1), who gets superpowers.  The demon gradually takes over, and kills someone and eats their soul (Level 2).  The more souls they eat, the more powerful and evil they become, until they reach Level 3.   

I deduce that good people take over the living, too, and become Counters.

Scene 15: Back at headquarters, Mun says "thanks, but no thanks, the job is too dangerous, but I'll still come to your noodle shop."  They ask him to think it over.

Boy Friend calls: The bullies have kidnapped him, and Mun must meet them at the gym or they will kill him.  Rescuing your Boy Friend instead of a girl?  That's the definition of gay subtext!

Mun rushes to the gym.  They taunt him.  The end.

No, although some of the cast looks good shirtless.

Other Sights: Nice exterior shots.

Gay Characters:  Gay subtext romance between Mun and Boy Friend.

Names:  Most of the major characters don't get named.  I figured some of them out using wikipedia, but others are a mystery.   The top photo, for instance, is Jung Won-chang, who plays Shin hyuk-woo. He's not Mun, Boy Friend, Head Bully, or Mo-Tak   

My Grade: B-.  Points off for the five minutes of "These noodles are so good!"  "They are good!" "They are so good!" 

Mar 27, 2023

Unprisoned: Heterosexual Ex-Con Moves in with his Heterosexual Daughter and Possibly Gay Grandson


Hulu has been pushing Unprisoned, a sitcom about a ex-con (Delroy Lindo) who must re-adjust to life on the outside while living with his adult daughter and teenage grandson.  Doesn't sound promising, but the teenage grandson is played by 19-year old Faly Rakotohavana, as dreamy as a pop star (except for the gross feminine rings). If I was in high school, I'd be writing his name amid little hearts in my chemistry notebook.   It wouldn't hurt to check to for gay subtexts.

Scene 1:
Marriage counselor Paige and her boyfriend/husband Mal (Marque Richardson, left) are flirting, kissing, and discussing her upcoming TED Talk, "How to Fix Your Picker."  She has fixed her own picker, and since he is incredibly wonderful, she has picked him.  Psych!  She's not proposing marriage, she just wants them to become an official couple on her social media. 

Scene 2: Grandpa Edwin (Delroy Lindo, below) and his buddy Fox (Edwin Lee Gibson) discussing the trip to Alabama he took with the family last episode.  Apparently Fox hired him to "move the car from Point A to Point B."  Maybe some nefarious doings are in the works.  He needed the money to fix daughter Paige's roof, but it was a one time thing: he refuses t continue the nefariousness.

Teenage Finn (Faly Rakotohavana, top photo) comes downstairs on his way to school, and asks Grandpa Edwin to take him to the card store later.  Edwin: "Finn has been driving Miss Daisy, 'cause Miss Daisy doesn't have a driver's license."  Wait, I thought randpa Edwin just drove all the way up from Alabama.

Scene 4:  Grandpa Edwin napping on the couch.  Daughter Paige enters.  They discuss the trip to Alabama. She's home early to prepare for the Ted talk; he offers to help her pick out a "fresh" outfit.  

Cut to her bedroom, and 11 shopping bags full of clothes, while Grandpa Edwin gives his advice: "Wear a dress, so you look friendlier.  And yellow, so you look happy."  

Scene 5:
Grandpa Edwin and his girlfriend Nadine smooching, ear-nibbling, and nose-rubbing. Is that a thing now?  I've kissed a lot of guys, but I have never rubbed someone's nose.  He tries to tone down her horniness: he wants to talk about the crimes his buddy Fox from Scene 2 wants him to get involved in: he could make a lot of money for daughter Paige and grandson Finn, and to start his food truck business.  The Girlfriend advises him to stay clean. 

Scene 6: Daughter Paige in the bathtub, look over the comments to her social media relationship announcement.  A lot of them ask about their future wedding and kids, which disturbs Paige.   Suddenly she gets a text from a hot white guy: "I've been thinking about you.  Can we talk?"  Uh-oh, competition!

That's two smooching scenes with the two main cast members and their heterosexual partners.  The only one left is teenage Finn.  He'd better get a boyfriend, or at least display no heterosexual interest, pronto!

Scene 7: Grandpa Edwin helps Paige memorize her TED talk.  Bombshell: he gets her to admit that she's not actually in love with boyfriend Mal; he just "checks all the boxes."  So, who cares?  Lots of gay guys marry women that they're not in love with and not attracted to in any way, to get all of the rewards that come with heterosexual identity (like being able to mention your partner without awkward silences and assurance that "I don't have a problem with")

Scene 8: Grandson Finn's room.  He's got paintings of African masks, a Ninja master, and a side of beef on his wall: no bikini babes, a good sign.  Grandpa Edwin wants to buy him a birthday present, even though it's nowhere near his birthday, to make up for the ones he missed in prison.  Finn wants a "magic card" for his collection.  

He must mean Magic: The Gathering, a tabletop card game with a sort of heroic fantasy motif.  It has 35 million players, with over 3 billion cards in circulation!

Scene 9: Grandpa Edwin's Girlfriend visits Daughter Paige.  Plot Dump: the Girlfriend is apparently Paige's estranged stepmother (not mother, since they are on a first name basis).  Also, it sounds like she is not interested in Grandpa Edwin, anymore, even though they were smooching in Scene 6.  Is this another person?  No, there's only one blond-haired woman in the main cast.  They just have a very confusing back story.

Scene 10:  Daughter Paige's feet as she slowly gets dressed. She tells the guy she just screwed (maybe Bill, played by Tim Daly) that she's not in love with him.  "But I told Jean about you."  So you're both cheating on your respective heterosexual life partners?  "I don't care.  I can't fall in love with someone who is unavailable."  

Scene 11: Dark Lotus, a comic book and gaming store.  Full of teenage and young adult boys playing -- in the middle of the day?   While they are waiting in line, Grandpa Edwin tries to get Finn to talk about his feelings about his Dad being gone.  Not the right time, Dude.  

"So, which card will make your deck baller?" Grandpa asks. Increase the size of his testicles? "Collected Company: you can put down six mana worth of creatures for only four mana."  Sounds like a good deal.  

Finn only plays the game online, but Grandpa Edwin insists that he wants to watch, so play it at the card store!  

Tony (Collin Lee Turner), a long-haired redhead, not a teenager, is staring intently at Finn -- he looks exactly like he is cruising the boy.  Grandpa Edwin notices and says "That boy needs an ass-whomping."  Wait -- should he ass-whopped because he is cruising a minor, or because he may be gay?  

Scene 12: Neither. Tony just wanted to play the game, and Grandpa Edwin wanted to "ass-whomp him" as in win.  Finn and Tony play by themselves, with Grandpa kibbutzing. 

 Whoops, Finn plays the wrong card and loses!  "Then why did you play it" Grandpa asks.  "I never played it before, and I wanted to see what would happen.  I like to do things that I've never done before."  Well, exchange phone numbers with the guy!

Scene 13: Some stuff with Paige and her boyfriend Mal.

Scene 14: Finn and Grandpa Edwin are driving home, when they are stopped by the police.  Uh-oh, Finn knows enough about driving while black to realize that they are in danger of being killed.  Grandpa Edwin instructs him on how to maximize their chances of survival: keep your hands on the dashboard, look down, do not speak unless spoken to, and say "sir."  The, I mean cop...approaches. The end.  Wow, what a cliffhanger!  But I doubt that two of the three regulars will actually die.

Beefcake:  None.

Heterosexism:  I got really tired of the endless smooching, nose-rubbing, and ear-nibbling.

Gay Characters:  Finn displays no heterosexual interest, and his card game with Tony seems to have a deliberate gay subtext.  But I doubt that he is canonically gay.  Cute as a bug's ear, though.

  I've gone through three episodes on fast-forward, and Finn never expresses any interest in girls, nor does anyone ever ask about an interest in girls.  

Update 2: In the entire series, Finn never expresses any interest in girls, nor does anyone ever ask.

Mar 26, 2023

"What Were We Running From": Murderous Mother, Lesbian Daughter, Elegant Hotels, and Istanbul. What's Not to Like?


There's been nothing new with gay or beefcake potential on Netflix for weeks.  I would cancel the service altogether, but it's the best place to find international tv shows, and who wouldn't want to watch something from Norway, Belgium, Japan, Korea, or Malaysia?  On in this case, Turkey.

What Are We Running from?, a seven-episode tv series, doesn't sound at all promising: a mother and daughter (never named in the episode guide) are living like fugitives in a luxury hotel. However, Perihan Magden, who wrote the original novel, also wrote Ali and Ramazan, about two gay boys, and Two Girls, about two maybe there will be some gay subtexts..... 

Scene 1: A  hotel that doesn't look very luxurious, night.  Teenage Bambi and her Mom are asleep in the same bed, fully clothed. The desk clerk calls to warn that the police are on the way.  Actually, it's a SWAT team of twelve military police with rifles drawn.  They ascend the darkened stairs and enter the room., but the two are gone!

Scene 2: A super-elegant hotel.  Feet exit a taxi.  Teenage Bambi, narrating tells us that they are her (plaid dress, sneakers) and her Mom (high heels, wearing black).  They are at their new hotel, "full of pinned-up souls and an evil crowd."  Ok, this place is elegant!   Mom haughtily orders for the best room in the joint, and pays cash for the first month, then orders all of their clothing -- kept in boxes instead of luggage --to be laundered (not the best way to remain incognito, lady), 

On the way up in the elevator, two old ladies go on and on obsessively about beautiful Bambi is.  But she's dressed like Pippi Longstocking!  Mom glares; Bambi cuddles close to her, embarrassed.  Bambi: "We don't have a house, because we are each other's home.  We have hotels."

Scene 3:  The best room at the hotel, with a balcony overlooking the beach.  Meanwhile, Desk Clerk Oglan (Kaan Altay Koprulu, top left) discusses the weird transaction with his associate.  "Those two didn't act like mother and daughter."  Maybe they're lovers?  "And why don't they have luggage?"  The manager decides to check them out.

Scene 4:  They head to the indoor pool, Mom dressed like Morticia Addams.  Bambi does a double-take at a passing woman.  Lesbian!  Bambi swims while Morticia ---um, I mean Mom -- times her.

Meanwhile, at dinner, the two old ladies are telling their friend about the incredibly beautiful, fantastically gorgeous girl and her Morticia Addams mother.  

Scene 5:
A disco.  Bambi brings drinks through the gyrating crowd, pausing to check out the hot girls, to the darkened beach, where Mom is waiting.  Note: the "pinned-on" souls pretend to feel, but are actually empty inside. Mom warns her against attracting attention.  Your Morticia Addams outfit is more likely to do that, lady.

Left: Birand Tunca, who appears in every episode, but I can't place him.

Scene 6:  The female desk clerk is being interviewed by an unseen person (a cop, no doubt). "They were too different to be mother and daughter. The moment you see them, a million questions pop into your head!"

Cut to Mom and Bambi browsing in an incredible bookstore.  Twelve tiers of books!  The clerk wants to recommend some books, but Mom brusquely shoos her away.  Then she sees a model car and becomes upset.

At the beach, Mom explains that it's just like her Dad's car.  "I hate this car and everyone who drives it!  They're all vicious and arrogant!"  So she smashes it with a rock, burns it, and buries it.  

Scene 7: Night.  They had dinner in their room, and now they're asleep -- in the same bed.  Surely a luxury suite has more than one bedroom.  Morticia goes onto the balcony to smoke and sees a car approach -- just like the model she burned!  She rushes out into the parking lot to confront the driver, but he drives away.  Not her dad?

Back in the hotel lobby, she overhears the manager firiring a staff member because she broke a plate.  Mom glares angrily at him.  Why not intervene?  

Scene 8:  Bambi swimming, while Morticia times her and the male desk clerk complains: "Why are they dressed like that?"  "Easy: to hide their femininity, so they won't get hit on."

On the way through the lobby, Mom sees that car again!  She sends Bambi off to breakfast and rushes out to confront the driver -- but is waylaid by the two "your daughter is so incredibly hot!" old ladies -- and the car is gone!  She overhears the manager saying "Yes, sir." -- is her evil father staying at the hotel?

Meanwhile, Bambi is eating breakfast, when the two old ladies approach with their friend: "You have got to see this girl!  She's so incredibly sexy!  If I was only 60 years younger, I'd be inviting her to Lesbian Pride!"  Mom rescues Bambi; the friend stares: she knows them from somewhere...

Scene 9:  After shopping, Mom and Bambi march through the lobby as the Manager is berating the staff.   He notes that they keep offending guests with their rude behavior.  And why do they never eat in the dining room?  And never allow housekeeping to clean up?

Desk Clerk Oglan and the Bellboy (Daniel Koral) wonder why they go shopping every day, when they brought boxes of clothes with them.  The boxes are about to be delivered now: he rushes up to check them out, but too late.  Wait -- the stuff they brought with them hasn't been delivered yet?  No wonder they have to shop!

Scene 10:  Mom and Bambi arrive with a vanity table for their room.  "Now they're buying furniture?"  the staff gossips. "What else is hidden in there?"  They decide to wait until the room is empty, and then snoop.

Cut to Mom and Bambi putting on makeup and their Morticia Addams and Pippi Longstocking outfits, and heading down to the hotel restaurant. Wait -- their table is in the middle of the room, in full view of everyone!  They are shocked.  After they sit down, Mom calls over the "dumbass" head waiter to berate him, and then pull the tablecloth off the table.  Bambi: "Mom always tries to teach someone a lesson."  Uh-oh, now they'll be back in their room before the staff finishes snooping.

On their way out, the Manager warns Mom that he'll kick her out of the hotel if she continues to act like a jackass.  Mom counters: "Due to the horrible service, we're leaving tonight." Uh-oh, he called Bambi "a freak."  Something terrible is going to happen!

Scene 11:  The Manager calls his driver to bring the car around.  Wait -- he can afford a driver?  Then he goes to his super-elegant room, has a drink, and feeds his fish.  Someone else is in the room...

Cut to Mom washing her hands in the hotel restroom.  Washing the blood off?  The old ladies' friend comes in and recognizes her!  She rushes out to tell her associates.  Plot dump: years ago, Morticia disappeared after her own mother was murdered.

 Mom runs to the room and tells Bambi "It's time!"  They rush down the stairs, pushing the fire alarm so they can escape undetected. They jump into a taxi, head to the bus station, and get on a bus to anywhere.

Then the staff appears to check out the room, in spite of the fire alarm.  It''s completely refurnished like a bizarre living room, with lights, doilies, and dolls.

And forensics arrives at the Manager's room.  He's been stabbed, and his finger cut off and fed to the fish.  The end.

None.  You have to hustle to find male characters.

Gay Characters: I think Bambi is a lesbian, and maybe trans.  A review notes that in the Disney movie, Bambi is a boy, but somehow it has become a girl's name.

Mystery:  If they want to keep from being noticed, why do they dress oddly, behave oddly, and make diva demands?

Will I Keep Watching: Definitely.  I just wish there were more Turkish hunks wandering around.

Update: In Episode 2, a girl asks Bambi to hang out.  Still no heterosexual interest.

"Killer Klowns from Outer Space": Gayer Than You Think

Why have I not seen Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) before? Other than the ridiculous premise, that is.  It's a gay-subtext classic.

We open at a lover's lane, where some of the parked cars are not occupied by boy-girl couples!  There are two guys, and two guys and a girl!

Mike (Grant Cramer) and his girlfriend Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) are parked, but not kissing!

Why have I never heard of Grant Cramer before? I thought I was up on all the 1980s hunks.  It was my decade!

Let's have another look at Grant Cramer before continuing.

An ice cream truck passes by, run by the Lenny and Squiggy-like the Terenzi Brothers, Rich and Paul (Michael Siegel, Peter Licassi):  "We'll give you the stick -- you give it a lick."  Promises, promises.

Mike notes that he knew the boys from high school.  "Whenever you want a good time, you call Rich and Paul.  A night out with those guys is a real adventure." you like hanging out with guys? Is Debbie actually your girlfriend, or a buddy?

Meanwhile, at the sheriff's station, two college boys are brought in for "boozing it up in the park."  One is wearing a New York t-shirt.  They had a bottle of wine.  Were they, like, on a date?

The Sheriff roughs them up, and when Deputy Sheriff Dave intervenes, asks if he's got a"thing" for them.

And we're only 12 minutes into this movie

Deputy Sheriff Dave is played by John Allen Nelson, seen here on Baywatch, but with blond hair.

Ok, I've got to ask, who did the casting for this movie, and why did they hire two super-hunks, when neither actually shows any skin?

On camera, anyway. story.

Mike and Debbie stumble upon an alien spaceship that looks like a circus tent, where  aliens who look like scary clowns attack them with popcorn-guns and a balloon animal that comes to life.

You have to admire the dedication to the premise.

They barely escape, and rush to tell Deputy Dave. He leads them into the station, his arm around....Mike's shoulders.

They take Debbie home and go off to investigate, Mike's hand never far from Dave's shoulder.  Dave appears to be Debbie's ex-boyfriend, and goes into a little spiel about how he still loves her, etc., etc.

Meanwhile the Klown invasion is in full force. They shoot ray guns at people to encase them in cotton candy cocoons, feed them to popcorn-monsters.  They attack a woman in the shower. She's not naked.

Lenny & Squiggy join the battle, using the clown statue on their ice cream truck to distract the Klowns.

They act like a gay couple, too.

Somehow Debbie is cocooned but still alive, so they rush to Klown headquarters to rescue her, Mike's hand on Dave's shoulder  Did those guys only just meet?

Dave sacrifices himself to save the day. The alien spaceship takes off, defeated.  Then Dave appears, unharmed, in a clown car shuttlecraft.   Debbie rushes up to hug him.  Then Mike rushes up, and all three hug.

Fade out to pies in the face.

I count three gay-subtext couples and no heterosexual hijinks except for a brief kiss.  Not even any female nudity.

Producers/writers/directors Charles and Stephen Chiodo, along with a third brother, Edward, are well known animators, graphic artists, make up artists, and puppeteers, with projects as  I Go Pogo, Critters, The Lost Boys, Land of the Lost, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The American Music Awards. This is their only full-length movie: apparently they created some scary clowns and wrote a script to go with them.  Gay subtexts were probably unintentional.

On the other hand, I was unable to find any reference to Charles Chiodo having a wife.  Maybe he's gay.

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