Judge Eric Profancik deplores the trend toward bland, generic movie titles.
"Have you heard the Queen's dead? She died last night, poor bitch."—Jeff
There's really only one reason I was even slightly interested in seeing this film: the title. When you see it, the title makes you wonder what the film is going to be all about—besides the obvious, that is. You begin to conjure up images of a dark comedy, one that should be preposterous. Nine dead guys in one movie? Nine dead gay guys to boot? This could be quite interesting.
Interestingly enough, writer and director Lab Ky Mo (and what a name that is!) made this movie based on a title idea that popped into his head: "Five Dead Gay Guys." This movie, including the four additional dead gay men, only exists because he thought it was a great, funny title. I have to admit that I've done the same thing: I get one sliver of an idea or a title and try to write from it. For the most part, I've been unsuccessful in working from that point. I wonder if Lab had any more success on his end.
Facts of the Case
Byron, a fine Irish lad, has been living in London for a few months now. One day, his best mate Kenny shows up and surprises him by saying he's moving to the city; after all, the streets there are paved with gold. It turns out that Byron is a big liar, who's down on his luck because he drinks too much and is a lazy sod. Much to Kenny's dismay, Byron frequents a local gay club to make a little extra cash.
At the Elephant's Graveyard, Byron has made the acquaintance of Jeff (Steven Berkoff, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey), an effeminate older man; and in return for a few quid, Byron gives Jeff a little oral pleasure. Completely dumbfounded, Kenny asks Byron if he's gay, but Byron says no, it's only a job.
As the evening progresses, Byron and Kenny learn that the famous Queen (Michael Praed, Dynasty) was killed last night with a class five offensive weapon: a cattle prod. It turns out the Queen, not the royal monarch, was "seeing" Golders Green, a very discreet and private Orthodox rabbi. Rumor has it that Golders Green paid the Queen for their encounters and that Green's enormous bed is stuffed with an enormous amount of money.
Now Byron and Kenny, being lazy and broke, begin a quest to find out where Golders Green lives. They want to find his flat and his enormous bed and rob him of every cent hidden within. Along the way, they meet an eclectic array of homosexual individuals at the Elephant's Graveyard and Margaret's Bar: Donkey-D**k Dark (Vas Blackwood, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), D**k Cheese Deepak, the Desperate Dwarf, the three West African Brothers, Father Ted, UFO (Ugly Fat Oldie), and the Iron Lady.
Over the course of Byron and Kenny's quest, eight more gays will be killed, and it all stems from the bread in Green's bed. Will Byron and Kenny find the money, or is it a myth? Is Byron gay? Is Kenny gay? Will Byron and/or Kenny be one of the nine dead gay guys?
Writer-director Lab Ky Mo purports to be straight and claims that everything in this film came from extensive research over a couple of years. Well, from what I can tell, he did a good job in "researching" everything from the true to the clichéd. I'm straight, but I've had many gay friends over the years, so I am quite familiar with the lifestyle—in fact, I almost got in trouble at work once for being "caught" in a gay bar—yet I don't know it all. Applying what I know to what I've seen in 9 Dead Gay Guys, I'm not sure if I should be amused or offended.
The movie walks a fine line in skewering the homosexual lifestyle. I'm pretty sure it's all meant in jest, yet a lot of the jokes are stale clichés and outright insults against men who like men. 9 Dead Gay Guys could almost be used as a reference source for all things gay: the straight gay, the femme gay, the size queen, the slut, the troll, the whore, the peeing peek, the swish, the back room, the breeders, and so forth. As a mere bystander myself, I'm not offended by the movie, but I've seen others who have been. But that's the individual nature of humor: What some consider the greatest thing since sliced bread is, for others, something that must be quashed.
But if we look at the movie itself, we need to see if it's any good. It isn't. Though it's been called a melding of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, I think it's nothing of the sort. While those styles have been copied, the substance isn't there. The whole plot, which, as I mentioned, is based on the idea of a title, is as light as a feather on the verge of being blown away by a flitting fairy. It's just two lazy blokes, learning about their sexuality and trying to score some hidden cash. In the course of about eighty minutes, you get little plot enhancement, scarcely any character development, far-fetched coincidences, and nine dead gay guys.
Now, as lacking as the movie is, it really isn't a total waste of time. The odd title did give way to a few good performances, a couple of cute moments, and an overall briskly paced film. Maybe it was the fact that nine gay guys end up dead in very odd fashion, but the film didn't drag (which is actually the one person missing from the repertoire!). Although I wasn't completely drawn into the tale, I wasn't bored either. It was a semi-pleasant way to spend an hour and a half. Still, this film is for a mature audience…a mature gay audience. Even though there's no gratuitous nudity or homosexual behavior (aside from the occasional moment of oral pleasure), not many in the straight realm would be interested in this tale.
The disc contains yet another in a long line of average transfers. Video is a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with a very subdued, dark palette. There's a bit too much grain throughout, but it's more noticeable during the first act. Audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that fluctuates slightly during the first fifteen minutes—I found I had to turn up my volume several times—but still has clear dialogue, once you adjust to the accents. Surprisingly, the DVD isn't bare bones, as there are a handful of trailers (of films unknown) and a pretty good commentary track by Lab. He's a solid speaker, giving you a lot of information on the film; but he did repeat the same things quite often throughout the piece.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
One thing I really enjoyed in 9 Dead Gay Guys was the choice of music. There was an amusing mix of classical and oldies in the film. It was a fun juxtaposition, not to mention just some great music—like Fats Domino's "I Found My Thrill (On Blueberry Hill)." Additionally, some characters were given musical motifs—Jeff's was Beethoven's seventh symphony—that added a nice little flair to the film.
The other item that really worked was the character of the Desperate Dwarf. I've never seen another character quite like this little fellow. And, to me, the actor looked liked Matt Damon, which was somewhat disconcerting when the chap was running around with no pants on!
9 Dead Gay Guys just misses the mark when it comes to being a dark comedy. Instead, it's just a touch too judgmental and harsh toward the gay community, belittling it and not satirizing it. As I said, it's not a complete loss, and I'm sure that some will find it flat-out funny and right on the mark. I'm not going to recommend the disc for purchase because of this, the muddy transfers, and the light helping of bonus items. As for a rental, I think you can wait on that one, for those who are interested can probably catch it on Logo next year.
9 Dead Gay Guys is hereby found guilty of fifth-degree assault on the homosexual community. It is ordered to ninety hours of community service at the Vic Grassi House.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
• Audio Commentary with Director Lab Ky Mo
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