The Laramie Project (2001)
An intriguing film tha’st surprisingly moving, The Laramie Project is as interesting for its genesis as for the film itself. Following the homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, members of Tectonic Theatre Project went to the town and interviewed the locals, including those who knew Matthew, and then created a play based on those interviews along with their experience of going to the town to gather them. After a successful run on stage, it was then filmed, becoming part recreation of the events following the murder and partly about the effect on the town. It’s a fascinating little film, with a cast including Laura Linney, Peter Fonda, Clea DuVall, Steve Buscemi, Christina Ricci, Janeane Garofalo, Joshua Jackson and Ben Foster.
Third Man Out (2005)
One of the problems with gay characters is that in film it’s generally seen that there has to be a reason for them to be gay. If the lead in a film is queer but it’s largely irrelevant to the plot, a lot of the audience will wonder why they bothered to make the character gay – even though technically it shouldn’t matter. However in Third Man Out and its sequel, Shock To the System, they do just that, with out actor Chad Allen playing gay detective Donald Strachey, who investigates crime and murder in full-on thriller fashion. Although the plots of both films touch on the gay community, in most respects the character’s sexuality is incidental to the action, which makes it a refreshing change. After all, how many other detective movies can you think of that have a gay lead character?
Although its claim to be the first gay horror flick may be debatable, it’s certainly difficult to think of many other slasher films that are so deliberately designed for a gay audience (the abysmal Gay Bed And Breakfast Of Terror notwithstanding). It’s Halloween in LA’s West Hollywood district, and when a group of gay friends head off to the evening’s festivities, they get targeted by an unhinged maniac, who likes nothing better than murdering a bit of man meat. It is all admittedly a bit silly, but Hellbent certainly deserves kudos for trying something different, and not making the whole thing too tongue in cheek and camp (although it is a little bit).
Queer Duck: The Movie (2006)
Queer Duck, which started as a series of animated internet skits by Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, ended up as the world’s first animated gay TV series when it moved to television in 2002. Then, in 2006, it got its own movie – which was, yes, the first animated feature-length gay film. It follows the adventures of Adam Duckstein, an anthropomorphic duck who works as a nurse, and his friends, including Openly Gator, BiPolar Bear and Oscar Wildcat, with the movie focussing on Queer Duck wondering whether he’d be happier if he was straight.
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