Last year Steven Vasquez’s erotic horror anthology, Eroddity(s), hit DVD, offering a collection that had a lot of penises but was only sporadically successful in storytelling terms. Now he’s back with Angels With Tethered Wings, which is a step up from Eroddity(s) but still suffers from a few of the issues of the earlier release.
Although it tells one complete story, the film is split into three parts. The first chapter shows us what happens before and after part two, introducing us to identical twins Grant and Garret Gleason (both played by Cory Tyndall). Garret is a mean and callous porn producer who’s just received a briefcase containing $200,000 dollars, which he must hand over to the mysterious Carmine. After an argument with his main star, Timothy (Brandon Rife), the twink storms out, with Garret thinking the young man has taken the money with him.
This chapter also jumps in time to later in the story, after Timothy has somehow been severely injured and is being looked after by Grant. However when Garret catches up to them he will do anything to punish Timothy for the crime he believes he’s committed.
Chapter 2 focuses on what happened inbetween, when Timothy meets and falls for the slightly older Jessie (Addison Graham), showing us what led to the accident that crippled the porn star. Then it moves onto the final part, where some zombies show up for revenge, but may also be able to offer some hope.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, when reading that last paragraph, you were wondering how on earth zombies get mixed up in all this. Well, to be honest, you’re likely to be wondering that while watching the film too, as while hinted at in the very beginning of the movie, they do slightly come out of nowhere.
Indeed, the film is marked by some very stark tonal shifts from thriller to comedy to horror to something approaching softcore porn. It’s an odd and not always successful mix, to the point that some viewers will inevitably feel it’s all a bit of a mess – not helped by the fact characters often do things that make little sense, to the point where even they admit they’re not sure why things are happening.
Despite that, I have to admit I rather enjoyed it. The film quickly gets to the point where its shenanigans get so crazy that you’ll either decide to sit back and go with it or roll your eyes and give up. While I did initially think I’d be amongst the latter it managed to win me over thanks to its earnestness, the enthusiasm of all involved and the fact it certainly keeps you interested in finding out what’s going to happen next.
Eroddity(s) was marked by having an awful lot of penises and gay sex. While Angels With Tethered Wings isn’t as copious on that front, you’ll be pleased to hear that most of the cast members appear full frontal at least once, and there are a couple of pretty hot sex scenes. There are also a few rather disturbing ones, involving necrophilia and/or rape, and with the latter it thankfully pulls back from trying to eroticise it in any way.
As with many gay-themed films, the script could have done with quite a lot of tightening and a stronger injection of logic and reasoning (as I seem to quite often say, there’s a tendency for the needs of the plot to drag the characters around, rather than appearing to be the other way around). In fact, I got the impression that if it could have if it could have kept its tongue in its cheek a little more all the way through, it could have gotten away with a lot more than it does.
Likewise some of the acting is pretty ropey, although Addison Graham, who’s best known for his porn work, is a pretty good actor and does a great job in the role of Jessie, while Cory Tyndall is particularly effective when given pure comedy to do.
It’s far from perfect, but Angels With Tethered Wings is oddly entertaining. It would be churlish not to admit that a fairly large part of the appeal is the very good looking young cast and the erotic edge that runs through the film, but that on its own wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully there’s enough of a story that keeps you involved and entertained in between the sexy bits – along with the sort of chutzpah where you become impressed by how silly it objectively ought to be, yet it manages to get away with it. There is a little frustration that it’s tough to escape the sense that with some more thought it could have worked even better, but it’s still surprisingly fun.
Angels With Tethered Wings is currently screening at festivals.
Overall Verdict: Angels With Tethered Wings is certainly an unusual film which swings from comedy to thriller to zombie flick with wild abandon. It’s a brave gambit and not always a successful one, but thanks to enthusiasm and liberal dose of sexiness it’s unexpectedly entertaining.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac