Monday, November 11, 2013

O Fantasma (2000): Unrequited Obsession leads to unspeakable behavior

O Fantasma (2000)
dir: Joao Pedro Rodrigues

The first time I watched this movie, I went to go see it in a movie theater. It was 2000 or 2001, and and it was just coming out.  I had been watching a lot of grindhouse, especially 60s and 70s grindhouse that had terrible lighting, so much grain you'd think you were in a rice bag, and editing that was closer to a butcher knife. When I and a friend went to go see this naughty gay kinky movie out of Europe, we were expecting it to look gritty.  But, it wasn't just gritty, it was dark. So dark, we could barely make out the movie. I dismissed the film straight out, thinking that was what the movie was supposed to look like. I told friends that I couldn't see jack shit, and that it was like looking at somebody who had no idea that you shouldn't film everything at midnight with no lighting.  Some friends retaliated and said I should give it another chance as the movie was not that dark. So, finally I did. And, it was not the same movie.

O Fantasma actually IS the naughty gay kinky movie that I and my friend wanted. It's also a foreign film from Portugal.  And, its a weird throwback movie. O Fantasma is also a movie that, at that point in time, and now, it is controversial because it was a relatively new director making a film with hardcore sex where all of the gays were depicted as being depraved sexaholics, and some with stalking tendencies on straight dudes.

Really, O Fantasma is an allegory about young lust. Sergio is a young, closeted, garbage collector who enjoys secret trysts with dudes. And, he coyly rejects his young female co-worker, towards whom he acts like a literal dog.  He also accuses her of having sex with their boss.  While working, they get tasked to take away garbage from a hot, straight, young biker, Joao, with a sexy motorbike.  Sergio's first fetishistic articles are a pair of torn motorcycle gloves, which he masturbates with. Later, its a pair of torn Speedos.

Still, while Joao rejects Sergio, Sergio pines for Joao like a lost puppy. He stalks him to the local pool, where he licks the shower walls after Joao takes a shower. And, he stalks him at his house, and walking around. Sergio won't let up. And, he also has more and more sex with anonymous strangers, starting with a cop who was found handcuffed in the back of his cop car.  By the end of O Fantasma, Sergio dresses up in a rubber fetish suit (complete with butt zipper), kidnaps Joao, and shoves him, tied up, out of a second story window.  Then he leaves Joao tied up, and goes to live the life of a junkyard dog, eating scraps, and drinking pond water.  His final acts are taking a shit in a shed before walking off into the sunrise.

No, I'm not kidding.

On the surface, O Fantasma is purely about how depraved us damned faggots really are, amirite?  I mean, on the whim of an unrequited crush, we'll kidnap dudes, jump into rubber suits, and become sexually depraved junkyard dogs, ready to get fucked by whomever is out there.  So sick!

But, what I hope Rodrigues is doing is making a kinky hypersexualized (complete with full on male-male oral sex) metaphor for the struggles people have with unrequited crushes, and how crazy they make us.  Straight guys have them all the time too. Unless there is outright rejection, straight guys call it the Friend Zone. And, it drives some men crazy. But, this isn't the friend zone, at all.  This is pure unadulterated one-sided crushing. Joao outright rejects Sergio, driving Sergio mad as he jerks off into the speedo.

And, really, the movie just goes overboard. Yeah, I'm sure that panty sniffing is semi-accepted as a hetero trait that, while not exactly endearing to some, is a semi-common fetish. And, the Speedo and gloves are akin to that. But, the whole kidnapping thing, and drinking dirty puddle water makes the movie go from dark and arty to HILARIOUS.  It's like, really?  What are you even trying to say? And, then there's the rabbit...and it all goes to camp. I mean, the licking the shower was weird, but it was at least representative of the obsession.  But, this image?  This is what comes out from some guys' unrequited crush on a straight dude?  Am I sure this isn't some lost Troma ending?

Still, it's never boring, its entertaining, it's actually kinky and erotic when it is on task. And, when it goes overboard, its still not boring. And, really, isn't that what you want from a gay kinky rubber sex movie from Portugal?

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