Thursday, January 30, 2014

Killer Condom (1996): Gay Horror coming out of the closet

Killer Condom (1996)
dir: Martin Walz

In 1996, gay cinema was finally starting to come into the mainstream, having been led by the 1-2 drag punch of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Finally, emboldened by the success of these 2 drag movies, queer cinema was making its way out of the art house and into the world of the genre.

In America, we saw the release of Bound, and The Birdcage. And, in Germany, Martin Walz made the first gay horror comedy satire that also had origins in comic books, Killer Condom. Based off the comic book of the same title by Ralf Konig, Killer Condom sent up cop movie tropes and horror tropes in a manner not much seen outside of Grindhouses. That it was also a satire of American politics and moralities made it that much more delectable.

Killer Condom is actually a misnomer. The actual title is Kondom des Grauens of Condom of Horrors. The titular condom never kills anybody. It just bites off their cocks. And, the movie delivers on condom violence in the first scene, when a college professor is forcing a student to have sex in the seedy Hotel Quickie, when the condom he puts on bites off his johnson.

Turns out, there was a plague of johnson removal in the Hotel Quickie that night, with four guys getting their penii removed, mostly in front of prostitutes. Detective Mackeroni, a Sicilian gay man played by Udo Samel, a German edition of Bob Hoskins, is on the case as he's a frequent customer at Hotel Quickie, having a predilection for young rent boys. And, while investigating, he picks up a new conquest, Billy...and also has an encounter with the Killer Condom who bites off his right nut while going after his 12+" pecker.

What follows is a send up of every hardboiled cop cliche. Mackeroni can't convince his boss that this is actually all being done by a condom. The boss yells and screams at him. His partner is a mismatched tall, lanky, straight homophobe. Mackeroni has to deal with an old flame, Babette (formerly Bob), who is a drag queen that used to be a cop. Mackeroni also has the new romance with Billy to come to terms with since he has walled off his emotions due to the hard life of New York City. There's even a visiting politician, Dick McGovern, who is a hard right-wing conservative who has flings on his travels, and who loses his dick from a condom that uses a rubber ducky as a diving board.

Then there's the condom itself. A cute white condom that giggles, squeaks, and makes all sorts of adorably humorous sounds, until it turns into a tube with teeth and becomes a grotesque throat of violence. I would be neglect if I didn't mention that H.R. Giger was the Creative Consultant for the film. Yes, that H.R. Giger. Which makes the film kind of beautifully seedy.

What really sets this movie apart from it's usual horror movie is that the morality it espouses is the opposite of the usual horror movie conservative bent. Yes, gays and hookers are punished in the course of the movie, but those punishments are always seen as wrong. By the end, Killer Condom has a pro-gay, sex positive message in the form of a finale sermon. Not only that, it sets itself up against the Religious Right which had been given a voice by the Republicans since the 1980s. Truly, this is a movie that is intended to piss off the homophobes.

Sure, some of the jokes are well-worn, with a setup that recalls the satirical intentions of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Some of the humor also comes from insider gay knowledge, as in an amazing use of the Hanky Code that heterosexuals may not understand the set up for. And, at 107 minutes it is a bit long in the tooth, even though it's always doing something interesting throughout the course of those 107 minutes. But, gay horror movies have rarely been this much campy fun. And, really, when was the last time you saw a horror movie about condoms that had 2 distinct Hitchcock references, and a scene that was like a more real life scene from Cruising. Fortunately, stateside, Troma was able to see that Killer Condom was actually releasable, and they still have it available.

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