Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

Mackenize Davis and Natalie Reyes

What if you made a sublime sequel and nobody came?  That seems to be the problem facing two new films this month: Terminator: Dark Fate and Doctor Sleep.  While I haven’t seen the latter, it’s gotten rave reviews—but underperformed at the box office this past weekend.  So did Dark Fate, which I can say unequivocally deserves to be a massive hit.

Linda Hamilton

Maybe it’s franchise fatigue.  There have been three sequels since 1991’s revolutionary Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a blockbuster sci-fi action extravaganza that made Linda Hamilton (waitress turned survivalist resistance leader Sarah Connor) a butch lesbian icon.  They’ve all been pretty meh, especially 2015’s mythology busting Terminator Genisys, which lamely swapped in Emilia Clarke for Hamilton and featured an evil cyborg John Connor (Jason Clarke), or something.  But Dark Fate distinguishes itself by bringing back original director James Cameron as a producer and Hamilton as star, while wisely ignoring everything after T2.  Essentially, it pulls a Halloween (2018): hello creators, goodbye years of convoluted mythology.

Gabriel Luna

Despite Cameron’s above-the-title billing, this movie really belongs to director Tim Miller (Deadpool), and he does an outstanding job.  The action sequences are at the same thrilling level as the first two films; if I occasionally lost track of the combatants as they chased and fought over highways and through manufacturing plants and government facilities, that’s a very minor quibble with a sensationally entertaining package.  Once again a hero and a villain face off as the fate of a future savior hangs in the balance.  This time, Mackenzie Davis’ cyborg Grace must save Dani (Natalia Reyes) from the relentless Terminator (Gabriel Luna, who’d be sexy if he weren’t so scary).  Into this fray steps Sarah (Hamilton), who’s developed a hilariously cynical sense of humor but is just as much a force to be reckoned with at age 64—I think of her as “Action Grandma.”  (According to a recent Queerty interview, the actress reminds many gay men of their own fiercely protective mothers.)  Eventually, our heroes ally themselves with a T-800 played, of course, by original franchise star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once again puts his stoic affect to comic use.

Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger

A number of factors make this a superior sequel.  It makes use of the series’ well-worn formulas while giving them enough twists to stand on its own.  At one point, Arnold picks up a pair of the same sunglasses he rocked in the original films before putting them back down, a knowing wink at the audience’s expectations.  The cast is uniformly good: Davis is utterly compelling as the androgynous Grace, and Reyes believably embodies Dani’s arc from innocent bystander to battle-ready warrior.  Hamilton, though, walks away with the film.  She’s so terrific, and displays such range, that I truly hope this movie leads to a career renaissance for her.  As iconic as she was in The Terminator and T2, I don’t know that I truly realized just what a great actor she was until this film.  The special effects, meanwhile, are predictably top notch, especially when the new cyborg and Terminator are involved.

Terminator: Dark Fate also has some intriguing socially relevant touches.  Whether purposeful or not, Grace has a gender fluid quality that might connect with non-binary audiences—for instance, in two separate scenes she chooses men’s clothes over women’s.  It could be coincidence, but Miller’s last film Deadpool 2 certainly suggests he’s comfortable with queerness.  There’s also a stretch of the film detailing the characters’ tortured journey across the Mexican border, ending in a detention center—when Grace asks a guard where “the new prisoners are taken” she insists that they refer to them as “detainees.”  It’s a timely plot element that isn’t overly didactic or preachy, and grounds the film as firmly in the twenty first century as T2 was in the 1990s.

Ultimately, this is a funny, exhilarating entry that rewards longtime fans.  Regardless of the box office, time will be kind to it, and if this is the end of the line for Cameron’s creation, it’s a satisfying finale.

The Okay Witch Is More Than Okay

The Okay Witch is a recently released YA graphic novel, written and drawn by Emma Steinkellner, published by Simon and Schuster’s Aladdin imprint. Steinkellner, who previously illustrated the Eisner-nominated Quince series, makes her graphic novel writing debut in this coming-of-age story about Moth Hush, a serially bullied thirteen year old girl from the town of Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts. It may seem easy to overlook one more young adult comic about witches, but it would be a mistake to compare this book to any of its superficially similar contemporaries. What The Okay Witch truly excels at is showing off the enormous scope of stories and subject matter at home in the coming-of-age fantasy genre.

This book is far from the first piece of fiction rooted in early American witch hunts. A common problem with these stories is that they can sometimes seem to play into the narrative of witch hunts as legitimate criminal trials rather than absurd, state-sanctioned torture by suggesting that real witches were actually involved. This book manages to subvert this issue by calling out the inherent misogyny of these hunts, and exploring as a major theme, the deliberate erasure of history as a way to control marginalized communities and embolden those already in power. Where this intersects with racism heavily influences the entire narrative. Our protagonist, Moth, is a mixed race teenager who has never known her father, and whose mother’s side of the family is an utter mystery. Moth suffers from accusatory, racially tinged questions like, “Where are you from,” despite her family having roots in the very founding of her town. The witches themselves also reflect the problems of white feminism failing to center the voices of women most particularly targeted by patriarchal violence. The leadership of a black woman is questioned by the other witches again and again throughout the story. “Many were already uneasy with her leading them, and fear and doubt were making it worse.” And while LGBTQ themes are not as significantly apparent as themes of race, a declaration of love between two young men in the fifties is delightfully queernormative in a way that reinforces the book’s ideas about erasure and representation.

Beyond the storytelling, the craft of the book is superb. The art is whimsical and joyful, each character’s design is unique, memorable, and instantly recognizable. The colors express a range of moods, and highlight the difference between present day, flashbacks, and other worlds brilliantly. The lettering is especially impressive. While some pages are very dialogue heavy, they read well, never slowing down or distracting from the art. Given that Steinkellner is the only person credited in the book, it seems safe to assume she handled each of these duties, which is an honest-to-goodness triumph. YA graphic novels continue to explode into the market, and with titles like Raina Telgemeier’s Guts and Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls showing up on the American bestseller list for books overall (not comics or kids books mind you, but books), it seems readers can’t get enough. My recommendation is this, you won’t find a better read for the fall season than The Okay Witch. And if you’ve already checked out Witch Boy, or Mooncakes, or Witchy and feel like you can skip this one, I assure you that all these wonderful titles have different things to offer, and this is just one more that definitely deserves your attention.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: GLAAD Your TV’s Queer

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s super-sized episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by J.W. Crump as they discuss the new trailer for Universal’s Invisible Man, the trailer for Netflix’s new anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, and celebrate GLAAD’s latest report on LGBTQ+ representation on TV in This Week in Queer.

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BIG OPENING

KEVIN: Crisis on Infinite Earths is getting an aftershow, plus new teaser
J.W.: New trailer for Universal’s Invisible Man

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DOWN AND NERDY

KEVIN: Doctor Sleep, His Dark Materials, Watchmen
J.W.: All Rise, BoJack Horseman, Seth Meyers Special

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STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER

New trailer for Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings anthology series

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THIS WEEK IN QUEER

GLAAD report shows growth in representation

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CLIP OF THE WEEK

New trailer for Servant coming to AppleTV+

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THE WEEK IN GEEK

MOVIES

The Sanderson Sisters are officially a go for Hocus Pocus sequel
New teaser trailer for Pixar’s Soul
• New trailer for Wendy
• First look at Scoob
• Joker beats out The Mask as most “profitable” comic movie
• New trailer for Color Out of Space
• Scream 5 is in development
• Disney+ series Loki to tie directly to Dr. Strange sequel

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TV

• Kung Fu reboot with female lead in development at CW
Arrow features an overdue “coming out”
• HBO unscripted series We’re Here follows small town drag makeovers
• Marvel’s Moon Knight and She-Hulk get head writers
• Sens8’s Brian J. Smith comes out

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VIDEO GAMES

Overwatch director explains why the first black female character will be in sequel
• Protestors demonstrated outside of BlizzCon last weekend

A letter from the President

Now that the holiday season is almost here, I find myself thinking about everything Geeks OUT has accomplished this year. We attended conventions across the country almost every month – connecting with LGBTQ communities from Boston to Seattle and Chicago to San Antonio. We’ve continued to celebrate the work of diverse creators through our partnership with PAX’s Diversity Lounge and Pride Alley at Awesome Con. And, of course, you all joined us for a fifth year at Flame Con – our biggest and most successful one yet!

2019 has been a year full of growth and learning.

When Geeks OUT started 9 years ago, the goal of our small group was to bring a positive queer presence to a booth and a panel at New York Comic Con. And now, as the organization enters its tweenage years, I’m so thrilled to be joined by dozens of folks shaping that vision on a much larger scale. From the vendors, panelists and performers who share their talents, to the pink-caped volunteers who keep the show running smoothly, to the nearly 7,000 attendees who fill the venue that weekend, Flame Con represents the best of what our passionate and dedicated community can do. For me, it’s chosen family in action!

And, like any proud family member, I am excited to announce that our family is growing. This fall, we welcomed Maya Bishop and Michelle Rose Micor to the Geeks OUT Board. Maya has volunteered with us for the last two years, bringing an incredible focus to accessibility at Flame Con in her previous role as Programming Coordinator. We are all looking forward to building an even more inclusive event with her in her new role as Flame Con Chair. Michelle has also been a Coordinator with us for the last three years. She brings an enthusiastic spirit and media savviness into her new role as Marketing & Communications Co-Chair – talents we know will help us champion voices in queer fandom.

Of course, change also means saying good-bye. Geeks OUT Co-Founder, Joey Stern is departing this year. His work was integral to the early years of the organization and both Geeks OUT and Flame Con will be very different without him.

So, as I think about what’s ahead, I remain thankful for all the people making our success possible – including you!

Thank you and see you in 2020!

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival: Spiral review

Spiral is the quintessential film I wanted to like more than I actually did.  I was excited to review a queer horror film, especially one specifically addressing homophobia in the 1990s.  Alas, Spiral’s reach winds up exceeding its grasp.

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman

In director Kurtis David Harder’s film, a gay couple with a teenage daughter move to a small town—and Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) soon suspects something is amiss.  Are the neighbors part of some bizarre cult?  Did the lesbian family who lived in the house previously suffer a horrible fate?  Or is Malik—still traumatized from a hate crime years earlier– just suffering from a delusion?

Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL) is the best part of the movie.  He gives an arresting performance and is believable, endearing, and sexy as a gay man trying to find his footing in a relationship with an older man and as a step parent.  As his partner Aaron, Ari Cohen essentially plays the standard disbelieving husband role we’ve seen in countless horror films, but for the most part he avoids coming off as unsympathetic (he’s a cute daddy, too).  Jennifer Laporte is the other cast stand out as daughter Kayla, whose angst never rings false. Lochlyn Munro (Betty’s slimy dad on Riverdale) is effortlessly slimy here as the suspicious neighbor.

 The set-up is tight, with the film seemingly aspiring to be a gay take on Rosemary’s Baby and/or Get Out.  Intriguing threads are set up: Malik realizes the documentary he’s editing is about a conversion therapy advocate; the grieving man from next door seems like he might be interested in Malik; blackmail photos appear to threaten his relationship with Aaron.  But the shift to overtly supernatural content feels jarring and a little silly, and those three threads never really pay off.  By the time the end game is revealed, Spiral has trampled over the goodwill it earned during its first hour.  The tone is a problem, too; the premise is fairly ludicrous, but the movie wants to be deadly serious.  If it had leaned into the campiness a bit, it might have been an enjoyably pulpy allegorical thriller.  Instead, the movie comes off as pretentious, with its statement on the shared struggles of different marginalized groups landing with all the subtlety of a cartoon anvil.  (A quote lifted from Harvey Milk feels almost blasphemous.) What’s more, the audience’s investment in Malik and his family is betrayed rather callously by the narrative.  Ultimately, Spiral is a misfire, though I’d love to see Bowyer-Chapman in bigger and better things. 

The Geeks OUT Podcast: HBO Max-imum Derek

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s super-sized episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Tea Berry-Blue as they review all the new details announced for HBO Max, what The Good Place can teach us about teaching others, sweat over Henry Cavill in the new trailer for The Witcher, and discuss Delta censoring queer content in movies in This Week in Queer.

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BIG OPENING

KEVIN: Details for HBO Max released, including two new series based on Green Lantern & Strange Adventures
TEA: New Gender inclusive emoji release is a step forward, but not as inclusive

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DOWN AND NERDY

KEVIN: Terminator: Dark Fate, Eli, BoJack Horseman, Luigi’s Mansion 3
TEA: Jojo Rabbit, The Good Place, Godzilla movies

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STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER

HBO Max orders DC Super Hero High from Elizabeth Banks

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THIS WEEK IN QUEER

Delta called out for censoring queer movies

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CLIP OF THE WEEK

New trailer for The Witcher

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THE WEEK IN GEEK

MOVIES

New trailer for reboot to The Grudge
Game of Thrones showrunners step away from Star Wars
• Final trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level
• Marvel announces Ant-Man 3
• Release date for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel
• First look at Halloween Kills
• Avatar coming to Disney+
• Playstation Vue is shutting down

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TV

• HBO orders Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, while passing on another starring Naomi Watts
• CW developing a Superman & Lois series
• New teaser for Amazon Prime series Hunters
• New trailer for Work in Progress co-written by Lilly Wachowski
• New trailer for season 3 of The Dragon Prince
Pennyworth renewed for season 2
• New trailer for The Mandalorian
• New trailer for BBC’s limited series Dracula
• Launch of Apple TV+ and reviews are in

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COMIC BOOKS

DC teases new official timeline
• Marvel is bringing back Giant Size X-Men

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SJHILF

• KEVIN: Turnstyle Jumpers
• TEA: The former staff of Deadspin

On Being the (Second) Drag Queen in the Marvel Universe

My Interview with Actor Terrence Clowe

Photo courtesy of terrenceclowe.com

Earlier this month, Marvel announced it will be expanding its podcast offerings to include several scripted programs and nonfiction shows. This makes sense, given the success they’ve had with their Wolverine podcast, which won the Webby Award for Best Original Music/Sound Design and the iHeartRadio Award for Best Scripted Podcast. Wolverine: The Long Night ran from September to November in 2018. The second season, The Lost Trail, premiered in March, with weekly episodes from July to September 2019.

The Lost Trail’s third episode, “The Cold Blooded,” contained a nice surprise for LGBTQ X-Fans. It introduced the character of Flamingeaux, a drag queen compatriot of Logan whose as good with a gun as a one-liner. Joking about him being grumpy and calling the titular mutant “Lo-Lo,” Flamingeaux proves to be a resourceful ally in the fight for mutant freedom with hints of a rich backstory.

Actor Terrence Clowe performed the voice of Flamingeaux, and, though he only appears for a few minutes, he leaves a distinct impression, and not just lipstick smears on “Lo-Lo”’s cheek. I contacted Mr. Clowe via email to see if he’d like to share more about the role, Flamingeaux’s place in the wider Marvel Universe, and what it’s like to be the (second) drag queen in the X-Men canon.

How did this role come to your attention? What was the audition process like? Was there anything in particular that attracted you to the role?

I initially received the audition through my manager. It was a bit daunting at first as they requested me to record two scenes and to prepare a song in the style of the character.

The character description was as follows: A drag singer who performs in the French Quarter of NOLA. In another life, he was a private security guard in a conflict zone abroad. But he left that behind. Now he’s a beloved performer who fashions himself as an advocate for oppressed people of all stripes. Fiercely loyal to his friends. Singing ability a plus.

So you see, I had no idea it was for Wolverine!

Having a background in musical theatre, I was up for the challenge and excited to audition for my first podcast. I had heard that podcasts in general were becoming more popular, but unless you are submitted through your representation and granted an audition it is pretty impossible to get in and be considered for roles. So, just getting an audition, I felt like I scored! LOL

I chose It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls as my song which I sang (down a few octaves) and envisioned myself performing in my favorite Drag Bar, the now-defunct Xes Lounge. I have to admit, recording it with my voice over coach was a ton of fun. The monologue resonated with me on a personal level, especially in light of our current political climate where so much division is being promoted and accepted. I found it moving and poignant. It was key to create these imaginary relationships and experiences through improvisation on my own so that once it came to recording there was a clear understanding of the text. Guess it worked out alright!

How similar and different was it to auditioning for a tv or film role? What was the recording process like?

In general, I prepared the same as I would auditioning for any role in any medium. Although it is voice over, having to define the wants and needs of the character were the same. I study with a fantastic coach, Anthony Abeson, who is big on identifying references to the past and character relationships so I put that to work. The recording process was thrilling. In most of the VO work I’ve done, I was confined to the recording booth and movement was impossible as you were hooked up to headphones in front of a microphone. Here, we were in a large booth were we were blocked and choreographed. It was so cool. During the fighting scenes I was literally hurling myself on the floor. During Flamingeaux’s on-stage performance, I was actually moving and dancing, and I entered my dressing room to meet Wolverine tossing a pair of high heels to the floor as I spoke of “getting out these heels.” I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Are you a fan of the X-Men or Marvel movies? Did you do any research to prepare for the role, like read any comics or watch any movies? Did you do any research into drag, New Orleans, or espionage?

Yes! The recent Black Panther movie is my favorite to date. Once I found out the project was Wolverine, I did some online research into the character and watched Hugh Jackman do his thing. I must admit I got distracted by his beauty most of the time. LOL My husband is also a huge fan so we generally go and see the new Marvel movies as they are released.

Hugh Jackman in Logan

I have dabbled in drag for different roles. Most recently for a TV movie titled Eye for an Eye starring Lew Temple from The Walking Dead. The release date hasn’t been set. I also love RuPaul. I remember seeing him perform at a club in the East Village back in the 90’s when I was at NYU called The World and thought he was so magnetic. I envisioned Flamingeaux having a bit of his flair onstage.

Wolverine has been depicted in a same-sex relationship in the past, though this was dismissed as having been in an alternate universe. Do you think it’s a possibility that Flamingeaux and Wolverine would be a couple? Did you intend to imply that? Or is this just wishful thinking on my part?

Hmmmm…it’s fun to think of a relationship as a possibility, but I felt they were only extremely close friends. I envisioned a situation where Wolverine had Flamingeaux’s back early on as he perhaps came out while on security detail and encountered homophobia. This created a bond that led to an undeniable trust where we now see Wolverine seeking his help and Flamingeaux willing to fight on his behalf.

Richard Armitage voices Wolverine in Wolverine: The Lost Trail. Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

I was disappointed Flamingeaux didn’t appear again for the rest of The Lost Trail. Do you think we’ll see or hear Flamingeaux again? Would you return to the role, maybe in a tv show? Would you like to see the character depicted in a comic?

There was talk of it happening, which is one of the reasons he didn’t die during the confrontation [with Weapon X later in the episode]. I would love to see him in one of the franchises on screen, and YES I would certainly be available! I think it would be cool to see him have a life in the comics as well. He is such an interesting character with a luscious background, but I think ultimately seeing him again would be up to the fans.

Earlier this year, Sina Grace introduced the character of Darkveil in Iceman, vol. 4 #4, “seemingly Marvel’s first drag queen superhero,” according to the Marvel fandom wiki. Had you heard of this character? While there’s obviously plenty of room for two drag queens in the Marvel Universe (and hopefully many more in the future), do you have any concerns that people might consider her too similar to Flamingeaux or vice versa? Why or why not?

Frankly, I was not familiar with Darkveil. I personally think the more LGBTQ representation there is the better. Seeing these characters that are comfortable in their own skin kicking ass is amazing. I say the more the merrier. The commonality between the two of course is drag but I think fans will be able to clearly distinguish the two because their personalities and backgrounds are so unique.

Darkveil. Artwork by Sina Grace

Where can we see/hear you next?

Thank you for asking! I am in my first Christmas movie, A Christmas Movie Christmas premiering on October 27th on UPtv, Dish188, Direct TV338 7pm Eastern and 4pm Pacific. I play the role of Mr. Peterson and Scrooge in an endearing story of a woman who loves Christmas movies and gets magically transported into one.

Wolverine: The Lost Trail is currently available on Stitcher.

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival: Slayed! Review

“Bathroom Troll”

This year marks the second year for Slayed! LGBTQ Horror Shorts at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.  This co-presentation with NYC’s queer NewFest film festival continues to offer an eclectic and interesting selection, even if a couple of entries fell a little flat.

In “Jeremiah,” a young Asian man with a crush on his football teammate is troubled by visions of a folk tale monster he grew up dreading.  The eerie cinematography and locations are top notch, as are the young actors playing the boys; they have a believable chemistry.  The Hitchcockian score also adds a sense of dread.  But the short left me wanting more information on the monster and the storyline—it may be intended as a pitch for a feature length film.

In the Spanish language “Estigma,” my favorite of the program, two young men start to get it on—but a freakish insect interrupts their liaison.  I’ve long remarked that some of the best horror exaggerates real life fears, and this short dramatizes the anxiety experienced by HIV positive men quite well.  The makeup and practical effects really help sell the film, and the two leads are authentic and sexy.

“The Original”

The black-and-white “The Original” concerns a lesbian couple and has an intriguing premise: a specialized surgery can transfer the ailing partner’s mind into a healthy new body.  But although the piece is emotional, creepy, and at times darkly humorous, the ending didn’t quite land for me.  I was left with a lot of questions; maybe this, too, is a stealth feature film proposal.

“Penance”

My two least favorite shorts, though very different, both come off as one-note gags that barely justify their extremely brief runtimes.  “Penance” is a smug, heavy handed take that! to the Catholic Church’s homophobia.  It’s a deserving target—I say that as a former Catholic myself—but the gruesome perversion of communion doesn’t really go far enough to be truly satisfying.  It abruptly ends before it can justify its own existence.  Meanwhile, the bizarre “Docking” was somehow selected by the Sundance Film Festival; I can only assume somebody wanted to be cool and subversive by picking it.  It’s nothing but a dirty visual joke with giant erect penises subbing in for Star Wars spaceships.  I’m no prude, but this just felt like a waste of time, effort, and money.

“Bathroom Troll” is a candy colored satire that, while not as clever or as much of a statement as it thinks it is, is nothing less well-executed and quite fun.  The crowd-pleasing Carrie takeoff has “Cassie,” an androgynous teen, getting tormented in the bathroom by mean girls and then roped into a plot by her religious zealot mother.  The twist is that, unlike Carrie’s mom, Cassie’s is a Satanist, and the pair conjure up a demon to enact vengeance.  The demon is entertainingly campy/vicious in the Freddy mode, and every actress (it’s an all-female ensemble) knows exactly what tone to hit to make this short work.  I just wish there was a clearer transgender element, since the recent “bathroom panic” was clearly the inspiration here.

“Switch”

The program ended on a high note with the endearing “Switch,” a sort of 21st century Orlando with a teen who inexplicably changes genders– and lovers.  It’s fun, engaging, and sexually explicit, but in a very heartfelt and tender way.  The young cast is appealingly naturalistic, and the performers who play the lead’s two personas complement each other quite well.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Joker – The Dark Phoenix Saga

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Jon Herzog as they discuss their thoughts on the Joker movie, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and celebrate Jacob Tobia joining She-Ra as a new non-binary character in This Week in Queer.

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BIG OPENING

KEVIN: Sequel to Hocus Pocus in development for Disney+
JON: VH1 orders Rupaul’s Celebrity Drag Race

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DOWN AND NERDY

KEVIN: Countdown, Jojo Rabbit, Castle Rock, Watchmen, AHS: 1984, Marauders, Something is Killing the Children
JON: Joker, Parasite, Binge Mode: Star Wars

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STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER

New trailer for The L Word: Generation Q

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THIS WEEK IN QUEER

Jacob Tobia joins She-Ra as non-binary character, new trailer released

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CLIP OF THE WEEK

Final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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THE WEEK IN GEEK

MOVIES

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas being adapted into new movie
First trailer for Bloodshot
• New teaser trailer for Code 8
• New trailer for Antlers
• Disney+ will allow you to keep your downloads

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TV

• Cloak & Dagger has been canceled
Adventure Time returning to HBO Max for 4 special episodes
• CBS gives Evil an early renewal
Batwoman & Nancy Drew get full season pickups
• Apple TV+ orders adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation starring Lee Pace
• Disney+ orders puppet talk show, Earth to Nedon, from Jim Henson Company

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COMIC BOOKS

• First look at Aqualad YA Graphic Novel
• Marvel teams with SiriusXM/Pandora for podcasts

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SHILF

• KEVIN: Regina King
• JON: Mike Colter

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Review: Carmilla

Devrim Lingnau and Hannah Rae in Carmilla

It feels like it’s been a few years since we had a good old fashioned Victorian horror film; perhaps not since Guillermo Del Toro’s underrated Crimson Peak.  So the moody, intelligent Carmilla (inspired by the gothic novel by Sheridan Le Fanu) is a welcome addition to the genre—not to mention a queer one!

Writer/director Emily Harris’ film immediately makes a strong impression with gorgeous cinematography and a vivid locale.  Teenage Lara (Hannah Rae) lives a lonely existence in an isolated mansion.  Her well-meaning governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine) is caring but strict; her father is usually away on business.  More than anything, Lara wants a friend, and one finally arrives in the form of Carmilla (a gorgeous Devrim Lingnau), who the family takes in after she survives a mysterious carriage crash.  The two immediately form a close bond that develops into a romance, but there may be more to Carmilla than meets the eye

Rae and Jessica Raine

 Carmilla is essentially a drama with horror elements, a character-driven film that showcases terrific acting from all three of the women featured.  Rae and Lingnau come across as genuine teens, not the twenty-somethings who play high schoolers in so many movies and shows, and their performances feel wonderfully authentic.  Raine, meanwhile, is outstanding in her role.  She comes off as fully three dimensional and compassionate despite her old fashioned beliefs and strict rules for Lara.  In one standout scene, she hints at her own same sex attractions while trying to steer Lara away from her feelings for Carmilla.

Lara’s growing attraction to the other girl gives way to a tender eroticism.  Harris does a terrific job of capturing their chemistry and generating heat; it’s a rare treat to see any kind of love scene in movies these days, and all the sweeter to have ones involving two women.  There’s also a moment of unexpected and powerful sexuality between two other characters late in the film.

Carmilla is a dynamic and well-crafted movie, pleasingly ambiguous and understated with its horrific elements.  When things get creepy it feels organic – Lara has some morbid interests and fantasies, which Carmilla appears to share–and in keeping with the serious tone of the film. The movie is brimming with interesting motivations and relationships, and keeps you involved all the way through its poignant finale.