Apr 162019

Hellraiser Bloodline (1996) is the fourth film in the Hellraiser franchise. It was also the last to be released in theatres and the last to have Clive Barker as a writer, director or producer. Directed by “Alan Smithee”, actually Keven Yagher, who is primarily a makeup artist, and written by Peter Atkins, who also wrote the second and third films.

Hellraiser: Bloodline starts off promising, but dissolves into a mess. Lots of plot threads dangle, lots of things happen for no reason. Apparently, this was a troubled production, which would explain why the director took his name off the picture, replaced by the “Alan Smithee” credit.

Philippe Lemerchand (Bruce Ramsay) and his creation.
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Apr 152019

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) is the third entry in the Hellraiser franchise, and it benefits from a more conventional story structure. The new protagonist, Joey Summerskill, is introduced early to replace Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence has a cameo on video recording).

Another victim of the Cenobite puzzle box
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Mar 052019

8MM (1999) (IMDB) is a mystery/thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker.

Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) is a private investigator for upper crust clients. An elderly widow, Mrs. Christian, says she found a roll of 8mm film in her late husband’s safe, which appears to document the murder of a young white woman. Wells is skeptical, saying it’s probably fake, but the widow hires him to find the girl.

Welles (Cage) watches the film apparently showing the murder of an unknown girl (Jenny Powell).
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Feb 072019

Payback (IMDB) is a 1999 neo-noir crime thriller, starring Mel Gibson.

In The Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo talked about the phase of American movies in which queer film characters existed mainly as dramatic or comedic foils to the straight characters. Whether they were swishy nellies or twisted sadists, they were a simple object lesson in proper and improper gender roles. That extends to the present day, though perhaps a little less overt: heroes are associated with heterosexuality, monogamy, vanilla sex, and other normative sexualities, while villains tend towards bisexuality, non-monogamy, and fetishes and kinks.

Pearl (Lucy Liu) stomps on Val, while Porter (Mel Gibson) watches
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Mar 272016

Reti, Irene, and Pat Parker. 1993. Unleashing feminism: critiquing lesbian sadomasochism in the gay nineties. Santa Cruz, CA:HerBooks Amazon link


We must not offer haven
for fascists and pigs
be it real or fantasy
the line is too unclear.

“Bar Conversation”, Pat Parker, Pg. 6

Published roughly a decade after Against Sadomasochism, Unleashing Feminism came into a different world. Lesbians were more visible than ever before, including opening their own sex clubs and making their own porn magazines and videos, but to the lesbian feminist authors in this anthology, that was not a sign of progress. Their interpretation was that lesbians and other queers had lost their revolutionary principles and were being assimilated into mainstream consumer culture. Some of the essays portray the “lesbian sex wars” as a microcosm of a larger, almost apocalyptic conflict, a last chance for justice after the Reagan-Thatcher era and the beginning of the neoliberal Clinton era.

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Nov 082015

Weiss, Margot. Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality. Duke University Press, 2011. Amazon

You can get an idea of how thought-provoking I found Weiss’ book was by the sheer density of post-its as bookmarks.

Side view of Weiss' Techniques of Pleasure, with many post-its

Side view of Weiss’ Techniques of Pleasure, with many post-its

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Aug 122010

Continuing our discussion of A Man Called Horse, consider the Kyle Stone novel The Initiation of PB 500, parts of which were first published in Torso magazine in 1993.

Going by this excerpt and what I recall from skimming it years ago, PB 500 largely follows the first act of Horse: space pilot crashes, gets captured by primitive warrior culture, etc. However, the homoeroticism and sadomasochism that is implicit in Horse is quite explicit in PB 500. It also follows the initiatory structure I talked about (witness the title), but with a twist. Horse follows the hero’s journey plan, while PB 500 manages to have it both ways: the protagonist becomes both sex slave and warrior/assassin.

Micah strode along the silent corridor like a warrior going into battle. He was a warrior, he reminded himself, although the Commander’s guards would see only a naked slave. A painted harlot bought and paid for by an alien chief. Under the long blond hair held in place by a blue band, his back bore the scars of his master’s whip. Proud scars. But they could never understand.

Micah clenched his teeth and thought of his master, the hard dark man who demanded so much of him, who owned him body and soul. Time and time again Micah had demonstrated that he would do anything for Attlad. Surely this was the ultimate test? This evening when he had been forced to go so much against his own nature? What he would do next, was nothing, compared to this.

The Erskan Chronicles series of books by K. McVey is yet another variation on this premise, though in a femdom-malesub setting. This is a great premise for forcing a character into another culture with radically different sexual mores, so naturally it is used repeatedly. Though I think it is more commonly used in science fiction or fantasy settings than in contemporary settings. Still, it is essentially the same kind of story you could find more than 100 years ago.