Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.
The Tasters Choice: 9 Dead Gay Guys
First things first: you might hate 9 Dead Gay Guys. The 2002 British comedy ignited love-it-or-hate-it arguments upon its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where audiences either cheered its outrageousness or stormed out of the cinema in disgust. Critics at the time likened it to the early films of John Waters–vulgar, subversive and unapologetically cartoonish.
The plot concerns two lazy Irish men, Byron and Kenny, living in London and making a living by going gay for pay at local pubs. Rumors begin to circulate about the death of “The Queen,” a wealthy, older gay man who allegedly had millions hidden in his home. As the two plot to cash in on The Queen’s alleged mattress stash, the pair run into a snag: Kenny accidentally shags a man to death.
From there, things get crazy, as the two lads make their way through a list of increasingly bizarre clients, including a dwarf, a priest, a rabbi, a very endowed man and a wacky cab driver, all in service of getting to the cash. The pair also have to wrestle with the ever-growing suspicion that they may enjoy their profession a bit too much.
Love it or hate it, 9 Dead Gay Guys isn’t afraid to go to outrageous lengths for a laugh. Here’s the reality: straight folks enjoy this kind of slapstick sex comedy all the time. See also: Porky’s, American Pie, There’s Something About Mary, Bridesmaids and so on. The big difference here is that the film fully embraces queer sex positivity, and doesn’t rely on dumb, unfunny homophobia (looking at you, The Hangover) to seem wild. Ultimately, the film has a sweet message about embracing identity and loyalty to friends. It also has some very big laughs to go along with it.
Streams on Amazon & YouTube.