The Salem Horror Festival is typically held every year, as you might expect from its name, in witchy Salem, Massachusetts. This year, though, as in-person events aren’t possible, the festival has moved its program online, offering a number of worthwhile and enjoyable movies to kick off October with some respite from the real-world horrors this year has to offer. One such gory delight is Death Drop Gorgeous, directed by Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, and Brandon Perras.
Dwayne (Wayne Gonsalves) has just moved back to Providence, Rhode Island after a breakup, and he gets a job slinging drinks at the gay bar where he used to work. Unfortunately for Dwayne and his flamboyant roommate Brian (Christopher Dalpe), someone the press has started calling The Vampire is killing the local gays, seducing them on dating apps and then draining them of their blood. Equally as irksome, Dwayne also has to deal with the egos and eccentricities of the drag queens who work the bar, from the cruel young upstart Janet Fitness (Matthew Pidge) to the grand dame of gay Providence herself, Gloria Hole (Michael McAdam). This is a slasher about queens and queers, populated with go-go dancers, handsome bartenders, and random trade from The Apps™. It’s suitably messy, all-out ridiculous, clearly made for very little money, and an absolute blast to watch.
This one kind of broke my star rating. Death Drop Gorgeous apparently took a year and a half to film, everyone working weekends on what is clearly a passion project. It’s the first film just about everyone involved has ever taken part in, and in a lot of cases, it shows; stage makeup is clearly visible, one character with a bit of a paunch clearly just has towels stuffed in his shirt to give him heft, and in one case, I noticed what is evidently a Mickey Mouse figurine that has had his head digitally blurred out, presumably so as to avoid making Disney angry. So, while on a technical level, Death Drop Gorgeous could be a lot better, I also just don’t care at all; the movie is so much fun, so absolutely batshit insane, that I’m glad it exists no matter what form it’s in.
Because, the thing is: the horror movie elements are downright inspired. Whatever corners the production may have had to cut due to lack of technical experience, they did not skimp on the gore and nastiness. One early scene involving a meat grinder will haunt me for the rest of my life; suffice to say that this film will do for glory holes what Final Destination 2 did for driving behind trucks carrying logs. It’s an instant-classic horror scene that elevates the entire movie around it; the only downside is that it comes a mere fifteen minutes into the movie, and nothing that follows lives up to it. Insert premature ejaculation joke here.
It’s also intentionally funny, too. Backstage, the drag queens trade deliciously acidic barbs, and there’s a whole subplot about a sub pup (Ryan Miller) who waits on the wildly-accented bar owner Tony Two-Fingers (Brandon Perras). I laughed out loud multiple times while watching, as often as I gasped and cringed at the nightmare-inducing mutilation.
It’s been a long time coming, but I am glad Death Drop Gorgeous has now taken its place on stage. An immediate queer horror classic.
By Eric Langberg
Death Drop Gorgeous is available at the Salem Horror Festival from October 2nd-11th with an All Access Pass, or during Weekend I from October 2nd-4th.