In honor of Pride, we’re doing something a little different in this month’s Special Shelf. Instead of focusing on just one specific title, we’re going to turn a majestically pearlescent spotlight on the good folks at Shout! Factory, a media company that has been the home for SCTV, MST3K, Freaks and Geeks, and heaps of the best mid-to-big budget horror classics of recent years with their Scream Factory line.
For Pride, Shout! has decided to bring four titles of LGBTQIA interest into the HD realm, with Blu-ray releases of Jeffrey, Can’t Stop The Music, Boom!, and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Any one of these films surfacing on Blu-ray would be a big deal, but all four is an embarrassment of riches, like activating a gentleman’s app at a Pet Shop Boys concert.
To Wong Foo, better known as the early-mid ‘90s drag film with a kinder heart and smoother edges than its sister Priscilla, has Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo sewing the seeds of decency throughout the heartland. But it’s also got Stockard “Rizzo” Channing, Beth “Sordid Lives” Grant, and Melinda “A Christmas Story” Dillon, and those are Actresses that we stan hardcore. Also, Swayze, as always, does a really good job.
Can’t Stop The Music, the film that served up the Village People to a public eager to slash and burn and feast on the bones of disco, is a camptastrophe like The Apple or Serenity (2019) or even The Pirate Movie; it is something that deserves to be seen, and analyzed, and absorbed through the eyes like a caustic cure for the ceaseless drudgery of the outside world. Sadly, Caitlyn Jenner has no involvement with the feast of new extras, but comic legend Bruce Vilanch is part of a new commentary track that promises to dish all the dirt.
Based on Paul “Addams Family Values” Rudnick’s stellar play, 1996’s Jeffrey is the story of a twentysomething gay man in New York trying to find his own way, deal with his own sexual neuroses, figuring out the process of making serodiscordant relationships work (something unheard of in films at the time), and trying to live his best life. It’s wickedly funny and deeply rooted in the consciousness of a community under siege, and it also features Sir Patrick Stewart as the best friend everyone wants.
And then there’s Boom! One of the most infamous films of 1968, this pairing of star Elizabeth Taylor and director Joseph Losey was met with stunned silence by audiences at the time. An adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, it is a masterpiece of camp, tragedy, and heaving flesh clad in jewels. One of John Waters’ favorite films of all time (he’s contributed a commentary track, because he knows what we need), Boom! is the kind of film we simply don’t get anymore, to our lament.
In addition, critic/historian/Christmas movie consigliere Alonso Duralde is all over these new releases, with his own featurette on Boom! and as part of a commentary track on Jeffrey with star Stephen Weber. If you’re unfamiliar with Duralde’s work, he’s a tremendous critic, as well as deeply funny. His books Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas and 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men are both delights to read and invaluable resources, and Linoleum Knife, the podcast empire he runs and hosts with his husbear Dave White, is essential for every LGBTQIA cinephile out there. His presence is a sign that this Pride quartet was put together by quality-minded people, and a boon for cool viewing during hot weather.