To Play or To Die © Water Bearer Films

Throwback Thursday: To Play or To Die

A highly obscure 48-minute short film from the Netherlands, released way back in 1990, To Play or to Die, based on a story by Anna Blaman and directed by Frank Krom, a former assistant to Paul Verhoeven who made his own cinematic debut here, is a still a powerful psychological drama, but feels a bit taboo when viewed through a modern lens.


The film follows Kees (Geert Hunaerts), an introverted young boy who attends an all-male Dutch school where powerful bullies and sadomasochistic games are the stock in trade. Kees is fascinated by the extraordinarily handsome young Charel (Tjebbo Gerritsma), ringleader of the tormentors. Seeking to turn the tables and stem his victimization, Kees invites Charel back to his house while his parents are away. His plan is to take revenge… but Charel gets the upper hand. So begins a difficult and painful pas de deux with surprising results.

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Throwback Thursday: The Consequence

Hollywood action director Wolfgang Petersen (the man behind Enemy Mine, Troy, Outbreak, Air Force One, In the Line of Fire, The NeverEnding Story, The Perfect Storm, Das Boot and more) made this surprisingly tender, though highly controversial prison-set gay German romance way back in 1977.


Jurgen Prochnow stars as Martin, who is sent to prison for the seduction of a minor. There, he meets and is immediately drawn to Thomas (Ernst Hannawald), the teenage son of one of the guards. After Martin’s release, the boy runs away from home to live with him. And despite threats from the boy’s father and the authorities, their love flourishes as the two are determined to live their life together – unprepared for the wrath triggered by their actions.


The Consequence (c) Water Bearer Films

The Consequence (c) Water Bearer Films

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Fogi is a Bastard (c) Water Bearer Films

Throwback Thursday: Fogi is a Bastard

A very pretty sixteen year-old boy falls in love with a dangerously screwed-up rock-n-roller in this stunning Swiss film from 1998. Though it’s complicated, to say the least, Fogi is a Bastard contained some of the most tender sex scenes we had ever seen in a gay film up to that point in time. The film takes the audience on a turbulent ride through two young men’s exciting but troubled relationship.


Clean-cut 16-year-old Beni (Vincent Branchet) is a Zurich high school student just itching for an alternative life. He follows the rock band “The Minks” around and falls madly in love with Fogi (Frédéric Andrau), the dangerously attractive and quite gay lead singer. With looks suggesting a thuggish Keanu Reeves, the 26-year-old Fogi surprisingly takes to the cute, but coltish youth. He hires him as a roadie and the two begin a wild sexual attraction that hardens into love and devotion for Beni but wears off for the soon bored Fogi.

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Daddy and the Muscle Academy (c) Kino Lorber

Throwback Thursday: Daddy and the Muscle Academy

One of the year’s most acclaimed gay films, award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski‘s Tom of Finland is coming to DVD and Blu-ray in February courtesy of Kino Lorber. Known to the world as Tom of Finland, artist Touko Laaksonen shaped the fantasies of a generation of gay men with his proudly erotic and taboo-shattering drawings of testosterone filled, muscle-bound men. But who was the man behind the leather? This stirring biopic follows his life from the trenches of WWII and repressive Finnish society of the 1950s through his struggle to get his work published in California, where he and his art were finally embraced amid the sexual revolution of the 1970s. Tom’s story is one of love, courage and perseverance, mirroring the gay liberation movement for which his leather-clad studs served as a defiant emblem.


Also coming in February, timed with the release of the new biopic, is a special edition Blu-ray of an unusual gay classic. Blending live action, animation and interviews, Daddy and the Muscle Academy, originally released in 1991, is a steamy documentary from filmmaker Ilppo Pohjola that explores the life and art of the famed gay iconoclast – whose pornographic drawings of massively-endowed men in leather, uniforms and totally naked have aroused a generation of gay men.

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A Very Natural Thing (c) Water Bearer Films

Throwback Thursday: A Very Natural Thing

Quite an important work in the history of American gay filmmaking, A Very Natural Thing is considered the first feature film on the gay experience made by an out-of-the-closet gay man to receive commercial distribution. The simple but insightful story involves a 26-year-old gay man who leaves the priesthood and moves to New York City in the hopes of finding a meaningful gay relationship. Now a schoolteacher, he soon falls in love with a handsome young advertising executive.


Though the film is barely remembered today, detractors at the time of its release found it a bit too sappy, bordering on soap opera. Others saw it as a sensitively told and refreshingly romantic story. At the time, the film was also seen as a gay response to the massive commercial success of Love Story. That film’s famous quote “Love means never having to say your sorry” is almost directly parodied with the line “Love means never having to say you’re in love,” in A Very Natural Thing.

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Johan (c) Water Bearer Films

Throwback Thursday: Johan

A novice filmmaker searches for an actor to portray his seductive and enigmatic jailed lover in this surreal and sexually explicit film from the 1976.


In Johan, a bizarre meta-story from French filmmaker Philippe Valois, one never quite knows who’s who or what’s what, but that’s okay, because even if you lose the narrative thread, there’s plenty – and we mean plenty – of gorgeous footage of beautiful men in various states of undress doing everything from dancing to playing cards to making sweet, sweet love to one another.

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Nighthawks (c) Water Bearer Films

Throwback Thursday: Nighthawks & Strip Jack Naked: Nighthawks II

When it was first made and released way back in 1978, Nighthawks was billed as the first British film to deal with gay life in positive light. Viewed almost thirty years later it seems as if life hasn’t changed all that much. London’s gay scene, and one man’s search for belonging in it, are explored in this sensitive and intelligent drama.


Ken Robertson plays a quiet teacher who divides his time between the classroom and the closet – and spends his evenings aimlessly cruising the city’s gay bars and discos. Using mostly unprofessional actors, this gritty, heartfelt drama has surprising depth despite the lack of any discernible plot, as it sympathetically portrays one man’s homosexual lifestyle without resorting to theatrics, hysterics and stereotyping.


Made over thirty years ago, the film has a “period” feel, offering strong evidence to the rapid change of gay lifestyles and gay men, specifically, in both how they accept their homosexuality as well as the social possibilities offered.

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I'll Love You Forever... Tonight (c) No Restrictions Entertainment

Throwback Thursday: I’ll Love You Forever… Tonight

A gritty gay curio available only recently on DVD and VOD for the first time ever, I’ll Love You Forever… Tonight will transport you back in time, right to the pulse of the New Queer Cinema movement.


Made back in 1992 for under $100,000 by writer-director Edgar Michael Bravo as his thesis film for UCLA, this somber and searing drama, set in queer twenty-something Los Angeles, revolves around the lives, loves and sexual relations of a group of friends and acquaintances. Serious with occasional flashes of humor, the film delves into the loneliness, self-deception and self-loathing of its several gay male characters with an unflinching realism.


Described as “Pinter-on-Fire Island” and “a queer Big Chill,” this thought-provoking tale, filmed in shadowy black and white, captures the tensions of post-AIDS male youth in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Compassionate and always perceptive, the film is rough around the edges, but represents a certain time and place in independent filmmaking that will charm anyone who remembers the the arthouse video store era fondly.

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Get Real

Throwback Thursday: Get Real

A huge gay indie hit when it premiered at film festivals and art house cinemas in the late 1990s, Get Real has long been out of print and has easily become the most frequently requested movie by our customers. We’re thrilled it’s soon going to be available again on DVD – for only $8.99, at that!


Based on his play “What’s Wrong with Angry?” by Patrick Wilde, who also wrote the screenplay, Get Real is a sharply observed coming-of-age story, infused with charm, humor, emotion and a knowing sense of the difficulties of being a gay teen. Steven (Ben Silverstone) is a thin, pale-skinned, dark-haired 16-year-old living in British suburbia with his upper-middle-class parents. Life changes for the soft-spoken teen when he locks eyes on the school’s strapping and handsome super-jock John (Brad Gorton). The two are attracted to each other, but John’s self-hating and deeply held fears of having his sexuality found out by others threaten to tear apart their tentative relationship.

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Throwback Thursday: Mysterious Skin

In 1992, Gregg Araki punched the cinematic world in the gut with his breakout feature The Living End, a hedonistic road movie about two HIV-positive men who embark on a shocking and violent crime spree. Since then Araki has been flipping the bird to mainstream culture whenever possible.


Turning 12 this year, Mysterious Skin, still might be his most accomplished and acclaimed effort. Adapted from Scott Heim‘s 1996 novel, Araki took his most serious turn to that point, taking on the controversial subject of childhood sexual abuse. In the process, he proved himself to be a maturing artist worthy of this difficult topic.

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