A Family Friendly Affair
Killer Drag Queens on Dope (2003): 5 out of 10: A bunch of homeless people found some old camcorders in a dumpster and filmed a movie is as good an explanation as any for this film. Our titular drag queens are contract killers for the mob, but they have a secret. Our blonde assertive drag queen Ginger AKA Eva Destruction (Alexis Arquette) is actually doing the hits that are assigned to her boyfriend Bobby (Mario Diaz) who is either too scared or incompetent to do them himself for his psychotic crime boss Uncle A (Don Edmonds in his last role).
The Good: The music is superb, a nice mix of many various genres and very refreshing. The leads (Alexis Arquette and her doll obsessed and submissive girlfriend Omar Alexis) are fun and have a believable relationship considering the circumstances.
The banter between them and among the mobsters is actually quite good for a chuckle. In fact, the film overall is funny (Not quite laugh out laugh out loud funny but a pleasant mix of set pieces. Also, some subtle humor as well (the two henchman are named Anthony and Tony)
There is some creativity on a micro-budget here, and a more solid than expected script that really helps things along.
The Bad: There is a low budget and then there is this movie which cost less than my first apartment. I mean, there are no sets. None. This is sub porn budgeting. The mob’s hideout is an empty warehouse room with a folding card table. The climatic fight takes place in the same room with the card table removed and stacks of cardboard boxes in its place. I half expected the puppet dinosaurs from Future War to make a guest appearance.
The Ugly: This film has one of the worst openings of any film. Filmed in a hotel room, it has the girls on their first hit. It looks like a porn film but without the sex (You know for a movie called Killer Drag Queens on Dope this is a fairly chaste affair with no nudity) The hit is an unimaginative affair and it has that “hey these broads are guys” trope that I will discuss below. The good news is the movie significantly improves once the opening credits arrive. Too bad it gives such a poor first impression.
In Conclusion: The movie does what is says on the tin. It has drag queens; they are killers, and they do lots of dope. A fun, funny and surprisingly family friendly affair let down by a non-existent budget.
Unsettling Gender Reveal
And now for something completely different. You know at the time The Human Stain lot a lot of flack for hiring Anthony Hopkins as a black college professor. (It wasn’t even the strangest casting decision. I am looking at you Nicole Kidman as an uneducated janitor) The point made by the filmmakers is that it isn’t like you could have hired Yaphet Kotto for the role. For those unfamiliar with The Human Stain, Anthony Hopkins plays a black college professor that the film’s audience and the people in the film do not know is black.
Now one could (and should) argue that they could have hired a black man for the role that by all appearances was white. (Like the character someone with black relatives but whom themselves does not appear to be black) I confess that off the top of my head I cannot think of any male actors that fit that criteria. (Change the role for an actress and you will have plenty of candidates. Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame is an obvious choice. I swear no one even knew was black until she won NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. (She plays a white girl in the film). Even current British royal Rachel Meghan Markle, whom you wouldn’t know is black unless you saw her mother at the wedding, would fit the bill.)
The problem the Human Stain had is that the character had to believable appear white. Well, Anthony Hopkins certainly fits that bill. He also had to be secretly African American. (You know I am going to call that one a miss.) Still more believable than Nicole Kidman as the illiterate janitor, however.
There has been a very strong movement lately to cast on trans people in transitioned roles (See the entire Transparent kerfuffle.) There is also a very silly trope where men (It is almost always men) in good lighting and sober are shocked that this woman has a penis. Well, guess what you can have the stupid trope… you can hire actual trans actors… but you can’t do both at the same time.
You see, the problem is a suspension of disbelief. I can’t believe that the characters that are right next to the person cannot tell that she is trans when we can clearly see that she is six feet away on the couch. To use an example of this silliness, we have the TV series How to Get Away with Murder Season 2 episode 6 Two Birds, One Millstone. Actress Alexandra Billings plays a woman who murdered her husband because he was abusive. She calls her best friend Viola Davis, who is a lawyer to help her. The cops have been digging, however, and it turns out that they suspect her husband was killed cause he found out Alexandra’s big secret. She used to be a man. Really… you don’t say.
Perhaps it was because Alexandra Billings spent a few seasons on Transparent, or perhaps it is my partying for a few years at the Limelight in the early nineties, but this revelation came as a complete shock to me. How could anyone in the room not know? I mean, she is standing right there next to you. It is kind of obvious. Look I am not saying we should go back to the bad old days like the Sean Young reveal in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Wow that scene has really not aged well) and the trope still works in comedies (you will pry Some Like It Hot out of my cold dead hands.) But the surprise reveal in dramas really doesn’t work when you hire a trans actor to play the role. If you have a murder mystery and the killer is a secret prop comic, don’t hire Carrot Top as one of the suspects.