Movie Reviews

The Best Gay Movies: My Top 10 Favorite Gay Themed Movies

Everyone always talks about the latest, and best, Gay themed movies. But, over the years there have been many many great, awesome, wonderfully camp and very funny Gay themed movies and they should not be forgotten. Here is my list of favourites. I would like to suggest to the younger generation, as well as newbies to the ‘Gay scene’ of any age, that they try and see these. I have copies of most and show them to younger Gay men from time to time and they love them. Watching them laugh along with all the old jokes is very pleasing. Humour transcending generations!

No. 1

Released in August 1975 and was written by Richard O’Brien (original music play) and starred Tim Curry

as the inimitable (many have tried) transvestite Dr Frank-N-Furter. Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss – ‘slut’ – and Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors.

The film was narrated by the fabulously camp Charles Grey, who was in a number of Bond movies amongst other great roles,

and also starred the young, at the time, Meatloaf (who in 1977, along with lyricist Jim Steinman, released an operatic rock album called “Bat Out Of Hell”; the record was huge and has sold over 50,000,000 copies worldwide.

Richard O’Brien played the wonderful Riff Raff the butler/houseman.

For many of the actors, e.g. Susan Sarandon, it was their first major movie and got their careers off to a great jump start.

The film instantly became a cult classic and was a hit the world over. It played every night at one film theatre around Baker St for well over a decade in the 80’s. It was soon turned into a theatre production and is still popular today where audience participation is not only welcomed but encouraged.

It tells the story of a young couple who get engaged at the beginning of the movie who want to go and visit a school professor and give him the exciting news as he had been the person to get them together in the first place. They get caught with a flat tyre in the middle of a thunderstorm at night, ‘a flat, well, how about that’ muses Dr Frank, and they seek help in the mad doctors castle. It proved to be a ‘night out that they wouldn’t forget for a very long time’.

The mad doctor (based obviously on Frankenstein) has created “a man with blond hair and a tan” played by the very unknown Peter Hinwood.

(Hinwood was the only major star of the movie to actually give up acting shortly after the making of it).

The message of the movie is that all this debauchery has to come to sticky and untimely end. And it does!

The film did win 4 awards but none of which were significant. However, it is one of those movies that awards didn’t matter!

The two major songs, Sweet Transvestite (Watch on YouTube) and Time Warp (Watch on YouTube), have been performed by cabaret actors all over the world since the movie first aired. Personally, my favourite song is Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me (listen on YouTube – sadly video not available), although there’s not really a duff track in the entire film. Pure entertainment through and through.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

No. 2

Little Shop of Horrors 1986 (musical, comedy).

This 1986 version is my favourite. The 1960 version had Jack Nicholson in it and was not a musical but actually a horror movie.

Here we have the hero Seymour Krelborn, played by Rick Moranis (who after the death of his wife in 1991, found it difficult to raise their two children on his own, and along with his increasing disenchantment with Hollywood, Moranis retired from acting in 1997. He had intended the retirement to be a sabbatical of a couple of years, but later realized that he did not miss the pressure. He still does occasional voice work, e.g. Brother Bear (2003),

a lowly plant shop assistant trying to win the love of his life Audry, Ellen Greene,

by becoming famous due to his ‘strange and unusual’ talking, singing and man eating plant  the phenomenal Audrey II, voiced by Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops. The shop owner was played by the magnificent Vincent Gardenia.

There’s also a mad, leather clad, sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello D.D.S., played by the awesome Steve Martin. He’s Audrey’s boyfriend at the start of the film.

The film is a joy to watch from beginning to end and the singing talents of Rick Moranis (who until this point had only really been known for his comic roles) and Ellen Greene superbly compliment each other. Steve Martin really gives an outstanding performance in probably one of the best dentist scenes/songs ever produced.

The film does have two different endings. One good and the other, the directors cut, not so good for mankind. I actually prefer the vanilla version as the directors cut drags on a bit.

Again, the movie was soon turned into a musical theatre production and is still frequently produced. Although nominated for major awards it too, like Rocky Horror, didn’t actually achieve any.

Another amazing soundtrack with greats like Skid Row (Watch on YouTube), Dentist (Watch on YouTube), Feed Me (Watch on YouTube), Suddenly Seymour (Watch on YouTube) and Mean Green Mother From Outer Space (Watch on YouTube).

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

No. 3

Not so much a musical as a comedy with music. This unique1994 cinematographic spectacular starred as the poster says. It won the 1995 Oscar for Best Costume Design, and 12 other awards as well as having a further 19 nominations.

gives an outstanding performance, for which he was nominated at the Golden Globe awards in 1995 for Best Performance By An Actor, as the transgender cabaret artist, Bernadette, traveling across the Australian outback with two drag queens.

The film follows the crazy antics of all three “show girl’s” who leave the safety of Sydney to do a show in Alice Springs. In hindsight they should have flown to their destination but then there wouldn’t have been such an entertaining story which was very well written by Stephen Elliot who also directed it.

The film does tackle some serious issues, AIDS, homophobia, transgender relationships, interracial marriage, drugs, gay men having children and even a harsh take on Australian rednecks. All of which made Pricilla a cinematic first.

On the fun side. The youngish Guy Pierce and Hugo Weaving

wearing incredible drag and having some wonderful one liners in the great script which went to make for an A+ movie.

Bill Hunter

was a well known, and respected, Australian actor and for him to play the love interest of a transgender older female was a risky one, even in 1996, especially for an Australian audience but Pricilla was an international hit and marketed as such months before it’s release. What a few Australian rednecks thought wasn’t going to impact the high camp fun, and value (with a budget of $2M US to make and world returns in excess of $11M US) of the movie.

Bob’s hysterical and hysterically funny Filipino wife was played by Australian born Julie Cortez who was awesome in the ping pong ball scene.

Only got 7.4 on IMDb I feel it’s very underrated.

It was quickly transformed to a stage version,  in Australia in 2007, which went on to be a monumental hit in London’s West End drawing in big crowds by having Jason Donovan, of Neighbours fame, in the leading role (Weaving’s role as Tik). Australian born Tony Sheldon did an amazing job of playing Bernadette Bassenger (the transgender) and did so in Sydney, London and later on Broadway.

I actually saw the stage version in Australia in 1987, to a packed but not amused, Sydney audience (there was barely a titter in the house when ping pong balls filled the stage). When it transferred to London’s West End, in March 2009, I saw it at least half a dozen times before moving to Thailand in 2010.

It moved to Broadway in 2011 before touring the world.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

No. 4

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane 1962 (Drama, horror, thriller)

This 1962 Classic is just awesome. It’s been a party favourite for years. Just put it on the TV and watch your friends doing Bette Davis impersonations in no time.

(Watch on YouTube) I don’t like putting previews into my reviews but this one is really good. The film was very low budget, costing under a $1M to make, and was filmed in just 3 weeks. Billed as a dramatic horror thriller it’s just a completely over the top movie from beginning to end.

Robert Aldrich directed it and it was at his suggestion that it be filmed in Black and White to give ‘extra’ impact. It is just over 2 hours long and although only winning one Oscar, for Best Costumes, most of the cast and crew got nominations for many more awards.

It’s the ultimate story of sibling rivalry with Bette Davis playing the insane Baby Jane Hudson

as the hugely likeable, even in her most brutal sadistic moments, psychopathic sister but there’s a twist. Not going to give it away here! But suffice to say I’ve seen so many drag queens doing the duo in action. In fact Bertha Venation, the incredibly funny Charles Pierce, does a great Baby Jane take in Torch Song Trilogy – film number 8.

Joan Crawford plays the soft spoken Blanche Hudson

in the wheelchair getting more and more frantic as the movie progresses. It’s just so hilarious to watch.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.

No.5

Serial Mom 1994 (Comedy, crime, thriller)

A huge star in many 1980’s & 90’s movies and big gay icon Kathleen Turner does an outstanding job of portraying a suburban Mom who when something upsets her or her family takes matters into her own hands. Dark humour at it’s best!!

This true story (which seems very hard to believe) was written and directed by Gay superhero John Waters.

The events of the film took place in May 1993 in suburban Baltimore. It appears that quiet mannered Beverly Sutphin, Mom, (who it turns out is obsessed with serial killers) got upset when one of her neighbours, Dottie Hinkle (played by Mink Stole, one of Water’s stalwart actor friends used in many of the Divine movies), stole her parking space at the local Shopping Mall and sparked an inner rage which started with obscene phone calls and threatening letters.

Followed by her son’s math teacher badmouthing Chip (played by Mathew Lillard – still in his early years as an actor). Then the daughter Misty (Ricki Lake)

has a problem with her boyfriend. What’s a Mom to do?

Finally busted, after a number of very humorous deaths, she ends up in court. Here a series of discrediting witnesses, including putting a magazine in the trash bin of a respectable cop.

And a really good unabashed scene of turning on of the peeping Tom (watch on YouTube) which gets him to lie furthering her ‘clean cut’ Mom image gives us a clear ‘not guilty’.

It’s a very fast paced film with hardly a scene wasted on unnecessary information. Apart from the fact that all the victims did actually die and mostly in a horrible fashion it’s totally a enjoyable film. Another John Waters masterpiece.

However, the film did not get anywhere on the awards front which is a shame because Kathleen Turner is just awesome.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.

No. 6

The Ritz 1976 (Comedy)

Directed by Richard Lester (best remembered for the two films he helmed starring The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help!) and filmed in England, but set in New York, in 1976 it’s the story of Gaetano Proclon, Jack Weston,

who married into a Jewish family and his brother-in-law Carmine Vespucci, Jerry Stiller,

wants him dead so he can keep the family fortune. So Gaetano needs a place to hide and goes (actually taken to) to the Ritz, a gay bath house, for the night. Gaetano, a large man, is pursued by a chubby chaser and befriends Chris, played by the new to acting F. Murry Abraham,

and so the story evolves into a farce. Great fun.

At the time of filming, 1976, the Gay scene was still 5 years, give or take, from the AIDS pandemic and bath houses had grown in popularity in the US, particularly in New York and San Francisco, since the late 60’s sexual revolution.

The Ritz, the name of the bathhouse, has many areas including a cabaret bar and Rita Morino plays the cabaret star. In real life she is one of only 15 actors in the world to be in the EGOT club (that is winners of all the 4 major awards – an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony).

In the film she is given the impression that Gaetano is a big film producer and seeks his approval so she can get into the movie business. Gaetano is actually in refuse and the question is frequently asked in the movie “a Gay garbage man?” as even then, in 1976, no self respecting Gay man would be a refuse collector.

Considering is wasn’t a main stream film in any way shape or form. It did actually get five nominations at the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Writers Guild of America.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.

No. 7

Lust In The Dust 1984 (Comedy, Western)

Making a cheesy western comedy in 1984 was a bit of a gamble, that didn’t pay off, which is a shame because I love this movie. Even the poster, with it’s obviously badly photo shopped in Lainie Kazan  – best known for her role of the hilarious mom Maria Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), and its sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) – pasted in, is tacky.

The story is about an unscrupulous hussy Rosie Valez (Divine) on the hunt for a buried treasure.

Along the way she bumps in Able Wood, played by the ever so cool (and out gay actor) Tab Hunter, the loner type who she tries to befriend.

When they get to Chilly Verde Rosie starts to work at the main bar, run by Marguerita Ventura (Lainie Kazan) which is, of course, named Marguerita’s.

Divines audition song for Marguerita’s is one of my all time favourites These Lips (watch on YouTube) is sadly short at just under two minutes long.

Divine doesn’t realize the whole town is after the buried treasure and being a cheesy Western people start dropping like flies.

Of course, being a cheesy western, the town has to have a priest – another Bat Man cast off from the mid sixties – Cesar Romero who had been the Joker back then. He’s also there for the money and not to be a saint.

All in all a perfectly good tasteless and tacky film held together with a substantial storyline, great sets and cinematography as well as a superb acting by a perfect cast. Apparently John Waters was asked to direct but as he hadn’t written the script he declined.

Obviously not an award winning film but Divine did get nominated for the worst actor at the Razzie awards that year. A real plus in my books.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.

No.8

Torch Song Trilogy 1988 (Comedy, Romance, Drama)

This is the 1988 film remake of the successful Broadway hit of the same name. It’s the tale of a Jewish Drag Queen, Arnold Beckoff, played by Harvey Fierstein (who wrote both the play and the screenplay for the movie),

who goes through life obtaining and loosing love. Being Jewish it has to have a big Jewish mother character played by the wonderful Anne Bancroft (who was married to the amazing Mel Brooks for 41 years).

There is a really good mother and son fight scene at a Jewish cemetery near the end of the movie that is so moving you will be fighting off the tears so have a gin ready.

Arnold’s main love interest, not his first, is Alan Simon played by the perfectly cast Matthew Broderick who was still young and beautiful in 1988 having done Ferris Bueller’s Day Off just two years before.

Two other outstanding characters are Murray, Ken Page (on the right) and Bertha Venation, Charles Pierce whose performances and banter throughout the movie will have you choking on your cocktails if you’re not careful.

It’s a charming movie throughout, perhaps a bit slow paced in places, that will have you laughing and if not crying at least getting a very large lump in your throat in places. Full of drama and humour it’s one not to be missed.

It was overlooked at the main awards but did win one minor award, at the Deauville Film Festival, and got a couple of other minor nominations as well.

No. 9

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark 1988 (Comedy, Horror)

1988’s introduction to Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is played spectacularly by Cassandra Peterson and was billed as a Comedy/Horror but was really a comedy camp classic from beginning to end. Only rating 6.6 in IMDb and winning a ‘Stinker’ award makes this a must watch movie.

Elvira, a struggling (and hating every minute of it) TV horror movie show hostess gets some news her great aunt has died and left her a fortune plus house in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

So off she trots, in a Cadillac reminiscent of Batman’s, and causes mayhem along the way. With classic lines like “How’s your head” she is asked, when knocking it, to which she replies “I’ve never had any complaints” and when the local boys turn up to help rebuild the old house and ask how can they help she says “grab a tool and start banging”.

Slap stick camp humour from beginning to end including the breast tassel twirl (Watch on YouTube) where she pulls a face more reminiscent of Divine.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.

No. 10

The Birdcage 1996 (Comedy)

This award winning 1996 remake of the original French ‘La Cage Aux Folles‘, the 1978 camp classic which won Best Foreign Film in the 1980 Golden Globes, is set in South Beach, Miami. The Birdcage is a Gay nightclub, actually a very upmarket cabaret club, which is owned and run by Armand Goldman, Robin Williams.

Trying to keep the film as near as the original as possible. Williams was dressed almost exactly as Ugo Tognazzi, who played Renato Baldi in the original.

It co-starred Nathan Lane as Starina/Albert. Who was pretty closely matched to Michel Serrault who played the role of Albin/Zaza in 1978.

I must mention Hank Azaria, (who has been doing many of the voice overs in the Simpsons since 1989) played the house boy (maid), Agador, and mirrored Benny Luke as Jacob in the original. It’s actually a crucial role in the story. A role that Mr Azaria played to camp perfection.

Williams, no stranger to playing leading roles in movies Gay or otherwise, who can forget the Oscar winning Mrs Doubtfire in 1993 (which had Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan – the 5th James Bond – and Harvey Fierstein co-staring) , plays the role with a knowing exuberance of a seasoned actor. Adding his own ‘unique’ touch to many scenes.

The story line is that his estranged son, Val (Dan Futterman), comes home to ask a favour. He wants them, Armand and Albert, to meet his girlfriend, Barbara Keeley, played by the soon to be Alley McBeal star Calista Flockhart,

but unfortunately Barbara’s father, Senator Keeley, played superbly by Gene Hackman

is part of the Coalition of Moral Order whose founding member has just died in bed with a black, underage, prostitute. And so the mayhem begins.

The perfectly cast Senators wife, Dianne Wiest,

decides that a trip to Miami to meet the parents of their soon to be son, who Barbara has lied about by saying that Armand a Cultural Attaché, not the owner of Gay club, is just the thing to help the Senator’s career.

Anyway, they arrive at the Gay nightclub and enter through the side door. Albert has decided to greet them posing as Val’s mother but Armand has invited Val’s real mother, played by Christine Baranski.

Needless to say the deception, Cultural Attaché, falls apart and the Senator decides he wants to leave but the press have blocked the exit so he and his wife have to leave through the nightclub. Albert decides they need disguises.

It goes to show the level of commitment Hackman has to his profession that the ageing hard man of Hollywood allowed himself to be put in such a tacky, but hilarious, if not appropriate, drag outfit.

Needless to say the family got away from the nightclub unnoticed, of course, so all’s well that end’s well and the movie is over.

The film only got nominated at the Oscars and Golden Globes but did win at the Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance By A Cast as well as 6 other minor wins and a total of 25 nominations.

You can buy or rent on Amazon here.