"Hard as Hell: The Lost Gay Erotica of Fred Halsted"
Porn is the ultimate cinematic disposable, narrowly focused to get its audience off and then be quickly forgotten. It's no surprise, then, that this triple bill of sweaty S/M "classics" took some doing to put together in uncensored form. Yes, kids, I'm talking about the long-awaited restoration of the beloved but banned fist-fucking sequences to LA Plays Itself (1972) and Sextool (1975)! Halsted was unapologetic about his lack of training as a filmmaker, and for good reason -- his work has a ragged, raw power and immediacy that more "skilled" filmmakers, in or out of porn, can't claim. Halsted, who killed himself in 1989, used an impressionist's palette -- double exposures, detached body parts, narrative ruptures -- to bring his gritty landscapes of sexual excess to life. The real revelation here is the black-and-white existential fuckfest Sex Garage (1972), which brilliantly evokes both Kenneth Anger's bike fetish and the car-sex crazies of Crash in a sequence where a bored biker graphically attacks the exhaust pipe of his Harley. Watch for Fred himself giving his personal punching bag Joey Yale the once-over in LA Plays Itself and Sextool.
-- Gary Morris
"Hard as Hell: The Lost Gay Erotica of Fred Halsted" screens Friday, April 4, at 8 p.m. only at the Castro, Castro & Market. Tickets are $6.50; call 621-6120.