Why “Wild Things” Was A Defining Film For Gay Men In The ’90s
August 4, 2022 8:10 AM   Subscribe

For gay men who grew up in the ’90s, there are two distinctive eras: the time before we saw Kevin Bacon’s full-frontal scene in "Wild Things", and the time after. "Near the end of the movie, after Sam has double-crossed Suzie and Kelly, he returns to his beach bungalow to find someone in the shower. The figure emerging from the steam isn’t Suzie or Kelly, both presumed dead, but a fully nude Ray Duquette. It’s a pivotal moment that reveals both Ray’s complicity in Sam’s plot and, also, Bacon’s penis ... But it also feels like much-needed confirmation to those who watched Wild Things suspecting there was something gay about it all along. The major twist is that a movie that seemed all about the male gaze is actually about the male gays." Revisiting Wild Things, "As a rule, movies like Wild Things fight an uphill battle with critics would want to seem above titillation. But this was one of those rare films whose underlying smarts couldn't be denied."

“It’s like a three-way collision between a softcore sex film, a soap opera and a B-grade noir,” Roger Ebert wrote, which he meant as compliment, later advising, “Movies such as this either entertain or offend audiences; there’s no neutral ground. Either you’re a connoisseur of melodramatic comic vulgarity, or you’re not. You know who you are. I don’t want to get any postcards telling me this movie is in bad taste. I’m warning you: It is in bad taste. Bad taste elevated to the level of demented sleaze.”

"The original script had Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon making out in the shower. In an interview, Dillon expressed relief that the scene was cut, despite Bacon’s enthusiasm. “Kevin’s a married man,” he said. “I’m wondering, why he was so eager to do the gay scene?”"
posted by geoff. (39 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
"The original script had Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon making out in the shower. "
!!!

It's really too bad this was cut, it would have added a pretty perfect bit of symmetry to the whole soup of demented sleaze.
posted by 3j0hn at 9:17 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]


This brings a whole new meaning to degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

I made out in the shower with . . .
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:47 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]


Ugh, shut up, Matt Dillon. Kevin Bacon knows what the media needs: more male nudity onscreen!!!
posted by theatro at 9:59 AM on August 4 [19 favorites]


I have a certain friends group that will still snort beer out our noses at the mere whisper of Kevin's bacon...

This movie is possibly the most better than it had to be in the history of motion pictures, and it's a testament to how difficult it is for women to succeed in Hollywood that Neve Campbell remains basically invisible outside of the Scream series.
posted by Etrigan at 10:14 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


I mean, I am not surprised Matt Dillon is a "No homo!" kind of dude. But still: give the people what they want!
posted by Kitteh at 10:30 AM on August 4


The Ebert link above should go here.
posted by maxwelton at 10:42 AM on August 4


Camp classic, for sure. It oozed queerness before it was a word more than a handful knew.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:26 AM on August 4


I am not sure any other movie leads the audience through so many twists. And so deftly!

And so steamy...
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:04 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I have never seen it. Going to watch it soon. Here is a link to it on Showtime (anytime).
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:57 PM on August 4


I never saw Wild Things, as the marketing always made it seem like a hacky Hollywood knock-off of Bound, which was already a kind of noir-ish gay-centric film from a year or two prior (and the debut of the Wachowskis, which lends a whole extra layer of reading). Is this a fair appraisal, a side effect of bad marketing, or an entirely separate thing worth its own examination?
posted by FatherDagon at 1:00 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


The Kevin Bacon link that theatro posted above is worth watching. Watch to the end. The outtakes are great too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:02 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I think re-centering Wild Things as a gay movie is a hilarious idea considering it and Cruel Intentions were hard-core male fantasy movies beloved by all the bros in college where I was. They should have kept the kiss. "Go" came out just one year later, with a relationship between Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr, in addition to the threesome scene. It was basically the movie for all horny young adults.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:06 PM on August 4 [10 favorites]


I haven't seen this movie since a single viewing on first release, and just checked all our streaming services to see if it was on any of them. No joy, but I was offered Where the Wild Things Are, which I assume to be a sequel or something. I will go watch it now.

(later)

Wow. Not since Room and The Room have two moves with confusable titles been so far apart.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:20 PM on August 4 [29 favorites]


Wild Things was one of those B-movies that was way, way better than it had a right to be.
posted by Ber at 1:21 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen this movie since a single viewing on first release, and just checked all our streaming services to see if it was on any of them.

Your are lucky none of the terrible soft-porn-ish sequels showed up.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:23 PM on August 4


FatherDagon, Wild Things and Bound are both super fun movies, but I'd say their similarities are superficial at best. I could say more but I don't want to give away any Wild Things spoilers. I watched both during the early days of COVID quarantine and they are delightful films!
posted by cakelite at 1:25 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Kevin Bacon knows what the media needs yt : more male nudity onscreen!!!

There was a span of some years in the nineties where I think I saw Harvey Keitel's penis more often than I saw my own.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:25 PM on August 4 [16 favorites]


Harvey Keitel's penis had a better agent.
posted by box at 1:28 PM on August 4 [34 favorites]


Wow. Not since Room and The Room have two moves with confusable titles been so far apart.

I used to pretend that the Sandra Bullock alcoholism rom-com 28 Days was the prequel to Danny Boyle's fast-zombie horror-thriller 28 Days Later.
posted by gauche at 1:37 PM on August 4 [23 favorites]


You think that's confusing? Joaquin Phoenix starred in movies called I'm Still Here and You were Never Really Here and they're completely unrelated.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:51 PM on August 4 [13 favorites]


I accidentally started watching 28 Days thinking it was 28 Days Later while skipping through cable channels. Pretty sure they don't let who is having DTs quit cold turkey. Nothing is a more terrifying depiction of withdrawal than Leaving Las Vegas, where he's having severe DTs, crawls to the fridge where he can barely hold the bottle of vodka and needs OJ to make sure it doesn't come up.
posted by geoff. at 1:53 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]


The winner of this game is Jack Frost.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:57 PM on August 4 [10 favorites]


Wow. Not since Room and The Room have two moves with confusable titles been so far apart.

There's also Working Girl and Working Girls.
posted by Lexica at 2:01 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Also, if you try to watch Pocket Money starring Lee Marvin on Amazon Prime Video, it will start playing L'argent de poche directed by François Truffaut. One of them is about cowboys and the other is about french school kids.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 2:04 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Crash is a movie about a diverse group of Los Angelenos whose interlocking stories come together in a series of erotic car accidents.

Crossroads is a movie about Britney Spears and her two best friends on a road trip in search of artifacts from king of the Delta blues Robert Johnson.
posted by box at 2:12 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Crossroads is a movie about Britney Spears and her two best friends on a road trip in search of artifacts from king of the Delta blues Robert Johnson.


Yeah, I need to watch this movie. Right now.
posted by signal at 2:20 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


This movie is definitely not my jam but this anecdote makes me love Kevin Bacon even more. Ever since seeing him in the extremely brave role of someone who had perpetrated child sexual abuse in The Woodsman I have had enormous respect for him.

Go fuck yourself Matt Dillon though.
posted by latkes at 2:50 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


D.O.A. is a documentary about the Sex Pistols' US tour.

Suburbia is a movie about the trials and travails of punk rock runaways.
posted by rhizome at 3:10 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


In a related note, please don't mix up Keith David and David Keith.
posted by zardoz at 4:20 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


I used to pretend that the Sandra Bullock alcoholism rom-com 28 Days was the prequel to Danny Boyle's fast-zombie horror-thriller 28 Days Later.

You too, huh? If you can get the DVD of the Sandra Bullock movie, be sure to check out the deleted ending where Bullock gets infected by the rage virus and rips out Dominic West's throat with her teeth.

Apparently it tested negatively in he previews. Pffft. Whatever.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:21 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Wow. Not since Room and The Room have two moves with confusable titles been so far apart.

I recommend a double feature of Honeymoon in Vegas and Leaving Las Vegas. Nicolas Cage came back for the sequel!
posted by Naberius at 4:44 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]


Well, then there's Frozen the beloved Disney family film and Frozen that came out maybe a year or two before, about three young skiers who get stranded high up on a chairlift at night during a storm with no one to rescue them and eventually they all die gruesomely I think?
posted by mochapickle at 5:44 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


There is an episode of Breaking Bad titled "Better Call Saul" and an episode of Better Call Saul titled "Breaking Bad." And Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy...
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:53 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


D.O.A. is a documentary about the Sex Pistols' US tour.

As well as a movie about a secret martial arts competition starring Devon Aoki and Holly Valance*.

*You gotta be in Asia Pacific (and the reality tv parts of the British Commonwealth) at a specific time to appreciate this Australian
posted by cendawanita at 9:15 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Some same movie titles that were actually issues for me recently:
  • Ninja Operation 7: Royal Warriors (1987) (one of Godfrey Ho's infamous "cut and paste" ninjasploitation films) is not the same film as early Michelle Yeoh vehicle Royal Warriors (1986). (I run a movie stream that's mostly HK action movies and I've streamed both, much to the confusion of my viewers.)
  • Dreamland (2019) (starring Margot Robbie) is not the same film as Dreamland (2019), the followup to Pontypool starring Stephen McHattie. I still haven't succeeded in finding a good copy of the latter for my Plex...
On Wild Things, count me among those who were surprised at its quality. It's shiny trash.
posted by neckro23 at 5:14 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


D.O.A. is a documentary about the Sex Pistols' US tour.

And a 1950 film noir and its 1988 remake.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:28 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


"Go" came out just one year later, with a relationship between Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr, in addition to the threesome scene.

It also features Sarah Polley and Katie Holmes, the Betty and Veronica of Gen-X movies.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:49 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


D.O.A. is a documentary about the Sex Pistols' US tour.

And a 1950 film noir and its 1988 remake.


That's the one I was implying :)
posted by rhizome at 6:24 PM on August 5


If you were managing a rep cinema in 1989*, you had to deal with the release that year of Black Rain, a forgettable cop thriller about two NYC cops escorting a Yakuza arrestee to Japan for an extradition, Black Rain, a somber Japanese drama about the aftermath of Hiroshima and Black Rainbow, a dreadful-sounding thriller about a Christian medium who foresees a hit man murdering her. A banner year.

*Ask me how I know.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:36 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


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