Aug 15, 2013

No One Sleeps

Despite the number of ‘great’ sodomite serial killers that have stalked the tearooms and glittery fag clubs of America over the past couple of decades or so, including John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey ‘riding dirty’ Dahmer and Robert Berdella, few true blue homo auteur filmmakers, aside from Todd Verow with highly controversial Frisk (1995), have tackled the subject and have left it to heterosexual horror hacks to cinematically portray these creepy cocksucking killers. One super fagola filmmaker, Jochen Hick (Via Appia, Menmaniacs - The Legacy of Leather), a quasi-politically incorrect German aberrant-garde filmmaker that has mainly directed unflattering documentaries about queer subcultures, did direct a serial killer flick entitled No One Sleeps (2000), but unfortunately it is not a masterpiece, but rather a plot-hole-ridden and conspiracy theory-obsessed ‘twink thriller’/man-on-man murder mystery piece set in the gay capital of the world, San Francisco, where virtually every character in the film, including the extras, are not only gay but are in some stage of dying off from AIDS and love Puccini’s “Turandot,” which is even described by an old homo in the film on his death bed as the gayest opera ever written. Undoubtedly, No One Sleeps is a superlatively sloppily assembled piece of piss poor poofer propaganda that is not much more aesthetically merited than a loony Lifetime made-for-TV movie, yet in terms of ending entertainment value, Hick’s Amero-Kraut serial killer thriller has a certain undeniable magnetism to it that compels to the viewer to watch the film to the very end. In fact, I originally had no intention of rewatching the film, let alone reviewing it, yet after boring forced to view it a second time, I realized it is certainly a ‘good bad movie’ with a gigantic wad of replay value, which is indubitably a result of German actor Tom Wlaschiha’s strikingly charismatic performance, but also Hick’s compellingly inept direction and curious casting of mostly non-actors that he seems to have found licking the floors of some seedy gay bar. Following the sexual and detective excursions of a young gay medical student who is trying to find proof regarding theories created by his discredited and deceased East German scientist father who came up with the controversial theory that AIDS was a manmade virus created by the U.S. military in the 1970s and tested on inmates at San Quentin prison, No One Sleeps is a would-be-lecherous and unintentionally loony labyrinthine look at self-loathing gay serial killers, corrupt fag-bashing American doctors and politicians, and the even more corrupt world of underground S&M sodomite parties, where a HIV-positive cocksucking killer is lurking and hoping to take some of his fagola friends with him straight to homo hell.

Twenty-something kraut medical student Stefan Hein (played by Tom Wlaschiha, who has gone on to star in the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones) may be a gay man in the heart of modern day Sodom, San Francisco, but his main concern is proving that his East German scientist father’s discredited theory that AIDS was originally found in sheep and was perniciously transferred to humans via the U.S. Department of Defense, who experimented on a bunch of prisoners who would go on to infect the general gay population. Not long after arriving in San Francisco, Stefan discovers a crime scene at the Golden Gate Park where a murdered homo with AIDS lays dead. Stefan ends up discussing the murder with a radically repellant homicide detective Louise Tolliver (Irit Levi) whose voice is so whiny and neurotic and whose arrogance is so audacious that she could easily be Woody Allen’s sullen Semitic sister, and rather unfortunately for the Teutonic medical student, the cold kosher cop will continue to check up on him from time to time. During his stay in sodomite SF, Stefan hopes to find all the ex-prisoners that were in the AIDS experiment, but unfortunately, they also happen to be the same people that a mysterious serial killer is killing off one-by-one. Meanwhile, kraut Stefan starts a relationship with a violent ex-con/café waiter with a discernibly Hebraic phenotype named Jeffrey Russo (Jim Thalman), thus their relationship seems to have a certain inborn tension that is demonstrated by the constant physical and verbal violence between the two men. In seeming tribute to New German Cinema dandy Werner Schroeter, a gay man named “Malina” is killed at a fag underground party and posed in a manner not unlike the iconic pose of ‘queer icon’/Christian martyr Saint Sebastian. At an AIDS conference, Stefan discusses his father’s theories and his intention to find the ex-prisoners from the government AIDS experiment, but most of the audience finds his efforts and ideas dubious, except for a somewhat nefarious neurologist who is ironically Dr. Richard Burroughs (played by Richard Conti) in ostensible tribute to queer junky literary outlaw William S. Burroughs. Considering the same HIV-positive men Stefan is looking for also happen to be the same people the serial killer is eradicating, Detective Tolliver continues to verbally terrorize the young Teuton and questions him about his ‘HIV status.’ After having a telling and wee bit nasty chat with Dr. Burroughs, Stefan decides to break into the good doc’s office and steal documents, thus confirming that all of the serial killers victims are the same ex-cons that were part of the AIDS experiment. Unfortunately, little does Stefan realize that his big bad boy toy Jeffrey was not only one of the ex-prisoners that took part in the AIDS experiment he has been doing detective work on, but also the serial killer that is liquidating said ex-cons. After Jeffrey bumps off Burroughs, Stefan is charged with his murder by the FBI, but luckily he is transferred to Tolliver, who lets him go. While Jeffrey misses the big performance of Puccini’s “Turandot” and never really gets to confirm his father’s theories, he does manage to get pumped full of the Semitic seed of a hebraic serial killer with AIDS.

Taking its title from the aria “Nessun Dorma” of Puccini’s “Turandot” (“No one shall sleep!” is a permutation of “Nessun Dorma”), No One Sleeps is ultimately a work that strives for stylistic and intellectual sophistication, but ultimately fails in all of its objectives, even if the film makes for a surprisingly enthralling celluloid ride through poz-cock pandemonium that rather ridiculously makes the San Francisco gay underground seem like a devilishly exciting place of AIDS-packed action, adventure, and mystery. Undoubtedly, Jochen Hick’s objective with No One Sleeps was to inspire viewers to keep their minds open regarding alternative theories to the origins of AIDS, but this seems ultimately unimportant and irrelevant when you consider the fact that most of the characters of the film, including poof protagonist Stefan Hein, are so adamant about engaging in anonymous unsafe sex in what seems to be nothing less than a (sub)conscious death wish thus making all evil government conspiracies seem rather small in importance. Featuring a cameo from HIV-positive gay American extreme performance artist Ron Athey, who made headlines in 1994 when old school Reaganite senator Jesse Helms falsely claimed the AIDS-ridden artist of exposing his diseased blood to audience members while mutilating himself at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, No One Sleeps is quite possibly the only gay-sploitation/AIDS-sploitation thriller ever made that could have only been directed by a unrepentantly gay filmmaker who had next to nil interest in whitewashing the HIV homo community, which is certainly something I can appreciate. 

-Ty E

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