by David Lamble
The new erotic thriller Tumbledown reaches a scrumptious climax as two beautiful boys celebrate hot sex with their favorite ice cream flavors.
"What kind did you get?"
"Cookie Dough. What kind did you get?"
"Caramel and chocolate."
"Ice cream has got to be the best after-sex food."
"Or before sex."
The 21st feature by Maine backwoods soft-core artiste Todd Verow, Tumbledown is that most curious of queer straight-to-disc efforts, a tasty little gem that, despite some real flaws, just kept growing on me, finally earning this qualified rave as well as a spot on my guilty-pleasures shelf. The set-up is deceptively simple: bald, butch, mid-40s dude Jay (Verow) orders two straight vodkas (no lime) and proceeds to pick up hunky bartender Rick (co-writer/producer Brad Hallowell). The pair hit Jay's mountain cabin, where they're joined by Jay's beau, bottle-blonde cutie Mike (Brett Faulkner's horn-rim glasses complete the aesthetic foreplay). The blonde and the barkeep hit it off, neglecting Jay. The crux of the piece is Jay's revenge and the engrossing chaos that ensues.
There are minor goofs and implausible touches – a man ingests a date-rape drug from a plastic water bottle where the seal has been broken; the film's minimal casting makes it appear that Maine has about a dozen inhabitants – but ultimately these and the just-above-soap-opera acting don't detract from a potent scenario that caters to necrophiliac fantasies, executed with the innocence of a Hardy Boys
serial. Propelled by nifty cast chemistry and pseudo hard-boiled, wiseass dialogue, Tumbledown easily justifies its 80 minutes, with erotic touches prompting the replay button. It's a lovely moment when Jay, having just fucked a drugged-out Rick without a condom, proceeds to wolf down a couple of hamburgers while sitting next to the still-unconscious hunk. Jay then carefully puts away the condiments before retiring to the bedroom.
Verow, who set the bar high with an early stumble adapting Dennis Cooper's serial-killer novel Frisk, has now produced his minor classic.
Bonuses: Deleted, extended scenes, alternate ending and trailer (TLA).