Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lost Movie Detective: Him (1974) UPDATED

Director:
Ed D. Louie (pseudonym)
Written by:
Unknown
Starring:
Unknown

IMDB page:
Click here






NOTE:  Although my review contains no "adult" content (i.e. pornography), some of the sources quoted in this article include strong language and sexual references. For the purposes of journalistic candour, all are reproduced here in their full, unexpurgated form. Reader discretion is advised.

Are you curious about HIS sexual life?
If this ad is a little too coy about giving away exactly whose sexual life it is referring to, let me spell it out for you: J-E-S-U-S - H - C-H-R-I-S-T.

But this isn't just any old scandal-baiting religious art-flick, no
siree. Look a little closer, at the strapline under the title: "X-Rated... All Male Cast".

That's right boys and ghouls,
Him was a hardcore gay porno... about Jesus.

Oddly enough, despite the explosively controversial potential of the subject matter, surprisingly little is known about the film. It seems to be an example of a truly "lost" movie; to all appearances, it has fallen off the face of the Earth, with nary a dusty bootleg videotape or a scratched-up old film print having shown up to prove it ever existed. Indeed, there are some who maintain it never did, but, by piecing together all known information on the film, as well as dabbling in a little original research of my own, I reckon I've proven the naysayers wrong.
Him did exist, and it may still be out there... somewhere.

The film's first, and to date only, mainstream media exposure didn't come until 1980, in Michael and Harry
Medved's book The Golden Turkey Awards. In this book and its sequels, the Medveds would hand out "Golden Turkeys" to films, in numerous categories, that they considered to be of particularly low quality. In the first book of the series, Him appears as the winning nominee in the "Most Un-Erotic Concept in Pornography" category and is described as follows:

This innovative film, designed exclusively for gay audiences, goes into excruciating detail concerning the erotic career of Jesus Christ. The ads for the film show the face of The Savior (with a cross glistening in one eye) while the headline inquires "Are You Curious About HIS Sexual Life?" Filmmaker Ed D. Louie satisfies that curiosity by showing us that the Son of Man was a voracious homosexual. (After all, why did he spend all that time hanging around with the Apostles?) The central character of the film is actually a young gay male in contemporary America whose sexual obsession with Jesus helps him to understand the "hidden meaning" of the Gospels.
[...]
For sheer tastelessness, this film has no equals. In one scene, our homosexual hero goes to his local priest to confess his erotic fixation on Jesus Christ. The priest sits in the confessional, listening to the young man breathlessly elaborating his perverted fantasies, while taking advantage of the situation to reach under his cassock and masturbate grotesquely on camera. This charming episode surely marks one of the absolute low points in the history of American cinema. Those pathetic few who might want to see Him ought to come to the theater dressed in plain, brown paper wrappers, that hopefully cover their eyes along with the rest of their faces.
However, on the very first page of the book, the Medveds proclaim: "Over 425 actual films are described in this book, but one is a complete hoax. Can you find it?"

This statement has prompted many to believe that Him was the fake film in question, to assume that it never actually existed outside the pages of the book. Likely, given the uniquely obscure and outlandish nature of the alleged picture (in comparison to other films featured in the book), any Golden Turkey readers whose interest might otherwise have been piqued into researching further would have come up against this mention of a hoax, put two and two together, and declared that the end of the issue. Possibly, this goes some way towards explaining why such little interest and controversy surrounds the matter today.

The big spanner in this theory, however is Dog of Norway; a supposed boy-and-his-dog film nominated in a different category, illustrated with a "screenshot" that is, in actuality, a photograph of the Medveds' pet pooch who also appears with them on the "meet the authors" page. Dog of Norway is the true fake. This is quickly backed-up by a simple Google search which turns up no relevant results, except those that specifically connect the title with the Medveds' hoax.

Nevertheless, there has been grumbling from some of the more conspiratorially-minded denizens of the interwebs about the motives the Brothers Medved might have had in including (and, according to some, fabricating) Him in The Golden Turkey Awards. Not as part of a jovial game, in this case, but in furthering an ulterior agenda. Dog or no dog...

These days, Michael Medved is better known for being a cultural firebrand and religiously-motivated right-wing political crusader than he is for reviewing films. Of course, there is nothing a conservative media commentator loves more than a good, old-fashioned furore to help whip up support for their personal brand of "family values", and on the surface Him - with its magic trinity of sacrilege, homosexuality and pornography - reads almost like a pre-packaged moral panic in a (conspicuously absent) film can. All in all, a little too perfect, according to some suspicious souls. Could it really be that Medved invented the movie, gruesome details and all, to help surreptitiously plant the seeds of righteous protest against the "liberal" media of his day? There have been other, more recent, hoaxes about gay Jesus films. Most of these appear to have gestated in America's bible-belt, and have been propagated across the face of the earth via waves of angry chain emails (Snopes has an excellent article on these, although their reference to Him could do with updating, as we shall soon see). Whether we look upon these panics as the fruition of Medved's "secret scheme" or more simply as evidence of the politically emotive power of such claims, they do seem to help the conspiracy theorists' case. But, as with everything surrounding this movie, look a little closer and another layer of the onion peels away:

The first problem with the "conspiracy theory" is timing. The book was first published in 1980 and, although Medved began to voice his political support for the Republican party in this year, he did not become a true fire-breathing political commentator until much later. Secondly, Medved is devoutly Jewish, so his alleged motives for trying to rile specifically the Christian Right into a religious frenzy just don't seem as clear and characteristic as they might at first glance. Moreover, if the description of the film was intended to be inflammatory, it was planted in the wrong place; latterly, Medved has proven himself to be an expert at targeting his intended audience (his talk show on the Salem Radio Network has been ranked as the eighth-most listened-to in the USA), and even in the 1970s Medved was already a seasoned author and journalist who would have had no problem with getting his message out via a more suitably conservative channel than a humour book aimed at transgressive movie buffs.

Of course, not one of these points actually disproves the "Medved Conspiracy" and, in the absence of any actual prints, images, footage, reviews, or (apparently) anyone who had actually seen the damn movie, for the longest time the only things inquisitive folks had to go on were the unsupported claims of the Medveds and pure speculation. It wasn't until the mid-2000s that new information would start to bubble up from the depths of the internet.

In 2003, the now-defunct Pimpadelic Wonderland, a site dedicated to 1970s psychotronica, included Him on a list of lost films, and featured what appeared to be an actual newspaper ad-slick for the film (the one reproduced at the top of this page). The text itself simply states: "Yes, this gay porn take on the life of Christ does (or at least did) actually exist!". Given the address of the cinema mentioned - the 55th Street Playhouse, a small arthouse theatre-cum-porno fleapit, now long defunct - it seemed likely that the ad originated in one of several mainstream newspapers in the New York City area that were regularly publishing advertisements for adult films at the time. Unfortunately, the image was presented out of context with no additional information on its source. Short of catching a plane to New York and trawling though newspapers on microfiche, there was no way of corroborating the ad's authenticity. (You can see an archive of Pimpadelic Wonderland's lost film list here).

Others since claimed to have seen similar ads for the film in own local papers, including The Ottawa Citizen. According to contributors to the 55th Street Playhouse page on Cinema Treasures, the film may have played there for as long as two months and was later shown at the South Station Cinema in Boston. One poster, "Samschad", even quotes a Variety review dated
April 17, 1974:

Pic depicts graphic sex acts involving Jesus Christ and includes a scene in which a priest is seen masturbating while listening to a confession. The gay-oriented film is about a young man with a sexual obsession for Christ.
This would be a groundbreaking discovery if only the review was verifiably real. Unfortunately, no such write-up existed in Variety's extensive online archive. Had it been omitted or overlooked, or was Samschad lying? One step forward, one step back...

Then, out of the blue, in December 2005, "Billy A. Anderson", a contributor to the Mesmerize forums, uploaded a full, detailed review of
Him by Al Goldstein, editor of Screw, from the April 29, 1974 edition of that magazine:


DIRTY DIVERSIONS
By Al Goldstein

Queen of the Jews

CHRIST'S SECOND COMING

A bizarrely engrossing new film called HIM, playing at the 55th St. Playhouse, between 6th and 7th Avenues, has more to recommend it than some of its mismatched shots, mishmash editing and cheap budget would have allowed. I sat in the theatre next to the delicious Marcia Bronstein, editor of BITCH, so much of my enthusiasm for this film may simply have been the proximity of my thighs to hers. Then again it may have been the vividly poetic photography that loudly proclaimed in favor of cocksucking, ass fucking and other lofty pursuits of this downtrodden group of perverts.

The plot of HIM theoretically is about a faggot who is preoccupied with Christ and constantly has sexual reveries about balling that great Son of God. The plot might have worked, had it been explained to the viewer, but the movie begins inexorably slowly and, for its first 40 minutes, it consists of some solid hard-core in the gay vein and the meaning of the title HIM eludes the spectator. Only deeply into the film does one get the necessary material to permit the audience to comprehend the meaning of the plot. By then it's too late and you really don't give a shit, which is a shame, since so much of this film transcends most of the porno pap that permeates our perimiters.

I thought I had seen everything, but this movie brings in a whole new battery of barnyard banterings, from the opening credits, which are played against a stiff cock being licked by a very pretty white pussycat, to a delicious decadent sequel where a guy fucks a vacuum cleaner with such love that I started to hum, "I want a vacuum cleaner just like the vacuum cleaner that married dear old dad." As they say on Fire Island, it was one of the more legendarily meaningful relationships of last summer, and a blowjob par excellence. Another torrid little scene had a priest jerking off in his confession box as he listened to the tawdry and tear-stained confession of the wandering faggot. The sex on the cross, in particular the graphic anal probings, which is not unlike a World War II boat launching depth charges, was exciting, and, of course, the hot searching lips of Marccia waxing poetic over my body kept me truly excited. At least I thought it was Marcia. Then when I looked down I saw it was the manager of the theatre.

HIM is a hymn to sodomy and the other brazen activities that mark the twilight world of perversity with so much pain and prurience, yet to those who are not so frightened by any blemish on their masculinity and can respond to the heated sensuality of another human being, it's a film that will be innervating and titillating.

Mr. Goldstein's "Peter Meter" Rating of the film, from 0-100 %

I PETER-METER HIM AS FOLLOWS:

INTEREST--POSSIBLE- 60%, ACTUAL-45%

SEXUALITY-
EROTIC POSSIBLE-20%, ACTUAL-20 %

SEXUALITY-
EXPLICIT POSSIBLE-10%, ACTUAL-10%

TECHNICAL-POSSIBLE-10 %, ACTUAL- 10 %

TOTAL-85 %


Until now, the Screw article has been the strongest piece of available evidence supporting the existence of the film. Granted, it was not an actual scan of the page, simply a typed-out re-quoting of the text, but where it differed from the Variety review was in the fact that it appeared on a message forum where its poster is a respected and long-standing contributor and who, it would seem, is unlikely to jeopardise his reputation by fraudulently referencing non-existent information from a checkable source. Furthermore, the discussion is linked to by both Him's Wikipedia and IMDB pages, receiving a relatively high volume of traffic from these sites, and the review has also been re-posted in various other message boards, so it seemed fair to assume that, in the five years since its re-appearance, someone with access to back issues of Screw would have come forward to debunk the Goldstein review, if it was a hoax. In any case, there was absolutely no reason to believe Billy A. Anderson was trying to scam us.

Which leaves Al Goldstein himself. A love-him or hate-him character, Goldstein is well known for being... well, a bit of a rogue. It doesn't stretch the bounds of credulity very far to picture him slipping fake reviews into his magazine for shits and giggles. I have attempted to contact Mr. Goldstein by email, regarding Him, but received no reply. Failing that, I tried my best to research
Marcia Bronstein and Bitch magazine, in the hope that she may have followed up with a review in her publication. Sadly, Bitch went out of business soon after it launched, and precious little in the way of information on the magazine exists today.

So was the whole kitt'n cabootle Goldstein's invention, which subsequently escaped into the wild, and picked up by the Medveds? Unlikely perhaps, given the other information available, but not entirely outwith the realm of possibility. Until now.

The impasse may finally be at an end. New information has come to light, thanks to the wonders of Google News Archive, a recent spin-off of Google News and Google Books. The site allows searchable access to the digitized back issues of various newspapers which providers have chosen to make
available.

Among them is The Village Voice, the famous arts oriented alternative weekly based out of the Greenwich Village district of New York. While preparing to write this article, and speculatively browsing through issues of The Village Voice from around the period of March-May 1974, I uncovered not only another review of the film, but a whole series of different large-format advertisements for Him, some including actual screenshots from the film!



From The Village Voice, March 28th 1974 (click):


From
The Village Voice, April 11th 1974 (click):


From The Village Voice, April 25th 1974 (click):


From The Village Voice, May 16th 1974 (click):


This is The Village Voice review of Him from April 18 1974 (click for higher res):


So there we have it, it would seem that reasonable doubt has been quashed - the Medveds, Al Goldstein, Pimpadelic Wonderland, Billy Anderson and the guys on Cinema Treasures - they are all vindicated. Both the Variety and Screw reviews are quoted in the ads, and I was also able to track down the source of the Time quote, which is, to my knowledge, the first time that publication has been drawn into this search.

Whew! God knows, as a straight male,
I never imagined I would ever spend so much time trying to prove the existence of some gay porn! Now only one question remains: where the hell is it now!?

More investigation is required, and perhaps you can help. Do you have any info on the subject that I haven't covered here? Maybe you saw Him on its release in New York, or elsewhere? Perhaps you saw a copy on video years ago (was this thing ever even released on video?) or hell, maybe you were involved in its production, or know someone who was (someone made this movie)? If you know anything, I'd love to hear from you so drop me a line via the comments box below.

The hunt goes on...



UPDATE 22/04/10:

Having read this article, "Billy A. Anderson", credited above as the "re-discoverer" of Al Goldstein's Him review, contacted me and very kindly supplied some photographs of the pages in question (available here and here). In the very same issue of Screw, he also uncovered some new information on the 55th Street Playhouse (pic available here), including, perhaps crucially, the fact that it seems to have shown films exclusively in 16mm format, which helps narrow down the search for any would-be film detectives out there...

UPDATE 14/07/10:

More info from Billy Anderson
. By perusing the pages of The Village Voice and The New York Times for ads, he has definitively pinpointed the exact start and end dates of Him's theatrical run at the 55th Street Playhouse. It played from 27th March to 23rd May 1974, a total run of over eight weeks! Here is an ad for the same theatre, from the preceding day, advertising a "Jaguar film festival", and here is a familiar ad from the 27th, Him's opening day. Finally, here is an ad from the last day of Him's run (note the small print beneath the Cowboy and the Old Man ad: "Last times: Ed D. Louie's Him"). Kudos, once again, to Billy for his perseverance and inquisitiveness.


UPDATE 21/07/12: 

A couple of weeks ago, a man named Vinny Parrillo saw this article and contacted me to say that his late partner, New York muralist Tava (aka. Gustav Von Will), was the actor who portrayed Jesus in the film. He was kindly able to provide me with a photograph - either a production still or a frame from the actual movie - of Tava as Jesus carrying the cross through Manhattan. I have censored the image here to comply with Google's Blogger content guidelines.


Tava, sadly, passed away on January 15 1991. Vinny currently sells art prints of his mural works - and some photographs, including this one - at his website here (some nudity obviously, so not work safe).

43 comments:

  1. "where the hell is it now?" ! i agree ! like yourself im "straight". the disappearance of this film may not be sinister I but find it disconcerting nonetheless. thing is, if it was made to be shown in the sort of cinemas were talking about, there may not have been many copies anyway, and maybe just one or two survive in a garage or attic.
    Though perhaps, just possibly, some church organisation, which has placed it on a forbidden list may have a copy in the vaults, just for reference of course. i suggest in all seriousness, try church archives, they may just have it

    ReplyDelete
  2. interesting article..., so the movie EXIST..., great..., the pics are great...

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have made a quiet good searching job..., i want to see this movie...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'll keep my fingers crossed that a copy of "Him" and "Blood Circus" come to light one day!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes yes, a thousand times YES - I saw this movie Him and am on the Cinematreasures.org site stating exactly that.
    I really would like this to show up in some bin at some about-to-go-under porn shop's discount videos... yeah, right.
    But, yes, I saw this in Boston long ago and it is getting more distant in mind with he passage of time; even the manager of the South Station doesn't recall - maybe George Mansour would remember this one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now before i start...Interesting.

    For a fact i saw "HIM" at the the 55th Street Playhouse...Now before you go on this place also played some other stuff besides Porn...I saw "Snuff" their along with Man from Deep River.

    Now "HIM"...I passed up "Deep Throat" when it first came out but "HIM" got intrigued me too see it only becuase of the reviews and the trailer i remeber being attached to "Devil in Miss Jones".

    Lol "HIM" was pretty bad i can still remeber a lot of stuff, I don't recall a "Cat Scene" But i do remeber the Crucifiction scene. All they do is tie him too it and gag him while sucking his dick nothing more.

    Any questions just ask. Dude i live in Japan though now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Do you remember a lot of people being in the theater? For only one person to seem to come out and say they saw it must mean it didn't get much of audience.

    Plus it was 1971

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not that I can recall but I wasn't the only person in there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Around 1980, a teacher of mine at School of Visual Arts told me one of his students made this film as a school project and showed it at one of the quarterly review committees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am interested in the claim that the movie was presented at the School of Visual Arts by a student there. It would seem to conflict with the Ed Wood theory, but since it comes second hand though an anonymous poster, I'm treating it as hearsay for now. I wonder if the School of Visual Arts published minutes or reports based on those meetings...

      Delete
  10. I think more people should focus on the alias, Ed D. Louie. Ed D Wood Jr?... lets think about this. I don't think he would've wanted his name associated with a gay porn, he was involved with porn though. He also used aliases. The Screw magazine review mentioned mismatched editing, to me thats some of biggest proof. On the con side, this film played in New york while he was based in LA. Now just because it played in NY doesnt mean it was made in NY. The plot also has a Woodsian quality to it Plus most porn was made in LA. If you question me tell me who Ed D Louie is. Ed D, really? Seriously what are the chances. Ed D Wood was used by Ed Wood. This wouldve been the last movie he directed and I bet his ego wouldve been somewhat proud of it, even though he feared the public reaction because it was a gay porn more so than being perceived as blasphemous. This was before Ed Wood became a cult legend, that happened in the 80's so that lowers the chanvce that the alias was used as an homage.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yeah, I've considered the Ed Wood hypothesis myself, but discarded it as unlikely. The name and the "mismatched shots" seems to offer some circumstantial evidence, but there's really not much beyond that. HIM is known to have been shot, guerrilla-style, in New York City. The reviews mention a scene in which Christ appears in the street in front of the Pan-Am building. Wood always worked in LA, and it seems unlikely that the producers would have paid to have Ed Wood, a relatively unknown and not highly-regarded director at the time, flown out to New York to shoot this thing, under an alias no less. It is possible, I guess, if Wood pitched the script to some New York investors who liked it enough to bring him out to direct it. But it seems unlikely: if they wanted a gay Jesus movie, it would have been cheaper just to get some local hack to make it, and by all accounts, cheapest seems to have been a priority.

    As for the "mismatched shots" goes... well... every single film I've reviewed on here features mismatched shots and not one of them was directed by Ed (perhaps I should rectify that). It's a feature of films with quick shooting schedules and poor, rushed or underfunded editors. It's not a particularly strong piece of evidence.

    You are right, however, that it would be a sensation if this turned out to be a lost Ed Wood film. It's a possibility, but I just don't think there's any real evidence for that, beyond a general feeling that it would be kinda cool. This is one thing I would love to be proved wrong on, though.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I do find the story behind this film to be quite interesting, but I'm not quite fascinated enough to start poking around myself . . . For those more motivated than me, I suggest getting in contact Freeman Gunter, whose review of HIM from Michael's Thing magazine is quoted in one of the Village Voice ads above. Perhaps he could shed more light on the content of the movie, or even the people involved in making it. Apparently he's alive and well in New York:
    http://nymag.com/realestate/features/apartments/freeman-gunter-2011-4/

    ReplyDelete
  13. OK, maybe I am becoming obsessed, but I still am not up for contacting anyone; however for those who are interested, "Bruce King" (real name Avery Willard) from Gay Scene magazine (quoted in the same Village Voice ad for HIM as Freeman Gunter) might be available for interview at the "Roosevelt Nursing Home" in New York: http://models.badpuppy.com/archive/willard/

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oops, sorry--Bruce King/Avery Willard, it turns out, is literally a "dead" lead: "He died in the Bronx on September 7, 1999."
    http://www.nypl.org/archives/4745

    (As far as I know, Freeman Gunter is still alive, though.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Another lead: Dick Leitsch, whose blurb for HIM appeared in the May 16th, 1974 edition of The Village Voice.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91993823
    http://andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fam/biol2/leitsc01.html
    http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/170142-dick-leitsch

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hmm . . . Gotta wonder if the "David Tipmore" who wrote the Village Voice's own review of HIM could be this guy:

    http://www.marionmilitary.edu/skins/userfiles/files/Humanities%20Faculty%20%28Final%20Revision%29%20%282%29%281%29.pdf

    The plot thickens . . . Former gay journalist turned humanities department chair at an Alabama military academy?! It could be just a coincidence of names, but then again, the professor "David Tipmore" does include a quote by Oscar Wilde on his page . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Voice's Tipmore would be a great lead: in his review he said he suspected that the actor who played Jesus in HIM was his old roommate, because he looked exactly like him!

      Delete
  17. Please visit www.vinnys.net - Tava, the pier muralist w
    played Jesus carrying the cross in the movie HIM which i saw at the adonis theater - and have a photo in one of his art prints of Tava playing Jesus - so yes the film existed and i have only seen it that once. Doesn't anyone else remember the movie or have a copy of it?

    vinny parrillo
    vparrillo1@nyc.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. To Vinny Parrillo, so are your saying that Tava was the man who played Jesus in Him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sent him an email asking him about this, and yep, it seems legit. He even sent a pic (either a film still or a production photo) of Tava carrying the cross though SoHo, nude. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to post it here without my adsense account getting skewered :P

      Delete
    2. You can see a low res watermarked version on Vinny's site (see above). If I posted it here I'd probably have to post a similarly low res version (out of respect for the guy who is trying to sell the full size prints) and I'd be forced to censor the nudity too.

      Delete
  19. Hi,
    thanks for your reply..., i think you´d fog it in genital areas..., it will be great watch this pic...
    And your research is great...,great work...., and what about that Tava guy?..., does he live yet?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Has anyone who used to work at 55th St. Playhouse been located? I am curious as to what was done with the film—or any film that ran at that particular theater—after the film's run completed. What is the procedure of getting rid of a film that is no longer playing? Is it thrown out? Given back to wherever it was delivered from? Placed in an archive? Given to the theater's projectionist, patron, janitor, etc.?

    I think the best place to start looking is NOT where it is now, but rather what was done with it after it stopped showing at 55th St.

    Also, is the 55th St. Playhouse the only known showings?

    I live in Seattle and am beginning to do some light research on those types of theaters from back then to get an idea about where a film like HIM could have gone after its run at a theater. I doubt I will find anything to pinpoint where HIM could be—in fact, I think it's a waste of time because HIM is probably nowhere near the West Coast—but it is as least a start… Following foot prints…

    ReplyDelete
  21. Randy:

    The 55th Street Playhouse isn't the only known screening location. Billy Anderson was able to find ads for another New York run at a different theatre in 1975. Offhand, I can't recall the name of the theatre, it might have been The Adonis, or something like that. There are also a lot of very credible (as yet unconfirmed) claims that it played at the South Station Cinema in Boston, and at cinemas and/or clubs as far afield as Ottawa and (yes) San Francisco.

    I understand having a 16 or 35mm film print made was an expensive business, even then. We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars. I reckon, for a movie like Him, its printing budget could quite easily be larger than the production and advertising budgets combined! There's a good chance that only a single release print of a film like this would ever be struck, so it's unlikely that the film would be binned or given to the janitor once run was finished. I'm not 100% sure of the distribution model, but I suppose it either went back to the distributor (whoever that was, it would be incredibly useful to find out), or sold on directly to another theatre. In either case, the film would tour cities around North America, so it could be anywhere. If anyone wants to find it, they should either find out who the distributor was and ask what happened to it (even if the print is gone, the original camera materials or a workprint might still exist in a vault somewhere), or laboriously track it's passage through different cities to determine its final resting place, and pray to Jesus himself that the print, or some paperwork relating to it, has somehow survived there for 30-odd years. :)

    Billy tried the latter, but didn't have a great deal of luck, and the job has become beat-impossible now that Google's old newspaper archive has been retired.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi. I originally stumbled upon this blog entry one or two years ago, and again today, after a bout of 'wiki-walking'. I ended up spending some time researching this subject, and stumbled upon this photograph (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=2043108&imageID=colmer_231_2997&total=3122&num=0&word=Colmer_231_2997&s=1&notword=&d=&c=&f=&k=0&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&sort=&imgs=20&pos=1&e=w) of the 55th st. Playhouse, allegedly "circa 1976". What drew my interested was the white panel on the right, where the letters H and I (handwritten?) can be distinguished, and an M (or a W, possibly) can very well be after. Now, it's completely possible that I'm imagining things, but I believe it could be worth trying to get the most out of the image; after all, it could be that the picture was taken during the run of HIM in 1974 and not 1976, as there are no other details that can confirm otherwise.

    Greetings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. It certainly does look like "Him" (but possibly also "Hung"). In any case, an interesting find. I don't think I'd ever seen an up-close contemporary shot of the cinema before. Looks even more low-rent and low-key than I'd imagined. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  23. I doubt it's true, but if I correctly understand the thread found at this link "http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38171&page=2", one guy (Joel S., comment #24) says in regard to HIM: "I've got this one on VHS. It's pretty good.. Would be better if it were from the tail end of the 1970s in my opinion."

    ReplyDelete
  24. It might interest all of you to know that Martin Scorsese, before embarking on his production of "Last Temptation of Christ" in 1988, requested his research team to hunt this film down when requesting to see every single known film in existence pertaining to Christ or portraying the figure of Jesus in any cinematic form.

    What influence it may or may not have had on him is certainly up to the discretion of the viewer, but there is a great deal
    of emotional intensity and even tenderness in the relationship between Harvey Kietel and Willem Dafoe, as Judas and Jesus, respectively, in the finished film.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I saw this film at the 55th St. and remember a very hot scene with the actor playing Christ getting fucked.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have a clear memory of this movie being discussed as having been shown in Scandinavia c.1978 when I was stationed in Spain and in the US Navy. You might look for a copy there.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Was Vinny able to shed any light on the actual film at all? I gather from no mention that it was not. I've always been fascinated by this one when I first saw it on Pimpadelic Wonderland, again even though I'm a straight male. I love the mystery behind lost cinema, and the idea of lost cinema from the 70s especially.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am currently writing a book on lost films, and I have tracked down information on the elusive Ed Louie. I can confirm he was NOT Ed Wood - Ed Louie was his name! I would ask the author of this blog to please get in touch me, as I have some interesting info to share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Phil. Thanks for getting in touch. I have sent you a message on Facebook.

      Delete
    2. Phil Hall, I would love to order a copy of your book. Could you leave an Amazon link here when you publish it?

      Delete
  29. Just responded. Check your message box, it may be in the "Other" message section!

    ReplyDelete
  30. So any updates about the director? We have a lot of information about the movie now but im so curious about the artist who made this. Thanks for all the work and research!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ok, so i don't have any information about this, but i have a lot of opinions:

    Captain Obscurity, do you have have you ever thought about doing a Kickstarter campaign about investigation this stuff? I think a lot of people would like to help to solve this mystery, and after you get some information discovered this could be turn into a fantastic documentary, like the one about the Toynbee tiles or Jodorowsky's Dune, or in a book. I think that even more profound that the mystery around the movie is the search itself: how can a 70s gay porn movie attract so much attention from most straight males? This movie was kind made to be forgotten but even with that he found a way to be remembered.

    I think about this because a lot of things could be more easy to find with more help. There are people behind this film, a lot of people. My theory is that this movie was made or by a young gay artist, who wanted to do a subversive and provocative movie with the queer movement that was pretty strong in the 70s, or this is productive of some film company who hired a director to shoot to make some money with the midnight movies phenomenon, unfortunately, i think the last option is the most certain, because this production required a lot of money, journal ads are surreally not cheap, and i find pretty intriguing how they got a lot of famous publications to send writers to watch the movie, so they must have send some sort of press release, and lastly if Ed Louie is a pseudonym, is a small proof that the direction was not comfortable with the ideia of being recognised for doing this.

    So i would say that if theres a copy of this thing in 16mm it probably belongs to the producer, but is strange that theres no other name in the ads of a film company or producer.

    If you liked the idea of creating a documentary please contact me, im a movie student from Europe and sincerely think this is a great story. lucasmoreira[at]gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for the comment and great suggestions, Lucas. There is a lot more information about to come out about this film very soon: Phil Hall of Film Threat magazine is currently working on a book about lost films featuring a chapter on "Him". He's uncovered a lot more information about this film and the people and the motivations behind it, so watch that space.

    As for the documentary and Kickstarter ideas, I really think that's a great plan and someone should definitely do it, but that someone isn't me. :) To be honest, this was something I heard about a few years ago and it intrigued me when I was looking for material to use for blog posts. I was lucky enough to uncover some new info, but sadly I don't really have the time or the inclination to spend on a bigger project relating to it.

    As fascinatingly weird as this subject matter is, back when I started this cult film blog, I never really expected its one defining success would be about a gay Jesus porno. :) My passion is low budget horror and this article - which I am proud of and have no regrets about - was only supposed to be an interesting detour, but it's become, by far, the most popular article I've written. It gets more traffic than all the other articles on Obscurity and Beyond combined. I am glad this has drawn more attention to a bizarre and forgotten piece of cinema history, and provided a forum for people to discuss theories, etc., but I also think this blog as a whole has become a victim of this one article's success, which is unfortunate. My degree of personal interest in the subject matter is now not as big as the amount of interest the article has generated. It was the controversy over its existence that interested me, now that's been proved, I honestly don't think I'd even watch the movie if it was found. I am happy to take a back seat and let others take up the mantle :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Its nice to know that Phil Hall discovered more things, i can't wait to read the book, and i hope he shares his process and how did he find the infos like you did in this blog.

    I think i understand your position, and in the end this film is probably... pretty bad, but this is whats makes so interesting: if this was a vhs gay porn movie easy to find in any video store it would be just another bizarre movie in the world, but exactly because of his obscurity and because he is unaccessible (specially in this day of age where you can find ANYTHING on the internet) that those things made him more powerful.

    When i was writing to you i felt that since you started this in 2010 that you may have lost the interest by now, and i may be not the best person to work on a project/documentary either because i don't live in the US, but damn, this could make a great documentary, it covers so much interesting points: sexuality, movie myths, collected investigation... and i do think that you are a important piece in the assembly of this jigsaw.

    Thanks once again for putting your time in this, and i feel that is just a matter of time now until we have this mystery fully uncovered.

    ReplyDelete
  35. How the hell did I end up on this page? I guess it all started when I heard about the existence of a lifetime portrait of Genghis Khan. I wanted to see this, so I did a Google image search. But then I saw a picture of John Wayne, and I thought to myself, did someone seriously make a movie with John Wayne playing the part of Genghis Khan? And sure enough, it's from a film called The Conqueror, whose wikipedia page mentions that it won a Golden Turkey award. "What's a Golden Turkey award?" I wondered as I clicked the wiki link. And so I arrived at the wikipedia page about Medved's book. It mentions a lost film called Him. "Oh!" I thought to myself, "a lost film sounds interesting." I clicked on the link. "Hm, a gay porno. Okay, not so interesting after all." But then I saw that its existence was disputed, and that rekindled my interest once again. I looked at the wiki references and clicked again. And here I am.

    I don't think I'm going to look for any more images of Genghis Khan.

    ReplyDelete