Review: Tranny Fag (Dir. Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscilla, 2018)

In the traditional Portuguese Tranny Fag translates as Bixa Travesty, a little less confrontational than the English but that’s just not the style of the documentary’s subject Linn da Quebrada – the self proclaimed “tranny fag”. Residing on the outskirts of São Paulo, she is marginalised economically before even considering the fact that she’s black and transgender, struggling to exist amid poverty and in a world that, for the most part, doesn’t comprehend her.

Rather than shy away from the public eye, Quebrada is taking the Brazilian funk scene by storm, alongside her partner-in-crime Jup do Bairro. Their songs – (performed throughout) providing a back story of sorts for the 27-year-old – contain abrasive coarse lyrics which pull no punches and berate society and the expectations it places on women, what it means to be a woman like her, and dismantling the patriarchy one bridge and chorus at a time. Her words are a weapon intent on holding the world accountable and paving a way of acceptance and understanding without inciting hatred.

As a subject, the singer-songwriter and spoken word artist is fascinating and inspiring. She’s pre-op and has yet to start hormones, consider breast implants or remove her facial hair because as far as she’s concerned she’d be pandering to society’s ideal of womanhood. Quebrada – who also co-wrote the script with directors Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman – is a “black fag doll. Neither man or woman” embraces nudity, here and in her stage shows as an attempt to undermine, even recondition the collective mindset associating gender with genitalia and highlighting the façade of gender performance.

A real turning point in the documentary which jumps from talking head to music gig almost exclusively is the footage made during Quebrada’s treatment for testicular cancer, the physical effects and the profundity it had on the way she controlled her body. The scene which shows her literally pulling the lustrous locks of hair from her head, chemotherapy having ravaged her immune system is particularly powerful and in keeping with her persona, completely transgressive. This and the scenes with her mother offer a rare intimacy which is needed in an otherwise repetitive and prosaic documentary. The static camera and simplistic editing coupled with the pulsating combative stage performances start to feel isolating.

Tranny Fag is a LGBTQIA+ positive, important and transgressive, if slight, profile of a bold and beautiful artist who is unapologetically her confident self. She espouses her ideas and beliefs provocatively, is always interesting, and determined to not only stand out but belong in an accepting world.

Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review: Dracula (Dir. Terence Fisher, 1958)


It seems somewhat ironic that a country so set on suppression would help instil and depict the inextricable link between sex, horror and death and yet long after the rise of German Expressionist and Universal horror in the States – in which the heimlich and unheimlich were visually portrayed amid ideologies of repression and scepticism – British horror cinema only really emerged in the 1950s following decades of censorship. Among those banned were The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ( 1920, dir. Robert Wiene), Nosferatu (1922, dir. F.W. Murnau) and Freaks (1932, dir. Tod Browning) and significant cuts were made to Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and Browning’s Dracula (1931). The British censors appeared to completely overlook the cathartic effect of the horror film until the birth of Hammer (so named after co-founder William Hinds’ stage name). These films were defined by a number of factors including a restrained style and the use of colour, their settings were often historical (cleverly to avoid censorship), with themes of patriarchal authority, class divide and the notion of ‘maleness’ prevalent. These male characters were often given priority within the ideological diegesis and fought emasculation in one form or other. The films, more often than not, also included the inimitable partnership of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and for a time Hammer revelled in its elusive quality, screen splendour, and success but by the 1970s the lauded films became a distant memory as each new movie lost vigour, became more derivative and relied upon overt eroticism to maintain its popularity, in a series of films I like to refer to as Carry On…Hammer.


Thankfully Dracula (1958, dir. Terence Fisher) was one made within Hammer’s ‘Golden Age’ (1957-1964) and, since its 2007 restoration by the BFI, is released on 3-disc DVD and Blu-ray on the 18th March 2013 replete with scenes that have been unavailable for decades and a great deal of extras: including a variety of featurettes, commentaries, and interviews with cast members, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and fans of the film like Sir Christopher Grayling, Kim Newman and Mark Gatiss. The actual print is glorious and beautifully restored showcasing the film’s palette of colour and lush, decadent sets comprising of inviting heavy drapes, dark wood and blazing fires. While audiences are familiar with Stoker’s 1897 tale, there are liberties taken, by Sangster, with the story. Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) arrives at Castle Dracula to investigate the disappearance of his colleague and protégé Jonathan Harker (John van Eyssen). Jonathan became the librarian to The Count (Christopher Lee) as a cover, while his true intention is “to end Dracula’s reign of terror.” This reign includes the seduction of both his fiancée Lucy Holmwood (Carol Marsh) and her older, married sister, Mina (Melissa Stribling) which builds to a fantastic finale accompanied by James Bernard’s terrifying and haunting score.

If Schreck’s rat-like Nosferatu was a subtext for plague and a ‘fear-of the foreigner’ and Lugosi’s thick Hungarian accent and histrionics made an attempt to aid the supernatural elements of a walking corpse, specifically in his slow pacing and deliberate enunciation of broken English. There was/is an eerie charm to his Count, however, it was not until Christopher Lee’s portrayal was sex so obviously aligned with Dracula and he became the ‘lover’; a sexual and provocative nuance to the role has continued with Frank Langella (1979), Gary Oldman (1992) and, dare I say, Gerard Butler (2000). Lee brings the virile, exotic ‘other’ to sex up the Victorian bourgeoisie; a formidable task given his thirteen lines of dialogue and lots of hissing. Make no mistake, despite its roots within the British stiff-upper lipped realm where evil is pronounced with a hard ‘e’ and ending in ‘ville’, this is a film about sex, marriage, adultery and seduction and well worth a re-visit in its original uncut, splendiferous, form.