For anyone not familiar with here! TV’s series The Lair, let me bring you up to speed. The setting is a picturesque little town on an island somewhere on the East Coast. What makes this town so picturesque? Well, there’s its lush greenery, its sweeping ocean views, its many gorgeous houses, and there is also the fact that it seems to be entirely populated by attractive young gay men (the lone straight guy in town was culled in season one when he was murdered by his girlfriend who is now in jail – oh, and he was a bad man who abused her, so he had it coming I guess). Of these gay men, several are played by actors from gay porn (in an uncanny twist, the dead straight guy was played by an actor from straight porn). In fact, the local sheriff looks like he may have played the lead in the gay porn version of Sylvester Stallone’s Copland. And if he hasn’t he should think about it. I even have the perfect title for it, though it is unprintable here.
In this town there is an exclusive nightclub, where hot young men dance the night away. They also get up to other activities in back rooms; activities that we are invited to watch roughly twice per thirty minute episode. This club is called The Lair, and it turns out that it is run by a coven of vampires, who lure young men in and, after having sex with them (and sometimes even during sex with them), suck their blood and dispose of the bodies. They do a poor job of this as all the bodies seem to be discovered, a shortcoming one would think could be easily remedied with a few viewings of The Sopranos. Maybe vampires don’t watch TV (or maybe their island doesn’t get premium cable), but opening a vampire butcher shop next to the vampire nightclub seems like a good idea. All the bodies, along with other clues, has led local reporter Thom (David Moretti) to start sniffing around The Lair. This appears to have caused all sorts of trouble in season one, including murders by mind control, shootouts, bodies disappearing from the morgue, and mayhem galore. And this was all accomplished in six short episodes.
Season two has upped the ante, and the show’s run has been pumped up to nine episodes. As the season begins, even more mayhem is set up with the introduction of a gay werewolf coming to town, and a gay mad-botanist who is raising some kind of mind-controlling killer flower. The flower may or may not be gay.
The Lair is written and directed by low-budget specialist Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Alien Dead, Invisible Mom), who does seem to shoot with his tongue firmly in his cheek much of the time, and brings a kind of mad joy to the proceedings. Unfortunately his cast is not skilled enough to help the show rise above its material, nor are they horrible or over-the-top enough to make this great camp. They are mostly just bland and amateurish, often to a painful degree. There are a couple of exceptions, notably villain Colin, played by Dylan Vox. He has an interesting look (picture the gay love child of Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Busey) and, while amateurish, he does play his role with relish, chewing up scenery occasionally. He is also one of the few who seem to be in on the joke. At first I couldn’t understand how, with so much talent in the gay community, the acting on this show could be so awful. But eventually it occurred to me that the notion of a soft-core gay vampire soap opera would probably not be the high point of one’s acting resume, so actors with any long range career goals would likely seek employment elsewhere.
The Lair is presented in 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, both in English. Though the audio capabilities of 5.1 are under-utilized with no noticeable use of the rear channels and no big sound effects to push your system, the dialogue is quite clear. The music, aside from the laugh-out-loud awfulness of the theme song, is mostly somber tones in the background to set the mood, and there is not much ambient sound in any of the scenes.
Although they are not listed in the special features, disc two contains commentary tracks for the last two episodes. These tracks feature cast members Brian Nolan and David Moretti, who seem quite delighted to have the opportunity to record a commentary. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have any insight or thoughts about the production, so they prattle on about whatever pops into their heads (actual example -‘Wouldn’t it be great if Madonna were on our show?’). Occasionally they even seem to notice the episode they’re commenting on. Insightful? Not really. Irritating? You bet.
Surprisingly, the quality of the picture is quite good. Ray does an admirable job with the budget he’s working with. The scenes are well shot with some nice atmospheric lighting. There are numerous deep blacks, flesh-tones are accurate, and the blood is realistic and plentiful. The 16:9 picture has nice image clarity and contrast is good with no noticeable distortion.
All the Special Features (including the commentaries) are on Disc Two
Automatic Trailers (9:50):The Lair, Dante’s Cove, On the Other Hand, Death: A Donald Strachey Mystery, Ice Blues: A Donald Strachey Mystery (all are here! Programs), Shelter, and Kiss the Bride (two here! Film productions)
Backlot (23:33): This is one of those promotional network featurettes that is way too wowed with the awesomeness of the show.
Disappointingly, The Lair is not as entertaining as I had hoped it would be. Though it does have some mild camp value and some of the plot developments are ludicrous enough to be amusing, this is often killed by lackluster performances. And if soft-core gay porn is what you seek, you could most likely do better elsewhere, as much of the hot sexy action in The Lair is interrupted by violence and blood. Of course, that may be the type of action you’re looking for, in which case, by all means, grab yourself a copy.