Self Defense (1983 Movie)

pic Other titles: Seige and The Night Warriors

During a police strike in Halifax (the background was the real life 1981 Halifax Police Strike) a gang of hoodlums end up unintentionally causing the owner of a gay bar -- really The Turret -- to be killed. This escalates into a string of murders with a lone survivor trying to not be next.

Full length movie can be found on Youtube here:

IMDB Entry:

RobinMetcalfe writes

I wrote a review of it for Workprint, which was (if I remember correctly) the newsletter of the Atlantic Filmmakers Coop. I was absolutely scathing. I will see if I can dig that up. I knew Terry-David Despr├ęs, who was gay and played the one ongoing gay character in the film. As I recall, he was also part of a short-lived band called Paralandra from which I have a 45 rpm record.

I have a copy of the shooting script.

The producers approached GAE about shooting in the interior of the Turret. We read the script and decided it was exploitative of the community, and refused. The front steps of the Turret appear in one shot as the entrance of a gay club where the villains (a group called New Order) stage a terrorist attack, killing all but one of the patrons (played by Terry), who escapes. The rest of the film is about brave and resourceful straight people who fend off and defeat the bad guys. The character that Terry played remains a relatively passive victim through most of this. At one key point in the action - I kid you not - he hides in a closet while the straights are fighting a battle.

Part of the larger context of this was the movie Cruising, shot in New York in the gay village a couple of years earlier. The gay community found its portrayal of gays offensive, and constantly interrupted shooting in their neighbourhoods by blowing whistles, walking into the frame, etc. There was very little representation of gay reality on screen in those days: most portrayals were of us as sickos, criminals or victims. So when the first feature to be shot in Halifax with a gay context showed a weak and frightened gay victim being saved by heroic straights, the Board of GAE was not impressed. Straights coming to our rescue was not a big part of our experience: mobilizing in self-defence as a community was; for instance when Turret partrons streamed down from the dance floor onto the street to deal with queerbashers.