Coming off his successful, albeit disturbed, Fringe show, Basement, it was only natural for Gunnar Montana to keep the eery momentum going with a Halloween follow-up. In the midst of a four-day run at Underground Arts, Drag Me to Hell borrows a lot of elements from its predecessor: gore, a little nudity, buzz saws. But this time Montana brought along a few Gayborhood drag queens to help him out.
As you can imagine, the gals in question — Lady Poison, Luna Lavey and Pretty Girl — rule the roost, making the show more about drag performance art than contemporary dance. But that’s not to say fans of both worlds won’t have a bewitching good time. My date for the evening — G Philly contributor Alexander Kacala — compared Lady Poison to Salem witch Tituba. She was mesmerizing in her second number, twitching and stomping around the stage, throwing white powder all over the place. Luna Lavey owns the second act, turning out a deliciously grotesque performance of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The peppy tune is juxtaposed with her attempts to mutilate Santa Claus and pull out all his cookie-filled intestines. And Pretty Girl … well, Pretty Girl mostly flounces around the stage striking model poses. But that’s what Pretty Girl does, and I love every second of it.
Where’s sexpot Gunnar Montana in all this, you ask? Surprisingly, he takes somewhat of a back seat to the queens, mostly popping on stage — bare ass and all (I know, that was your next question) — removing props, hacking up Lady Poison with a chainsaw and … did I mention bare ass? When he does come on stage, though, it’s in two of the show’s best numbers, and both, funny enough, are performed with his back side facing the audience. He’s a hugely talented dancer, his body seems hypnotized by music. And having the queens along, he was inspired to add a bit more priss to his routine, which works, works, works.
The show would benefit from a lot more of him, and — something that’s probably rarely said about modern dance pieces — some extra time. The succinct, one-hour runtime leaves you feeling like somebody swiped the last piece of candy out of your jack-o-lantern. You just want one more bite! The nibbles are worth it, though, a great option for your Halloween shenanigans. Plus, it may be one of the last chances to get a peek inside the more-gruesome sections of Gunnar Montana’s mind. When the show was over, he told me his next performance will be called Hibernate, a mellower piece that he expects to debut early next year.
Drag Me to Hell runs through Thu., Oct. 31 at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, and they can be purchased here.