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16 Camp Classics That Keep Us Laughing

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While some films are unintentionally campy, each of these fine examples set out to go big, with broad satire and characters that often skewer the status quo. Whether they include gay characters and themes or are simply over-the-top, they hold a special place in a gay film buff’s heart.
 
Clue (1985)
The ageless murder mystery board game comes to campy life with deliciously daft performances by Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull — and Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet.

 

The Ritz (1976)
In this gayer-than-gay sex farce, Jack Weston is on the run from a Mafia hit man and hides in what he discovers is a gay bathhouse. He’s pursued by an amorous chubby chaser and an ambitious, untalented singer named Googie Gomez, played by the incomparable Rita Moreno. Sexual misunderstandings — and towels — fly.

 

Flash Gordon (1980)
The 1930s sci-fi comic strip gets a high-camp upgrade in this wonderfully ridiculous extravaganza that bulges with beefcake (especially from star Sam J. Jones) and overblown sets and costumes. Max von Sydow has great fun as Ming the Merciless, and the film gets extra gay points for its title song, written and performed by Queen.

 

Clueless (1995) 
Alicia Silverstone became the ’90s “it” girl as Cher, the pampered but sweet Beverly Hills teen with a knack for arranging everyone else’s love life — even as she’s oblivious about her own. This clever update of Jane Austen’s Emma informed every ditz-girl comedy that followed, including Legally Blonde and Mean Girls.

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