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King Cobra: One Helluva Brave Movie That Tackles The Gay Porn Industry [Review]

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From Rabbit Bandini Productions and director Justin Kelly (The Hammer), comes the true crime film King Cobra, which explores the gay porn industry. Starring Garrett Clayton, Christian Slater, James Franco, Keegan Allen, Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald the film is now playing VOD and in limited theaters.

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It’s 2006, YouTube is in its infancy, and internet porn is still behind a paywall. Taking the stage name Brent Corrigan, a fresh-faced, wannabe adult video performer is molded into a star by Stephen, a closeted gay porn mogul who runs the skin flick empire Cobra Video from his seemingly ordinary suburban home. But as Brent’s rise and demands for more money put him at odds with his boss, he also attracts the attention of a rival producer and his unstable lover.


Director Justin Kelly’s King Cobra is one helluva brave movie. I dare anyone to come up with another ‘mainstream’ film that has this much on-screen same sex between two men. There is a ton of gay sex in King Cobra – like – all the gay sex. So if you’re still an uncomfortable hetero male and you’re not open to how the planet works, then you may have issues viewing such content. I would also question why you’re watching the film to begin with considering it’s about the gay porn industry, but you never know – maybe you saw James Franco and thought he was fighting a giant snake. That’s only half the truth bro… Wink and nod.

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Newcomer Garrett Clayton, who I hadn’t seen before, plays our leading man and winds up turning into an internet sensation in the gay male porn community as Brent Corrigan. True story. This happened. Also – fun fact, the real guy is hating on this movie pretty hard saying it bastardised the real events. I’m not sure what he’s referring to though because King Cobra to me seems to have captured the events quite accurately. But I wasn’t there was I? Also – it’s a movie with a runtime under two hours… Deal with it. Clayton was quite good playing the coy and gullible  young man who is trying to understand why he’s not making a ton of money and yet his boss is buying a new sports car. There’s a lot of underlying tension between Clayton and Slater’s characters and that really drives the plot forward.

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Christian Slater is REALLY good here playing Corrigan’s boss and the head of Cobra Productions (the Gay porn site he runs out of his quiet little suburban home where neighbours can’t deal with that kind of stuff). There’s some nice backstory behind Slater’s character near the beginning of the film but it fades away fast as soon as we’re introduced to James Franco and Keegan Allen’s characters. They are also a same-sex couple running their less successful porn site Viper Boyz and due to money issues they wind up pursuing a contract with Corrigan. Franco is amazing as always – playing the jealous lover who can’t handle the way his man kisses other guys during escort jobs. I really liked the on-screen chemistry between Allen and Franco – as unstable as they were, you could really feel the love between these two and it was quite moving right until the bitter end.

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I won’t spoil what happens, but I will say that there is one shocking moment of violence near the end of King Cobra… This is where the ‘true crime’ aspect of the film opens up, otherwise we spend most of our runtime following Corrigan as he struggles with his one-sided working arrangement with his manager at Cobra and the fallout of both their business and personal relationships. I do think that the movie is paced a bit slowly and it may be a fault of the source material being adapted for the bigscreen. When you have to follow a certain path set in reality, there’s less leeway for creative writing and surprising segways in plot. They had to follow the facts and some of the facts weren’t that exciting to be honest – they also made Corrigan look fairly indecisive and not the most desirable of lead characters. Maybe that’s why the real dude is pissed…

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For a movie with this much gay sex too – I was kind of shocked that there was not one dick to be found. Zero dicks. No full frontal nudity whatsoever. Now – I know they can’t show erections but I’m a bit surprised at the lack of flaccid penis between the porn scenes. It made the film feel a tad insincere to me on occasion for some reason. I don’t know why and it’s not like I desired seeing a ton of dicks or anything, but when I watch a movie with the subject matter such as this one — The Gay Porn Industry — I expect them to go as far as they possibly can. Sure, there was a lot of sex but it was all very carefully shot as to not reveal much.

King Cobra is a very solid drama despite it’s narrative flaws. I’m happy that it was made and also that it was made with big names like Christian Slater and James Franco portraying rival gay porn producers. That alone is worth the price of admission. It also signals a very big step in cinema to tackle a strong same-sex movie and bring it to the masses who are tired of the typical hetero relationship flicks that have been consuming our theaters forever.

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