Warner Home Video

The homoerotic leather-bar-murder film Cruising was a pariah in 1980—critics despised it, audiences avoided it, and gay activists took to the streets of New York to disrupt the shoot. Somehow, time has been kind to director William Friedkin’s lunatic vision; the Basic Instinct-level homophobia, in which every homosexual is potentially a depraved serial killer, is less shocking than the fact that a major studio greenlit a movie so explicitly gay. Al Pacino plays a callow cop sent undercover into the cruising world to find a serial killer preying on homosexuals, and loses himself in the scene. Friedkin insists that the gay S&M clubs are just backdrop for a murder-mystery, but it’s impossible not to view Cruising as a prescient—albeit bonkers—parable for the unseen killer of the AIDS era.