Big Easy Queens is a knowingly absurd and fun piece of camp from writer Robert Leleux and director Erynn Dalton. It mostly operates as a comedy as it mixes elements of mob thrillers, zombie horror, and musicals together. Dalton’s film overcomes its budget limitations with plenty of attitude and personality.
Eric Swanson plays Minnie Bouvèé, a drag queen who runs a mob outfit in New Orleans. She has a rivalry with a fellow queen named Poodles (Jennifer McClain). The two get caught up in a sticky situation and suspect each other once Minnie’s sister, Mimi (Benjamin Shaevitz), and a mysterious masked figure arrive. Minnie is further confused as to why the smell of gardenias seems to be following her.
The convoluted plot of Big Easy Queens is really just an excuse for these entertaining characters to bounce off of each other. Swanson and Shaevitz have terrific chemistry as Minnie and Mimi sort of attempt to repair their relationship. McClain is the real standout, though, providing a hilariously over-the-top antagonist in Poodles. Alexander Zenoz is less effective than Minnie’s right-hand Giuseppe, though he does get some time to shine in the third act once his character starts to play a larger role.
“Swanson plays Minnie Bouvèé, a drag queen who runs a mob outfit in New Orleans…”
Dalton’s film is noticeably cheap in presentation. The green screen effects are amateur, and the horror makeup (the plot finds time for voodoo and zombies) is just okay. The film has limited sets as well; it was shot in Florida despite taking place in Louisiana. Dalton keeps things moving, though, and often has the characters in places with colorful lighting and smooth jazz playing in the background.
Leleux’s screenplay has amusing verbal exchanges throughout, and the characters are clearly defined. Some of the exposition dumps in the third act are overlong, though. The script also can’t seem to decide what genre it wants to stick with.
Big Easy Queens is a mess of ideas, but it has a lot of passion behind it. The film comes alive with its musical numbers and character interactions. Even though there are moments that fall flat, Dalton’s film put a smile on my face.
"…comes alive with its musical numbers and character interactions."