Like Sands Through the Terror Glass: Horror and Soaps

Published January 15, 2012 by biggayhorrorfan

Possessed Marlena (Days of Our Lives' proudest moment!)

A paper route and McDonalds. Those were Big Gay Horror Fan’s first real jobs. Lucky others such as David Mason Daniels (Capital, One Dark Night), Karrie Emerson (Edge of Night, Young and the Restless, Evils of the Night, Chopping Mall), Kelli Maroney (Ryan’s Hope, Night of the Comet, Chopping Mall), Tracy Bregman (Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, Happy Birthday to Me), Brian Matthews (Young and the Restless, Santa Barbara, The Burning) Eileen Davidson (Young and the Restless, The House on Sorority Row) and Deanna Robbins (Young and the Restless, Final Exam) to name just a few, began their careers with first jobs on soap operas and horror films. (Hate them!) This is one of the reasons that daytime dramas and terror flicks are always so closely linked in my mind. Although, the frequent afternoon tales of ghostly apparitions, underworld cities, freezing death rays, clones, evil twins and peeping tom like psychos might have something to do with it, as well. In fact, in the late 90’s, (long gone sudser) Sunset Beach even featured a slasher film plot line where all their young leads wound up on a deserted island stalked by a wild killer. One of the valued victims in that bloody scenario was perennial nice guy Mark, played by major yummy Nick Stabile, who went on to star in Bride of Chucky.

Yes, my friend! We all want to see your 'Chucky'!

Of course, now that the mid-afternoon suds have been reduced to four (with beloved, long running shows such as Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All My Children and One Life to Live all being cancelled in the last few years), executives are trimming down on the more outlandish plotlines and concentrating, more and more, on legacy characters and family conflicts. But, I still find it odd that (NBC’s lone soap) Days of Our Lives (which gained tons of publicity in the mid-90’s due to a major demon possession plotline) doesn’t at least have a friendly practicing witch or a premonition plagued heroine or even a local psychic to help their lovely teens through a romantic crisis or two. This is a show that takes place in a town called Salem, after all, folks.

Granted, prior to the fall 2011 changes (when the show went through a major overhaul) Days had sunken a bit into the muck with tales of forced prostitution (which was pretty much a nasty rape scenario), evil doppelgangers created by megalomaniac madmen (another instance of perverted rape as the anti-heroine paired with this character had no idea she was sleeping with someone else), sexually threatened female teenagers, drug addiction and unconvincingly all powerful villainesses. Bringing back fan favorites has helped the structure of the show (with the exception being a recent episode featuring two of the main female characters distraught over having had drunken, coerced sex and the reintroduction of a manipulative pimp as a new age health guru– aren’t these shows written for women’s entertainment, folks?!), although I must admit I kind of miss the days when a blonde fan favorite’s (Melissa Reeves, Summer Camp Nightmare) heart can be ripped out of her chest (by prime soap villainess Robin Mattson, also known for such drive-in classics as Bonnie’s Kids, Candy Stripe Nurses and Wolf Lake, nonetheless) and then be immediately and successfully replaced by an often shirtless doctor (Shawn Christian, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Birds of Prey) and his young daughter (Molly Burnett, who made a guest appearance on the second season of True Blood).

Freddie Smith's Sonny. Patiently waiting for Will to figure it out!

But, while I may long for the time when two major characters were, spookily, held captive in a crypt, the show is getting its gay angle right with a young college stud named Sonny (Freddie Smith) and the eventual coming out of his cohort and show mainstay, Will (Chandler Massey). Sonny is a confident world traveled athlete who fearlessly dove into the fray when his friends were kidnapped by two gun toting maniacs in a (truly quick and absolutely ridiculous) campus gambling story arc. Meanwhile, the show’s writers and producers have been playing Will’s slow coming out story for almost a year now. This is the way stories used to be strung out in the 70’s and 80’s and makes for emotionally gripping, exciting drama as Will is dumped by a girlfriend for sexual inattentiveness and is now, painfully and mischievously finding his path.

And if all else fails, I can sit back and recall the numerous genre credits of it’s perfectly pretty cast during the moments the serial tries to redeem its most significant feminine offender by having him mention that he is now in therapy. (Aw-w-w!) So, in no particular order:

Christie Clark (Carrie Brady) – Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Children of the Corn 2

"And - here's another stigmata I want to show you!"

Patrick Muldoon (Austin) – Starship Troopers, Ice Spiders, Stigmata and more low budget science fiction-horror-thriller hybrids than I’ve had sexual partners – and that’s a good thing!

"Renee, is that you?!!?" - Terror Within 2

Renee Jones (Lexie) – Friday the 13th, Part 6: Jason Lives, Deadly Lessons, The Terror Within 2
Arianne Zuker (Nicole) – The Last Resort
Joseph Mascolo (Stefano) – Jaws 2
Allison Sweeney (Sami Brady) – 2 episodes of Tales From the Darkside
Peggy McCay (Caroline) – The Irish Vampire Goes West, Amityville: The Evil Escapes

In other geek highlights, the show’s mainstay (pictured, top, with the glowing devil eyes) Diedre Hall (Marlena Evans) played Electra Woman on the epic 70’s Saturday morning delight, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and smooth and handsome crooner Eric Martsolf (Brady) recently enacted egomaniacal hero Booster Gold on the final season of Smallville. Save me (from myself), Martsolf!

The only Booster shot I'll ever need!

Meanwhile, one of mini-genre legend Catherine Mary Stewart’s (Night of the Comet, Nightflyers, and Psychic) first major roles was playing compassionate nurse Kayla Brady on Days. She, graciously, allowed me to interview her at a Horror Hound convention in March of 2010. In an unusual turn of events (yeah, right!), the paper I interviewed her for folded and I re-worked the piece for the Indianapolis Examiner website. Since, I am pretty certain no one saw it (except for those I was holding captive at the time); I am including it here as a pink and chewy postscript. Don’t you just love a beautiful, gun wielding babe?!

Nothing more need be said!

Reaching Maximum Cool in Indianapolis with Last Starfighter’s Catherine Mary Stewart

“A lot of young women have come up and told me that I instilled a sense of power in them. I love that! I can’t tell you how much I love that,” enthused the ever beautiful Catherine Mary Stewart, the actress behind some very strong and powerful characters in motion pictures such as The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, Dudes and Weekend at Bernie’s, during a recent convention appearance at the Marriott Indianapolis East. “One young fan told me I saw you in The Last Starfighter and I thought you were cool. Then I saw you in Night of the Comet and I knew you were cool!” And just how did that maximum cool become an established ingredient? “Night of the Comet established me as a strong woman. And let’s face it, this business is very surface and one dimensional – so it’s easy to get typecast.”

The Last Starfighter was my first movie in State,” the Canadian bred Stewart continues, “and the whole experience was pleasant and joyous. It established me in L.A. I was doing “Days of Our Lives” at the same time, but I have great memories of the whole process. It was a trickle down thing with (director) Nick (Castle) being so calm at the helm. Lance Guest was just a consummate professional. He was a trained theater actor and was very interested in developing the characters together. It was a valuable lesson and we became really good friends.”

“I love Westerns, though, so that would kind of be my ultimate role and I got to portray that in Dudes. I loved director Penelope Spheeris. She was one cool chick. She was very pale and walked around using a parasol. She wasn’t abrasive, but she knew what she wanted. I got to ride a horse, but during one scene it was supposed to turn right, but it didn’t. I wound up flying into this car and I broke my arm. I remember going back to the trailer to change and putting some weight on my arm and it just blew up!”

Luckily, Stewart was almost completed filming on the project, and with follow-up roles in Weekend at Bernie’s, Nightflyers and other fan favorite projects, the only thing that truly exploded was her fan embracing career. Now, after a break to concentrate on motherhood, Stewart is back, full swing in the entertainment circle, and she, as well as her devoted fans, couldn’t be happier.

“I love acting and ultimately all my characters are very different and each character I love in a different way,” this proud mother and consummate professional states in closing, a true testament to why she has endured in moviegoers’ particular hearts for all these years.

( To keep abreast with the talented Catherine Mary Stewart, visit her energetic website, www.catherinemarystewart.net.)

And a link to the continuation of the interview at the astounding Horror Society website: http://www.horrorsociety.com/2010/07/16/catherine-mary-stewart/

Until next time, Sweet love and pink Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan

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