Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.
Oh, creativity – that ever elusive muse. Even Angela Lansbury’s ever resilient mystery writer Jessica Fletcher must have sipped from an ever emptying cup of ideas every once in awhile!
But, in The Petrified Florist, a fun Season 9 episode of the redoubtable series, Fletcher lets the dizzying participants of a Los Angeles dinner party serve as inspiration for her latest unexpected thriller. Jet lagged, this well loved character falls into a dream-tale involving the murder of a flamboyant botanic renegade. Soon, Wizard of Oz style, her friends and acquaintances are given flowery motivations and all are, eventually, blooming with suspicious activity.
The guest cast, this time, features Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman, two distinguished performers who sidelined in plenty of exploitation fare. Bergman, whose involvement with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz highlighted her beauty and grace, went on to be acknowledged as a foremost action star due to her participation in Conan the Barbarian and the fun Hell Comes to Frogtown. Her elastic physicality and forceful presence also lent much to her appearances on such shows as Swamp Thing and Freddy’s Nightmares and in such glorious cable and video store treasure as Programmed to Kill and the thriller Raw Nerve (featuring the legendary Glenn Ford and the iconic Traci Lords). Kellerman’s clipped and emphatic delivery, meanwhile, imbued such comedies as MASH, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins with silken archness. But her sly mannerisms made her perfect for the mysterious activity and outright villainy of such 90s exploitation efforts as Doppelganger (with Drew Barrymore), Mirror Mirror II: Raven Dance (with Roddy McDowall) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (AKA Victim of Beauty).
She plays into that acidic type with Junie Cobb, her impervious gossip maven here. As her character is threatened with the reveal of an affair, Kellerman double crosses and denies like she has just been outfitted with a pair of Barbara Stanwyck heels, proving, once and for all, that nobody should mess with a blonde with experience!
Bergman is allowed to have fun here, as well. Honing in on title’s none too so subtle take on the famous play (made movie) The Petrified Forest, she supplies what is most enjoyably theatrical about this episode. As Daisy Kenny, a police officer with dreams of a show business career, Bergman is eager and enthusiastic, showing her versatility as a performer. Self assured but far from the snarly kick-asses of her action pieces, this veteran performer shows she has a way with comedy – and the collar. Disguising herself as a blackmailing maid, Daisy helps Fletcher finally catch the backtracking Kellerman and proves that the character’s upcoming take on Miss Jean Brodie would be something that no true fan would ever want to miss.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!