Books

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Book Review: Blood Cruise

Published August 31, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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The forbidden thrill of being a small town 14 year old diving into epic novels like Stephen King’s The Shining and Salem’s Lot can never be replicated. But floating through Mats Strandberg’s Blood Cruise, as an adult, definitely brings back a wonderful sense memory of those exciting, long ago afternoons.

While, joyfully, reveling in the visceral antics of grand horror fiction, this fine book also offers up an intricate look at the emotional lives of a wide variety of vacationers whose quick boat trip in Sweden turns into an odyssey of terror. Nicely, many of these individuals are relatable to queer terror lovers who often feel like they are left on the outside of both mainstream and alternative culture.

The proceedings begin with an introduction to Marianne, a still attractive senior citizen who feels as if life has passed her by. Readers will definitely feel for her as she is courted by a charming rogue and recognize all the insecurities and fears that she experiences as she begins to open up her heart and live again.

Nicely, another primary focus here is Calle, a former employee of the cruise line on which all the action occurs. His marriage proposal to his handsome boyfriend gone awry, this despondent romantic soon finds himself in charge of a couple of frantic pre-teens and eventually discovers the hero that resides deep within him.

Throughout, while rotating a dozen or so primary characters and various plotlines, Strandberg skillfully paints a true picture of life’s often harsh complexities. Here frazzled family dynamics, self image issues, rivalries and bitter regrets color in the personalities of all his characters. It is not always a pretty picture, but it is an accurate one …and as some of each reader’s favorite participants are bound to meet their deaths in a variety of unpleasant ways, it nicely binds the characters to us, making their ends all the more tragic. As all well rounded creative types do, Strandberg even paints in some nice emotional layers to his toothy, vengeful villains, granting them have a degree of sympathy, as well.

The most enjoyable thing here, perhaps, though is discovering the ways in which beloved individuals orbit into each other’s stories. Equally as fun, are those moments when one realizes that one personality’s point of view about themselves is often very different from those that encounter him or her.  These instances emphasize Strandberg’s talent for weaving not only a multi-faceted story but for inventing believable characters, as well.

A top ten seller across Europe, Blood Cruise, is available for purchase on www.amazon.com. Strandberg, whose book The Circle was turned into a hit movie by ABBA founder Benny Andersson, can be located on Instagram and Twitter @matsstranberg_ and online at www.matsstrandberg.se.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Woof Magazine

Published April 14, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Woof

It’s cool that a “woof” on the Scruff app of my phone means that some dude 3000 miles away from me thinks that I’m hot. But, in all honesty, it’s a magazine like Woof! Dog Eat Cinema Magazine that truly brings out the beast in me!

Coming straight from the dirty sheets of The Netherlands, courtesy of editor-creator Hans Minkers, this publication is perfectly pulsating with provocatively illustrated articles on everything from post apocalyptic roller skate movies to the filmic output of Draculina publisher Hugh Gallagher. You can also find substantive reports on the movies of Andy Milligan (Issue #4, Hans Van De Broeck) and the creations of director-producer Johan Vandewoestijne (Issue #5, Van De Broeck), one of the men responsible for the popular Troma title Rabid Grannies.

As someone who prides himself on owning as many variants of Alice, Sweet Alice on tape as possible, I also love how each issue focuses on a different VHS collector, honing in on their special interests and passion films. Minkers also is the force behind one of the more enjoyable regular features, Whatever Lola Wants. Here, he reviews a VHS from his collection that has been chosen by his 4 year old daughter. Thus, we are treated to explorations of films as varying as Clue and Stephen Spielberg’s Duel.

Woof 2Nicely, decadent artwork is one of the primary focuses of this vibrant creation, as well. Sane Van Der Horst’s howlingly phallic creation in Issue #3 is a standout while Printsploitation founder Scott R. Miller contributes a centerfold full of unique performers for the publication’s latest issue. Willie Darktrousers also comes up with some enjoyably monstrous creations for the Gallagher feature.

And while the sleaze and grease of psychotic celluloid aberrations fully populate this enterprise, the feministic perspective is not ignored here. Laura Louwes is always on hand to give smart and fun reactions to classic porn titles with A Woman’s Perspective.

Issues of Woof are available for purchase by contacting woofmagazine@hotmail.com.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Printsploitation 3

Published February 24, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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If one needs evidence of the diversity of the horror fan, they have to look no further than the latest issue of Printsploitation magazine. A combination of a comic book, fine art publication and a more traditional genre magazine, this brain child of artist Scott Miller, features drawings from a number of influential indie genre artists devoted to various decades of terror cinema.

Nicely, in the third volume, the glorious black and white artwork is balanced out by a terrific article on the posters of ‘80s sexploitation flicks (and fun reviews of the films themselves) by Heavy Metal Movies author Mike “McBeardo” McPadden and a celebration of acclaimed yet obscure VHS box artist CW Taylor by Dr. Jose.

The art, itself, is an amazing display of eclectic interests and themes. From Don England’s take on Peter Cushing to Putrid’s detailed reimagining of the (much maligned) 1979 monster film Prophecy, this volume has surprises on every page. Favorites here include Corrine Halbert’s darkly innocent take on Michael from the epically trashy Euro horror Burial Ground and the beautiful rendered power profiles of such icons as Susan Tyrell, Debbie Rochon and William Girdler by Klon J. Waldrip.

Capped off by Halbert’s hypnotically quirky take on 1962 indie masterpiece Carnival of Souls on the cover, this beautiful tribute is a must have in the collection of any serious fan of the scare scene.

Printsploitation Issue No. 3 is available for purchase from

www.corinnehalbert.com and

http://printsploitation.bigcartel.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Book Review: Queer Stories for Boys

Published February 8, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

queer storiesGenre enthusiasts may know writer-director Douglas McKeown best for The Deadly Spawn, the 1983 cult classic that has garnered deserved love from monster kids, worldwide. But McKeown has also spent substantial time as a teacher and a theatrical artist, often directing and designing for the stage. He is also the facilitator of the Queer Stories for Boys workshop, which resulted in an outstanding self-titled 2004 collection, from Thunder’s Mouth Press.

Carefully edited by McKeown, this book shares a wide offering of experiences from a variety of gay men, ultimately, showing the diversity and strength of the community, as a whole.

In particular, Brad Gretter’s stories about growing up legally blind resonate with a wild sense of self-humility and otherness. His recounting of a childhood accident in a grocery store is hysterically funny while his tale about finding his sexual power in a leather club as an adult is both humorous and profound, offering up hope for anyone with self-doubt or esteem issues.

James Campbell’s Miss Betty, meanwhile, is story of pure beauty, elevated by the narrator’s sense of surprise and humbled discovery of how understanding and loving a true family can be. Miss Betty, herself, meanwhile emerges as a colorful character that all readers wish that they had gotten to know.

Activism (highlighted by Ronald Gold’s tales), sexual longing (presented in extremely relatable levels by David Ferguson and Rich Kiamco) and struggles with sports (nicely accentuated by Harry Schulz’s self deprecating memories) are some of the other topics tackled here, as well.doug deadly spawn

McKeown, himself, ably narrates a couple of tales, too. Liza’s Kiss is a truly enjoyable retelling of his straight brother’s ecstatic encounter with LGBTQA icon Liza Minnelli. Children of the Night, though, will probably resonate with lovers of horror and macabre the best. Here, he tells of his childhood adventures as the neighborhood terror, disguising himself as classic monsters to terrorize some unsuspecting locals. The final moments of this accounting linger the most, though. Anyone who has ever regretted an exchange with a loved one will be haunted by the sorrow expressed by the angry exchange that is documented between the author and his mother…a witness to how powerful (and necessary) this collection is, as a whole.

While Thunder’s Mouth Press, unfortunately, no longer exists, copies of Queer Stories for Boys can still be found on Amazon. McKeown, meanwhile, is active on the web at https://www.facebook.com/The-Deadly-Spawns-director-Douglas-McKeown-91628635424/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: I Said Yes to Everything

Published December 15, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

lee grant bookDamien: Omen II. Visiting Hours. The Swarm. Airport 77. The Spell. The Cage. Academy award winning actress and acclaimed documentarian Lee Grant has appeared in more genre outings than even her most disciplined fans can often recall. Those interested in detailed accountings of such offerings, though, may be a bit disappointed by Grant’s emotionally complex, extremely well written 2014 memoir I Said Yes to Everything.

She gives only passing reference to many of these projects here – ignoring others outright – and sums up her experience working on them by saying that she eventually discovered that good acting work could be done in properties that often didn’t meet her qualifications of artistic merit.

Still, some glittering factoids do emerge. She, happily, recounts the tale of Michael Caine falling asleep, on camera, while filming The Swarm. Self deprecatingly, she also recalls consenting to do her own water stunts on the set of Airport 77 after witnessing the distinguished Olivia de Havilland, gleefully, taking a bath to make one of that film’s many scenes of destruction seem more realistic. Slasher Visiting Hours is also given a bit of notice as being the project that made the ever age conscious performer determine that her days as a leading lady were over and that it was time to devote her talents to behind the camera opportunities.lee grant damien

Nicely, Grant does major justice to the years she spent trying to regain her life after her complicated first marriage left her blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities. The trauma of that relationship and her triumphant return to a career are definitely book highlights. Her honesty about her struggles to connect with an adopted daughter is also a revealing and intimate look at how hard parenthood and life, in general, can be.

Of course, all is not hardship and Grant’s tales of her loving, eccentric family and coming of age adventures lighten the atmosphere, giving readers a well rounded portrait of a woman who has successfully forged her own path despite all that life has thrown at her.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Bucket O’ Blood Recovery Sale

Published September 21, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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In 1975, Jaws proved it wasn’t safe in the water. In 2017, the water did a 180 and decided that Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records’ stock wasn’t safe from it. Yes, unfortunately, Chicago’s premium spot for horror books and used vinyl suffered from some flood damage last week. 

Rallying, as independent businesses must, the store is hosting a Flood Sale and Party this Friday from 12 pm to 9 pm. They will have some of their damaged product on sale at slashed prices. Other independent artists and businesses are offering exclusive merchandise and cut rate vinyl for sale, as well, with all of the proceeds going to the recovery effort.bucket 2

More information is available on the exclusive page for the event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/475132829525773/

As always, it is awesome when philanthropy and shopping go hand in hand. So, I hope to see you there…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE,

Big Gay Horror Fan

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Book Review: Sharon Farrell, Siân Phillips

Published December 4, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Written in completely different styles and featuring authors who arrive at their writing points from much different backgrounds, the memoirs of Siân Phillips (The Doctor and the Devils, Hammer House of Horror) and Sharon Farrell (It’s Alive, Night of the Comet) still manage to broker in the much of the same emotional currency and definitely illustrate how it is still the men in society who continue to steadily manipulate the fates of those around them.

sian-public-placesA prodigiously talented theater actress, Wales bred Phillips details her courtship and years of marriage to Peter O’Toole in Public Places, which was first published in the United States in 2003. While Phillips engaged, successfully, in a performing arts career, O’Toole, obviously, was the more famous of the two, reaching a worldwide platform with Lawrence of Arabia. He also definitely, as evenly and poetically described by Phillips, controlled the many specifics of their lives together. Fairly, Phillips often revels in the adventures she experienced while visiting O’Toole on his various film sets and, lovingly, describes a remote home on a mountain that she, painstakingly, created for him and their two daughters.

Phillips also shares stories of such legends as Katharine Hepburn, who frightened her children by vehemently suggesting that they should become something useful like plumbers, and My Fair Lady’s pompous Rex Harrison. Harrison, known for his misogynistic temper, is painted truthfully here and Phillips shows grace and courage when explaining how she mastered his moods while performing on stage with him. sian-hammer

In deep contrast to Phillips’ artfully measured tones, Farrell’s “Hollywood Princess” From Sioux City, Iowa is a messy and rambunctious offering, often filled with grammatical errors and with the names of famous participants misspelled. Yet, with pluck and little sense of bitterness, the actress traces her career which was often sidetracked by affairs, a miscarriage, rape, medical issues and mismanagement.

As with Phillips’ offering, Farrell’s honestly reveals how the males in power, here in LA (and beyond), frequently, shaped her destiny – from the unstableness of Hawaii Five-O’s Jack Lord to the peculiarities of Bill Bell, the creator of the popular soap The Young and the Restless. Farrell frequently found herself jobless due to their whims and when, onset, was subjected to unprofessionally bizarre behavior – prime examples being Dennis Hooper peeing on her while filming Out of Blue and a physical attack from a fellow performer on the location of The Reivers.

Still, Farrell, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, is often hardest on herself here and she acknowledges her own responsibility in many of the choices that she made. She is full of passion and heart and, despite the lack of editing, often sets up a nice sense of atmosphere and sense of time and place even when her viewpoint rambles some.

its-alive-sharon-farrellUnfortunately, neither actress concentrates much on their genre offerings here. Phillips does, happily, describe her interesting audition for David Lynch’s Dune and Farrell gives passing mention to such projects as The Premonition and The Fifth Floor. But, what is most poignant and interesting about each book, is the conclusion that readers can draw about society, itself. It is still a straight man’s world, as plainly evidenced in both writers’ circumstances. Here, they show how they overcame and thrived despite that sometimes overpowering obstacle.

Public Places is available, on sale, from various dealers on Amazon. Farrell’s tome, meanwhile, can be purchased from her at www.sharonfarrell.com.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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 (Images of are Phillips in Hammer House of Horror and Farrell in It’s Alive.)