Books

All posts in the Books category

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.)

 

Book Review: The Quality of Mercy

Published June 3, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Who knew the voice of Satan could be so sweet? Indeed, Academy Award winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, best known to terror stalwarts for providing the ghoulish vocal pyrotechnics of the demon in The Exorcist, writes with enormous beauty and supreme self awareness in her 1981 memoir The Quality of Mercy: An Autobiography.

Nicely, McCambridge, a versatile veteran of live radio, spends an entire chapter describing how she came up with the various signature sound pieces that made William Friedkin’s seminal shocker so potently creepy. (If you thought Regan’s onscreen vomiting was hard to take, the image of McCambridge spitting up raw eggs into a cup for the sound effect is liable to make your stomach a mite queasy, as well.) McCambridge also relates her heartache upon realizing she hadn’t, initially, received screen credit for her work and describes the efforts taken to make sure she received it. (Note: In Friedkin’s 2013 memoir he relates a different story, that McCambridge, at first, had insisted on no screen credit to help supply a sense of atmosphere to the film.)

As an unexpected bonus, the husky voiced actress also relates her joy upon working with Boris Karloff in a vampire piece for the radio. She, gleefully, recounts how, behind the scenes, life savers were chomped on to create the illusion that her character’s neck was being snapped.mercedes 99

Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, McCambridge’s tome, occasionally, deals with the often devastating effects of religion on women. Taught to fear an all powerful being, she strains to find her own voice and live a liberated and creative life. She is haunted by her two divorces and recounts, in frightening detail, how she assisted a childhood friend in procuring an illegal abortion.

She also, honestly, recounts her struggles with alcoholism and, with the sweeping curtness of a master storyteller, recalls her activism and her personal relationships, that she hints might have contained flickers of romance, with such powerful figures as politician Adlai Stevenson and master showman Billy Rose.

Euro-buffs, meanwhile, will get a kick out of her non-mention of exploitation maestro Jess Franco. Franco’s 99 Women, the WIP flick that features a boisterously accented performance from McCambridge, is brushed off as an unnamed, nonessential entry in her filmography here.

Thankfully, McCambridge, whose career seemingly suffered due to her visible efforts to link a popular face to the rigors of addiction, comes off as completely singular and absolutely worthy of the cinema fan’s eternal (and loving) recall.

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

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Fay Wray’s On the Other Hand

Published February 27, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

fay wray on the other handShe may have tamed the beast onscreen. But, as evidenced by her excellent 1989 memoir On the Other Hand, revered scream queen Fay Wray had much more trouble reigning in the flesh and blood men in her real life.

What may also be a (slight) surprise to some is how Wray (1907-2004), a produced playwright in her lifetime, writes so beautiful and economically here. As expected, it is delight to learn about her adventures shooting not only King Kong, but The Vampire Bat, Mysteries of the Wax Museum, The Most Dangerous Game and Doctor X, all of which the author claims were filmed in the same year! Just as fun are her recollections of working with such famed performers (and occasional Oscar winners) as Janet Gaynor, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, with whom she shared a sweet yet unfulfilled crush, and Natalie Wood. But more than anything, it is Wray’s divine resilience and quiet strength that shines the most here.

Domineered by a commanding mother, Wray found her early expressions of artistry (and fledging romance with a talented photographer) curtailed in Hollywood. Eventually finding her way into pictures, she ultimately married John Monk Saunders, a brilliant yet truly troubled screenwriter. Enduring Saunders’ infidelities and violent mood swings with an often silent grace, Wray perfectly presents the emotional circumstances of a modern woman constrained by her times and society’s expectations. Emerging as an important portrait of women in that era, Wray eventually breaks free from Saunders, after their divorce and his eventual suicide, and enters into an affair with famed playwright Clifford Odets, which broadens her artistic horizons. Later, she settles into a loving marriage with Robert Riskin, another writer best known for his collaborations with Frank Capra.Fay-Wray

Having retired, Wray returns to work (in such films as 1957’s Crime of Passion and television programs as Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents) after Riskin’s sudden illness and eventual death. But it is the storytelling lessons she learned from being a muse and collaborator with such erudite men that may stand as her final statement of artistry.

From her beginning descriptions of her return visit to her native Canada, Wray fills On the Other Hand with such simple yet poetic language that it is hard not to fall in love with her and, ultimately, realize that this book may be one of her greatest cultural achievements – that ever present, very hairy beast notwithstanding.

(Used, reasonably priced copies of On The Other Hand are available from such outlets as Amazon and EBay.)

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

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Hate Baby 5

Published January 8, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

HB5It’s not quite a comic book. It’s not exactly a graphic novel. Why, it’s a…graphic adventure!

Indeed, artist Corinne Halbert’s series of Hate Baby books are graphic adventures! Full of images of stylized violence and sexual misadventure, all presented with a loony sense of joy, these DIY magazines are also representative of Halbert’s obvious love of the horror genre.

Nicely, with Hate Baby 5, this uncommonly fascinating creator truly indulges in her influences by drawing slasher style scenarios, 50s influenced bondage portraiture and a gallery spread of horror icons like Leatherface, Lucio Fulci and Stephen King!

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Stephen King by Corinne Halbert

 

Topped off with a beautiful cover image that looks like it was clipped from the film stock of The Toolbox Murders, Hate Baby 5 is a true art publication that should displayed on every terror connoisseur’s coffee table with pride.

To purchase Hate Baby 5 (and other scintillating product) visit http://corinnehalbert.bigcartel.com/. To keep up with Halbert, on the daily, be sure to visit https://www.facebook.com/Hate-Baby-Comix-434862699932087, as well.

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

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She Walks in Shadows

Published May 16, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

she walks in shadows
In 1985, Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin already knew sisters were doing it for themselves. Now, two new volumes of Lovecraftian inspired fiction will definitely make this truth a very squishy reality.

Innsmouth Free Press, run by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Dark Regions Press, in collaboration with editor Lynne Jamneck, both have announced anthologies of fiction, influenced by HP Lovecraft, composed entirely by female writers.

Innsmouth’s She Walks in Shadows (pictured above) is scheduled for a 2015 fall release while Dark Regions’ Dreams from the Witch House is promising a year end release.

Be sure to keep up with these exciting projects at:
https://www.facebook.com/InnsmouthFreePress and
https://www.facebook.com/DarkRegionsPress

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan