Even Tony winners can be tempted. Just ask the radiant Melba Moore! In The Mandrake Rootepisode of Monsters, this multi-faceted performer found herself compromised by a sexy plant man and her life – or at least that of her character’s – was never quite the same again.
The plotline here finds Moore, as the demure Angela Lyle, clearing out the remains of her mysterious grandmother’s estate. The discovery of a dusty box leads to the emergence of a mysterious plant. Said vine, due to Lyle’s curious tinkering, naturally grows into something tall, handsome, smooth…and full of bloodlust.
Nicely, as an actress, Moore simply navigates her character’s growth from timid to uncontrollably lustful. There is no grand posing, but you truly believe that she has fallen under her supernatural partner’s spell. Meanwhile, Byron Minns, as the vein strewn reason for Moore’s down fall, makes one understand why she would tumble down this murderous rabbit hole, head first.
Accentuated by the series’ unusual twists and turns, this episode ultimately provides something for both enthusiastic show tune lovers and terror anthology buffs alike.
She’s endured public tragedy and overt sexism on a national scale. Her Chanel #2 even met a very bloody end on the first season of Ryan Murphy’s short lived Scream Queens.
But the magnificent Ariana Grande, whose dream role just happens to be Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, instinctively knows how to keep rising above. …Or majestically sinking below as this delightfully Alice in Wonderland inspired video for No Tears Left to Cry so artistically proves.
Best known for her career defining performance as Maria in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, the exquisite Carol Lawrence also cavorted, gracefully, across television screens on such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O and General Hospital.
As other urbane divas before her, Lawrence showed her horror roots by flirting with danger in the 1978 made for TV film Summer of Fear (AKA Stranger in Our House). Directed by the legendary maestro of terror, Wes Craven, here Lawrence found herself being threatened by the supernaturally enhanced Lee Purcell. Nicely, this beloved cult piece that offered Linda Blair a place to hone her act as a feisty damsel in distress, has recently been given a deluxe Blu-ray release by Music Box Films.
That is reason to celebrate, as Lawrence did in 1965, that some people do understand our needs as horror fans…and that they most certainly “got rhythm”!
More than blood and gore, horror films survive on their sense of dramatic stakes. Similarly, theater diva Lainie Kazan, who has graced a number of horror themed projects, has as much drama in her voice as the best of them.
First coming to prominence as Barbra Striesand’s understudy in the original Broadway run of Funny Girl, Kazan may be better known as a comedienne in projects such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Lust in the Dust. But she’s added sass and vibrancy to Out of the Dark, a late ‘80s slasher featuring a golden cast of stand-bys including Karen Black, Tab Hunter and Geoffrey Lewis, and an episode of Tales From the Cryptthat featured other notables such as Bill Paxton and Brad Dourif…who did away with her overbearing office manager character in a very gruesome manner.
Cult aficionados know the exquisite Barbara McNair from her association with writer-director Jess Franco. Forever tempting in Venus in Furs, one of Franco’s most fully realized fever dreams, she also sang the theme song to 99 Women, one of his more popular (and sleazy) women in prison epics.
But McNair was a maverick on many levels. She was the first black woman to host her own syndicated variety show. She also co-starred on Broadway and recorded for Motown Records, scoring a minor hit or two with them. Appearing on many of the hottest shows of the ‘60s and ‘70s, she always added elegance and flair, as well.
Here, she gives the dapper, joking Dean Martin a run for his money with their take on the standard, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, an appropriate title for a horror blog if there ever was one.
Sultry cabaret legend (and Broadway performer) Julie Wilson joined the ranks of such acclaimed stage doyennes as Vivian Blaine, Gisele McKenzie and Patricia Morison when she appeared on the 1991 Monsters episode, A Face for Radio. All these grand dames of the dusky boards had horror credits to their names and Wilson was a welcome addition to the club.
Here as the clairvoyant Cassandra, Wilson tries to warn Morton Downey, Jr.’s obnoxious Ray Bright about impending danger. Of course, Bright treats Cassandra with nothing but skeptism and scorn. Despite this hateful onslaught, Wilson allows her character to maintain the cool regality that made her a wonder of the song set and establishes Cassandra as someone with both compassion and a rigid will. Naturally, Bright’s cynicism eventually relegates him to the clutches of a Dick Smith inspired creature in the episode’s penultimate awakening. Still, the finest moments here, for terror freaks who like the horror mixed with a cup of class, belong to Wilson.
Interestingly, the smoky Laura Branigan, a singer who possessed a much different style yet equally passionate fan base, also appears here as the woman who helps spell Downey’s doom. All in all, it’s a twisted music lover’s wonderland.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
The dreamy Linda Purl survived a vicious attack from Michael Ironside’s misogynistic killer in the semi-classic slasher Visiting Hours.
Known for the more refined atmosphere of the stage and weepy television flicks, the eclectic Purl also is a cabaret singer of note. Here, her subtle yet commanding take on Kurt Weill’s My Ship proves to be a real winner.
Until next we meet at that dock of sweet aspirations….