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!