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Forever Charmed: A Little on T’Pau, AKA Kara Zediker

Published March 24, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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I’ve never pictured myself as one of the cool kids or one of those guys that everyone is desperate to hang out with. Honestly, I am still a little shocked when people agree to join me on sudden movie going ventures or to celebrate events of any nature. But, as we all do, I’ve learned to push back those disbeliefs and have even found myself becoming friends with people who, at one time, seemed unreachable.

My buddy Kara Zediker is a prime example. We were acquaintances in college, but in many ways, she seemed of another world. She was one of those theater students (at Columbia College in Chicago) who always seemed to be bathed in some kind of electric glow…and, indeed, the world at large took notice of that essence.  Her time in Hollywood gained her prime guest shots on shows such 24, Charmed, The Legendary Adventures of Hercules and Star Trek: Enterprise. She will, rightfully, claim it was hard work and luck. But, those who know her are also keenly aware that her quirky and kindly spirit probably had something to do with her success, as well. t'pau 2

She was drawn back to the Midwest, a number of years ago, and a sudden meeting on an el train drew us back, happily, into each others’ orbits. We’ve seen a lot of theater and films together. (We both even found a way to connect, emotionally, with the technical wonders of a touring production of Ghost: The Musical – the show, itself, was fairly mediocre, maybe even awful, but our childlike response to the special effects still makes it one of my favorite Broadway in Chicago evenings in memory.) We’ve also shared some meals and bar time together and…this Sunday, at the Fantastic Fantasy film festival, we will even be sharing the stage!

In between the illustrious, far flung wonders of films such as Masters of the Universe, Dune, Flash Gordon and Dark Crystal, I will be querying her about what it was like to play T’Pau on Enterprise, a younger version of Penny Halliwell on Charmed and one of her latest projects, Dig Two Graves, a horror film with Ted Levine that has gotten incredible feedback from the audiences that have seen it. This will also be her first appearance at an event of this nature, so those looking for the singular, and believe me, that word describes my friend Ms. Zediker perfectly, won’t want to miss this.

me and kara

Fantastic Fantasy will be held at The Vic Theatre in Chicago on Sunday, March 26th. More info is available here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1250287605055922/

Meanwhile, you can keep apprised of Dig Two Graves, which is opening in select theatres and on VOD on March 24th at https://www.facebook.com/digtwograves/.

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

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Hell of a Gal: Rings of Fear

Published March 23, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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(Hell of a Gal explores the films of the ever luscious Euro Vixen Helga Liné.)

The radiant Helga Liné has over 130 credits on her resume. If all of the alternative titles of Rings of Fear, a mid career giallo, were counted among those credentials, she would have quite a number more. Known, alternatively,  as Red Rings of Fear (or Enigma Rosso), Trauma and Virgin Terror, this final entry in an unofficial Italian film series known as the Schoolgirl Trilogy, also found Liné portraying a totally sympathetic character, something that she was rarely given a chance to do.

Helga VK 4As Mrs. Russo, the anguished mother of the film’s first victim, Liné is given just a couple scenes here, but she provides plenty of understated sorrow and maternal strife in them. She also shares a nice connection with fellow Euro superstars Fabio Testi (What Have They Done to Solange, Four of the Apocalypse), as the detective investigating the case, and Nicoletta Elmi (Deep Red, Demons), who plays her youngest, incredibly inquisitive daughter. In fact, her best moments come as she, thoughtfully and quietly, answers Testi’s Di Salvo as he questions her after the funeral of her eldest child. Nicely, she gives these moments a disconnected quality, as well, nodding to her character’s expected melancholy.

The rest of the picture focuses on the unusual friendship that develops between Testi and Elmi as they try to discover what happened to her sister. Bolstered by such genre regulars as Ivan Desny, (Franco favorite) Jack Taylor and Christine Kauffman (Murders in the Rue Morgue), whose kleptomaniac character simply decides to leave Di Salvo halfway through the film, this slow burner is redeemed by an ending with several twists. Director Alberto Negrin also provides some interesting moments like the one where the off-kilter Di Salvo physically threatens Taylor’s smarmy shop owner on a roller coaster.

Helga VK 1Granted, the world probably didn’t need another sleazy film about underage prostitutes being done in by sweaty superiors, but the sight of the exquisite Liné, for even a very short period of time, is always a good reason to let some greasy celluloid settle like red dust around your sagging viewing chair.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Gloria Swanson

Published March 19, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

Sunset Boulevard

Was there ever anything as haunting as Gloria Swanson’s deliciously deluded Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s classic, emotional noir Sunset Boulevard? Many refined and enthusiastic film buffs will probably, unanimously, agree that there isn’t.

Thankfully, almost 25 years after this macabre venture, Swanson returned to play another demanding diva in Curtis Harrington’s fondly remembered television horror Killer Bees. As the queenly Maria von Bohlen, Swanson ruled her fictional family with a tart grip even as the matriarch’s fuzzy flying pets began to draw the life out of members of the frightened local community.gloria killer bees

Meanwhile, although she was never known as a singer, the always game legend tackled a couple of tunes in the early 80s on a variety of star studded specials.

Here, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra’s well regarded Wonderful One gets the nostalgic treatment.

 

Next, Swanson is joined by Brooke Shields (Alice, Sweet, Alice, The Midnight Meat Train) and Barbara Eden (A Howling in the Woods, The Stranger Within) for a surprising version of Cole Porter’s What Do You Think About Men?

For those interested, the adventures of this singular entertainer are explored in deeper detail at https://thehairpin.com/scandals-of-classic-hollywood-the-gloria-swanson-saga-part-one-e2d29b36eac2

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

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Review: Juggernaut Film Festival 2017

Published March 18, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Perianova’s Snowgirl

For film enthusiasts living in Chicago, the historic Music Box Theatre has been a defining color in the many shades of their film going experiences. On Saturday March 4th, Otherworld Theatre added to this celluloid kaleidoscope, masterfully, with The 5th Annual Juggernaut Film Festival. Wisely curated by the company, which is devoted to performing works of science fiction and fantasy, this event proved, beyond a doubt, that the short film can be a complete and satisfying experience unto itself. Ranging in style, these short works were often visually stunning, and whether you had a preference for the ridiculous or the mystical, you were sure to find a winner here.

For example, the comic Illegal Aliens, written and directed by Justin and Kristin Schaack, was a prescient look at contemporary politics in the guise of a silly space debate. Similar in tone, Steve Gast’s Monsters Anonymous provided a glance into a therapy session with some classic Universal creatures as they, vainly, make their attempts to fit into the 9 to 5 world.

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Fonte’s Roadside Assistance

Roadside Assistance, one of the festival’s best entries, meanwhile, took a surprising look at how women can be treated in this current, often very scary climate. Of course, this revenge thriller turned the tables on surface expectations quickly. Brilliantly paced by writer-director Bears Fonte, it is soon obvious here that every beautiful blonde hitchhiker may not be as helpless as she seems.

Fairy tales, of course, have often produced nightmarish concepts, but their more bittersweet and magical properties were explored in Ilina Perianova’s stunning Snowgirl. A gorgeous look at a lonely couple who adopt a mysterious young girl, Perianova, a Baltic creator, works with a sense of wonder and sadness here, making this another highlight of the 25 works featured . The parents soon discover their daughter is made of some unknown arctic properties and as they eventually lose her to a new love and the dangers of the outside world, the audience soon discovers that new beginnings are always possible.

Of course, to keep discovering the endless possibilities of Otherworld Theatre, and to be kept in the loop about next year’s festival, be sure to follow them at https://www.facebook.com/OtherworldTheatre/ and www.otherworldtheatre.org.

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

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Retro Shark Bait Village: Five Desperate Women

Published March 16, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Our childhood vacations consisted of being captured, destination bound, as our parents’ arguments descended into sharp silence…and of my frustrated father stopping, unabated during the night, at points we were warned to avoid. Therefore, my siblings and I met various nervous fingered drug addicts and opposite gendered strangers sitting in the sinks of McDonalds restaurants on our morning adventures. But…we were relatively unharmed.

The saucy quintet that ventures onto an isolated island for a reunion-vacation in the Aaron Spelling produced Five Desperate Women (1971) isn’t so lucky, though. A crazed inmate has escaped and is posing as either the awkward company boat captain or the island’s attractive yet mysterious handy man. As the former collegiates reconnect and tell tall tales of career successes and nonexistent families, the island’s loveable mutt is murdered and soon one of the distressed sorority sisters meets a similarly unpleasant fate, as well. The remaining friends must figure out who the killer really is and fight for survival until help arrives.five 4

Riding high on soap opera antics and mild slasher film esthetics, this telefilm is definitely a showcase for the beauty of Stephanie Powers, who portrayed determined heroines in such Hammer outings as Die, Die, My Darling and Crescendo. Here, she is allowed to branch out into unsympathetic territory. Nicely, this former Girl from U.N.C.L.E. brings an arctic reserve to Gloria, an often shallow and petty character. Powers, simply and effectively, delivers Gloria’s disdain for the weaknesses of her companions in haughty sidelong glances and long, cool puffs of cigarette smoke.  The other women are given a bit more background history, but this is Powers’ show and she runs with it.

five 1Gloria’s fellow cohorts, meanwhile, include Lucy (Anjanette Comer), a well-to-do alcoholic, Dorian (Joan Hackett), an insecure animal lover whose fantasies are her ultimate undoing, Mary Grace (Julie Sommars), a tender soul being held emotionally captive by her invalid mother and the intelligent and determined Joy (Denise Nicholas). Unfortunately, in a wildly politically incorrect move, Joy, the sole black woman of the group reveals, in a bizarrely detailed monologue, that she has blown all her educational and career opportunities through some sort of nonchalance and emotional disregard, to settle for the life of a high class prostitute. There is an interesting Tennessee Williams vibe to the exchange and Nicholas fills it with a coat of truthful bitterness and resolve, finding honesty where another may have just filled it with the anger of a minority actress forced to play another lady of the night. Equally strange, yet not as troubling, is an early scene with Mary Grace and her mother. In a weird twist, the mother communicates only through her nurse who determines what she is thinking through glances and then relays their intent to Mary Grace. It’s a strange and unsettling bit that fills this piece with a bit more artiness and presence than your run of the mill made for television affair.

In addition to this potent moment, director Ted Post, whose other credits include Magnum Force, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and the cult classic The Baby (also with Comer), keeps things moving along nicely and even manages to build suspense as to which of the two men is the killing kind. Both could, seemingly, be the one and Bradford Dillman brings a nervy edge to his seafaring sort while Robert Conrad allows cracks to appear beneath the façade of his handsome and reliable jack of all trades. five 2

Post also handles all the dramatics with a seasoned flair. Particularly enjoyable is a series of scenes where the sodden and hysterical Lucy, collapsed in despair, reveals the details of her unhappy day-to-day existence. The understanding that palpitates from her comrades eventually aids in the believability of the Lord of the Flies denouement that finds the surviving women launching out against their attacker in a choreographed frenzy. Moments like these make this flawed yet truly enjoyable adventure a memorable…and violent one. H-m-m-m… I guess my youthful sojourns weren’t so bad, after all.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Doris Day

Published March 12, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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The girl next door. The sweetheart of WWII service men. That seductive minx of 60s romantic comedies. The eternally appealing Doris Day is many things. Even gothic songstress Diamanda Galas is a fan. 

But why wouldn’t she be? Day even worked her way, passionately, through a trio of thrillers. The highlight of these might be her collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, The Man Who Knew Too Much. But in Julie, where Day portrayed a stewardess stalked by her murder happy second husband, a smoothly handsome and totally dangerous Louis Jourdan, she paid full balance to her multiple charms.Mord in den Wolken

Not only does her heroine here save a plane full of passengers by the movie’s end, foreshadowing Karen Black in Airport 75 by decades, but she also sings the film’s lovely theme song. It’s a pretty thing with hints of the turmoil that Julie is about to experience lingering lightly in the song’s lyrics. Day, of course, nails all the moods of the piece with the subtle and true touch of a master at work.

 Of course, Day, who now spends much of her time in the pursuit of care and justice for animals, is always, quietly and happily, reachable at www.dorisday.com.

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

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

Feed That Frankenstein: Goldengirl

Published March 10, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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(Feed That Frankenstein focuses on the many pictures that use variants on the themes that the underappreciated Mary Shelley began writing about all those thunderstruck evenings ago.)

Estimating that the evilest of scientists are from a European descent, the creators of Goldengirl naturally went full Neo-Nazi with Curt Jurgens’ experimenting Dr. Serafin. Or did they?

Focusing on the Olympic ascension of the magnificent Goldine (Susan Anton), Serafin’s stepdaughter, this 1979 science fiction piece replaces Mary Shelley’s elegantly stitched together monster with a sporty, statuesque blonde. Of course, being beautiful is a curse here. Goldine is treated to electroshock therapy to increase her speed and those pesky injections (administered by her father) may increase her stature and stamina, but they also leave her diabetic and predisposed to a twisted, violent streak. Meanwhile, a series of backers wanting a payoff means that she has to achieve an unheard of three gold medals in track and field. Add in the fact that her fledgling romance with legendary sports agent Jack Dryden (James Coburn) appears as if it will never get past the tentative stage…and a girl could just go completely bonkers! original_goldengirl2

…and she does…a little bit. Goldine subjugates Jack to a bit of humiliation, here and there, and she has a diva meltdown on a fellow Olympian, but there are no huge monstrous altercations in this fun celluloid jumble. Instead, the powers-that-be decide to concentrate on the almost nonexistent romantic elements of the plotline. Thus, revealing, at the fadeout, that the worst thing that can happen to a chemically and socially manipulated femme fatale is… heartbreak.

The lack of oomph in the production is most likely attributed to the fact that the producers had a change of heart during its troubled genesis. All original allegations of Dr. Serafin’s master plan and deviant ties to the Third Reich were stripped from the narrative. Instead he is portrayed as a flawed (and slightly crazed) humanist who wants to increase the possibilities of the biological form.  Therefore, a whistle blowing associate, played by the always intriguing Jessica Walter, is totally cut from the proceedings. (Although, she is briefly glimpsed in a scene in which Goldine’s benefactors first arrive to check out their potential client.)It’s a strange move that leaves the film in a never world. It’s a bit sports movie and a bit Jekyll and Hyde monster flick. There are glimpses of a science fiction thriller and a smidge of tepid May-December romance. All in all, it’s a gelatin take on celluloid intrigue – slightly shimmering with nothing too caloric to stick to the viewer’s senses at the end mark.

goldengirlinsertAnton, meanwhile, in her major motion picture debut, does her damnedest to register assuredly. She manages it at times, always appearing physically magnificent, but sometimes the pure awkwardness of the setups causes her to strain a bit unconvincingly. She might have been helped a bit if she had been paired against someone other than Coburn. Always a master of low key manliness, he is just too cool a cucumber to truly sell the more seductive elements of the plot.

Still, this hodge podge affair has its charms. Particularly, it is nice to experience a feminine focus point in a variation on a narrative that Mary Shelley, a young woman herself, created all those many dark and stormy nights ago.

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

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