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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Madelyn von Ritz/Lynn Castle

Published May 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Lynn Al

Without a doubt When I Close My Eyes I See Blood is one of the most memorable songs on the soundtrack of William Friedkin’s notorious Cruising. As the music wildly escalates, the ragged vocals seem to barely escape from the singer’s throat. In fact, one could imagine that this desperate sounding performer was picked out of the heroin-soaked chorus of some dimly lit drag revue and then discarded on the street the moment the track was set to tape. But Madelyn von Ritz, who perfectly matched the forbidden horror of the film’s milieu with the number, was actually a talented artist who went on to score a variety of ‘90s film projects, proving that old adage that sometimes talent and beauty are just not enough to make a permanent mark in show business.

Ritz’s story is actually more fascinating than many celluloid journeys, though. Growing up in less than ideal circumstances, she escaped through the magic of fairy tales and music. As Lynn Castle. she gained recognition in the ‘60s as a barber and when she wasn’t writing, she was catering to the longer hair of such notables as Sonny Bono and Lee Hazlewood. After making quick appearances on several television shows and films, her song Lady Barber caught the ears of Hazlewood. They eventually recorded that track and one other. Neither made an impact on the charts. Riding this mild momentum, Castle also put an album’s worth of demos to tape around the same time. Unfortunately, those unique numbers remained a mysterious trade secret for almost 40 years. Thankfully, intrepid music purveyors Light in the Attic released them on a special edition LP in 2017 and the world is finally discovering the rare, psychedelic beauty of this long-neglected songstress.

We have all been to the Castle…and our lives will never be the same!

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

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Lynn Castle

 

Va-Va-Villainess: Mara Corday

Published May 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Mara Corday (1954)

“A disgusting turn of events, Mr. Gunn. You’ve wasted everybody’s evening. It’s going to cost you!” – Emily (Mara Corday)

Keep Smiling, the 26th episode of Peter Gunn, the suave jazz flecked detective series created by Blake Edwards, has to be one of the hippest half hours of television ever produced. Directed by the legendary Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man), this episode accentuates its coolness most fully at the story’s midpoint. As acclaimed drummer Shelly Manne manipulates the skins on stage, Gunn (Craig Stevens) puts the hooks into Mara Corday’s sexy serial blackmailer while an eager whistleblower (played by The Addams Family’s Jackie Coogan) looks on.

Mara TarantulaCorday, of course, efficiently and naturally played a series of valiant heroines in such science fiction-horror pictures as The Giant Claw, The Black Scorpion and (the Arnold directed) Tarantula. Here, she obviously relishes being the bad girl, biting into her lines with acidic menace. It’s a tart performance that radiates with a calm evil, proving that Corday was a step above many of the other model-actresses who played similar roles in that same period of time.

The 90-year-old Corday, who parlayed her longtime friendship with Clint Eastwood into roles in several of his films, is still active at http://maracorday.com/. Those wishing to indulge in the full ecstasies of her presence can find Keep Smiling on Amazon Prime, as well.

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

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mara

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ethel Ennis

Published May 17, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Ethel Ennis

Her take on The Star-Spangled Banner may have helped heal the nation during the Viet Nam War, but joyful terror tykes across the continents are probably most aware of the smooth tones of the divine Ethel Ennis due to her singing the theme song of the stop motion classic Mad Monster Party.

Credited as being a jazz icon, Ennis did not like to be sonically labeled, preferring to add her lilting personality and unique presence into whatever genre of music that she chose to sing.

But she was proud to be claimed by her native Baltimore as one of their prime attractions, dying at the age of 86 in 2019 after dedicating nearly 70 years of her life to the arts.

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

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Ethel Ennis Mad Monster Party

Hopelessly Devoted To: Marilyn Maxwell

Published May 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Marilyn Maxwell

Whether mocking the heroics of action cinema in 1956’s Forever Darling or reacting perfectly to the antics of comic Red Skeleton as the two explored a haunted house on his long running variety show, Marilyn Maxwell was always on the mark. One of those eclectically zaftig blondes that never got the attention she deserved despite her multiple talents, Maxwell has probably been best known, and then only to aggressive cinephiles, as the agreeable accomplice to such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Skeleton.

Marilyn Maxwell Swing FeverBeginning her career as a beautiful background artist, often cast as supple showgirls, in such MGM epics as Presenting Lily Mars and Du Barry Was a Lady (which featured both Ball and Skeleton), Maxwell eventually graduated to leading roles in such silly efforts as The Show Off (again with Skeleton) and The Lemon Drop Kid (with Hope). Her first major role as entertainer Ginger Gray in 1943’s Swing Fever even had a bit of a genre connotation as it revolved around the ridiculous exploits of a band leader cursed with an evil eye.

Skilled as a singer and dancer, Maxwell was also a hit in USO shows for the troops during WWII and the Korean War. Apparently, she was a hit with Rock Hudson as well and, thusly, has been sporadically entering the news again as Hudson’s public profile blossoms due to Ryan Murphy’s recently released Hollywood series. Apparently, after initially being set up as one of the gay actor’s beards, the two quickly grew close and even contemplated marriage. Some reports even claim that their relationship may have gone past the friendship stage. Marilyn Maxwell and Rock Hudson 2

But more than anything, Maxwell, who died at the very young age of 50 due to heart problems, deserves to be remembered for her magnetic performances and joyful spirit. She was definitely one of kind and one can imagine her spirit occasionally sprinkling out into the starlight, creating glittery energy and hopeful wanderlust for all those weary small-town kids living only for their future dreams.

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

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Marilyn Haunted Red

Maxwell haunted house hunting with Red

 

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Dinah Shore

Published May 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

dinah

“Oh, dream on, baby!”

We will, Dinah! And in our reveries, you will still be providing us with classy, wide reaching interviews. And our darling Ms. Shore, while some may assume that those talks will only include your contemporaries, those golden superstars of yesteryear, many in the know will be envisioning features with a wide range of creative figures. For during your long running talk show, you not only shared your couch with performers like Rosemary Clooney, but with rule breaking icons like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, as well. You had the heart of a punk, my dear, albeit the heart of a punk with a smooth gin touch.

In the ‘60s, further proving your adventurous nature, you also broke out of a gilded homestretch of performing glossy standards by releasing an LP of energetic country hits. Much like Ella Fitzgerald, last week’s honoree (& a frequent guest on your shows), you covered such tunes as Evil on Your Mind. (Here interestingly retitled Evil on My Mind.)

Naturally, genre fanatics will surely appreciate your willingness to admit to a less than perfect thought scape…but those who have loved you for decades knew that you always had a bit of mischievousness in you…its present in that forever twinkle in your eyes.

dinah and iggy

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

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Fruity Flashback: The Loving Murders

Published May 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Loving Murders

Long term cast member Randolph Mantooth has called it the show that nobody ever saw. But the ABC soap opera Loving did have plenty of loyal followers who have remembered it fondly since its cancellation in the fall of 1995. Interestingly, for a show that continually floated at the bottom of the daytime ratings, it certainly had pedigree. It was created in 1983 by soap opera legend Agnes Nixon and, over the years, it definitely had its inventive moments. A few of those even contained elements of horror and the supernatural. In one of his first acting jobs, television stalwart John O’Hurley played a devilishly evil character named Jonathan Matalaine while the program’s college age characters interacted with a tortured romantic couple, who just happened to be ghosts, in the early ‘90s. Perhaps its most genre laden plotline was the Loving Murders, the months long story arc that brought the show to a close and helped it morph into another (very short lived) soap called The City.

L-R: PETER DAVIES;JOHN O'HURLEY

O’Hurley as the satanic Matalaine

As longtime characters were murdered off by a stealthily cloaked serial killer, the show’s ratings actually rose 20%. This was perhaps due to some of the unusual ways in which the cast was offed. Longtime heroine Stacy Donavan, portrayed with heart and verve by frequent horror sweetheart Lauren Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th, Part 2, Girls Nite Out), met her end via a poisoned powder puff. Deadly candles, heart attacks and coldblooded drownings also made appearances. The most spectacular sendoff probably belonged to Jean Le Clerc’s popular Jeremy Hunter, though. Clerc’s Hunter, an important character for many years on the iconic All My Children, was a sculptor who met his demise by being turned into one of his own statues!

Notably, the producers originally planned for a former character named Trisha, who had a history of mental issues, to return as the culprit. Noelle Beck, her longstanding portrayer, nixed that concept, though. Thus, Gwyneth Alden (Christine Tudor), Trisha’s mother and the show’s diva-licious matriarch, was chosen as the villain. While Tudor did spectacular work and obviously relished the juicy emotional windfall that this turn of events brought her, it was hard for many devoted fans to buy her as the murderess. Tudor had filled Alden with such true-to-life heart over the years, it was next to impossible to believe that Gwyneth would be able to kill off her family and friends no matter her state of mind. Still, the plotline allowed her and the show a significant (if overlooked) place in afternoon television history.

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

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Chrsrine Newman

Gwyneth/Tudor in “happier” days.

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ella Fitzgerald

Published May 3, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

ella-fitzgerald-1940

Supernaturally talented, the divine Ella Fitzgerald shunned the more ostentatious aspects of show business, putting her complete concentration on the music. Known for her historic jazz stylings, she also added shades of other genres into her repertoire, including pop and country. In particular, her late ‘60s Capital LP Misty Blue featured her upbeat take on the Nashville sound.

Appropriately, Evil On Your Mind, a track off that offering, explores the horrors of love gone on the prowl, earning her a spot on every sympathetic terror freak’s playlist forever.

Naturally, they’re in good company.  Even the musically eclectic Melissa Manchester is a fan!

http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/

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

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Ella