Filmmakers

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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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Dinner with Herschell

Published September 30, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Creatively, he revolutionized the horror genre by inventing an offshoot that revolved around excessive gore. Due to his business acumen, you can probably blame a lot of the junk mail that fills your mail boxes on him, as well. Meanwhile, personally, filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis, who died this week at the age of 90, was a compelling presence whose commands were not to be ignored – even by the youngest of us.

I know this.

It’s mid-October of 2011 and Lewis is appearing at a 24 hour horror movie marathon in Chicago. In the evening, a few of us retire to a pub, next door, for dinner. Lewis is, happily, leading the conversation, taking our enthusiastic questions and giving them detailed and energetic answers. He is in his element except — a child in a high chair is letting out high pitched and elastic screeches, every couple of minutes or so, in the booth directly behind us. Each shriek jolts him out of his reveries and it is obvious, as time wears on, that he is losing all patience.

Finally, as the cranky babe lets out another voluminous wail, Lewis raises himself up, with grave dignity, and still seated, bellows out, in the direction of the child, with Greek authoritarianism, “STOP – THAT – NOW!” Each word is a separate thought, punctuated with irritation and will.

The toddler halts mid-cry and…is totally and completely silent for the rest of the meal.

Now perhaps, there are two sides of the table to fall on, socially, here. One side will be sympathetic towards struggling parents with infants and understanding of the need to get out with friends and colleagues, sometimes even with a whiney child in tow. The other side may feel, emphatically, that, in the name of common courtesy, children should be kept at home until they are more manageable. Good points, each.

But…I have a feeling that both sides can agree on the fact that even a mewling babe knew that it was important, if not vital, to listen to and obey Herschell Gordon Lewis – a sure and fabulous testament to his effective worth,  if there ever was one!

So, Rest in Peace (whoops, I almost wrote ‘piece’), you crazy and creative bastard! You will be missed.

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

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In Remembrance: Betsy Palmer

Published June 3, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

Betsy Palmer1Those who were lucky enough to meet actress Betsy Palmer, who died at the age of 88 this past weekend, in person, often found themselves inundated with delightful information. Mention her role in a production of Countess Dracula in 1979, at the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, and she’d blush with love for that particular character and then swiftly reminisce about how she had to make the quickest and most difficult costume changes ever imagined during its run. Producing a leggy, cheesecake photo for her to sign, would elicit a remembrance of how all the young starlets in the 1950s, no matter how serious their intentions, were required to pose for such seductive publicity images. Inquire about her long run as a game show guest during television’s golden years and she’d reveal how she never got to see herself in any of those productions as they were all performed live.

For those who didn’t make Ms. Palmer’s acquaintance, and even for those who had, director S. Shane Marr does the world a great service with Betsy Palmer: A Scream Queen Legend in Her Own Words. Marr, who worked with Palmer on Bell Witch: The Movie, was so enchanted by Palmer’s show biz stories that he ingeniously decided to have her sit before his camera and talk to it as if it were an eager new friend.betsy palmer madame dracula

We get the familiar Friday the 13th story. Palmer’s car broke down and needing the $10,000, she accepted the role of Mrs. Voorhees even though she hated the script. Palmer delights in the irony that while this killer mommy is her best known role, her decision was initially made because she thought that no one would ever see the film. It is interesting to watch her make sense of her place in film history and hear her analyzing the appeal of her most popular character.

More than that, we learn of Palmer’s humble beginnings and her gradual indoctrination into an acting career.
She regales us with stories of working with famed director John Ford and the behind the scenes controversies of one of her earliest, best known films Mister Roberts. We are, also, told that she actually got along with the combative Joan Crawford on the set of their film Queen Bee. One of the most interesting stories is about her adventures making the obscure, low budget The True Story of Lynn Stuart with Hawaii Five-0′s Jack Lord. Apparently, the real Lynn Stuart visited the set and brought more attention to her presence by elaborately masking herself then if she had just shown up and silently observed.

betsy2It would have been nice to have learned something about Palmer’s other genre credits (1999’s The Fear: Resurrection and 2005’s Penny Dreadful) yet she does speak glowingly of the Bell Witch: The Movie and of her then hopes to be involved in any sequels.

Overall, Marr allows us to see Palmer as she truly was – warm and sharply inviting. Here, she, ultimately, proves herself to be that lively aunt or grandmotherly figure that has lived a life that most could only dream of. It’s a visual document that makes her passing all the more bittersweet.

Betsy Palmer: A Scream Queen Legend in Her Own Words is available for free viewing on YouTube and for purchase from Amazon in various formats.

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

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ShaLenn Madness!

Published March 29, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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So, I had this uptight designer make me a baseball cap consisting of nothing but ice. I was just trying to be as cool as some of these awesome independent exploitation directors that I know. It didn’t work. Still, my consolation prize is that I can promote these spine tingling ladies and gents until time freezes over or my bloodstained weave falls out. Here goes…

Cory J. Udler, founder of ShaLenn Productions and that awesome king of Wisconsin filmic craziness, is at it again! His brilliant freak-out on American values and small town perversion, Mediatrix, is now available on VHS (see photo above).

First Day of Girl filming.

First Day of Girl filming.

And…continuing in that film’s delirious vein, he is now hard at work on his next feature, The Girl Who Played with the Dead! Featuring performances from (former) Fangoria goddess Shannon Lark and cult icon Lloyd Kaufman, this epic is sure to push all of Middle America’s (way too) fuzzy buttons.

You can keep track of Girl at:
https://www.facebook.com/thegirlwhoplayedwiththedeadmovie

…and purchase Mediatrix at http://www.incestdeathsquad.com.

In a parallel universe, this HAS to be the perfect couple: director Cory J Udler and BGHF!

In a parallel universe, this HAS to be the perfect couple: director Cory J Udler and BGHF!


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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Jason Coffman’s Still

Published October 25, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

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Granted, I am blind to a lot of stuff – including criticism. (Although, I did get it, recently, when one online commentator called me a “dork” and another called me the “worst interviewer ever” re: my Danielle Harris video interview! Y–OUCH!!!)

But, the heroine of Jason Coffman’s latest thriller Still has got it really bad. After an attack, she discovers she is suffering from a rare condition called akinetopsia, or motion blindness. The complications from that are sure to be riskily adventurous as described in Coffman’s passionate Kickstarter campaign.

Coffman whom has already graced the independent cinematic landscape with such (shorter) offerings as Tape and The Gamma-Ray Man is sure to use every cent generated to create something truly unique and enjoyable.

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

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Red Clark’s Gray Matter!

Published October 15, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

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Oh, if I only had a brain! I’ve sung that to myself so many times that I’ve felt like a small town queer stuck caught in a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz, Sisyphus-style!

But who needs brains when they can experience the terror of Gray Matter?!? This stunning short film is an adaptation of a Stephen King story – and inventive filmmaker Red Clark tells me he only used practical effects (based on some amazing concept designs by Tom A. Denney)! Viva, au natural, baby!!

Check out the gooey, first look trailer, here!:

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Discovering Tom Graeff (Teenagers from Outer Space)!

Published October 4, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

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The other day someone zapped me with a homemade ketchup gun at work and as my body, momentarily, turned skeletal, all I could think was “Tom Graeff”!

teenThankfully, Graeff, the gay mastermind behind cult 1959 science fiction epic Teenagers from Outer Space is, also, on the minds of the brilliant duo of Jim Tushinski and Elle Schneider. While, Graeff eventually descended into religious fanaticism and suicide, Tushinski (who is writing a book on Graeff) and Schneider (who is prepping a documentary on the man) are interested in his complex creative side, something he indulged in during a time when homosexuality was rarely spoken of.

To find more about Graeff, his shorts films and Teenagers (which many state to be a precursor to The Terminator), be sure to visit Tushinski at http://www.tomgraeff.com and Schneider at http://www.tomgraeff.org.

Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, is always hiding handsome aliens at http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan!

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