Horror

All posts in the Horror category

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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Get Out: A Femme Appreciation

Published March 2, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Catherine Keener (right) in Get Out

Maniacal and brimming with steely intent, Diane Salinger’s Mrs. Darrode in 2009’s Dark House, an entry in the short lived Fangoria Fright Fest series, is truly a compelling horror villainess. In fact, the well trained Salinger, who began her career with 1985’s Creature, commands with such intensity that Darrode would have been a worthy character to build a series around. Yet, disappointingly, the character, itself, is another in a long line of bad mother archetypes seen so frequently in genre films. Here, a foster mother who murders almost all of her charges in a fit of religious ecstasy, the unstoppable Darrode returns, as the film progresses, to get at the one girl who escaped her bloody crusade.

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Salinger in Dark House

 

Nicely, the damaging expedition that the primary female characters in director-writer Jordan Peele’s brilliant horror satire Get Out engage in has nothing to do with lousy parenting or with romantic obsession, another common femme terror archetype, but with a more sinister agenda. It ties in with the film’s brilliant look at race and culture in society and is also a refreshing change to the nasty lady ghosts and vicious spirits that have inhabited such films as Ouija, Lights Out and many others, as of late. Granted, a strong feminine antagonist is always appreciated, but here it is nice to have them in the flesh and blood, slowly stirring the plot and keeping you guessing as to their true intents.

get_out_2017_posterTherefore, Peele, who is justifiably being praised for bringing a strong sense of social commentary and compelling, layered minority characters to a genre that doesn’t necessarily always welcome them – except, so often, as Victim #1 – has also done right by his female characters, as well. It’s a profound achievement and, while these fictional women may not go down in the terror history books like Betsy Palmer’s magnificently protective Mrs. Voorhees (Friday the 13th) or Clare Higgins’ love possessed Julia (Hellraiser), they are the contemporary anti-heroines that we truly need in this period of time. Let’s hope there is more like them on the way.

Get Out is currently playing in movie theaters, nationwide.

https://www.facebook.com/GetOutMovie/   https://twitter.com/GetOutMovie

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Chequered Past

Published February 27, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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A super group isn’t necessarily always capable of providing a super theme song. But, glam loving rockers Chequered Past, which included members of Blondie (Clem Burke, Nigel Harrison), The Sex Pistols (Steve Jones), Power Station (Michael Des Barres) and Tin Machine (Tony Fox Sales), definitely came screaming out of the gate with the explosive A World Gone Wild in 1984. The song perfectly expressed the apocalyptic nightmare that the creators of (the almost exactly titled) World Gone Wild expressed in their 1987 feature, earning it a prime place on its soundtrack.

Unfortunately, despite making music that Des Barres described as “New York Dolls in a home for senior citizens”, the band only recorded a single album before calling it quits. Des Barres did go on to play various sexual degenerates and punk sauced villains in projects such as Ghoulies, Midnight Cabaret, Waxwork II and Nightflyers, adding a little rock flash to the genre world, therefore  keeping some of the band’s seductively corrupt goals alive in other forms of entertainment.

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

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Jo Ann Sayers

Published February 23, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Granted, the elegant Jo Ann Sayers shared a strong professional association with one of the grand dames of cinema, Rosalind Russell. Sayers not only co-starred with Russell in the bright 1939 mystery Fast and Loose, but she also originated the title role in My Sister Eileen, a popular comedy that would bring Russell continued success in later years. Sayers, perhaps, showed her greatest sense of fortitude, though, in her final major screen role. As the determined Judith Blair, a skilled nurse and the favored companion of the investigative Dr. Mason, Sayers brings a sense of true spunk to the 1940 Boris Karloff thriller The Man With Nine Lives and proves that the women of those early horror programmers were often just as vital and adventurous as their male counterparts. jo-ann-sawyers-2

Following the determined Mason (Roger Pryor) to a deserted island, Sayers’ Blair is a magnificent trooper. Even after falling through loose flooring, she helps her curious companion pick away at a wall of ice and assists him in reviving the slumbering Leon Kravaal (Karloff), whose work has kept him (and several other unfortunates) secreted away in a coma for 10 years. Mason is thrilled when Kravaal awakens because, separately, the two have been trying to regulate the use of elongated deep freeze to cure patients of terminal disease. Soon Kravaal realizes that he has accidentally perfected his formula, but the antagonism of the three companions who have been trapped along with him proves to be disastrous. After a one of the men is shot, the unhinged Kravaal kidnaps everyone, determined to perfect his work on them.

Soon Blair is serving as cook, conscience and companion to all. As their numbers dwindle due to Kravaal’s psychosis, she even allows herself to be the mad doctor’s final guinea pig in order to spare Mason. With dignity and poise, Sayers enacts mother, heroine and dignified pin-up here – while the men are often regulated to simple emotions such as fear and anger. Sayers also foreshadows the popular final girl characters of the early 80s when Blair survives Kravaal’s tinkering and lives to work another day with Mason.man-with-nine-lives

Naturally, Karloff, sporting a dusty beard, is magnetic here, portraying a handsome and soft spoken genius eternally teetering eternally on the brink of madness. Visually, cinematographer Benjamin Kline also captures the icy set design with a taut arctic sweep, offering up a nice alternative to the moors and shadowy corners of the day’s popular Frankenstein and Wolf Man pieces. But the most impressive piece of cinema elegance here may be Sayers’ lovely cheekbones and expressive eyes, making her take on Blair a force of celluloid nature in every sense of the word.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Evelyn “Champagne” King

Published February 19, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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She was the Queen of Shame, due to her propulsive disco hit of the same name, but the glorious Evelyn “Champagne” King also deserves credit for being a seminal horror movie soundtrack diva. Her seductive Give It Up highlighted the dance floor seduction scene between Chris Sarandon’s commanding Jerry Dandridge and Amanda Bearse’s awkward Amy Peterson in 1985’s beloved Fright Night.

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Currently, King, who had multiple R&B and dance club hits throughout the prime of her career, is still showing the world that there will always be “love comedown” at https://www.facebook.com/evelynchampagnekingfanpage/.

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

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