Television

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Judie Aronson in Sledge Hammer!

Published August 3, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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My sister could be all sweetness and light, one moment. Then the next, she’d be slapping the neighbor’s pet raccoon for stealing her sugar cookie. Such is the case with Francine Flambo, the privileged mayor’s daughter who suffers an alleged kidnapping, on the premiere episode of the short lived action spoof Sledge Hammer!

Judie SH3Flambo, as enacted by the multi-layered Judi Aronson, seems to be a poor, tortured soul when first encountered by series regular Doris Doreau (Anne Marie Martin), who is sent to rescue the young heiress. But (spoiler alert) when it is quickly discovered that Flambo was in on her own kidnapping, the young socialite’s attitude flips and soon Doreau finds her life on the line.

Nicely, Aronson, who is best known to horror fans for her passionate portrayal of Samantha in Friday the 13th: Final Chapter, embraces all the facets of Francine’s personality. She is as convincing as when the character is demurely trembling as when she is savagely threatening to murder everyone around her. Most importantly, Aronson seems to be having a ball and that joyful energy rolls off the screen in delightful waves.Judie SH2

Genre fans should be thrilled to note, as well, that Aronson, who also appeared in such fright flicks as After Midnight and The Sleeping Car, shares most of her screen time with the talented Martin. Martin, before gaining recognition for her work on shows like Days Our Lives, appeared in such slasher stalwarts as Prom Night and The Boogens. Thus, their work here marks the meeting of two genre queens at the top of their game, a true pleasure to watch unfold.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Suzanne Somers

Published July 8, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Suzanne Ants!

Nothing quite stings like the heartbreak caused by romantic rejection. Well…except for maybe the bites of hundreds of extremely poisonous ants. Indeed, the radiant Suzanne Somers suffered, gamely (and glamorously), at the machinations of these insistent creatures in the classic made for television animals-gone-wild horror fest known as It Happened at Lakewood Manor (AKA Ants!) .

Of course, if Somers had only shown those vicious creatures “a new attitude” – as she did a few years later on a fun television special – the fate of her character may have been a bit different.

Somers, a true Renaissance woman who was also Seduced by Evil and made a deal with Lucifer in Devil’s Food, is always showing the wisdom of her ways at www.suzannesomers.com, as well.

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

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Cesar Romero in Charlies Angels

Published June 29, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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This Pride Month we are exploring some of the many projects of the distinguished and eclectic Cesar Romero. Best known for his comic villainy on the ‘60s television version of Batman, Romero opened up about his homosexuality toward the end of his life. His many credits include such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine, Mortuary Academy and Night Gallery.

While his guest appearances on such shows as Batman, Get Smart and Bewitched were of the more tongue-in-cheek variety, Cesar Romero’s work as haunted bandleader Elton Mills on an episode of Charlie’s Angels is actually filled with a poetic sadness and a sentimental trail of angst. Cesar CA2

Here, on the fourth season entry entitled Dancin’ Angels, Romero’s faded superstar interacts softly with Jaclyn Smith’s sympathetic Kelly Garrett. Investigating the murder of a participant of an old fashioned ballroom dance contest, Smith’s Garrett is shocked to discover, after several distinguished and extremely gentle conversations, that Romero’s Mills has a darker side.

But even when threatening violence against one of America’s heavenliest creatures, Romero’s hurt and confusion ring paramount, making this one of the veteran performer’s most skilled and relatable portrayals.

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

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Cesar Romero in Happy Landing

Published June 15, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Best known to many generations as the penultimate Joker (from the Batman television series), the elegant Cesar Romero actually began his career co-starring against the likes of such golden megastars as Marlene Dietrich, Betty Grable, Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. His midrange career, meanwhile, added some megawatt luster to such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine (above), The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe and (silly spoof) Mortuary Academy. He even applied his smooth charisma to a take on Count Dracula for Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in the early ‘70s.

Cesar Happy Landing 1But the scariest force that Romero came up against may have just been booming theater goddess Ethel Merman. In 1938’s Happy Landing, a vehicle for perky Olympian skater Sonja Henie, Romero plays the smarmy Duke Sargent, a bandleader with a woman in every port. Ultimately, the roving Sargent meets his match in Merman’s Flo Kelly. Kelly spends the last half of the movie beating Romero’s calculating operator into romantic submission and the two emerge at the finale as a devoted (if slightly bruised) couple.

Interestingly, while the scenes where Merman clobbers Romero over the head with hotel room lamps (and the like) are supposed to read as humorous, this aggressive slapstick actually has the opposite effect. Often these encounters read more as domestic violence than comedic gold.Cesar Happy Landing 3

Despite this, the suave Romero practically steals the show here. Her majestic routines on the ice notwithstanding, Henie as a leading lady mugs her way throughout her intimate moments and tends to gaze, off camera, with moony eyed dreaminess at every fade-out. Merman, meanwhile, is a bit too forceful, the power of her stage presence not fully transferring to film. Thus, Romero commands this (rather flimsy and stereotypical) story with an easy flow and an undeniable photogenic presence.
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Rather bravely, considering the era in which he was popular, Romero, known as a lifelong bachelor, officially acknowledged his homosexuality in an interview with writer Boze Hadleigh for his 1996 book Hollywood Gays. Done towards the end of his life, this honesty may be just as significant as any of his beloved screen roles.

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

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Retro Sharkbait Village: This House Possessed

Published March 17, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

THP4The essence of cool, conniving film noir, the legendary Joan Bennett definitely presented herself as a horse of a different color with her appearance as the Rag Lady in the 1981 television terror This House Possessed. Here, roaming far from the perfect iciness of her roles in films like Scarlet Street, the adventurous Bennett plays a shabby small town oddity, driven to isolated madness by the secret at the heart of the film.

THP3This mystery, of course, revolves around the titular mansion. Interestingly, taking its cues from other small screen genre projects that revolved around such possessed inanimate objects as bulldozers, taxidermy displays and hobby horses, the residence here is not haunted by ghosts or some hidden psychotic killer, but actually causes the movie’s mayhem through a monstrous will of its own. THP5

…and the body count here is fairly high. A librarian dies in an explosion. A veteran character actor is finished off with a jagged shard from a trembling mirror and Bennett, herself, is exposed to the bubbling depths of an overheated pool. Add in a bloody shower and a very aggressive water hose (or two) and you have a project that has lived on in the memories of those who caught it on its original broadcast at impressionable ages.

Nicely, the more outrageous circumstances here are grounded by the gentle and committed leading performances of Parker Stevenson, as a rock star whose emotional collapse brings him to the malevolent domicile, and Lisa Eilbacher, as the nurse who helps him recover and soon wins his heart. Stevenson radiates with a genuine kindness and the music he performs comes off more like a softer version of the balladic work of Justin Timberlake than the cheesy pop that one associates with multiple television stars of that era.THP2

Eagle eyed horror lovers will also delight to the presence of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss, billed here as Mandy, whose opening act frolicking with actor John Dukakis (Jaws 2) is wetly interrupted by the angry residence. She and Bennett, who became well known for her role on the beloved gothic soap opera Dark Shadows during the middle range of her career, also make this enjoyable oddity a happy exercise for lovers of the femme form in terror, as well.

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

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Thriller Nights: Ramon Novarro

Published March 10, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Heralded as one of the big screen’s most exotic lovers, Ramon Novarro’s filmic legacy has often been overshadowed by the notorious circumstances of his death. As a gay man, known to hire hustlers in his declining years, this former matinee idol met his end, violently, by a pair of brothers in 1968. His demise has since been highlighted in short stories, books and songs.

ramon mataBut, significantly, Novarro’s early beauty easily matched that of his co-star Greta Garbo, sultry pose for sultry pose, in the fun 1931 spy drama Mata Hari. Later in his performing life, he gave eagle eyed horror buffs a boost with a featured role in the beloved Boris Karloff hosted anthology show Thriller.

In the 1962 second season episode La Strega, Novarro appeared opposite the stunning Ursula Andress as Maestro Giuliano, the mentor to a besotted painter, played by the swarthy Alejandro Rey (Satan’s Triangle, The Swarm, Terror Vision). Working with authority and concern, Novarro supplies the proceedings with a compassionate figure here who believes that Rey’s involvement with Andress could end in tragedy, as her aunt is a powerful witch.Ramon 2

This doesn’t mean Giuliano isn’t up to a little adventure. He accompanies the entwined duo to a black mass which, kudos to the art direction of Howard E. Johnson and the cinematography of Benjamin H. Kline, contains some of the episode’s most fiery and striking visuals. Unfortunately, Guliano finds himself on the receiving end of the sorceress’ revenge here, making Novarro’s appearance an important yet all too brief one. Although, proving the adage that a woman scorned is a dangerous thing, everything does not go well for the characters portrayed by Andress and Rey either.

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Nicely, besides highlighting Novarro’s subtle talents as a performer, this tale is directed with gothic sweep by Ida Lupino. One of the few working female directors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Lupino is known for guiding taut noir pictures like The Hitch-Hiker and, perhaps less elegantly, for her acting work in such gonzo genre projects as Devil’s Rain and Food of the Gods.

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

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Retro Sharkbait Village: The Cover Girl Murders

Published March 3, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

CGM Jennifer Knife

Iconic supermodel Beverly Johnson doing her best imitation of Lana Turner’s The Bad and the Beautiful breakdown in a motor vehicle… Jennifer O’Neill brandishing a knife against Lee Major’s whiskered throat…Adrian Paul exploding in a fiery crescendo… The 1993 USA Network made for television thriller The Cover Girl Murders offers up all of this and so much more.

CGM Bev CrazedHere a series of down on their luck models join Major’s Rex Kingman, a sleazy publishing patriarch, and O’Neill’s secretive Kate, his efficient and concerned editor, on a remote and tropical photo shoot from hell. Kingman manipulates each of the beauties into awkward scenarios, often pitting them against each other…and their own best interests. But is he the one responsible for their mysterious and violent deaths?

Functioning as a bit of Ten Little Indians mystery with a dash of April Fool’s Day, the lovelies expire via poisoned water, suspicious suicide, a gunshot wound and questionable equipment errors. Fairly bloodless in application, director James A. Conter (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Shark Swarm) does keep this enterprise jaunting along at a frisky pace and he is aided by the soap operatic elements that highlight the script. Nicely, the teleplay is written by none other than The Fall Guy’s Douglas Barr, known to the terror troops for his appearances in such quirky horror offerings as Deadly Blessing and The UnseenCGM Crowd

Of course, the cast has plenty of genre credits, as well, adding to the viewing fun. O’Neill graced such projects as Scanners and The Psychic while Majors, who recently added comic flair to the second season of Ash Vs. The Evil Dead, started off his career in the uncredited role of Joan Crawford’s philandering husband in William Castle’s Strait-Jacket.

Besides Johnson, the bathing beauties are represented by Showgirls’ Bobbie Phillips (Evil Breed, Carnival of Souls) and Weird Science’s Vanessa Angel (Sabretooth, Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys). Naturally, Angel, playing O’Neill’s jealously vengeful younger sister, gets the best lines. Even more enjoyable, perhaps, the fact that her accent is decidedly British and O’Neill’s is not is deliciously ignored here.

CGM Bev Staircase

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

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