Television

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Horror Hotel: Valentine’s Day Edition

Published February 15, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Love is slicing through the air today. Of course, romance was always in style for such classic Aaron Spelling shows as Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. These productions featured television names of the era and many faded silver screen legends making their way through a variety of romantic trials and tribulations. Hotel, another of the legendary producer’s creations, took these elements to a more dramatic height, focusing on such issues as rape, mental imbalance, racism, child abuse and (even) homosexuality.

Nhotel 4aturally, many performers known for their work in horror films, made their way down the glitzy corridors of Hotel, offering many sensory delights for true fans of terror. Significantly, the amazing Adrienne Barbeau tears through Tomorrows, the 14th episode of the show’s first season. In full on Billie-mode, she rips up the scenery as a well-to-do mother caught in the thrall of her drug dealer. There is nothing quite like the sight of Barbeau slamming cocaine in her arm or watching the snarly way she takes down her man once she realizes her son is in danger. Sadly, her son is played by the handsome and talented Timothy Patrick Murphy. Murphy, best known for his roles on soaps like Search for Tomorrow and Dallas, died at the age of 29 due to complications from AIDS.hotel 5

Interestingly, the premiere season also featured an episode entitled Faith, Hope and Charity that concentrated on a lesbian playwright with the astonishingly hip name of Zane Elliott, sensitively played by Carol Lynley (Bunny Lake is Missing, The Night Stalker, Dark Tower). Coming out to her college friend, portrayed by the crisp and classy Barbara Parkins (The Mephisto Waltz, A Taste of Evil, Circle of Fear) proves to almost be disastrous for their relationship. Horrified by the revelation and even questioning her own sexuality, Parkins’ Eileen Weston enters into a loveless one night stand.  Of course, the two friends eventually reclaim their compassionate equilibrium, but not before Lynley gets a little (femme) action herself. (Her character, unapologetically, winds up sleeping with one of the establishment’s pert fitness instructors). Thankfully, these issues of prejudice and misunderstanding are actually addressed with an even handedness unusual for the early ‘80s when the show was filmed here. Nicely, the same episode features a jaunty turn from soap actress DeAnna Robbins. Robbins, best known to slasher fans for playing the seductive  Lisa in 1981’s Final Exam, nicely puts the screws here to co-star Scott Baio – a fate the notorious, scandal plagued Republican probably deserves in real life – as a rich kleptomaniac with daddy issues.   

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

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Retro Sharkbait Village: City Killer

Published February 1, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

City Killer Heather Mad

Naturally, Heather Locklear’s got the perfect feathered hair…the perfect apartment…and her stalker is of the handsome picture perfect variety that ‘80s television executives loved to provide for their perfectly eager audiences. City Killer was probably the perfect title to get audiences watching back in that soap-centric decade, as well. Riding high on the successes of Dynasty and TJ Hooker, here pixie cute Locklear faces down the wrath of a lovelorn demolitions expert while, simultaneously, finding romance with a moustache sporting daddy.

City Killer AudreyNicely, clear eyed viewers will also spot noir icon Audrey Totter as a secretary in Locklear’s office. Here, Totter provides some old school Hollywood rational amongst this television film’s ridiculously over-the-top offerings.

Built around stock footage of major buildings collapsing in unison, things reach a highpoint in this thriller when swarthy Terrence Knox’s deranged Leo Kalb brings an entire urban oasis to its knees with his demands. Of course, Locklear’s compassionate Andrea is one of them and there may be nothing that the concerned Lieutenant Eckford, played with rascally compassion by Simon and Simon’s Gerald McRaney, can do to stop him.City Killer Explosion

Highlighted by an action packed ending and by the awkward visual fact that none of the actors are actually anywhere near the rumbling destruction detailed, City Killer is, nicely, also bolstered by a solid, tempered performance from Locklear. Particularly in her first confrontation scene with Knox, Locklear shows, precisely, Andrea’s fear, frustration and anger. In this #metoo generation, harassment perhaps is no longer a flyaway plot point for cheesy entertainment, but here Locklear is able to show that, even in less aware decades, there were always strong emotional repercussions to this kind of abuse.

City Killer Heather HorrifiedLocklear, of course, made other genre-centric appearances in such projects as the big budget Stephen King adaptation Firestarter and the charming (very low budget) Return of the Swamp Thing. Interestingly, in a complete turnaround from his work here, Knox wound up playing a concerned father in 1992’s Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. (Heads up: it wasn’t.)

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Margaret Whiting

Published January 28, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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If Stevie Nicks musically dominated the third season of American Horror Story then, in a fair world, the brilliant Margaret Whiting would have been the focus of the show’s powerful and controversial fourth season. Whiting, who indeed had a song featured on the Freak Show arc, was a multi-generation hit maker with songs charting in the pop, country and easy listening markets throughout the decades.

In fact, her album Wheel of Hurt, featuring her last big hit, owes as much to the sound of Nancy Sinatra as Rosemary Clooney. The World Outside Your Arms is one of that offering’s most poignant expressions.

Whiting’s queer connections, meanwhile, extend to her longstanding relationship (and eventual marriage) with gay porn maverick Jack Wrangler. She also provided the singing voice for Susan Hayward’s proud Helen Lawson in the camp classic Valley of the Dolls.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Sally Field

Published December 24, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Before performing matriarchal duties on Sunday night melodramas…before the Academy Award wins, the diverse Sally Field logged in some final girl duties in the 1972 made for television Christmas horror Home for the Holidays. Here, Field was joined by a powerhouse cast – Julie Harris, Jill Haworth, Eleanor Parker and Jessica Walter – and, nicely, came out ahead of the curve against the film’s tempest tossed, pitchfork yielding maniac.sally field lp 2

Of course media fetishists know that, at the beginning of her career, Field essayed a couple short lived, yet iconic characters – Gidget and The Flying Nun. Interestingly, while playing the sky bound Sister Bertrille, she even released an album, Sally Field, Star of The Flying Nun. Supposedly aiming for the heights of Julie Andrews, this offering actually lands in that sweet, silly fun spot of most celebrity recordings. Although, wouldn’t be nice if it was true that we always got braver as our voices grew louder?

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Julie Wilson

Published December 3, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Elegant yet slightly naughty, the legendary Julie Wilson enlivened Broadway stages, nightclubs and some minor Golden Age of Hollywood productions with her always divine, truly eclectic talents. Her electric presence was, perhaps, best met with one of her signature numbers, the fun and bawdy I’m a Bad Woman.

While, naturally, adored in the refined climes of the cabaret scene, Wilson also gave a little something to the Frankenstein Kids with her appearance on the A Face for Radio episode of Monsters…proving she was not only an eternal beauty, but a truly generous soul, as well!

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Mary Wickes

Published December 1, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Mary Wickes was well known for adding a bit of dour (and occasionally judgmental) hilarity to many television shows and classic films. Her appearance as a frustrated, world renowned choreographer on The Ballet, a first season episode of I Love Lucy, for example, helped make that show one of the legendary series’ most hilarious offerings. Mary W4

Best known to many modern audiences as Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies, cinema sleuths drawn to the darker side may be fonder of her quirky appearances on such shows as Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, though.

The Baby Sitter, a first season AHP episode, actually found Wickes in familiar comic territory. As Blanche Armstaedter, the best friend of Thelma Ritter’s love lost Lottie Slocum, Wickes adds plenty of humorous appeal. In fact, as she offers up tempting ice cream treats to Lottie, Wickes often comes off as a monument to devilish frivolity. Her delight in the fact that her fondest companion may be a cold blooded murderess makes Wickes’ Blanche the story’s standout, with this one of a kind performer  stealing scenes from her co-star, the well seasoned, virtuosic Ritter. Mary W6

Toby, on the anthology show’s second season, provided a more somber character for Wickes to attach her skills to. Working with a bit of a Tennessee Williams’ vibe, this production concentrates on the arrival of a fragile old maid type to a rambling boarding house. As Edwina Freel, the land lady of the establishment, Wickes provides plenty of heart and weathered kindness here. She seems to know that the romance between this crumbling flower and a long term resident is doomed to failure and her scenes resonate with both wearied hardness and a bit of tender concern.

Nicely, her tart edge is in full effect again with They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be offering on The Night Stalker. As Dr. Bess Winestock, a zoologist that Darren McGavin’s always curious Kolshak interacts with, Wickes delivers her lines with a tangy twist, often providing laugh out loud results. This particular venture is more science fiction in nature than some of this iconic show’s more horrific offerings. But Wickes does get to reveal the truly chilling fact that the bone marrow of the animals in her character’s care has been devoured then rejected by the hungry aliens that dominate this output’s proceedings here.

Mary W1Exposed as an often rigid and uncompromising force in Steve Taravella’s well researched biography I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before, these three varied appearances (among so many others) prove that Wickes will forever be one of the world’s premium actresses of any (and every) variety.

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Alice Krige

Published November 17, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Show business is full of complications…professional jealousies, Napoleon complexes, cold blooded killers. The sweet Nina Cochran (Alice Krige) definitely discovers this to be true on Murder in the Afternoon, a second season episode of Murder, She Wrote.

Alice K2The niece of the series’ stalwart Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer who continuously finds herself solving real crimes, Cochran is accused of offing Joyce Holleran (Jessica Walter, Play Misty For Me), the evil head writer of the soap on which she appears. Of course, Cochran isn’t the only suspect for doing away with this callous doom bringer. Holleran has threatened the jobs of many of the show’s beloved cast, including the indulgent, adulterous Bibi Hartman (Tricia O’Neil, Piranha II: The Spawning).

Capped by a double red herring, this episode, nicely, allows Krige to display a full range of emotions. Fear and anger, naturally, figure prominently here. But true movie buffs may delight most to Krige’s sweet scenes with Lansbury and golden age character actress Lurene Tuttle (Psycho, Niagara, Don’t Bother to Knock), who plays Krige’s devoted grandmother with a daft charm.

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Krige, who gave sophisticated and passionate performances in such horror offerings as Ghost Story, Sleepwalkers, Silent Hill and Stay Alive, also works well amongst the vindictive environs of  Walter and O’Neill. She, wisely, plays off their characters’ inherent selfishness with a firm and determined resolve of her very own. …and while that surely doesn’t provide much love in the afternoon, as those daytime ads in the flashy ‘80s always proclaimed, it most certainly allows for plenty of delicious, lightweight fun!

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

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