Television

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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

ramon stud shot

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.

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

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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

Margaret Freak

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.

Margaret Capital

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

sally field home

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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