Women’s Issues

All posts in the Women’s Issues category

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Maria Vidal

Published June 25, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

Maria once

Sweet toned songstress Mara Vidal has a very public reminder of learning an ex-boyfriend was gay. Former beau (and master songwriter) Desmond Child’s lyrics for The Truth Comes Out on Runners in the Night, the last album of Desmond Child and Rouge (a band that Vidal was a member of), detail how Child revealed his orientation to her. 

The understanding Vidal, known in metal circles for her backing vocals on Kiss’ Paul Stanley’s solo album, went on, after that group’s disbandment, to be somewhat of a soundtrack queen. Body Rock, the title song to a Lorenzo Lamas vehicle, was the only song of hers to crack the Top 40 in the early ’80s. But horror comedy lovers know her best for contributing 2 tracks to 1985’s Once Bitten. 

Indeed, her seductive warbling on Hands Off! helped contribute to that film’s most memorable moment. Seemingly spoofing Chris Sarandon’s seduction of Amanda Bearse in Fright Night, here Lauren Hutton bedazzles a reluctantly flexible Jim Carrey on the dance floor.

Despite the magical mood created there, Vidal, who released a pretty self titled full length in 1987, never truly found the recognition that she deserves. 

But, for the lucky ones, her best performances will always live on in our neon stroked dreams.

maria vidal

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

Review: Blessed Are the Children

Published February 2, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

blessed-are-posterWillow, the adorable toddler in the apartment across from me, always seems to be in front of my door when I’m making a quick exit for work or the grocery store. She, breathlessly, will tell me about her adventures at her babysitter’s house or how her cat, always misbehaving, has stepped on her feet again. I’ll cluck, encouragingly or sympathetically (whatever the case may call for), and hurry on my way. If that is stalking, I’ll take it.

Traci, a woman breaking away from a violent relationship, in director-writer Chris Moore’s emotional Blessed Are the Children, though, finds herself, unfortunately, fixated upon by some violent, mask wearing strangers after her visit to a women’s clinic. These mysterious villains are soon obliterating the men in her life and are also putting Traci and her roommates, Mandy and Erin, in harm’s way, as well. Could these figures be tied in with Traci’s disapproving mother or is there something much more malevolent at work here?

Whatever the answers, Moore is to be highly commended for taking a series of social issues and placing them, firmly, in the context of the traditional slasher film. He delves into all the reasons that Traci (a finely modulated Kaley Ball) decides an abortion is the right decision for her and, with the effervescent help of actress Keni Bounds, he creates one of the strongest lesbian characters to ever benefit a genre film with Mandy. Fun, mothering and complex, she is the standout personality here.blessed-are-mandy

Granted, it’s a fine line to walk in a film wallowing in violence and retribution. There is always the chance that certain viewers will assume that Moore is suggesting that Traci and Mandy deserve any bad tidings that come their way. But by the film’s end, one almost imagines that it is this duo, along with Arian Thigpen’s delightfully awkward Erin, that are the real “children” being referred to in the movie’s title, so lovingly are their quirks, foibles and devotion for each other explored. 

Nicely, Moore also provides the expected bloodshed and several twists are sure to give audience members’ a nice sense of surprise, as well. One almost wishes the final act of the film was a bit tighter, but the penultimate moments of the movie are chillingly and haunting rendered, making this project, as a whole, an extremely memorable one. Most importantly, this fadeout also provides a prescient and poetic mediation on the current state of the world, one where hate and bigotry seem relentless and never-ending and we are all innocents in danger of losing not only are freedoms, but our very lives, as well.

https://www.facebook.com/childrenareblessed/

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Book Review: The Quality of Mercy

Published June 3, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

mercedesbook

Who knew the voice of Satan could be so sweet? Indeed, Academy Award winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, best known to terror stalwarts for providing the ghoulish vocal pyrotechnics of the demon in The Exorcist, writes with enormous beauty and supreme self awareness in her 1981 memoir The Quality of Mercy: An Autobiography.

Nicely, McCambridge, a versatile veteran of live radio, spends an entire chapter describing how she came up with the various signature sound pieces that made William Friedkin’s seminal shocker so potently creepy. (If you thought Regan’s onscreen vomiting was hard to take, the image of McCambridge spitting up raw eggs into a cup for the sound effect is liable to make your stomach a mite queasy, as well.) McCambridge also relates her heartache upon realizing she hadn’t, initially, received screen credit for her work and describes the efforts taken to make sure she received it. (Note: In Friedkin’s 2013 memoir he relates a different story, that McCambridge, at first, had insisted on no screen credit to help supply a sense of atmosphere to the film.)

As an unexpected bonus, the husky voiced actress also relates her joy upon working with Boris Karloff in a vampire piece for the radio. She, gleefully, recounts how, behind the scenes, life savers were chomped on to create the illusion that her character’s neck was being snapped.mercedes 99

Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, McCambridge’s tome, occasionally, deals with the often devastating effects of religion on women. Taught to fear an all powerful being, she strains to find her own voice and live a liberated and creative life. She is haunted by her two divorces and recounts, in frightening detail, how she assisted a childhood friend in procuring an illegal abortion.

She also, honestly, recounts her struggles with alcoholism and, with the sweeping curtness of a master storyteller, recalls her activism and her personal relationships, that she hints might have contained flickers of romance, with such powerful figures as politician Adlai Stevenson and master showman Billy Rose.

Euro-buffs, meanwhile, will get a kick out of her non-mention of exploitation maestro Jess Franco. Franco’s 99 Women, the WIP flick that features a boisterously accented performance from McCambridge, is brushed off as an unnamed, nonessential entry in her filmography here.

Thankfully, McCambridge, whose career seemingly suffered due to her visible efforts to link a popular face to the rigors of addiction, comes off as completely singular and absolutely worthy of the cinema fan’s eternal (and loving) recall.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

Review: Strangers in the Night (1944)

Published February 25, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

strangers in the night cover
While the 30s and 40s were dominated by the villainous portrayals of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney, Jr., Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Lionel Atwill and others, occasionally a strong female antagonist would peek out from behind the blood stained curtains. While Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Captive Wild Woman (1944) are prime examples of this, Republic Pictures’ little known Strangers in the Night (1944), released on Blu-Ray by Olive Films in 2013, features both a very strong female lead and a truly disturbing dowager femme at the heart of this shadowy production’s mysterious and deadly doings.

Sgt. Johnny Meadows, an injured marine, travels to a small seaside town to meet his female pen pal. Though they have never met, the two have fallen in love and are destined to marry. Of course, Johnny happens to encounter Leslie, the town’s beautiful young doctor, on the train ride in and his attraction to her, coupled with the fact that his never seen sweetheart is mysteriously missing, soon has him switching his affections. Of course, Hilda, his pen pal’s mother, who keeps on insisting her daughter will arrive shortly, is not too happy with this. Seemingly possessed by the enormous living room portrait of her daughter, Hilda eventually succumbs to her darker impulses and it seems, no one, not even her devoted companion Ivy, will escape from her homicidal wraith.

Thimig, Grey and Barrett.

Thimig, Grey and Barrett.


As this film whispers with shades of such classics as Rebecca (1940) and Laura (1944), director Anthony Mann and cinematographer Reggie Lanning nicely fill it with moody noir lighting and establish Hilda’s cliff top mansion as a haunting presence unto itself. Their work is truly exemplified, though, by the fine portrayals of Virginia Grey, as Leslie, and Helen Thimig, who truly radiates with a glowering sense of madness as Hilda. With simple majesty, Thimig makes this proud woman, crippled both emotionally and physically, one of the most intense presences of those early exploitation years.

Granted, the mystery surrounding Hilda’s daughter can only be resolved in a number of ways, yet the trio of writers (Philip MacDonald, Bryant Ford, Paul Gangelin) do surprise those expecting a more deadly offering with their resolution. They, nicely, also give Grey’s Leslie plenty to do. She is both humble, recognizing that her position is rare for the time, and determined in her vocation. While annoyed with Hilda’s interference, she is also exceedingly kind. Grey, brightly, handles all these facets and is particularly poignant when discovering that Johnny is, initially, claimed by another.

The lovely Grey, best known to terror freaks for her role opposite cult icon Rondo Hatton in House of Horrors, also, appeared in numerous other cult titles such as Who Killed Doc Robbin and Unknown Island. But, Strangers in the Night, also, contains an interesting, round-about connection to horror via the presence of Edith Barrett. Barrett, who brings a leveled humor and hesitancy to the nervous Ivy, was the first wife of the legendary Vincent Price. According to published reports, in real life, Barrett, an esteemed stage actress, was actually a combination of the jittery Ivy and the deluded Hilda, but here she is quietly luminous, rivaling the performances of Grey and Thimig for attention.

You can find more about the unique offerings from Olive Films at http://www.olivefilms.com and http://www.facebook.com/olivefilms.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Nora Dunn: Journeys with Comedy’s Eclectic Wonder!

Published September 12, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

nora die
While she may not be known for her genre work, eclectic comedian-actress-writer Nora Dunn has worked with such amazing alternative talents as Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) in Southland Tales and Charles Busch (Psycho Beach Party) in Die, Mommie, Die. Here, the compassionate performer talks with Big Gay Horror Fan about those projects (and others) and the state of ‘gay’ in the film world today.

BGHF: Hey, Nora! Can you talk a bit about working with Charles Busch in Die, Mommie, Die!

Nora: There’s a guy! That guy is amazing! That was really fun. When you’re on a movie, you don’t really get to work with everybody. I did get to talk to him quite a bit and also the woman who played the maid in that, Frances Conroy, she was also the mother in Six Feet Under. She was a brilliant actor. She’s great. I didn’t actually get to work with so many people on that. With Charles, when you work with him, it’s not a caricature, it’s a character. She (Angela Arden) just appeared. This other person comes out. It’s kind of scary. It’s great, it’s funny. He is a great actor. And — the end result of that was really fun. I loved seeing the movie. When I was there, I missed so much of it. I didn’t know what was going on.

BGHF: Going in kind of the opposite direction, what kind of energy to do you find when working with Seth Rogen on projects like Pineapple Express?

Nora_Dunn pineapple expressNora: Well, it’s kind of overwhelming for me because I can only take so much of that kind of comedy. I feel like a lot of their comedy is adolescent. They’re men who are not men. And we’re starting to get some of that back in the movies, having grown-ups – having men in the movies. I do think they’re funny. I think Seth Rogen is really funny. I appreciate him in more serious roles, though. I did The Guilt Trip with him. He’s such a really likeable, normal and truly smart guy. He’s wheedled himself into playing serious roles. I mean, he’s playing opposite Barbra Streisand. Quite a feat! But I want him not to be a boy. I want him to be a grown-up and a lot of those comedies play to that element. I don’t need to see The Hangover. I don’t need to see The Hangover 1, 2 and 3! Then you see that actor (Bradley Cooper) in a David Russell movie – The Silver Linings Notebook – and you see a completely different talent there. I thought that was a great movie. I think it’s kind of a waste, a lot of those movies. How much of this stuff are we gonna see, this wastepaper? They’re all kind of jumbled together. It’s not even a genre to me.

BGHF: I went to go see This is the End and while I can’t say I was offended, I was surprised about the amount of humor that revolved around gay themes. Every single major male character wound up in a gay situation of some sort, almost gladly. It’s confusing, in a way. I don’t know what they’re trying to say exactly about homosexuality.

Nora: It’s because their characters are stuck in a time when they are uncomfortable with it. When you are in your adolescence, you don’t know whether you are gay or straight. Like 12, 13, 14. Girls, you know, get crushes on girls. You’re kind of working your way through that. So, their comedy comes from that part of their life. By the time you’re 18, that’s over. You know who you are. Those jokes come out of uncomfortability with it. They’re dealing with it, on some level, and its better that they’re dealing with it in a humorous way…I am very impressed, by the way, with people in their 20’s, now-a-days. They have gay and straight friends. My age group, never in a million years! That was not the way it was. Obviously, everything has improved as far as people understanding that we are who we are. Not only is it a social issue but it’s a constitutional issue. And, you know, let’s move on! But I see so much of that in the movies – that “You’re gay”, “I’m not gay!” stuff. The portrayals of gays are really still stereotyped. But The Hangover does the stereotype of the big, macho guys – so maybe it’s just Hollywood.

BGHF: Exactly!

Nora: Hopefully, that will eventually go away. My best friend’s young son is awesome. He comes to the dinner table as a mermaid. He loves mermaids. He’s always looking for mermaids – and he is gonna be fine because he is never gonna waver. He will never waver. I was shopping with him in this store in LA. We were going to the beach, and he was looking at the dresses. This salesgirl comes up to him and asks him, “Why are you looking at these?!” I was like, oh here she goes, and she was like – “These are evening gowns! Come over here!” She shows him the dresses that are meant to be worn to the beach! And I was like, “Thank you so much!” Because he has a lot of trouble with bullying – the kids his own age don’t see that – but it’s the adults. Some of the parents titter behind the scenes. Then when he goes to the Disney Store, he wants to buy his Disney dolls: the Barbie’s and stuff. The salespeople go, “Oh-h-h! Are we wrapping this for a gift?” I say, “No! It’s for him. We want to open it up!” He visited the toy store in my neighborhood and he got this really cool doll there. They just knew it was for him. They acted totally normal about it. And he said, “I’d like that wrapped up please! I’m gonna open it!” (Laughs) They wrapped it up and he opened it! He went “Oh!” He acted all surprised and he was totally happy!

BGHF: It seems like a sexuality thing is being thrown onto it. That may be the case, but he could be just exploring stuff that interests him.

Nora: Yeah! He’s just being a kid and doing what he wants. All this came together for me because I was looking at my niece’s little girl. She was wearing a Hawks shirt and acting like a bruiser and everyone loved it. She’s very feisty and not a girly girl and they think that is just great. No one is saying, ” I think she needs to go to therapy!” (Throaty laugh), you know. So, when I look back, I realize that is why when I performed in clubs, they didn’t get me. It was Seinfeld back in those days and Dennis Miller. I didn’t know them – but I was around them and I just felt like my style was different. Ellen DeGeneres started around the same time I did at this club called The Other and she used to do piano songs and Doris Day –and she just left the scene. She went into the alternative scene. She does a traditional style of comedy but it’s not like those guys. Whoopi Goldberg was performing at Berkeley at the time. I realized you have to find your own way. You have to go into a different realm. You can’t go to the clubs and be the guy who starts out with a bang and then goes boom, boom, boom! That’s not what I do. I think I apologized to myself for a long time for that.

BGHF: Well, you’re making up for lost time, now! Is there work of yours that you are especially proud of that you would like viewers to take a second look at?nora southland_tales

Nora: I’m always getting character parts and so forth. There have been a few movies that didn’t make it that gave me something different to do. I thought LOL had a really good part in that for me and it was really fun. That’s the thing when you do films, though. I don’t know why it didn’t come out. I don’t think it was in the theaters. If it was, it was a week and now it’s on Netflix! I think I have a series of those kinds of roles that certainly could have meant more to me if the movies were successful. I think Southland Tales was an example of that. A lot of my work got cut out. That character — ah, was very hard to play. She was so — she smoked crack, she drank, she made porn movies. All that got cut out – but that was – – ah-h-h – dark. She was working on a documentary of the treatment of women in Iraq and the Middle East and so forth. To support that, she was directing porno movies. So many scenes in that weren’t in the movie and they were hard to do. I do think that what was left in the movie was good. I had a really, really good scene with John Larroquette and that’s where I shoot him with a taser under the table.

BGHF: Yeah! I love that scene. I liked Southland Tales.

Nora: But that was hard to do. It was hard to be in that dark world. I think probably the best part that I ever had in a movie was Three Kings. And the movie was successful and I had such a good role. After that, I had a really nice part in Runaway Jury. I loved that character! I worked with Dustin Hoffman, but he was mad at me. He didn’t know who I was and he was looking at me during a scene. He said, “I don’t get it, this character. You are really distracting me a lot!” I said, “Well this woman is not from New Orleans, she’s from Lafayette and she doesn’t like Jews.” It was true. I played her like a real racist. She was an alcoholic; she got kicked off the jury. But, she didn’t like him because he was Jewish and from New York. Not him, not Dustin Hoffman, just his character! So, they didn’t use me. They had other characters that they could focus on in the jury. (Laughs, hysterically) So they decided not to focus on me.

Nora_Dunn runaway jury

BGHF: I would think, as a New York stage actor, he would appreciate that.

Nora: Oh, I think that was just a period in time for him. He’s a great actor. But every actor has their moments. I remember on Three Kings, we had to shoot so far away and we were at this really remote, horrible location. Then we would have to go even farther to make it look really flat and desert-like. Then we would have to get in a van and drive all the way back to this other crummy place we were shooting at. There were all these extras in the movie. I didn’t realize most of them had been in Iraq and most of them escaped through Jordan. Many of them lost all their family members before they eventually made it to the United States. I didn’t know that. At the end of the day, myself, Cliff Curtis and Jamie Kennedy, we had our own van to drive back to where we were staying. But these extras ran along the side of the van and jumped in. They were piling in, crushing together inside the van. I got mad. I told the driver, “We have to get these people out of here! I can’t travel like this! We have an hour long journey!” Well, then on that hour long journey I find out that these people had been through hell to get out of Iraq. They had businesses, they had lives. They were killed in Jordan. They were killed in Saudi Arabia. They finally came to the United States. They chose Arizona because it was more like their country. I just felt terrible by the time we got back to the hotel. I said to Cliff, “I am ashamed of myself. I feel like I was acting like an asshole”. He said, “Nope. You were acting like an actor.” (Laughs, wildly) I’ll never forget that.

BGHF: That’s an amazing story.

nora_dunn_three_kings_001Nora: They would do everything they were told while acting on the set. They were sitting in the sun for ages. So, after that day, I would tell them, “Go over there!” and I would make the crew get them an umbrella and a tent. They weren’t being treated very well. Eventually we had to work together so much that I realized the movie was about their exit. How they got out and got into Jordan. That was the story. So they were reliving their real lives. To this day I still know some of them. They are on Facebook with me. We took a lot of pictures. That exodus took us many, many days. So, I guess if you were going to imagine being in a war, that movie was pretty close. I had a scene where they blew things up. I remember they set up for like 10 hours and they told me, you just stand here. This building is going to blow up in front of you, the whole thing! But it’s gonna end 20 feet from you. The director (David Russell) tells me to continue recording, no matter what. That is what the scene is. It doesn’t frazzle you one bit. The only had two cameras on the scene. So they took hours and hours and hours to rehearse it. They didn’t tell me that all this other stuff was going to happen, though. So, they call action. I stand there recording. But — not only did the building blow up but, these tanks came – and they blew up! This guy got out and his back was on fire. Then I see Mark Walberg getting dragged by and he’s all bloody! They didn’t say any of that other stuff was gonna happen. (Laughs) I just started screaming because I thought things had gone wrong. I thought the guy’s back really was on fire. I ran away and I was screaming, “Help, Help!” (Cackling with laughter) And the director was screaming at me, “Get back there! Get back there!” So, then I ran back, but I was such a mess. They couldn’t use that shot. I said, “Yeah, but my character could have run away.” He goes, “No. You weren’t a character at all. You were a complete — (Breaks into loud laughter). It was then I realized, “Nora, you would be terrible at war!” He would tell those guys, try to get that camera from Nora in a scene. They really did work. And I was kicking them and beating them – going what is wrong with you? He used it because it was real. And the scene where the guy puts a gun to my head? The director did not tell me that he was gonna put a gun to my head. The actor they used didn’t speak English and I kept trying to get the video tape. He kept telling me no – then he put the gun to my head and I said “Fuck it!” Hilarious! But I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Then I started screaming for Jamie to get over there! I said, “This guy is taking this way too seriously. He just pulled a gun on me!” (Laughs, loudly).

BGHF: Adventures in filmmaking, my friend! And – what a life!!! Thank you!

Dunn’s one woman show Mythical Proportions is currently running in Chicago until September 22nd, 2013. More information can be obtained at http://www.theaterwit.org.

Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, continually adores the passionately intelligent woman at http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan.

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

Countdown to Carrie: Tuesday Weld in Pretty Poison!

Published July 30, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

carrie

I’m actually pretty leery about a lot of things – for instance, that day old meat-loaf floating around the hallway of my building – or my “friends”, those budding sister-musicians who alternate between their flat and sharp notes with alarming accuracy and… that Carrie re-imagining that is hitting the theaters this October 18th. I am pretty leery of that.

But – if you go with the thought that a blood-shot cinematic adventure with a strong female lead is always good cause for celebration then, in anticipation of this fall’s opening of Kimberly Pierce’s re-imagining, the new BGHF feature “Countdown to Carrie” will focus on strong woman in horror and exploitation films. Let’s begin with the underrated Tuesday Weld!

prettypoison
She was one of the most photogenic lasses of the late 50’s and 60’s and while her life was full of pout worthy conflict and critical acclaim (including a 1978 Oscar nomination for Looking for Mr. Goodbar), the divine Weld never quite made it to the cinematic majors. This may have been due to her own reported reluctance to success or just the fickle nature of Hollywood but – as Sue Ann in 1968’s Pretty Poison, Weld gives a performance that simply shimmers with evil and delightful malice. It’s a masterwork of psychological horror and all the more impressive considering that her co-star is Norman Bates, himself, Mr. Anthony Perkins.

In fact, director Noel Black wisely plays on the assumption that audiences are going to predict that it is Perkins, playing a socially awkward arsonist who develops a fascination with Weld’s small town girl, whom is the primary antagonist here. But midway through the film, viewers realize without a doubt that it is Weld’s pretty Sue Ann whom is the true demon in disguise. Weld’s work is brilliantly go-for-broke and the fact that her Sue Ann is not recognized as one of cinema’s most significant villainesses is a true mystery.

 

Be sure to take a look at some of the finest of Weld’s cheesecake ridden starlet poses here, as well:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/19-dreamy-photos-of-forgotten-style-icon-tuesday-weld

Be sure to check me out at www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan, too, and to check back for more female horror awesomeness, here, as we Countdown to Carrie!

Helping Alix Arsenic!

Published July 19, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

alix
Wondering what to do with all those splintered pennies and blood stained coins that you have laying around? Well – here you go!

Kick ass (Chicago based) horror goddess Alix Arsenic has been enduring some incredibly destructive health issues and is fighting for survival. A good friend has put together a benefit campaign for her on Fundly.

You can check it out here:

http://fundly.com/alixneedsus

Any amount is sure to help get Alix’s chainsaw revving again – so you can rest assured that your contribution is truly helping the buzz!

Be sure to check out www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan, as well, and until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!!!