Sharkbait Retro Village: The Spiral Staircase

Published January 31, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

SS1

If the thought of the steel toed Holland Taylor taking over for the unrivaled Ethel Barrymore in matriarchal duties fills your heart with glee – as it should – then the 2000 television film reimagining of The Spiral Staircase will be right up your alley.

This third full length adaptation of Ethel Lina White’s classic Some Must Watch emphasizes the horrific elements of this piece. Revolving around a killer obsessed with handicapped women, its participants are now decidedly stranded on a sheltered island during a powerful storm. Thus, Taylor has much atmosphere to work with as she fills Barrymore’s boots portraying the rich and secretive Mrs. Warren. Joined by gorgeous nighttime soap mainstay Nicolette Sheridan (as her mute nurse) and former glamour boys Judd Nelson and Alex McArthur (Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach video), Taylor simply and subtly steals the show here.SS2

Appreciatively, screenwriter Matt Dorff applies some new twists, allowing fans of the other versions to surprised by the revelation of the culprit (or culprits) here. Granted, the 1975 theatrical offering with Jacqueline Bissett may have been a bit more gruesome in its displays of violence, but this version does feature some nicely shadowy malevolence and makes crashing use of its titular inspiration in the final moments of this much adapted piece of gothic horror.

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

SS3

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Music to Make Horror Movies By: The Crystals

Published January 26, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The Crystals

While seemingly bypassed in affection by The Ronettes, their sisters in NYC harmony, the beautifully dynamic The Crystals are often hailed as the finest girl group of the sixties. Experiencing many of the behind the scenes manipulations of that era in music, Barbara Alston, Mary Thomas, “Dee Dee” Kenniebrew, Myrna Giraud, Patsy Wright (and eventually) “LaLa” Brooks, nevertheless left a lasting impression on the world with hits like He’s A Rebel, Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me.

Their first full length album Twist Uptown even featured this homage to everyone’s favorite mad scientist.

Nicely for fans of powerful female vocalists, The Crystals, led by Kenniebrew, are still performing to this day.

www.thecrystals.net

Crystals Twist Uptown

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Horror Mash-Up: Lionel Atwill and Virginia Bruce

Published January 25, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Virginia and Lionel

He was the master of ‘30s and ‘40s movie villainy. She was a musical comedy debutante who invigorated one of Universal Horror’s classic series. Together, they met in one of Abbott and Costello’s silliest comedies.

The film was 1942’s Pardon My Sarong. Here the cupid cute Virginia Bruce, star of The Invisible Woman, and Lionel Atwill, the dark knight of everything from Murders at the Zoo to The Mad Doctor of Market Street, battled it out as feisty heroine Joan Marshall and the diabolical criminal known only as Varnall.

Naturally, Atwill is defeated, as he often was, by the film’s fadeout. Still, surprises abound in this polyglot production. The Ink Spots mesmerize in a couple of first act musical numbers…and Atwill and Lou Costello engage in some energetically physical confrontations as Bruce provides fetching vocal commentary to their erstwhile shenanigans.

Virginia and Lionel 2

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Va-Va-Villainess: Virginia Bruce

Published January 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Virginia Bruce Born to Dance cigarette

As Broadway diva Lucy James in 1936’s Born to Dance, smoldering pixie Virginia Bruce causes much havoc between enthusiastic hoofer Nora Paige (Eleanor Powell) and her shy, devoted sailor beau Ted Barker (Jimmy Stewart).

bruce-stewart-born-to-danceInitially using him as a publicity ploy, James soon grows serious about Barker. This, nicely, gives Bruce a chance to add layers of soft pain to her characterization. This humanity doesn’t stop this character’s out of control anger issues, though. After destroying a hotel suite and getting Paige fired from her understudy job, James is decidedly left on the outskirts of the film’s grand and happy finish. Virgina BTD2

Not surprisingly, the talented Bruce still comes out the winner, though. Born to Dance’s score was composed by none other than Cole Porter and, with sweet elegance, she introduced his classic I’ve Got You Under My Skin, which was nominated for an Academy Award, here.


Horror Hall of Fame:


Bruce filled the title role of 1940’s The Invisible Woman, a more comic take for the classic Universal horror series. This natural celluloid wonder also tangled with eternal mad scientist Lionel Atwill in the Abbott and Costello comedy Pardon My Sarong.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Tammy Wynette

Published January 19, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Tammy Wynette How often does this happen? One of the best known country songs of all time is featured in one of the more obscure horror projects of the ‘80s. Tammy Wynette’s iconic Stand By Your Man found its way into bizarre New Zealand blood fest Death Warmed Up, via a pretty cover version by the singularly titled Suzanne.

The legendary Wynette, who co-wrote this much recorded number with Billy Sherrill, always bucked the norm, though. Her final studio album featured duets with Sting and Elton John and she embraced the electronic age by performing Justified and Ancient with British music mavericks The KLF. The equally stellar Emmylou Harris also collaborated with her by offering up piercingly beautiful background vocals on the single Beneath A Painted Sky.

The health plagued Wynette, who passed away at 55 in 1998, is lovingly remembered at www.tammywynette.com. Known as the “First Lady of Country Music,” she was the winner of multiple Grammy Awards and has been, rightfully, inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame.

Death Warmed Up.jpg

Death Warmed Up, meanwhile, just received a nice, multi-feature reissue from Severin Films. To witness how Tammy’s country charms mingle with the film’s punked out New Wave vibes visit http://www.severin-films.com. 

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

Va-Va-Villainess: Rhonda Fleming

Published January 18, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rhonda Inferno

She played feisty yet loyal lovers in a series of ‘50s action and adventure pieces like Yankee Pasha and Gunfight at O.K. Corral. Bob Hope also called upon her extravagant sense of humor in such projects as The Great Lover and Alias Jesse James. Her lush looks and rare beauty worked for her in other ways as well, giving the glorious Rhonda Fleming a delightfully tangible way to embody perfect visions of calculating evil.

InfernoLobbyEschewing her initial naivete – she and her mother had to look up what a nymphomaniac was when she was cast in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound – Fleming brought vivid life to a number of noir vixens. 1953’s Inferno capitalized on the 3D phase while also giving her the excuse to bring what was possibly her most evil character to the celluloid universe. As Geraldine Carson, this red headed goddess viciously plots to murder her husband, played with gruff humanity by eternally sympathetic tough guy Robert Ryan. Thus, her dry and dusty downfall here was relished by movie lovers everywhere.

rhonda-fleming-the-crowded-skyThe suave Efrem Zimbalist Jr. also was dealt a calculating blow when dealing with Fleming’s adulterous Cheryl Heath in The Crowded Sky. As a pilot facing a deadly incident, as this film is a precursor to the all star disaster films of the ‘70s, Zimbalist’s character also must deal with the emotional fallout of Cheryl’s heartless manipulations. Viewers, therefore, are not surprised when the film’s fadeout reveals his intents to leave her behind, no matter Fleming’s seemingly irresistible devious lusciousness.

Rhonda Gunfight


Horror Hall of Fame:


Besides her compelling work with Hitchcock in Spellbound, Fleming brought a steady heart and calm demeanor to her portrayal of the loyal yet doomed Blanche in 1946’s gothic horror The Spiral Staircase.

www.rhondafleming.com

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Edie Adams

Published January 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Edie Adams

I often hit upon a performer I want to write about for this feature and then I have to scramble to find if they have any kind of horror connection. Sometimes I luck out and there is a direct link to the genre. Sometimes I only manage to pluck out a tenuous thread. Occasionally, there is no link at all and I have to move along with a slightly heavy heart. Thankfully, the delightful Edie Adams, my latest obsession, was featured in a 1961 television production of The Spiral Staircase, one of several adaptations of the classic Ethel Lina White story about a handicapped woman being pursued by a fetishistic killer. This particular production was also notable for featuring such performers as Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched) and Lillian Gish (Night of the Hunter). (Adams played Blanche, the role that Rhonda Fleming had originated in the original screen version.) Spiral Ethel

For those who know about her career, though, it isn’t surprising that Adams has this eclectic entry on her professional resume. Almost chameleon like in her approach to her art, she was known as a comedienne, singer, impressionist, spokesperson and actress. Here’s Edie, her variety show, in which she showed off all those skills in premium, is still considered one of the greats of that particular world of entertainment. Here, her take on More Than You Know provides a nice look at her unique way of handling a classic composition.

Nicely, www.edieadams.com and https://www.facebook.com/realedieadams/ keep all the many aspects of this valuable performer, who died at the age of 81 in 2008, thoroughly alive and kicking!

Edie Adams 2

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan