Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nina Mae McKinney

Published March 3, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Best known to old school horror and jungle movie fans for playing the revenge fueled Isabelle in 1939’s The Devil’s Daughter, the glorious Nina Mae McKinney was originally supposed to be MGM’s first black female superstar. Despite a glorious debut in King Vidor’s Hallelujah, the prejudice of the time cancelled out McKinney’s obvious appeal. The five year contract with Hollywood’s glossiest studio only led to a few loan out roles and an opportunity to provide the singing voice for Jean Harlow in the musical melodrama Reckless. Nina Devils Daughter 1

 

Thankfully, McKinney’s contribution to that picture is not lost to time.

 

McKinney, who died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1967, has been, thankfully, regaled by cinematic historians like Donald Bogle. But one still wishes that her potential could have truly been met. A role playing Harlow’s rival, instead of one behind the scenes, would have truly been a breathtaking addition to her legacy.

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Nina Mae McKinney

Published March 1, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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She was known as The Black Garbo, but Hollywood in the 1930s wasn’t ready to turn Nina Mae McKinney into a sex symbol. Instead, after a triumphant debut in MGM’s Hallelujah, she was relegated to traditional maid roles and leads in race pictures.

Nina Devil's Daughter 3Nicely for genre fans, those films include the fun, Jamaica produced The Devil’s Daughter and the friskily paced Gun Moll (AKA Gang Busters), in which McKinney displayed her multiple talents as a cabaret singing undercover policewoman.

Meanwhile, as the ruthless Isabelle in TDD, McKinney truly controls the screen with a sense of barely contained fury. Determined to make her half-sister pay for inheriting the property that she has called her own for years, this unjustly neglected performer truly dominates the proceedings.Nina Devil's Daughter 2

Even as the ending of this black and white horror film veers into the safer streams of Mark of the Vampire style red herring mystery, McKinney’s villainess still resonates with real power. A further supporting role in the (Merle Oberon starring) heiress horror Dark Waters may have not given her as much to do, but it does supply an extra layer of shine to her terror strewn crown – proving, without a doubt, that Nina Mae McKinney is one of the major Unsung Heroines of Horror!

Nina Mae McKinney Gun Moll

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Carole Davis

Published February 24, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Carole Davis Piranha Montage

Supernaturally gorgeous and full of talent, Carole Davis has collaborated with such esteemed musicians as Prince and Nile Rogers. In fact, her work with Rogers culminated in a fun album, Heart of Gold, and a single that was a staple at gay clubs and hip bars across the continents.

Of course, horror fans know this actress-author-musician best as the doomed Jai in James Cameron’s toothy Piranha II: The Spawning. But she also counts the moody apocalyptic drama The Rapture and the Kane Hodder monster fest Project: Metalbeast among her many credits. For those who love the world of terror, that indeed makes us count the divine Ms. Davis as one of those who possess serious money!

Carole Davis album

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Myrna Dell

Published February 23, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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She was one of the beautiful background players in MGM’s Ziegfeld Girl. She also, famously, wound up on the shaky side of George Brent’s murderous rage in the classy Gothic horror The Spiral Staircase.

But the stunning Myrna Dell was perhaps best known for playing a series of sassy ladies in television westerns and adventure shows. A prime example of her sharp talent occurred on an episode of Jungle Jim opposite Johnny Weissmuller. As Mickey Worth, a hardened carnival owner, she proved her mettle by taking the character from ruthless business woman to sentimental society dame.Myrna Dell Jungle Jim

Nicely, Skip Lowe conducted an amazing and informative interview with Dell in 1990. Those who appreciate the favors of old Hollywood and the dynamic women that populated it, will find much to adore here.

This charming conversation also proves that Dell, who passed away in 2011, is truly deserving of rediscovery…a unsung heroine of not just horror films but cinema, in general.

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Holiday Horror History (Valentines Day) : Dead Men Walk

Published February 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

31BEF7EC-BD66-4D7F-8228-EBCFC8ACEF66.jpegDead Men Walk was released on Valentine’s Day in 1943. It features a skilled dual performance from refined terror legend George Zucco. Other significant participants include Frankenstein’s Dwight Frye and under appreciated character actress Fern Emmett, who turned up in many minor roles in the classic Universal horrors. For a poverty row production, there is plenty of misty moodiness and fun vampiric action here. Thus, this easily accessible public domain title is well worth checking out.

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Retro Sharkbait Village: Death at Love House

Published February 14, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Mysterious houses have not been kind to the fragile male ego in horror films. James Brolin and Ryan Reynolds both succumbed to the madness of the Amityville house in different versions of The Amityville Horror while Jack Nicholson and Steven Webber spiraled into insanity, decades apart, while attending to The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. Similarly, novelist Joel Gregory in 1976’s Death at Love House finds himself transported to the brink of erotic hysteria by the lingering essence of a former movie queen in her long shuttered abode. Dorothy Death

Efficiently helmed by veteran television director EW Swackhamer, this telefilm is perhaps most notable for its use of such Golden Era greats as Joan Blondell, John Carradine, Dorothy Lamour and Sylvia Sidney. That they all play former rivals of or associates to the glamorous Lorna Love, a kind of Jean Harlow-Marilyn Monroe-Jayne Mansfield hybrid, makes this quick primetime horror a truly fun experience for those lovers of ‘30s and ‘40s cinema. Sidney, as Ciara Joseph, the mansion in question’s caretaker, definitely has the most interesting role, but one has to wonder how this frequently cantankerous presence felt about playing the film’s silly twist in the project’s final reels.

Joan DeathOf course an argument could be made that DALH, piloted around the disintegration of Gregory’s marriage to his wife/collaborator Donna (Kate Jackson) as they work on a project about Love, truly comes alive when LaMour, as coffee commercial queen Denise Christian, reminisces about Love’s evil deeds. Blondell devotees are also sure to admire her hysterical break from reality during the heat of the film’s fiery climax. Whatever your preference, DALH is ultimately high on mysterious mood and thoroughbred nostalgia.

Dorothy Trio Death

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ute Lemper

Published February 10, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and their ilk are almost the definition of punk thought – creative, darkly sexy and anti-establishment. Distinguished cabaret legend Ute Lemper knows the gothic heart of those artists’ intentions, often bringing a nourish fever to her performances of their works.

Of course, Lemper has always commanded attention whether in concert halls, Broadway stages or playing a scheming ad agency owner (in cahoots with a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) in Smoke Wrings, a seventh season episode of Tales From the Crypt. Ute 2

Meanwhile, Information of Lemper’s other more personal and revolutionary projects, including tributes to life changing poets like Charles Bukowski and Pablo Neruda, is available at www.utelemper.com.

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