Book Review: Blood Cruise

Published August 31, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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The forbidden thrill of being a small town 14 year old diving into epic novels like Stephen King’s The Shining and Salem’s Lot can never be replicated. But floating through Mats Strandberg’s Blood Cruise, as an adult, definitely brings back a wonderful sense memory of those exciting, long ago afternoons.

While, joyfully, reveling in the visceral antics of grand horror fiction, this fine book also offers up an intricate look at the emotional lives of a wide variety of vacationers whose quick boat trip in Sweden turns into an odyssey of terror. Nicely, many of these individuals are relatable to queer terror lovers who often feel like they are left on the outside of both mainstream and alternative culture.

The proceedings begin with an introduction to Marianne, a still attractive senior citizen who feels as if life has passed her by. Readers will definitely feel for her as she is courted by a charming rogue and recognize all the insecurities and fears that she experiences as she begins to open up her heart and live again.

Nicely, another primary focus here is Calle, a former employee of the cruise line on which all the action occurs. His marriage proposal to his handsome boyfriend gone awry, this despondent romantic soon finds himself in charge of a couple of frantic pre-teens and eventually discovers the hero that resides deep within him.

Throughout, while rotating a dozen or so primary characters and various plotlines, Strandberg skillfully paints a true picture of life’s often harsh complexities. Here frazzled family dynamics, self image issues, rivalries and bitter regrets color in the personalities of all his characters. It is not always a pretty picture, but it is an accurate one …and as some of each reader’s favorite participants are bound to meet their deaths in a variety of unpleasant ways, it nicely binds the characters to us, making their ends all the more tragic. As all well rounded creative types do, Strandberg even paints in some nice emotional layers to his toothy, vengeful villains, granting them have a degree of sympathy, as well.

The most enjoyable thing here, perhaps, though is discovering the ways in which beloved individuals orbit into each other’s stories. Equally as fun, are those moments when one realizes that one personality’s point of view about themselves is often very different from those that encounter him or her.  These instances emphasize Strandberg’s talent for weaving not only a multi-faceted story but for inventing believable characters, as well.

A top ten seller across Europe, Blood Cruise, is available for purchase on www.amazon.com. Strandberg, whose book The Circle was turned into a hit movie by ABBA founder Benny Andersson, can be located on Instagram and Twitter @matsstranberg_ and online at www.matsstrandberg.se.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Zola Jesus

Published August 26, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Her dark, multi-layered pop music has found her a rightful place on the soundtracks of such genre shows as Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries and Being Human, but the magnetic Zola Jesus truly has to be seen to be believed. In a live setting, her astounding voice and physical connection to her music often produces a sense of euphoria.

A recent show in Chicago provided a perfect example of this. There, I witnessed her song Wiseblood turn a timid, middle aged trans woman into a empowered fist waving, body twirling diva, lost in the power of the song’s anthem-like chant, “If it doesn’t make you wiser, Doesn’t make you stronger, Doesn’t make you live a little bit -What are you doing?” It was a spine tingling moment that showcased the true freedom and power that the best music can manifest.

One can experience more of this fine artist’s powerful communicative grace at www.zolajesus.com and https://www.facebook.com/zolajesusofficial.

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

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In Remembrance: Stevie Dismie

Published August 20, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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When someone dies…especially when they leave this plane of existence far too soon, it is always a reminder to live life more boldly, to strive harder to find a way across our insecurities and connect with the world at large more. It’s a reminder that our regrets, should we choose to have them, should be for the failure of things that we’ve attempted and not for the things that we were too scared to even contemplate doing.

I didn’t know Stevie Dismie well. But I have a feeling that is what he would want us to do in the wake of his passing. Dismie, one of the sassy, fun forces behind the original Comic Book Queers Podcast, lost his battle with cancer on August 16th, 2018 and the world of fandom now is lacking an alternative force of nature.

Thankfully, Dismie, who also hosted many events in Chicago celebrating the queer connection to the superhero universe, will always have a legacy as one of the important voices in helping the world realize that the LGBTQ community was invaluable to the world of geekdom. With that in mind, let’s vow to laugh a bit more, live a bit more fearlessly and, of course, read some more damn graphic novels already!

May his double page spread float on forever.

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

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(Special thanks to Dismie’s dear friend Lindsay Silk-Kremenak…who provided the slightly pilfered image. I feel it probably captured his essence really nicely.)

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Cherrelle

Published August 19, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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The union of Fay Wray and King Kong was so popular that they are even included in TCM’s Leading Couples book. Naturally, this tragic romance between beautiful human and hirsute simian has been praised and parodied multiple times. One of the most ‘80s celebrations of this partnership has to be the fun video for Cherrelle’s dynamic version of I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.

Later reaching pop-rock heights with Robert Palmer’s stylized version and ascending to diva-like glories with Mariah Carey’s appreciation of it, many believe that Cherrelle’s upbeat original is the best – or perhaps beast – of the lot.

This sweetly sassy diva, whose second release High Priority was also full of era friendly pop and soul tunes, is still being honored by Tabu (the company who released her recordings) with an official page at https://www.facebook.com/Cherrelleofficial/.

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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: Man Meat

Published August 12, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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The one thing that has always struck me as both unique and heartbreaking about the theatrical performance is its impermanence. Once it is done, it’s done and if you weren’t there, it isn’t even a vaporous speck in your consciousness. Of course occasionally, whether in rehearsal or secretively done during a performance, footage can be recorded for posterity.

Such is the case with Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. I wrote the book for this show that premiered during the Halloween season in Chicago last fall. Along with the ghastly limb chewing action and romance – (Yes, romance. This was a musical, after all.) – that occurred onstage; some ghostly presence got some recorded evidence of the show. Now we have a super cool music video of one of composer-lyricist Scott Free’s most aggressive numbers, Man Meat.

Nicely, this leaves an imprint for both the work of director Dan Foss and one of the show’s inspirations, Joey Kissling. Foss, who was suffering from kidney and heart disease, died nine days after the close of the show. His imaginativeness helped flesh out the show’s structure and his love for the cast allowed everyone to overcome the emotional hurdles involved with mounting a larger production with ease.  Kissling, meanwhile, provided the spiritual outline for Michael, the show’s conflicted and defiant lead. Kissling succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer in the spring of 2016 and Michael was created in his honor. Now, thanks to the existence of this video, they both have a more permanent and much deserved legacy.

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Dan Foss directing the ZB cast.

For those interested in the production itself, please feel free to visit www.zombiebathhouse.net/.

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

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Hopelessly Devoted To: Julie Strain

Published August 11, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Julie Strain

It is hard to think of a cult figure that has been more impactful than the glorious Julie Strain. After a tragic equestrian accident, this 6’1” beauty transformed herself from a thin beauty into an Amazonian goddess. She then went on to conquer the worlds of late night cable and print media proving, behind a doubt, that we are all capable of doing anything when we put our minds to it. This hard won success, nicely, has made her a true inspiration to anyone who has felt slighted or ignored or misjudged…a true champion for the underdog and the unappreciated.

julie strain double impactComing on like Jane Russell for the midnight set, Strain has well over 100 movie credits including such mainstream fare as Out for Justice, Double Impact, Beverly Hills Cop 3 and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. While she eventually made her cultural mark as one of the boldest bad-asses in Andy and Arlene Sidaris’ series of beloved female charged action adventure projects, she has made many other notable appearances, as well. MCDUNTW EC002

For instance, only someone of Strain’s magnitude could effectively play a Lovecraftian creature…something she did to menacingly aerobatic effect in The Unnameable II.

This goddess with the raven tresses also proved to be quite lethal in the noir-esque Starstruck. Throwing off an aura of hypnotic destruction, she provided a slinky ambience to the hardboiled action here…and her watery fade-out provides the proceedings with a memorable aquatic twist.

Julie Strain StarstruckHer most amusing work, on the other hand, may have occurred in How to Make a Monster, a remake of a classic ‘50s monster fest, which allowed her to play an over-the-top, extremely demanding version of herself. Her committed and enthusiastic work in Delta Delta Die! also rates high on the humor scales, with Strain’s maniacal Marilyn Fitch stealing the show as she madly grinds up frat boys into meat soufflés.

Subtler and deeper work is nicely provided by this icon in Magus, one of her last acting roles. Playing the spiritually sensitive Madame Zelda, Strain connects with softness and concern, proving that her range, despite her comic book athleticism, is a wide one. This along with her enthusiastic love for her fans and often self-deprecating humor truly makes this celluloid exploitation goddess one for the ages.

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

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Judie Aronson in Sledge Hammer!

Published August 3, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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My sister could be all sweetness and light, one moment. Then the next, she’d be slapping the neighbor’s pet raccoon for stealing her sugar cookie. Such is the case with Francine Flambo, the privileged mayor’s daughter who suffers an alleged kidnapping, on the premiere episode of the short lived action spoof Sledge Hammer!

Judie SH3Flambo, as enacted by the multi-layered Judi Aronson, seems to be a poor, tortured soul when first encountered by series regular Doris Doreau (Anne Marie Martin), who is sent to rescue the young heiress. But (spoiler alert) when it is quickly discovered that Flambo was in on her own kidnapping, the young socialite’s attitude flips and soon Doreau finds her life on the line.

Nicely, Aronson, who is best known to horror fans for her passionate portrayal of Samantha in Friday the 13th: Final Chapter, embraces all the facets of Francine’s personality. She is as convincing as when the character is demurely trembling as when she is savagely threatening to murder everyone around her. Most importantly, Aronson seems to be having a ball and that joyful energy rolls off the screen in delightful waves.Judie SH2

Genre fans should be thrilled to note, as well, that Aronson, who also appeared in such fright flicks as After Midnight and The Sleeping Car, shares most of her screen time with the talented Martin. Martin, before gaining recognition for her work on shows like Days Our Lives, appeared in such slasher stalwarts as Prom Night and The Boogens. Thus, their work here marks the meeting of two genre queens at the top of their game, a true pleasure to watch unfold.

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

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