Aaron Spelling

All posts tagged Aaron Spelling

Horror Hotel: Valentine’s Day Edition

Published February 15, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

hotel 3

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.   

hotel 2

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





Retro Shark Bait Village: Five Desperate Women

Published March 16, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

five 3

Our childhood vacations consisted of being captured, destination bound, as our parents’ arguments descended into sharp silence…and of my frustrated father stopping, unabated during the night, at points we were warned to avoid. Therefore, my siblings and I met various nervous fingered drug addicts and opposite gendered strangers sitting in the sinks of McDonalds restaurants on our morning adventures. But…we were relatively unharmed.

The saucy quintet that ventures onto an isolated island for a reunion-vacation in the Aaron Spelling produced Five Desperate Women (1971) isn’t so lucky, though. A crazed inmate has escaped and is posing as either the awkward company boat captain or the island’s attractive yet mysterious handy man. As the former collegiates reconnect and tell tall tales of career successes and nonexistent families, the island’s loveable mutt is murdered and soon one of the distressed sorority sisters meets a similarly unpleasant fate, as well. The remaining friends must figure out who the killer really is and fight for survival until help arrives.five 4

Riding high on soap opera antics and mild slasher film esthetics, this telefilm is definitely a showcase for the beauty of Stephanie Powers, who portrayed determined heroines in such Hammer outings as Die, Die, My Darling and Crescendo. Here, she is allowed to branch out into unsympathetic territory. Nicely, this former Girl from U.N.C.L.E. brings an arctic reserve to Gloria, an often shallow and petty character. Powers, simply and effectively, delivers Gloria’s disdain for the weaknesses of her companions in haughty sidelong glances and long, cool puffs of cigarette smoke.  The other women are given a bit more background history, but this is Powers’ show and she runs with it.

five 1Gloria’s fellow cohorts, meanwhile, include Lucy (Anjanette Comer), a well-to-do alcoholic, Dorian (Joan Hackett), an insecure animal lover whose fantasies are her ultimate undoing, Mary Grace (Julie Sommars), a tender soul being held emotionally captive by her invalid mother and the intelligent and determined Joy (Denise Nicholas). Unfortunately, in a wildly politically incorrect move, Joy, the sole black woman of the group reveals, in a bizarrely detailed monologue, that she has blown all her educational and career opportunities through some sort of nonchalance and emotional disregard, to settle for the life of a high class prostitute. There is an interesting Tennessee Williams vibe to the exchange and Nicholas fills it with a coat of truthful bitterness and resolve, finding honesty where another may have just filled it with the anger of a minority actress forced to play another lady of the night. Equally strange, yet not as troubling, is an early scene with Mary Grace and her mother. In a weird twist, the mother communicates only through her nurse who determines what she is thinking through glances and then relays their intent to Mary Grace. It’s a strange and unsettling bit that fills this piece with a bit more artiness and presence than your run of the mill made for television affair.

In addition to this potent moment, director Ted Post, whose other credits include Magnum Force, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and the cult classic The Baby (also with Comer), keeps things moving along nicely and even manages to build suspense as to which of the two men is the killing kind. Both could, seemingly, be the one and Bradford Dillman brings a nervy edge to his seafaring sort while Robert Conrad allows cracks to appear beneath the façade of his handsome and reliable jack of all trades. five 2

Post also handles all the dramatics with a seasoned flair. Particularly enjoyable is a series of scenes where the sodden and hysterical Lucy, collapsed in despair, reveals the details of her unhappy day-to-day existence. The understanding that palpitates from her comrades eventually aids in the believability of the Lord of the Flies denouement that finds the surviving women launching out against their attacker in a choreographed frenzy. Moments like these make this flawed yet truly enjoyable adventure a memorable…and violent one. H-m-m-m… I guess my youthful sojourns weren’t so bad, after all.

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