She may have succumbed to the icy depravity of Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, but the always revivable Judie Aronson was, thankfully, able to turn the tables on all conquering villainy with her appearance in 1992’s sandy action-fest Desert Kickboxer.
Here as the determined Claudia Valenti, Aronson is able to get the goods on her shady, drug dealing employer and live on until the movie’s romantic, sun streaked fadeout. While filled with the standard good cop-bad cop dynamics of such fare (IE: the chiseled yet damaged hero, the moustache twirling antagonist), Aronson is actually given a full range of emotions to play – feistiness, terror and remorse – and she makes the most of them.
While most of her screen time is opposite John Haymes Newton’s troubled yet victorious Hawk, genre fans may be more specifically attuned to her scenes with genre veteran Paul L. Smith. Smith, who did acclaimed work as dark figures in such acclaimed/cult affairs as Midnight Express, Popeye and Pieces, barely has to lift a muscle here to project all the monstrous activities that his Santos is capable of. Aronson reacts to this deviousness with panache. She allows Claudia both a cautiousness and steel resolve that gives the early encounters between these skilled performers a fun sense of cat and mouse.
Thus, while her work on such projects as Friday, Weird Science and After Midnightmay command focus, fans of her eclectic resume are sure to find much to enjoy in this less visible project, as well.
(Hell of a Gal explores the films of the powerful, ever luscious Euro Vixen Helga Liné.)
Jealous looks good on Helga Liné. Of course, it should be noted, that almost everything looks absolutely fabulous on this devilish wonder. But most fans would probably agree that her dual role in the classic Nightmare Castle shows her off best of all.
As Solange, the devoted companion to the crazed Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Muller), Liné makes her first appearance in this black and white gothic adventure as a withered crone. But, when we see her next, this gorgeous creature’s true beauty is shining through. (Hmmm…I just had to work a Melanie Griffith title into the proceedings, didn’t I?) It seems that Arrowsmith’s experiments have given the aged Solange the glow of youth…and a bit of possessiveness, as well. Solange is definitely not happy with the arrival of Jenny, played by the irreplaceable Barbara Steele. Jenny is the exact replica of Arrowsmith’s late wife and although she may hold the key to their fortune, Solange would, from all appearances, like her dispatched as quickly as possible.
Of course, all does not go according to plan in the world of villainy and the arrival of Jenny’s handsome and kindly doctor (Marino Mase) and a couple of vengeful ghosts soon spell doom for Arrowsmith and Solange.
But despite the corrosiveness of her character, Steele and director Mario Caiano have nothing but praise for Line’s beauty and talent on the special features of Severin’s beautifully restored copy of the film. Indeed, Liné is, nicely, given more range to play here than is normally required of her and while Ms. Steele, rightfully, has claimed the top spot in my many terror lovers’ hearts, Line’s take on Solange here proves that, in a fair world, she would be right up there with her.
Damien: Omen II. Visiting Hours. The Swarm. Airport 77. The Spell. The Cage. Academy award winning actress and acclaimed documentarian Lee Grant has appeared in more genre outings than even her most disciplined fans can often recall. Those interested in detailed accountings of such offerings, though, may be a bit disappointed by Grant’s emotionally complex, extremely well written 2014 memoir I Said Yes to Everything.
She gives only passing reference to many of these projects here – ignoring others outright – and sums up her experience working on them by saying that she eventually discovered that good acting work could be done in properties that often didn’t meet her qualifications of artistic merit.
Still, some glittering factoids do emerge. She, happily, recounts the tale of Michael Caine falling asleep, on camera, while filming The Swarm. Self deprecatingly, she also recalls consenting to do her own water stunts on the set of Airport 77after witnessing the distinguished Olivia de Havilland, gleefully, taking a bath to make one of that film’s many scenes of destruction seem more realistic. Slasher Visiting Hoursis also given a bit of notice as being the project that made the ever age conscious performer determine that her days as a leading lady were over and that it was time to devote her talents to behind the camera opportunities.
Nicely, Grant does major justice to the years she spent trying to regain her life after her complicated first marriage left her blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities. The trauma of that relationship and her triumphant return to a career are definitely book highlights. Her honesty about her struggles to connect with an adopted daughter is also a revealing and intimate look at how hard parenthood and life, in general, can be.
Of course, all is not hardship and Grant’s tales of her loving, eccentric family and coming of age adventures lighten the atmosphere, giving readers a well rounded portrait of a woman who has successfully forged her own path despite all that life has thrown at her.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
Time moves along, as it likes to do, and sometimes you find your personality twisting from petulant victim to mysterious doomsayer. Such is the case with actress Tiffany Helm – or at least with the characters she portrays.
Beloved among terror hounds, worldwide, for playing Violet, the doomed punk in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Helm has recently returned to the acting scene with a spooky appearance in Come True, a new horror film directed by Anthony Scott Burns. Here, though, as the above on set photo indicts, she just might be the harbinger of nasty things to come instead of being the recipient of them.
Fans, of course, are thrilled about this return to celluloid roots and Helm has already booked a follow-up role in another horror project, as of this writing.