Alfred Hitchcock

All posts tagged Alfred Hitchcock

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Marlene Dietrich

Published October 7, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Marlene Dietrich is far from a horror baby. But this cinematic icon did work with Alfred Hitchcock, the genuine master of suspense, in the fun thriller Stage Fright. As a favor, she also graced Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, which contained elements of odd noir and general spookiness, with one of her most indelible portrayals.

This classy lady also knew how to rock and roll as evidenced by her smooth take on Boomerang Baby, a staple of her live shows for years.

This simple, sexy performance proves that Dietrich was not just one thing…she was everything!!!!

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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: Maureen O’Hara

Published May 6, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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As many Hollywood legends before her, the exquisite Maureen O’Hara released an album of love songs and warbled her way through many a scenario in the films that she made in her heyday.

In the early ‘70s, this multi-talented glamour queen, who made her mark starring in such gothic enterprises as Jamaica Inn and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, made a number of singing appearances on shows hosted by Andy Williams and others.

Perhaps best known to modern audiences for playing John Candy’s overbearing mother in 1991’s Only the Lonely, O’Hara continued to make sporadic appearances in projects before her death in at the age of 95 in 2015.

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

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Days of Horror: The Thrillers of Doris Day

Published January 12, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Known primarily as a musical comedy star and cotton candy-like romantic siren, film legend Doris Day also managed to work up a nerve wracking scream or two when the screenplay required it. In fact, her startled yelp in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much should, justifiably, be considered one of film land’s most iconic moments. Still, Day (ascertained to be one of the most naturally proficient un-trained film actresses by many scholars) often got so emotionally involved with her character’s inner lives that she limited her thrilled based appearances to just a few.

day julie posterHer entrance into the scare sweepstakes was in a 1956 wife-in-peril feature called Julie. The film opens up with Day, frantically, running from danger. Nicely, the film’s lush yet pulsing theme song, naturally sung by Day, plays in the background, as she sprints for her life. Unfortunately, Day’s Julia is soon nabbed by the suave Louis Jourdan, who plays her conniving husband. Taken on a ride from hell, Julia barely escapes with her life. Of course, Jourdan’s villainous Lyle is far from done with her. By the production’s end, Day’s plucky stewardess heroine, foreshadowing Karen Black by twenty years, must help land the aircraft she is stationed on as Lyle has emasculated all of the crew.

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 In The Man Who Knew Too Much, filmed in the same year as Julie, Day is placed in familiar territory, character wise.  Here, she is Jo, a former singing sensation, living a low-key life with her doctor husband (James Stewart) and their lively son. While on vacation in Morocco, Stewart’s character receives details of an assassination plot from a dying acquaintance. Soon the duo’s son is mysteriously kidnapped to buy a measure of silence. Unaware, Day’s character is drugged into calmness and then told of her son’s disappearance. Day’s multi-leveled portrayal in this scene is matched only by her subtle reactions in the film’s final sequence. Here, Jo has to play piano and sing for a gathering of London diplomats while simultaneously trying to rescue her son with nothing more than the sound of her voice. This is almost inconceivably amazing performing on Day’s part. Along with Hitchcock’s storytelling skill and the quirkily enjoyable performances from genre icons Reggie Nalder (Mark of the Devil, Zoltan) and Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family, House of Wax), it is the primary reason for indulging in this suspenseful, beautifully photographed picture.

day lace posterIn 1960’s Midnight Lace, Day actually became so involved in the travails of her wealthy Kit that she was rumored to have had a nervous breakdown on the set. In fact, several acquaintances (and a gossip columnist or two) reported that Day did not want to do the picture, but was strong armed into doing it by her then husband, the film’s producer Marty Melcher.

 While Lace (unreasonably dismissed by several Day biographers) centers around a fairly standard Gaslight plot, it is also lushly filmed and contains many moments of true suspense.  In fact, anyone who has been spooked when walking alone in the dark or has felt the claustrophobic fear of being caught in an enclosed space will have much to relate to in the film’s tensest moments. While the opening credits pass by, Day’s Kit is stalked down a foggy London street. The dense cinematography and Day’s realistic reactions make it a strikingly suspenseful sequence…and an electric start to the feature as a whole. Day’s escalating terror as Kit is eventually trapped in an elevator and frantically fights for her life, leaves no doubt to her attentiveness to detail as a performer and, on a more lurid note, is strong evidence for the multiple reports of Day’s subsequent collapse on set. day lace

Worthy of multiple viewings for its atmospheric attention to detail alone, this film also features John Gavin of Psycho fame, the legendary Myrna Loy (Ants) as Kit’s kindly aunt and Roddy McDowall, whose many genre credits include the original Planet of the Apes films and the blackly disturbing (and often ridiculous) killer baboon project Shakma.

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All of these Day dominated films feature subtle elements of terror and are definitely recommended for those rare nights when another bloodbath just seems too much for your system to take or when your non-horror loving companion needs a little break from all those scenes of relentless gore.

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Mary Wickes

Published December 1, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Mary Wickes was well known for adding a bit of dour (and occasionally judgmental) hilarity to many television shows and classic films. Her appearance as a frustrated, world renowned choreographer on The Ballet, a first season episode of I Love Lucy, for example, helped make that show one of the legendary series’ most hilarious offerings. Mary W4

Best known to many modern audiences as Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies, cinema sleuths drawn to the darker side may be fonder of her quirky appearances on such shows as Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, though.

The Baby Sitter, a first season AHP episode, actually found Wickes in familiar comic territory. As Blanche Armstaedter, the best friend of Thelma Ritter’s love lost Lottie Slocum, Wickes adds plenty of humorous appeal. In fact, as she offers up tempting ice cream treats to Lottie, Wickes often comes off as a monument to devilish frivolity. Her delight in the fact that her fondest companion may be a cold blooded murderess makes Wickes’ Blanche the story’s standout, with this one of a kind performer  stealing scenes from her co-star, the well seasoned, virtuosic Ritter. Mary W6

Toby, on the anthology show’s second season, provided a more somber character for Wickes to attach her skills to. Working with a bit of a Tennessee Williams’ vibe, this production concentrates on the arrival of a fragile old maid type to a rambling boarding house. As Edwina Freel, the land lady of the establishment, Wickes provides plenty of heart and weathered kindness here. She seems to know that the romance between this crumbling flower and a long term resident is doomed to failure and her scenes resonate with both wearied hardness and a bit of tender concern.

Nicely, her tart edge is in full effect again with They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be offering on The Night Stalker. As Dr. Bess Winestock, a zoologist that Darren McGavin’s always curious Kolshak interacts with, Wickes delivers her lines with a tangy twist, often providing laugh out loud results. This particular venture is more science fiction in nature than some of this iconic show’s more horrific offerings. But Wickes does get to reveal the truly chilling fact that the bone marrow of the animals in her character’s care has been devoured then rejected by the hungry aliens that dominate this output’s proceedings here.

Mary W1Exposed as an often rigid and uncompromising force in Steve Taravella’s well researched biography I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before, these three varied appearances (among so many others) prove that Wickes will forever be one of the world’s premium actresses of any (and every) variety.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Doris Day

Published March 12, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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The girl next door. The sweetheart of WWII service men. That seductive minx of 60s romantic comedies. The eternally appealing Doris Day is many things. Even gothic songstress Diamanda Galas is a fan. 

But why wouldn’t she be? Day even worked her way, passionately, through a trio of thrillers. The highlight of these might be her collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, The Man Who Knew Too Much. But in Julie, where Day portrayed a stewardess stalked by her murder happy second husband, a smoothly handsome and totally dangerous Louis Jourdan, she paid full balance to her multiple charms.Mord in den Wolken

Not only does her heroine here save a plane full of passengers by the movie’s end, foreshadowing Karen Black in Airport 75 by decades, but she also sings the film’s lovely theme song. It’s a pretty thing with hints of the turmoil that Julie is about to experience lingering lightly in the song’s lyrics. Day, of course, nails all the moods of the piece with the subtle and true touch of a master at work.

 Of course, Day, who now spends much of her time in the pursuit of care and justice for animals, is always, quietly and happily, reachable at www.dorisday.com.

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

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

Review: Split

Published January 19, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Don’t Breathe. Lights Out. Occulus. Insidious 2. The Conjuring. Those are just some of the recent horror films that, off handedly, paint their maternal characters, in lead or supporting roles, in a bad light. Perhaps, the fact that these women are failing their children due to emotional issues (Don’t Breathe, Lights Out, Insidious 2) or from a form of supernatural possession (Occulus, The Conjuring) does raise the dramatic stakes for some. But, upon reading that James McAvoy’s character in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split was suffering from dissociative identity disorder due to the severe abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, I was truly tremulous about another round of matriarchal bashing, celluloid style.

Nicely, despite some issues in tone and pacing, Shyamalan does balance things out in this, his second low budget horror outing since his return-to-form with 2015’s highly recommended The Visit.  By the final moments he is able to show that oppression and violence, unfortunately, exist across all spectrums of parental guidance. The emotional fate of Casey, his young heroine, thoughtfully and quietly played by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy, therefore resonates, profoundly, long after the director-writer provides the audience with his form of a Marvel movie nod as the film moves into its somber credit sequence.

split-annaCasey, as sharpened movie fans know, is one of three girls kidnapped by McAvoy’s Kevin, whose twenty-three personalities are beginning to shift with the more mischievous and violent of them gaining control over the others. Despite their fear, the girls find ways to fight back as Kevin’s various alters warn them about the coming of something referred to as The Beast. (In particular, it is nice to see such a strong reaction from female characters who, in another universe, would be caricaturized as insecure and indecisive victims.) Meanwhile, Karen Fletcher, Kevin’s therapist, who is working on an academic theory that her patients’ severe traumas have actually shaped them into something far outside of the ordinary, begins to suspect that something is not right with Kevin and begins to investigate.

Definitely vibing on Hitchcock by way of DePalma, everything from Spellbound to Psycho to Dressed to Kill might come to mind here, Shyamalan crafts some wonderfully tense set-ups.  Even when things go deliciously astray, he occasionally evokes the fun rhythms of DePalma’s (less well received) Raising Cain. This is in large part due to McAvoy’s enthusiastic mastery. Whether he is embodying the peculiar Hedwig, a nine year old who thinks kissing leads to pregnancy, or the primly efficient Patricia, he supplies the project with nervy energy and a strange, much needed sense of black humor.split-betty

Meanwhile, it is nice to see the divine Betty Buckley with a prominent role in a horror feature, forty years after her film debut as the sympathetic Miss Collins in Carrie. Calm yet passionate, her Dr. Fletcher often floats past in soft, curvy waves, accentuated by large necklaces and gesticulating, jeweled fingers. She is the smart, revolutionary aunt that young feminists (of every sex) would love to claim as their own. Unfortunately, Shyamalan doesn’t quite find a way to balance her scenes with those of the young women in peril. Therefore, momentum is lost and the tension flags.

Still, there are enough wildly eccentric ideas on display, including some the mental health industry might find questionable, and enough of Shyamalan’s astute artistry here to qualify this picture as a particular success. The last look at Taylor-Joy’s haunted eyes might also find a significant entryway into your soul, as well.

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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: Sue Thompson, “Norman”

Published September 27, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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The name Norman may be ubiquitous with Hitchcock and Psycho, but it, also, finds sweet pervasiveness with 60s pop and country star Sue Thompson.

Already in her mid-30s, Thompson’s hits, Sad Movies and Norman, found her competing, successfully, with such teen rivals as Brenda Lee, Lesley Gore and Connie Francis.

Of course, the number we are concerned with here, has nothing to do with Anthony Perkins’ most famous portrayal, but it does put a certain twist on things if we imagine that it does.

Hmmm…so what exactly is that dress you’re making for Norman really made of, Sue?!?

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

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