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Adam E. Hoak and Jose Nateras: The Gay Appeal of Suspiria

Published November 2, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

 

Dario Argento’s superior Italian horror Suspiria has long held a fascination for the LGBTQ community. With Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining currently hitting the theaters, I decided to ask Adam E. Hoak and Jose Nateras, two of my favorite Chicago actors (and enthusiastic horror buffs) to chat with me about their love for the film, their thoughts on why they think it resonates so deeply within our gay culture and their hopes for this new take on it. Interestingly, both of these talented performers are appearing in genre style shows (based on important works of literature) at the moment. Nateras is currently flaunting some spooky excellence in Remy Bumppo’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein while Hoak is applying his beautiful voice to Saint Sebastian Players’ take on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical inspired by the book written by Charles Dickens.

Adam, can you recall the first time that you saw the original Suspiria?

Adam E. Hoak: In the early 00’s I worked in media resources at my undergraduate campus library. Fortunately for me, we had a crazy good selection of VHS and a small but mighty nascent DVD collection. Both had a nice smattering of films I had only heard of but never seen, including Suspiria. I remember being immediately dazed by the colors and the score, like Argento and Goblin just threw me in the deep end. The sheer opulence of the film was (and remains) stunning to me, and I think that has a lot to do with my appreciation of it. Suspiria is horror in drag: lush and loud; gaudy and gorgeous, things my burgeoning baby-gay found intrinsic to my newfound queerness.

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Nice. I love how these films can inform and help define us. Have you always been a horror fan, Jose?

Jose Nateras: I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. Even before I actually was old enough to watch scary things I was drawn to the genre, lingering in the horror aisle of The Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. A lot of time and thought has been spent on why the queer community is so often drawn to horror films. Maybe it’s because so much of our early, closeted lives were spent in fear: of being outed, of being rejected, of being alone, of being different, of… so many things.  But horror is so much more than that too. Not only does it take fear and make it a shareable and enjoyable experience, it takes the fearful and the grotesque and the horrifying and turns it into something beautiful and glamorous. It can be sexy, campy, gory, but as a genre that is so much more nuanced and diverse in form than it gets credit for, horror has always been about pushing boundaries and confronting (for better or worse) those things and people on the outside of the social norm– the often feared and vilified Other, the outsider — in such a way, that even if that Othered Force is the monster/villain/bad guy, horror at least confronts and directly grapples with that Force’s existence. It allows that Force, and those of us who came up feeling marginalized, to be seen as opposed to ignoring us; as in most other genres, forms of media, and arenas of society, which would usually prefer to pretend we don’t exist.

Argento seems definitely straight, but he has to have some queer sensibility – especially visually.

AH: Seriously, the wallpaper alone in this film still makes my gay little heart skip a beat! Throw in ballet, witches, Udo Kier (known to me at the time as “the guy” from Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper video), the allure of the faded Hollywood icon, Joan Bennett, and Alida Valli as the elegantly butch Miss Tanner and it’s a smorgasbord of queerness.Alida Joan Suspiria

JN:  If you’re talking about horror film and cinema, you can’t not talk about Dario Argento! His jaw-dropping use of color and imagery, surreal, grotesque, and beautiful all at once, the inspired score by Goblin, all came together to make Suspiria a dreamily unsettling movie with enough squirm inducing deaths and vividly colored splashes of blood to earn it a place in the cannon of horror masterpieces. The deeply 70’s Euro aesthetic makes it sexily nostalgic for viewers in much the same way viewing porn of a certain era might. Like many horror movies of the time, Suspiria offers a Final Girl/Strong Female Protagonist in the form of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper). Yet instead of fighting for her life against a homicidal man in a mask, Suzy finds herself the center of attention of a deadly coven of witches, established within the confines of a prestigious ballet academy. Ballet, witches, strong women, all of it is perfectly suited to the taste of any queer cinemaphile, especially if they happen to be horror fans.

Agreed! What are you two hoping for with this new version?

JN: Though to some, it might seem counter intuitive to have Luca Guadagnino directing the highly anticipated remake, especially considering his previous work includes films like Call Me By Your Name and I Am Love, in reality, Guadagnino just might be the perfect fit. Call Me By Your Name had sexy-Euro-nostalgia-style in spades and his work is consistently visually striking and equally dreamy, often alluding to the surreal while tapping into richly grounded sensory imagery. Imagine what such an expert skill set might do when deployed in a horror film context as opposed to that of a sensual romance. With the iconic Tilda Swinton (a frequent Guadagnino collaborator) bringing her brand of androgynous, otherworldly, and simultaneously beautiful and intimidating talents to the film, it’s hard to think of a re-make with more potential. If the early buzz, teaser images, and trailer are any indicator; fans of the original, of the genre at large, and film buffs of all sorts are sure to find something to love or at least talk about when Suspiria comes out later this month. As ever, though, the queer community is sure to be watching with the sort of context, appreciation, and finely tuned meter for subtext to have plenty to unpack in a remake of something so dear to so many of our hearts.

dakota-johnson-suspiria-500x332AH: As for the new version, I’m certainly looking forward to Tilda and perhaps a smidge more plot. Also for a film set in a famed dance academy, the original kind of half-asses any on-screen dancing, so I’ve got high hopes for the new choreography based on the trailer.

Well, I always like to leave ‘em with high hopes! So, thanks, gents! Everyone else be sure to check out Jose in Frankenstein (www.remybumppo.org) running until November 17th and Adam in Drood (www.saintsebastionplayers.org), running until November 18th – both in Chicago proper.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Mystery of Edwin Drood

 

 

In Remembrance: Stevie Dismie

Published August 20, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Stevie

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!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

(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: Vito Price

Published July 1, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

vito price

Recorded by both Anita O’Day and Bing Crosby, the song Beautiful Love played in the background of the ball scene in Universal’s classic The Mummy. Serving as atmosphere there, jazz saxophonist Vito Price put the tune itself to the fore on this joyous take for his well regarded LP Swingin’ in the Loop.

It’s a recording that definitely makes you feel like you’re the participant in a sophisticated virtual reality experiment – you experience the neon joy of an old school Chicago music club like The Green Mill in every bouncing note that bursts from Price’s ebullient horn.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

Killer Piñata 2 Kickstarter

Published May 4, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Angry Mule Productions is back at it again. Thankfully! This groovy group of Chicago based independent filmmakers is revisiting the world of their truly fun independent horror Killer Piñata, a great return to the goofy strain of low budget ‘80s horror, with a follow-up, Killer Piñata 2: More of Them.

Nicely, working that throwback vibe succinctly, Danny Hassel from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series fame will be joining the madness this time around. Even more importantly, the sexuality of Eliza, the film’s original lead, will be more fully explored in this venture. She will even have a kick-ass girlfriend to help her deal with the film’s horrific, candy spewing onslaught.

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To get involved and make sure that this inclusive, comedic offering sees the light of day, be sure to visit the Kickstarter campaign at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/453452365/killer-pinata-2-more-of-them-feature-length-horror

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Meet Sybil Danning!

Published March 16, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Sybil Danning

Sometimes you’re Danning if you do. Other times, you’re Danning if you don’t. But on Saturday, March 17th, lucky Chicagoans will actually get to meet exploitation icon Sybil Danning at the Sci Fi Spectacular. Danning will be in attendance to talk about Battle Beyond the Stars, the cult classic Roger Corman production that she co-starred in, which is being shown at the event.

Other stratospheric guests for this annual festival include Victoria Price and Noah Hathaway (The Neverending Story, Battlestar Galactica). Held at the historic Davis Theater in the beautiful Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, more information on this one-of-a-kind movie extravaganza is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/1218482144950205/.

Spacesuits, naturally, are optional. I hope to see you there! 

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Review: Lakeshore Drive

Published January 4, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

lakeshore drive

We make certain choices when we’re drunk or dead tired…others come about from unexpected happiness or over excitement. In the tight mini noir Lakeshore Drive, Peter Bowse and Tyler Eden’s script finds hardened rideshare driver Roger (a cucumber cool Darren Smith) making one choice out of compassion. He then may be forced to make another more consequential one out of pure fear.

Naturally, like most of the flawed heroes in those ‘40s detective stories, one feels for Roger and the tight spot that he is put in. Viewers here, though, will probably walk away from this taut exercise feeling the most sympathy for Kim (a grittily honest Lila Star), Roger’s troubled transgendered passenger. Facing the violence that many marginalized people do, Kim decides to take matters into her own hands…and may end up facing the deadly realities that haunt all too many in the trans community.

Directed with a poetic yet very true sense of danger by Bowse, Lakeshore Drive also features an understated yet devious performance from Frank Ondorf as the man who just might control the destiny of both Roger and Kim. Bowse and all three of these performers are truly deserving of all the respect that they are sure to receive as this short piece enters the festival circuit.

Be sure to keep up with all the upcoming screenings at https://www.facebook.com/LakeshoreDrive2017/.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Zombie Bathhouse Chronicles: Paging Dr. Martino!

Published October 21, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Hmmm…That old performing truism about not writing something for a cast member that you wouldn’t do yourself has come back to haunt me, as of late.

For years, I’ve been working with composer-lyricist (and Chicago institution) Scott Free on a project called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. After a number of readings (and lots and lots of rewriting and reimagining and… well, you get the picture), we were ready to hit those Midwest stages, last week, for a professional run. Naturally, our amazing and dedicated cast was firmly in place, when circumstances twisted, as they are want to do, and I found myself recruited – or ham that I am, did I offer myself up willing!?!? – to take over the role of the mysterious Dr. Martino, the man responsible for the many nightmares endured by the show’s tortured romantic hero, Michael.

Honestly, it’s the last position that I expected to find myself in…but after some inner grumbling and heavy sighing, I’ve actually found myself immensely enjoying being one of the many creepy cogs in a creative machine again. My artistic journey began in the theatrical trenches and I had forgotten how amazing backstage comradery can feel. It’s been very satisfying being part of a unit working for a common goal…and the fact that this, (quite possibly) my final theatrical stage appearance, is in a work of horror makes it all the more satisfying.

More than anything, though, this experience makes me respect artists everywhere all the more. There are so many beautiful things involved with creating something, but so many risks and heartaches, as well. Sometimes those negatives can even outweigh the positives…and, damn, don’t those failures fucking burn?!? But, still we persist. Therefore, I want to send up a salute to my fellow cast mates and to all who dare to risk, to dream and to falter, on a daily basis. We’re warriors, folks, and even the mysterious and totally unsavory Dr. Martino would probably have to bow down to that.

Zombie Bathhouse runs until October 29th at The Center on Halsted. Further information is available at

https://m.facebook.com/ZombieBathhouse/

Until the next time, Sweet love and pink Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!

https://m.facebook.com/BigGayHorrorFan/

 

 

 

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