Chicago

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Forever Charmed: A Little on T’Pau, AKA Kara Zediker

Published March 24, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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I’ve never pictured myself as one of the cool kids or one of those guys that everyone is desperate to hang out with. Honestly, I am still a little shocked when people agree to join me on sudden movie going ventures or to celebrate events of any nature. But, as we all do, I’ve learned to push back those disbeliefs and have even found myself becoming friends with people who, at one time, seemed unreachable.

My buddy Kara Zediker is a prime example. We were acquaintances in college, but in many ways, she seemed of another world. She was one of those theater students (at Columbia College in Chicago) who always seemed to be bathed in some kind of electric glow…and, indeed, the world at large took notice of that essence.  Her time in Hollywood gained her prime guest shots on shows such 24, Charmed, The Legendary Adventures of Hercules and Star Trek: Enterprise. She will, rightfully, claim it was hard work and luck. But, those who know her are also keenly aware that her quirky and kindly spirit probably had something to do with her success, as well. t'pau 2

She was drawn back to the Midwest, a number of years ago, and a sudden meeting on an el train drew us back, happily, into each others’ orbits. We’ve seen a lot of theater and films together. (We both even found a way to connect, emotionally, with the technical wonders of a touring production of Ghost: The Musical – the show, itself, was fairly mediocre, maybe even awful, but our childlike response to the special effects still makes it one of my favorite Broadway in Chicago evenings in memory.) We’ve also shared some meals and bar time together and…this Sunday, at the Fantastic Fantasy film festival, we will even be sharing the stage!

In between the illustrious, far flung wonders of films such as Masters of the Universe, Dune, Flash Gordon and Dark Crystal, I will be querying her about what it was like to play T’Pau on Enterprise, a younger version of Penny Halliwell on Charmed and one of her latest projects, Dig Two Graves, a horror film with Ted Levine that has gotten incredible feedback from the audiences that have seen it. This will also be her first appearance at an event of this nature, so those looking for the singular, and believe me, that word describes my friend Ms. Zediker perfectly, won’t want to miss this.

me and kara

Fantastic Fantasy will be held at The Vic Theatre in Chicago on Sunday, March 26th. More info is available here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1250287605055922/

Meanwhile, you can keep apprised of Dig Two Graves, which is opening in select theatres and on VOD on March 24th at https://www.facebook.com/digtwograves/.

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

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Review: Juggernaut Film Festival 2017

Published March 18, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Perianova’s Snowgirl

For film enthusiasts living in Chicago, the historic Music Box Theatre has been a defining color in the many shades of their film going experiences. On Saturday March 4th, Otherworld Theatre added to this celluloid kaleidoscope, masterfully, with The 5th Annual Juggernaut Film Festival. Wisely curated by the company, which is devoted to performing works of science fiction and fantasy, this event proved, beyond a doubt, that the short film can be a complete and satisfying experience unto itself. Ranging in style, these short works were often visually stunning, and whether you had a preference for the ridiculous or the mystical, you were sure to find a winner here.

For example, the comic Illegal Aliens, written and directed by Justin and Kristin Schaack, was a prescient look at contemporary politics in the guise of a silly space debate. Similar in tone, Steve Gast’s Monsters Anonymous provided a glance into a therapy session with some classic Universal creatures as they, vainly, make their attempts to fit into the 9 to 5 world.

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Fonte’s Roadside Assistance

Roadside Assistance, one of the festival’s best entries, meanwhile, took a surprising look at how women can be treated in this current, often very scary climate. Of course, this revenge thriller turned the tables on surface expectations quickly. Brilliantly paced by writer-director Bears Fonte, it is soon obvious here that every beautiful blonde hitchhiker may not be as helpless as she seems.

Fairy tales, of course, have often produced nightmarish concepts, but their more bittersweet and magical properties were explored in Ilina Perianova’s stunning Snowgirl. A gorgeous look at a lonely couple who adopt a mysterious young girl, Perianova, a Baltic creator, works with a sense of wonder and sadness here, making this another highlight of the 25 works featured . The parents soon discover their daughter is made of some unknown arctic properties and as they eventually lose her to a new love and the dangers of the outside world, the audience soon discovers that new beginnings are always possible.

Of course, to keep discovering the endless possibilities of Otherworld Theatre, and to be kept in the loop about next year’s festival, be sure to follow them at https://www.facebook.com/OtherworldTheatre/ and www.otherworldtheatre.org.

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

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5th Annual Juggernaut Film Festival

Published March 3, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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I gave up on being cool, long ago. But…I have had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of some terminally arctic sorts. For instance, the folks at Chicago’s Otherworld Theatre Company are pretty fantastic, frequently bringing science fiction, fantasy and the underbelly of mysteriously dark worlds to life on the stages of the Midwest.

Their Juggernaut Film Festival, now celebrating its fifth year, is another one of their amazing activities. Also celebrating works of science fiction and fantasy, this event brings together filmmakers from around the world who share their visions of electric landscapes and ever shifting possibilities. This year the paranormal will raise its ghostly hands in such works as Moth, Shell and The Seal of Corruption, as well.

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Produced as a benefit, allowing this incredibly creative and eternally attractive team, including my forever gay boy crush gal: the divine Mary Kate Arnold, to continue their work throughout the year, The Fifth Annual Juggernaut Film Festival will arrive on Saturday, March 4th at the legendary Music Box Theatre in Chicago. 25 films will be screened from 11:30 am – 6 pm, along with networking sessions and an awards ceremony.

Further information is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/111300332710354/.

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

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Jackson Headlines Musical Horror Story

Published December 15, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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There is nothing that a gay dude loves more than a diva. Well, maybe there’s…but s-h-h-h…I can’t talk about that here. Anyhow, in my book, if anyone could take on Jessica Lange in the Chicago theater community, it’s the divinely eclectic Caitlin Jackson. Nicely, she seems to be doing just that with her role of Reverend Mother in The Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company’s Ryan Murphy send-up Musical Horror Story Exorcism.

From all glimpses, this production promises to offer a bit of blood, a lot of humor and, well, Ms. Jackson (pictured, right, in the photo)! There are only 3 performances left – Thursday, Friday and Saturday, December 15-17th, at the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton, in Chicago. So throw all of your bad habits onto the CTA (or however you get about in this unholy city) and head on over!

More information is available at: https://www.facebook.com/CSTCINC.

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

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Dinner with Herschell

Published September 30, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Creatively, he revolutionized the horror genre by inventing an offshoot that revolved around excessive gore. Due to his business acumen, you can probably blame a lot of the junk mail that fills your mail boxes on him, as well. Meanwhile, personally, filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis, who died this week at the age of 90, was a compelling presence whose commands were not to be ignored – even by the youngest of us.

I know this.

It’s mid-October of 2011 and Lewis is appearing at a 24 hour horror movie marathon in Chicago. In the evening, a few of us retire to a pub, next door, for dinner. Lewis is, happily, leading the conversation, taking our enthusiastic questions and giving them detailed and energetic answers. He is in his element except — a child in a high chair is letting out high pitched and elastic screeches, every couple of minutes or so, in the booth directly behind us. Each shriek jolts him out of his reveries and it is obvious, as time wears on, that he is losing all patience.

Finally, as the cranky babe lets out another voluminous wail, Lewis raises himself up, with grave dignity, and still seated, bellows out, in the direction of the child, with Greek authoritarianism, “STOP – THAT – NOW!” Each word is a separate thought, punctuated with irritation and will.

The toddler halts mid-cry and…is totally and completely silent for the rest of the meal.

Now perhaps, there are two sides of the table to fall on, socially, here. One side will be sympathetic towards struggling parents with infants and understanding of the need to get out with friends and colleagues, sometimes even with a whiney child in tow. The other side may feel, emphatically, that, in the name of common courtesy, children should be kept at home until they are more manageable. Good points, each.

But…I have a feeling that both sides can agree on the fact that even a mewling babe knew that it was important, if not vital, to listen to and obey Herschell Gordon Lewis – a sure and fabulous testament to his effective worth,  if there ever was one!

So, Rest in Peace (whoops, I almost wrote ‘piece’), you crazy and creative bastard! You will be missed.

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

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Review: Killer Piñata

Published July 2, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Upon entering Scott Sholder’s 6th birthday party, I encountered Marty, his handsome, shirtless father. The flushed tingles that radiated throughout my body indicated that my life would never be the same. Similarly, Lindsey in the very fun Killer Piñata discovers her existence forever, and bloodily, altered after her younger brother’s natal day celebration. One of the left over piñatas is soon wrecking giggling, skittering carnage upon her and her friends and, to no seasoned viewer’s surprise, the survivors are few in number!

KP1Besides the gloriously ridiculous premise, what is most impressive about this independent terror treat is the strong females at its core. Lindsey (a quietly intense Eliza Morris) is just beginning to deal with her sexual identity issues and her struggles to come to grips with her lesbianism are echoed in her resolve and determination to fight for her life. This is a nice contrast to other Sapphic terror teens – i.e. supermodels that are often hired to lip locks in order to aggravate male pulses – in similar products. Even Rosetta (an exuberant Lindsey Ashcroft), the stereotypical flirty best friend, is presented as a determined sexual adventurer who turns the tables on the aggressive yet charming Chad (a smoothly egocentric Nate Bryan). There is even a surprising twist involving Lindsey’s take charge mother (the point blank Sheila Edmiston). Perhaps even more significantly, the Dr. Loomis quotient is filled by Joette Waters’ strong and determined The Shopkeeper, who relates the piñata’s anguished back story with spitfire and subtle comic zeal.KP3

Of course, director Stephen Tramontana, who co-wrote the script with Megan Macmanus, delivers on the piece’s expected ludicrousness. The effects are often simple, but Lindsay’s ever devoted ex-boyfriend Scott (the appropriately confused Billy Chengary) is the focus of one of the film’s most ambitious and re-DICK-u-lous set pieces. This moment, alone, is sure to have audiences laughing and squirming at the same time.

Filmed in 8 days, in and out of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, Killer Piñata is, ultimately, a truly professional looking product and evidence of what can be done with a small budget and limited resources when passion and skill are involved. It is obvious that everyone, from the cast members to the crew, was taken in by this project’s quirky charms. Granted, the pacing flags a bit in some of the dialogue heavy sections and one or two of the gag bits don’t connect. But, overall, this is an incredibly impressive venture and one looks forward to future cinematic concoctions, in particular those focusing on strong female action types, from Angry Mule Productions.

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Killer Piñata is available for purchase on Amazon – tinyurl.com/zl83j8m.

www.facebook.com/KillerPinataMovie

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

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Review: Trash

Published May 6, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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You’d have to book a flight to Tampa Bay to catch a sight of former burlesque queen Chesty Morgan, the star of Doris Wishman’s iconic exploitation spy films Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73. Lucky Chicagoans, though, need only travel to Wicker Park’s Den Theatre to earn a glimpse of Jinx Malibu, the fictional empress diva featured in the Rocket Pussy films, in New American Folk Theatre’s Midwest premiere of Trash.

Playwright Johnny Drago’s take on the Anna Nicole legacy and Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie finds a celebrity blogger arriving on the garbage laden doorstep of the reclusive Malibu. There he discovers Loogie, Malibu’s underwear clad oldest son, the crotchety Othermomma, Malibu’s sarcastic, domineering mother, and Smudge, Malibu’s dreamy yet sheltered daughter. Mistaking him for a Hollywood producer, Malibu and her family act out her deluded version of a comeback film. The horrified blogger plans to escape with the adventure seeking Smudge in tow, but the violence that has been lurking between the cracks of Drago’s setup eventually erupts with one of the cast members, in a moment worthy of an ‘80s slasher flick, reenacting the circumstances of Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces”, in graphic detail, in Jinx’s front yard.

Thankfully, director Derek Van Barham, who is immeasurably assisted by Clint Greene’s layered scenic design, highlights both the humor and the tension inherent in the lurid reality show circumstances on display here. He is helped, as well, by Anthony Whitaker’s commanding take on Jinx. Whitaker brings a sympathetic edge to the character’s most garish demands and is never less than compelling when on stage. Nicely, the divine Caitlin Jackson, known for her powerhouse portrayals of such icons as Bette Midler and Bette Davis, is allowed to show a more sensitive and hopeful side as Smudge, the show’s one true ray of light, while Kirk Jackson brings a nice sense of physicality and puppy dog energy to Loogie. Meanwhile, Carrie Campana fills Othermomma with a wisecracking weariness, a nice balance to Jamal Howard’s (momentarily) enthusiastic writer.

Trash runs through May 15th at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. More information is available at www.newamericanfolktheatre.org.

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

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