Film Noir

All posts tagged Film Noir

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Lizabeth Scott

Published June 17, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Lizabeth Scott

Best known as one of the true goddesses of film noir, the divine Lizabeth Scott got to show off her goofier side in the fun horror spoof Scared Stiff, a virtual remake of the Bob Hope-Paulette Goddard classic The Ghost Breakers.

Scott, whose smoky vocals practically make her kin to Julie London, has often been classified in groups with other such illustrious scene stealers as Tallulah Bankhead and Greta Garbo due to rumors of her Sapphic interests. But ever the committed performer, you believe her when she declares her devotion to a mere masculine mortal with her take on He is a Man.

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

Lizabeth Scott Scared Stiff

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Retro Sharkbait Village: This House Possessed

Published March 17, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

THP4The essence of cool, conniving film noir, the legendary Joan Bennett definitely presented herself as a horse of a different color with her appearance as the Rag Lady in the 1981 television terror This House Possessed. Here, roaming far from the perfect iciness of her roles in films like Scarlet Street, the adventurous Bennett plays a shabby small town oddity, driven to isolated madness by the secret at the heart of the film.

THP3This mystery, of course, revolves around the titular mansion. Interestingly, taking its cues from other small screen genre projects that revolved around such possessed inanimate objects as bulldozers, taxidermy displays and hobby horses, the residence here is not haunted by ghosts or some hidden psychotic killer, but actually causes the movie’s mayhem through a monstrous will of its own. THP5

…and the body count here is fairly high. A librarian dies in an explosion. A veteran character actor is finished off with a jagged shard from a trembling mirror and Bennett, herself, is exposed to the bubbling depths of an overheated pool. Add in a bloody shower and a very aggressive water hose (or two) and you have a project that has lived on in the memories of those who caught it on its original broadcast at impressionable ages.

Nicely, the more outrageous circumstances here are grounded by the gentle and committed leading performances of Parker Stevenson, as a rock star whose emotional collapse brings him to the malevolent domicile, and Lisa Eilbacher, as the nurse who helps him recover and soon wins his heart. Stevenson radiates with a genuine kindness and the music he performs comes off more like a softer version of the balladic work of Justin Timberlake than the cheesy pop that one associates with multiple television stars of that era.THP2

Eagle eyed horror lovers will also delight to the presence of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss, billed here as Mandy, whose opening act frolicking with actor John Dukakis (Jaws 2) is wetly interrupted by the angry residence. She and Bennett, who became well known for her role on the beloved gothic soap opera Dark Shadows during the middle range of her career, also make this enjoyable oddity a happy exercise for lovers of the femme form in terror, as well.

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

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Retro Sharkbait Village: City Killer

Published February 1, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

City Killer Heather Mad

Naturally, Heather Locklear’s got the perfect feathered hair…the perfect apartment…and her stalker is of the handsome picture perfect variety that ‘80s television executives loved to provide for their perfectly eager audiences. City Killer was probably the perfect title to get audiences watching back in that soap-centric decade, as well. Riding high on the successes of Dynasty and TJ Hooker, here pixie cute Locklear faces down the wrath of a lovelorn demolitions expert while, simultaneously, finding romance with a moustache sporting daddy.

City Killer AudreyNicely, clear eyed viewers will also spot noir icon Audrey Totter as a secretary in Locklear’s office. Here, Totter provides some old school Hollywood rational amongst this television film’s ridiculously over-the-top offerings.

Built around stock footage of major buildings collapsing in unison, things reach a highpoint in this thriller when swarthy Terrence Knox’s deranged Leo Kalb brings an entire urban oasis to its knees with his demands. Of course, Locklear’s compassionate Andrea is one of them and there may be nothing that the concerned Lieutenant Eckford, played with rascally compassion by Simon and Simon’s Gerald McRaney, can do to stop him.City Killer Explosion

Highlighted by an action packed ending and by the awkward visual fact that none of the actors are actually anywhere near the rumbling destruction detailed, City Killer is, nicely, also bolstered by a solid, tempered performance from Locklear. Particularly in her first confrontation scene with Knox, Locklear shows, precisely, Andrea’s fear, frustration and anger. In this #metoo generation, harassment perhaps is no longer a flyaway plot point for cheesy entertainment, but here Locklear is able to show that, even in less aware decades, there were always strong emotional repercussions to this kind of abuse.

City Killer Heather HorrifiedLocklear, of course, made other genre-centric appearances in such projects as the big budget Stephen King adaptation Firestarter and the charming (very low budget) Return of the Swamp Thing. Interestingly, in a complete turnaround from his work here, Knox wound up playing a concerned father in 1992’s Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. (Heads up: it wasn’t.)

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

City Killer Terrence.jpg

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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!

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In Remembrance: Coleen Gray

Published August 29, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

coleen 1
Always friendly and happy to talk about her B movie past, the sweet Coleen Gray passed away, at the age of 92, on August 3rd, 2015.

Starting out in the tough talking world of noir, Gray made solid impressions in 1947 with Kiss of Death and Nightmare Alley, which was famous for Tyrone Power’s attempt to provide a more serious image for himself and featured some of Gray’s darker work as a loving carnie willing to go to desperate lengths for the man she loved.coleen 3

Often, though, her shining nature couldn’t be diminished and, among her bevy of Westerns and television programs, she provided 1957’s The Vampire with its share of screams as a concerned small town nurse. A rare turn as a powerful villainess provided Gray with, perhaps, her most notable role for genre fans, and until the end, she embraced the admiration she received for her work in 1960’s The Leech Woman. The interesting twist on this variation of The Wasp Woman, supposedly inspired by the tale of Elizabeth Bathory, was that the victims of June Talbot, the character Gray played, were mainly men not women.

coleen 2Gray was, also, proud of her work in a 1986 episode of Tales of the Darkside. She was quoted as being pleased to have worked with Lorna Luft, the daughter of an old friend, Judy Garland, in this, her last outing on the television screens of America.

A fond Rest in Peace to a beautiful and truly classy performer!

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Carly Simon

Published April 26, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

carlysimon-tired600
I once wore white socks with my business suit and my boss, the Dragon Lady, never let me forget it!

Thankfully, 30 years ago, the interstellar Carly Simon, along with director Jeremy “Dead Ringers” Irons, blended styles much more successfully with their video for Tired of Being Blonde.

Released as the first single off of Simon’s 1985 commercially aggressive pop offering Spoiled Girl, this visual bombshell contains moments of film noir rhapsody, science fiction glamour and exquisite Ingmar Bergman style angst – all wrapped in the sugary sheen of bubblegum goodness.

Carly Simon as Barbarella? Carly Simon as Bibi Andersson in a cocktail dress?!? Best video ever, no?!!!?

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

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Dreamy Horror: Rosalind Russell and the Gothic Noir of Night Must Fall

Published September 9, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

night must fall2
Known for her sense of staccato sass (His Girl Friday) and commanding grandeur (Auntie Mame, Gypsy), the compelling Rosalind Russell (1907-1976) also gave the world a portrait of dreamy wanderlust with her sweetly confused Olivia in the 1937 gothic noir Night Must Fall. It is a strong and poetic performance even when the film, itself, muddles with Russell’s towering commitment to the character.

Notable at the time for establishing lead actor Robert Taylor as something other than just a romantic comic, Night Must Fall was daring for its post-Code timeframe. Based on a successful play by Emilyn Williams, the film focuses on Walker’s charming bellboy Danny. Beguiling Mrs. Bramson, a manipulative dowager played by Dame May Whitty, Danny soon worms his way into her household. But a hideous murder has just occurred and when the headless body is found in Mrs. Bramson’s yard, it is soon made apparent that Danny is the culprit.night must fall

Throughout, Taylor supplies Danny with a nimble menace. Whitty’s performance is a bravura one, as well, particularly in her final scene. This moment brings her supposed invalid from terrified hysterics to unrepentant laughter within seconds of each other. Russell, meanwhile, glows with melancholy and cloudy indecision. Her character grows the most of the trio, forsaking her business-like spectacles for a regimen of inquisitive beauty due to Danny’s encouragement. Intrigued yet leery of her aunt’s new tenant, she initially investigates him, diving into his meager belongings with Marple-like interest. Still unsure, she eventually assists him when his luck seems to be running out. The resulting scene is the most chilling one in the picture.nightmustfall4

Having discovered a bowling bag in Danny’s lodgings earlier in the proceedings, Olivia is aware that it could contain the missing head of the victim. But when a local police official asks to examine it, Olivia claims it as her own. Just after the officer leaves, the relieved Danny faints from tense exertion, seemingly giving him away for good.

After this, though, screenwriter John Van Druten clouds the path of Russell’s character. Due to the carnival-like atmosphere at their home (with Whitty’s character reveling in the attention brought on by the body’s discovery), Russell/Olivia ultimately decides to her leave her aunt with Danny. She seeks refuge in the family home of Justin (handsome Alan Marshal), a local businessman, whose affections she has been avoiding. But, she does return later that evening. Determined to give herself to Danny, she finds herself very surprised (and ultimately repulsed) by his true murderous nature. Thus, terrified she fights for her life.

nightmustfall3While this scenario is effective in the horror/thriller format, this result does tamper with everything that has seemingly gone before. Surely, Olivia must have suspected that Danny was the killer by her earlier actions. Indeed, that knowledge is what makes the character so interesting. Resistant to conformity, her gaze lands upon an unusual, deadly man and she finds herself drawn to him. That the ending screws with that established fact is a bit bewildering and that it, also, seems to suggest Olivia will settle for a secure, yet bland life with Justin is a disappointment for the viewers whom have invested in her adventurous spirit.

Still, Russell maintains a hypnotic presence from opening to closing and the film, itself, has enough moody suspense and solid acting craftsmanship for those desired repeated viewings.

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

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