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Review: Triggered

Published September 12, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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You have to hand it to writer-director Chris Moore. He always knows how to spin an issue without negating its rightful purpose. His first feature Blessed Are the Children, was a horror film treatise that looked at the complexities of the abortion issue. His latest, Triggered, explores the complications of being politically woke or as the case is here, being way, way too woke.

Callie (Meredith Moller) is a high school student who is ready to take down anyone who discriminates. Unfortunately, the fact that her overenthusiastic calling out is often based on misguided perceptions is totally lost on her. Ian (Jesse Dalton), her gay best friend, puts up with her antics, grudgingly, and because his open homosexuality often puts a damper on other forms of schoolyard camaraderie. But as Callie’s increasingly out of control finger pointing and warped world view is coupled with the arrival of a serial killer, he soon finds that he may finally have to strike out on his own in order to survive.

With sharp humor, Moore looks at the ways in which political correctness may not always be founded in necessity here. Thus, while reveling in the comedic nature of this viewpoint and in the very bloody nature of the classic slasher prototype, Moore also allows us to examine our own beliefs and look deep within our justified outrage to find a necessary balance – a true artistic feat.

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Nicely, staying true to indie terror expectedness, Moore gives original A Nightmare on Elm Street sweetheart Amanda Wyss a role here. But, he subverts expectations, once again, by using her for more than a momentary moment of fan-folk glee. As Gloria Fielding, one of Callie’s advisors, Wyss is a major participant in the plot proceedings and is given a wide range of emotions to tackle. From exasperation to grief to survivalist determination, Wyss delivers with a bold and thoughtful performance. She, along with Moller and Dalton, are deserving of any film festival awards that should, rightfully, come their way.

Importantly, Moore also dashes another common horror movie dynamic here. Instead of showering in a preponderance of female breasts and buttocks, all the nudity here is of the male variety. This adds a fresh, desperately needed spin on the exploitative measures of these films…and definitely gives the testosterone loving audience members something to look forward to.

Currently hitting the festival circuit, you too can point a biased finger at all of Triggered’s activities at https://www.facebook.com/FindURSafeSpace.

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

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The Wild Inclusiveness of Jason Goes to Hell

Published July 26, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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If queer slasher fans could view only one entry in the Friday the 13th series during Pride Month, they probably couldn’t make a better choice than the 8th follow up to the famed 1980 original, Jason Goes to Hell. Written and directed by (the then 23 year old) Adam Marcus, this sequel, which wildly introduced a body hopping mythology to the Jason legend, has some of the most intriguingly gay elements ever committed to a mainstream horror enterprise.

J3Working against the grain, the straight yet incredibly inclusive Marcus, even found his way around studio tampering. An edict to add a more traditional camper-bloodbath sequence to his unconventional narrative inspired him to balance out the (frequently unfair) exploitation scales by adding extensive male nudity to the requested material. While Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter featured a couple of its party happy male characters doffing their shorts for a brief skinny dipping sequence, the shots involving the charismatic and handsome Michael B. Silver here are probably still some of the most significant, purposely photographed expressions of male beauty in a horror series – especially one beloved by heteronormative bro types.

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Marcus also introduces a backroom leather bar essence to the film by adding a gay S and M quality to one of the transference sequences. When the body of Richard Gant’s coroner, the first to be overtaken by the supernaturally pulsing heart of Jason, has reached the limit of physical abuse it can take, he chooses a police officer named Josh (Andrew Bloch) to replace him. Naturally, he strips Josh of his clothes, binds him down and shaves his face with a straight razor. Not only are both actors middle aged (with bodies marking that status), giving the sequence a bizarre swipe of realism, but the fact that Gant is Black and Bloch is white also adds another dose of edginess that was sure to have more conservative connoisseurs of slasher films either shaking their heads in queasy wonderment or outright ignoring what had just been placed in front of them.  While other entries in the series has employed minority actors in a variety of functions, the fact that the first interracial kiss in the Friday the 13th cannon is between two men is not only a hysterical back slap to the rampant heterosexuality championed by these films, but is seemingly an almost historical moment, as well.

J5Marcus’ provocative sense also extends to the relationship between Steven Freeman, the film’s hero as brought to life by Friday the 13th, The Series’ John D. LeMay, and Creighton Duke, a mysterious bounty hunter played by Steven Williams. The completely unique Duke, arguably this enterprise’s most popular character, confronts Freeman in his jail cell and offers to provide him with life saving information… for a price. Duke then proceeds to break two of Freeman’s fingers with a lingering almost salacious intent. Once again here, Duke is Black and Freeman is white…marking this not only as another homoerotic exchange but also adding a social context to the material, as well. One could almost imagine that Duke is making the clean cut Freeman pay for all the racism and stereotyping that he has endured in his lifetime from the Caucasian world–at-large. Thus, this film not only utilizes a queer sensibility, but seems relentlessly contemporary given our current reexamination of issues of prejudice and race…a perhaps accidental yet truly major achievement.

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Furthering the dialogue, in the know fans could almost invent an alternative back story to the comic relief coupling of the statuesque Joey (Rusty Schwimmer) and the tiny Shelby (Leslie Jordan). Jordan, an openly gay comic and popular television actor, and Schwimmer, whose other genre work includes The Belko Experiment and an episode of Tales from the Crypt, truly commit to the love that these two characters have for each other. But alternative scholars could imagine that these two characters, both fitting certain known stereotypes on the rainbow spectrum, could have connected in an era when their preferences weren’t appreciated and, through mutual affection and lack of viable options, decided to settle down and produce a family. Granted, this may be a slight stretch…but, then again, considering Marcus’ determination to push buttons…maybe not. He did cast adorable Broadway veteran and Kate and Allie co-star Allison Smith, who holds the record for playing the part of Annie the longest on the Great White Way, as that couple’s devoted co-worker. So…how far off could I be?

Nicely, this determined creator is continuing his diverse approach to filmmaking. Marcus’ latest, Secret Santa features a cast that defies ageism, sexism and is a cocktail of cultures and different backgrounds.  Importantly, the film also has a strong, multi-layered gay outreach, as well. You can follow all the wintery mayhem of that project at https://www.facebook.com/secretsantathemovie/.

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

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Cesar Romero in Charlies Angels

Published June 29, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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This Pride Month we are exploring some of the many projects of the distinguished and eclectic Cesar Romero. Best known for his comic villainy on the ‘60s television version of Batman, Romero opened up about his homosexuality toward the end of his life. His many credits include such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine, Mortuary Academy and Night Gallery.

While his guest appearances on such shows as Batman, Get Smart and Bewitched were of the more tongue-in-cheek variety, Cesar Romero’s work as haunted bandleader Elton Mills on an episode of Charlie’s Angels is actually filled with a poetic sadness and a sentimental trail of angst. Cesar CA2

Here, on the fourth season entry entitled Dancin’ Angels, Romero’s faded superstar interacts softly with Jaclyn Smith’s sympathetic Kelly Garrett. Investigating the murder of a participant of an old fashioned ballroom dance contest, Smith’s Garrett is shocked to discover, after several distinguished and extremely gentle conversations, that Romero’s Mills has a darker side.

But even when threatening violence against one of America’s heavenliest creatures, Romero’s hurt and confusion ring paramount, making this one of the veteran performer’s most skilled and relatable portrayals.

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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: 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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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Fifth Harmony

Published April 29, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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The ladies of Fifth Harmony may have found that one’s personal creativity is the scariest thing to a group’s equilibrium, as standout member Camila Caballo’s exit has left them a hiatus bound foursome.

But in the dark ages of 2015, the quintet were dealing with other gruesome realities as witnessed by their contribution to the Hotel Transylvania 2 soundtrack, I’m in Love with a Monster!

Of course, all should be fine with the talented members of this outlet. Fearlessly bisexual member Lauren Jauregui, in particular, should go far, as evidenced by Strangers, her evocative collaboration with Halsey.

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

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“RAMON-CE”: In Gay Madrid

Published April 21, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Ramon Navarro, one of the more charismatic gay performers to charm his way through early Hollywood talkies, earned his stripes as a Horror Hunk due to a latter day appearance on the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series Thriller. Here, we look at some of his most famous roles in other genres.

It’s the golden rule of slashers – do drugs or have sex (and goddess forbid, if you do both) and you pay the price with the knife. But horror films are not the only moralistic form of entertainment….by far.

Let’s examine the case of Ricardo, the careless youth that Ramon Navarro plays in 1930’s In Gay Madrid. Indeed, Ricardo, who tells impulsive tales and flirts with a dancehall queen, must suffer through the punishing effects of a gunshot wound before being allowed to marry the girl of his dreams, the kind and loyal Carmina (Dorothy Jordan).

Surprisingly chaste for being a Pre-Code film, In Gay Madrid was actually developed as an opportunity for Navarro to show off his singing voice. This he does to solid effect in a couple of grand choral numbers.

But what is most noticeable here is the chemistry that he shares with the handsome David Scott. Scott, as Carmina’s innocent brother Ernesto, definitely plays up his devotion to Ricardo and the friction shared between these two is ultimately far greater than any emotion that happens to accidentally arise between Jordan and Navarro. In Gay Madrid, indeed!

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

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Thriller Nights: Ramon Novarro

Published March 10, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Heralded as one of the big screen’s most exotic lovers, Ramon Novarro’s filmic legacy has often been overshadowed by the notorious circumstances of his death. As a gay man, known to hire hustlers in his declining years, this former matinee idol met his end, violently, by a pair of brothers in 1968. His demise has since been highlighted in short stories, books and songs.

ramon mataBut, significantly, Novarro’s early beauty easily matched that of his co-star Greta Garbo, sultry pose for sultry pose, in the fun 1931 spy drama Mata Hari. Later in his performing life, he gave eagle eyed horror buffs a boost with a featured role in the beloved Boris Karloff hosted anthology show Thriller.

In the 1962 second season episode La Strega, Novarro appeared opposite the stunning Ursula Andress as Maestro Giuliano, the mentor to a besotted painter, played by the swarthy Alejandro Rey (Satan’s Triangle, The Swarm, Terror Vision). Working with authority and concern, Novarro supplies the proceedings with a compassionate figure here who believes that Rey’s involvement with Andress could end in tragedy, as her aunt is a powerful witch.Ramon 2

This doesn’t mean Giuliano isn’t up to a little adventure. He accompanies the entwined duo to a black mass which, kudos to the art direction of Howard E. Johnson and the cinematography of Benjamin H. Kline, contains some of the episode’s most fiery and striking visuals. Unfortunately, Guliano finds himself on the receiving end of the sorceress’ revenge here, making Novarro’s appearance an important yet all too brief one. Although, proving the adage that a woman scorned is a dangerous thing, everything does not go well for the characters portrayed by Andress and Rey either.

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Nicely, besides highlighting Novarro’s subtle talents as a performer, this tale is directed with gothic sweep by Ida Lupino. One of the few working female directors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Lupino is known for guiding taut noir pictures like The Hitch-Hiker and, perhaps less elegantly, for her acting work in such gonzo genre projects as Devil’s Rain and Food of the Gods.

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

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