Murder She Wrote

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Horror, She Wrote: Jennifer Runyon

Published April 5, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Blessed with a radiant presence, Jennifer Runyon brought a delightful grace to the screen in such terror themed projects as the girls’ school slasher To All A Good Night, renowned comedy Ghostbusters and the Roger Corman produced Carnosaur. This purity made her a natural to play innocents accused of wrongdoing in two episodes of Murder, She Wrote. jennifer 6

In 1989’s Seal of the Confessional, Runyon is Kelly Barrett, a frightened native of Cabot Cove, the fictional town where many of Jessica Fletcher’s adventures took place. Sure that she has murdered her abusive stepfather, Barrett takes refuge in a church with a handsome priest (soap opera stalwart Hunt Block). Determined to cover up her crime, she ultimately resists the clergyman’s offer of help and runs away. Of course, Fletcher eventually discovers that the culprit is not the frightened young woman, but not before Runyon gets to play, thoughtfully, in the fields of wide emotion, enacting everything from elusive terror to steely determination.

Jennifer 5Scripted by Lynne Kelsey, this storyline actually is one of the long running show’s most poignant. Graced with the series’ usual down home charms and lighthearted mystery, it also reflects, subtly, the emotional damage inflicted by parental misadventure. Runyon’s bruised portrayal aids greatly here, allowing the audience to feel, fully, for her character and proving that she would have been perfect to play tortured heroines in those gloomy noir epics of the 40s.

Nicely, 1991’s Murder, Plain and Simple has more of a soap opera edge. Focusing on an Amish community ruled over by an extremely evil patriarch (Michael Sarrazin), this episode also reunites Runyon and Block. The two play former sweethearts torn asunder by Sarrazin’s devious Jacob Beiler. Naturally, Beiler winds up dead, found by Runyon’s Rebecca, a pitchfork shoved deep in his chest. Jennifer 4

Runyon glows with resigned dignity here, relieved to be out of Beiler’s controlling grasp, but glad, once she is no longer considered a suspect, to be free of him, as well. Sarrazin, who imbued such projects as The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and Frankenstein: His Story with the gravity of his deep set eyes, nearly steals the show, though. He is obviously having a ball being so heartless and the scenes where he twists logic and decorum to get his needs met would make any arch daytime drama baddie proud.

Meanwhile, fans of the series should be sure to check out Murder She Wrote Fans: https://www.facebook.com/Murder-She-Wrote-Fans-120892357995729.

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman

Published November 20, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Oh, creativity – that ever elusive muse. Even Angela Lansbury’s ever resilient mystery writer Jessica Fletcher must have sipped from an ever emptying cup of ideas every once in awhile!

But, in The Petrified Florist, a fun Season 9 episode of the redoubtable series, Fletcher lets the dizzying participants of a Los Angeles dinner party serve as inspiration for her latest unexpected thriller. Jet lagged, this well loved character falls into a dream-tale involving the murder of a flamboyant botanic renegade. Soon, Wizard of Oz style, her friends and acquaintances are given flowery motivations and all are, eventually, blooming with suspicious activity. Horror 4

The guest cast, this time, features Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman, two distinguished performers who sidelined in plenty of exploitation fare. Bergman, whose involvement with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz highlighted her beauty and grace, went on to be acknowledged as a foremost action star due to her participation in Conan the Barbarian and the fun Hell Comes to Frogtown. Her elastic physicality and forceful presence also lent much to her appearances on such shows as Swamp Thing and Freddy’s Nightmares and in such glorious cable and video store treasure as Programmed to Kill and the thriller Raw Nerve (featuring the legendary Glenn Ford and the iconic Traci Lords). Kellerman’s clipped and emphatic delivery, meanwhile, imbued such comedies as MASH, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins with silken archness. But her sly mannerisms made her perfect for the mysterious activity and outright villainy of such 90s exploitation efforts as Doppelganger (with Drew Barrymore), Mirror Mirror II: Raven Dance (with Roddy McDowall) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (AKA Victim of Beauty).

Horror 3She plays into that acidic type with Junie Cobb, her impervious gossip maven here. As her character is threatened with the reveal of an affair, Kellerman double crosses and denies like she has just been outfitted with a pair of Barbara Stanwyck heels, proving, once and for all, that nobody should mess with a blonde with experience!

Bergman is allowed to have fun here, as well. Honing in on title’s none too so subtle take on the famous play (made movie) The Petrified Forest, she supplies what is most enjoyably theatrical about this episode. As Daisy Kenny, a police officer with dreams of a show business career, Bergman is eager and enthusiastic, showing her versatility as a performer. Self assured but far from the snarly kick-asses of her action pieces, this veteran performer shows she has a way with comedy – and the collar. Disguising herself as a blackmailing maid, Daisy helps Fletcher finally catch the backtracking Kellerman and proves that the character’s upcoming take on Miss Jean Brodie would be something that no true fan would ever want to miss.

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Stacey Nelkin

Published August 5, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

stacey scared
Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

What goes around most certainly comes around. Perhaps, cinematically, no one found this to be truer than the glorious Ann Blyth. Immortalized as the devious Velda in the classic 1945 adaptation of Mildred Pierce, Blyth eventually found herself on the other end of the victimization scale in the second season Reflections of the Mind episode of Murder, She Wrote.

As Francesca Lodge, one of Jessica Fletcher’s oldest and wealthiest friends, Blyth reacts with royal emotion as her character begins to behave erratically and soon appears to be losing her mind. Naturally, the deductive Fletcher soon begins to suspect that someone close to Lodge has watched an old VHS copy of Gaslight one too many times.stacey concerned

Enter Lodge’s daughter Cheryl, played with concerned enthusiasm by the radiant Stacy Nelkin. Best known to loyal fright freaks as the spunky Ellie in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Nelkin combines levels of true sympathy with a carefree, rock-n-roll nature here, making her seem the least likely suspect in this shady narrative.

But the terror Nelkin experiences, one rainy night, may point to a possibly sinister direction, especially considering that Cheryl’s comrade-in-arms, Carl, is played with smooth tempestuousness by Wings Hauser, well known for his psychotic portrayals in such cult efforts as Vice Squad, The Carpenter and The Wind.

stacey wingsWhile this marked Blyth’s last acting appearance, the eclectic Nelkin would go on to play the deliciously demented Christy Russell on the short lived soap Generations and the notable Rita in the Academy Award winning Bullets Over Broadway before embarking on a successful career as a relationship expert.

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Lee Meriwether and Michelle Johnson

Published July 18, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Of all the things that an excess of television viewing can tell you, to never get on a ship with Lee Meriwether may be the most important! Lee 1

A co-starring role in the 1978 television film Cruise into Terror found the luscious, amber waved Meriwether seduced by a devilish sarcophagus. Her 1993 appearance on the Ship of Thieves episode of Murder, She Wrote, meanwhile, allowed her to indulge in even deadlier circumstances. As the sophisticated Leslie Hunter, Jessica’s old college pal, Meriwether appears to be aglow with love for the captain of a soon to be retired ship. But the closing circumstances reveal very sinister edges to Hunter’s character, facets that Meriwether embraces with clipped intensity.

Lee2Nicely, on this voyage, Meriwether is joined in mercenary activity by the equally stunning Michelle Johnson (Waxwork, Dr. Giggles, Blood Ties, Werewolf). Johnson provides smoothly evil emoting, as well, making this particular outing a delicious excursion for those who like their femmes with a dubious edge.

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Vivian Blaine!

Published March 5, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

Blaine in The Dark

Blaine in The Dark


Glamorous redhead Vivian Blaine (1921 – 1995) entered the world of cinema as a musical performer in the 1940s. As her roles in films such as State Fair and Doll Face (with Carmen Miranda) began to dry up, she returned to the Broadway stage and created the role she is best known for, Ms. Adelaide, in the original Guys and Dolls in 1950. (This is a role she, also, winningly recreated for the film version in 1955 with Marlon Brando.) Television roles followed and, in the late 70s and early 80s, she added some class to two mutated, pore sucking opuses that earn her a secure and beloved place in monster movie hall of fame.

The Dark. 1979. Blaine’s Role: Courtney Floyd.

Don’t you just hate it when the local whores and random passers-by start getting ripped apart by a giant space creature in dank alleys? Well, so does The Dark’s master crime writer (played with flippant charm by William Devane) – especially when the first victim is his daughter (played, interestingly enough, by the soon-to-be Kathy Hilton). Aided by a television reporter, portrayed by Cathy Lee Crosby (a participant in 1973’s The Laughing Detective, a Walter Matthau film whose gay killer scenario has definite pre-shades of William Freidkin’s controversial Cruising), and a shaggy forensic master (radio announcer and Scooby Doo wonder Casey Kasem), Devane soon discovers a party psychic (turned true clairvoyant) may have clues to the vicious killings.

As a link to the previously fake wonder, Blaine’s Floyd, is frisky and fun. Her brief scene with Devane vibrates with husky sexuality and one almost believes Blaine could have a chance with the much younger Devane, such is her breezy confidence. (Of course, since Blaine is playing an actor’s agent, she probably had plenty of personal acquaintances and situations to draw from.)

with Devane

with Devane


As for the film itself, The Dark is a frequently tense (especially in its twisted opening scene featuring a possibly psychotic, seemingly blind man following a frightened woman down a jagged path) and gloriously cheesy. (Besides its massive paws with claws, the creature also shoots laser beams from its eyes). Unfortunately, the film loses steam during its final act and its ending is far too abrupt to be anywhere as satisfying as the film’s first half. Although, The Dark does have some high profile fans including Scott Spiegel, the writer of Evil Dead 2.

Parasite. 1982. Blaine’s Role: Miss Daley.

Best known as the vehicle that gave Demi Moore her first starring role, the producers of this Italian Stallion knew who their true star was – Blaine is introduced as Miss Vivian Blaine in the opening credits of this, her second to last film.

Concerned with a nervous scientist, hunted by the ruling Marshalls in a post apocalyptic world, Blaine is Miss Daley, queen of a crumbling boarding house. Of course, our timid chemist arrives at Daley’s dusty rooms with more than rent in tow. Having created a deadly parasite, he is desperately searching for a cure. When one of the chewy fiends is loosed upon a violent gang of teens, though, hell soon erupts in dry town.viv blaine parasite

In a nice touch, Blaine’s Daley is revealed as a former actress. This character devise is never discussed, though. Subtly (especially for this type of film), all is revealed through the photos hanging on the walls of her dilapidated estate. Blaine plays fully into the action when one of the infected teens is brought to Daley’s establishment, causing furious demises for many. With a touch of bitterness and wit, Blaine reveals Daley as a woman still concerned about her appearance just (spoiler alert) before her core sucking obliteration. Gasping arthritically ‘til the end, Blaine’s expiration is one of the film’s most memorable proving, once and for all, if you’re going to be in one of these demented babies, dying well is the best revenge.

On DVD, Parasite’s 3D origins are apparent with its main creature (and title card) popping into your face in an obvious manner. That the creature looks as much like a deranged Muppet with tremulous fangs as anything else is among its extreme goofy pleasures.

In a poignant note, actor Tom Villard (We’ve Got it Made, Popcorn) who, sadly, died of AIDS in 1994, gives an enthusiast performance as one of the creature’s first hollowed out victims. Cherie Currie (lead singer of The Runaways and the doomed vixen of Foxes), also makes a dewy appearance making this gastronomical romp a true cult film through actor appearances alone. (Devotedly, Blaine was one of the first celebrities to devote herself to raising awareness and money for AIDS charities.)

viv blaineIn an interesting note, Blaine’s last appearance was on an episode of the first season of Murder She Wrote (1985) called Broadway Malady, playing Lorna Luft’s mother. Here Blaine gets to sing in a full out production number and fight off an extremely lethal death by gas stove while Luft’s vocal pyrotechnics are matched by her character’s injury in a fairly blunt and violent shooting sequence orchestrated by character actor Gregg Henry (Slither, Just Before Dawn, Body Double).

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Lar Park Lincoln

Published February 13, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

For better or worse, it all comes down to the mother!

Nobody knows this better than the vibrant Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th 7: The New Blood, House II), a devoted parent, herself, in real life, who guest starred on Incident in Lot 7, the 13th (h-m-m…) eighth season episode of Murder, She Wrote, which featured a throwback to the spookiest matriarch of all time, Mrs. Bates!lar 3

As Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher navigates the devious world of filmmaking here, it is Lincoln’s kind and spunky Caroline Pryce who offers her eager assistance. But as an unexpected murder darkens Caroline’s world, Lincoln skillfully shows both her character’s accusatory nature and overriding frustration, ultimately, making Caroline one of this mystery’s most well rounded characters.

lar 4Nicely, Lincoln is joined by several other terror regulars including Stuart Whitman (Welcome to Arrow Beach, Vultures, Ruby, Night of the Lepus, The Monster Club) as a kindly executive, Michelle Johnson (Waxwork, Dr. Giggles, Blood Ties) as a power hungry mistress and Paula Prentiss (The Stepford Wives, Saturday the 14th) as an agitated actress. Of the three, Prentiss, perhaps, has the most fun. Her Leonora Holt is a self-centered movie star, determined to learn every nuance of the flustered Fletcher, whom she is set to play (a variation of) in a movie adaptation of one of the legendary sleuth’s books.

Nicely, as the majority of the action takes place on the Universal movie lot, the iconic Bates Motel is used as a primary location. It’s a striking choice with echoes of both Norma Bates’ cackle and Milton Arbogast’s arm wheeling fall haunting every frame.
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Be sure to keep up with Lincoln, a respected acting teacher and co-star in the upcoming, deliciously titled Sky Sharks, at http://www.larparklincoln.com.

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

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Horror, She Wrote: Cherie Currie

Published November 20, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

It may be fun to go to the dogs every once in awhile, but there is nothing, dramatically speaking, like a good cat fight! Eclectic entertainment goddess Cherie Currie certainly dives into some fur snarling fisticuffs in the first season episode of Murder, She Wrote entitled (appropriately enough) It’s a Dog’s Life and definitely comes out shining!

Best known for fronting the influential rock band The Runaways, Currie, also, had a varied acting career with roles in such horror and science fiction epics like Parasite, Wavelength and Twilight Zone: The Movie. Here, her co-stars include such genre stalwarts as Dallas’ Jared Martin (Aenigma, New Gladiators), Forrest Tucker (The Crawling Eye, The Abominable Snowman), Dan O’Herlihy (Halloween III, The Cabinet of Caligari), Dean Jones (Two on a Guillotine) and James Hampton (Teen Wolf, Hangar 18).Cherie MSW2

Playing Echo, the sarcastic daughter of a spiritually obsessed heiress (Soap’s Cathryn Damon who, also, practiced maternal witchiness in the television flick Midnight Offerings), Currie is obviously having a ball as Echo engages in verbal combat with her drunken aunt (played by soap stalwart Lenore Kasdorf). Currie, also, excellently invests the flippancy that Echo has for authority figures with a subtle comic timing and truthfully petulant sass. On the flip side, Currie and Damon do establish a natural affection between their characters, making viewers long to know more about them.

Cherie MSW3All involved (including the elegant Lynn Redgrave), though, seem to warm nicely to the absurdly fun plotline (which finds a beloved beagle on trial for murder), making this a rather delightful entry in this seminal, femme powered detective series.

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

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