Pride Month

All posts tagged Pride Month

The Wild Inclusiveness of Jason Goes to Hell

Published July 26, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

J1

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.

J4

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.

J6

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/.

J2.jpg

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan     

Cesar Romero in Charlies Angels

Published June 29, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Cesar CA1

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.

Cesar CA3

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Cesar Romero in The Devil is a Woman

Published June 23, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman

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.

The last collaboration between director Josef Von Sternberg and his grand muse Marlene Dietrich, 1935’s The Devil is a Woman is full of visual flourishes that should appeal to fans of such stylistic masters as Dario Argento, Ken Russell and Guillermo Del Toro. From freight trains stranded in avalanche beds to the majestic hair pieces that Dietrich sports in a variety of scenes, this film is a kaleidoscopic delight…even though it was filmed in black and white. Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman 2

Reportedly Dietrich’s favorite among her many films, this tale recounts the adventures of Concha Perez (Dietrich), an unrepentant schemer who destroys the finances and the emotional health of the honored Captain Costelar (old school terror stalwart Lionel Atwill). Costelar’s misadventures with Perez are detailed via flashback remembrances as he warns the bold Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero) to avoid her charms. Naturally, Galvan can’t resist this wicked enchantress and soon finds himself upon the receiving end of her brutal capriciousness. 

Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman 3Here Romero, the only gay man (thus far) in the DC universe to play the Joker, brings his typical smooth and roguish charm to the role of Galvan. But despite his magazine slickness, he also resonates with a boldness that makes the slightly criminal nature of his character truly believable as well. (Indeed, this project is doubly interesting to the gay community due to Dietrich’s own love of androgyny and oft chronicled lesbian relationships.)

Interestingly, while Romero, Dietrich and Atwill all went on to many other projects, Sternberg, despite his genuine genius, was not so lucky. His directing credits after Devil were few and he was even fired from Macao, his last high profile project, due to his onset fussiness and an incoherent vision for the project.

Thankfully, due to home media and the internet, we will always have Concha and Galvin and Spain.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

 

Cesar Romero in Happy Landing

Published June 15, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Cesar 2 on.jpg

Best known to many generations as the penultimate Joker (from the Batman television series), the elegant Cesar Romero actually began his career co-starring against the likes of such golden megastars as Marlene Dietrich, Betty Grable, Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. His midrange career, meanwhile, added some megawatt luster to such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine (above), The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe and (silly spoof) Mortuary Academy. He even applied his smooth charisma to a take on Count Dracula for Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in the early ‘70s.

Cesar Happy Landing 1But the scariest force that Romero came up against may have just been booming theater goddess Ethel Merman. In 1938’s Happy Landing, a vehicle for perky Olympian skater Sonja Henie, Romero plays the smarmy Duke Sargent, a bandleader with a woman in every port. Ultimately, the roving Sargent meets his match in Merman’s Flo Kelly. Kelly spends the last half of the movie beating Romero’s calculating operator into romantic submission and the two emerge at the finale as a devoted (if slightly bruised) couple.

Interestingly, while the scenes where Merman clobbers Romero over the head with hotel room lamps (and the like) are supposed to read as humorous, this aggressive slapstick actually has the opposite effect. Often these encounters read more as domestic violence than comedic gold.Cesar Happy Landing 3

Despite this, the suave Romero practically steals the show here. Her majestic routines on the ice notwithstanding, Henie as a leading lady mugs her way throughout her intimate moments and tends to gaze, off camera, with moony eyed dreaminess at every fade-out. Merman, meanwhile, is a bit too forceful, the power of her stage presence not fully transferring to film. Thus, Romero commands this (rather flimsy and stereotypical) story with an easy flow and an undeniable photogenic presence.
Cesar Happy Landing 2

Rather bravely, considering the era in which he was popular, Romero, known as a lifelong bachelor, officially acknowledged his homosexuality in an interview with writer Boze Hadleigh for his 1996 book Hollywood Gays. Done towards the end of his life, this honesty may be just as significant as any of his beloved screen roles.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Vincent Price and Pride

Published June 23, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

vincent price

Its Pride Week here in Chicago and my mind keeps going back to Vincent Price.

On a press tour a couple of years ago, his daughter Victoria told reporters that she was certain that this macabre matinee idol had sexual relationships with both men and women. Honestly, it’s not something I really care about one way or other. But anytime an icon of horror is put in proximity with the queer community, there is reason to celebrate. The terror crowd, by and large, is still a very straight and, even more surprisingly, an often right wing one. More than anything, though, it is a silent one.

This makes me love Vincent Price even more. Not because of his bedroom proclivities, but because, even in an era when it was much more dangerous to do so, he spoke out. In that (fairly recent) round of press statements, the thing his daughter stressed more than any romantic suppositions was that Price was a true activist for the LGBTQA community. He spoke out against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay platforms in the ‘70s. He joined PFLAG as an honorary member and did an AIDS PSA in the ‘80s.

 

Vincent Price Oscar Wilde

Price as Oscar Wilde

This makes me sad about some of the people I know (and don’t know), though. A few years ago, I was asked to write for a site, but was told that they didn’t do “gay” content. This, in essence, meant that I was supposed to take a straight white perspective when composing for them. What the person who contacted me didn’t realize was that, even with news items and film reviews, he was reacting to them with his own learned insights and background and interests. Of course, that was the style I was supposed to adopt. He thought it was a neutral one. It isn’t. How could it be? He will always react to things the way a straight male would. A Latinx woman will react to them another way. A transgender person, meanwhile, will focus on another aspect of the same story. As will I.

That was more about quieting my true voice, though. What concerns me here is that, as rights are threatened more and more by the current powers-that-be, I still have ‘friends’ in fright circles that look at me and tell that they are “fiscally conservative, but socially liberal”. They say they will speak out when the time comes. Instead, I see them sharing news items from Breitbart that mock celebrities for speaking out on social justice issues. Breitbart, by the way, is run by Stephen Bannon, a man who would like to obliterate me (and so many others I know) from the planet. So…thanks!

But they are giving a nod to something, at least. There are others who say nothing, at all. Perhaps, they believe human rights are politics and that where one stands on that side of the curtain is a private affair. Maybe they are afraid. Maybe they have become resigned and wearily complacent like me. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I picked up the phone to protest something to some senator or public official. But 40 years ago, Vincent Price, a hero for many of us, wasn’t scared or tentative or let his thoughts grow muted. He got down in the trenches with the underdogs and stood proud. Let’s hope that his truly distinctive voice raised, all those years ago, can bring others out into the open now. Let’s hope it can reawaken mine. We need it.