Slashers

All posts tagged Slashers

In Memoriam: Gloria Charles

Published April 8, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror fans are the most loyal in the universe. Take a knife in a terror flick and never work again, you will still be a legend in our eyes. Thus, the news this week of the death of actress Gloria Charles hit the scare community with a profound sadness. Charles not only created a singular badass with her take on Fox in the beloved Friday the 13th, Part 3, but she is also one of the only minority actresses to cause a significant impact in that iconic series. She was definitely the fiercest of that lot, threatening the campers played by Larry Zerner and Catharine Parks with snarling zeal before she found herself on the wrong side of Jason’s wrath, forever earning her a place in our hearts…and horror history. All the others, including (but not limited to) Renee Jones (Jason Lives), Diane Almeida (The New Blood) and Kelly Hu (Jason Takes Manhattan) were stereotypical victim types. gloria brewster

It is also significant to note that, while Fox may have been the role that she was best known for, Charles had a number of other credits to her name. She shared valuable screen time with Richard Pryor in the comedy Brewster’s Millions and added eclectic flair to a variety of television shows. The roles may not have been large ones, but her kindly police officer on a first season episode of the violent cop procedural Hunter is such a far remove from her work in Friday 3 that it seems a shame that the wide variety of her skills wasn’t given a larger play in the often difficult world of entertainment.

Gloria Hunter

Still, one hopes that in the decades to come, the cultural and social impact of her role in the world of horror will keep her beacon forever shining, brightly.

She deserves it.

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

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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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Review: Party Night

Published December 29, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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From torrential rainfall to broken hearts to pyrotechnic teens, prom nights have always had the potential for disaster. Unfortunately for them (and lucky for us), the soon to be graduating friends in writer-director Troy Escamilla’s fun throwback Party Night find that this particular rite of passage can be very deadly, as well.

Here, sensitive Amy and crew head to her boyfriend’s uncle’s remote house for an intimate celebration after their prom. Of course, girls have been disappearing at an alarming rate, nearby, and the six young adults soon find that they have landed right in the killer’s lair. Amid drunken relationship trauma and the angry rhythms of growing pains, members of the group are soon separated from each other and meet their fates at a stealthy killer’s savage hands…and his various knives and assorted kitchen pottery, as well. Soon the ever reliable final girl is fighting for her life as gallons of red stuff spews and lives are irreparably damaged forever.

With loving reverence, Escamilla plays with the familiar tropes of these films…an important event, a secluded location and lots of bloodshed. We get the expected characters, as well, with the intelligent, slightly awkward heroine, her sensitive boyfriend and a variety of sexually adventurous and hard partying companions. But as a writer, Escamilla adds nice shades of angst and normalcy to his stock personas, giving all of the major characters a nice sense of depth.

The actors also accomplish much in making this an effective exercise. Nicely, they are a diverse lot, culturally, and despite a bit of awkwardness here and there, they deliver solid performances. Laurel Toupal is, perhaps, the most natural and endearing as Amy, with her final moments ringing with true emotion. Tommie Vegas, meanwhile, brings a nice sense of effective sass to Molly while Ryan Poole and Drew Shotwell each perform with a natural grace and a definite color of urgency when the stakes of their characters’ lives are thrown into savage turmoil. Nicely, as an antidote to the expected female nudity, it is Poole who spends the final third of the film shirtless while Toupal’s Amy fights for her life in a formal gown.

The film’s true highlights, though, just may be Mark D’Errico’s gloomy and prescient score and Heather Benson’s special effects work. Benson’s wounds are simple yet effective, but she definitely luxuriates in the red stuff, making Party Night one of the bloodiest slasher films ever made, a fine achievement for a film made from a very obvious love for the genre, but very little cash.

https://www.facebook.com/partynightmovie

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies by: Lauren Bacall

Published September 26, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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She had one of the most distinctive speaking voices of all time and the irreplaceable Lauren Bacall also used those smoky tones to subtle singing effect in such Broadway musicals as Applause and Woman of the Year.

Best known for her alluring performances in a series of noir classics with (her beloved, first husband) Humphrey Bogart, Bacall jumped on the early ‘80s slasher bandwagon by playing a theatrical diva whose life and limb (and sequin suits) were threatened by a smooth and menacing stalker (of the self loathing variety) in the underperforming (but twisted and enjoyable) The Fan. lauren-bacall-fan-2

Of course, here she is in complete control, singing I Wrote the Book (to a devoted Wayne Newton and others) from Woman of the Year, a role that won her a second Tony award.

 

…and if that doesn’t make you want to do a soft shoe, in the afterlife, with an old school diva…then nothing will.

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

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Stay Out of the Woods

Published September 21, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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While many terror fans have been focusing on the forest dwelling scares of Blair Witch of late, true connoisseurs of cheesy ‘80s grue have been, eagerly, keeping their eyes on Stay Out of the Woods, the indie horror sequel to the cult classic slasher, Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone.

Working closely with James Bryan, the director of the original, writer-director Henry Frias Leon promises lots of zaniness and gore in this what if/parody.

To reserve a bloody tent and killer sleeping bag of your own, be sure to follow the film’s progress at https://www.facebook.com/Stayoutofthewoodsmovie/.

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

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On Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

Published August 4, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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Like most siblings, my brother and I had very different interests and likes. I still have trouble admitting I enjoy any Madonna songs because of his slavish preteen devotion to her. He, meanwhile, simply couldn’t stand horror films. He was totally unnerved by them. Something I found funny, at the time.

We had two farm kid friends, brothers, as well.  One was exactly my age and the other was exactly my brother’s. We had grown up with them, but they had moved away sometime during our grade school years and, afterwards, we only saw them when they came to visit relatives on the holidays. The spring break of my junior year, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning opened and I was determined to go. The other brothers were, as well. So one evening, despite my younger sibling’s protests, we set out to the local mall, a half hour car ride away, to see it. My diminutive but fierce mother had to safe guard us in, past the protests of the concerned, middle aged ticket takers and through the emotional struggles of my baby bro, who was totally and completely distressed about what he was about to witness.Friday-the-13th-A-New-Beginning-Joey-Death

Of course, once inside, we others had a blast tormenting him – telling him to remove his hands from his eyes before the violent sequences had finished and egging on his tension during the more quiet scenes. Ultimately, three of us left the theater very happy. One did not.

My brother and I were very different from a lot of the kids that we grew up around. It was a small town where athleticism was highly praised and mechanical and factory work was the norm. Meanwhile, my brother was an artist who loved digging through fashion magazines to discover his latest inspirations and I had already had a season or two of summer stock under my belt and had attended a couple of fancy theater programs when school was out of session. The next morning, as I was bumming through the house, half watching soap operas as I piddled around in my bare feet, I discovered an open letter that my mother had started in a notebook. She had left it on the kitchen counter. Whether it was an accident or subconsciously purposeful, I’ve never determined. It was a journal entry (of sorts) to God. She was thanking him for our cinema outing the night before. She blessed him for allowing her boys to actually act normal for once (by hanging out with regular kids) and recounted how proud she was that we actually were, at least on some level, like other teenage guys. And…thanks!

Friday-the-13th-A-New-Beginning-friday-the-13th-20998880-900-506Funny…It actually, it hurts me more writing this now, thirty years later, than when I discovered it then. Somehow, thankfully, at 17, I scoffed it off, realizing how ridiculous her missive was. Despite my uncaring frivolity the previous evening, I always was aware that we were cruelly scarring my brother through our actions. She was the one who forced him to attend the film despite his obvious despair, yet now she seemed to feel there was something almost holy in her intent. Psychologically, in retrospect, I’m sure she realized that we were gay and was simply try to forestall, in action and word, the troubling realities that she would have to face head on, in later years. But in that silly and shameful moment, she could breathe for a minute, believing that we were of the stereotypically sane and proud junior members of the small town status quo.

But, what she didn’t realize, and what I probably couldn’t have articulated fully at the time, was that I never wanted to be considered normal. I wanted to live in cities and know poets and playwrights and alt rockers. I wanted to act in plays and film and television. I wanted to be, in my own way, mythical and above the ordinary and the last thing I wanted to be like were these two very common friends of mine (who I planned to leave behind as soon as I could) – or anyone that I knew at the time, for that matter. And while my insecurities and self-doubts have been major stumbling blocks on more than one occasion – that is the life, to one degree or another, that I’ve led.pam

Which leads me back to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. More than pure nostalgia, I love it because, unlike other slasher films of the day, its victims weren’t jock assholes or pretty socialites that you couldn’t wait to see get the crossbow. The film took place in a halfway house for kids and no one there was…say it together, now…normal.

Who can forget Debisue Voorhees’ giddy, uncontrollable laughter as the carefree Tina or Dominick Brasca’s sweet pout and eager energy as the eternally friendless, socially awkward Joey? For many others, this may be the Halloween III of the series with its fake Jason, but for me it features John Shepard’s method work as the tortured, barely sane Tommy and the brash hope provided by Shavar Ross’ young and practically abandoned Reggie. Nicely, the film is even anchored by a more sophisticated final girl, Melanie Kinnaman’s very effective and concerned counselor, Pam.  Most significantly, though, the film features the beyond awesome, punkish Violet, arguably one of the series’ best remembered characters. She is enacted passionately by the divine Tiffany Helm, who even helped clothe the character Siouxsie-style and provided the iconic robot dance moves for her memorable death scene.

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Yes, like me and so many other horror fans, this film features characters that weren’t of the straight laced vanguard and didn’t want to be. They, like us, were brilliant outsiders and I can’t imagine any misguided, sorrowful note from their mother’s ever bringing them down, as well. Hell, anyone with half (a stabbed out) brain knows only fake Jason could do that! 

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

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Re-examining Prom Night 2008

Published January 16, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

Prom_Night A number of years ago, I grabbed a huge movie theater size poster of the 2008 Prom Night remake off of the swag table at a film event. Now, I couldn’t tell you if I still have that poster, rolled away, in some corner of my ever expanding memorabilia filled closet…but I can tell you that I will never forget the look of pure surprise that came over a dear friend’s face when he saw me snatch it off that stack of terror filled goodies. There was no derision in his glance, as best as I can recall, just pure shock.

Recently, I was reminded, again, of how disdained that reimagining was upon reading Rue Morgue’s look at the Golden Age of Canadian horror, Horrorwood North. The original Prom Night, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, filmed in 1979 in Toronto, is considered one of the original slasher classics, and, naturally, is covered, lovingly, in the volume. On the other hand, the 2008 version was mentioned at the end of that cherished terror’s profile as being “much despised”.

The original film, as many know, focused on the revenge fueled slayings of a group of high school students who had, unwittingly, killed a young girl through their cruel bullying, years before. Alongside the expected sex, drugs and…disco, the film also spent some time exploring how the young girl’s death had affected her family – particularly her extremely fragile mother and her sensitive older brother, who had actually witnessed her death throes and, eventually as the film’s dance fueled finale reveals, become’s the film’s vengeful (yet sympathetic) killer. These layers have endeared the film to horror sophisticates for decades.prom night 2

The 2008 version told the tale of Donna (a sweetly effective Brittany Snow), a teenage girl whose family had been slaughtered by her (Hollywood handsome) teacher, Richard Fenton, three years previously. Now living with her uncle and her aunt, she, hesitantly yet happily, prepares for her senior prom with her adorable boyfriend, Bobby. But, after Donna and her friends settle into their hotel rooms and begin to celebrate, Fenton emerges and begins to slaughter them. Donna is rescued by the police and taken home, but the ever resilient Fenton tracks her down and murders Bobby, who is trying to protect her. After a final battle with Donna, Fenton is finally dispatched, leaving the young woman safe but further traumatized, echoing the devastating emotional fate of Kim Hammond, Curtis’ character in the original.

Despite its critical drubbing (with extremely low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic), this revamped tale took in nearly $57,000,000 on its original release, ultimately making it the 16th highest grossing slasher.  Perhaps, more importantly, there are a couple of elements in its plotline that speak directly to the homosexual heart. (Well, at least, mine!)

Reflecting on the film’s appeal to me, an image popped into my mind of myself at 16 or 17 watching a popular girl, at the small Catholic school I attended, arriving with her handsome, college age boyfriend for a Homecoming Dance. I remember wishing with all my might that I could do the same. But, I definitely wasn’t of the “in crowd” and there was no way that a guy was going to ask me to a dance in mid-80s farm country. Thus, I believe a thread of appreciative sorts is formed by myself with the reimagining’s heroine, Donna, who is doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing. (The fact that her relationship is ultimately thwarted is, perhaps, even another reminder of all those young crushes and sexual dreams that never quite played out, as well.)

prom night 3Even more so, queer men (including myself) have notoriously been preyed upon by older men – whether in the form of teachers, clergymen or family friends – adding another layer of understanding and connection to this character. While, thankfully, many of the predators who shaped our younger selves were not as murderously insistent as Fenton, they have still left their mark. This bittersweet resonance is something that especially connects me (and possibly others) to the vulnerable Donna as the film fades to its jauntily strained credits.

On a purely fan boy level you, also, can’t fault the film for its cast, many of whom are besotted with genre pedigree. Firstly, we have the preternaturally attractive Jonathon Schaech who essays the evil Fenton with a black intensity in his eyes. Schaech who had, sexily, burst onto the scene with Gregg Araki’s gonzo The Doom Generation, has also made a name for himself in such spooky fare as The Forsaken, Living Hell and The Washingtonians episode of Masters of Horror. Linden Ashby, who brings a kind glow to Donna’s uncle, is familiar from such projects as Werewolf, The Perfect Bride, Night Angel and Resident Evil: Extinction, as well. Meanwhile, Jessica Stroup, who flamboyantly fills in the shoes of the film’s doomed sexpot, is most familiar to terror enthusiasts as the female lead in 2007’s The Hills Have Eyes II, but her other roles include ingénue parts in Left in Darkness, Pray for Morning and Vampire Bats (with Lucy Lawless). Most importantly, perhaps, in one of the film’s best scenes, The Blair Witch Project’s Joshua Leonard appears as a hotel bellhop who is slaughtered as part of Fenton’s vicious revenge campaign. Fun!prom night 4

But more than that, Prom Night 2008 shows that even the most reviled celluloid can resonant as art and fulfill viewers emotional needs when viewed in the right context. Or, more simply, as another friend has stated, “There are no guilty pleasures. Just pleasures!”

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

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