Thriller

All posts tagged Thriller

Unsung Heroines of Horror: K.T. Stevens

Published September 27, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Sometimes heroines of horror are unsung simply because they don’t have any true horror projects to their credit. Take the unforgettable K. T. Stevens for example. While she doesn’t have a Frankenstein or Dracula on her resume, she did play Vanessa Prentiss on The Young and the Restless for years. Her face hidden behind magnificent veils due to traumatic scarring, this character was one of the more gothic villainesses of the classic early ‘80s of soapdom. The perfect amalgamation of one dark stormy night theatrics, Vanessa made life a living nightmare for Laurie, the soap’s most prominent anti-heroine. In fact, upon learning that she was terminally ill, Prentiss staged a fight with her rival and then threw herself off the balcony of her apartment building. This assured that Laurie would be charged with her murder, a final revenge as surely psychotic as anything that Peter Lorre cooked up in Mad Love. KT 3

Starting out as a juvenile lead opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Great Man’s Lady, Stevens enjoyed a fairly distinguished career including noir adventures (Port of New York) and guest shots on classic television shows (I Love Lucy, The Big Valley). She even took a shot gun blast to the chest as a supporting player in the T & A thriller They’re Playing with Fire.

Graced with a layered yet formidable presence, she was also a favorite of the producers of Thriller; the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series that always dealt with matters of the macabre. Stevens’ episodes were more criminal minds in nature than exercises in terror, but she got to show some range. She was the Capri pants wearing, con minded other woman in a first season episode entitled The Merriweather File. The second season’s Kill My Love found her calmly enacting calculated patrician control as the wealthy Olive Guthrie. Even though Guthrie is ultimately the victim here, her chilling use of subtle silence lingers long after the episode ends.

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The eclectic professionalism of Stevens, who passed away at the age of 74 in 1994, should come as no surprise, though. Her father was director Sam Wood (A Night at the Opera, King’s Row) and she made her debut at the age of two in one of his silent features with (child prodigy) Jackie Coogan, later Uncle Fester in the original The Addams Family.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: The Honey Bees

Published April 7, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Honey Bees

The Honey Bees, comprised of Tina Louise, Natalie Schafer and Dawn Wells, may be the greatest fictional girl group of all time. Gilligan’s Island fanatics surely rejoice in this episode of the popular show which finds the cast’s beloved Ginger (Louise), Mrs. Howell (Schafer) and Mary Ann (Wells) forming a musical version of The Honeys in hopes of finally getting off the island that they have permanently been sequestered on.

But the fact that this versatile trio of actresses has been involved in many individual genre projects makes this joyous collaboration of special notice to terror tikes, as well. Schafer, a veteran performer of film and stage, hit the gothic mother lode first with appearances in The Secret Behind the Door… and a beloved episode of the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series Thriller. Louise made the ‘70s and ‘80s particularly enjoyable with roles in the feminist classic The Stepford Wives and the atrociously lovable oddity Evils of the Night. Wells, meanwhile, found herself battling for her life against a water beastie and a violent serial killer in Return to Boggy Creek and the greatly admired The Town That Dreaded Sundown. (Interestingly, it is rumored that Well’s voice was dubbed here by Jackie DeShannon, the writer of the coolly mysterious Bette Davis Eyes.)

On a side note, Schafer, who died in 1991, also appeared in a popular touring production of the lesbian classic The Killing of Sister George with Claire Trevor. Louise, who has quietly tried to move past her seminal work as Ginger, keeps admirers informed of her activities at https://www.facebook.com/pg/thetinalouise. Wells, meanwhile, has long kept the torch of that imaginary island burning. She, happily, keeps up with fans of GI (and her other work) at https://www.facebook.com/therealmaryann/ and http://dawnwells.com/.

Trio

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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Review: Lakeshore Drive

Published January 4, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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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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Review: Spades

Published January 28, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

Spades

You can’t blame me for wanting to stick to a game of Go Fish after watching writer-director John Wesley Norton’s Spades. It may not be as much of a thrill ride, but it would be decidedly less bloody.

This violent noir-like crime meditation opens with a quartet of tough guys playing the titular card game. Skillfully, Norton eventually reveals that something more sinister is at play here. It turns out these criminals-for-hire have kidnapped a young girl and her friends and are waiting for the right time to take the action into high gear. Back stories are revealed and soon double crosses, murky motivations and sexual violence are placed, firmly, on the menu. As the gang’s intended target finally arrives, lives are lost and the quiet Sims (a truly fine and subtly menacing Thomas A. Jackson) reveals one final, truly brutal plot twist.

Here Norton works especially well with his skilled cast and grooms sophisticated performances out of such veteran television and film performers as Alex Skuby, Xango Henry and Juan Riedinger whom play the three other intruders. Equally fine are indie scream queens Deneen Melody (As Night Falls, III Slices of Life) and Heather Dorff (Hole in the Wall) whom are not only beautiful, but bring as much sensitivity and versatility as possible to their roles of the piece’s primary victims.

Ultimately, working methodically and precisely, Norton creates a truly enjoyable thriller here, belying a small budget with heart and cinematic passion.

www.boomstickfilms.com

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

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Judith Evelyn: The Tingler’s Eternally Regal Victim!

Published April 16, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

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At the undead café the greedy zombie hustlers all swirl around Big Gay Horror Fan – until they realize that he has no money to spend. Then, penniless and alone, I make my exit.

Evelyn in 'Thriller'

Evelyn in ‘Thriller’

Such grand victimhood was elevated to perfect heights by acclaimed stage actress Judith Evelyn (1913-1967) throughout her cinematic career. But, while this regal dame was often seen as the gaslight ridden heiress or meeting her fate at the hands of some William Castle inspired lunacy, in reality she was one of the few survivors of a torpedoed ship (the Athenia in the Irish Sea in 1939) and in one of her most famous Broadway roles, The Shrike, she played a woman who drove her husband to madness.

Well rehearsed Joan and toned Jeff!

Well rehearsed Joan and toned Jeff!

But in 1955’s Female on the Beach, Evelyn portrayed Eloise Crandall, a victim of an aging gigolo’s (played by toned, silver haired Jeff Chandler) fake love. Dancing between swooning and despondent, Evelyn makes quite an appearance here. Still, this is Joan Crawford’s show. Taking over the house that Crandall was renting, Crawford soon discovers the mysteries behind her seeming suicide. Crawford’s every over-telegraphed reaction is perfect (even after multiple viewings) and the masculine, frequently shirtless Chandler isn’t half bad to look at either.

Of course, Evelyn’s most recognizable role to terror teens came in 1959’s The Tingler. Recommended by Vincent Price, whose admiration of her stemmed from a stage production in which both had appeared, Evelyn brings a proud bearing to her mute Martha Higgins. Higgins, of course, meets her fate at the ‘hands’ of the titular Tingler because she cannot scream in fear.Judith_Evelyn_in_The_Tingler_trailer

The 1961 “What Beckoning Ghost” episode of the Boris Karloff hosted Thriller also ended badly for the consistent Ms. Evelyn. Her Mildred Beaumont is a classical pianist with a bad heart. Ringing with devotion for her husband, Evelyn’s eyes soon rim with petrified despair. Beaumont’s husband and seemingly devoted sister soon drive her out of her mind and into her grave. But, as with most Thriller episodes, their wicked victory is short lived.

Evelyn, herself, passed away at 54 from cancer. But avid cine-maniacs can spot her ageless grace and sophisticated delicacy in any home theater from a mile away.

Check back frequently as Big Gay Horror (also available at https://facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan) often explores the worlds of femmes of gothic majesty.

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