Women in Film

All posts tagged Women in Film

In Memoriam: Gloria Charles

Published April 8, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

gloria charles fox

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!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

 

 

Review: Split

Published January 19, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

split-james

Don’t Breathe. Lights Out. Occulus. Insidious 2. The Conjuring. Those are just some of the recent horror films that, off handedly, paint their maternal characters, in lead or supporting roles, in a bad light. Perhaps, the fact that these women are failing their children due to emotional issues (Don’t Breathe, Lights Out, Insidious 2) or from a form of supernatural possession (Occulus, The Conjuring) does raise the dramatic stakes for some. But, upon reading that James McAvoy’s character in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split was suffering from dissociative identity disorder due to the severe abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, I was truly tremulous about another round of matriarchal bashing, celluloid style.

Nicely, despite some issues in tone and pacing, Shyamalan does balance things out in this, his second low budget horror outing since his return-to-form with 2015’s highly recommended The Visit.  By the final moments he is able to show that oppression and violence, unfortunately, exist across all spectrums of parental guidance. The emotional fate of Casey, his young heroine, thoughtfully and quietly played by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy, therefore resonates, profoundly, long after the director-writer provides the audience with his form of a Marvel movie nod as the film moves into its somber credit sequence.

split-annaCasey, as sharpened movie fans know, is one of three girls kidnapped by McAvoy’s Kevin, whose twenty-three personalities are beginning to shift with the more mischievous and violent of them gaining control over the others. Despite their fear, the girls find ways to fight back as Kevin’s various alters warn them about the coming of something referred to as The Beast. (In particular, it is nice to see such a strong reaction from female characters who, in another universe, would be caricaturized as insecure and indecisive victims.) Meanwhile, Karen Fletcher, Kevin’s therapist, who is working on an academic theory that her patients’ severe traumas have actually shaped them into something far outside of the ordinary, begins to suspect that something is not right with Kevin and begins to investigate.

Definitely vibing on Hitchcock by way of DePalma, everything from Spellbound to Psycho to Dressed to Kill might come to mind here, Shyamalan crafts some wonderfully tense set-ups.  Even when things go deliciously astray, he occasionally evokes the fun rhythms of DePalma’s (less well received) Raising Cain. This is in large part due to McAvoy’s enthusiastic mastery. Whether he is embodying the peculiar Hedwig, a nine year old who thinks kissing leads to pregnancy, or the primly efficient Patricia, he supplies the project with nervy energy and a strange, much needed sense of black humor.split-betty

Meanwhile, it is nice to see the divine Betty Buckley with a prominent role in a horror feature, forty years after her film debut as the sympathetic Miss Collins in Carrie. Calm yet passionate, her Dr. Fletcher often floats past in soft, curvy waves, accentuated by large necklaces and gesticulating, jeweled fingers. She is the smart, revolutionary aunt that young feminists (of every sex) would love to claim as their own. Unfortunately, Shyamalan doesn’t quite find a way to balance her scenes with those of the young women in peril. Therefore, momentum is lost and the tension flags.

Still, there are enough wildly eccentric ideas on display, including some the mental health industry might find questionable, and enough of Shyamalan’s astute artistry here to qualify this picture as a particular success. The last look at Taylor-Joy’s haunted eyes might also find a significant entryway into your soul, as well.

https://www.facebook.com/SplitMovie  https://twitter.com/splitmovie

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

 www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Book Review: Sharon Farrell, Siân Phillips

Published December 4, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

sharon-book

Written in completely different styles and featuring authors who arrive at their writing points from much different backgrounds, the memoirs of Siân Phillips (The Doctor and the Devils, Hammer House of Horror) and Sharon Farrell (It’s Alive, Night of the Comet) still manage to broker in the much of the same emotional currency and definitely illustrate how it is still the men in society who continue to steadily manipulate the fates of those around them.

sian-public-placesA prodigiously talented theater actress, Wales bred Phillips details her courtship and years of marriage to Peter O’Toole in Public Places, which was first published in the United States in 2003. While Phillips engaged, successfully, in a performing arts career, O’Toole, obviously, was the more famous of the two, reaching a worldwide platform with Lawrence of Arabia. He also definitely, as evenly and poetically described by Phillips, controlled the many specifics of their lives together. Fairly, Phillips often revels in the adventures she experienced while visiting O’Toole on his various film sets and, lovingly, describes a remote home on a mountain that she, painstakingly, created for him and their two daughters.

Phillips also shares stories of such legends as Katharine Hepburn, who frightened her children by vehemently suggesting that they should become something useful like plumbers, and My Fair Lady’s pompous Rex Harrison. Harrison, known for his misogynistic temper, is painted truthfully here and Phillips shows grace and courage when explaining how she mastered his moods while performing on stage with him. sian-hammer

In deep contrast to Phillips’ artfully measured tones, Farrell’s “Hollywood Princess” From Sioux City, Iowa is a messy and rambunctious offering, often filled with grammatical errors and with the names of famous participants misspelled. Yet, with pluck and little sense of bitterness, the actress traces her career which was often sidetracked by affairs, a miscarriage, rape, medical issues and mismanagement.

As with Phillips’ offering, Farrell’s honestly reveals how the males in power, here in LA (and beyond), frequently, shaped her destiny – from the unstableness of Hawaii Five-O’s Jack Lord to the peculiarities of Bill Bell, the creator of the popular soap The Young and the Restless. Farrell frequently found herself jobless due to their whims and when, onset, was subjected to unprofessionally bizarre behavior – prime examples being Dennis Hooper peeing on her while filming Out of Blue and a physical attack from a fellow performer on the location of The Reivers.

Still, Farrell, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, is often hardest on herself here and she acknowledges her own responsibility in many of the choices that she made. She is full of passion and heart and, despite the lack of editing, often sets up a nice sense of atmosphere and sense of time and place even when her viewpoint rambles some.

its-alive-sharon-farrellUnfortunately, neither actress concentrates much on their genre offerings here. Phillips does, happily, describe her interesting audition for David Lynch’s Dune and Farrell gives passing mention to such projects as The Premonition and The Fifth Floor. But, what is most poignant and interesting about each book, is the conclusion that readers can draw about society, itself. It is still a straight man’s world, as plainly evidenced in both writers’ circumstances. Here, they show how they overcame and thrived despite that sometimes overpowering obstacle.

Public Places is available, on sale, from various dealers on Amazon. Farrell’s tome, meanwhile, can be purchased from her at www.sharonfarrell.com.

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

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 (Images of are Phillips in Hammer House of Horror and Farrell in It’s Alive.)

 

Fionnula Flanagan in Havenhurst

Published June 16, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

fionnula havenhurst

A study of the soap opera viewing habits of teenagers, several years back, revealed that the youngsters were not drawn to the show’s various immature lovers and besotted heroines, but to their crusty matrons and loving matriarchs. Similarly, a number of horror films of late have found fan favor due to their delicious varieties of mature female characters. For example, one would definitely have to agree with critic Peter Travers’ reaction of “wowza” when considering the superb, subtle gothicism that Deanna Dunagan gave to the psychotic Nana in The Visit. The eclectic Lin Shaye, meanwhile, has definitely provided the heart and soul of the Insidious films with her spunky and concerned Elise. In fact, the devotion reaped upon her led her to being the focus of the latest chapter in the series, even though her character was murdered at the end of the very popular first installment.

Thankfully, it looks like Twisted Pictures is providing another variation on the sophisticated veteran with Fionnula Flanagan’s Eleanor in Havenhurst. As an ominous land lady in a beautifully spooky New York apartment complex, Flanagan provides plenty of menace in the film’s spooky first trailer.

 

Of course, this project also earns points for featuring such horror veterans as Julie Benz and the Halloween series’ beloved Danielle Harris. But, let’s be honest! Flanagan’s creepy understanding of haunted house atmospherics seems to be the main draw here.

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

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Ax Wound Film Festival

Published October 8, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

axe wound
This weekend Vermont will not only play host to lovers…but lovers of fright flicks, as well! Hannah Neurotica, the brilliant force behind Women in Horror month, is presenting the first annual Ax Wound Film Festival, featuring 34 short fright films, all masterminded by a worldly group of female directors.

Taking place at the Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery in Brattleboro, VT, all-access wristbands are only $5 and include entry to every film screening and special event throughout the day. Many of the film’s creators will be present for Q and A sessions and there are special items up for auction, as well, with 50% of the proceeds going to The Scleroderma Research Foundation.

More information can be gathered at https://www.facebook.com/AxWoundFilmFestival and http://www.axwoundfilmfestival.com.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Review: Strangers in the Night (1944)

Published February 25, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

strangers in the night cover
While the 30s and 40s were dominated by the villainous portrayals of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney, Jr., Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Lionel Atwill and others, occasionally a strong female antagonist would peek out from behind the blood stained curtains. While Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Captive Wild Woman (1944) are prime examples of this, Republic Pictures’ little known Strangers in the Night (1944), released on Blu-Ray by Olive Films in 2013, features both a very strong female lead and a truly disturbing dowager femme at the heart of this shadowy production’s mysterious and deadly doings.

Sgt. Johnny Meadows, an injured marine, travels to a small seaside town to meet his female pen pal. Though they have never met, the two have fallen in love and are destined to marry. Of course, Johnny happens to encounter Leslie, the town’s beautiful young doctor, on the train ride in and his attraction to her, coupled with the fact that his never seen sweetheart is mysteriously missing, soon has him switching his affections. Of course, Hilda, his pen pal’s mother, who keeps on insisting her daughter will arrive shortly, is not too happy with this. Seemingly possessed by the enormous living room portrait of her daughter, Hilda eventually succumbs to her darker impulses and it seems, no one, not even her devoted companion Ivy, will escape from her homicidal wraith.

Thimig, Grey and Barrett.

Thimig, Grey and Barrett.


As this film whispers with shades of such classics as Rebecca (1940) and Laura (1944), director Anthony Mann and cinematographer Reggie Lanning nicely fill it with moody noir lighting and establish Hilda’s cliff top mansion as a haunting presence unto itself. Their work is truly exemplified, though, by the fine portrayals of Virginia Grey, as Leslie, and Helen Thimig, who truly radiates with a glowering sense of madness as Hilda. With simple majesty, Thimig makes this proud woman, crippled both emotionally and physically, one of the most intense presences of those early exploitation years.

Granted, the mystery surrounding Hilda’s daughter can only be resolved in a number of ways, yet the trio of writers (Philip MacDonald, Bryant Ford, Paul Gangelin) do surprise those expecting a more deadly offering with their resolution. They, nicely, also give Grey’s Leslie plenty to do. She is both humble, recognizing that her position is rare for the time, and determined in her vocation. While annoyed with Hilda’s interference, she is also exceedingly kind. Grey, brightly, handles all these facets and is particularly poignant when discovering that Johnny is, initially, claimed by another.

The lovely Grey, best known to terror freaks for her role opposite cult icon Rondo Hatton in House of Horrors, also, appeared in numerous other cult titles such as Who Killed Doc Robbin and Unknown Island. But, Strangers in the Night, also, contains an interesting, round-about connection to horror via the presence of Edith Barrett. Barrett, who brings a leveled humor and hesitancy to the nervous Ivy, was the first wife of the legendary Vincent Price. According to published reports, in real life, Barrett, an esteemed stage actress, was actually a combination of the jittery Ivy and the deluded Hilda, but here she is quietly luminous, rivaling the performances of Grey and Thimig for attention.

You can find more about the unique offerings from Olive Films at http://www.olivefilms.com and http://www.facebook.com/olivefilms.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

The Destruction of Princess Tilde!

Published February 23, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

Princess Tilde defying Valentine.

Princess Tilde defying Valentine.


Someone left this cake out in the rain!

Filled with sophisticated, comic style mayhem that is piloted by a handsome, plucky hero (Taron Egerton’s Eggsy), who, in turn, is buoyed up by such distinguished talents as Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel J. Jackson and Mark Hamill as a multitude of engaging mentor types and villains, Kingsman: The Secret Service is loads of glorious fun.

My one issue with the film, besides some truly obvious head bursting moments of CGI action, is the ultimate treatment of Princess Tilde, one of the movie’s strongest female characters, portrayed with quirky resolve by Hanna Alström.

Tilde is one of the few fully featured, distinguished characters who actually rejects the devious plan of the primary villain, Valentine (Jackson), and winds up imprisoned in his underground bunker. Spunky and willful to Valentine’s every overture, she is a steely example of a femme in an action movie.

Yet, co-writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (who based their script on the comic book The Secret Service created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons) betray this positivity by turning her into a sexual joke by the film’s closing. Upon finally meeting Eggsy, who promises to defeat Valentine, Tilde spontaneously offers up an outrageous sexual favor should he succeed.

This suggestion is so damaging, ultimately, because it is so left field for the defiant princess. Development is, obviously, important for a character and if even, momentarily, Tilde had revealed some kind of amorous side previously, this denouement may have worked. Even more importantly, it is, also, out of context for the film, itself. While there are plenty of spy antics, exaggerated feats of violence and explorations of the darker side of the street thug lifestyle detailed in the film, there is little to no sexuality offered up, making Tilde’s comment stand out all the more.

That our last image of the character is one of her rolling over to, luxuriously, fulfill her promise is, also, unfortunate. Granted, anytime a woman in film (or life, for that matter) expresses a powerful sexuality outside of the vanilla zone is definitely important. Yet, the effect, here, is that moment is all most movie goers will remember about Princess Tilde.

Surely meant as a play on the excessive sheet turning of the Bond films, this issue could have been saved if we saw Tilde reversing the tables on Eggsy by throwing him on his backside to, ultimately, show him what she really meant by “do it in the asshole”.

Sadly, this is not to be.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan