Va-Va-Villainess: Rhonda Fleming

Published January 18, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rhonda Inferno

She played feisty yet loyal lovers in a series of ‘50s action and adventure pieces like Yankee Pasha and Gunfight at O.K. Corral. Bob Hope also called upon her extravagant sense of humor in such projects as The Great Lover and Alias Jesse James. Her lush looks and rare beauty worked for her in other ways as well, giving the glorious Rhonda Fleming a delightfully tangible way to embody perfect visions of calculating evil.

InfernoLobbyEschewing her initial naivete – she and her mother had to look up what a nymphomaniac was when she was cast in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound – Fleming brought vivid life to a number of noir vixens. 1953’s Inferno capitalized on the 3D phase while also giving her the excuse to bring what was possibly her most evil character to the celluloid universe. As Geraldine Carson, this red headed goddess viciously plots to murder her husband, played with gruff humanity by eternally sympathetic tough guy Robert Ryan. Thus, her dry and dusty downfall here was relished by movie lovers everywhere.

rhonda-fleming-the-crowded-skyThe suave Efrem Zimbalist Jr. also was dealt a calculating blow when dealing with Fleming’s adulterous Cheryl Heath in The Crowded Sky. As a pilot facing a deadly incident, as this film is a precursor to the all star disaster films of the ‘70s, Zimbalist’s character also must deal with the emotional fallout of Cheryl’s heartless manipulations. Viewers, therefore, are not surprised when the film’s fadeout reveals his intents to leave her behind, no matter Fleming’s seemingly irresistible devious lusciousness.

Rhonda Gunfight


Horror Hall of Fame:


Besides her compelling work with Hitchcock in Spellbound, Fleming brought a steady heart and calm demeanor to her portrayal of the loyal yet doomed Blanche in 1946’s gothic horror The Spiral Staircase.

www.rhondafleming.com

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

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Hopelessly Devoted To: Gretchen Wyler

Published November 22, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

A year after Shirley MacLaine rocketeered to stardom, due to replacing an ailing Carol Haney in the original Broadway production of Pajama Game, the vibrant Gretchen Wyler (1932 – 2007) accomplished almost exactly the same thing with Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings. Wyler attacked the role of movie star Janice Clayton with such virtuoso power that she was promoted from second understudy to lead, almost overnight.

Nicely, this led this leggy wonder into to a distinguished career, full of stage and television efforts, including multiple stints on a variety of soap operas and situation comedies. Interestingly, for someone who often used her sex appeal as a vibrant component of her performing arsenal, one of her significant nighttime credits was as a guest star on Haunted Angels, a third season episode of the classic detective show that brought about the creation of the term “jiggle TV,” Charlie’s Angels.

Perhaps the most accomplished of several Angels’ plotlines that included horror genre elements, this venture found Wyler’s well-to-do Clare Rossmore requesting assistance from America’s favorite femme investigators due to the seeming ghostly reappearance of her long dead nephew. Adding to the gothic allure, Rossmore’s philanthropic countenance manifests itself in the form of a psychic research institute, an appropriate setting for a supernaturally charged murder to occur.

Of course, all is not as it seems, and as truths are revealed, Agatha Christie style, Wyler nestles nicely into an agreeable chemistry with David Doyle’s ever faithful Bosley. While this story features a rare, fun pairing between Kate Jackson’s Sabrina and Cheryl Ladd’s Kris, it is Doyle, a musical stage veteran himself, and Wyler who truly charm with a rare ease and joy.

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

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Dagger Cast: Halloween Kills

Published November 16, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan


“Work that pony!”

Wow! What a day! Not to brag, but I just received my official certificate to become a full time member of Nova and the Country Gays! “What is that?” you may ask. —-

Well, it is a glorious honor that is bestowed only upon happy Dagger Cast listeners after they engage in our current episode featuring the divine Eliska Hahn. Eliska has been traumatically radiating across movie and television screens, as of late, as part of the magnetic featured cast of Halloween Kills! She fills us in on a bevy of delicious behind the scenes factoids about that current slasher blockbuster… and takes us back in time a bit to reminisce about her participation in the Troma distributed cult classic Invasion of the Space Preachers.

Your entry into fabulousness awaits!

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

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https://eliskahahn.com/

k

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Lannie Garrett

Published November 14, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

One of Denver’s shining entertainment lights for decades, the vivacious Lannie Garrett has released several important recordings while simultaneously bringing her vivacious charm to cabaret stages across the country.

Horror fans, though, will know her best from her appearances in 1988’s Destroyer and 1993’s Kiss and Be Killed. Although, it is as Sharon Fox, in the former project, that she radiates with the most aplomb. As the sexy protégée of Anthony Perkins’ sleazy Robert Edwards, Garrett brightens up the screen…and not just while in the deadly sights of Lyle Alzado’s electrically reanimated killer!

Nicely, as detailed in Split Image, author Charles Winecoff’s incisive biography of Perkins, Garrett got along well with her more famous co-star, proof that she truly gives her…(ahem)…body and soul…to every project that she is a part of.

http://www.lannie.com

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Josie Cotton

Published November 10, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Her good natured New Wave tunes have earned her a perky spot in music her-story. But the divine Josie Cotton has also proven herself to be a incisive chronicler of exploitation flicks and low budget horror. No less of an authority than John Waters endorsed her brilliant 2007 collection of often obscure cult movie themes, Invasion of the B Girls

With that culturally significant project, songs of special interest to mad monster fans include her takes on the theme to Green Slime, Goodbye Godzilla and Who Killed Teddy Bear?, the title track to the celluloid gem of the same name. The inclusion of that particular number also pays heed to Cotton’s huge LGBTQIA following, as the film itself stars lavender icon Sal Mineo, at his sweating, speedo hugging best, and features a uninhibited performance from Elaine Stritch as Mineo’s cut throat lesbian employer. 

Along with Adam Ant, one of her musical counterparts, and cult film icon Mary Woronov, Cotton also brought some enthusiastically hedonistic vibes to the odd n’ dreamy ‘80s horror Nomads. As a member of a murderous crew of ghostly vagabonds,  she haunted the film’s leads, played by Pierce Brosnan and Lesley-Anne Down, with a visibly malevolent intent – an old school admirer finally getting to enact on her Karloff-Lugosi fantasies.

Nicely, as of today, this cultural renegade is still keeping those independent, punk fueled dreams alive by running her own record label (https://kittenrobot.com/records/) and by bringing as much enthusiasm to her live shows as she did when anthems like Johnny, Are You Queer? were decorating soundtracks and prime MTV airwaves.

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

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Dagger Cast – Pursely of No Men

Published November 9, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

“I think about you when I’m dead. I’m underground, you’re in my head” – No Men —

No Men’s mind-blowingly intense front woman, Pursely, shows off her zany, irreverent sense of humor on the latest episode of Dagger Cast! Among many other things, we chat about the Final Destination series, creative ways to survive an apocalypse and how, as a gay woman, Brad Pitt’s lesbian hair in World War Z makes her feel seen! It was the best hour that I’ve spent in a long time…and it might just bring a bit of light hearted death metal flair to your post Halloween weekends.

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Shelley Smith

Published October 31, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

She lit up magazine covers and TV screens throughout the early ‘80s. But despite her sunny disposition, the elegant Shelley Smith could definitely activate an onscreen mean streak.

Keeping in line with the profession that brought her some of her original fame, Smith’s arrogant glamour girl Tanya made life difficult for Lisa Eilbacher’s sweet nurse Sheila in the 1981 television film This House Possessed. Thus, fans of the movie were, understandably, quite happy when the titular abode fought back and rewarded her nasty minx with a blood filled shower.

Adding some sophisticated Diabolique flair to her resume, Smith plotted murder amidst various double crossing and back stabbing twists on a first season Hart to Hart episode entitled Downhill to Death. Here, Smith smoothly held her own against such established co-stars as Juliet Mills, Rod McCary and Days of our Lives’ George DelHoyo. Nicely, there is even a bit of a devious Sapphic undercurrent in her scenes of adept calculation with the distinguished Mills.

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Horror Hall of Fame: Perhaps most famously to slasher film devotees, Smith played a major part in 1982’s National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, a goofily popular parody of all things terror based.

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

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Perks of the Trade: Mahogany

Published October 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Perks of the Trade will look at the varied filmography of Anthony Perkins, the queer performer forever associated with Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest onscreen psycho, Norman Bates..

While certainly a close cousin to the crazed Norman Bates, the role that immortalized him, Anthony Perkins’ take on Sean McAvoy, a tortured high fashion photographer, in 1975’s gloriously enjoyable Mahogany, is initially full of subtle traces of humor and a true sense of professional calm. Of course, as McAvoy’s obsession with Diana Ross’ upwardly climbing Tracey Chambers reaches its peak, Perkins commits to the character’s wild eyed bouts of frenzy with vigorous aplomb

This dedication to his craft is notable as Perkins, reportedly, was looking forward to playing a much more regulated persona and wanted to avoid any hysterical scare screen tactics when it came to the role. But a changing of the guard behind the scenes – director Tony Richardson was replaced by Motown founder & first time filmmaker Berry Gordy early on in the process – forced him to acquiesce to a more anticipated, Grand Guignol approach to the character. Decades later, fans of cinematic camp have to concede that Gordy’s desire to have the actor indulge in blearily erotic actions, such as wrestling a swarthy Billy Dee Williams for control of a pistol towards the film’s climax, surely enhanced the film’s long term cinematic viability – no matter how it might have hurt Perkins’ further career goals at the time.

Interestingly, for critics compelled to look at the real life personal dynamics involved, McAvoy also seems to represent some of Perkins’ personal struggles. Well known as a practicing (almost hedonistic) homosexual in entertainment circles since his summer stock days. Perkins had recently married and begun a life as a devoted father around the time of the filming of this project. Thus, his seemingly gay celluloid creation’s desire to possess Ross’ high fashion lass seems to have played a fitting, if murderously over-the-top, counterpoint to his own personal life.

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

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Ghosts: Watching Over

Published October 17, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

My dad would have been 75 last week. In some sort of coincidental converging of significant dates, we are also inching towards the 20th anniversary of his passing. His death in 2002 was totally unexpected….there was no early term cancer or other major health issues – just one final popping of his heart, one warm, late summer afternoon . That endlessly surprising week, my sister and brother & I camped out in the living room of his house in the far stretches of Western New York, pouring through boxes of photos & family mementos, writing his obituary. I would wake in the morning on the floor of that well worn area, my body curved towards my sister’s on the couch, almost like a human cocoon. It was like I was trying to protect her, unconsciously in the night – to cradle her from any further, completely unexpected blows. My niece Gabby arrived later in the week, descending breathlessly upon the funeral home with her father & younger brother. There was no one my father and I adored more in the world…each of us fighting to spend as much time with her as possible on those all too rare get togethers between our far flung family members. That evening, I walked with her into the waiting area where we, quietly, looked at all the memorabilia pertaining to my dad’s life – his existence laid out on cork boards and carefully scattered photo albums. There, upon seeing a photo of herself and my father, my dear, dear niece’s chin began to quietly tremble. As her adorably plump cheeks quivered, one single, fat, perfectly formed tear eventually leaked from her left eye. “Grandpa is dead,” she gasped, “and – I – will – never – ever – see – him – again!”

And I, being the kind of uncle who sang her Husker Du songs as lullabies when she was a toddler and tried to engage her in feminist chants during my infrequent stints as a babysitter , said, “Oh no, you’ll see him again, honey! He’ll appear to you when you need him the most. Your great grandmother, dad’s mom, has shown up to talk to me…even on the day of her funeral. So, maybe you’ll even see grandpa this week. But even if you don’t, he’ll be watching over you, always.” Perhaps, thankfully, it didn’t register in her 5 year old mind that her agnostic, punk rock loving uncle was talking to her about ghosts as the dawn leaked away from the sky that twilight gloaming – but I was….& perhaps rightfully so. My niece has grown up to be strong and sure and independent- the product not only of her own fierce will & a strong familial hand… but perhaps also due to the presence of a man who loved her very much and who has been watching over her from some misty, far off plane.

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

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In Remembrance: Tommy Kirk

Published October 12, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

After gracing their lots for a wide variety of projects throughout the ‘50s, the exuberant Tommy Kirk was let go by Disney upon the discovery of his homosexuality. Thankfully, for genre fans, low budget studios like AIP were eager to bank on his childhood & teenage fame and cast him in a variety ‘60s cult projects. Indeed, titles like Village of the Giants, Mars Needs Women, Blood of Ghastly Horror and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini have a special place in the hearts of genre lovers, worldwide.

Still, the fact that Kirk had to hide his true nature for a large part of his existence, akin to such contemporaries as Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter & Tom Tryon, lent his death this past September a truly somber and bittersweet edge. Thankfully, though. Kirk got to see some changes during his lifetime. Openly gay (and bi-sexual) actors such as Peter Porte, Adam Huss. Matt Comer, Jim Parsons, Mike Manning & Luke Evans are often cast in projects, many of them often playing straight characters as well as gay.

In loving memory of Kirk, let’s hope this a trend that continues, ad infinitum.

Tommy Kirk – 1941 – 2021.

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

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Horror Mash-Up: West Side Waltz

Published October 5, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

I’ve always considered this site to be an homage to the interests of the gay men who came up in the generations before me. By doing this, my work here also almost functions as an apology of sorts. I can’t tell you the number of times that I rolled my eyes, during my rebellious college years, while some martini sipping elder gushed to me about the wonders of Connie Francis’ phrasing or the dynamic flare in Joan Crawford’s eyes while playing one of the many ambitious, conflicted women that she excelled in bringing to celluloid reality. Clutching my Patti Smith t-shirts to me like rosary beads, I vowed I would never be that kind of a gay man. But as the decades swirled past, I found myself drawn to the moody gothic antics of Bette Davis and Linda Darnell in films like Deception and This is My Love – often more so than with any of the contemporary, gut spewing epics that burst across the film festival screens at events that I attended with like-minded friends. Thus, one of the main focuses of this blog was to highlight the oddly spooky credits of those established queens of cinema. Now, I find, even when watching something a bit more mundane, I am, internally, cataloging the terror credits of the participants. (You might even find this game could come in handy whenever your significant other forces you to sit through another rom-com or slow moving domestic drama.)

Therefore, I was surprisingly delighted this past Sunday afternoon. After throwing in a dollar copy of the 1995 television film The West Side Waltz, the cinematic treatment of a popular play about two middle-aged spinster types finding renewed life due to their involvement with a hearty homeless woman and a young Bronx vamp, I realized that all the headlining divas (Kathy Bates, Jennifer Grey, Shirley MacLaine and Liza Minnelli) had some connection to the worlds of horror. Grandest of them all, perhaps, is Bates, who won the Academy Award for her enthusiastic performance as Annie Wilkes in Misery. Meanwhile, fellow Oscar winner MacLaine starred in 1972’s authentically effective The Possession of Joel Delaney, a film that might have cost her the lead in The Exorcist due to the similarity of the two projects. Less distinguished than those projects, perhaps, was Grey’s leading turn in Ritual, a still fun film that mixes the steamy, old school jungle melodrama of I Walked with a Zombie with another mighty performance from the legendary Tim Curry. Minnelli’s connections to the field, meanwhile, are more musically related. Famously, she sang back-up for shock rock legend Alice Cooper on his Muscle of Love effort while offering up a totally recognizable solo on the track Mama from My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade – proof of the power of her own Oscar winning status.

Meanwhile, true crime aficionados may find a connection with this particular title, as well. Co-star Robert Pastorelli, who brings the same kind of goofy energy here as he did with his popular long term role on the original Murphy Brown, was highlighted as a prime suspect in the suspicious (real life) gunshot death of his girlfriend in 1999. The reopening of the case in 2002 is rumored to be a possible reason why Pastorelli was found dead of a morphine overdose that year. Hmm…you just never know what you might find within the confines of a filmic adaptation of a Broadway play, right?!

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

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