Move over, Nana! Best known for her comic cabaret acts, appearances on Broadway (The Golden Apple, Pirates of Penzance) and television comedies (The Mothers-In-Law, The Doris Day Show), the stellar Kaye Ballard, also, added some silly flair to the 1982 horror parody Pandemonium.
Featuring ridiculous references to everything from Carrie (enacted by Carol Kane and Eileen Brennan) to the traditional slasher epics like Friday the 13th and Halloween, Pandemonium was built around that era’s sudden horror craze. Preceded by 1981’s Student Bodies (featuring a bevy of unknowns), this production upped the ante by adding such name performers as Ballard, (her The Mothers-In-Law co-star) Eve Arden, Donald O’Conner, Pat Ast, Tommy Smothers, Tab Hunter , Sydney Lassick, Laverne & Shirley’s David L. Landers, Mary Hartman’s Debralee Scott and Superman’s Marc McClure. (It, also, had the good fortune to have the talents of soon-to-be-big names like Paul Reubens, Judge Reinhold, Edie McClurg and Phil Hartman involved, as well.)
As expected, this tale of a killer stalking a cheerleading camp is full of (small moments of) smart satire and (plenty of) bone stupid stunts. Ballard, playing the mother of one of the potential victims (a very blonde Reinhold), gamely manages to survive both, here.
Her warning to Reinhold not to touch himself, while away for the summer, prompts the arrival of O’Connor as the family’s very blind patriarch. (Get it?!?) This fairly juvenile, yet strangely fun incident is followed by a much more obvious bit of humor (which the film contains a lot of). The family’s black sheep…turns out to be a black sheep.
Pretty obviously just a job done for a paycheck, Ballard’s energy and professionalism is still in full force here and her focus reminds one of every over-passionate Italian mama. Besides, it is truly a joy for fans of theater offerings and horror to see her here.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!