Maria Ford, Jillian McWhirter, Sherrie Rose, Charlie Spradling, Melissa Moore, Joan Severance…These are names that fans of legendary producer Roger Corman’s ‘90s output should be familiar with. The glorious Athena Massey though, was, perhaps, the most exotically mysterious of these women – and, without a doubt, the most Stanislavski-an in her approach to her roles. Whether playing a blood starved alien, an undercover police officer or a bad-ass covert agent, this beauty gave it her all.
Star Portal, perhaps the most ridiculously fun entry here, finds Massey imbuing her role of Quad Rena/Sarah with both a solemnity and a childish curiosity. Yet another reworking of Corman’s Not of This Earth, this production also benefits from subtle traces of The Terminator and, nicely, places Massey in the alien role usually embodied by a male. Massey’s otherworldly goddess is bloodthirsty – a slaughtered victim or two is hung upside down to be drained of their fluids – but she supplies enough childlike confusion and regret to make this deadly femme qualify as the piece’s heroine. Choppily processed and obvious filmed on the cheap…the love interest, played by Steven Bauer, is almost invisible to the plot…this still provides enough zaniness to qualify as a solid example of the product that was churned out to meet the demands of the burgeoning cable market in a, regrettably, bygone era.
Shadow of a Scream (AKA The Unspeakable), meanwhile, truly contains some of Massey’s finest work. The plot, again, is a reworking of everything from Stripped to Kill to (the notoriously protested, Al Pacino fronted) Cruising. But as Alice Redmond, a cop who goes undercover to trap a suspected serial killer, Massey shows a wide range of emotions. Even as her character, predictably, begins to be drawn into the sadomasochistic lifestyle of the man she is tracking, as an actress she colors in all the dots of her character’s personality, showing vulnerability and strength. Despite co-stars from two major television shows, 30 Something’s Timothy Busfield and Baywatch’s David Chokachi, this is definitely her show. It’s too bad, therefore, that the ending comes off so abruptly, almost leaving the audience confused as to who the killer is. The answer may be far too predictable for some, but Massey’s skill here is never in doubt and, as previously mentioned, this serves as an amazing showcase for all of her many talents.
Nice believability is also supplied with Terminaton Man, another low budget epic about a commando squad trying to stop a Serbian terrorist from unleashing a deadly nerve gas. As Delilah Shane – great name, no? – Massey provides kick-ass bravado here and truly makes you trust in her character’s flintiness and skill. Impressively, Massey also makes you believe that the gratuitous nudity that her character is subjected to is all part of her take no shit attitude and not just an exploitive script requirement – true evidence of her compelling acting skills, if there ever was one.
Be sure to become hopelessly devoted to Athena Massey, yourselves, by following her at https://www.facebook.com/Athena-Massey-128121317206690.
…and until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!