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The Backside of Horror: The Recall

Published May 18, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Finally making my way through the stacks of horror DVDs and Blu-ray’s that I hadn’t previously viewed, I’ve been reminded, emphatically, of the preponderance of female nudity in exploitation films. Thus, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit a column that I used to feature here that emphasized male beauty in genre fare. Showing the male body, unfortunately, in many circles still seems like such an anomaly, an almost political act. Just ask actor Jesse Williams, whose nudity in the recent Broadway show Take Me Out has seemingly taken cultural precedence over his Tony nominated work in the show. Of course, there is always the fear of me being just as body focused as anyone else by revisiting this idea here – and Goddess knows, all of this COVID based, solitary old man horniness is definitely getting to me, as of late – but one hopes that the statement made here ultimately outweighs the presence of my personal satyr. That being said…

First up is The Recall, a 2017 science fiction-action hybrid that features Wesley Snipes, in mildly disturbed, aggressive top daddy form, as a character simply known as The Hunter. When a group of college age partiers arrive at the cabin next-to his, it appears that the film might turn into a backwoods stalk n slash. But when an alien invasion occurs, Snipes’ character, a previous abductee, might be his smooth toned co-stars only hope.

Perhaps the most famous of the youths relying on Snipes’ skills here is Breaking Bad’s handsome RJ Mitte, who plays Brendan, the tech geek of his crew. The swarthy Niko Pepaj (Rob) and the angelic Jedidiah Goodacre (Charlie) round out the male contingent. Playing to stereotypes, the darkly intense Rob is the insensitive bad ass of the gang, often willing to sacrifice the others to save himself. Charlie, meanwhile, is the quietly romantic hero whose troubled past meets its comeuppance once the otherworldly invaders begin to experiment upon his frequently half clothed body.

The camera definitely endorses these maneuvers. Goodacre is very naturally embraced by the camera and the scene when he wakes, sprawled in a field, post-extraterrestrial subjugation, is one of pure beauty. In fact, as a whole, the testosterone fueled visages here far outweigh the plot line when it comes to moments of pure pleasure. In a world far too reliant on the feminine mystique (or lack of it), that alone definitely puts The Recall a cut above the rest.

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

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In Remembrance: Cynthia Plaster Caster

Published May 3, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Cynthia Albritton, more famously known as Cynthia Plaster Caster, used to come, occasionally, to these queer punk rock events that I stage managed. One night we were chatting a bit – I, probably moony-eyed from interacting with a rock n roll legend, and she, perhaps a bit self-consciously, aware of the importance I was placing on the exchange. Eventually, we wound-up swaying to the music of the band together. A few songs in, we looked at each other at exactly the same moment & nodded our heads in unison, an acknowledgement of the perfectness of that minute in time. It’s one of those super cool life experiences that I’ll never forget.

For Cynthia, in all her humbleness, deserved my awe in those precious seconds. She was truly a guiding light for anyone who wanted to live their life against the ordinary curve. While my parents were working their way through college and forging an unheralded, not entirely successful path, into suburban small-town normalcy, she was happily hanging with musical icons like Jimi Hendrix and Wayne Kramer, making unconventional art of their anatomies. With inspired creativity, she essentially reinvented music fandom, turning groupie enthusiasm into high art – a singular accomplishment.

Thus, she has been heralded as an icon, rightfully, in the press since the news of her death, at the age of 74 (on April 21, 2022). But what those laudatory reports haven’t always highlighted is her emotional importance to all of us tiny town dreamers and future freaks. She gave us a worldly gift, immeasurable by any standards that I know. By making those legendary molds, she also showed us there was a way to break out of them, as well.

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Deanna Wright

Published April 26, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

“Talk about a makeover!” – Kay (post body morph) 

In marked contrast to Robyn Lively’s kindly Louise Miller, Deanna Wright’s Kay Bennett was definitely a very mean teen witch. Wright’s character on the quirky, supernaturally tinged soap opera Passions was so determined to capture the handsome Miguel (Jesse Metcalfe) and steer him away from his true love Charity (Molly Stanton) that she used several varieties of supernatural mayhem to achieve her goals. 

After zombifying her rival and even sending her to Hell (often with the help of the town’s revenge filled witch, Tabitha), Kay’s arc during Wright’s heyday reached its apex when the creepily resilient lass enacted a spell that turned her into her rival. Due to this effective disguise, Miguel misguidedly slept with her…and the resulting pregnancy (and birth of a child) nearly destroyed his relationship with Charity. 

As the soap entered into its latter years, Kay, as then played by Heidi Mueller, achieved a certain sense of maturity. But the character’s adventures with the occult – how can anyone forget when she accidentally turned herself into a panther during the program’s 2001 Halloween episodes?!?- were definitely the highlights of her run. 

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

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Dagger Cast: Chris Moore

Published April 19, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Actor-director-writer Chris Moore is one of the most inspiring gay artists that I know. In the past 6 or 7 years, he has produced 4 accomplished horror films. Nicely, Children of Sin, which begins streaming on Amazon on 4/22/22, is his queerest and bloodiest yet. We were thrilled to have him on the latest episode of Dagger Cast to talk about all the behind-the-scenes magic (& low budget craziness) at hand and know that only the most determined and antisocial Mary Esthers would not want to check out what this brilliant young artist has to say.

Be sure to keep up with all the future devilry of this project at https://www.facebook.com/childrenofsinmovie, as well!

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Gale Storm

Published April 19, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Much like Georgia Gibbs, the effervescent Gale Storm often recorded poppy versions of R & B numbers made famous by Black artists. A circumstance of record company politics as opposed to a personal choice, Storm did give bright pep (and a bit of authentic womanhood) to numbers like I Hear You Knocking & Why Do Fools Fall in Love? 

Perhaps best known for My Little Margie, a popular television show, Storm also had a very successful film career. Her most significant credit to horror fans, though, is her appearance as the heroine in 1942’s Revenge of the Zombies. This creepy caper found her going outstretched arm to outstretched arm against John Carradine’s (naturally) evil mad scientist. 

Intrigued now? Thankfully, the beautiful website, https://galestorm.tv/, gives a thoroughly detailed look at Storm’s decades of glamorously creative endeavors. 

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

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Great Performances in Horror: Helen Hayes

Published April 12, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Helen Hayes’ wounded eyes resonate with such sadness on the Alter-Ego episode of Ghost Story, an early ‘70s horror anthology series, that she proves, without a doubt, that anyone at any age can experience the damaging effects of bullying.

Here, as the kindly Miss Gilden, a respected grade schoolteacher on the eve of her retirement, Hayes finds herself a victim of the demented antics of the evil doppelganger of one of her favorite students. As the child systematically destroys her reputation and turns all her beloved charges against her, Hayes vibrates with a haunted sorrow that provides the program’s emotionally connective glue. Nicely, a penultimate twist provides her character with a little affirmative revenge, producing a satisfying and contented sigh from all viewers.

That Hayes, an Academy Award winner and one of the most respected theater artists of her generation, applied such heart and depth to a one-off genre television appearance proves what a complete and dedicated performer that she was. Others can surely learn from her humility and grace.

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

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The Edgy Delusions of Mark Hamilton

Published April 4, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As The Edge of Night hurdled towards its cancellation in late December of 1984, the powers-that-be organized one last darkly grotesque adventure for Raven (Sharon Gabet), its standout diva and favorite anti-heroine. Nine months pregnant, Raven found herself secreted away by a mysterious captor. Sequestered in a room, filled with beautiful lounging gowns, diamonds and an overwhelming Venetian theme, Raven soon discovered her keeper was the rich and handsome Mark Hamilton (Christopher Holder). Hamilton, who had tragically lost his own wife, was convinced Raven was his former bride and was, happily, awaiting the birth of their child…via some very deluded jailor techniques. The reality of Raven going into labor, though, seemingly, brought Hamilton back to his senses and, after helping her deliver a healthy child, he stepped aside so that she and Skye (Larkin Malloy), her true love, could live happily ever after…or at least until the final broadcast.

Interestingly, Holder, who applied a silken kindness to Hamilton’s madness, was then best known for playing the incredibly gullible Kevin Bancroft on The Young and the Restless. Bancroft spent months believing that he was the father of (popular vixen) Nikki Reed’s child and left town, heartbroken, upon learning the truth. Thus, Hamilton must have seemed like a nice change of pace for the actor.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Holder went even deeper into character driven psychosis in the low budget 1985 slasher The Deadly Intruder. The film’s interesting cast included Hollywood heavyweight Stuart Whitman, The Partridge Family’s trouble making Danny Bonaduce and Elvira hunk (& Italian exploitation movie regular) Daniel Greene.

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

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The Gothic Plots of Reginald Love

Published March 27, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Windswept manors…candelabra style lighting…a delusional villain…Another World activated all these gothic melodrama stereotypes in the winter of 1988 as the powerful Reginald Love (John Considine) ended his reign of terror. Targeting his impulsive, pregnant daughter Donna (Philece Sampler), Love was determined to steal her away from her lover Michael (Kale Browne) and raise his soon-to-be born grandchild in his own domineering image. 

Fighting back, Donna and her wicked pater familias wound up free falling out of the windows of a towering mansion. Ever resilient, this pair survived that tumble. Thinking that twice might prove the charm, Reginald soon confronted Donna again in the same setting. The plunge that this damaged heroine took this time, in the middle of her sister Nicole’s highly dramatic fashion show nonetheless, caused her to lose her baby – a misdeed that even the most cherished baddie can’t return from. Thus, Reginald soon took another tumble (off of a high rise building) himself, perishing for good this time.

The legacy of madness he left behind would eventually claim his other offspring Nicole (Anne Howard), though. On the eve of her marriage to the show’s favorite anti-hero Cass (Stephen Schnetzer), this Love sibling, in a moment of passion, did away with Jason Frame (Chris Robinson), a longstanding thorn in her family’s side. Losing herself in self-protective delusion, Nicole then allowed Felicia Gallant (Linda Dano), the program’s eccentric diva, to take the rap for the crime. When all was revealed, Nicole descended the final step into pure illusionary dementia, ultimately being carted off to an asylum to recover.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Horror Hall of Fame:

Howard, an accomplished performer, is beloved by genre enthusiasts for her portrayal of Susan Cabot, the radiology student who begins the satanic reign of terror in John Carpenter’s celebrated Prince of Darkness. Sampler’s previous soap gig on Days of our Lives, meanwhile, put her Renee DuMonde in direct contact with Stephano DiMera, perhaps the most baroque, moustache twirling daytime television villain of all time.

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

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The Criminal Unraveling of Nola Madison

Published March 20, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Fueled by a creative mélange of Sunset Boulevard, ghostly curses and possible incest, the Nola Madison plot line, featuring an intensely motivated turn by Academy Award winning actress Kim Hunter, on The Edge of Night featured a cornucopia of delights for lovers of the horror genre. In 1979, faded movie queen Madison (Hunter) arrived in Monticello, the crime ridden city where this long running daytime drama (1956 – 1984) was situated. Tormented by her husband’s sudden infatuation with Deborah Saxson (Frances Fisher), a comely red haired police officer, Madison became obsessed with reviving her career via an old school terror potboiler named Mansion of the Damned. Nothing like a little star luster to ignite the passion, no? Of course, once in production, the film faced numerous gothic disasters – the withdrawal of Trent Archer (Farley Granger), its superstitious leading man, the mysterious deaths of both the production’s director and its publicity agent, various spooky apparitions and, eventually, murder.

Definitely inspired by Norma Desmond, in a fit of contrasts, the writers for the show made the alcoholic Madison more criminally motivated than Gloria Swanson’s famed delusional diva. Whether sending Saxon a box of poisoned candy, drugging the kindly town doctor (Joel Crothers), burning down the studio as a publicity stunt or impulsively killing a rival (Ann Williams) in a fit of hysterical rage, this deadly daytime dame was calculating and manipulative. Unsurprisingly, she was also superbly played by Hunter, who filled the role with subtle intensity and nicely motivated histrionics.

Adding a glimmer of scandal, Madison was also hiding the fact that her comely stepdaughter (Margaret Colin) and her son, Brian (Stephen McNaughton), weren’t biologically related as they both assumed. This tormented pair often found themselves in what they (and the audience) assumed were illicit clinches until the truth was finally revealed.

Hunter, best known for notable work as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, was perfect casting here. Her first film role was in Val Lewton’s dark scare masterpiece The Seventh Victim and she continued, throughout her almost 60-year career, to rack up credits in such genre projects as The Kindred, Two Evil Eyes, Bad Ronald and episodes of such frequently grotesque television shows as Night Gallery and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Granger also had quite the pedigree – from the sophisticated terrors of Hitchcock (Rope, Strangers on a Train) to creepy Euro terror offerings to a well-regarded slasher (The Prowler). Bringing all that history to the vain and increasingly nervous Archer provided viewers with a special treat – especially in his scenes with Hunter, wherein the two pros met each other, mightily, arched eye brow to arched eye brow.

Nicely, for the compulsory and the curious, the entirety of the plotline has been captured on the impressive YouTube channel, Mr. Edge 80s: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqc3_5bPbySszkWoSrO27zA

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

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Flashback: My Fair Psycho

Published March 6, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

The pride of both Broadway stages and sophisticated cabaret venues, the precise, velvet toned Christine Andreas proved that she was a master of her craft with her work as the manipulatively deranged Dr. Taylor Benson during the 1990 – 1991 seasons of Another World.

Initially presented as the diligent psychiatrist for the soap’s tortured Sharlene (Anna Holbrook), a popular character suffering from multiple personality disorder, Benson soon revealed her own mental weaknesses. Fixated on Sharlene’s handsome husband John (David Forsythe), Benson did everything she could to make him her own. After gaslighting Sharlene into believing her treatment wasn’t working, the twisted doc eventually lost herself in psychosis. After kidnapping Sharlene, she seemingly murdered her in an explosive encounter on her boat. In her last scenes, though, this extremely misguided therapist was so lost in delusion that she couldn’t even recognize John, the man who motivated her diabolical schemes.

The winner of the American Theater Award for her work as Eliza Doolittle in a 1975 revival of My Fair Lady, Andreas proved her daytime mettle here by imbuing this deliciously unsavory character with both a determined sweetness and a calculating intensity. The plot line itself also speaks to this genre’s exploitation parallels – twisted women, gothic crimes and the ability of multiple characters to return from the dead – as Sharlene, Benson’s favored victim, did several years after her fiery “demise” during this iteration of the show.

Andreas, who recently performed a successful show featuring the music of Edith Piaf, meanwhile, is always creatively resurrecting herself at http://www.christineandreas.com.

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

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