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When Legends Meet: Bela Lugosi and Greta Garbo

Published July 29, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Bela and Greta

As the pandemic rages on, sometimes the smallest pleasures can produce the biggest thrills. For example, the recently reopened Chicago Public Library has been an oasis for me, allowing me to check out a variety of classic films from the ’30s and ’40s, the celluloid eras that bring me the most joy, as of late.

A few weeks ago, I was happy to find 1939’s Ninotchka, the film that gave the usually regal Greta Garbo a chance to let loose and convulse with laughter due to the smart joys of the irreplaceable Billy Wilder’s script.

Layered with an expected sense of sly, often infectious humor, this classic film’s biggest surprise for me wound up being the presence of horror legend Bela Lugosi. Playing the commanding officer of Garbo’s loyal Russian ambassador, the two share a very fun scene towards the film’s end, resulting in a magical moment for those who are fans of all kinds of cinema. Showing that he was capable of subtle theatrics and able to stretch his skills far beyond the mysterious creatures and mad scientists that he was usually asked to play, Lugosi, in particular, shines here with a sense of authority and truth.

Admirers of his work (and of Garbo’s undiminished power) may do well to track this gem down. Its a sure way to ease those lingering stay-at-home blues for an hour or two.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Isaac Hayes

Published July 26, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Isaac Hayes_Courtesy of Stax Archives (2)

A generation knew the iconic Isaac Hayes as the deep voiced patriarch behind South Park’s love-fetching Chef. Music fiends, meanwhile, adored him for his revolutionary soundtrack to Shaft, perhaps one of the most cherished and influential celluloid musical foundations of all time.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, Hayes had a large body of acting credits, with many notches on his genre belt, as well. Films like Escape from New York, Guilty as Charged, Acting on Impulse and the Larry Cohen-William Lustig partnered Uncle Sam all benefited greatly from his unique and powerful presence.

Dying at the (far too young) age of 65 in 2008, Hayes’ multi-faceted career is thankfully and continually being honored at www.isaachayes.com and https://www.facebook.com/isaachayes.

Isaac Uncle Sam

Hayes in Uncle Sam

 

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

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Hopelessly Devoted To: LaWanda Page

Published July 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

LaWanda Page Main

Best known for fully bringing Aunt Esther’s opposition-style antics towards Redd Foxx’s opinionated Fred Sanford on the classic sitcom Sanford and Son to full bloom, the irreplaceable LaWanda Page was also a highly regarded comedienne with material that was a little bluer than mainstream ‘70s television audiences might have expected.

 

Terror fans, meanwhile, are sure to remember Page’s hysterically accurate response to some supernatural shenanigans in the ‘80s cult classic Mausoleum. While the exaggerated tone here may suggest something akin to the less than PC characterizations of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and others, Page always maintains her control and, by the film’s end, her character seems like one of the smarter ones when it comes to dealing with the film’s bloody antics.

 

Page, who died at the age of 82 in 2002, also made appearances in such favorites as Friday, The Meteor Man and Shakes, the Clown earning her a much deserved and devoted following that continues to this day.

LaWanda Page Shakes

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

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LaWanda Page Mausoleum

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Apollonia

Published July 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Apollonia

After winning Prince’s heart in Purple Rain, the magnificent Apollonia (Kotera) went onto terrorize genre veterans Mark Hamill and Amanda Wyss with her supernatural ways in Black Magic Woman.

Before this occult take on Fatal Attraction, though, this always striking entertainer showed her sweeter side with the fun and energetic Since I Fell For You from her underrated debut album.

A humanitarian who has devoted time to such organizations as GLAAD, Apollonia is working on her memoir and can be followed at https://www.apolloniakotero.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/ApolloniaKoteroOfficial.

Black Magic Woman

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Dorothy Lamour

Published July 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Dorothy LaMour Lulu Belle

For someone held in regard most often for her untouchable beauty, the divine Dorothy Lamour had a surprisingly eclectic career. She jovially accompanied Bob Hope and Bing Crosby throughout the adventurous Road series while also breaking hearts as a love sick gun moll in Johnny Apollo. She was an endangered woman in the appropriately titled Manhandled and was even further victimized as an elderly shop owner in the opening segment of Creepshow II. Damn kids!!

Dorothy La Mour Lulu Belle duoBut she coolly and efficiently turned the tables on the more dominant sex as the advancement minded Lulu Belle in the 1948 film of the same name. Beguiling an up and coming lawyer to assist her in rising above the dusty barroom that she performs in; she soon finds herself bored by the mundane trappings of the life that he can offer. Flirtations with a successful boxer, a night club owner and a distinguished business man soon improve her station.  But ever the fickle minded schemer, she soon finds herself uninterested in the successful Broadway productions that she is starring in and, once again, longs for the honest man that she initially led to ruin.

Framed in flashback style and presented as a bit of a crime mystery, Lamour delights throughout the proceedings here. She nicely adds a bit of heart to her creation, evening out the character’s more self-involved edges. One truly believes that she has feelings for her first love, but just can’t help herself from trying to aim for ever glitterier heights.


Horror Hall of Fame:


Besides Creepshow II, Lamour also showed up in Death at Love House, a fun 1976 supernatural television film, as the former rival of a long-deceased Hollywood movie queen.


Dorothy La Mour Lulu Belle poster

Horror Mash-up: Grace Jones and Eartha Kitt

Published July 2, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

eartha-kitt-robin-givens-halle-berry-eddie-murphy-grace-jones-boomerang

If you ever doubted that an Eddie Murphy movie could offer something special for the gay community, please consider 1992’s Boomerang.

Here Marcus, Murphy’s advertising executive (not so) extraordinary, meets his match when confronted with Eartha Kitt’s sexually adventurous beauty queen Lady Eloise and Grace Jone’s unstoppable super model Strangé. Seeing both of these icons onscreen at the same time is an incredible delight and worth the film’s 117-minute running time. As always, these two are forces of nature and they command the proceedings whenever they are featured. scene 2

While Jones and Kitt’s outsider status automatically appeals to both the queer and the horror crowds, each of them actually do have some genre credits between them. Jones magnificently brought the title enchantress of Vamp to life while Kitt dove into the frenzied antics of Old Lady Hackmore in Earnest Scared Stupid, cult classics, depending on who you ask, both.

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

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grace jones boomerang

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Della Reese

Published June 28, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Della Reese

Much grittier than her Touched By An Angel persona may have suggested, the amazingly eclectic Della Reese had a vast, multi-leveled career. Her extensive credits even include an appearance in Psychic Killer, a horror effort directed by B-movie stalwart Ray Danton, the one time husband of Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams.

Audiophiles meanwhile have embraced One More Time, a mid-60s recording effort that finds Reese at the peek of her performing powers.

A more sensual Reese is discovered on her interesting cover of Bob Dylan’s Lay, Lady, Lay, as well.

Proving herself to be a performer of many moods and textures, Reese is eternally honored at https://dellareese.com/.

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

Psychic-Killer-Neville-Brand-Della-Reese

Reese with Neville Brand in Psychic Killer

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Pride Month Crush – Michael Philip

Published June 27, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Michael CharmedGrowing up in a small farm town of 600 in the ‘80s, most of my crush material was derived from soap opera broadcasts and late-night horror flicks on HBO. Oftentimes, there was cross pollination of the genres – Steve Bond (General Hospital, The Prey), Brian Matthews (The Young and the Restless, The Burning), Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th, Guiding Light), Christopher Goutman (The Prowler, Search for Tomorrow), David Oliver (Another World, The Horror Show), David Wallace (Days of Our Lives, Mortuary) and so many others significantly participated in both mediums.

The grave voiced Michael Philip, who played Donna Logan’s bad boy boyfriend Mark Mallory for a year on The Bold and the Beautiful, was one of my favorites of that era. With his smooth chest, masculine demeanor and deep vocal rhythms, he seemed like perfect fantasy husband material to me.

His follow-up appearances since that dramatic heyday have been sporadic, but truly unique. He pops up as a depression era protestor in the Roger Corman produced Big Bad Mama II and hosted the short-lived science fiction series Welcome to Paradox, as well. His distinctive qualities also found outlets in such comedies as Married…with Children and Police Academy: The Series. Michael Frday

Television terror aficionados are sure to recognize him from his appearances on Friday the 13th: The Series and Charmed, as well. As a murderous lifeguard beguiled by a body swapping amulet in The Long Road Home (3/15), he quickly met his end on F13:TS. His screen time as Stefan (main photo), an essence evaporating photographer, on Charmed was a bit more significant and fans of that show hold him in high regard as one of that popular production’s wiliest demons.

In the years since, Philip has continued his career as a successful voice over artist, business man and father…and would probably be very happy to know that I still own that 8×10 that he sent me decades ago!

Michael Autograph

 

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

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In Remembrance: Joseph Alan Johnson

Published June 25, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Joseph Main

Joseph Alan Johnson is the perfect Pride Month horror film icon. As an actor, he appeared in such ‘80s low budget efforts as the classic The Slumber Party Massacre, Berserker, which recently received a deluxe reissue by Vinegar Syndrome, and Iced, which he wrote and appeared in with his beloved TSPM co-star Debra De Liso, A few years in Europe resulted in credits with some of the masters of the giallo art form, as well.

His greatest work may have been on the stages of professional theaters in Florida, though. Settling in Saint Petersburg to attend to the needs of his ailing parents, Johnson wrote a number of plays that revolved around his experiences as a gay man in the arts and as a proud member of the LGBTQIA community. His works were often comedies, but also truly celebrated the heart and soul and the wonderful fluidity of the queer community.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/performingarts/after-misadventures-in-hollywood-theater-mainstay-joseph-alan-johnson/1215626/

Joseph, Deb, Me

When I met him in 2013, he was attending his first convention as a celebrity guest. We discovered that we had theater friends in common and had several long chats about life and the arts. In one of our first conversations, he mentioned his disappointment in how his career had unfolded, that he thought his mother had expected him to go much further than he had. I assured him that I thought he had done a lot of fascinating work and by the weekend’s end, he seemed to feel the same. It was nice to watch him discover that while celluloid buffs from all walks of life appreciated his work in TSPM, the film that was being honored at the Cinema Wasteland event that we were at, they also knew about and appreciated his other film efforts, as well.

Upon learning of his unexpected death earlier this month, I was glad to know that he left this particular coil with the knowledge that his body of work was not only appreciated by so many, but that it will also live on for ages to come. It also seemed significant to me that Slumber Party, his most recognized work, has such strong ties to feminism and, with its initial script being penned by the legendary lesbian author Rita Mae Brown, to the gay community, as well.

That is a legacy anyone could be proud of. Thus, let us all hope that he travels to future planes with joy and a true sense of accomplishment guiding his way.

Joseph Autograph

Joseph Alan Johnson (6/25/57-6/10/20)

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

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Great Performances: Maidie Norman

Published June 20, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Maidie MainIf there was anyone who could put the fear into cinema royalty like Bette Davis it was the proudly irreplaceable Maidie Noman. As Elvira Stitt in the classic femme centered horror celebration Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Norman enacted the role of the protector of the crippled Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) with a towering strength. Indeed, the anger that flints Norman’s eyes when Stitt discovers her charge in an emaciated state is enough to make even the most ferocious opponent flinch. Maidie Bette 1

Unsurprisingly, Norman used her advanced theatrical training and keen intellect on set on a regular basis. She often helped represent real life situations by updating racist and stereotypical dialogue on the spot. Even her take on voodoo queen Mama Lou on a second season episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was filled with an unexpected sorrow and vengeful energy. Maidie Man

Because of this defined pedigree, horror fans always welcomed her presence on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Night Stalker. Significantly, the flirtatious energy and general good will that she shared with Tom Atkins in her scenes in Halloween III have made her a deserved fan favorite of that series, as well.

Maidie H3

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

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