Exploitation

All posts in the Exploitation category

The Resonance of The Centerfold Girls

Published May 24, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Even the sleaziest exploitation fare can often resonate with audiences, powerfully exposing truths about the ominous travails of the world. A recent viewing of 1974’s The Centerfold Girls, a truly nasty, episodic look at the sadistic assaults upon a series of magazine models, revealed that how society felt about sexually liberated women & their personal freedoms in the ‘70s hasn’t really changed at all. 

Unfolding in three vignettes as the murderously (im)moral Clement Dunne (Andrew Prine) effectively does away with a group of women who have posed nude, this sticky, raw underbelly of a film highlights a patriarchy that wants to control every aspect of the feminine experience. Simultaneously, they reserve the right to punish any unbending femme for their independent thoughts, especially those pertaining to matters of an intimate nature. 

Often tough to watch, the film ultimately does, almost gloriously, expose this hypocrisy. In the opening story, a grizzled small town, blue collar worker played by old school Hollywood vet Aldo Ray sneers at the life choices of a cover girl-nurse, effectively played by future soap opera icon Jaime Lyn Bauer. Despite his wrongheaded disdain, he still aggressively pursues an intimate relationship with her character, echoing almost exactly the attitudes of contemporary Republicans and right to lifers who look at women as nothing more than sacks of lifeless meat. 

Thankfully, In the third tale a stewardess played by cult goddess Tiffany Bolling takes certain stage. Prefiguring the reign of the final girl by about 6 years, she ends Prine’s misogynistic agenda in a starkly poetic tableau. This outcome, hopefully, proves that the filmmakers, somewhere deep within their grindhouse hearts, actually believed in the beautiful resilience and strength of women and ascertained that, eventually, the evil of all rigidly controlling men would be, gloriously, undone. Ultimately, one can only aspire for this to be our fate in the real world, as well.

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

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Getting Fearless with Freddy’s Nightmares’ Magnetic Liz Keifer

Published November 29, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

This past summer, I was asked to do a Freddy’s Nightmares retrospective for Grave Face Records annual Halloween magazine. This assignment gave me the chance to talk with actress Liz Keifer, who played the dual role of Kim/Tania on a second season episode of the anthology series entitled Interior Loft. Keifer, best known for playing Blake Marler on Guiding Light, was an eclectic soap hopper, playing everything from the heroic best friend to misunderstood villainesses on a variety of shows (General Hospital, One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives) with zest and skill. She also brought her empathetic flair to a multitude of iconic nighttime programs like Full House and Married…with Children. During our conversation about her work on Nightmares, we dove into the psychological underpinnings of the character she played, a young author whose husband encourages her to record messages for a sexually oriented 1-800 number. It was a fascinating and important chat about the emotional truth of that role and how abusive that relationship reads now in a (hopefully) more enlightened age. Since only a portion of the chat was used for its original intent, I decided to reproduce the entirety of our heart-to-heart here for everyone’s enjoyment. It should give you much to think about, particularly in how genre work can provide a much deeper context to our lives than may be immediately apparent.

BGHF: Hi Liz! I am so excited to talk with you about this. What are your first thoughts when you revisit your experience working on Freddy’s Nightmares?

LK: I remember an intense two weeks of shooting. Wow! That was a lot. I remember the continuity people trying to keep track of who I was. Was I the character in the book? Who was I? …and all the different men who kept coming through…and the killing!

B: Ha! Your character certainly did some of that! Were you aware of the A Nightmare on Elm Street phenomenon at the time of filming?

L: No. I wasn’t. I was aware of the films. I had not seen them in the movie theaters. When did the films come out?

B: The first one was in the mid-80s. Then with the sequels in the late ’80s and early ’90s, they really took on a cultural momentum.

L: Yeah. I kind of missed that. I don’t know what was going on. I was off busy doing musicals or something!

B: Soaps! You were doing soap operas!

L: Yeah. I was doing soaps. (laughs) I was busy learning lines. So, I was not aware of the huge impact. I just remember the breakdown for the character. They were looking for a Michelle Pfeiffer type. They wanted somebody who could play a dual role. I was like – They are never going to cast me. I remember thinking that. But…I seemed to do that well throughout my twenties, playing the dual personality. The good girl-bad girl. I can go both places and I seem to have made a career out of playing a good girl who did bad things. (laughs) I got away with a lot.

B: Blake on Guiding Light always seemed to be messing up her relationships, sleeping with the wrong person…

L: Yeah… but with good intentions always. Like the nun (on General Hospital) who was psychotic…going crazy, falling in love with her brother!

B: Well…speaking as a very, very lapsed Catholic, I believe to be a nun, there has to be a little psychosis present, no matter what the circumstances!

L: (Laughing) This is a true. It really wasn’t a far stretch. So, no, back to your question I really wasn’t aware. I was just interested in the meatiness of the role.

B: Which there is plenty of! So, how did you approach the more sensitive aspects of the role? There is a lot going on there.  

L: We all knew we were telling a story. It starts with that – plus I have to say, what the outside never sees, is the crew. There is always a huge crew there. And for the most part, most crews have been really supportive…and for some reason, I have been able to magnetize really great sets – sets where crew guys are almost protective of me. I’ve really been lucky that way. I do remember that there was this humorous game going on with this particular crew. I think it’s called clipping. I think that’s the name for it. It’s when you take the clothes pins that they use for their equipment, to clip wires together and that type of thing. It’s part of the tool kit for the crew, the camera guys…the sound guys. But the object was to clip people’s backs – to get the pins onto their wardrobe or their clothes without them knowing – to do it with a sense of stealth. During rehearsals, one day, they managed to put three of them on my back and I didn’t know! Nobody said anything. But after a while, I was feeling this kind of energy – like I’m in on a joke, but I don’t know what the joke is. It was this game to see how many clips that they could clip to the back of my sweater. That made me one of the crew! There is levity to that. I didn’t know that game existed. But from that point on, I did!! (laughs) Ever since then, I’ve been on the look-out for it! But that was my initiation! It was a bonding game. It is things like that that have always grounded sets with levity and humanity. We’re in it together and this is all a game! I have to say that is helpful to balance out those dark places. I do remember that I was game to go to those dark places. But after a while…it was not something I wanted to make a career of. It was super dark. That scene where I talk to him with him as he was being poisoned…where the character explains it, minute by minute. That was intense…and a little scary that I could just go there.

B: You have a very calm, serene quality in that scene. You made a very interesting choice to perform those moments with a chilling matter-of-factness.

L: Oh, just make it like…oh look what’s happening right now. Hmm…

B: Like the character was taking notes for the next novel!

L: This is going to happen. That is going to happen. As if it were nothing more than an experiment for me…like he was some sort of insect that I was experimenting on. That was kind of the feel of it. Yeah, you know, it was intense. It was intense.

B: It was almost like a 3 person play, each act of the episode. Did you spend a lot of time rehearsing with other actors to achieve that intimacy?

L: There was just the regular amount of time – which would be that day, the day of shooting. So, it certainly wasn’t like other projects, like theater projects where there would be six weeks of rehearsal. Film is like that. I had the different characters mapped out. I had a timeline in my head, a very strong sense of life and the work and everything. It’s important that you come to the table with the arc of where you’re going and that you keep track of your character, be mindful of where she’s going. They were very helpful with that, too. You just did it scene by scene…so it was the day of rehearsal type of thing. I guess I am so used to soap operas where there is no time, so any time that I get more than a couple of shots at it, I’m thinking that I’m indulging.

B: Interesting. Was there any one that you used as inspiration for Tania?

L: No. There was nobody that I can think of. If there was, I don’t remember. I just think that it was so far from me that I looked at it as an opportunity to play the flip side of the coin. It wasn’t who I was! Usually I’m the Midwestern “You’re so cute, stay that way!” type. When I grew up, everyone was telling me to stay cute. So, I think it was just the opportunity to play the shadow side of that. Let me be something that’s not cute! In a way, it might have been therapeutic, at the time. I was awfully young when I was doing that.

B: That’s the wonderful thing about the arts…you get to work those things out.

L: True! You get to play these little sub personalities. They’re maybe just a little part of you, but you get to expand them. They get to take over. They get to direct us. It’s kind of fun. It is fun! You know it’s not real. When I watched it now, I was a little – oof! – the lingerie and all that! It was a little creepy. And the 976 number. The fact that husband wanted me to do that to make money…I see where it just messed with her psyche…that he would want her to do that. I can’t…that is nobody that I would like to be married to.

B: Exactly! I found him questionable even in that beginning moment. He is totally uninterested in her, sexually, until she pretends to be someone else – a seductive stranger inviting him for a romp.

L: I saw that, too! It kind of filled me with rage. Wait a second! She comes down and makes it like it’s this clever surprise. Oh, my god! He thought it was somebody else! I guess she’s got some issues to work out, too! Yeah, that was really not a good foundation for a healthy marriage, I’d say.

B: Hence, Freddy was able to intervene with her…in whatever mystical and mysterious way that the producers and writers decide that he intervenes on the show!

L: True! It was an opening to intervene. That’s what it was! That’s what I thought. Here’s the opening for him to invade with that poison. They were open for it! This was not an empowering scenario for the woman.

B: Not at all! It kind of gave me Basic Instinct vibes – I checked the dates and this episode was done a number of years before that, though. You were ahead of the curve on that show!

L: Yeah! I was tapping into something else!

B: Is it surprising to you that all these years later that people like myself are still interested in this show and your work on it?

L: Yes…and no. I have found that I have been part of some shows that have just been iconic. I did an episode of Full House that, to this day, still makes my kids the most popular kids on campus. I was on this one episode where I kissed everybody. I was Jesse’s girlfriend…I was everybody’s girlfriend. So, I seemed to have hit on some shows that are now hitting the next wave of pop culture. There’s an obsession with it. My daughter is in her early 20s and she’s obsessed with ‘80s movies. I forget that they didn’t grow up with that. So, for them, they are seeing it with brand new eyes. So, I don’t know. I think that everything has its way of coming around. I’m curious what the Freddy’s Nightmares segment might find in it. Why is that its intriguing for you?

B: I’ve always looked at horror as reflecting the times we are living in and I think there is so much diversity in it. As a gay man and a self-described feminist, that is so important to me.  Despite an abundance of inadequacies, horror still has such strong female characters. Even with Kim/Tania in your episode. She kind of turns the tide and winds up being the one who revels in revenge and vengeance. It may be twisted in a way, but it’s still powerful.

L: Yes! it is twisted, but it’s a part of her that is taking over to protect her. She’s realized that what has happened to her – what her husband did to her – isn’t right. This was not right what happened. What you were supporting and suggesting and pushing me/her to do. It was like she was restoring a sense of justice – restoring her autonomy. It is a female comeuppance. Because it does make you cringe. I was cringing when I watched that relationship. It was like, “Oh, god!” And at the time, I didn’t know anything about relationships – so probably everything around me was dysfunctional. So, I was probably just like, yeah, yeah, yeah…this is it! It was a reflection of what you’ll accept and now the narrative is completely different! Thank god! Like my daughter would go, “That’s just crazy!!”

B: And she would be right.

L: Yeah! She would be right. In fact, when watching it I was like, “God, I hope my kids don’t see this!” I just forgot how creepy that part of it was. Then I was looking at it as this meaty role. I just got to play something completely different. It’s very interesting about how we change.

B: It is. I have a technical question now. There was some glass exploding in one of the bathroom scenes you are in. Do you recall how that was done to keep you safe?

L: Oh, there’s always stunt men. I was looking at that scene, too. I don’t even think I was there. I think they pulled me out when the glass was breaking. And there is a way that they shoot that kind of stuff. I’ve always found that fascinating. I love that stuff! That stuff is so much fun. I love the behind the scenes info – how they make the illusion happen. They make it look like I’m in it, but I’m not. It’s just a long shot. So, I don’t recall ever feeling in danger. It was a good crew. There is always some sort of stunt guy that protects you and it was probably special glass, too. Sugar glass…nothing that would cut you.

B: But you have cut your teeth on a strong variety of roles throughout your careers, a true testament to your talent.

L: Thank you. It was fun. I enjoyed playing different types of roles. I was very fearless about playing comedy. With Married…with Children, I was like, “I’ll go there!” I loved playing. I’m very good at looking at the tone of a show and I can match it. I can go big and I can go quiet. I find that very interesting, It’s just like playing different notes on a piano to me. I can go there!

B: Speaking of going there, Rising Storm, your big action film opus, is now available for viewing on YouTube.

L: It is? No kidding! Yeah. (laughs) That was going to make me a movie star. That was a lot of fun. June Chadwick, who played my sister, was just lovely. My character in that was Blaise March. I saw her as a cross between Goldie Hawn and Sigourney Weaver. That was where I was going with that. I just loved that – walking around with a machine gun! I had to run down a flight of stairs and, at the bottom of the stairs, I had to shoot this shotgun. I had to shoot a lock off. They basically said, “Just come down and shoot at it. Then we’ll cut and put in the special effects. That’ll be the shot of the lock being blown off, so don’t worry about it!” So, I came running down, pumped the gun and I shot at the lock and I blew it right off. I did it without any special effects! They couldn’t believe it. So, that was fun! I thought I was pretty bad-ass.

B: I have to agree with that assessment. I could never do that.

L: I had never done any work with guns before. So, I thought, “Oh, wow! I must be good at this! So, don’t give me a real one! I might like it!”

B: That’s what I think is so great about genre films…even as an exploitative genre, they have so much to offer women. Where else can someone play a bad-ass neurosurgeon with a vigilante fetish or a nuclear scientist-fashion model who saves the world? They are silly, but so powerful in their own way, as well.

L: I love that perspective. That’s great!

Speaking of great…you can always keep up with Liz’s amazing life and further ventures (including career coaching) at https://www.lizkeifer.com/.

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

http://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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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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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Dionne Warwick

Published January 3, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Proving herself to be the progressive Twitter queen of 2020, the beyond brand Dionne Warwick was formerly best known for her iconic run of silky ‘60s Burt Bacharach-Hal David hits. Several of those unforgettable songs have wound up in such horror and science fiction projects as The Birdbox and Black Mirror. Interestingly, Warwick also sang the (almost ironically romantic) theme song for the Morgan Fairchild slasher-cult classic The Seduction.

Warwick’s prime sense of fun also found its place in her quick appearance in the original Men in Black and with her funky take on songs like (the Luther Vandross produced) Got A Date.

2021 is sure to provide even more wonder from this 80-year-old dynamo. To stay on track, be sure to check her out at Music | Dionne Warwick (officialdionnewarwick.com) and Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) / Twitter.

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

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Lesbians in Horror: Human Experiments

Published October 8, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Human Experiments

Long before Angela Bettis’ quirky May, Buffy’s beloved Willow and even The Hunger’s sensuous Miriam Blaylock, there were lesbian characters in horror. As an example, acclaimed indie actress Wesley Marie Tackett tackled the role of Jimmy in the odd 1979 WIP-mad scientist terror offering Human Experiments. Despite the biases of the time, Tackett fully embraces all of Jimmy’s rough and often predatory edges.

But as much as one has to acknowledge Tackett’s courage and skill in bringing forth all of the antagonist nature of this perennial inmate, it is also important to make a historical note of how damaging characters like Jimmy were/are to societal understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQIA community as a whole. A woman who tries to terrorize another woman into acts of sex only highlights the perceived perversion of our culture. Thankfully, roles that demonize the gay community are further and farther between…but we still have such a long (and hopefully creatively bountiful) way to go.

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

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YouTube, Sybil, God’s Gun and Shock Cinema!

Published August 30, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Sybil Gods Gun photo

YouTube has become a treasure trove for the cinema enthusiast. Full genre movies abound for free viewing on the service. This gift gives genre devotees an avenue to discover how certain entertainers have bypassed boundaries – working in the worlds of horror, European exploitation and comedy (among many others) throughout different phases of their careers.

The recent discovery of God’s Gun, a unique Italian-Israeli western featuring an eclectic cast (Lee Van Cleef, Sybil Danning, Jack Palance, and Leif Garrett) is proof of this theory. All of these performers have worked in a number of categories. Danning, in particular, has worked in everything from Giallo projects (The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) to thrillers (Bluebeard, Nightkill) to big budget comedy (How to Beat the High Cost of Living) and action adventure franchises (The Three Musketeers, The Concorde…Airport ‘79). Nicely, I was lucky enough to have this eclectic performer share remembrances of her cinema adventures with me in an invaluable interview in this past winter’s edition of Shock Cinema magazine (http://shockcinemamagazine.com/ ). Anyone interested in what it was like to create in a world where Michael and Ilya Salkind hosted huge cast parties and also revels in discovering what it was like to manage life on faraway locations with ever dwindling funds will truly appreciate the celluloid memories that Danning shares in this seven and a half page feature. Back issues can be purchased at http://shockcinemamagazine.com/backissues.html.

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Her website is always active at http://www.sybildanning,net, as well…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Straight Edge Kegger

Published August 20, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

SEK Duo

Too much of a good thing can be deadly. Just ask me after I’ve eaten too many of those chocolate frosted cake donuts from the corner 7-11. Meanwhile, writer-director Jason Zink explores how honorable intentions can turn eviseratingly militant in his survivalist horror effort Straight Edge Kegger.

Here, our hero Brad (Cory Kays) has started to grow tired of the violent antics of James (Julio Alexander), his straight edge brother in arms. While once James had protected the streets and defended the innocent, he now uses his leadership to violently squash anyone behaving in a way that he doesn’t like. Thus, Brad falls under the influence of a happy go lucky party hound named Sean (Sean Jones). When James discovers that Brad is attending a house rave with his newfound companion, he and his crew set out to punish their former associate with maniacal precision. Locking down the home, they soon are brutally killing off the formerly blissful drunk and drugged revelers. It is up to Brad, who understands James’ mindset, Sean and Maybe (Evey Reidy), a girl that Brad has developed a crush on, to find a way to defeat the unrepentant slaughterers before they join the other unfortunate victims of James’ murderous rage. SEK Main

Nicely, akin to Chris Moore and his 2018 savagely fun effort Triggered, Zink skillfully exposes how being too extremist in one’s views is never a good thing, no matter the intentions. Ultimately, James, magnetically played by Alexander, and his throng remind one of our current political leaders whom have established a social landscape where aggressive behavior is encouraged against anyone falling outside of the straight, white norm.SEK 1.jpg

As with many genre exercises, one does have to let go of disbelief a bit as James and his crew make their way steadily through both punk rock celebrants and law enforcement officials with ease. But the gore is swift and vicious and executed with a sense of glee. The performances, particularly those of Kays and Alexander, are also solid, making this low budget offering both a thrilling exploitation ride and a potentially powerful think piece, as well.

More information on Straight Edge Kegger is available at https://www.facebook.com/StraightEdgeKegger/.

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

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Windy City Horrorama

Published April 12, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Robot Ninja

Chicago is home to many amazing film events. From the multiple festivals originating from the Terror in the Aisles crew to the Music Box Massacre, there are a wide variety of genre happenings for cinema enthusiasts to embrace. One of the newest and most exciting homegrown productions is The Windy City Horrorama, now entering its second year.

Last year’s activities included an anniversary screening of Jason Goes to Hell, with director Adam Marcus in attendance, along with a multitude of premiere screenings. The upcoming edition will also feature special guests including indie legend J.R. Bookwalter, appearing with a celebratory screening of Robot Ninja, and Rodman Fletcher, the director of the much beloved terror comedy Idle Hands.

But WCH is truly making its mark as being a special place for outrageous indie and foreign splatterfests. If titles like Straight Edge Kegger, The VelociPaster and Mutant Blast catch your gore seeking eyeballs, then you won’t want to miss this enthusiastic celebration, which begins a three day residency at the historic Davis Theater in Lincoln Square on Friday, April 26th.

More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/pg/windycityhorrorama/ and www.windycityhorrorama.com.

I hope to see you there and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Trailer: Kicking Zombie Ass For Jesus

Published December 7, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

kzafj

There is probably no better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of George Romero’s insanely influential Night of the Living Dead than by welcoming a new cinematic twist on the undead oeuvre. With a leading cast of characters highlighted by a powerful trans woman and a take no prisoners lesbian, Israel Luna’s Kicking Zombie Ass For Jesus is surely the most likely entry to fit that bill!

Almost guaranteed to join Luna’s Ticked Off Trannies With Knives and Fright Flick as a must-see venture, you can keep up with all of ZAFJ’s ghoulish antics at https://www.facebook.com/KickingZombieAssForJesus/.

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

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