Film

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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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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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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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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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Dagger Cast: Debra Sullivan

Published February 19, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As we arrive upon the February premiere of Netflix’s latest iteration of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it is the pleasure of everyone at Dagger Cast to have the brilliant Debra Sullivan as our latest guest. This skilled actress-writer co-wrote 2013’s money making Texas Chainsaw 3D and she, happily, takes listeners through the creative triumphs & challenges of that process. Thankfully, for theater lovers, Sullivan also gives us some background into her more stage worthy projects & also provides us with the inside scoop on her involvement in Secret Santa, the gonzo-magnetic holiday slasher from Skeleton Crew, & 13 Fanboy, the latest, much talked about Friday the 13th inspired horror homage. 

Memories of Leatherface and utmost creativity await…

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Monique Van Vooren

Published February 8, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Known to most cult movie aficionados as the lusty Baroness Katrin in Paul Morrissey’s deliciously over-the-top Flesh for Frankenstein, the Belgian born Monique Van Vooren had an incredibly eclectic career. She appeared on Broadway in multiple productions over a period of twenty years and such cult television shows as Batman benefited, greatly, from her blonde enthusiasms, as well. In 1958, the same year that she appeared in MGM’s Gigi, one of Vincent Minnelli’s most popular musical spectaculars, she released Mink in Hi-Fi, a delightfully slinky LP of sexually charged standards and foreign language wonders.

Nicely, the energy Van Vooren supplied to her celluloid and sonic adventures also seemed to apply to her life. She was 92 years old when she passed away on January 25th, 2020, an indication, one presumes, of a life well lived.

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

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Cinematic Memories: Jaws 3D

Published January 30, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

The day was almost ruined. I had been helping my dad scrape a building in downtown Randolph during the summer holidays. As had, feverishly, been planned for weeks, I was taking my first paycheck from this paint-for-hire experience to buy new school clothes and check out Jaws 3D with my mother. My excitement over this cinematic prospect was unquantifiable – I was nearly bursting out of my (as of yet, thankfully, unblemished) skin with excitement. The fact that my mom, usually so adverse to my horror film eccentricities, seemed so down for this particular movie going adventure was merely the toothy star atop of an already glittering tree. I had a feeling that stopping off to visit my dad on site before taking off for this unprecedented adventure was a mistake, but my mother wanted to check in with him before we left.

“Brian,” my dad ventured, swinging, as sweat pealed down his frame, around from the ladder propped up against the building, “would you mind rescheduling your outing today and help me here, instead? I’ve really gotten behind.” My face, shattering like candy glass, was all the answer that he needed…he sighed, seemingly giving into the inevitable, and turned to continue scraping. Still, it didn’t feel like I was quite out of the woods yet. Tension ricocheting through me, I promised him I would help him out the next day, all day long, if necessary, if only I could keep this long-planned excursion on track as scheduled. Finally excused with a reluctant paternal nod, my mother and I gratefully took off.

But once at the theater – more trouble, doggedly, loomed. This being a month or so before I got contacts (and thus discovering a fragile, fully clung to sense of outer beauty), I was still wearing the plexiglass thick glasses that I had been outfitted with by a local, un-fashion forward thinking optometrist. Bullets seemingly could have bounced off those suckers, & for the first 15 minutes of Jaws 3D, any dual dimensional celluloid waves couldn’t penetrate through their dense fibroids either. But finally, after many moments of seeing what amounted to mimeographed variations of Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong and Louis Gossett Jr, I was able to adjust the theater provided lenses properly and finally, sweet celluloid goddess, the extra image proportions began to pop out towards me in the theater the way that they were supposed to! Perhaps then, though, the true disappointment began. Even at the impressionable age of 15 (coupled with those many weeks of pent-up anticipatory excitement), once things leveled out, I was aware I wasn’t watching a good movie or even a so-bad-it’s-good venture. Scenes seemed to be thrown together hastily —- Did Gossett have an accent in one scene and not in another?  — and long stretches concentrated on the training of a pair of squeaking, personality-less dolphins. 

But there was a thrilling sequence involving a group of people being trapped in an underwater structure while the shark raged only a thin aquarium wall or so away. The expected plot points were there, as well – officials more worried about $$ than people’s safety, an ineffectual expert brought into control the situation, and, as a budding gore buff, the sight of a fish-lacerated hand floating through the navy-blue brine definitely filled my sadistic heart with glee. At the time, of course, the experience was so deeply won that, much like Kelly Ann, Lea Thompson’s perky aquatic show girl in the film, I felt like I couldn’t be anything less than enthusiastic about my enjoyment – especially in front of my father, who dutifully asked about the experience upon our return home. My praise for the sequel then was most assuredly over enthusiastic. But still, nostalgia—-and those brief moments of genuine horrific tension that the show did manage to produce – make this a treasured cinematic memory to this day. 

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Lillian Roth

Published January 25, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Emoting, authentically, across smoky nightclub aisles and golden Broadway stages, legendary chanteuse Lillian Roth often lived an existence as stormy as the torch songs that she was best known for performing. So potent were her misfortunes that her autobiography, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, was made into a popular movie starring Susan Hayward, one of the grand dames of stormy melodrama.

Roth, incidentally, had a heathy filmography in her own right. Genre enthusiasts, in fact, have much to cheer about over her celluloid glories. Besides co-starring with The Marx Brothers in the Pre-Code comic adventure Animal Crackers, she also portrayed Barbara Stanwyck’s aggressive yet full hearted cellmate in 1933’s jail yard drama, Ladies They Talk About (photos below).  Decades later, she authoritatively essayed a pathologist in Alfred Sole’s Alice, Sweet, Alice, a film that has, rightfully, gone onto be one of the most impressive examples of subversive ‘70s horror.

On that set, Sole recalled Roth talking about her various ups and downs. She claimed then that one of her lowest points was when she had to take a job waiting tables where the tunes she had immortalized were often played on the juke box. Mercifully, the clientele had no idea who she was.

But, thankfully, due to the multiple glories of YouTube and film festivals, new generations are now able to appreciate her artistry. Indeed, this trailblazer, the epitome of the glamorization of the golden age of song, deserves to be focused on and fondly remembered.

For the curious, more details on Roth’s life are laid out at Lillian Roth | Jewish Women’s Archive (jwa.org)

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Roberta Flack

Published January 10, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

With 3 kids to care for on schoolteacher salaries, my parents were only occasional, bargain bin record collectors. Thus, a random Elvis, Brenda Lee or Beach Boys album might, infrequently, be found floating throughout the family area as I grew up. I was fascinated most, though, by my dad’s copy of Roberta Flack’s Quiet Fire. The cover of this LP seemed to suggest maturity and strength, a wave of artistic expression that I would only begin to understand as I grew older. This youthfully imagined, hushed sophistication has rightfully defined much of Flack’s gorgeous output. 

But anyone who has listened to her joyous take on Gwen Gutherie’s God Don’t Like Ugly knows that she also can embrace a joyful place of popishness. Other surprises loom due to the placement of her songs in such celluloid projects as Body Rock, Killer Condom and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Interestingly, on that same cinematic track, her classic recording Killing Me Softly was recently used to potent effect in the very popular neo-slasher offering Fear Street: Part One – 1994

That song is a classic, tucked securely into the pantheon of top tunes via The Fugees’ incredibly popular 1996 cover, but Flack also brings immeasurably intense beauty to lesser-known tunes, such as Jimmy Webb’s I’ll See You Then, the closing song of QF’s first side.

More on this 84 year old genius can always, visually and sonically, be found at http://www.robertaflack.com, as well.

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Lupe Velez

Published January 3, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Full of flirty tartness, the dazzling Lupe Velez often played stereotypically fiery women who, either by plotted extravagance or accidental circumstance, were often up to no good. 

Best known for the Mexican Spitfire series, a comedic celluloid odyssey that ran for seven films, Velez often outshone her seasoned co-stars, the likes of which included The Wizard of Oz’s Frank Morgan and legendary jokesters Laurel & Hardy. She gave comic maestro Jimmy Durante a run for his money in three films, as well. In particular, 1934’s Strictly Dynamite found her in fine form. 

Here, as the beautiful yet talent challenged Vera Mendez, she spins the world of Durante’s rascally Moxie around and around with her shrewd machinations. Determined to dim his star wattage and claim it for herself, Mendez seduces Moxie’s innocent joke writer Nick (Norman Montgomery), monopolizing him at all night parties and whisking him off to Vegas for glitter strewn dinners. Gamely portraying her character’s malicious acts with a brightly humorous edge, Velez seems to especially enjoy enacting Velez’s catty interactions with co-star Marian Nixon. Nixon, as Nick’s adoring wife Sylvia, is the prime victim of Mendez’s machinations and, although all is played in a broad shouldered, farce like fashion, Nixon’s hurt strung gestures sell her rival’s cruelty with an emotional punch.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Velez, whose tempestuous real life romances spelled her doom (via her suicide in 1944 at the age of 35), supplied the stereotypical native girl impersonation in 1932’s Kongo, a grisly Island of Dr. Moreau take-off. Though Lupe is given top billing, the film really focuses on the morbid trials and tribulations placed upon her very blonde co-star Virginia Bruce (The Invisible Woman). 

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

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