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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Anne Murray

Published November 17, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

I sometimes create imaginary cabaret shows in my head as I bike around the city of Chicago. Often, I will choose to wrap-up these dream acts with Anne Murray’s mellow classic I Just Fall in Love Again, utilizing it not as romantic ballad but as a peon of thanks to my nonexistent yet totally enthusiastic audience.  You see, I grew up in Murray country. ABBA, for example, means nothing to me. But Anne, the queen of soft rock and ultra-sophisticated country, was often crooning softly in the AM decorated background of my extremely formative years. 

Thus, the inclusion of her classic Could I Have This Dance in last fall’s Halloween Ends felt like a coming home moment for me. The fact that this song was used to emphatically capture the death scenes of the movie’s gay couple, Big John and Little John, made it even more impactive – the roots of my closeted youth and my loud ‘n proud adulthood finally shaking firm hands.

Bittersweetly for her long-term fans, Murray, who runs a charity outfit – https://annemurraycentre.com – has been retired from music for a while now. But her smokey tones & smooth delivery eternally live on – in Haddonfield and beyond!

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

In Remembrance: Leslie Jordan

Published November 9, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

At one point in his one man show Like a Dog on Linoleum, LGBTQIA icon Leslie Jordan recalled his desperate, unreturned affection for a young Romanian hustler. The two had met while Jordan was on location for a low budget horror film called Madhouse. As the actor, open heartedly and honestly, poured out his sorrow about never having been really loved, I felt my soul reach out in a true connection with him.

The year was 2006 and I was in my late 30s. My one long term relationship had ultimately turned out to be more of an intense friendship on my end…and even that confusing partnership had ended almost 12 years previously. It seemed that, much like Jordan, I, too, was to remain luckless when it came to love. I couldn’t have fully admitted that then, of course. Indeed, it has taken well over a decade for me to reach that kind of honesty with myself. Still, Jordan’s brave reflection has stayed with me over the years.

That sense of truth, poignantly peeking out from beneath the floorboards of his often-flamboyant comic energy, is what ultimately endeared this diminutive performer to the public over the years. Thus, his unexpected death at the age of 67 this past October hit the world harder than many other celebrity passings. The horror community, in particular, felt this loss. While his most loved role was probably that of Shelby in Jason Goes to Hell, one of the Friday the 13th universe’s many sequels, he also added his singular spark to such projects as American Horror Story, Frankenstein General Hospital, Undead or Alive and Fear Inc.

Interestingly, his work in the Friday film, which was released in 1993, hinted at the more openly specific work that he would, passionately, do in the future. There, romantically paired against Rusty Schwimmer’s towering Joey, he seemed to be helping act out the small town reality of many gay folks. This unusual couple registered, caringly, as two people performing a lifetime commitment to each other as beards for each other’s true sexual identities. It was a loving relationship, for sure, but one that reeked of mutual assistance in a world that wasn’t quite ready to accept people for who they actually were. I know I felt a spark of recognition watching them onscreen. I am sure I was not alone in that fact.

30 years ahead of his time, Jordan left this world far too quickly. I can only hope that towards the end of his life he felt some of the romantic love that he so richly deserved. Ever open minded, I wish the same for myself in the days and years ahead. as well.

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

Review: Bride of the Killer Piñata

Published November 2, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

At the end of the premiere screening of Bride of the Killer Piñata, Angry Mule Films’ latest homegrown horror movie sensation, I got stopped in the aisles by an acquaintance. When you’re gay, people assume you always want to talk about penis and, latching onto that thought spectrum, this fellow film buff was immediately chuckling about one of the film’s very outrageous, totally fun dick jokes. I’m almost 100% certain that his reasons for finding that sequence humorous were totally different than mine, though. I can almost guarantee you that, as a straight man, he was hooked by that presented hi-jink via the imagined embarrassment, if not outright humiliation, that would envelop him if he were to find himself being attacked by a very dangerous, evil-minded phallus. I, on the other hand, a veteran of the consequences of the mid-thrust, caught completely unawares gag reflex, know that a hard cock can do some serious damage to the body. Thus, that moment’s silliness rang out for me with a different sense of hilarity. I know the cock can kill!

Thankfully, the makers of Bride seem squarely, unintentionally or not, in the camp of making films for those of us in the killer cock crowd. Honoring both the past works of John Waters & modern society’s ever burgeoning fluidity, this fun sequel to 2015’s Killer Piñata, is not only highlighted by its a leading characters, a charismatically flawed lesbian couple, but by the introduction of puppet sex-body domination as a prime erotic expression and a possibly bi-sexual co-lead villain. (See that dick joke for that final thought.)

Plot line-wise, the film finds Lindsay (Eliza-Jane Morris), the first film’s plucky heroine, with a baby daughter and a very disinterested wife (Nat Younger). But when the killer piñata is not only roused from terror flick slumber, but also joined by a female counterpart, this duo, with the engagement of various members of their neighborhood, bands together to defeat them. With outrageous killings, nefarious subplots and the return of beloved characters, with a heartfelt shout-out to Joette Waters’ fabulously arch The Shopkeeper, screenwriters Megan Macmanus & Stephen Tremontana, gleefully, throw everything they can at the audience here. If it feels a bit too much at times, director Tremontana & his cast always amaze with a professionalism and sense of over-the-top style that is miles above and beyond most indie horror film productions. Thus, this whole outing, insightfully produced by Jennifer Kunkel, a proud member of the LGBTQIA community, is highly, highly recommended, guaranteeing audience members of every bent & inclination a truly enjoyable time.

https://www.facebook.com/angrymulefilms

https://www.facebook.com/KillerPinataMovie

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

John Schuck: Inside Herman’s Head

Published October 27, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

This past April, I was lucky enough to have a moment to sit down with versatile, journey man actor John Schuck. Schuck was, very happily, in town (at the Navy Pier) for Thank You For Being a Fan, the first (and hopefully not the last) Golden Girls convention. During our quick time together, he shared wonderful memories of his time working with Rock Hudson, ruminated about his fun relationship with Elizabeth Taylor and, forthrightly, detailed his troubled time portraying one of horror’s most iconic characters, Herman Munster, on the syndicated series The Munsters Today.

B: I’m feeling a bit like Julie Andrews this morning, John, so let’s start at the very beginning! How did your journey towards performing start?

JS: Well, I’ve told this story many times before, so forgive me if you’ve already heard it. When I was 5, I knew all the words and music to Oklahoma. We lived near NY, so for my 6th birthday, my parents took me to see it. That night I left wanting to be an actor. (laughing) Well, maybe a cowboy more than anything else then…but an actor, too.

Why limit yourself? Be both!

But from that time on, that’s what I really wanted to do. I had a couple little side steps, but anytime I applied myself, that is where fate and fortune seemed to lead me. So I assume I did the right thing.

I think audiences around the world can, happily, concur with you on that statement. One of your best-known roles, among the many that you’ve done, has been Sgt. Enright on McMillan & Wife. Can you talk a little about your experiences with Rock Hudson on that project?

He was fantastic. He was one of those people without an ego. We were peers from the first day. We spent 6 years laughing a lot – sometimes too much. He was so easy to work with. Like me, he was always looking for something to make him better. So, during that period of time, he went out and did a tour of John Brown’s Body. He did I Do, I Do with Carol Burnett and he came through Chicago with On the Twentieth Century. So, he was taking on major theatrical parts that not only required speaking but singing…and they weren’t always necessarily commercial pieces either. It turns out I had fly here (to Chicago) to do a Mike Douglas Show. Do you remember that?

Of course! I loved those kinds of shows as a star-struck kid!

For those who don’t know, Mike Douglas had a daily talk show – sometimes it was an hour, sometimes it was an hour and a half. They came to Chicago and produced a show, coincidentally enough, at the end of Navy Pier. They were featuring things like log rolling and crazy stuff like that. But that night, I went to see Roy do On the Twentieth Century here in Chicago and that was just a lovely day.

I would have loved to have seen him perform in that.

So, it was a great six years and we stayed very much in-touch for the next couple of years. I did notice the last time that I had lunch with him that he was a little peaked. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was about. Then I went off to England to do a play with Charlton Heston, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial on the West End. After 4 or 5 months, Heston was going to leave. The producer came to me and said, “Who do you know that might be good to replace him at the star level?’ I said, “Rock Hudson. He would be wonderful playing this giant man crumbling in front you. That would be fantastic!” The producer went to L.A. and came back the following week. I asked, “Did you see Rock?” He said, “No. He’s dying.” That’s how I found out that he had AIDS, Fortunately, he lived until I got home, so I could say goodbye and all that. He was just a wonderful guy. He did not deserve that ending at all.

I’ve been catching up on old TV shows and films, lately. It is just amazing the amount of talent that was lost to that disease. Behind the scenes, there were multitudes of casualties, as well. The similarities between that era and COViD have brought so many lingering memories amongst so many of us in the LGBTQIA community.

Of course. Except this time there is a commonality. There is no shunning now.

Yeah, it’s not just the other now – drug addicts and queers. Its everyone. Speaking of a great every man, as a way to transition the conversation forward, you played a version of a character that has been embraced, heartily, by the horror community. Can we talk about your Herman Munster in The Munsters Today? He’s such a sweet, kind character.

He was. Of course, I couldn’t do the job that Fred Gwynne did. And our show was not really The Munsters. It was shot in front of an audience. It was in color, and it was set in a different time. …and in many ways, it was the worst job I ever had.

Wow. Interesting.

I couldn’t get out of it! It kept getting renewed.

For three years, right?

I think it was 5!

I noticed there was 70 some episodes.

We did a lot! I also think there might have been 80 some filmed. And out of all those shows there might have been 4 or 5 that I was proud of. So, that was something. But the rest was torture. I loved the cast. I loved the people that I worked with.

Well, there was Lee Meriwether as Lily, of course, who is also such a sweet person.

Yes! But that aside, it was the writing. They wrote it like it was a sitcom, but a sitcom for other characters. So every week there were these battles and conflicts…and I’m an easy going guy. I’m not into that. But I was a warrior. They’ve just aged horribly, as well. So, I vowed I would never do a job again just for the money.

Have you held true to that?

Yes!

Good for you!

Out of your epic career – and let me interrupt myself to say congratulations on that, because show business is such a tough road.

It is! It is tough.

Well, I hope you’re proud of yourself that you stayed true and preserved.

Thank you. You know what instills that?

What?

Its shows like this. The Star Trek conventions, The Hollywood Autograph shows… I’ve had people come all the way from France to meet me and tell me how much I meant to them growing up. It really validates you, extraordinarily. And it’s not like I’m some egocentric running around, thinking that I’m incredibly famous. It just makes you feel worthwhile.

Well, those shows you appeared on really mean something. Even a sore point like The Munsters Today must have affected some sick child, helped get them through their day. That is so valuable to society as a whole. Entertainment does save lives!

Right! In fact, I can’t wait to see this audience. (The Golden Girls) is an all-ages phenomenon! My wife and I sat and watched 3 episodes the other night. We were having a ball. It was a lot better than anything else that was on.

Truly! Of your other projects, is there a role that you feel deserves to be explored more by the public?

No. I always felt that I was given proper attention. (Thinking for a moment.)  I was not prepared when Brewster McCloud, the Robert Altman movie, came out. Brewster was the movie that came directly after his version of MASH, which was huge. I remember the day it came out. I went to a theater in Westwood and sat down. There were maybe 15 people there. That was a bit of a disappointment. It’s now become a cult film, so it’s sort of reversed itself. It’s on television all the time now.

Give it a little time and it’ll come back around.

I also did another movie called Hammersmith is Out. It starred Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Beau Bridges, George Raft, Leon Askin, me… I had this love scene on a bed with Elizabeth. (Shaking his head in disbelief.) There I was, right?!? Peter Ustinov directed it. Although, when I say he directed it…He was behind the camera. (Laughing.) But you’d get ready to do a scene and he was doing an imitation of a 1952 Chevy having a nervous breakdown.

Oh, no!

But, anyhow, he was great. And I thought just on sheer star power alone, people were going to go see it. It didn’t happen!

You’ve got to hand it to Elizabeth Taylor, too.  She did some really strange stuff in the ‘70’s – Boom, The Driver’s Seat

Boom! Oh, I forgot about that!

Just some strange, strange stuff.

Yes! Yes! Well, I got a friendship out of Hammersmith with her. So, that was great! I was at a dinner at their house. I arrived. Richard served me a cocktail. Then Elizabeth made an appearance. She said, “Would you like to come into the dining room? Dinner is ready!” We go into this rather large room with this very long table there. The three of us sat at one end. There was a line of chairs along the length of the table, up against the wall. That’s where the kids and the servants sat. They all sat independently, in order to be seen and not heard. My back was to them. On the walls, there were 7 or 8 paintings by Manet and Monet. By this time, Richard was in his cups…he was high and he began to get hostile with Elizabeth. He, first of all, started bitching about the quality of the paintings. These are not the good paintings! Then he started complaining about his birthday present. It had been a rather expensive golf cart which she had bought to be used on their yacht. He was upset because he had asked for a real car. Finally, she turned to me and said, “Is this not the silliest thing that you’ve ever heard? It’s ridiculous to have a yacht…and then to have a car on the yacht!?!” She just kind of fluffed it off. Oh, ha, ha, ha! She was like that. & when Roy got sick, man, she was there in a nanosecond! She repeated the same thing that she had done with Montgomery Clift. A fascinating woman. I loved her. She was great. The last years of her life were not the best either. It was sad. She and Martha Raye, so many others. I don’t know what happens.

You just never know, right? You’ve got to embrace every moment.

True.

Just like I am embracing this one! I know you’ve got to get going soon, so I just want thank you so much for your time. It’s been such a pleasure.

(Humbly.) Well, thank you for letting me babble on.

It was such a pleasure.

It was a pleasure. And I’m here all weekend, so if you need anything else from me – any clarifications or what have you, please let me know.

Will do! Enjoy yourself!

I will!

Be sure to keep on eye out for Schuck’s future work – he, frequently, travels across the country in stage projects…and check out the Thank You for Being a Fan website for information on future events: https://thankyouforbeingafan.com/.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Freda Payne

Published October 9, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Surely inspiring the romantic fantasies of many a young lad throughout the ‘70s, the divine Freda Payne was just as dream worthy in the late ‘90s. That was when the singer-actress played the very kittenish Gran, a voodoo practicing conjurer, in Ragdoll, one of Full Moon’s popular puppet-based terror epics.  Ever dedicated, Payne even composed & sang the film’s fun theme song.

Of course, Payne, whose 1971 album Contact featured a gorgeous gatefold poster of her at her slinky dress wearing prime, is best known for the smash hit Band of Gold. She reprised this 1970 stomper, sixteen years later, as a fun duet with the equally chart worthy Belinda Carlisle. 

Unsurprisingly unstoppable, the still popular Payne is, happily, continuing to give her very glittery best at https://www.fredapayne.com

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

In Memoriam: Robyn Griggs & Anne Heche

Published September 16, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Dying, tragically, within days of each other, former Another World actresses Anne Heche (May 25, 1969 – August 11, 2022) & Robyn Griggs (April 30, 1973 – August 13, 2022) both had strong connections to the world of horror, as well. 

10 years after her popular reign as Maggie Corey on the lauded soap ended, Griggs began appearing in a bevy of zero budget, indie terror epics with titles like Severe Injuries, Slashers Gone Wild!, Demon Divas and the Lanes Of Damnation and Hellweek. Often cast as a villainess, her enthusiasm and love for the genre definitely bled thorough in her performances. Of special note, she gives a delightfully spastic turn as a member of a murderous tribe of ne’er do wells in Hellweek. But Severe Injuries, a feministic take on traditional slasher tropes by Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt of Happy Cloud Pictures, may just be the best of her many scare-based offerings. She also was the force behind her own homegrown horror convention, further proof that her death at 49 from an aggressive form of cancer was a huge loss to the world of genre cinema. 

The projects of Heche, who passed away after a tragic car crash, definitely had a higher mainstream pedigree. But her major terror credit, an almost frame for frame remake of the classic Psycho (1999), was a controversial offering that was, overwhelmingly, ripped apart by critics, who found its existence unnecessary. Still, the film’s queer influence can be highly felt. Gay director Gus Van Sant definitely invests understanding in the film’s outsider themes while giving us the ass shot that John Gavin never would have allowed by recasting his role with the gamely beautiful Viggo Mortensen. His encouraging Julianne Moore (in the Vera Miles role) to dive into her role with a no bullshit Sapphic energy also stands proud while Heche’s wispy beauty here makes one feel the intense attraction that Ellen DeGeneres, who she was involved with at the time, must have felt for her. Counting 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer & 2013’s Nothing Left to Fear among her other genre credits, Heche left behind not only a legacy of great acting work but an advocacy for the LGBTQIA community that has too long been under appreciated. Proclaiming the truth about her three-year love affair with DeGeneres definitely hurt her career and the stony backs that greeted her upon the dissolution of that romance were truly unnecessary- especially for a woman who helped narrow the scope of the public’s prejudices and broaden their overwhelming personal limitations. 

Indeed, both Griggs and Heche have left this coil far too soon. May their AW peers, including such profound talents as Constance Ford, David Oliver, Philece Sampler & Charles Keating, rise among them to assist them to their new planes of existence.

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

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Shark Bait Retro Village: Tainted Blood

Published August 31, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

After facing down mighty dinos (One Million Years B.C.), a dementedly determined Richard Benjamin (The Last of Sheila) and a Sapphic leaning go-go dancer (Flare Up), the beautiful Raquel Welch had definitely proved her resilience. These encounters also enabled her to be more than ready to figure out which young woman suffered from Tainted Blood, in the 1993 USA Network television film of the same name.

Naturally, as investigative reporter Elizabeth Hayes, Welch strikes all the right inquisitive poses as she races against time to figure out whether it is the awkward Lissa (Natasha Gregson Wagner) or the confident, mildly rebellious Tori (Kerri Green) who is the carrier of homicidal hemoglobin and a danger not only to her family but the world at large.

Nicely, Welch is not the only mature diva on display here, circumstances that perfectly level out the exuberant, girlish focus of Green and Wagner. Nighttime soap opera heroine Joan Van Ark blissfully launches into her role of Lissa’s flirtatiously drunk adopted mother, soddenly chewing scenery and very obviously having the time of her life. Alley Mills, best known of late as the quirkily vengeful Pam on The Bold and the Beautiful, meanwhile provides the opposite energy as the caring and attentive Mrs. Patterson, Tori’s chosen guardian. 

Screenwriter Kathleen Rowell also adds a little depth to this ludicrous yet still somehow predictable programmer. She ultimately does a great job of casting suspicion on both of the suspects and, even after things are happily resolved, allows concern to still reside in the viewer’s mind that the survivors of this femme powered onslaught might still be in danger. 

Penny pinchers well also be happy to note that this vehicle is available to watch for free on YouTube and (perhaps) other streaming services, as well.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Hopelessly Devoted to: Marsha Hunt

Published August 24, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Standing true to herself even in the face of hysterical Red Scare blacklisting and multiple physical threats due to her latter-day work with the United Nations, the unstoppable Marsha Hunt often played characters who took no guff from the underside of humanity, as well.

Case in point, as Kate Hazelton in the 1957 B-budget horror Back from the Dead, Hunt displays an unwavering attitude when her character’s sister (the glorious Peggie Castle) is suddenly possessed by the deceased wife of her new husband. As Mandy (Castle) begins acting stranger and stranger, seducing her neighbors and even getting violent with her sibling, Hunt imparts a steadfastness to her characterization, reveling in a sophisticated loyalty and honest sense of determination. 

Of course, even when playing the sacrificial lamb opposite the noble Greer Garson (Blossoms in the Dust) or losing out romantically to the man-stealing Susan Hayward (Smash-Up), Hunt’s performances always had a sense of purpose about them. This attribute makes her not only one of celluloid’s most vibrant figures but one of its most resilient, as well.

Nicely, her incredible life has been lovingly documented in Roger Memos’ powerful cinematic memoir Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity, easily available on a variety of streaming services.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Raquel Welch

Published July 26, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Whether she was fully intriguing the demented Richard Burton in the silly Euro horror Bluebeard or hunting down a homicidal twin as a prize-winning writer in the USA Network’s scientifically gonzo Tainted Blood, the glorious Raquel Welch has always proven herself to be something of a primetime thriller. 

Known for warbling a tune or two on Broadway (Woman of the Year) and television specials (including her own self-titled one), Welch also made a grab for pop stardom in 1987 with the gloriously fun single This Girl is Back in Town

Seemingly only appreciated in the sticky back rooms of gay bars, this track ultimately didn’t do well enough to produce a full album. Thankfully, though, it’s glorious Paul Jabara assisted rhythms live on online and in dusty used record bins everywhere! 

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

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The Horrific Mummification of Nancy Karr

Published July 19, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Being on a soap opera isn’t always glamorous- just ask Ann Flood! Perhaps one of the most elegant and refined daytime performers from the golden era of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Flood played The Edge of Night’s industrious, very lady like reporter Nancy Karr for twenty-two years. One of Flood’s more unusual plot lines, though, found her practically mummified for the majority of its runtime.

While investigating a tip about the true paternity of the offspring of a potential home wrecker, Karr was kidnapped and held hostage at a mysterious spa. The lair of a doctor who performed plastic surgery on high profile criminals, she was soon terrorized and wrapped in bandages to hide her identity by the surgeon’s very villainous thugs. 

Flood, naturally, enacted Karr’s hysteria over these horrific circumstances with justified aplomb. Further fueling the Mansion of the Damned, Poe-like circumstances of the plot, actor (and famed As The World Turns producer) Chris Goutman, who ably portrayed the heroic lead of Joseph Zito’s acclaimed slasher The Prowler, also brought a gleeful villainy to his characterization of Matt Sharkey, one of the goons torturing Karr. His joyously dark enthusiasm imbued the proceedings with a definitive macabre essence, resulting in a gothic adventure that fans of the show never forgot.

Side note: This story also introduced actress Leah Ayres, one of the ‘80s most earnestly recognizable performers, to the series. Best known to horror fans as the lead female camp counselor in The Burning, Ayres’ character Valerie Bryson was the confused offspring of the industrious, face changing doc here. Interestingly, both The Prowler, Goutman’s flick, & The Burning featured top of the line gore effects from the legendary Tom Savini, another one of the many circles of familiarity that often occur among afternoon television actors. 

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan