The Hays Code assured that no fictional sinners went unpunished in imaginary celluloid universes for decades. This prehistoric advisory measure was especially devoted to making sure that anyone who dared to have sex onscreen paid an unforgettably epic price.
Thus, Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan suffer grandly in 1948’s opulent Letter from an Unknown Woman. After being abandoned by Jourdan’s Stefan Brand, a famous piano playing cad, after one night of bosom heaving passion, Fontaine’s adoring Lisa Berndle faces down single motherhood, a loveless marriage and typhus. Brand, meanwhile, finds his career drifting away due to his excessive debauchery and finishes out this scenario facing the wraith of an angered nobleman’s dueling pistol.
Almost gothic in its sumptuousness, this tale is further highlighted by Fontaine’s theatrics, especially as she enacts Lisa’s childhood curiosity in the film’s first act, and by Jourdan’s almost aching early career handsomeness.
The Genre Boudoir:
Jourdain added continental flair to 1977’s Count Dracula, 1982’s Swamp Thing and its 1989 follow-up, The Return of the Swamp Thing. Fontaine, famously did award winning work with Hitchcock in such dark melodramas as Rebecca and Suspicion. She later brought an appropriately grandiose hysteria to Hammer Film’s 1966 small town cult epic The Witches.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
At 6’6”, Kurtis Mantronik could certainly qualify, via physical stats alone, as one of the Kings of Hip-Hop and Dance music. But his supreme talents as a producer, DJ and writer, including a stint as the founder of the legendary Mantronix, place him fully in that category, as well.
What is the one place that someone who grew up gay in a small farming town with a love for horror & theater & punk rock music NEVER wants to go back to?
Correct Answer – All of the above!
Now, I don’t know if that is the exact concept that director-writer Hayden Newman is playing with in the upcoming ‘90s referencing horror film Reunion from Hell, but whatever focus this LGBTQIA based piece takes, it ultimately sounds like it will be a lot of fun – a true treat for genre lovers from all backgrounds.
Newman, who hopes (COVID willing) to begin filming this fall, has also announced an amazing cast for the project. Sordid Lives co-star and noted gay activist Jason Dottley will be playing Reese Sanders here, while Cathy Podewell (Night of the Demons) and Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) have also been added as the project’s topliners.
Best known for portraying the (occasionally) disapproving mother-in-law of Samantha on the classic supernatural comedy Bewitched, the distinguished Mabel Albertson made many other appearances on the stage and in film, often playing the matriarchal figurehead to the characters that each specific project focused upon.
In one earlier assignment, Albertson showed she could amp up the dramatic proceedings with a true sense of overbearing vengefulness. Playing out all the destructive impulses of Mrs. Conway, the commanding mother of Julie Adams’ hopeful starlet in the glossy 1957 Universal Pictures’ melodrama Four Girls in Town, this well-traveled performer brings a crushing weight to her fictional actions. Thus, this character’s overpowering persona almost destroys her daughter’s chance at true happiness and, often swiftly and subtly, Albertson makes her poisonous mark truly felt here.
Considering that almost everyone has dealt with the stinging pressure of a mentor or family member, Mrs. Conway emerges as a creature whose supposedly concerned and supportive sense of evil is just as great as any of the grander schemes provided by such notorious creatures as Lady Macbeth or Julia Cotton…a testament to the honest power of Mabel Albertson’s skilled work.
Among her many other credits, this grand dame of expressiveness appeared on a popular episode of The Munsters and co-starred with the iconic Barbara Stanwyck in 1970’s The House That Wouldn’t Die, an early example of the made for television horror movie.
Always more of a misunderstood anti-heroine, Days of our Lives’ Eve Donovan (the always emotive Kassie DePaiva) has recently emerged as an evil mastermind, a character type that fans of horror films are very familiar with.
After kidnapping her daughter’s murderer and torturing him in a warehouse outside of New York City, Eve has recently arrived in Salem, IL, where the show is based, to finish off her revenge scheme.
Eagled eyed Claire (Isabel Durant) sees through Eve’s disguise!
Naturally knowing she is under suspicion for her criminal activities, Eve reemerged disguised in a black wig – a perfect terror flick accoutrement – and an accessory put to good use by everyone from Morticia Addams to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Of course, you can be in good company, too – by watching Days which airs, weekdays, Monday – Friday on NBC.
Sometimes it just takes a great mind! Denise Pearson, lead singer of ‘80s British pop sensations 5 Star, obviously had an instinct that the inhabitants of such post-apocalyptic horrors as Aliens, Creepozoids and Hardware might have had a better chance of surviving with just one thing – a dance break. This video for System Addict, one of the band’s most popular numbers, brightly and enthusiastically works that theory out to vibrant effect.
Decades later, lucky (and loyal) listeners know that Denise is still brightening dark and desolate landscapes with appearances in musicals and on concert stages across the world.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House were streaming low budget science fiction and horror films when composing their dreamy 2008 opus Devotion. Songs like the hypnotic Gila definitely make genre fans imagine that they were.
But whether they are releasing two magnificent albums in one year or expanding their musical horizons (as they did with 7, their latest release), this duo is always proving that they exist in the realm of the fantastic and otherworldly.
“Show any cheek and you’ll be back shoveling French fries!!” – Mrs. Kallender, Jaws 3
Whether opening for The Temptations or enacting a broken-hearted breakdown on Days of Our Lives, eclectic wonder Kaye Stevens always presented herself with passion and a grand sense of pizzazz.
Nicely, this scene stealer brought a little flair to the Jaws kingdom as well with her appearance in the highly anticipated, ‘80s personifying Jaws 3-D! As her Mrs. Kallender instructed some eager femme charges on how to conduct themselves as employees in this toothy version of Sea World, it seems like the producers took a liking to Stevens’ personal style. Flourishes of red abound in the production design, making Kaye’s bright locks a visual precursor for all that is to come in this aquatic, bloody celluloid nightmare.
In my (skin free) book, there can be no bigger compliment or sincere indication of Stevens’ immense visual (and otherwise) talents than that!
Was there ever a greater ’90s female horror team-up than Brandy and Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, a sequel that (in many books) out-slashed its predecessor?!? There was no way that any maniac, no matter how brilliantly twisted and calculating, would prevail with those two mini-divas on the scene.
Of course, long before ruling the screen, the singularly sensation-ed Brandy dominated the music charts with a series of top hits and bestselling albums.
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!