GLBT issues

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Margaret Whiting

Published January 28, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Margaret Freak

If Stevie Nicks musically dominated the third season of American Horror Story then, in a fair world, the brilliant Margaret Whiting would have been the focus of the show’s powerful and controversial fourth season. Whiting, who indeed had a song featured on the Freak Show arc, was a multi-generation hit maker with songs charting in the pop, country and easy listening markets throughout the decades.

In fact, her album Wheel of Hurt, featuring her last big hit, owes as much to the sound of Nancy Sinatra as Rosemary Clooney. The World Outside Your Arms is one of that offering’s most poignant expressions.

Whiting’s queer connections, meanwhile, extend to her longstanding relationship (and eventual marriage) with gay porn maverick Jack Wrangler. She also provided the singing voice for Susan Hayward’s proud Helen Lawson in the camp classic Valley of the Dolls.

Margaret Capital

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

Review: Lakeshore Drive

Published January 4, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

lakeshore drive

We make certain choices when we’re drunk or dead tired…others come about from unexpected happiness or over excitement. In the tight mini noir Lakeshore Drive, Peter Bowse and Tyler Eden’s script finds hardened rideshare driver Roger (a cucumber cool Darren Smith) making one choice out of compassion. He then may be forced to make another more consequential one out of pure fear.

Naturally, like most of the flawed heroes in those ‘40s detective stories, one feels for Roger and the tight spot that he is put in. Viewers here, though, will probably walk away from this taut exercise feeling the most sympathy for Kim (a grittily honest Lila Star), Roger’s troubled transgendered passenger. Facing the violence that many marginalized people do, Kim decides to take matters into her own hands…and may end up facing the deadly realities that haunt all too many in the trans community.

Directed with a poetic yet very true sense of danger by Bowse, Lakeshore Drive also features an understated yet devious performance from Frank Ondorf as the man who just might control the destiny of both Roger and Kim. Bowse and all three of these performers are truly deserving of all the respect that they are sure to receive as this short piece enters the festival circuit.

Be sure to keep up with all the upcoming screenings at

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

Zombie Bathhouse Chronicles: Paging Dr. Martino!

Published October 21, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan


Hmmm…That old performing truism about not writing something for a cast member that you wouldn’t do yourself has come back to haunt me, as of late.

For years, I’ve been working with composer-lyricist (and Chicago institution) Scott Free on a project called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. After a number of readings (and lots and lots of rewriting and reimagining and… well, you get the picture), we were ready to hit those Midwest stages, last week, for a professional run. Naturally, our amazing and dedicated cast was firmly in place, when circumstances twisted, as they are want to do, and I found myself recruited – or ham that I am, did I offer myself up willingly!?!? – to take over the role of the mysterious Dr. Martino, the man responsible for the many nightmares endured by the show’s tortured romantic hero, Michael.

Honestly, it’s the last position that I expected to find myself in…but after some inner grumbling and heavy sighing, I’ve actually found myself immensely enjoying being one of the many creepy cogs in a creative machine again. My artistic journey began in the theatrical trenches and I had forgotten how amazing backstage comradery can feel. It’s been very satisfying being part of a unit working for a common goal…and the fact that this, (quite possibly) my final theatrical stage appearance, is in a work of horror makes it all the more satisfying.

More than anything, though, this experience makes me respect artists everywhere all the more. There are so many beautiful things involved with creating something, but so many risks and heartaches, as well. Sometimes those negatives can even outweigh the positives…and, damn, don’t those failures fucking burn?!? But, still we persist. Therefore, I want to send up a salute to my fellow cast mates and to all who dare to risk, to dream and to falter, on a daily basis. We’re warriors, folks, and even the mysterious and totally unsavory Dr. Martino would probably have to bow down to that.

Zombie Bathhouse runs until October 29th at The Center on Halsted. Further information is available at

Until the next time, Sweet love and pink Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Vincent Price and Pride

Published June 23, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

vincent price

Its Pride Week here in Chicago and my mind keeps going back to Vincent Price.

On a press tour a couple of years ago, his daughter Victoria told reporters that she was certain that this macabre matinee idol had sexual relationships with both men and women. Honestly, it’s not something I really care about one way or other. But anytime an icon of horror is put in proximity with the queer community, there is reason to celebrate. The terror crowd, by and large, is still a very straight and, even more surprisingly, an often right wing one. More than anything, though, it is a silent one.

This makes me love Vincent Price even more. Not because of his bedroom proclivities, but because, even in an era when it was much more dangerous to do so, he spoke out. In that (fairly recent) round of press statements, the thing his daughter stressed more than any romantic suppositions was that Price was a true activist for the LGBTQA community. He spoke out against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay platforms in the ‘70s. He joined PFLAG as an honorary member and did an AIDS PSA in the ‘80s.


Vincent Price Oscar Wilde

Price as Oscar Wilde

This makes me sad about some of the people I know (and don’t know), though. A few years ago, I was asked to write for a site, but was told that they didn’t do “gay” content. This, in essence, meant that I was supposed to take a straight white perspective when composing for them. What the person who contacted me didn’t realize was that, even with news items and film reviews, he was reacting to them with his own learned insights and background and interests. Of course, that was the style I was supposed to adopt. He thought it was a neutral one. It isn’t. How could it be? He will always react to things the way a straight male would. A Latinx woman will react to them another way. A transgender person, meanwhile, will focus on another aspect of the same story. As will I.

That was more about quieting my true voice, though. What concerns me here is that, as rights are threatened more and more by the current powers-that-be, I still have ‘friends’ in fright circles that look at me and tell that they are “fiscally conservative, but socially liberal”. They say they will speak out when the time comes. Instead, I see them sharing news items from Breitbart that mock celebrities for speaking out on social justice issues. Breitbart, by the way, is run by Stephen Bannon, a man who would like to obliterate me (and so many others I know) from the planet. So…thanks!

But they are giving a nod to something, at least. There are others who say nothing, at all. Perhaps, they believe human rights are politics and that where one stands on that side of the curtain is a private affair. Maybe they are afraid. Maybe they have become resigned and wearily complacent like me. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I picked up the phone to protest something to some senator or public official. But 40 years ago, Vincent Price, a hero for many of us, wasn’t scared or tentative or let his thoughts grow muted. He got down in the trenches with the underdogs and stood proud. Let’s hope that his truly distinctive voice raised, all those years ago, can bring others out into the open now. Let’s hope it can reawaken mine. We need it.

The Queer Power of Alien: Covenant

Published May 29, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan


The slithering, orifice bursting monster babies of Alien: Covenant definitely rate high on my gore pleasure meter. But I will be viewing Ridley Scott’s second prequel to (his original masterpiece) Alien in the theater again for another reason: its strong queer pedigree.

Scripted by the openly gay John Logan, Covenant also features Empire’s sexually fluid Jussie Smollett as a decidedly straight crew member and two married male characters among its many hardy and adventurous potential victims.

Granted, it would be nice if the relationship between Demián Bichir’s Sergeant Lope and Nathaniel Dean’s Sergeant Hallett was more fully explored. Their true feelings for each other only surface during an intense crisis and, stylistically, their relationship feels dictated more by contemporary ease than as being a true part of the Alien universe. No LGBTQ relationships were presented in the original films and as this is a precursor to those stories, it makes it odd that the other films don’t have queer partnerships, the strong Sapphic following of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, this classic series’ toned and powerful heroine, aside.  

jussie alien

Still, the success of this relationship with viewers might make strides in compelling Hollywood executives to feature more homosexual bad asses in their action and terror outings and assure that they will continue to cast actors like Smolett, who have admitted their physical attraction to other men, a chance to play more than fey best friends and harried wedding planners.

Naturally, I am willing to concede that this is nothing more than wispy, celluloid pipe dream. But I am going to apply my hard earned dollars, another time or two, in the generous hope that it is not.

I hope you will join me!

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


Review: Deviance

Published March 31, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan


Deviance is probably not the gay themed horror film that the community wants right now. With our liberties in danger and the powers-that-be convinced that we are less than deserving of normal rights, a movie about a queer hustler and a possible homosexual serial killer is probably not the shining beacon of positivity that activists are looking for. Even in ordinary circumstances, writer-director James Hennigan’s dark look at perverted lust and unsavory life choices may have earned a raised glance or two. But art is not supposed to be politically correct or follow conscionable trends. Thus, this is an often brave and revealing piece of celluloid.

High school student Connor (Hennigan) is living with his drunk, abusive father (Greg Thompson) and his concerned sister (Tracey Allyn). When he is caught kissing another boy, he is thrown out of the house and takes to the streets. Meanwhile, the shy, sheltered Milton (Tim Torre) is under the sway of his extremely religious mother (Melissa B. Robinson). His obsession with a handsome jock soon takes a twisted turn, though, and, as a result, his family life is completely blown apart. Years later, Milton is still struggling with his violent impulses while Connor’s continued reliance on prostitution to make ends meet collides with a moment of murderous rage, as well. The two outsiders are eventually drawn together and, as the movie races to a close, only one may make it out alive.

Deviance-mainFilled with strong performances and a look at homosexual sensuality that owes much to the grisly novels of alternative queer icon Dennis Cooper, Deviance also deals honestly with how bad parenting and the extreme tenets of hypocritical faith can destroy the souls of the young, no matter their orientation. Hennigan, Thompson, Allyn and Robinson shine in their various scenes, committing fully to their roles, whether sympathetic or not. But this is Torre’s show. He physically embodies all the awkwardness of Milton’s desires with a concise neediness and skilled precision. It’s a powerful, multi-leveled performance.

Hennigan, meanwhile, directs with a taut understanding of his two troubled protagonists. In a minor misstep, has take on the surprise ending is more in keeping with the slasher motif and seems at odds with the film’s layered and dramatic tension. But, if it means more films with Torre as Milton, then it is a forgivable offense. It is about time that we have a gay monster to march up the body strewn paths previously occupied by Michael, Freddy and Jason and this character just may be the one to do it.

Deviance is available for viewing on Amazon:

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

Dreaming of Kaycee Ortiz

Published December 1, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan


I don’t know about you, but I actually sleep better knowing that the divine Kaycee Ortiz is out there creating amazing music – including Dream Warrior – a spookily hypnotic and potently empowering tribute to the A Nightmare on Elm Street legacy.

Nocturnal bliss, no?

…and to keep up with all Ortiz’s dynamic activities and poetic offerings, be sure to follow along at:

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

Zine Review: Aversion

Published November 12, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan


If famed exploitation filmmaker Jess Franco had been a young, queer Midwest writer then Aversion: A Zine of Therapeutic Vignettes may have been something that he might have dreamed up. But it is the talented Aaron Eischeid who actually offers up the first chapter of a very spooky and hallucinogenic world here.

In the first segment of this ongoing series, Eischeid introduces us to Owen, a confused youth who finds himself encountering a possibly lethal librarian type, a monstrous eye, a dead deer and an extremely invasive therapist. Presented as a stream of consciousness study of the horrors of conversion therapy, Eischeid finds wonderful details to concentrate on here – a fascination with a mother’s pearls, for example. The sudden surprise of Owen being caught in a sexual encounter with a classmate is delivered both with real life poignancy and bit of the fantastic, as well. All these elements add up to something original while retaining the bizarre and dreamlike structures of the Euro cinema of Franco and so many others.

Featuring potent yet simple artwork by Oats Redding, this first installment is printed out almost diary style, in what seems to be Owen’s own handwriting. Creative touches such as these should make readers of this newfound adventure eager for new chapters.

Aversion is available for purchase at:

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

House of Purgatory’s Tyler Christensen

Published October 31, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

tyler christensen.png

Based on an urban legend revolving around a haunted house so scary that guests are paid if they survive it, House of Purgatory is writer-director Tyler Christensen’s debut feature. But the openly gay Christensen adds an interesting social subtext to the proceedings here by concentrating on the youthful fears and tortured secrets of his protagonists. Excited about the recent release of this emotional, horror filled outing on various media platforms, Christensen took a moment to chat with me about his inspirations for the film, his eclectic and talented cast and the film’s psychological repercussions.

BGHF: Hi, Tyler! I’m calling you on a surprisingly summer like fall day in Chicago. Tyler: Well, it’s raining here in L.A.

I stole your thunder, man! You did!

I’ll give it back, I swear. Probably by tomorrow! No worries. I’m actually enjoying this. It reminds me of growing up in Wisconsin.

Is that where the concept for House of Purgatory began?  I had heard the urban legend in it, growing up. Was it something you were familiar with?

No. I had never heard of that one. It was a very popular legend in Wisconsin. Every Halloween, someone was talking about someone’s cousin who had done it or someone’s brother.  So, then I went to college in Oshkosh and, years later, I sat down to write a film. I knew, specifically, that I wanted to produce it and put it together. You write a lot of projects that are pie in the sky. Things that you’d love to make…one day, once money is no object. So, this is the first time that I decided to write a script that was producible. I planned on directing it. So, what could it be? I came across this very urban legend again. What? I couldn’t believe it was an urban legend. I totally fell for it when I was growing up. I was intrigued by it. I decided to pretend that it was a real thing. If it was, what would be so scary in a haunted house that people wouldn’t be able to make it through? It would have to be tailor made to each person. We all, obviously, have much different fears. So, if I’m going to tailor make the house, I decided it was going to know their secrets and it just grew from of purgatory cast.png

I was a little worried that the characters were going to turn out to be dead like Mary Henry in Carnival of Souls. I think that reveal has been used once too often. Carnival of Souls did that so well. Other movies have done it since. If it’s not done well, technically, which 90% of the time it isn’t, it just comes off as a cop out. Oh, this is how we’re going to explain all these supernatural things. They’re dead! Come on!

I just get disappointed because it’s easy to figure out what’s going on. Oh, fuck, I know what’s going on halfway through. Exactly!

There’s no surprise. So, I appreciated that it didn’t happen here. Thank you! (Laughing) I said I know what Brian wants…and he’s going to be disappointed if I don’t do it!

Finally! A man who knows what I want! It took awhile, but the day has arrived. (Laughing) Nice!

So, let’s talk about your cast. Anne Leighton, the lead, is doing quite well now with Grimm and other projects. How did you discover her and what was it like working with her? She was great. Travis Moody, the producer, had worked with her on a project. She wasn’t doing quite as much as she is doing now, but she was still very successful. He told me to send the script over to her because he thought that she would react well to it, that it was right up her alley. She has a thing for the genre, in general. It was fun coming in, being a first time feature director; you can tell when you’re working with professionals. People not only come prepared, but they ask you questions and have thoughts. Anne would come to me with ideas about Melanie’s relationship with her mother. I would be like, “Sure, I totally had that planned out.” It was fun because she would dive into it, even deeper than I did.

Of course, your veteran was Brian Krause from such projects as Sleepwalkers and Charmed. He was great. I was a little nervous. He was a bigger name. While he has done some low budget stuff, I thought he might come in like, “Really guys? This tiny little thing?” But, he was great. He was so hands on and ready to go with his ideas and thoughts about the role. It took some trial and error to get his make-up just right. He was a trooper. He and the make-up artist would sit there and do an hour or two of work. Then I’d see it and go, “Nope. That’s not what I’m thinking. Start over.” So, it took a lot of time to get the make-up right. I guess I thought, “Here’s the star in our movie and let’s cover him up with make-up so no one knows it’s him.”  (Laughs) The marketing team just loves that.

house-of-purgatory-redWas there a moment that you enjoyed the most when filming? I think the most fun was the moment when the cast has that first conversation with Brian, as The Skeleton, at the ticket booth. That was the first time that the actors had seen his make-up. It was in this field, in the middle of the woods. The night was perfect. It was a cool night with fog. It just lent itself so well to the mood. It was also Brian’s first scene on set, so there was this extra buzz and excitement about having him there. When I saw him in his make-up, after they had gotten it right, and in his costume…I was like, “I have Brian Krause in my movie! How cool is this?” When you write something, you have one vision. As you are producing it and putting it together, it sort of becomes another vision. When you’re directing and looking at the monitor, it becomes a third vision. More often than not, it goes downhill. You wrote it, you had this great vision, but reality sets in, and its nothing like you imagined and you get mad. But, this was exactly what I had envisioned. It was such a cool feeling. There’s a scene in the pumpkin patch, as well, that was special for me. As soon as we had it lit, I was standing in the middle of it, turning around and staring at all these pumpkins. It was the coolest thing ever.

I liked that there is some social subtext to this piece. It is more emotionally resonant than the typical slasher.

I, obviously, related to the gay character. Growing up, I never thought my friends and family would act in a nightmarish way upon my coming out. But I think everyone has those sorts of things to deal with. At that age, you’re so concerned and one of your biggest fears is disappointing your parents. When you do something and they yell at you, it’s bad. But when you do something and they say that they are disappointed in you, it cuts so much deeper. A lot of the teen slashers, we’ve seen it. You smoke weed, you die. You drink, you die. You have sex, you die. There’s so much more to kids at that age. We don’t always see it unless the movie, as a whole, is a statement. We don’t get to see their everyday issues. There is a lot of of purgatory trailer.png

I appreciated that you walked a fine line with the film. There are people who could feel that you are condemning the characters. There were a couple people who read it, who didn’t know my background, and thought I was taking some kind of stance. They thought I was making an anti-this or anti-that film. I did go back and tweak things. I was so upset when I first got that reaction. I couldn’t believe people thought that I would write something like that. I went back and reread and dove in to make sure that it is clear that these are their secrets and that they are not being punished for sins. It never once says sin in the script. It’s always a secret. Even the sign on the door as they walk up to the house says “Secrets, secrets are so fun. Your secrets here can come undone”. I’m saying the word secret three times in a sentence. I think I’m safe. But, I think anytime that you are dealing with real world, hot button issues, issues that people can be really divided on…there’s going to be talk. That’s a good thing. I’d rather make a movie that starts dialogue. There are very few movies, especially in the horror world, that you can talk about.


House of Purgatory is available, currently, on iTunes, Xbox, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, YouTube, and Vimeo On Demand. The film is also set to be released on Amazon Prime, 24-Hour Movie Channel on Roku, DVD and Cable VOD at a later date.

More information is available at

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



Music to Make Horror Movies By: Vivian Blaine

Published August 28, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

vivian 1

She added a little sophistication and dignity to cheesy, fun monster fests such as 1979’s The Dark and to 1982’s Parasite, but the glorious Vivian Blaine was best known for her take on the ditzy Adelaide in the original Broadway and movie versions of Guys and Dolls. Most importantly, perhaps, Blaine was also one of the first celebrity advocates for the AIDS crisis, providing a very visible presence in a time when most public figures shunned the realities of the disease.

Blaine, who also acted and sang in multiple movie musicals with the likes of the vivacious Carmen Miranda and smooth crooner Perry Como, reprised Adelaide’s Lament, her most famous number from Guys and Dolls, on the 1971 Tony Awards, twenty years after her debut in the role. There, she proved, beyond a doubt, that no one could portray the little quirks and eccentricities of the character quite like she could.

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

vivian 2