Horror

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Dagger Cast: Jaime Adrian

Published September 21, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Madonna was Into the Groove. Ariana Grande, meanwhile, was only Into You…while The Psychedelic Furs were, dramatically, Into You Like A Train. Now Dagger Cast, happily, gets Into the Mix with amazing gay dance music artist Jaime Adrian. Jaime’s latest song What Were You Drinking? has reached close to 80,000 streams…but more importantly, on this latest episode, Jaime focuses on the screams! He fills listeners in on his favorite horror film queens (including Buffy) & describes how a childhood with a genre loving father has shaped his world. So, save up all your tears for Charisma and dive into the show at:

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!

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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!

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The Night Jeff Stryker Saw Me!

Published August 2, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Suyuan (to June Woo): You have a style no one else can teach…I see you. – The Joy Luck Club

Its 21 years later and I still haven’t forgiven Jeff Stryker. Just to be clear, he didn’t break my heart or leave me hanging with the check after a 5-Star dinner. He didn’t take photos and expose my toothpaste scarred, stubble strewn bathroom sink to a mixed bag of friends and family. But as a lifelong horror fan, what he did may have even been worse. He never let me know that in 1989, under his birth name of Chuck Peyton, he starred in Zombie 4: After Death, a Euro terror epic directed by none other than Troll 2‘s insanely energetic Claudio Fragasso.

But, perhaps, all should finally be washed under that wispy bridge of time and firmly forgotten. He did give me my The Joy Luck Club moment, after all. 

To backtrack, in the spring of 2001 some mutual acquaintances contacted me about helping him place his play Jeff Stryker Does Hard Time in Chicago. After some minor false starts, a venue was secured, and I was hired to production manage-direct the project. It seemed like kismet. What could be cooler for an exploitation flick junkie than doing a male version of a Women in Prison flick featuring the very person whose picture will be placed next to the sticky pronouncement of Gay Porn God once the sands of oblivion have finally blown their last streak against the fading skies?!? Granted, there were some missteps along the way. Attuned to simpler camera techniques, he vetoed 90% of the blocking I came up with — and when he left the final dress rehearsal, mid-run, to attend to some minor business, I saw my 10 hard won years of theatrical career climbing blown to smithereens, and I had a loudly frantic meltdown in front of him and the entire cast and crew. (My own apology is firmly placed here, fellas. Read it and please don’t weep!)

But, overall, it was a fun adventure and, as most creative projects, seemingly over and done within the blink of an eye. Still reeling a bit from my miserably unreturned crush on the cute, wavy-haired actor who played the production’s bad boy protagonist, I met up with Stryker a few days after we struck set to say our goodbyes. There, next to the dryer in the laundry room area of the B and B that he was staying in, he turned to me, mid-conversation, looked me straight in the eyes and earnestly proclaimed, “You are just so sweet!” After taking a step back, I casually thanked him. Or, at least, I hoped that was how I appeared. For beneath that calm response, lurked a valley of stunned surprise. For just like that mother and daughter scene in the above-mentioned chick flick, I had always longed for someone to see me for who I really was – to recognize the lovely soul that beat beneath all the swirling insecurity and falsely projected bravado that propelled me, haphazardly yet hopefully, through my days. And here, mystically rising from the sheets of budget fabric softener, it was. This man who starred, with torso thrusting glory, in projects such as Powertool, Strykin’ It Deep and Bigger Than Life actually got me. He saw that beneath the yearning struggle and the occasional flare-ups of spite and frustration, lurked a good soul. He somehow saw what made me special…and while, decades later, I still haven’t quite distilled just what that might be, I know it is there thanks to him.

So, maybe I can actually let go of the disappointment of not having had a conversation about his undead adventures filming with a gonzo Italian maverick in the steamy Philippines. After all, the gift he gave me was actually so much greater. 

Note: Severin Films has released a deluxe version of Zombie 4 with a CD soundtrack and fun interview with Jeff.

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

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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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Shark Bait Retro Village: Who is the Black Dahlia?

Published July 13, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

According to online speculation, the legendary Lucille Ball did not want her daughter Lucie Arnaz to take the title role in the 1975 television film Who is the Black Dahlia? Based on the notorious 1947 murder case in which a young woman named Elizabeth Short was brutally bisected and left in an abandoned field, this film took a highly fictionalized look at the proceedings – which Ball, a Hollywood stalwart, had obviously been aware of in real time. Arnaz, smartly, was not about to turn down the title role in a compelling project, though, and her sensitive performance definitely highlights the film’s emotional truths. Unfortunately, those intimated facts haven’t changed much in the decades since this film was made – discrimination and real dangers still, overwhelmingly, lurk for young women in the world on a daily basis.

Interestingly though, since so much of Short’s life was shadowed in after-the-fact hearsay, once this television film is over, viewers still don’t have a clear view of who the title character was on a personal level. Writer Robert W. Lenski often paints her as a good person abandoned by her father, consistently threatened by rowdy soldiers and gangster types who do not understand her. But, despite Arnaz’s multi-layered work, he never finds a consistent thread to her behavior. Her actions often make no sense – engaging with people and then mysteriously evading them…acting grateful to her benefactors and then resorting to thievery. Painting her as a full-blown master of manipulation might have been inaccurate but could have ultimately created a more comprehensive narrative here.

Still, this work radiates with both a bit of a smoky film noir vibe and the sincere charms of the classic movie of the week format. This is particularly interesting as Arnaz has recalled in interviews that the entire creative process was completed in a quick two weeks. Even more impressive are the variety of well-known performers who deliver layered characterizations as the events unfold. Mercedes McCambridge, who committed fully to her demon-centric vocalizing in The Exorcist, shows her versatility here by giving her role as Short’s grandmother a vibrantly wounded heart. Donna Mills, the queen of the tele-flick genre at the period of time, adds venomous charm as one of Short’s rivals and Gloria DeHaven, who often played petulant romantic rivals in classic musicals, radiates with kindness as a prison matron who encourages Elizabeth to stay on the right track. The appearance of horror movie veteran Sid Haig as a roadside tattooist might cause a shout of surprised joy to erupt from any genre enthusiast watching, as well.

 Nicely, Arnaz would continue this based on a real horror vibe with her next project, Death Scream, another movie-of-the-week outing inspired by an actual crime. Showing up in the film’s last quarter as the late arriving final girl, Arnaz manages to outsmart the killer this time and share a second or two of screen time with Raul Julia, that project’s leading man, to boot!

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

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