Horror

All posts in the Horror category

Great Performances in Horror: Helen Hayes

Published April 12, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Helen Hayes’ wounded eyes resonate with such sadness on the Alter-Ego episode of Ghost Story, an early ‘70s horror anthology series, that she proves, without a doubt, that anyone at any age can experience the damaging effects of bullying.

Here, as the kindly Miss Gilden, a respected grade schoolteacher on the eve of her retirement, Hayes finds herself a victim of the demented antics of the evil doppelganger of one of her favorite students. As the child systematically destroys her reputation and turns all her beloved charges against her, Hayes vibrates with a haunted sorrow that provides the program’s emotionally connective glue. Nicely, a penultimate twist provides her character with a little affirmative revenge, producing a satisfying and contented sigh from all viewers.

That Hayes, an Academy Award winner and one of the most respected theater artists of her generation, applied such heart and depth to a one-off genre television appearance proves what a complete and dedicated performer that she was. Others can surely learn from her humility and grace.

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

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The Criminal Unraveling of Nola Madison

Published March 20, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Fueled by a creative mélange of Sunset Boulevard, ghostly curses and possible incest, the Nola Madison plot line, featuring an intensely motivated turn by Academy Award winning actress Kim Hunter, on The Edge of Night featured a cornucopia of delights for lovers of the horror genre. In 1979, faded movie queen Madison (Hunter) arrived in Monticello, the crime ridden city where this long running daytime drama (1956 – 1984) was situated. Tormented by her husband’s sudden infatuation with Deborah Saxson (Frances Fisher), a comely red haired police officer, Madison became obsessed with reviving her career via an old school terror potboiler named Mansion of the Damned. Nothing like a little star luster to ignite the passion, no? Of course, once in production, the film faced numerous gothic disasters – the withdrawal of Trent Archer (Farley Granger), its superstitious leading man, the mysterious deaths of both the production’s director and its publicity agent, various spooky apparitions and, eventually, murder.

Definitely inspired by Norma Desmond, in a fit of contrasts, the writers for the show made the alcoholic Madison more criminally motivated than Gloria Swanson’s famed delusional diva. Whether sending Saxon a box of poisoned candy, drugging the kindly town doctor (Joel Crothers), burning down the studio as a publicity stunt or impulsively killing a rival (Ann Williams) in a fit of hysterical rage, this deadly daytime dame was calculating and manipulative. Unsurprisingly, she was also superbly played by Hunter, who filled the role with subtle intensity and nicely motivated histrionics.

Adding a glimmer of scandal, Madison was also hiding the fact that her comely stepdaughter (Margaret Colin) and her son, Brian (Stephen McNaughton), weren’t biologically related as they both assumed. This tormented pair often found themselves in what they (and the audience) assumed were illicit clinches until the truth was finally revealed.

Hunter, best known for notable work as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, was perfect casting here. Her first film role was in Val Lewton’s dark scare masterpiece The Seventh Victim and she continued, throughout her almost 60-year career, to rack up credits in such genre projects as The Kindred, Two Evil Eyes, Bad Ronald and episodes of such frequently grotesque television shows as Night Gallery and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Granger also had quite the pedigree – from the sophisticated terrors of Hitchcock (Rope, Strangers on a Train) to creepy Euro terror offerings to a well-regarded slasher (The Prowler). Bringing all that history to the vain and increasingly nervous Archer provided viewers with a special treat – especially in his scenes with Hunter, wherein the two pros met each other, mightily, arched eye brow to arched eye brow.

Nicely, for the compulsory and the curious, the entirety of the plotline has been captured on the impressive YouTube channel, Mr. Edge 80s: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqc3_5bPbySszkWoSrO27zA

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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Shark Bait Retro Village: The Snoop Sisters

Published February 15, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Helen Hayes was one of the most respected actresses of her generation, winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony. The rarity of being bestowed with such honors earned her the distinction of being referred to as the First Lady of American Theatre. Despite these accolades, she was decidedly not a snob, consigning herself to only strictly highbrow fare. Case in point: In the early ‘70s, she and the equally respected Mildred Natwick starred as The Snoop Sisters in a series of mystery-thriller television films. A good decade before Murder, She Wrote first aired, these veterans attacked the scenarios written for them, as accidental crime solving authoresses, with gusto and heart. Plotlines often found them in various forms of danger – being dragged across rooms, climbing atop moving vehicles and being caught on runaway boats – and these veteran performers proved to be strikingly adept at handling every situation that the writers threw at them – including tangling with certain horror legends.

In The Devil Made Me Do It! teleplay, the two get embroiled in the shenanigans of a Satanic cult. This offering, ultimately, finds Hayes witnessing the musical conjuring of Alice Cooper’s Prince, in a serious fish out of water moment. Meanwhile, in the final film, A Black Day for Bluebeard, the two attend a festival of comically bad fright flicks starring Vincent Price’s vocally robust Michael Bastion. Playing on Price’s real life culinary skills, Natwick’s Gwendoline nearly steals the show during a drunken dinner sequence with him. Counterbalancing this, Hayes’ most frequent scene partner here is Roddy McDowall, the youthful, classic Hollywood star who found continued fame for his latter-day work on such projects as the original Fright Night & Planet of the Apes films and such other lesser-known genre-fare as Pretty Maids All in a Row, Laser Blast, Mirror, Mirror 2 and Dead of Winter.

Of course, Hayes’ appearance on an episode of Circle of Fear, a short-lived anthology series, and Natwick’s multiple guest shots on Alfred Hitchcock Presents surely prepared them for all the deadly mayhem that their alter egos faced here. With age, these two legends seem to acknowledge by their participation in these projects, the chills just tingle the spine a little more, ultimately leaving lasting memories for audiences, worldwide.

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

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Dagger Cast: Scott Free

Published February 14, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

I’ve been blessed with meeting so many amazing people in my lifetime & LGBTQIA activist-musician Scott Free has to be one of most interesting artists that has, thankfully, orbited my world. Nicely, he is also our latest guest on Dagger Cast and his stories about his forays into the NYC Rap scene and the early beginnings of the Chicago House Music phenomenon are not only entertaining but highlight the cultural significance of those genres and their social importance. We also dive into his work on Dead Guys, perhaps the first completely gay slasher flick, and such spooky stage productions as Witches Among Us & Zombie Bathhouse. So, make like En Vogue and…(Scott)Free your mind, today!!

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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Flashback: Crystal Gayle Meets the Sin Stalker

Published January 18, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

“That was a very naughty song, Crystal! You should be more careful” – The Sin Stalker

Once upon a time, the powers-that-be at Another World conspired to make country goddess Crystal Gayle the final girl with the longest tresses ever! In the spring of 1987, Gayle, who was a huge fan of the daytime drama, guest starred on the show for a week. While she performed plenty of musical numbers during her stay in Bay City, the producers also worked this raven-haired singer into a major plotline by making her a target of the Sin Stalker, a ghoulish entity who was terrorizing women that struck him as being anything less than moral.

Finding some of Gayle’s sweet pop ballads a bit too suggestive, the peeved stalker wrote her threatening letters, spied on her in her dressing room bathtub and eventually, disturbed beyond all measure, went in for an aggressive kill. But this momma fixated psychopath should have known better than to count this satin voiced yet rough-hewn country gal out. Fighting back with a ferocity, this slasher reminiscent scenario found Gayle leading the killer through a myriad of unoccupied hallways and backrooms of the hotel she was booked in – trying to, desperately, escape him. Her extremely luxurious locks floating, spirit like, in her wake, she eventually clobbered the killer with a fire extinguisher. Momentarily stunned, this malicious entity was, ultimately, scared off by the arrival of Adam Cory (Ed Fry), the show’s handsome police detective. Determined not to let this lurid attack offset her life, Gayle rounded out her run on the program by performing its new theme song with her duet partner, fellow hit maker and future Broadway star Gary Morris.

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“I’m going to sing. No one’s going to get the best of me!” – Crystal Gayle

Nicely accentuated by the participation of a sweet character named Lisa Grady (Phantoms’ Joanna Going), a young psychic with a strange connection to the demented marauder, the story developed further horror film references as it continued. Much like Psycho, the twisted exterminator here was soon being egged on by the voice of his dead mother, a demented audio presence that encouraged him to kill. Unfortunately for dedicated viewers, a surprise victim of those sadistic monologues was one of the show’s elegant, longstanding citizens, Quinn Harding (Petronia Paley). Thankfully, while devotees mourned her departure, the talented Paley later found work on Guiding Light, playing the matriarchal Vivian Grant for 7 years in the ‘90s.

“Good boy! You knew she was living with that lawyer.” – The Sin Stalker’s Mother after Harding’s Murder.

Happily, for the curious, portions of this macabre undertaking, including the entirety of Gayle’s run, can be found on YouTube.

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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