Horror

All posts in the Horror category

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Peter Lorre

Published December 13, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

I have mad love for all those quirky character actors from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Often cast as ne’er do wells and sophisticated villains, their talents were often broader than they were given credit for.

For example, even though he was best known for his sinister turns in M, The Stranger on the Third Floor, The Beast with Five Fingers and The Raven, the unforgettable Peter Lorre truly shone as a comic impresario. In particular, he excelled in the glorious MGM musical Silk Stockings, a reworking of Greta Garbo’s famed comedy Ninotchka.

Here, Lorre gamely attacked clever lyrics by Cole Porter…

…and even engaged in a dance specialty or two!

Now, one has to wonder what Boris Karloff and Vincent Price might have added to the mix here.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Little Nell

Published December 6, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

I didn’t really get The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I saw it at 17. I took a quirky musician friend named Molly to the Homecoming Dance and, afterwards, we hit the midnight show at the local theater. Under-impressed, we went back to her house and listened to some of the stranger numbers of The Manhattan Transfer on her father’s cassette player in the family kitchen. We both seemed to have much more fun with their fairly suggestive Well, Well, Well than with Tim Curry’s admittedly brilliant Sweet Transvestite.

Naturally, my opinion of that iconic, transgressive piece has improved greatly over the years. But I really didn’t go bonkers for Little Nell, best known as the creepily peppy Columbia in RHPS, until I saw her mostly unrecognizable turn as the energetically blonde Sandra in the British musical dramedy Rock Follies ’77 recently. With a squeaky chirp and demented energy, she nearly steals the show as a music biz secretary who gives all her heart and soul to her job.

Naturally, I immediately fell down an appreciative internet rabbit hole and discovered, much like her co-star Curry, Little Nell had a very fun, unfortunately very minor pop career in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

…and while Campbell doesn’t currently have a website devoted to her performing arts career, she does have a song written for her by Bat for Lashes, a perhaps even cooler proposition after all.

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Allison Hayes

Published December 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Despite her absolutely stunning looks, there always seemed to be a flinty edge to the iconic Allison Hayes. Even as the vulnerable Nancy Fowler Archer in Attack of the 50 Ft Woman, her best-known role, she instinctively was able to play both the light innocence and the vengeful evil within the confines of one character. This duality was in evidence in even one of her earliest roles, Lidice in Sign of the Pagan, an assignment that saw her stab Jack Palance’s powerful Attila the Hun to death. Likewise, in one of her multiple appearances on the original black and white run of Perry Mason, she effectively plays a sympathetic hatcheck girl, who much to her eventual regret, sets up a friend for a murder rap in order to save her own skin.

Of course, Hayes was most magnificent when she played women who were completely and totally immoral. As the wicked Tonda Metz in 1957’s The Disembodied, she seduces every man in sight while plotting out her murderous plans with steely glee. Three years later, she would sport a less fabulous moniker – Tonda Metz is almost impossible to beat, no? –  in the popular cheese-fest The Hypnotic Eye. Here, her Justine finds Hayes emoting with a vicious persistence. As she endeavors to acidly corrupt all the beauty around her, she herself resonates with gorgeous power, certainly offering up her most strikingly physical moments ever committed to celluloid.

Suffering from various medical difficulties brought on by accidental lead poisoning, Hayes worked consistently (if difficultly) throughout the 1960s. Often buoyed up by the friendships she had made throughout her career, those closest to her must have felt an exhalation of sorrow and defeat when she left this world at the tender age of 46 in 1977.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Connie Francis

Published November 29, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

In Great Pretenders – My Strange Love Affair with ‘50s Pop Music, her emotionally engaging memoir about her surprise life resurrection via the oft criticized radio hits of simpler times, critic and poet Karen Schoemer talks of the romantic, operatic essence of many Connie Francis love ballads, particularly Where The Boys Are.

But Schoemer also smartly makes note of the wild range of Francis’ material. Indeed, Francis knew how to add a little stomp and growl to a recording, making her a true, often unheralded rock ‘n roll momma.

This eclectic singer was even honored in one of the most memorable scenes in 1996’s The Craft. There, Helen Shaver’s recently economically liberated Grace buys a jukebox that plays nothing but Connie Francis singles!

But considering Francis’ otherworldly talent (and Asimov-ian choices in romantic partners), that celluloid sequence really comes as no surprise…

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

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Thankful For: Rula Lenska

Published November 26, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

(Thanksgiving 2020 Performer Appreciation Post.)

While divas and acting icons such as Faye Dunaway, Cicely Tyson, Elke Sommar and Jane Alexander have shown up in smaller roles in recent horror projects, they rarely command focus for more than a scene or two. Thus, 2018’s Aura (AKA The Exorcism of Karen Walker) provides a truly nice exception to this trend by placing Rula Lenska, a British television and theatre mainstay, squarely in the middle of the film’s spook-laden trajectory.

With a simple and direct focus, Lenska, who gained a tabloid presence in the ‘70s when it was revealed that she was a member of Polish royalty, fills her character Ada with a brooding sense of purpose. A psychic, approached by a former colleague’s nephew for assistance, Ada soon finds herself more connected to the circumstances at hand than she imagined. As she fights to save a young woman from a years-long possession by a malevolent genie, Lenska resonates with both determination and fatigue here, giving the strange set-up a sense of realism here.

Lenska, who first gained fame as a female pop star in Rock Follies (and its follow-up Rock Follies ’77), also has a number of other genre credits to her name, including Queen Kong, a feministic take on the King Kong legend, and The Deadly Females, a sexy assassin epic. All these credits are proudly on display at http://www.rulalenska.co.uk/.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Chris Connor

Published November 22, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

With her dusky warble and effortless sense of restraint, jazz icon Chris Connors is the height of nighttime cool. Of course, as chill evening turns to desolate midnight, danger often lurks. Sometimes, that hazard even comes from within.

Connors’ take on Margo Guryan’s somber Lonely Woman truly embodies that notion. With a foreboding shriek, this number perfectly highlights the haunted reality of an all too solitary type with too many vanquished dreams.

Sharply atmospheric, this meeting between two femme wunderkinds* would fit perfectly in the background of a number of women-on-the-verge horror pieces – whether it be a modern take on Rosemary’s Baby or simply played on repeat while watching Let’s Scare Jessica to Death with that film’s sound pulled down to zero.

*Guryan is a highly regarded cult figure who wrote a number of successful ‘60s singles. Her oft reissued recording Take a Picture is loftily regarded by many music connoisseurs, as well.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Elisabeth Welch

Published November 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The stunning Elisabeth Welch is a major part of the success of the classic 1945 anthology Dead of Night. As the fun and vibrant Beulah in the film’s most popular segment, The Ventriloquist’s Dummy, she is one of the first characters to react to the fact that something is off with Michael Redgrave’s Maxwell and his devious puppet partner Hugo.

Welch was much more than a sympathetic terror conspirator, though. One of the most sophisticated stars of the British theater and Broadway, she often introduced songs that went on to be classics.

Cementing her status as a cult icon, Welch also fabulously worked with auteur Derek Jarman in the late ‘70s.

More can, but need not be said!

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

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Googie Withers

Published November 13, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The height of English elegance, the distinguished Googie Withers made appearances in everything from Alfred Hitchcock adventures (The Lady Vanishes) to multiple, stagey dramas with Michael Powell (the director of the controversial Peeping Tom).

If they search their memories, classic horror lovers would find they remember her fondly, as well. As Joan Cortland in the acclaimed 1945 anthology Dead of Night, Withers proved herself to be a cunning adversary for a maniacal spirit that dwells within a mirror in one of the film’s most haunting tales. As Cortland’s husband Peter (Ralph Michael) suffers greatly due to the visions he sees within the spectral looking glass’ reflection, Joan wisely uses her investigative skills to determine its history, learning simultaneously how to defeat it. Working with subtle economy and grace, Withers proves herself to be truly modern, gracefully victorious heroine of horror here.

Nicely, Withers showed the extent of her range by playing the connivingly determined Helen Nosseross in the moody 1950 film noir Night and the City, as well. Teaming up with Richard Widmark’s wild eyed con man, Wither’s spits out Helen’s dialogue with spite and vitriolic vinegar, her disdain for her corpulent businessman husband (Francis L. Sullivan) visible in every frame of film that she imbues with her commanding presence.

Indeed, with dozens of theater projects and distinguished cinematic adventures to her credit, Withers, who died in 2011 at the age of 94, is definitely worthy of significant rediscovery by today’s always hungry celluloid masses.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Reta Shaw

Published November 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The grand Reta Shaw has rooted herself in the minds of many burgeoning filmgoers from her classic turns in such Disney projects as Mary Poppins and Escape to Witch Mountain.

Nicely, with roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents (as a nosy neighborhood woman), Thriller (as a childish middle-aged bride turned unrelenting domestic shrew) and Bewitched (as two different senior relatives of prime witch Samantha), she also gave golden genre television lovers something to talk about over the water coolers, as well.

In the honey-in-our-ears category, as a Broadway veteran, Shaw reprised her comic, singing role of Mabel in The Pajama Game to grand effect in the film version of the popular musical – truly making all those who haven’t witnessed her comic brilliance here jealous of those who have.

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

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(Photos – Top, Bewitched. Middle, Thriller. Bottom, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.)

Lynda Carter’s Circle of Terror

Published November 3, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

From 1980 to 1982, our amazing Wonder Woman (and frequent concert songstress) Lynda Carter committed herself to three television films with some horrifying plotlines. In honor of her socially concentrated efforts to Get Out The Vote in this incredibly important (and often truly scary) 2020 Presidential Election, I thought it would be the perfect time to place a ballot of greatness – or great campiness, as the case sometimes allows – for her efforts in these celluloid idiot box offerings.

1980. In The Last Song, Carter is a singer whose sound engineer husband captures a conversation about a terrible environmental plot when he is out recording sound samples one night. Soon, a group of volatile men break into Carter’s home and brutally beat (especially for Movie of the Week standards) her unknowing husband to death. While this scene has its uncommonly intense moments, it is the sequence where Carter is visited by a concerned ‘priest’ after her husband’s funeral that a truly giggly-gruesome quality enters the proceedings. Almost immediately, Nicholas Pryor (Damien: Omen 2) allows his character to go from glazed benevolence to wide-eyed craziness. In a truly sadistically frightening performance, Pryor forces (the equally acute) Carter to suck frantically from a gas mask in an effort to kill her. Carter’s terror filled eyes and Pryor’s sweaty leering are reminiscent of Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. The scene is truly a sickly-sweet wonder.

1981. Born to be Sold. Here Carter, playing social worker Kate Carlin, actually delivers Donna Wilke’s (Angel, Blood Song, Schizoid, Grotesque) baby in her bedroom in a satisfying moment of hair flopping, over the top exhaustion. Later, Carter is leered at in a bathroom mirror by a greasy, incredibly sleazy Dean Stockwell. It’s not quite as intense as the freak out that Pryor gives our favored damsel in The Last Song, but the addition of genre favorite Sharon Farrell in the cast here evens out the odds a little.

1982. Hotline is the best of the three in many ways – an adult slasher film that also predates Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof with its focus on a (mild spoiler alert!) broken down psychotic former stunt man.

Carter’s Brianne (pronounced ‘Brian’) is a bartender, artist and hotline call center volunteer. Soon after starting her civic minded duties, she begins to get mysterious phone calls providing her with clues to a series of violent murders – all implicating a movie star acquaintance of hers. Of course, nothing is as it seems and in the final moments of this TV-movie-gone-chopping, Carter finds herself hacked (the killer loves to give jaggedly possessed haircuts) and attacked. There are few genuinely chilling moments in this penultimate altercation – including the shady reveal of the killer decorated in mafia clown make-up (think Dennis Christopher in Fade to Black) as he works his way to Carter.

Hotline also affords meaty roles to some former Hollywood character actors including Steve Forrest (the supernaturally tinged The Hanged Man), Monte Markham and Granville Van Dusen. Nods to authenticity are also provided by featuring stuntman/actors such as Frank Stallone in a party sequence with Forrest and Markham making this a bit more than just a fond remembrance for those who caught it as freshmen in high school on CBS’ Saturday Night Movie. 

…and if the divine Ms. Carter hasn’t proven herself to be a rock ‘n roll survivor to all of you in the above reminisces…

Until the next time…get out and vote…and SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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