Literature

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Ghosts – Winter Romance

Published December 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

It is a time of despair and worry. The man at the socially distanced break room table is energetically talking with a female supervisor. Until recently he was an international sales director for a 5 Star Hotel, a position he frankly admits will never exist again. After decades of rising through the ranks, he now wipes down self-serve checkout counters and is grateful to her for the extra hours that she has allowed him to stay tonight. His dogs will miss him he jokes, but the security of another shift or two assures them of receiving the name brand kibble and chewy treats that they so expectantly crave. In the face of such inoperable, life altering changes, he is surprising resolute, upbeat…and I try to take my cues from him in the days that follow.

For despite it all, people are still celebrating. Our first pandemic dictated Christmas is coming soon and the lights and twinkly stars are disappearing from the shelves in the store’s seasonal boutique. I restock those aisles often, growing less and less surprised at everyone’s insistence on clinging to the predictable joys. I, too, start to take a distant comfort in the comical Santa’s and cheery cartoon elves that are popping up in window displays of the storefronts that I pass on my daily neighborhood jog. All those bright and glorious neon shades of red and green are comforting – but I can still feel something else lurking. Flickering shadows. Hazy specters. Seasonal ghosts.

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I am 19 and I am waiting for my boyfriend at his place. He gave me the keys to his apartment earlier and I bustled through the February frost to his one bedroom loft. Now, I am feeling suspiciously adult, like a big city mistress of some high-ranking business exec – although, I do legitimately belong here. I am not a secret. Everyone at work knows about us. They are aware that I am happily anticipating his presence as he finishes up his bartending shift. Anxious for our romantic evening to begin, I pore through his box of VHS tapes, trying to find something to distract myself. It is all porn videos. Well, porn videos and a bootleg copy of The Color Purple. But we have just recently watched that sterling Spielberg-ian example of Oscar bait…and I know better than to throw in a sex tape. I did that last week, and while I tried to resist jerking off to Jeff Stryker pounding some smooth curly haired model-type in an alley, I eventually couldn’t help myself. Thus, making for a less than receptive offering when AJ finally arrived home. I don’t want that to happen again. So, I turn on the television and settle on Saturday Night Live, already in progress. Just after the cast bow, he arrives. I greet him, happily. He receives my kisses mutely, situates himself on the couch, telling me that we have to talk. Valentine’s Day is a week and a half away and I am sure that he wants to make plans. This is the first year in what seems like an incredibly long life that I will have someone to celebrate with and I am thrilled. But instead, after a deep sigh, a Dear John monologue softly peters out of his lips.  Murmuring something about needing space and the strange curves of life and time, he breaks up with me. I am shocked, unexpectedly thrust from one extreme, anticipation…happiness. to a totally different one, shock…despair.

Of course, as I write this now, it dawns on me that this was an incredibly heartless way to break up with someone. There had been no clues, no warning shots fired before this moment. Everything had been kept close to the wrist. Therefore, he certainly could have told me in some other space…at some other time. Set a kinder rhythm, bought me coffee and a gourmet cookie as consolation prizes, taken me to some park, dark with leafless trees. The mood should fit the occasion, I believe. Obliterating a weekend dream state seems particularly cruel to me, especially in my secluded COVID state of mind now. Still, I find myself feeling a wispy sorrow for him, somehow, these days. In fact, it almost feels like maybe it is his sad face that wavers down alleys and across those amber corners as I wait for the light to change, walking to work.

I, honestly, don’t blame him for breaking up with me. I was silly, a devastatingly insecure child whose only concept for relationships was my parents frustrated, frequently violent union and soap opera romances. Once during our short time together, I “seductively” ignored him when I saw him unexpectedly at a bar. Our eyes met and I sharply turned away, dancing quickly into the arms of the female friend I was club hopping with. Purposefully calling him the next day, I innocently and insistently claimed that I hadn’t seen him the night before, a classic missed connection turned amusingly wrong. Another time, I pretended the managers at work were horribly upset about our dating, throwing him off balance for a moment until I confessed my senseless, idiotic ruse. Like my favorite daytime divas, I thought I always had to keep him slightly out of tune. To maintain his interest, I had to create drama…intrigue…social unrest.

Of course, I didn’t need to manufacture such moments. Tension was beating there, sharply, all along. There was an ex…another young, blue eyed blonde. We could have been brothers I ascertained, the one time that I saw him picking up his remaining belongings from AJ’s closet. It was unnerving. Months later, I would catch AJ in the restaurant’s staff bathroom, crying…not over me, but him. The other one. The original angel. The truly loved. My twin.

But there was one day. One gloriously perfect day. Its ectoplasmic embers float around me as I move throughout this month. January 1st, 1988. My roommates were still away on their holiday adventures. AJ and I lay in bed, recovering from a joyous night of public reveling, ignoring any burgeoning breakfast hunger pains. Instead, we pawed through my vinyl collection, taking turns deciding what to play. We talked and cuddled…slept…eventually heading down to the neighborhood greasy spoon. Returning with burgers that tasted inordinately of grease and that venue’s overused grill, we watched The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful on someone’s tiny TV. Later, we trekked across town to catch The Running Man at one of the city’s notoriously chilly, ill kept second run theaters. We held hands as Richard Dawson taunted Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Conchita Alonso bravely plotted an escape.  We brought in that new year with fries and sex and Stephen King and it felt like a miracle, like the life I had dreamed about for so long was finally beginning. It was the first ideal afternoon I had ever experienced and it seemed to finally confirm my worth to the world. My importance to the universe seemed completely sure. In that moment. I would have never recognized myself as that soon-to-be tremulous lover who needed emotional games to feel in control. And for a moment, perhaps he too, thought his sorrow was over. My doppelganger banished from his mind in that still glittery seasonal glow as the world reset itself…bringing not only a new year, but a new sense of hope…a heart completely reborn.

So, maybe it is not only just his silvery outline that whispers to me slightly out of frame, as of late – but my own, as well. For that momentarily confident version of me belongs to this year, somehow, just as much as that unburdened version of him – though I have not regarded this past self seriously for decades. This year of hopes dashed so unreservedly, a year where light’s dearth has blinded us all, if only for smaller pockets of time, most assuredly would be the one to bring his essence back, unchecked – that past, very wishful, soon to be obliterated self. He worries me again beneath the piped-in carols…besieges me bittersweetly upon restlessly waking.

But perhaps he also teaches me that all this current sorrow, much like that old, old hurt, is survivable. He fills me with understanding, and most beautifully I think, compassion. Compassion for the person that I once was and, perhaps most importantly now, for the person that I am soon about to become.

Christmas Coal.

Published December 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

For decades my grandfather Kirst worked at the Niagara Mohawk coal plant in WNY. It was a backbreaking job that was accentuated and/or offset by his wicked sense of humor and love for the written word. One year when I was 6 or 7, he and my grandmother decided to play a joke on me – one that they had probably been anticipating for years. They just had to wait until I was old enough to understand. So, finally, in that moment of my glimmering consciousness, they wrapped up a gloriously shiny chunk and placed it under the tree – a behaviorist coal in your stocking moral come to late winter’s life. The whole family breathlessly waited as I opened it up, expecting me to jokingly howl in protest. I surely hadn’t been bad enough to deserve this as a gift!!

Unfortunately, they hadn’t realized the extent of my grade school angst. “It’s coal, Brian, it’s coal!” they chanted as I sat, bewildered, staring at it. I could tell my grandparents and everyone who witnessed the unveiling were disappointed. They thought the joke had failed. It hadn’t. I knew what it was. I was just lost, as I always seemed to be, endlessly in my head. Was there a hint of reality in this bit of humor? Did everyone, deep down, really believe that I was a bad kid? Even then, I could multiply my darkest thoughts without much effort, so I sat there adding up all the small betrayals and petty lies I had conjured over the past twelve months. Perhaps, I really was only worthy of inky stone at holiday gatherings – and here it was, an instance of truth behind the laughter shining into life. Of course, other gifts were soon dispersed and those thoughts were quickly put behind me.

But on these first few days of freezing seasonal temps here in Chicago, the memory of this evening comes rollicking back and I wish I could tell my grandfather (and all those there long lost) that their game then was strictly on point. But as with any other youthful sport I attempted, I was eternally bound for the sidelines – the minutiae of analysis, my propensity to view both sides of the coin fully, already doing me in.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Va-Va-Villainess: Katharine Hepburn

Published May 2, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Coming on like a perfect precursor to the diva heavy Gothic horrors of the ‘60s and ‘70s (including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and many others), 1959’s Suddenly Last Summer gave the divine Katherine Hepburn a chance to bring a wickedly flawed character to the screen in the form of the matriarchal, incredibly wealthy Violet Venable.

As Venable uses all of her considerable influence to insure the lobotomization of her niece Catherine Holly, played with busty emotion by Elizabeth Taylor, Hepburn does add sympathetic touches to her portrayal (as any fine craftswoman would). Still, she doesn’t shy away from the uncontrollably evil nature of her character, ultimately creating a detailed look at a society matron compelled to carry out one of celluloid history’s more heinous acts.1959. Katharine HEPBURN during the filming of "Suddenly Last Summer."

Based on Tennessee Williams’ grotesque one act play, Hepburn’s own androgyny adds to the overriding gay mystique this piece offers up, as well. The screenplay here was not only adapted by queer literary icon Gore Vidal, but co-star Montgomery Clift, a performer whose sexual attraction to men has been well documented in various books on film history, gives it an inclusive vibe, as well.

 

Nicely, horror lovers on all sides of the spectrum can appreciate the visual background for the first meeting of the characters played by Clift and Hepburn. As Venable lays out her plans while walking through the mondo crazed garden of her estate, viewers can almost feel its macabre presence, entering them into a world akin to the twisted creations of Clive Barker and HR Giger.

 

LGBTQIA fans, though, will be glad that characters like Sebastian Venable, the unseen homosexual son of Venable who controls the plot from beyond his grave, are becoming rarer and rarer. A twisted individual who used both Hepburn’s grand dame and Taylor’s innocent minx, his is an example of the other at it’s most perverse, another artifact of how our community was considered to be akin to  chosen sickness and disease for decades.Katherine Suddenly

Hepburn, meanwhile, embraced the eccentricity of roles like Eleanor of Aquitaine (The Lion in Winter) and Countess Aurelia (The Madwoman of Chaillot) in the coming decades, but never again reached the divine fervor of her exquisite, unapproachable work here.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Suddenly poster

Book Review: Testament

Published April 2, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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At the midway point of Testament, queer horror writer Jose Nateras’ debut novel, the protagonist is speaking with an experienced LGBTQIA historian about the gothic happenings that are occurring in his life. As I read, I began remembering all the amazing journalistic mentors I’ve had in my career – Ralph P. Gernhardt, co-founder of Gay Chicago Magazine…Louis Weisberg and Larry Bommer of Chicago Free Press, all leaders in queer publishing and community reporting. The ability to have this personal connection to a piece of literature is ultimately why Nateras’ book is so important. It is so rare to have a complicated, sympathetic gay narrator as our guide throughout a genuine work of terror fiction.

The narrator in question here is Gabe Espinosa, an emotionally devastated Latinx man. Still recovering from a hasty suicide attempt due to romantic misadventure, he soon finds himself the target of an entity that seemingly wants to destroy him not only for his sexuality, but for his racial background, as well. This plot point is another of the significant pleasures of this quick moving 195 page tome. Nateras imbues Gabe with many of the concerns and conflicts facing minorities residing in an already marginalized culture. Fetishism, invisibility and lack of status and opportunity are all explored here with taut emotion and sensitive reasoning.

Nicely, there are magnified scenes of shock and intrigue here, as well. A frenzied mob attack on the CTA in Chicago is almost heart stopping in intensity while the film’s penultimate encounter is also viciously rendered. In fact, one almost wishes Nateras had utilized more descriptiveness in closing out these supernatural details. A longer climax may have actually benefited this already exciting and relatable story, allowing readers to truly grasp the combative nature that Gabe must employ to fight back against what is haunting him.

The fact that Nateras writes such compelling characters also comes in to play here, as well. It is easy to fall in love with Gabe and his friends, especially his ne’er do well, bisexual roommate Bryan, and to have had the pleasure of their company for a moment or two longer would have truly been a gift. Thus, Nateras should be proud of this spooky, culturally valuable work and I can’t wait to read his next efforts in genre writing.

https://ninestarpress.com/product/testament/

https://www.amazon.com/Testament-Jose-Nateras/dp/1951880153/

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

ReQueered Tales Presents Steam

Published June 1, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

steam new coverIt is perhaps any artist’s worst fear that their work will be forgotten as the decades spin in their unrestrained progression. Nicely, the folks at ReQueered Tales are focusing on re-releasing the important works of previous generations of queer horror and science fiction writers. Now these creative giants can be discovered and celebrated by a new millennium of readers.

Excitingly, one of their first major entries for renewed and (hopefully enthusiastic) consumption is Jay B. Laws’ Steam. Celebrated in his brief career for his plays and novels, Laws’ Steam takes the horrors of the AIDS epidemic and gives them a fictionally horrific facade. The author, who died of the disease soon after the book was published, would surely be thrilled that his work was being given a big push in this time of morally reprehensible politics. His words, surely, ring just as true now as they did almost 30 years ago.

Steam, highlighted by beautiful new cover art, can be purchased at

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RJL2SPM

Be sure to also follow ReQueered Tales at https://www.facebook.com/ReQueeredTales/ to learn about the important reissues that they will be emphasizing in the future.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

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Steam’s Original Cover Art

Review: Woof Magazine

Published April 14, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Woof

It’s cool that a “woof” on the Scruff app of my phone means that some dude 3000 miles away from me thinks that I’m hot. But, in all honesty, it’s a magazine like Woof! Dog Eat Cinema Magazine that truly brings out the beast in me!

Coming straight from the dirty sheets of The Netherlands, courtesy of editor-creator Hans Minkers, this publication is perfectly pulsating with provocatively illustrated articles on everything from post apocalyptic roller skate movies to the filmic output of Draculina publisher Hugh Gallagher. You can also find substantive reports on the movies of Andy Milligan (Issue #4, Hans Van De Broeck) and the creations of director-producer Johan Vandewoestijne (Issue #5, Van De Broeck), one of the men responsible for the popular Troma title Rabid Grannies.

As someone who prides himself on owning as many variants of Alice, Sweet Alice on tape as possible, I also love how each issue focuses on a different VHS collector, honing in on their special interests and passion films. Minkers also is the force behind one of the more enjoyable regular features, Whatever Lola Wants. Here, he reviews a VHS from his collection that has been chosen by his 4 year old daughter. Thus, we are treated to explorations of films as varying as Clue and Stephen Spielberg’s Duel.

Woof 2Nicely, decadent artwork is one of the primary focuses of this vibrant creation, as well. Sane Van Der Horst’s howlingly phallic creation in Issue #3 is a standout while Printsploitation founder Scott R. Miller contributes a centerfold full of unique performers for the publication’s latest issue. Willie Darktrousers also comes up with some enjoyably monstrous creations for the Gallagher feature.

And while the sleaze and grease of psychotic celluloid aberrations fully populate this enterprise, the feministic perspective is not ignored here. Laura Louwes is always on hand to give smart and fun reactions to classic porn titles with A Woman’s Perspective.

Issues of Woof are available for purchase by contacting woofmagazine@hotmail.com.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Review: Prime Cuts, V2

Published July 9, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Even if I could go home again…I wouldn’t want to. Although, expanding the population there from 600 to 601 might be quite the achievement.

Thankfully, for gore loving comic adventurers, the young and handsome Todd does return to Pure Springs, the place of his birth, after years of being locked away in a cosmetology prison, in Prime Cuts, a delightfully eccentric graphic event. Settling in behind a pizzeria filled with low life hoods and electric degenerates, Todd is determined to revenge himself and his family, a la Sweeney Todd. With an accidental murder setting the final tone for the first volume, the recently released second installment gives a bit more background to Electra, Todd’s calculating partner in crime, and proves, beyond a doubt, that gastronomy can truly be orgasmic.Prime-Cuts-Vol-2-02 2

Scripted with wicked verve and a true sense of fun by John Franklin and Tim Sulka, this arc finds Electra and Todd grinding up his first victim while dealing with a sexually ambiguous food inspector and the erotic eccentricities of Pure Springs’ motley residents. Of course, victim number one soon finds his way onto the pizzas as a very special topping and, in the story’s most satisfying comical sequence, sends everyone into a throes of unexpected pleasure. Such detailed outrageousness makes for a world that would have fit, perfectly, on the screens of New York City’s legendary grindhouse theaters and allows one to almost feel the denizens of the Bowery breathing on your skin.

Thankfully, artist Stan Maksun perfectly captures this world with a lean, punk energy. His artwork feels like graffiti warfare and he even throws in a fun nod to the film career of Franklin, a successful actor who embodied Cousin Itt in the early ‘90s The Addams Family films, but is probably best known for his legendarily chilling work as Isaac in the Children of the Corn series.

Prime Cuts (vol. 1 & 2) is available for sale in print and download at www.IndyPlanet.com. For a free download of Volume 1, visit www.primecutsnovel.com.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Help Out Bucket O’ Blood Books!

Published May 28, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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This is so simple. You could even do it while fighting off a zombie apocalypse or that lecherous neighbor. (Six of one, half dozen the other, right?)

Chicago’s awesome Bucket O’ Blood Books has been offering up scary literature frights and punk rock madness to the willing denizens of the Midwest for awhile. Now, they have an opportunity to make their frightening dream even bigger with a Mission Main Street Grant.

They need 250 votes to apply, though. That’s where your easy version of assistance comes in. Click on the link, below, and show ’em how generous terror lovers can be.

https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/b/25549

You can find out more information about this wordy institution at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bucket-O-Blood-Books-and-Records, as well.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Ghosts R N.E.A.R. Salutes Poe!

Published April 3, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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If you like your fear with a more literary bent, the wonderful folks at Get Scared TV, who offer year round free programming, have your back!

In the most recent, downloaded episode (S8, Ep111) of paranormal talk show Ghosts R N.E.A.R., hosts Keith and Sandra explore the haunted legacy of the iconic Edgar Allan Poe.

It’s truly a fascinating journey that you can watch (with other intriguing N.E.A.R. programs) at the link, below:

http://getscared.tv/site/programming/episodic-programming/ghosts-r-n-e-a-r/

Ghosts R N.E.A.R. can, also, be followed at:

https://www.facebook.com/GhostsRNEAR
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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Review: Tales of Poe

Published March 4, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Maverick in its accomplishments, the anthology Tales of Poe is the perfect example of independent terror filmmaking at its most inventive.

Collaborators Alan Rowe Kelly and Bart Mastronardi have mixed old school 50s Gothicism with a distinctively modern spin on two of Poe’s best known tales and one poem here, with intense visuals and some truly superb performances highlighting the affair, as a whole.

In particular, Kelly’s imperial Gogo in The Cask, the second installment, is a marvel of femme majesty. Channeling such vixens as Faith Domergue, Angela Lansbury (who played a couple of wicked noir style villainesses in the 40s) and Joan Bennett, Kelly also adds his own ticks and quirks to this stunning creation, one of the most enjoyable antagonists in recent history.

Kelly is well supported by the surprisingly good Randy Jones (of Village People fame). Playing Gogo’s wealthy, newlywed husband Fortunato, Jones is entirely convincing and completely sympathetic as he discovers that his new spouse has some very poisonous remodeling plans, on their wedding night, no less.Gogo

Just like The Tell Tale Heart, the film’s fine, bloody first segment (https://biggayhorrorfan.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/review-the-tell-tale-heart/), The Cask doesn’t skimp on the gruesomeness. If there is one minor flaw it’s that, unlike Tell Tale’s uniformly excellent minor and supporting performances, including David Marancik’s believably unstable Fritz, not all of the performances of Fortunato’s rich acquaintances are quite believable here, with a couple of the performers either delivering too little or too much.

The final piece truly reveals the ingenuity of Mastronardi and Kelly, though. Full of stunning images and fun performances by such genre goddesses as Adrienne King and Caroline Williams, Dreams, a take on a Poe verse, seemingly follows a young woman on her adventures as she hovers between life and death.

Taking up almost a full third of the film’s running time, this (mostly) dialogue-less, stream of conscious segment, may be a bit too much for folks longing for the linear delights of the first two pieces. But illuminated by Amy Steel’s truly wondrous voiceover work and performance as a grieving mother, this portion of the film truly illustrates the risk taking delights of this project, as a whole.

Keep up with Tales of Poe as it engrains itself further into the terror consciousness at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tales-of-Poe and http://www.talesofpoefilm.com.

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

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan