Music

All posts in the Music category

Va-Va-Villainess: Janis Paige

Published December 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Whether it’s a glossy MGM musical like Silk Stockings or a detective show where she plays a bedraggled housing project alcoholic, the divine Janis Paige always gives her all. This eclectic nature has brought her to Broadway, where she was in the original cast of the beloved Pajama Game, variety shows, where she excelled in dozens of intricately choreographed production numbers, and eventually to the ecstatic criminal bounties of Charlie’s Angels.

Here as part of the ensemble of the third season Angels Ahoy episode, Paige vibrantly enacts Joan Sayers, a personable widow who catches the eye of David Doyle. Doyle, as series’ regular Bosley, is busy helping his beautiful cohorts investigate a shipboard murder, but he gladly takes a little time out for romance with this beautiful stranger.

Of course, warning signals go off for audience members when it is casually revealed that Sayers has buried four husbands. Indeed, a late-night costume party ultimately reveals that this friendly cruise goer is the most accomplished of black widow murderers. Ever the pro though, Paige believably connects with Doyle’s congenial creation here and the sorrow she feels upon the revelation of her dirty (and very dangerous) secret allows a bit of sympathy to register on her behalf.

Nicely, decades after this episode first aired, Paige is still allowing her charms to be appreciated by the world. At 98, she performs occasionally at cabarets across the country and has recently released her very highly praised memoir, Reading Between the Lines.

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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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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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Hanna Schygulla

Published October 18, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Hanna Schygulla is so bad-ass. As one of the ultra-femme inspirations of German filmmaker (and all-around wunderkind) Rainer Werner Fassbinder and as one of the co-stars of Cannon Film’s batshit-loco action opus Delta Force, her pedigree cannot be denied!

Although, her penultimate moment onscreen may be as Karen, her lusciously manipulative lesbian, in Fassbinder’s Sirk-like The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Nicely, she also lent great mystery, years later, to Kenneth Branagh’s gothic reincarnation thriller Dead Again.

But…perhaps, her moments as a chanteuse in the last decade or so, have provided the world with her ultimate performances.

Whatever your personal preference may be, without a doubt, her singular majesty will, rightfully, live on forever!

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Eartha Kitt

Published October 11, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Gaia – for who else but a goddess could have claimed her?!? – named her properly. Eartha Kitt is everything – the sun, the moon…an eternal star! Whether seductively commanding Adam West on Batman or terrifying the title character in Earnest Scared Stupid as the vengefully eccentric Old Lady Hackmore, she completely controlled the screen. Similarly, as a vocalist she was at home with the beautiful standbys of the Great American Songbook, sexy novelty tunes…and even sexier novelty rock ‘n roll!

Unsurprisingly, Kitt, who left this mortal coil at the age of 81 in 2008, lives on as a beautiful planetary presence in our celluloid dreams and at https://earthakitt.com/.

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

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Elaine Stritch

Published October 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

She put the BROAD in Broadway, carving out an extraordinary career for herself on the stage. But those blinded by the sheen of her Tony and Emmy wins (and her association with such theatrical legends as Noel Coward and Stephen Sondheim) may not be aware that the magnificent Elaine Stritch has a couple grizzly genre credits to her name.

Significantly, in a time when the world was still afraid of lesbians, Stritch bravely enacted the role of Sapphic minded club owner Marian Freeman in the 1965 psycho-stalker thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear? Interestingly, the presence of the openly gay Sal Mineo as the disturbed busboy that the story focuses upon adds another lavender component to this gritty look at obsession and murder. Granted, Marian’s advances on Juliet Prowse’s Norah, the film’s heroine, are unwanted, affording her preferences the stereotypical ring of the perverse. But Stritch fills the character with as much dignity as she is able to while simultaneously applying her noted and uniquely salty perspective to the mix.

10 years later, Stritch sarcastically zapped her way through the second theatrical remake of The Spiral Staircase, as well. While a mysterious killer hunts down Jacqueline Bissett’s plucky mute adventuress, Stritch’s world weary nurse tends to the needs of Mildred Dunnock’s uncooperative matriarch character. Gravitating to the movie’s theatrical set-up of a winding mansion on a dark and stormy night, she ultimately provides the necessary diva antics while still remaining true to the take no bullshit essence of her character.  

With two appearances in the British genre anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, an arc on the murder-mystery based soap Edge of Night and the effective voicing of the grandmother in the animated favorite ParaNorman among her further credits, the truly singular Elaine Stritch definitely earned her place among the notoriously unsung heroines of horror before her passing at the age of 89 in 2014.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nichelle Nichols

Published October 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The physical materialization of an iconic figure, Nichelle Nichols will forever reign over all spatial frequencies with a Vogue cover coolness and a steely strength of purpose. Sacrificing her musical theater ambitions to continue giving the Black community a powerful presence on ’60s network television via her work on the original Star Trek television series, she eventually made it to the recording studios, giving some standards (and an original or two) a sassy makeover.

Thankfully for horror fans, she also brought a commanding energy to the ‘80s offering The Supernaturals, as well. As Sgt. Leona Hawkins, Nichols mixes toughness with compassion – traits that are especially useful when a group of undead confederate soldiers begin to pick off her charges. Why don’t you do right, indeed!!!

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

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