Social Commentary

All posts in the Social Commentary category

Shark Bait Retro Village: Crawlspace

Published February 28, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

“You took him to your bosom in some crazy menopausal fantasy!” – Arthur Kennedy (Albert Graves), Crawlspace

Years after dealing with the suave menace of Joseph Cotton’s worldly Uncle Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock’s acclaimed thriller Shadow of a Doubt, the underrated Teresa Wright encountered another malevolent presence in the 1972 Movie-of-the-Week Crawlspace

Here, the evil finds its walking form in Tom Happer’s destructively childlike Richard Atlee. Discovered hiding in the titular crawlspace of the home of Wright’s Alice Graves, Atlee soon provides the childless woman with a much wanted maternal outlet. The youth is similarly embraced by her husband, played by the compassionate Arthur Kennedy, and before long the trio starts to tentatively form a loving, if slightly awkward, family unit. 

But Atlee’s infantile anger issues ultimately reach an uncontrollable level when some bullying locals don’t take kindly to his odd demeanor and try to run him out of town. As things unravel, Wright’s expressive face and eyes tell a full story – one of sorrow and lost dreams…and one full of anger and fear once things begin to cataclysmically unravel.

Although, it is often noted on database lists as one of the top early ‘70s television terror efforts, Crawlspace is ultimately more of a dramatic study of intolerance – with the uncompromising townsfolk here most probably drawing comparisons to the unrelenting MAGA rioters for contemporary viewers. 

Golden age movie fans may also want to look for this occasionally twisted exploration of loneliness, currently available on a number of free streaming services, for Wright’s truly sympathetic portrayal, as well. 

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

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Hamish Downie’s Silence

Published October 31, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

He’s an Australian living in Japan, but that isn’t the most interesting thing about Hamish Downie. As talented filmmaker, he’s combined high art and horror for years now.

The press release for one of his most poignant creations has just been released…

“TAIPEI (October 2020), Gagaoolala announced today that it acquired the global rights to Hamish Downie’s SILENCE. Written and Directed by Downie (upcoming feature film “Matcha & Vanilla”), inspired by the Director’s real life, the short film has screened around the world at festivals such as Filmfest homochrom (Germany) and the Queersicht Film Festival (Switzerland), and received honorable mentions at Just Before Midnight Film Festival, and Let’s All Be Free Film Festival. It received encore screenings at Lake Champlain International Film Festival, and is set to be re-screened this year as part of online events put on by Tag! Queer Shorts Film Festival (formally Corvallis Queer Film Festival).

Hamish Downie’s Lynchesque/Homage to Film Noir and Atmospheric Horror short film follows the story of a woman (Tomoko Hayakawa) who must survive the night with her abusive girlfriend (Qyoko Kudo), after being discovered trying to escape.”

…and the teaser trailer has recently been given a lot of attention, as well.

Please follow https://www.facebook.com/hamishdowniewriter for more information and…

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Scott Free

Published September 6, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

On the rare moments when one is able twist a thought or two away from the many social disasters that are plaguing us, it’s easy to remember that the world is actually populated with a ton of cool people. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you got to associate with one or two of them. LGBTQIA musician and activist Scott Free has been a longstanding voice for queer artists in Chicago, hosting a decades long performance showcase called Homolatte and being a very loud reminder to queer festival organizers that actually booking gay acts is a necessity for their events to be a true source of pride and awareness.

A few years ago, we spent a lot of time together working on a show called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. To this day, friends still tell me how his lyrics for that project totally nailed aspects of their own lives, a true testament to his empathy and talent. His latest work, The Last Revolution, is a social call to arms that has deservedly gotten tons of praise and attention and, as with the majority of his work, really raises an eye on the tremulous circumstances that we are now facing as a nation.

Obviously, it almost goes without saying, that It’s truly been my honor to know Scott as a collaborator and friend and it’s truly my pleasure to welcome you to visit more of his fine output at http://www.scottfree.net/ and http://www.zombiebathhouse.net/.

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

Review: A Stranger Among the Living

Published May 29, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

A Stranger Among the Living

I think the true social importance of horror films is how we often readily identify with the characters at the heart of a story’s bloody crisis. It would have been much more difficult me for to survive my rural, often un-fabulous childhood without Halloween’s Laurie and Friday the 13th Part 3’s Chris filling me with determination and hope. Similarly, the gateway into openly gay writer-director Chris Moore’s moody chiller A Stranger Among the Living is how much we sympathize and relate to Henry Lyle, the film’s sensitive lead who finds his life thrown off balance after a violent crime occurs at his place of work.

A struggling actor with an emotionally suffocating mother, Lyle finds himself shadowed here by mysterious figures after he switches assignments with a fellow teacher in order to attend an audition. When his coworker expires in a school shooting, he soon realizes, much like Carnival of Souls’ Mary Henry or Final Destination’s Alex Browning, that death isn’t quite through with him yet.

Played with quiet conviction by the talented Jake Milton, Lyle is already burdened by the time we meet him. Unfulfilled with his career path, he is seemingly afraid to commit too fully to any life choice less he be disappointed. He is uninterested in romance, making him perhaps the first asexual protagonist in a genre project. But even the virgin as final girl/guy trope may not save him as his friends and family soon begin to disappear or meet mysterious fates.

A Stranger Among the Living 2That Moore makes those supporting contemporaries an often sympathetic and aggregable bunch is another of this film’s strengths. Even as she tries to strangle the few tremulous ambitions that Henry retains, actress Victoria Posey brings a soft vulnerability to Patsy, Lyle’s needy, traumatized mother. Moore, himself, brings a ray of fun and energy into the film’s world with his take on the flamboyant Jarvis Coker, a zany addict who ingratiates himself into Henry’s life after they meet at a support group.

As with his previous films, including Blessed Are the Children and Triggered, Moore applies a bit of political consciousness here, as well. But, most importantly, with Henry he presents us with a character that reflects the insecurities and indecisions that we all so often face in a world that seems odder and more hostile with every passing moment.

More information on Stranger, including screening events and links, is available at https://www.facebook.com/astrangeramongtheliving/.

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

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Book Review: Testament

Published April 2, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Testament-f

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!

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steam 1

Steam’s Original Cover Art

Spinsters of Horror

Published May 2, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Spinsters of Horror

Social media has its drawbacks. But if you’re lucky, you can also discover the coolest people, including many who live many miles away.

Speaking to that point, I’ve recently stumbled upon two amazing women, Kelly and Jessica. They are true horror lovers, exciting podcasters and they, sparkle bewitchingly, with a true sense of fun. I really think you need to check them out.

Nicely, not only do they, as the (Ontario based) Spinsters of Horror, produce podcasts that are gleeful, but they also look at gender and other social constructs in the genre with a serious eye and a spot on analytic expertise.

Be sure to find out about everything these two goddesses of cinematic mayhem at

https://www.spinstersofhorror.com/ and

https://www.facebook.com/spinstersofhorror/.

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

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Absolutely Not’s Glitch

Published March 6, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

glitch.jpg

There are gods and goddesses of rock that are known, worldwide. Others carry a local beat. Case in point: Donnie Moore, the gay ringleader of punk pop auteurs Absolutely Not, and Lindsey Charles, the dynamic force behind art rock provocateurs The Cell Phones, are Midwest sensations that deserve to conquer the universe as a whole.

Nicely, both of these amazing talents have a love for horror. Moore’s concept for Glitch, AN’s latest single, features a Trump masked serial killer and Charles as an industrious black final girl, something the entertainment world truly needs more of. By that I mean, of course, women of color kicking ass and not obnoxious sociopaths bringing us evermore teetering to the point of disaster!

Be sure to keep up with Absolutely Not, who just released their second full length album, at https://www.facebook.com/AbsolutelyNotMusic. The Cell Phones, meanwhile, are consistently making all things seem possible at https://www.facebook.com/cellphonesband/.

dual band

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

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The Creeping

Published November 24, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Creeping 2.jpg

This fall I discovered, once again, how effectively the things that haunt you can be made into art.  The revelations of the predatory status of multiple priests in such areas as Western New York, Philadelphia and Indiana definitely triggered something deep within me – and with the help of the horror genre and my writing background, I was able to parlay these emotions into a creative project.

Thankfully, this exploration quickly found a home. My short play, The Creeping, debuted this October at the UWWFest at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago.  Thus, I was not only able to explore the ever tangled tendrils of my past, but I got to watch a small cast of actors grow, immeasurably, throughout the process. That the director of the event, Davette Franklin, is a young black woman was also an incredibly encouraging development. As I care, less and less, about the straight white male take on what haunts us, it was a beautiful feeling to be a part of an event curated by a young, strong female who chose pieces that spoke, in some way, to her experience in the world.

In gratitude, I present The Creeping here for anyone who may be interested in reading it.

(Marlene is sitting at the kitchen table, cutting articles out of a stack of newspapers. Christian enters, sleep bleared and hesitant. He stops and watches Marlene. She notices him and points to a plastic thermos on the table.)

Marlene: Orange juice mixed with a generic sports drink will not make one’s stomach erupt. Contrary to popular belief, that little kid from the cereal commercial is still alive and well and selling insurance in Minnesota.

Christian: I know. I slept with him when I was touring with those Tennessee Williams one acts. Remember?

Marlene: Hey, that’s right!

Christian: And that wasn’t meant for you.

Creeping 4.jpg(Christian grabs the thermos from the counter, walks to the sink and empties it.)

Marlene: I hope not. (She contemplates as she cuts and then she laughs out loud.) You always were such a little star fucker. Even as a teen you used to moon over all those daddy types on the soap operas. You’d rush in all sweaty and out of breath just to catch the last 15 minutes of Guiding Light or General Hospital or whatever the hell you were watching at the time.

Christian: Thanks…mom…for the memories. You do know I wasn’t sprinting home from school just to partake in Michael Swan’s abs. I was trying to avoid being slaughtered by Mick Finney and his gang.

(Christian eyes something outside the window. The Creeper slinks into view. The two look at each other and Christian gasps. The Creeper disappears.)

Marlene: What?

Christian: Nothing.

Marlene: Well, why are you looking around so nervously? (She starts to catch his nervous energy.) They’re not still out there…are they?

Christian: No

Marlene: Stop making me so anxious then. Hell, I don’t know why I’m worrying. Finney died in a motorcycle accident years ago…or was it testicular cancer that got him?

Christian: How could you confuse the two?

Marlene: They both have the same outcome.

(Christian moves closer to Marlene, pacing and keeping an eye out for movement outside the window. The Creeper emerges and disappears throughout their conversation, circling closer and closer to them.)

Christian: How many of those are you cutting up?

Marlene: 25…or 50! Hell, there may even be 100 here. We have been vindicated. Lou and 25 other priests were named in this newspaper. I’m just letting certain people know.

Christian: Facebook’s not good enough for you?

Marlene: There’s just something about the fucking stamp fairy that does my heart good, you know? Hey. Instead of just pacing back and forth, you could clean up some of that wax and glass in the spare bedroom. It’s just like you’re in high school again. What the hell were you doing in there, anyhow?

(She goes to put her breakfast plate away in the sink. She and Christian face each other, awkwardly.)

Christian: Why, Marlene?

Marlene: What?

Christian: Why did you have to pursue this? Why couldn’t you just let it stay in the past?

Marlene: The truth deserved to be told, Christian.

Christian: Sure. Names should be named. The villagers need to know about the monsters in their midst.

Marlene: C’mon! The church put those perverts back out into world without letting anyone know. They were living next to schools and dog parks and…

Christian: But sometimes the monsters aren’t just flesh and blood, mother. You know that.

Marlene: Oh, please. Unless you call on them, other monsters aren’t real. You haven’t called on them have you, Chris?Creeping 5.jpg

Christian: You know that I walked in on them – Dad and Father Lou. Before Lou started with… well, you know.

Marlene: Of course I knew. Then there was everyone who doubted you, me…for years.

Christian: I don’t care about them. I cared about you.

Marlene: Oh, I know you did, honey.

Christian: I cared that you wouldn’t listen to me, wouldn’t let this drop. So, I –

Marlene: What?

Christian: Oh, mom. You always say you understand.

Marlene: I do.

Christian: But you couldn’t possibly. The things you brought up again with this quest….the twisted memories. I couldn’t sleep at night. They warped my mind. I wanted to send them back to the dark place, that land of vaporous, slightly out of reach nightmares. I needed to.

Marlene: Chris? What the hell are you telling me?

Christian: All those years of avoiding sidewalk cracks, ignoring neighborhood taunts about your eccentricities…I didn’t want to hurt you…then. But after these past months of your insistent questioning… this invasive preoccupation of yours… You had to know exactly what went on in the rectory, detail by brain curdling detail.

Marlene: It was the only way to get the courts to believe us.

Christian: No.

Marlene: Please! Besides, it had happened so long ago. It shouldn’t have affected you like this. Always flittering off on some artistic journey…it was important for you to man up and stick around, make sure all the new charges would stick.

Christian:  Don’t you see? No matter what good you were trying to do, all I wanted to do was get away from you. Then, after awhile, all I wanted was for it to take you away from me…take away the past, everything you dredged up. I wanted to be free of you, finally free.

Marlene: No.

(The Creeper circles ever closer and closer to Christian. They become more and more aware of each other.)

Christian: So, I called to it again…bled myself…offered up that wine you got from Italy last year…the cheese from that Amish farm in Pennsylvania. I gave it gifts, chanted in chalk circles, for hours, while you canvassed the suburbs and led rallies on street corners.

Marlene: But that’s just a myth. It’s just a myth, a legend. And…what do you mean? Called to it again!?

Christian: Haven’t you wondered why there have been so many sudden disappearances over the years? What about the other members of Finney’s gang? They weren’t scholars. They didn’t scamper off to high paying jobs and distinguished tenures at heady, far off universities.

Marlene: I just thought they caroused themselves to death. Hell, I thought maybe even the sicko that had pestered you had gotten to them, as well. Made ‘em sink ship and drown…and good riddance!

Christian: You can’t blame every tragedy on organized religion. Some things you have to blame on me. You see that don’t you?

(Marlene begins to sense the presence of The Creeper and begins to buy into Christian’s story.)

Marlene: Looking at you, now I do. Yes.

Christian: They hurt me, mom. Even after I thought I escaped. So, I had to make them disappear. It helped.

Marlene: Now, I’ve hurt you, right?

Christian: Yes.

Marlene: Damn you. (She contemplates the situation for a moment.) Fine!

(Marlene begins to gather up the newspapers and paper scraps and begins to throw them away.)

Christian: So, what are you doing?

Marlene: Throwing these out, forgetting this madness. Get your things together. Pack just what you need. We’ll go to the lake house, escape for a few days. We’ll call your aunt. She’s always messing around with those tarot cards, metaphysical yoga techniques…all that crap. We’ll figure out a way. She’ll help us.

Christian: It’s too late. I’ve been feeling it get closer and closer for days.

Marlene: So, we run…far, far away.

Christian: That won’t work. Look. Look at me.  It’s like I’m fading away. It’s invading me…filling my pores. It’d find me anywhere we went.

Marlene: No. I’ll protect us. I’ll really protect you this time. I’ll…I’ll go clean up that room. If I destroy the evidence, wipe away its connection to us, it’ll disappear. It’ll find someone else to haunt.

Christian: No. (Christian grabs Marlene and stops her.)  I thought it’d be drawn to you…to your overwhelming energy…all that grasping, desperate need. But I didn’t realize how much despair lived on in me. Marlene, I discovered the truth about myself…and I’m lost.

Marlene: No, you’re not. Creeping 3

Christian: I am. You’re not. But I am. My soul is a yawning pit of quivering tar and it wants to wallow in all that misery, that dank fear. It’s here for me. Not for you. It tricked me. Can’t you feel it…there at the door!

(The Creeper draws closer and closer to the two of them.)

Marlene: Yes. Yes, I can.

Christian: But, mother…

Marlene: What?

(Christian and The Creeper lock eyes. They move towards each other.)

Christian: I think it’s going to be okay. Maybe…just maybe…in time, it’ll suck everything away…coat my synapses with its sticky webs of neediness…and maybe, just maybe…when I’m tucked somewhere in its yawning grasp, I will finally…finally be able to forget. Wouldn’t that be good?

Marlene: What? What, Chris?

Chris: To let all of this go – to be finally able to forget.

(The Creeper reaches his hands out to Christian, beckoning. Christian nods and moves toward him as Marlene, helplessly, watches. The lights go black.)

The Creeping by Brian Kirst premiered at The UWWFest at The Goodman Theatre, in Chicago, on October 27th, 2018. Director: Davette Franklin. Marlene: Kathryn Berghoff.  Christian: Shane Malecha. The Creeper: Jade Lun.

Creeping 1.jpg

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

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Great Performances: Linnea Quigley in Night of the Demons

Published October 6, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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linnea night

All horror fans bemoan the lack of respect that their favorite performers receive in the world at large. For every Frederic March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Kathy Bates (Misery) and Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), there are hundreds of wonderful performances overlooked.

What is even more amazing is when one of these incisive portrayals comes from an unexpected place. One may expect a lot of fun and vibrant energy emanating from the young actors in Kevin S. Tenney’s beloved original Night of the Demons, but for the sharp eyed, the legendary Linnea Quigley actually gives a masterful, dual toned performance as the flirty Suzanne here.

Quigley, in her mid-twenties at the time of her casting, has admitted to feeling uncomfortable with playing another teenager – especially as she was surrounded by cast mates that were barely out of high school themselves. But in this tale of a group of friends encountering demonic mayhem at a Halloween party, Quigley delivers with confidence and a surprising duality. In fact, her reluctance in playing another stereotypical sexpot actually gives her work here an almost Meta quality.

She hits all the right comic notes, for sure. Her flirtatious dialogue is delivered with aplomb. But her heightened real life awareness also brings a sense of commentary to her work. She does everything the role requires while giving it a wink. She seems to know that her lines are ridiculously sexual and that, while her character is the ultimate, over-the-top male fantasy, she is not buying into herself. Thus, she almost delivers a dialogue on the predictability of the role while staying true to it, as well. It’s a remarkable feat and one she, seemingly, accomplished unknowingly. She simply followed the mark of her true instinct and natural artistry.

Nicely, those in Chicago will be able to experience this phenomenon on the big screen on Friday, October 6th. Quigley, herself, will be present for a showing of the film at the Davis Theatre in Lincoln Square at midnight. More information on the free event is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/1418103908296624.

Naturally, I hope to see you there…and until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE,

Big Gay Horror Fan!

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