Television

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Lee Ann Womack

Published December 20, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

In one of the most memorable scenes from American Horror Story: Hotel, Kathy Bates’ morose Iris shows Dennis O’Hare’s irreplaceable Elizabeth Taylor a sentimental video that she has made to document her lifetime. Naturally, I Hope You Dance, country goddess Lee Ann Womack’s (most famous) wishful tune is the music she chooses to underscore her personalized tribute.

Of course, country fans in the know often prefer the velvet stung, more adult side of Womack’s artistry.

The sassier nature of some of her tunes, meanwhile, sits better with others.

But wherever you stand, Womack is always smokin’, creatively, and currently bringing it home at https://leeannwomack.com/.

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

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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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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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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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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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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Vanessa Williams

Published November 1, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Initially gaining fame as a model and television actress, the uber talented Vanessa Williams eventually branched out into the worlds of pop music…and Broadway stardom! Grimm’s Brothers aficionados were probably awestruck by her witch in the revival of Into the Woods, while the rest of the world may have still been reeling from her sexy attack on the pop laced numbers from her debut album.

Nicely, this number even made it into a Perry Mason television film. (Talk about a flashy take on recycling!)

Most recently, this modern day diva brought her years of performing experience to a gloriously demented fruition in Bad Hair, a delightfully twisted original Hulu horror extravaganza.

https://www.vanessawilliams.com/

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

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In Remembrance: Christopher Bernau

Published October 30, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Christopher Bernau made me gay.

Well, he actually didn’t strap me down on some slick gurney and take me into some underground laboratory with lightening crackling overhead and test tubes exploding all around us… But I did come home one day from school — and there he was on Guiding Light, all shirtless and delivering his lines with a sadistic sneer as he ordered the distinctive and talented Sofia Landon Geier, the actress playing his employee-lover, around and…. Well – I got that special little tingle.

Years later, I discovered that some other handsome performer actually probably gave Bernau that exact same sensation when he was growing up. Living his life as openly gay as was possible in an era when that was frowned upon, he seemed like a hero to me. This isn’t surprising, though. He was definitely someone who made an impression on many folks – first as Phillip Todd on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and then, most famously, as the manipulative and occasionally cruel Alan Spaulding on the afore mentioned Guiding Light. There, the story of his illicit lover affair with the sweet Hope Bauer (the always honey-lit and eternally warm Elvera Roussel) raised many of the temperatures of the local ladies in my tiny neighborhood like few others did, before and after.

Nicely, in addition to his Dark Shadows experience, he also played a wildly seductive Count in the 1977 Off-Broadway production of The Passion of Dracula.

Unfortunately, Bernau, as with many of that era’s extraordinarily special creative types, was also stricken with AIDS. He ultimately died of the disease at the age of 49 on June 14th, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of amazing performances…and loads of stardust sprinkled inspiration for many a young small-town homosexual who dreamed of bigger and better (and, unfortunately, occasionally unfair) worlds.

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

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Mae Clarke

Published October 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Best known to old school terror cult members from her work as Elizabeth in the original Frankenstein, the sassy Mae Clarke was an eclectic leading lady during the ‘30s. Often playing mischievous, hardened dames, she was equally at home playing respectable, upstanding citizens. Forever, to her eternal regret, pegged as the woman whom James Cagney brutalized with a grapefruit in the classic gangster romp Public Enemy, she was eventually regulated to smaller roles in big budget MGM spectacles in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Finally finding a home on television, she was a regular on General Hospital during its early years before retiring from the screen to teach acting in the early ‘70s.

Truly giving a respectable showing by the time the final credits rolled for in 1992, her ebullient work as con woman Myra Gale in 1933’s Lady Killer shows that she actually deserves a much more prominent place of importance in the history of early celluloid. Here, draped in fashions inspired by the Art Deco movement, she coolly and calmly manipulates James Cagney’s hot-headed Dan Quigley into a life of crime. Clarke’s every action here is quietly calculating. She moves like a Nile bound Queen and accepts Cagney’s hovering devotion as her unsurprising due.

Of course, in the tenor of the times, she is subjected to her male co-star’s wraith when he discovers her duplicity. Booted out of rooms and retaliated upon with other indignities, Clarke always keeps her character’s cool demeanor at the forefront and even allows a bit of heart and conscience to shine through as this fast-paced flick reaches its speedy ending.

Fans of her work as one of Universal Horror’s most sweetly suffering heroines are urged to explore the many vibrant colors that she unleashes upon the world here. You’ll be sure to fall in love all over again.

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

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(Photos, above: Clarke revisiting old co-stars (top) and with longtime General Hospital actor John Bernadino on the set of that show.)

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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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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