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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Linda Purl

Published February 22, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

One perk of being a freelance entertainment writer is being able to spend a moment or two with performers who have meant something to you over the years. Illustrating this concept, I grew up watching actress Linda Purl on various movies of the week and television shows. As with many of the artists that I followed in my small-town youth, she personified hope. She was living proof that creative worlds existed far outside the seemingly narrow confines of my very sheltered, seemingly unworldly circumstances. Nicely, during my stint as the Midwest online theater editor for Sheridan Road Magazine, I was able to briefly interview Purl.

Of course, one of the negatives of journalism is that, over the years, certain online pieces are archived or erased completely from existence. This was the case with my mini-chat with Purl. But with another birthday approaching and the isolation of COVID still maintaining a strangle hold on most socialization efforts, my nostalgia has, unsurprisingly, been in full bloom. Thus, I have decided to revive that long ago conversation here.

This feels especially appropriate as Purl has given strong performances in two of my favored terror efforts. The clipped strength she provides as Nurse Sheila Monroe in the 1982 slasher effort Visiting Hours nicely balances out the misogynistically violent actions of Michael Ironside’s villain with a powerful feministic glow. Interestingly, she, herself, provided a sense of delicious glee, ten years later, in a role that completely reversed the more honorable characteristics of Monroe. As Norma in Body Language, she archly presents that character’s over-the-top psychotic energy, seducing and bludgeoning her victims with succinct forthrightness.

As a lover of the arts, I probably admire this fine performer’s dedication to traditional thespianism the most, though. Therefore, I am glad to present this exploration of her show business roots from the fall of 2012, here, in its (short but sweet) entirety.

From Sheridan Road Magazine – 10/2012.

“Meanwhile, the news of the Goodman Theatre’s (www.goodmantheatre.org) upcoming production of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Diane Lane, is proving to be one of Chicago’s hottest tickets of the fall theatre season. Williams, best known for uncovering the emotional ravages of the heart, dealt with class issues in his prime works, as well. Sheridan Road was lucky enough to catch up with deservedly popular actress Linda Purl at the Hollywood Show (www.hollywoodshow.com) in Rosemont, this past weekend. The amazingly eclectic Purl, currently enjoying success with her versatile roles on The Office and True Blood, revealed she is a theater artist, at heart, in our brief conversation. The generous singer-actress also, mentions a very personal connection with Williams, one of history’s greatest playwrights.

Sheridan Road: It’s very apparent from your detailed, layered work on camera that the theater is very close to your heart.

Linda Purl: True. I grew up in Japan and my parents and I attended a lot of theatre. We would perform summer stock in the living room together – that was our family glue.

SR: That’s an amazing memory. Is there a particular play that you’ve done that stands out as a favorite?

LP: I have two. (Thinking a moment. Then, happily -) No. Three! There’s a beautiful play called the Baby Dance. We performed it in LA at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. We, eventually, got it to Off-Broadway.  Then there’s The Road to Mecca – with Julie Harris! – Which speaks for itself. Then – playing Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.

SR: Tennessee Williams’ master work!

LP: I knew him. Tennessee Williams had lived with us, briefly, when I was a child. – It’s a perfect play, as close to doing opera as you can get with a drama.

SR: Were the emotional places that Blanche descends into challenging for you as an actress?

LP: The play supports you fully on your journey. But, it’s daunting – you have to dig down deep.

SR: How long did you perform the role?

LP: Three months…I wasn’t ready for it to close.

SR: That’s understandable. Anyone who was lucky enough to witness your perfect, tender take on the ballad “This Time Tomorrow” from Tom Sawyer on Broadway knows you are a cabaret artist of note. I understand that you have a new show opening this fall.

LP: Yes, Midnight Caravans…Travels Through the Great New York Nightclubs will open at Feinstein’s in New York City on September 30th. We have Tedd Firth, a brilliant young musical director, and Desi Arnaz, Jr, is flying into do percussion. He is just so talented, so gifted and I am so grateful that he willing to be a part of this project with me. The first night, a portion of the proceeds will go the Actors Fund, a charity that is very close to my heart, as well.

SR: A perfect example of how art can entertain and benefit society, as well. You have such a vast body of work – from mini-series to comedies to drama – and every person probably has their personal favorite. Is there a television or film project that is close your heart?

LP; I loved doing Like Normal People.

SR: The television film with Shaun Cassidy! You’re amazing in that. It’s, also, a project about the social injustice of the handicapped that everyone should check it out, if they haven’t!”

Fortunately, while it is too late to attend that version of Midnight Caravans, Purl does offer up a recorded tribute to that show at Linda Purl – An American Actress & Singer. You can sign up there to receive notifications of all her future projects, as well.

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

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Thelma Carpenter

Published January 29, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Broadway. Hollywood. The Apollo. Radio. From the recording studio to smoky night clubs, the diminutive, nearly indestructible Thelma Carpenter made her mark with sophisticated ease. Of special note, her 1963 album Thinking of You Tonight not only appealed to discerning jazz and sophisticated pop aficionados, but to directors like Bob Fosse and Sidney Lumet. These mavericks cast her in shows like Pippin and films like The Wiz, where her appearance as Miss One earned her a true-blue regent of fans.

Euro dynamo Jeannot Szwarz (Jaws 2, Supergirl, Night Gallery) also recognized her uniqueness by utilizing her talents as one of the mysterious Poole Sisters in 1973’s Rosemary’s Baby inspired The Devil’s Daughter. Paired with the equally interesting Lucille Benson (Private Parts, Halloween 2), Carpenter brings a unique and calming menace to her role as a friendly spinster who seems just a little too interested in the origins of Diane Show, an innocent career woman played by Belinda J. Montgomery.

Acting much like the clan of witches that terrorized Mia Farrow’s Rosemary Woodhouse in the Polanski classic, Carpenter and Benson are joined here by such show biz notables as Shelley Winters, Joseph Cotten, Dark Shadows‘ eternal Jonathan Frid and Abe Vigoda in making sure that Montgomery submits to her reluctant character’s predetermined satanic fate. Nicely acting off each other’s unique energy, this duo also invests their interactions with a quirky sense of humor, as well.

Indeed, Carpenter’s quiet weirdness ultimately causes Show/Montgomery to claim, as she herself so authoritatively did in the golden age of television, that You’re Driving Me Crazy!

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Kurtis Mantronik

Published August 30, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

mantronix-final-2000x1884

At 6’6”, Kurtis Mantronik could certainly qualify, via physical stats alone, as one of the Kings of Hip-Hop and Dance music. But his supreme talents as a producer, DJ and writer, including a stint as the founder of the legendary Mantronix, place him fully in that category, as well.

The inclusion of his Big Band B-Boy on the Return of the Living Dead II soundtrack has also earned him a place in horror movie history, but this Jamaican-Arabian wonder is continually reinventing himself (as a lifetime honoree in the arts) at http://www.kurtismantronik.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/KurtisMantronixOfficial.

return-of-the-living-dead-part-ii

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

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No – High School. Yes – Reunion from Hell!!

Published August 28, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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What is the one place that someone who grew up gay in a small farming town with a love for horror & theater & punk rock music NEVER wants to go back to?

  1. High school.
  2. High School.
  3. High School.

Correct Answer – All of the above!

Now, I don’t know if that is the exact concept that director-writer Hayden Newman is playing with in the upcoming ‘90s referencing horror film Reunion from Hell, but whatever focus this LGBTQIA based piece takes, it ultimately sounds like it will be a lot of fun – a true treat for genre lovers from all backgrounds.

Newman, who hopes (COVID willing) to begin filming this fall, has also announced an amazing cast for the project. Sordid Lives co-star and noted gay activist Jason Dottley will be playing Reese Sanders here, while Cathy Podewell (Night of the Demons) and Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) have also been added as the project’s topliners.

For more information on the film and its indie-a-go-go campaign, please visit https://www.facebook.com/reunionfromhell and https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/reunion-from-hell-filming-funds?fbclid.

Until the next time, screw teenage angst…& SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Little Richard

Published August 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Little Richard

If rock ‘n roll and horror movies go hand in hand, then the late, lamented Little Richard was the king of both genres. His great showmanship and historic run of hits resulted in his songs being included on the soundtracks of such ‘80s classics as Christine and Predator. Why, it’s enough to give someone the heeby-jeebies.

Perhaps more importantly, Richard’s outrageous flamboyance helped pave the way for many in the LGBTQIA community, a legacy that means just as much as all the amazing music that he left behind.

Christine

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

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Style Icons of Horror: Getting Wiggy with Days’ Eve

Published August 19, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Eve Main

Have Wig, Will Revenge!

Always more of a misunderstood anti-heroine, Days of our Lives’ Eve Donovan (the always emotive Kassie DePaiva) has recently emerged as an evil mastermind, a character type that fans of horror films are very familiar with.

After kidnapping her daughter’s murderer and torturing him in a warehouse outside of New York City, Eve has recently arrived in Salem, IL, where the show is based, to finish off her revenge scheme.

Eve and Claire

Eagled eyed Claire (Isabel Durant) sees through Eve’s disguise!

Naturally knowing she is under suspicion for her criminal activities, Eve reemerged disguised in a black wig – a perfect terror flick accoutrement – and an accessory put to good use by everyone from Morticia Addams to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Of course, you can be in good company, too – by watching Days which airs, weekdays, Monday – Friday on NBC.

https://www.facebook.com/daysofourlives

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

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Black Wigs in Horror

Samara, Morticia and Elvira: The Most Famous Black Wigs in Horror!

Hopelessly Devoted To: LaWanda Page

Published July 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

LaWanda Page Main

Best known for fully bringing Aunt Esther’s opposition-style antics towards Redd Foxx’s opinionated Fred Sanford on the classic sitcom Sanford and Son to full bloom, the irreplaceable LaWanda Page was also a highly regarded comedienne with material that was a little bluer than mainstream ‘70s television audiences might have expected.

 

Terror fans, meanwhile, are sure to remember Page’s hysterically accurate response to some supernatural shenanigans in the ‘80s cult classic Mausoleum. While the exaggerated tone here may suggest something akin to the less than PC characterizations of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and others, Page always maintains her control and, by the film’s end, her character seems like one of the smarter ones when it comes to dealing with the film’s bloody antics.

 

Page, who died at the age of 82 in 2002, also made appearances in such favorites as Friday, The Meteor Man and Shakes, the Clown earning her a much deserved and devoted following that continues to this day.

LaWanda Page Shakes

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

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LaWanda Page Mausoleum

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Della Reese

Published June 28, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Della Reese

Much grittier than her Touched By An Angel persona may have suggested, the amazingly eclectic Della Reese had a vast, multi-leveled career. Her extensive credits even include an appearance in Psychic Killer, a horror effort directed by B-movie stalwart Ray Danton, the one time husband of Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams.

Audiophiles meanwhile have embraced One More Time, a mid-60s recording effort that finds Reese at the peek of her performing powers.

A more sensual Reese is discovered on her interesting cover of Bob Dylan’s Lay, Lady, Lay, as well.

Proving herself to be a performer of many moods and textures, Reese is eternally honored at https://dellareese.com/.

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

Psychic-Killer-Neville-Brand-Della-Reese

Reese with Neville Brand in Psychic Killer

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Pride Month Crush – Michael Philip

Published June 27, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Michael CharmedGrowing up in a small farm town of 600 in the ‘80s, most of my crush material was derived from soap opera broadcasts and late-night horror flicks on HBO. Oftentimes, there was cross pollination of the genres – Steve Bond (General Hospital, The Prey), Brian Matthews (The Young and the Restless, The Burning), Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th, Guiding Light), Christopher Goutman (The Prowler, Search for Tomorrow), David Oliver (Another World, The Horror Show), David Wallace (Days of Our Lives, Mortuary) and so many others significantly participated in both mediums.

The grave voiced Michael Philip, who played Donna Logan’s bad boy boyfriend Mark Mallory for a year on The Bold and the Beautiful, was one of my favorites of that era. With his smooth chest, masculine demeanor and deep vocal rhythms, he seemed like perfect fantasy husband material to me.

His follow-up appearances since that dramatic heyday have been sporadic, but truly unique. He pops up as a depression era protestor in the Roger Corman produced Big Bad Mama II and hosted the short-lived science fiction series Welcome to Paradox, as well. His distinctive qualities also found outlets in such comedies as Married…with Children and Police Academy: The Series. Michael Frday

Television terror aficionados are sure to recognize him from his appearances on Friday the 13th: The Series and Charmed, as well. As a murderous lifeguard beguiled by a body swapping amulet in The Long Road Home (3/15), he quickly met his end on F13:TS. His screen time as Stefan (main photo), an essence evaporating photographer, on Charmed was a bit more significant and fans of that show hold him in high regard as one of that popular production’s wiliest demons.

In the years since, Philip has continued his career as a successful voice over artist, business man and father…and would probably be very happy to know that I still own that 8×10 that he sent me decades ago!

Michael Autograph

 

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ella Fitzgerald

Published May 3, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Supernaturally talented, the divine Ella Fitzgerald shunned the more ostentatious aspects of show business, putting her complete concentration on the music. Known for her historic jazz stylings, she also added shades of other genres into her repertoire, including pop and country. In particular, her late ‘60s Capital LP Misty Blue featured her upbeat take on the Nashville sound.

Appropriately, Evil On Your Mind, a track off that offering, explores the horrors of love gone on the prowl, earning her a spot on every sympathetic terror freak’s playlist forever.

Naturally, they’re in good company.  Even the musically eclectic Melissa Manchester is a fan!

http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/

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

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Ella