When the Golden Age meets the Modern Age things can get a bit bloody. Writer-director Zach Lorkiewicz knows this well and proves it with his fun and inventive new short The Cheerleader Trials.
Taking place backstage during a production of a school play, actress Greta (Garbo) is confronted by her fellow cast mates, who just happen to include Judy Garland, Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe. It seems someone has been murdered on stage and Greta’s costars are determined to be judge, jury and executioner…especially if it means knocking off any competition for the spotlight.
Nicely, Lorkiewicz is able to create an environment that seems both to encompass the bleak emptiness of those off limits areas of professional theaters and a vast and dreamy never-world, as well. Anyone who spends their rainy afternoons luxuriating in the clipped and precise rhythms of the black and white worlds of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis should find much to enjoy here, too.
But The Cheerleader Trials also feels ultra-contemporary due to its violent atmospherics. We live in an age when retaliation is just a keyboard stroke away and our leaders seem to encourage vigilante justice. Therefore, Marilyn and crew have never felt so (bleakly) new.
Lorkiewicz will debuting The Cheerleader Trials, online, for a week, beginning on January 22nd, 2017 at
In grade school, two (supposedly) darling twin sisters used to regularly manipulate me out of my place in the lunch line. Too bad I didn’t have the divine Anne Baxter (1923-1985), who smartly outmaneuvered diva-licious Bette Davis in the 1950 classic All About Eve, around to give me some (nail sharp) pointers.
Baxter, who won an 1946 Oscar for her performance in The Razor’s Edge, had plenty of practice in devilishness, though. Six years before Eve in the deliciously outrageous Guest in the House, Baxter worked her poisonous magic as the sinister Evelyn Heath. Determined to win over the artistic Douglas Proctor (Ralph Bellamy), Baxter/Heath rids herself of her rivals with glorious stealth. A wise maternal character ends this prime villainess’ run of good luck, though. In a move of operatic goofiness, Baxter’s character goes over a cliff due to her character’s major downfall, a supreme fright of pet birds!
In 1970 television flick Ritual of Evil, Baxter shows her universality. Here, she shades her character Jolene Wiley with fine layers of sensitive hopelessness. A faded Hollywood icon, Wiley drowns herself in drink and the wrongheaded notion that a Satanic cult might restore her former glory. With a voice crackling with whiskey undertones, Baxter reigns with sexy glamour and emotional empathy. While Louis Jourdan’s erudite psychiatrist uncovers the mystery behind the coven and, ultimately, saves the day here – it is Baxter’s eternal smokiness that steals the show.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan