All posts tagged Melodrama

Shark Bait Retro Village: As The World Turns (The Willows)

Published May 9, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

From satanic possessions and trouble making clones to distressed heroines being buried alive, daytime dramas have been utilizing elements from horror (and science fiction) novels and films for decades. During the ’60s and ’70s (and into the ’80s and ’90s), their daily format also bested all suspenseful movie of the week offerings by being able to truly concentrate on in depth plotlines that often took months to unfold. This, ultimately, allowed for layered character development and truly intense homages to other works. As a specific case in point, the classic Procter and Gamble soap As The World Turns, carried out an elaborate reconstruction of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca throughout the many months of 1979.

Here, though, it was Eileen Fulton’s worldly and often notorious villainess Lisa who was offered up as the stand-in for du Maurier’s innocent Mrs. de Winter. Known for her romantic manipulations, often involving the show’s steadfast Dr. Bob, this long running antagonist found herself on the receiving end of some dark and stormy conniving during this gothic adventure which, proudly and lovingly, carried the huge imprint of its source material. 

Finding romance with a seemingly kind, but often volatile author named Bennett (Doug Higgins), Lisa ventured away from Oakdale, the standard suburban setting of the melodrama, and settled into a remote country lodge known as The Willows with her new paramour. But Hester (Ann Stanchfield), Bennett’s demandingly loyal housekeeper, and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ruth, Bennett’s adulterous former wife, almost immediately started playing havoc with the new calm in this beloved anti-heroine’s life. Slashed family portraits, hidden hallways and candle drenched evenings soon became the norm for her – and as marriage bells started to knoll for this hopeful yet mismatched twosome, acquaintances, including one of Bennett’s publishing buddies, began to meet their bloody ends. 

With the serial’s writing staff smartly playing up the fact that either suspected party – Bennett, a man capable of blind rages and compulsive jealousies, and Hester, a woman radiating with a quiet and shrewd devotion to her handsome employer – could be the one responsible for trying to secretly dispatch with one of its most popular creations, Fulton was able to add softer layers to her often acerbic character. Radiating with curiosity, fear and sorrow, she encapsulated why audiences developed such a strong attachment to her nuanced dramatis personae, a situation that continued until the show’s sad ending in September of 2010. 

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

Heiress Horror: Sudden Fear (1952)

Published May 5, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

sudden fear
Heiress Horror explores that subgenre of terror wherein sweet moneyed lasses find their lives threatened by evil spouses and duplicitous family friends. For shame!

That bully Alexander Grumpface always stole my lunch money in the fifth grade. Did that mean that he secretly wanted to marry me?

Well, if the example of Joan Crawford in 1952’s classic noir-thriller Sudden Fear is any indication then maybe he did. Here, Crawford plays Myra Hudson, the benefactress of a large San Franciscan fortune, who, also, just happens to be a wildly successful playwright. Having fired the cleft chinned David Blaine, played with smooth charm by Jack Palance, from her latest production for not being matinee idol handsome, the regal Hudson soon finds herself charmed by this rebuffed gent, on a long train ride to her hilly mansion home. Soon, they are married and, naturally, both the other woman (a pouting, perfect Gloria Grahame) and his ulterior motives soon appear. Things turn decidedly deadly when Blaine and his cutie discover that Hudson is handing her inherited fortune over to charity and, mistakenly, conclude that he will be left in the lurch.Sudden_Fear_Kino_05158

Naturally, since Madame Crawford is ever powerful, Hudson soon discovers, in a neat plot twist, everything that her supposedly loving spouse is up to. Once she gets over the shock of the duo’s murderous intent, this creative mogul soon rallies with a plan to turn the tables on them. But will her need for deadly retaliation ultimately melt beneath her expansive humanity? Of course, it will! But as always, Joan-Hudson has the last shot – as in close-up – as she regally faces life without her two timing gent, a silk scarf drifting gently from her hands and tears streaming down her face.

Accented by Elmer Bernstein’s moody score and Charles Lang, Jr.’s appropriately dusky black and white cinematography, Sudden Fear is, ultimately, the leading actors’ show. Both, Crawford and Palance, deservedly, received Academy Award nominations for their work. Most notably, as in her other 50s pictures such as Female on the Beach, Crawford telegraphs every emotion with a perfected movie goddess technique that is as grounded in artifice as it is in natural emotion. She is a wonder to behold.

sudden fear 2
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!