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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Googie Withers

Published November 13, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The height of English elegance, the distinguished Googie Withers made appearances in everything from Alfred Hitchcock adventures (The Lady Vanishes) to multiple, stagey dramas with Michael Powell (the director of the controversial Peeping Tom).

If they search their memories, classic horror lovers would find they remember her fondly, as well. As Joan Cortland in the acclaimed 1945 anthology Dead of Night, Withers proved herself to be a cunning adversary for a maniacal spirit that dwells within a mirror in one of the film’s most haunting tales. As Cortland’s husband Peter (Ralph Michael) suffers greatly due to the visions he sees within the spectral looking glass’ reflection, Joan wisely uses her investigative skills to determine its history, learning simultaneously how to defeat it. Working with subtle economy and grace, Withers proves herself to be truly modern, gracefully victorious heroine of horror here.

Nicely, Withers showed the extent of her range by playing the connivingly determined Helen Nosseross in the moody 1950 film noir Night and the City, as well. Teaming up with Richard Widmark’s wild eyed con man, Wither’s spits out Helen’s dialogue with spite and vitriolic vinegar, her disdain for her corpulent businessman husband (Francis L. Sullivan) visible in every frame of film that she imbues with her commanding presence.

Indeed, with dozens of theater projects and distinguished cinematic adventures to her credit, Withers, who died in 2011 at the age of 94, is definitely worthy of significant rediscovery by today’s always hungry celluloid masses.

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

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Sharkbait Retro Village: This House Possessed

Published March 17, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

THP4The essence of cool, conniving film noir, the legendary Joan Bennett definitely presented herself as a horse of a different color with her appearance as the Rag Lady in the 1981 television terror This House Possessed. Here, roaming far from the perfect iciness of her roles in films like Scarlet Street, the adventurous Bennett plays a shabby small town oddity, driven to isolated madness by the secret at the heart of the film.

THP3This mystery, of course, revolves around the titular mansion. Interestingly, taking its cues from other small screen genre projects that revolved around such possessed inanimate objects as bulldozers, taxidermy displays and hobby horses, the residence here is not haunted by ghosts or some hidden psychotic killer, but actually causes the movie’s mayhem through a monstrous will of its own. THP5

…and the body count here is fairly high. A librarian dies in an explosion. A veteran character actor is finished off with a jagged shard from a trembling mirror and Bennett, herself, is exposed to the bubbling depths of an overheated pool. Add in a bloody shower and a very aggressive water hose (or two) and you have a project that has lived on in the memories of those who caught it on its original broadcast at impressionable ages.

Nicely, the more outrageous circumstances here are grounded by the gentle and committed leading performances of Parker Stevenson, as a rock star whose emotional collapse brings him to the malevolent domicile, and Lisa Eilbacher, as the nurse who helps him recover and soon wins his heart. Stevenson radiates with a genuine kindness and the music he performs comes off more like a softer version of the balladic work of Justin Timberlake than the cheesy pop that one associates with multiple television stars of that era.THP2

Eagle eyed horror lovers will also delight to the presence of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss, billed here as Mandy, whose opening act frolicking with actor John Dukakis (Jaws 2) is wetly interrupted by the angry residence. She and Bennett, who became well known for her role on the beloved gothic soap opera Dark Shadows during the middle range of her career, also make this enjoyable oddity a happy exercise for lovers of the femme form in terror, as well.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan