A film critic once, heartlessly, questioned why the resilient Theresa Saldana appeared in 1984’s violent The Evil That Men Do with Charles Bronson. Saldana, who was stabbed 10 times in a vicious 1982 stalking attack, went onto to thrive despite such pettiness and, besides acclaimed acting chores in such vehicles as The Commish, she was well respected for her activism, which included the founding of the Victims for Victims organization. Thus, her death on June 6th, 2016, at the age of 61, from (as yet) undisclosed causes, has hit the communities who loved and respected her especially hard.
One of those groups has to be fans of television terror projects, as Saldana made memorable appearances on both the beloved anthology Tales from the Darkside and the short-lived Werewolf series, which chronicled the adventures of a young man who drifted from state to state, trying to find the evil man whose bite had turned him into a monster.
Nicely, as the sweet and sunny Audrey Webster on the Black Widows segment of TFTD, Saldana radiates with an easy joy. Her character’s brightness is soon deflated, though, when Webster discovers, on her wedding night, that she has a dangerous craving. Reducing her husband to a husk, Saldana, concisely, explores both her character’s despair and her unrelenting needs. Soon, a priest – no true loss there, huh? – finds himself caught in Audrey’s ever nefarious web – with evidence, at the fade out, that others are eventually going to follow in his shrieking, tangled footsteps.
Formidably contrasted by the brittle antics of former Hollywood superstar Margaret O’Brien, who lit up viewers’ hearts as the adorable Tootie in the classic Meet Me in Saint Louis, as her mother, Saldana, who was perhaps best known for her work opposite Joe Pesci in Raging Bull, ultimately uses this episode as a true showcase of her multiple talents.
Saldana doesn’t get to show as many colors as Rosa in the two part A World of Difference on Werewolf, but she does show plenty of compassion for Eric (John J. York), the show’s young lead, and even for his antagonist, the determined Alamo Joe Rogan (Lance LeGault). As Eric, fights his animalistic nature in a prison cell, Saldana’s Rosa tries to assure Rogan of the lad’s essential goodness. She even reiterates this to Rogan in his hospital bed, after Eric escapes. As the crusty hunter wonders if he has been bitten by Eric, and thus become a victim of the werewolf curse, Saldana quietly conveys Rosa’s belief in the good of all men. It is a fairly small, almost one dimensional part. But Saldana exhibits a ingratiating peacefulness here that makes her passing all the sadder.
So, let us offer up a final thought to this kindhearted warrior and eternal goddess. Sleep well, Theresa.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!