All posts tagged Remakes

Sharkbait Retro Village: The Spiral Staircase

Published January 31, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan


If the thought of the steel toed Holland Taylor taking over for the unrivaled Ethel Barrymore in matriarchal duties fills your heart with glee – as it should – then the 2000 television film reimagining of The Spiral Staircase will be right up your alley.

This third full length adaptation of Ethel Lina White’s classic Some Must Watch emphasizes the horrific elements of this piece. Revolving around a killer obsessed with handicapped women, its participants are now decidedly stranded on a sheltered island during a powerful storm. Thus, Taylor has much atmosphere to work with as she fills Barrymore’s boots portraying the rich and secretive Mrs. Warren. Joined by gorgeous nighttime soap mainstay Nicolette Sheridan (as her mute nurse) and former glamour boys Judd Nelson and Alex McArthur (Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach video), Taylor simply and subtly steals the show here.SS2

Appreciatively, screenwriter Matt Dorff applies some new twists, allowing fans of the other versions to surprised by the revelation of the culprit (or culprits) here. Granted, the 1975 theatrical offering with Jacqueline Bissett may have been a bit more gruesome in its displays of violence, but this version does feature some nicely shadowy malevolence and makes crashing use of its titular inspiration in the final moments of this much adapted piece of gothic horror.

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


Adam E. Hoak and Jose Nateras: The Gay Appeal of Suspiria

Published November 2, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan



Dario Argento’s superior Italian horror Suspiria has long held a fascination for the LGBTQ community. With Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining currently hitting the theaters, I decided to ask Adam E. Hoak and Jose Nateras, two of my favorite Chicago actors (and enthusiastic horror buffs) to chat with me about their love for the film, their thoughts on why they think it resonates so deeply within our gay culture and their hopes for this new take on it. Interestingly, both of these talented performers are appearing in genre style shows (based on important works of literature) at the moment. Nateras is currently flaunting some spooky excellence in Remy Bumppo’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein while Hoak is applying his beautiful voice to Saint Sebastian Players’ take on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical inspired by the book written by Charles Dickens.

Adam, can you recall the first time that you saw the original Suspiria?

Adam E. Hoak: In the early 00’s I worked in media resources at my undergraduate campus library. Fortunately for me, we had a crazy good selection of VHS and a small but mighty nascent DVD collection. Both had a nice smattering of films I had only heard of but never seen, including Suspiria. I remember being immediately dazed by the colors and the score, like Argento and Goblin just threw me in the deep end. The sheer opulence of the film was (and remains) stunning to me, and I think that has a lot to do with my appreciation of it. Suspiria is horror in drag: lush and loud; gaudy and gorgeous, things my burgeoning baby-gay found intrinsic to my newfound queerness.


Nice. I love how these films can inform and help define us. Have you always been a horror fan, Jose?

Jose Nateras: I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. Even before I actually was old enough to watch scary things I was drawn to the genre, lingering in the horror aisle of The Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. A lot of time and thought has been spent on why the queer community is so often drawn to horror films. Maybe it’s because so much of our early, closeted lives were spent in fear: of being outed, of being rejected, of being alone, of being different, of… so many things.  But horror is so much more than that too. Not only does it take fear and make it a shareable and enjoyable experience, it takes the fearful and the grotesque and the horrifying and turns it into something beautiful and glamorous. It can be sexy, campy, gory, but as a genre that is so much more nuanced and diverse in form than it gets credit for, horror has always been about pushing boundaries and confronting (for better or worse) those things and people on the outside of the social norm– the often feared and vilified Other, the outsider — in such a way, that even if that Othered Force is the monster/villain/bad guy, horror at least confronts and directly grapples with that Force’s existence. It allows that Force, and those of us who came up feeling marginalized, to be seen as opposed to ignoring us; as in most other genres, forms of media, and arenas of society, which would usually prefer to pretend we don’t exist.

Argento seems definitely straight, but he has to have some queer sensibility – especially visually.

AH: Seriously, the wallpaper alone in this film still makes my gay little heart skip a beat! Throw in ballet, witches, Udo Kier (known to me at the time as “the guy” from Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper video), the allure of the faded Hollywood icon, Joan Bennett, and Alida Valli as the elegantly butch Miss Tanner and it’s a smorgasbord of queerness.Alida Joan Suspiria

JN:  If you’re talking about horror film and cinema, you can’t not talk about Dario Argento! His jaw-dropping use of color and imagery, surreal, grotesque, and beautiful all at once, the inspired score by Goblin, all came together to make Suspiria a dreamily unsettling movie with enough squirm inducing deaths and vividly colored splashes of blood to earn it a place in the cannon of horror masterpieces. The deeply 70’s Euro aesthetic makes it sexily nostalgic for viewers in much the same way viewing porn of a certain era might. Like many horror movies of the time, Suspiria offers a Final Girl/Strong Female Protagonist in the form of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper). Yet instead of fighting for her life against a homicidal man in a mask, Suzy finds herself the center of attention of a deadly coven of witches, established within the confines of a prestigious ballet academy. Ballet, witches, strong women, all of it is perfectly suited to the taste of any queer cinemaphile, especially if they happen to be horror fans.

Agreed! What are you two hoping for with this new version?

JN: Though to some, it might seem counter intuitive to have Luca Guadagnino directing the highly anticipated remake, especially considering his previous work includes films like Call Me By Your Name and I Am Love, in reality, Guadagnino just might be the perfect fit. Call Me By Your Name had sexy-Euro-nostalgia-style in spades and his work is consistently visually striking and equally dreamy, often alluding to the surreal while tapping into richly grounded sensory imagery. Imagine what such an expert skill set might do when deployed in a horror film context as opposed to that of a sensual romance. With the iconic Tilda Swinton (a frequent Guadagnino collaborator) bringing her brand of androgynous, otherworldly, and simultaneously beautiful and intimidating talents to the film, it’s hard to think of a re-make with more potential. If the early buzz, teaser images, and trailer are any indicator; fans of the original, of the genre at large, and film buffs of all sorts are sure to find something to love or at least talk about when Suspiria comes out later this month. As ever, though, the queer community is sure to be watching with the sort of context, appreciation, and finely tuned meter for subtext to have plenty to unpack in a remake of something so dear to so many of our hearts.

dakota-johnson-suspiria-500x332AH: As for the new version, I’m certainly looking forward to Tilda and perhaps a smidge more plot. Also for a film set in a famed dance academy, the original kind of half-asses any on-screen dancing, so I’ve got high hopes for the new choreography based on the trailer.

Well, I always like to leave ‘em with high hopes! So, thanks, gents! Everyone else be sure to check out Jose in Frankenstein ( running until November 17th and Adam in Drood (, running until November 18th – both in Chicago proper.


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

Mystery of Edwin Drood



Stay Out of the Woods

Published September 21, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan


While many terror fans have been focusing on the forest dwelling scares of Blair Witch of late, true connoisseurs of cheesy ‘80s grue have been, eagerly, keeping their eyes on Stay Out of the Woods, the indie horror sequel to the cult classic slasher, Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone.

Working closely with James Bryan, the director of the original, writer-director Henry Frias Leon promises lots of zaniness and gore in this what if/parody.

To reserve a bloody tent and killer sleeping bag of your own, be sure to follow the film’s progress at


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

Re-examining Prom Night 2008

Published January 16, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

Prom_Night A number of years ago, I grabbed a huge movie theater size poster of the 2008 Prom Night remake off of the swag table at a film event. Now, I couldn’t tell you if I still have that poster, rolled away, in some corner of my ever expanding memorabilia filled closet…but I can tell you that I will never forget the look of pure surprise that came over a dear friend’s face when he saw me snatch it off that stack of terror filled goodies. There was no derision in his glance, as best as I can recall, just pure shock.

Recently, I was reminded, again, of how disdained that reimagining was upon reading Rue Morgue’s look at the Golden Age of Canadian horror, Horrorwood North. The original Prom Night, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, filmed in 1979 in Toronto, is considered one of the original slasher classics, and, naturally, is covered, lovingly, in the volume. On the other hand, the 2008 version was mentioned at the end of that cherished terror’s profile as being “much despised”.

The original film, as many know, focused on the revenge fueled slayings of a group of high school students who had, unwittingly, killed a young girl through their cruel bullying, years before. Alongside the expected sex, drugs and…disco, the film also spent some time exploring how the young girl’s death had affected her family – particularly her extremely fragile mother and her sensitive older brother, who had actually witnessed her death throes and, eventually as the film’s dance fueled finale reveals, become’s the film’s vengeful (yet sympathetic) killer. These layers have endeared the film to horror sophisticates for decades.prom night 2

The 2008 version told the tale of Donna (a sweetly effective Brittany Snow), a teenage girl whose family had been slaughtered by her (Hollywood handsome) teacher, Richard Fenton, three years previously. Now living with her uncle and her aunt, she, hesitantly yet happily, prepares for her senior prom with her adorable boyfriend, Bobby. But, after Donna and her friends settle into their hotel rooms and begin to celebrate, Fenton emerges and begins to slaughter them. Donna is rescued by the police and taken home, but the ever resilient Fenton tracks her down and murders Bobby, who is trying to protect her. After a final battle with Donna, Fenton is finally dispatched, leaving the young woman safe but further traumatized, echoing the devastating emotional fate of Kim Hammond, Curtis’ character in the original.

Despite its critical drubbing (with extremely low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic), this revamped tale took in nearly $57,000,000 on its original release, ultimately making it the 16th highest grossing slasher.  Perhaps, more importantly, there are a couple of elements in its plotline that speak directly to the homosexual heart. (Well, at least, mine!)

Reflecting on the film’s appeal to me, an image popped into my mind of myself at 16 or 17 watching a popular girl, at the small Catholic school I attended, arriving with her handsome, college age boyfriend for a Homecoming Dance. I remember wishing with all my might that I could do the same. But, I definitely wasn’t of the “in crowd” and there was no way that a guy was going to ask me to a dance in mid-80s farm country. Thus, I believe a thread of appreciative sorts is formed by myself with the reimagining’s heroine, Donna, who is doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing. (The fact that her relationship is ultimately thwarted is, perhaps, even another reminder of all those young crushes and sexual dreams that never quite played out, as well.)

prom night 3Even more so, queer men (including myself) have notoriously been preyed upon by older men – whether in the form of teachers, clergymen or family friends – adding another layer of understanding and connection to this character. While, thankfully, many of the predators who shaped our younger selves were not as murderously insistent as Fenton, they have still left their mark. This bittersweet resonance is something that especially connects me (and possibly others) to the vulnerable Donna as the film fades to its jauntily strained credits.

On a purely fan boy level you, also, can’t fault the film for its cast, many of whom are besotted with genre pedigree. Firstly, we have the preternaturally attractive Jonathon Schaech who essays the evil Fenton with a black intensity in his eyes. Schaech who had, sexily, burst onto the scene with Gregg Araki’s gonzo The Doom Generation, has also made a name for himself in such spooky fare as The Forsaken, Living Hell and The Washingtonians episode of Masters of Horror. Linden Ashby, who brings a kind glow to Donna’s uncle, is familiar from such projects as Werewolf, The Perfect Bride, Night Angel and Resident Evil: Extinction, as well. Meanwhile, Jessica Stroup, who flamboyantly fills in the shoes of the film’s doomed sexpot, is most familiar to terror enthusiasts as the female lead in 2007’s The Hills Have Eyes II, but her other roles include ingénue parts in Left in Darkness, Pray for Morning and Vampire Bats (with Lucy Lawless). Most importantly, perhaps, in one of the film’s best scenes, The Blair Witch Project’s Joshua Leonard appears as a hotel bellhop who is slaughtered as part of Fenton’s vicious revenge campaign. Fun!prom night 4

But more than that, Prom Night 2008 shows that even the most reviled celluloid can resonant as art and fulfill viewers emotional needs when viewed in the right context. Or, more simply, as another friend has stated, “There are no guilty pleasures. Just pleasures!”

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