The irreplaceably talented Larry Kert definitely knew the glaring disparities involved with a career in show business. Exploding into the pubic consciousness as Tony in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, he ultimately found that role would be the one that he was best known for despite decades of fine portrayals and other significant career highs.
Truly eclectic, he counterbalanced the glaring romanticism of his most famous work as the heavy drinking, casually seductive acrobat George in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, an enjoyable 1962 horror outing from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Written by terror wunderkind Robert Bloch and featuring a notorious shock ending, this outing has a lot in common with such carnival themed shockers as Circus of Horrors and Berserk.
Paired with the voluptuous Diana Dors, who also played a similar role in the previously mentioned Berserk, Kert radiates with a subtle cockiness and bravado here. But as he discovers that Dors’ schemes contain an inherently murderous malice, this musically toned pro shows his character’s true humanity and concern, creating a complex portrait of a tortured soul.
While winning further acclaim for his work in such theater projects as Cabaret and Company, replacing both male leads in their initial runs to great renown, Kert was also spoken about highly by colleagues who admired his courage in being openly gay in a period of time when that was considered unacceptable. Although, it has been noted that he was called out by some closeted gay creatives for being too carefree and obvious about his orientation, a double-edged sword that he seemingly rode with great finesse and steely resolve.
Sadly, this strong willed and courageous performer lost his life to AIDS at the age of 60 in 1991. His memory, though, lives on through all the proud gay horror fans who appreciate his small contribution to the art of fear and the even bigger ones he made to our visibility in the fields of creativity and beyond.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
Folks, just listen to Bette Davis. Okay? She’s lived and she knows a lot of shit and she really means it when she tells you to go away! There’s a reason at work there.
Of course, if Sian Barbara Allen’s determined Peggy had listened to Davis’ abrupt Mrs. Elliot in the 1973 ABC Suspense Movie Scream, Pretty Peggy, we would have lost about 60 minutes of film time…and that ridiculous ending carved from the static of Robert Bloch’s mind would have been lost forever, as well! So there is that to say for not listening to a wise traveler’s advice.
Indeed, this creepy mansion based time warp, bred from the same cloth as William Castle’s Homicidal and Bloch’s Psycho, may not fly, politically, today. But Allen offers a very determined heroine and while the character’s reckless stupidity is paramount, the enthusiasm with which the actress attacks the role almost verges on making Peggy a feministic heroine. Doubtless, this character’s strong willed nature was surely what drew this busy actress, who also enacted the rites of fear in the psycho-chiller You’ll Like My Mother, to the role. Well, that and the pay check, of course!
Moodily directed by Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again, The Oblong Box, Cry of the Banshee), this sadistic potboiler, focusing on Peggy playing housekeeper to a distinguished yet mysterious artist and his secretive family, is obvious enhanced by Davis’ presence. But eagle eyed partiers will also recognize Tovah Feldshuh (as the first victim here) and Claude Rains’ daughter Jessica as an snarky employment agency worker.
Readily available on YouTube, this twist back in time is definitely worth a rainy afternoon (or morning) of any happy nostalgia buff’s time.
Until the next offering, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!