Her teaming with the stunningly tragic Thelma Todd in a series of comedy shorts in the ’30s brought the zaftig Patsy Kelly fame and critical renown for her clowning abilities. But by the ’40s, her career had dried up. Hollywood was not ready to accept Kelly’s refusal to hide her lesbianism or to even downplay her preferences to the masses.
Unfortunately, this proud, unwavering stance forced her to live through some lean years. A friendship with the iconic Tallulah Bankhead (Die, Die, My Darling) carried her through the ’50s and ’60s. (Kelly worked both as a real life and on stage companion to that mercurial talent.) Thankfully, by the early ’70s (with many of the Tinsel Town executives who shunned her either forgotten or dead), Kelly found latter day success in a number of Broadway vehicles. These turns eventually found her gainful employment – of all places – in two Disney flicks, including Freaky Friday (with future notable Sapphic, Jodie Foster).
Thankfully, in 1968, this unforgettable performer (who also provided ample buffoonery to 1939’s The Gorilla with Bela Lugosi), also made a pit stop in Classic Terror Town with her affably odd performance of Laura-Louise in Rosemary’s Baby. Playing a character who is overly devoted to Rosemary’s demonic offspring, Kelly resonates most in her final moments of the film. But any time she is onscreen here, particularly when she is sharing space with fellow golden oldie Ruth Gordon, is a fine one – making this often overlooked entertainer, a true unsung heroine of horror!
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
The disgruntled, time biding killers of slasher classics like Prom Night and Terror Train have nothing on the very creepy, incredibly patient Justin Oates of 1973 telefilm Isn’t It Shocking? 45 years after his then girlfriend humiliated him during a naked tumble with another gent, Oates returns to his small home town to enact his revenge – using a jacked out defibrillator that causes quite a jolt!
As enacted by veteran tough guy Edmund O’Brien (DOA, The Killers), Oates is a sweaty, candy inhaling freak. O’Brien’s commitment to this odd creature, ultimately, helps secure Oates’ place as one of the more notable villains of the small screen’s golden age of TV movies.
Working with quaint and quirky charm, director John Badham (Dracula, Blue Thunder) ekes pleasantly effective performances from his entire cast, though. Granted, many of the feature’s older generation end up on the cold end of a slab. But as the beleaguered and bewildered sheriff, Alan Alda cuts a completely sympathetic figure and he blends effortlessly with the perkily unusual energy of Louise Lasser, playing his efficient, crime solving secretary.
Ruth Gordon as the saucy Marge, the last name on the madman’s list, supplies the expected zesty fabulousness, but true pleasures are, also, derived from Dorothy Tristan (Suspended Animation) and Will Geer as a daughter-father doctor team who help Alda and Lasser solve the case. These two are so unexpectedly enjoyable that they almost steal the show from the rest of the very, very fine cast.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!