Small town life

All posts tagged Small town life

Review: Gray Matter

Published December 14, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Gray

What signifies a great horror project is its emotional relatability. Therefore, anyone who has been mystified by the behavior of their parents as a child is sure to find true connectivity to Red Clark’s Gray Matter.

Here a small town boy seeks asylum from his home life by approaching a motley group of pub regulars. His alcoholic father (finely played by indie wonder kind Larry Fessenden) has begun acting strangely and the kid has begun to fear for his life. His rescuers get more than they bargained for, though, as their worlds soon dissolve into gooey mayhem.

Based on a Stephen King story, this short film is filled with impressive natural effects. But what is most significant is the atmosphere that Clark creates. He and his believable cast, including Chicago theater actor Aaron Christensen, honestly capture the rhythms of rural life and its grizzled inhabitants. Everyone who grew up, awestruck, in such circumstances will find a piece of their past magnified, wisely, onscreen for them here.

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

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On Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

Published August 4, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

 

violet 1

Like most siblings, my brother and I had very different interests and likes. I still have trouble admitting I enjoy any Madonna songs because of his slavish preteen devotion to her. He, meanwhile, simply couldn’t stand horror films. He was totally unnerved by them. Something I found funny, at the time.

We had two farm kid friends, brothers, as well.  One was exactly my age and the other was exactly my brother’s. We had grown up with them, but they had moved away sometime during our grade school years and, afterwards, we only saw them when they came to visit relatives on the holidays. The spring break of my junior year, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning opened and I was determined to go. The other brothers were, as well. So one evening, despite my younger sibling’s protests, we set out to the local mall, a half hour car ride away, to see it. My diminutive but fierce mother had to safe guard us in, past the protests of the concerned, middle aged ticket takers and through the emotional struggles of my baby bro, who was totally and completely distressed about what he was about to witness.Friday-the-13th-A-New-Beginning-Joey-Death

Of course, once inside, we others had a blast tormenting him – telling him to remove his hands from his eyes before the violent sequences had finished and egging on his tension during the more quiet scenes. Ultimately, three of us left the theater very happy. One did not.

My brother and I were very different from a lot of the kids that we grew up around. It was a small town where athleticism was highly praised and mechanical and factory work was the norm. Meanwhile, my brother was an artist who loved digging through fashion magazines to discover his latest inspirations and I had already had a season or two of summer stock under my belt and had attended a couple of fancy theater programs when school was out of session. The next morning, as I was bumming through the house, half watching soap operas as I piddled around in my bare feet, I discovered an open letter that my mother had started in a notebook. She had left it on the kitchen counter. Whether it was an accident or subconsciously purposeful, I’ve never determined. It was a journal entry (of sorts) to God. She was thanking him for our cinema outing the night before. She blessed him for allowing her boys to actually act normal for once (by hanging out with regular kids) and recounted how proud she was that we actually were, at least on some level, like other teenage guys. And…thanks!

Friday-the-13th-A-New-Beginning-friday-the-13th-20998880-900-506Funny…It actually, it hurts me more writing this now, thirty years later, than when I discovered it then. Somehow, thankfully, at 17, I scoffed it off, realizing how ridiculous her missive was. Despite my uncaring frivolity the previous evening, I always was aware that we were cruelly scarring my brother through our actions. She was the one who forced him to attend the film despite his obvious despair, yet now she seemed to feel there was something almost holy in her intent. Psychologically, in retrospect, I’m sure she realized that we were gay and was simply try to forestall, in action and word, the troubling realities that she would have to face head on, in later years. But in that silly and shameful moment, she could breathe for a minute, believing that we were of the stereotypically sane and proud junior members of the small town status quo.

But, what she didn’t realize, and what I probably couldn’t have articulated fully at the time, was that I never wanted to be considered normal. I wanted to live in cities and know poets and playwrights and alt rockers. I wanted to act in plays and film and television. I wanted to be, in my own way, mythical and above the ordinary and the last thing I wanted to be like were these two very common friends of mine (who I planned to leave behind as soon as I could) – or anyone that I knew at the time, for that matter. And while my insecurities and self-doubts have been major stumbling blocks on more than one occasion – that is the life, to one degree or another, that I’ve led.pam

Which leads me back to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. More than pure nostalgia, I love it because, unlike other slasher films of the day, its victims weren’t jock assholes or pretty socialites that you couldn’t wait to see get the crossbow. The film took place in a halfway house for kids and no one there was…say it together, now…normal.

Who can forget Debisue Voorhees’ giddy, uncontrollable laughter as the carefree Tina or Dominick Brasca’s sweet pout and eager energy as the eternally friendless, socially awkward Joey? For many others, this may be the Halloween III of the series with its fake Jason, but for me it features John Shepard’s method work as the tortured, barely sane Tommy and the brash hope provided by Shavar Ross’ young and practically abandoned Reggie. Nicely, the film is even anchored by a more sophisticated final girl, Melanie Kinnaman’s very effective and concerned counselor, Pam.  Most significantly, though, the film features the beyond awesome, punkish Violet, arguably one of the series’ best remembered characters. She is enacted passionately by the divine Tiffany Helm, who even helped clothe the character Siouxsie-style and provided the iconic robot dance moves for her memorable death scene.

violet 3

Yes, like me and so many other horror fans, this film features characters that weren’t of the straight laced vanguard and didn’t want to be. They, like us, were brilliant outsiders and I can’t imagine any misguided, sorrowful note from their mother’s ever bringing them down, as well. Hell, anyone with half (a stabbed out) brain knows only fake Jason could do that! 

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

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Book Review: Town & Train

Published February 17, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

town and train
When I was a kid, I loved Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe, soap operas and horror films. Let’s just say that I didn’t fit in the small farm town of 600 that I grew up in…and all I dreamed of, at the time, was escape. Therefore, I can definitely relate to the beating pulse behind Town & Train, James K. Moran’s debut novel.

Taking place in a small, financially strapped Canadian town in the early 90s, Moran captures the wanderlust of both his teen and adult characters while simultaneously adding elements of Peter Straub and Stephen King into the mix. His invention of a supernaturally clouded locomotive, helmed by an evil shape shifting conductor is, also, certainly unique.

Unfortunately, while Moran definitely has talent, he lacks certain cohesive skills as an author, at this point in time. Much of the narrative here brims with awkwardness. This result is that, while he seems to know them well, his characters, ultimately, never truly come alive on the page. His ways of parlaying information about the town are odd, as well. Deep historical facts are planted in passages about both longtime residents and teen members of the community, giving off the vibe that everyone in this narrative is a historian, something which hardly seems possible.

While, Moran, nicely, tries to tackle issues of homophobia here, exploring the struggles of a bisexual police officer, this intent, also, falls a bit flat. It is not just the town’s hoods who use words like “fag” and “faggy”, but the narrative’s young hero, John, is often prone to use those terms, as well. This lessens the effect of Moran’s seeming point of ignorance, and, also, renders John’s toughened stance at the end of the novel a bit moot.

Still, Moran fares better as the novel gains steam and he creates some tense, nicely accomplished scenes of horror as he races towards the conclusion. It does seem odd that the death of one major character is kept almost entirely off the page during the interesting climax, especially considering the amount of attention that Moran pays to other details.

Thus, in the state it’s in now, Town & Train reads more like a noble failure than a truly successful excursion into social anthropology and fright. But, thankfully, there is enough of interest here to make one long to read a revised version of this tale. Moran, also, seems to be someone worth reading more of, whatever the project may be, once the kinks in his style are finally worked out.

Town & Train is published by Lethe Press, a publisher with a variety of very interesting queer genre books among their offerings. Dive into their impressive catalog at http://www.lethepressbooks.com.

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

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