Television Horror

All posts tagged Television Horror

Anne Baxter: Ritual of Fabulousness!

Published March 20, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

anne hot
In grade school, two (supposedly) darling twin sisters used to regularly manipulate me out of my place in the lunch line. Too bad I didn’t have the divine Anne Baxter (1923-1985), who smartly outmaneuvered diva-licious Bette Davis in the 1950 classic All About Eve, around to give me some (nail sharp) pointers.

anne guest in the houseBaxter, who won an 1946 Oscar for her performance in The Razor’s Edge, had plenty of practice in devilishness, though. Six years before Eve in the deliciously outrageous Guest in the House, Baxter worked her poisonous magic as the sinister Evelyn Heath. Determined to win over the artistic Douglas Proctor (Ralph Bellamy), Baxter/Heath rids herself of her rivals with glorious stealth. A wise maternal character ends this prime villainess’ run of good luck, though. In a move of operatic goofiness, Baxter’s character goes over a cliff due to her character’s major downfall, a supreme fright of pet birds!anne ritual

In 1970 television flick Ritual of Evil, Baxter shows her universality. Here, she shades her character Jolene Wiley with fine layers of sensitive hopelessness. A faded Hollywood icon, Wiley drowns herself in drink and the wrongheaded notion that a Satanic cult might restore her former glory. With a voice crackling with whiskey undertones, Baxter reigns with sexy glamour and emotional empathy. While Louis Jourdan’s erudite psychiatrist uncovers the mystery behind the coven and, ultimately, saves the day here – it is Baxter’s eternal smokiness that steals the show.

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

Gay Shit in Horror: 1979’s She’s Dressed to Kill

Published February 22, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

she's dressed to kill
“Don’t panic. Contrary to popular report, I don’t mix modeling and big game hunting.” – Model Kate Bedford to a female colleague, She’s Dressed to Kill

Recognizable as the bloodied hero of the original Children of the Corn, actor-director Peter Horton truly showed his subtle performing powers as Tony Smith in 1979 television terror flick, She’s Dressed to Kill.

Peter CliveA Viet Nam deserter, Horton’s Tony has been taken in by manipulative fashion designer Regine Danton (the late, truly magnificent Eleanor Parker) at her mountainside retreat. As models and deluxe buyers gather for Danton’s latest show, it is revealed that the young and talented Smith has actually created the entire collection. With his promised credit for the gowns denied by Danton, Smith recoils with anger. Soon, attendees mysteriously begin to be murdered and he becomes a prime suspect. But, Smith soon finds a very willing supporter.

Victor DeSalle, a catty columnist ably played by the distinguished Clive Revill (The Legend of Hell House, C.H.U.D. II, Dracula: Dead and Loving It), agrees to sponsor Smith, if he can steal back his original designs. As the two characters chat, they acknowledge their mutual attraction to men with a bittersweet dialogue that is both guarded yet skillfully apparent. Despite his character’s devious plot, Revill does eventually show some tenderness toward the younger man in his portrayal while Horton supplies some softer touches to his characterization, as well. Director Gus Trikonis (The Evil, The Dark Side of Terror) allows for these nice emotional qualities to emerge, here, in a sharp contrast to the playful quality of the rest of the film.

George Leffert, who also wrote 1977’s similarly themed The Night They Took Miss Beautiful, makes room for a take charge lesbian in his script, as well. While Kate Bedford, a safari jaunting model, is occasionally played for laughs, gorgeous Cathee Shirriff inhabits her with enough likeable pride to make her a positive role model, as well.Kate

Considering the time period in which this was filmed, the overwhelming sensitivity and various shades of personalities given these characters should be thought of as quite an achievement, especially in a network based thriller. But, it is also interesting to note that, even in the late 70’s, it was much easier to sell an attractive female queer as opposed to a male one. Bedford is decidedly out and accepted by her peers while the characters of Smith and DeSalle are cloaked in secrecy.

Food for thought…until the next time!

SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

Sharkbait Retro Village: Gale Sondergaard in “The Cat Creature”

Published February 13, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

From soul sucking mermaids to possessed drive-ins and satanic dogs, gay director Curtis Harrington’s film subjects are gloriously unusual. He, like many a lavender lad before him also appreciated a good diva when he saw one.

Counting Gloria Swanson (Killer Bees), Debbie Reynolds and Shelly Winters (What’s the Matter with Helen?), Ann Sothern (The Killing Kind) and Piper Laurie (Rudy) among his leading ladies, Harrington, akin to such Golden Age “female directors” like George Cukor and Douglas Sirk, worked with some of filmdom’s most majestic femmes.

cat creature galeIn the 1973 television terror flick The Cat Creature, Harrington worked magic with the mysterious, socially beleaguered Gale Sondergaard. As winner of the first Academy Award for Supporting Actress in 1936, Sondergaard had a quality career until being blackballed in the ’50s for refusing to testify during the McCarthy “Red Scare” trials. She eventually returned to the screen in the ’60s and spent a lot of the ’70s doing television and fright fare such as Savage Intruder (1970).

Here, with a sassy firmness, Sondergaard infuses the supporting role of Hester Black with a steely spine and a heart of gold. A former con, Black provides mothering (with some faint lesbian undertones) to the young female assistants in her pawn shop. Her world is turned upside down, though, when one of the women in her employ mysteriously disappears. As a sly cat works its way through nearby alleys and acquaintances soon lose their lives, it appears that the killer may be mystical in nature and much closer to Black than she ever expected.

Harrington works with an astute sense of shadow, here. (He would employ the same techniques in the sillier, much beloved Devil Dog: Hound of Hell in 1978, as well.) The mood he generates does much to elevate the simple plotline (which makes the true killer’s identity fairly obvious, early on in the proceedings).meredith cat creature

Old school horror lovers will appreciate the appearance of David Hedison (The Fly) as the male lead and sit com fanatics should delight to the presence of a very young, almost unrecognizable Meredith Baxter (Birney), who sports lots and lots of hair!

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