TV Films

All posts tagged TV Films

Sharkbait Retro Village: The Spiral Staircase

Published January 31, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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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!

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Retro Sharkbait Village: Scream, Pretty Peggy

Published June 14, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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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. Scream Pretty Peggy Bette

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!

Scream Pretty Peggy SianMoodily 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!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Suzanne Somers

Published July 8, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Suzanne Ants!

Nothing quite stings like the heartbreak caused by romantic rejection. Well…except for maybe the bites of hundreds of extremely poisonous ants. Indeed, the radiant Suzanne Somers suffered, gamely (and glamorously), at the machinations of these insistent creatures in the classic made for television animals-gone-wild horror fest known as It Happened at Lakewood Manor (AKA Ants!) .

Of course, if Somers had only shown those vicious creatures “a new attitude” – as she did a few years later on a fun television special – the fate of her character may have been a bit different.

Somers, a true Renaissance woman who was also Seduced by Evil and made a deal with Lucifer in Devil’s Food, is always showing the wisdom of her ways at www.suzannesomers.com, as well.

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

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Retro Sharkbait Village: City Killer

Published February 1, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

City Killer Heather Mad

Naturally, Heather Locklear’s got the perfect feathered hair…the perfect apartment…and her stalker is of the handsome picture perfect variety that ‘80s television executives loved to provide for their perfectly eager audiences. City Killer was probably the perfect title to get audiences watching back in that soap-centric decade, as well. Riding high on the successes of Dynasty and TJ Hooker, here pixie cute Locklear faces down the wrath of a lovelorn demolitions expert while, simultaneously, finding romance with a moustache sporting daddy.

City Killer AudreyNicely, clear eyed viewers will also spot noir icon Audrey Totter as a secretary in Locklear’s office. Here, Totter provides some old school Hollywood rational amongst this television film’s ridiculously over-the-top offerings.

Built around stock footage of major buildings collapsing in unison, things reach a highpoint in this thriller when swarthy Terrence Knox’s deranged Leo Kalb brings an entire urban oasis to its knees with his demands. Of course, Locklear’s compassionate Andrea is one of them and there may be nothing that the concerned Lieutenant Eckford, played with rascally compassion by Simon and Simon’s Gerald McRaney, can do to stop him.City Killer Explosion

Highlighted by an action packed ending and by the awkward visual fact that none of the actors are actually anywhere near the rumbling destruction detailed, City Killer is, nicely, also bolstered by a solid, tempered performance from Locklear. Particularly in her first confrontation scene with Knox, Locklear shows, precisely, Andrea’s fear, frustration and anger. In this #metoo generation, harassment perhaps is no longer a flyaway plot point for cheesy entertainment, but here Locklear is able to show that, even in less aware decades, there were always strong emotional repercussions to this kind of abuse.

City Killer Heather HorrifiedLocklear, of course, made other genre-centric appearances in such projects as the big budget Stephen King adaptation Firestarter and the charming (very low budget) Return of the Swamp Thing. Interestingly, in a complete turnaround from his work here, Knox wound up playing a concerned father in 1992’s Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. (Heads up: it wasn’t.)

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

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Retro Shark Bait Village: Five Desperate Women

Published March 16, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Our childhood vacations consisted of being captured, destination bound, as our parents’ arguments descended into sharp silence…and of my frustrated father stopping, unabated during the night, at points we were warned to avoid. Therefore, my siblings and I met various nervous fingered drug addicts and opposite gendered strangers sitting in the sinks of McDonalds restaurants on our morning adventures. But…we were relatively unharmed.

The saucy quintet that ventures onto an isolated island for a reunion-vacation in the Aaron Spelling produced Five Desperate Women (1971) isn’t so lucky, though. A crazed inmate has escaped and is posing as either the awkward company boat captain or the island’s attractive yet mysterious handy man. As the former collegiates reconnect and tell tall tales of career successes and nonexistent families, the island’s loveable mutt is murdered and soon one of the distressed sorority sisters meets a similarly unpleasant fate, as well. The remaining friends must figure out who the killer really is and fight for survival until help arrives.five 4

Riding high on soap opera antics and mild slasher film esthetics, this telefilm is definitely a showcase for the beauty of Stephanie Powers, who portrayed determined heroines in such Hammer outings as Die, Die, My Darling and Crescendo. Here, she is allowed to branch out into unsympathetic territory. Nicely, this former Girl from U.N.C.L.E. brings an arctic reserve to Gloria, an often shallow and petty character. Powers, simply and effectively, delivers Gloria’s disdain for the weaknesses of her companions in haughty sidelong glances and long, cool puffs of cigarette smoke.  The other women are given a bit more background history, but this is Powers’ show and she runs with it.

five 1Gloria’s fellow cohorts, meanwhile, include Lucy (Anjanette Comer), a well-to-do alcoholic, Dorian (Joan Hackett), an insecure animal lover whose fantasies are her ultimate undoing, Mary Grace (Julie Sommars), a tender soul being held emotionally captive by her invalid mother and the intelligent and determined Joy (Denise Nicholas). Unfortunately, in a wildly politically incorrect move, Joy, the sole black woman of the group reveals, in a bizarrely detailed monologue, that she has blown all her educational and career opportunities through some sort of nonchalance and emotional disregard, to settle for the life of a high class prostitute. There is an interesting Tennessee Williams vibe to the exchange and Nicholas fills it with a coat of truthful bitterness and resolve, finding honesty where another may have just filled it with the anger of a minority actress forced to play another lady of the night. Equally strange, yet not as troubling, is an early scene with Mary Grace and her mother. In a weird twist, the mother communicates only through her nurse who determines what she is thinking through glances and then relays their intent to Mary Grace. It’s a strange and unsettling bit that fills this piece with a bit more artiness and presence than your run of the mill made for television affair.

In addition to this potent moment, director Ted Post, whose other credits include Magnum Force, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and the cult classic The Baby (also with Comer), keeps things moving along nicely and even manages to build suspense as to which of the two men is the killing kind. Both could, seemingly, be the one and Bradford Dillman brings a nervy edge to his seafaring sort while Robert Conrad allows cracks to appear beneath the façade of his handsome and reliable jack of all trades. five 2

Post also handles all the dramatics with a seasoned flair. Particularly enjoyable is a series of scenes where the sodden and hysterical Lucy, collapsed in despair, reveals the details of her unhappy day-to-day existence. The understanding that palpitates from her comrades eventually aids in the believability of the Lord of the Flies denouement that finds the surviving women launching out against their attacker in a choreographed frenzy. Moments like these make this flawed yet truly enjoyable adventure a memorable…and violent one. H-m-m-m… I guess my youthful sojourns weren’t so bad, after all.

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

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Sharkbait Retro Village: Satan’s Triangle

Published April 1, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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1975 television terror film Satan’s Triangle proves that not only is the devil a lady…but s/he is just about anything else s/he wants to be, as well.

Receiving a distress signal, the Coast Guard sets out to rescue an adrift boat, which just happens to be floating in The Bermuda Triangle. Due to the awful weather, rescuer Haig (Doug McClure) is forced to spend the night on the boat with the vessel’s sole survivor, Eva (Kim Novak), who, as luck would have it, is a stunningly beautiful prostitute.

As Eva describes the mysterious deaths of her fellow passengers, Haig comes up with logical explanations for their demises. A grateful Eva beds him, but when Haig’s associate arrives the next morning to retrieve them, it soon seems that Eva is not quite what she appears to be. ST2

While the film’s double twist endings surely would have warped the minds of any young viewers watching back in the day, director Sutton Roley also supplies some nice, dreamlike visuals here. Nicely,  Novak uses her feline eyes and the huskier growls in her vocal register to create moments of truly odd creepiness, as well.

A solid squad of grizzled character actors, including Jim Davis, Michael Conrad and Ed Lauter, add to the atmosphere nicely and the bizarre concept of Lucifer being responsible for the many disappearances in this fabled area, ultimately, allows Satan’s Triangle to fit right in with the best of those odd 70s television excursions into terror.

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

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