Coming off like Sunset Boulevard sewn into a glittering blonde tapestry with Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, A Wig for Miss Devore is definitely one of the gayest hours of horror ever.
The queer fan’s gateway into this second season episode of the classic Boris Karloff hosted Thriller is most definitely John Fiedler’s meek yet fervently devoted Herbert Bleake. Passionately protective of the faded diva that is Miss Devore, he is very similar to those of us who defend our own muted celebrity icons to the death. Of course, to the relief of terror lovers everywhere, death does rear its head here.
Long forgotten by the studio that she helped put on the map, Patricia Barry’s saccharine voiced Sheila Devore sweetly believes that she will be welcomed back by them with open arms. After spending years away while recuperating from a nervous breakdown, her pet project is a script based on the execution of a centuries old witch. Interestingly, one of her primary requests is to use the wig that this true life enchantress wore as an accessory in the film. After Bleake blackmails the studio head, the faded Devore gets all her wishes. Unsurprisingly, once she puts the wig on her head, she becomes the picture of seductive youth and all her former naysayers fall at her feet, proposing marriage and setting her up as the studio’s queen. This fountain of fantasy has a price, though, and soon the innocent starlet is swept into vindictive rages that culminate in a series of murders to retain her vitality and ever ascending position in this imaginary filmdom’s ranks.
Much like Boulevard, this story details the price that women pay for growing older in Hollywood. Separating itself a bit from that project, as opposed to a mysteriously regal beauty like Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond, Devore is illustrated as the ‘40s version of a Jayne Mansfield type, a silly blonde who did inconsequential yet truly successful projects. Nicely, Barry skillfully takes this central temptress from innocent denial to furious retribution. She perfectly echoes the ache of despair that often characterizes the accesses of show business and its even more rampant denials, giving this project its special heart and a place of importance in the history of anthology horror…and an even more significant place in the memories of all the wounded outsiders who instinctively see themselves in her plight.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!