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A Wig for Miss Devore

Published April 10, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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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.A Wig Gay

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.

A Wig HugMuch 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!

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Review: Who Killed Joan Crawford?

Published November 4, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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William Castle fiends take note. If Strait-Jacket era Joan Crawford is your thing then you better rush your cult film worshipping selves to the Athenaeum Theatre for the final performances of Glitterati Production’s beyond fun Who Killed Joan Crawford?

Taking place on Tony Awards night in 1993, this engaging and campy thriller revolves around the backstabbing antics of a group of longtime friends. Of course, the fact that all the players are dressed in various forms of Crawford drag does eventually limit their mobility as various weapons are brought out for purposes of bloody dispatching. There is also the small problem of their mysteriously missing host.

Directing Michael Leeds’ cattily inventive script with flair, director John Nasca highlights the material’s expected, much loved murder-mystery tropes with zeal. He and Lana Whittington, who designed the show’s more physical interactions, also skillfully help denote the fact that this ensemble of characters are not experienced drag performers, but grown men indulging a friend’s grand birthday wish.

Importantly, those various versions of Joan, focusing on everything from her early treks into stardom to her latter day romps in psycho biddy territory (note the Straight-Jacket reference above), are delivered with exquisite, recognizable skill by Nasca. He is grandly assisted by Robert Hilliard, who puts a definite, celluloid stamp on the wide variety of wigs used.

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Bringing this brisk 75 minute romp fully into the pleasure zone, though, is it’s very agreeable cast. Compromised of newer talent and seasoned veterans of Chicago’s professional theater scene, the ensemble joyfully gives their characters a sense of specificity as a whole. It’s truly a nice balance of personalities, with John Cardone and Patrick Rybarczyk, in particular, giving an arch urgency and playful verve to their calculating, frequently divisive interactions. Nicely, Michael Hampton, as the seemingly loving and emotionally convincing Stewart Fry, truly commands attention here, as well. His character is perhaps the most well rounded of the lot, and he makes the most of every occasionally contrary, frequently whimsical moment.

More information on the show, which runs in Chicago until November 10th, is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/2804610532934028/.

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

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan