All Dancing! All Singing! All Slashing! THE FAN

He's hot, he's sexy, he's psychotic ... and obsessed with an aging Broadway star - He's Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn), and he's got the fever for the flavor of the goddess of the Great White Way, Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall).

1981's The Fan is a strange film that blends the typical slasher flick with a backstage fable about an older glamor gal attempting to reclaim her place at the top of the heap by agreeing to be in a musical. Imagine All About Eve meets He Knows Your Alone, or something like that.

The film is chock-full of famous faces; you've got Maureen Stapleton as Sally's feisty assistant, Belle; James Garner as Sally's ex; and even Hector Elizondo as a somewhat star-struck New York City police inspector. But the real star of this epic is Biehn as "the fan".

With his baby face and puppy dog eyes, Biehn's Douglas is one of the most handsome stalkers to come down the pike in ages. That he plays his part as earnestly as he does, only adds to his psychotic characterization. Douglas actually believes that he and Sally are soul mates and what begins as creepy fan-boy-antics on his part, soon turns into a bloody obsession.

It is pretty clear from the get-go that our boy is gay. And I for one, had no problem with that. I don't get very upset when the bad guy in a film turns out to be gay considering that most villains portrayed are usually straight - so let's get this out of the way here: watch The Fan with an open mind and you'll enjoy yourself.

That said, it is also clear that this movie was made for a gay audience. What other slasher flick from the golden age of slice and dice cinema featured:

A - A handsome killer.
B - A middle aged, legitimate movie star as both victim and final girl.
C - Musical numbers written by Marvin Hamlish.
D - The Broadway stage as the stalking ground.
Imagine if the producers of Jason Take Manhattan had included a scene with Jason stumbling into a theater showing Cats? How cool would that have been with old Hockey Mask Face slashing his way through the cast and maybe even slitting the throat of Grizabella as she was warbling, Memory?

But I digress...

Back to The Fan ; the first person to figure out that something is going awry is Belle, since she reads and answers all of Sally's mail, she has been monitoring all of Douglas's letters and has watched as the missives have become less complimentary and wide eyed and have started to become more obscene. Unfortunately for her, Douglas has decided that the secretary is coming between him and the object of his obsession - he even suggests in one of his letters to Sally that Belle might be a lesbian (ain't that just like a bitter queen).

Once he gets into his head that Belle must be stopped, Douglas follows the old gal to the subway and uses a razor to slash her about the face.

It's an odd moment, watching Maureen Stapleton scream and flay about as she is being slashed since we usually don't see middle aged women being attacked like that in films of this nature. Frankly, it's downright unnerving. Happily, Belle is tough enough to survive this ordeal and ends up in the hospital still cracking wise as her face heals.

Now that Douglas has attacked, he starts plowing through Sally's associates. First he hunts down the pretty boy dancer that Sally is seen lunching with in a brutal attack at the public swimming pool.

Honestly, this one the most diabolical things ever dreamt up: as pretty boy swims along in the pool, Douglas, who is also in the pool, silently glides beneath him, takes his straight razor out of his trunks, and just glides the weapon under the belly of him thereby gutting his victim. At first pretty boy is not even aware that anything has happened. And as Douglas leaves the pool and strolls away nonchalantly, other people at the pool begin screaming as they see the pools water go from cobalt blue to blood red while the victim is left convulsing and flaying about the death pool.

Still, the show must go on. And even though the reaper is stalking Sally Ross, she's got a show to do. So through a series of montages we watch Bacall's Sally learn dance numbers, rehearse songs, and discuss various other things related to her big comeback: what a perverse pleasure it is watching Bacall belting out these hokey songs in her rehearsal garb of a man's shirt and tights (to accentuate her gams) - you might have to keep reminding yourself that Bacall actually had been doing musicals on Broadway for several years when this film was made, because her singing voice is dreadful! But still, watching her hoof it up with a bevy of dancing boys more than half her age will make most Broadway baby's heart leap with glee!

Meanwhile, Douglas is about to tip over into full tit wacky land. He breaks into Sally's apartment, slashes a framed painting of her to bits, finds and kills her maid and maybe even rearranges her living room, I'm not sure. Nonetheless, after her maid is killed and her apartment ransacked, Sally leaves the city and retreats to her summer home upstate to sit things out. The police have been no help, and her ex husband is only good for saying things like, "Don't worry, the police will sort this all out in no time". So poor Sally sits and smokes a lot of cigarettes and hopes for the best.

It's at this point that devious Doug comes up with his master plan. He is going to fake his death and have Sally and the police thing all is well, and when she comes back, he'll bide his time till opening night and plead his case with her backstage after the show -- makes sense.

In what is probably The Fan's most controversial scene, Douglas goes to a gay bar and picks up another fellow who he sweet talks and takes to a back alley. As the fellow gets down on his knees to give him head, Doug stabs the poor sucker (pun intended) in the neck - watch as the camera goes in on a close up of Biehn's face while his pick-up is dying, he looks to be shuddering in almost orgasmic pleasure during all of this.

With the trick dead, Douglas pours gasoline all over the poor stiff, sets him on fire, and leave a suicide note nearby.

Thinking that all is well, Sally comes back to the Big Apple and prepares for opening night.

Finally, with Belle back from her stay at the hospital, and her ex husband seemingly ready to make amends, Sally is optimistic that everything will be coming up roses - so she saunters forth and does her show.

Once more The Fan goes into camp overdrive as we get to watch Bacall's Sally on stage, bathed in a spotlight, a cigarette dangling from her fingertips while she croaks out the Marvin Hamlish penned 11th hour number, Hearts, Not Diamonds. And to filmmaker Edward Bianchi's credit this is one of the movies best scenes as we cut back in forth to Sally on stage, and Douglas dressing for his date with destiny, the entire scene is set to the song being sung and it's greatly effective.

When Douglas gets to the theater, it is during the end of Sally's last number and she is getting a standing ovation.

Backstage we get to see Sally and her friends celebrating her triumphant night and the champagne is being poured as everyone waits for what will, hopefully be, some great review in The Times. (an aside here: I've always thought it would be have been good idea for Douglas to have found a critic who had given Sally a bad review, and then killed him as a sort of gift to his beloved; that would have been both funny and cathartic).

Of course, Sally stays behind after her entourage has left the theater and the stage is set (pun intended) for a final showdown.

Douglas gets to off one more person at this point, poor old "Pop", the guy who sits by the stage door, the night watchman, who probably had so many great tales to tell of Broadways golden years, is done in by the fan.

When Sally finds his body, she realizes that her stalker is still about and she runs insanely through out the theater screaming (actually croaking) for help until finally, Star and Fan meet in person.

At first, Douglas terrifies Sally, chasing her around with a riding crop (!) and smacking her about, until finally, having had enough of the little twerp, Sally turns the tables and begins to fight back, she even tells him off calling him "pathetic" and comparing him to the lowest form of life. That's when Douglas collapses into Sally's arms weeping.

Taking a rather oedipal turn here, we watch as Sally seemingly comforts her psychotic fan, caressing him and holding him close - it is a beguiling and effective moment in the film. And then, Sally finally turns the tables by plunging Douglas's trusty razor blade into his neck, leaving him stone cold dead, front and center in a theater staring off into space.

While it is far from a masterpiece, The Fan is a must see for gay slasher film fans. In fact this is one movie that I'd like to see a remake of. Imagine a retelling starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Douglas and maybe someone like Bette Midler as Sally Ross - hey, I smell an Oscar!


Who's Your Psycho-Brother?

Haddonfield, Illinois's favorite son, Michael Myers, has been played by seven actors so far (nine if you count the two moppets who played him as a little boy in the original and Rob Zombie's ill advised remake). In all , the strong but silent knife welding galoot, with a thing for his older sister, has appeared in all but one of the Halloween Films (Halloween 3 - The Season of the Witch).

In the original, Michael was actually played by three actors. Will Sandon played the six year old Michael, Nick Castle played the stalking version (The Shape) and Tony Moran played the adult Michael Myers who is revealed momentarily by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) when she tries to yank his mask off. With the exception of his bloody eye, this Michael looked pretty hot.

In the sequel, Nick Castle once more donned the mask and played Michael like some unstoppable force of nature who stalks Haddonfield Memorial Hospital once more, seeking his sister until he is finally put down (or so it seems) by Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), several tanks of explosive gas, and a Bic Lighter. While this Michael seemed more focused, it's a good thing he kept his mask on.

As mentioned, Halloween 3, The Season of the Witch did not feature Michael -- but fear not, several years later, Michael was back in the subtly titled, Halloween 4 - The Return of Michael Myers.

With the release of Halloween 4... it was obvious that the series was on a major slide into the ridiculous. Featuring a ludicrous script concerning Michael waking from a coma to hunt down his niece (!) - Michael had gone from a bogey man to a scary uncle. It seems only fitting that he was played by the avuncular, George Wilbur.

If part 4 was ridiculous, the follow up, Halloween 5, The Revenge of Michael Myers was even worse. Here we have Michael still in
pursuit of his little niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris) who seems to now have some kind of telepathic radar system that keeps her Uncle Mikey and her in constant touch. Oddly enough at the end of this movie, after Michael is arrested by Haddonfield's finest, a man with a tattoo on his wrist shows up and frees him from jail because...well it's all sort of explained in Part 6 (sort of). Here Mike is played by Native American, Don Shanks.

Rock bottom finally comes with Halloween 6, The Curse of Michael Myers where we discover that Mikey is a victim of some old curse that can only be rectified if the victim of said curse kills off the last of his family's bloodline. What's even more bizarre is that it turns out that their is some kind of conspiracy going on and it involves some of Haddonfield's movers and shakers as well as a hidden area of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital ... and ah, skip it, this is probably one of the worst of the franchise and it pretty much derailed the series for a bit. Once again, Mike is played by George Wilbur.

The rebirth of Halloween came with H2O, Halloween Twenty Years Later. Forget the last few ludicrous films, H2O finds Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) alive
and well and living under the name of Kerri Tate, the headmistress of an exclusive private school in Northern California. Twenty years have passed since that fateful night in Haddonfield, but Strode is still haunted by dreams of her brother, and faster than you can say, Mister Sandman, bring me a dream, Michael finds his way back to finish up what he started. However, he did not count on his sister being so handy with an axe! Michael is played by strapping stunt man, Chris Durand in this epic (my second favorite of the entire series).

Smelling money, yet anoth
er Halloween was cranked out a year or so later. Entitled Halloween: Resurrection, this movie destroys everything we thought we learned in the previous film, we discover that Laurie did not actually kill her brother, no, she actually killed an innocent man, and has spent the past few years of her life in an asylum, blah, blah, blah, Michael comes back and kills her and then goes back to Haddonfield and Tyra Banks and a bunch of other morons are making some kind of reality show at the old Myers house, a lot of people get killed and -- well, I never made it to the end of this film. As horrid as it was, the extremely handsome Brad Loree was the killer this time, and of course we never get to see his gorgeous face.

Boy Howdy, take a look at that puss! I think we have a winner for the hottest Michael Myers!


I'd be remiss not to mention Rob Zombie's abomination; his version of Halloween, a film that gave us an exhaustive back story of why Michael became a serial killer. Michael was raised by a stripper mother, had an evil step father, and his eldest sister was something of the town slut. In classic Zombie style we get a lot of flash and no substance. Anyway, this time Michael was played professional wrestler, Tyler Mane. Not much else to say about this movie, other than it was dreadful.


Who's Your Psycho-Daddy (II)?

A: The insanely malevolent Jack Torrance played by Jack Nicholson

B: The mellow-at-first-but-ultimately-monstrous Jack Torrance played by Steven Webber


Who's Your Psycho-Daddy?

Easy question. Which George Lutz did you like best?

A: The beautifully coiffed, slow burning, daddy bear one played by James Brolin.

B: The body by Solo Flex, dull eyed, pretty boy version played by Ryan Reynolds.

C: The real deal, George Lee Lutz - who passed away on May 8th, 2006?


Grande Dame Guignol: Carrie

Name: Margaret White. Single mother, religious panhandler, seamstress.

Location: Unspecified blue collar town in Southern California

Modus Operandi:
Sexually frustrated, religious zealot, probable member of Opus Dei. Mrs. White spends her days going door to door, preaching to her neighbors about sin and asking for donations. She is still not over the fact that she had sex, got pregnant, and had a child and that her husband left her. Rotten parenting skills: views her only daughter, Carrie, as a walking sin; a reminder that she was "weak and backsliding", and says to her offspring that she should have given her "back to god" when she was born. Believes that her daughter's first menstrual cycle is further proof of the child's sin. Prone to self mutilation, literal biblical interpretations, wearing black capes, and using a butcher knife in attempt to kill her child.

Camp Factor
: Over the top! When not screaming bible passages in a hysterical rage, Mama will toss her daughter into a prayer closet and lock her in for the night. Will also toss off such classic lines as, "I can see your dirty pillows", and "The first sin was intercourse! SAY IT!"Goes nutso while chopping carrots. Dispatched by a bevy of kitchen utensils hurled at her via her daughter's psychic powers until she is left looking like a crucified Saint Sebastian.

Played by: Piper Laurie


Lessons Learned from The Invasion

* In spite of the botox and face-lifts, Nicole Kidman still has some expressive movement to her face.

* The "pod people" no longer need pods to replicate. Though it is uncertain if they need iPods.

* A smart eight-year old can learn quickly to give an ephedrine shot.

* Though the invaders claim to have no emotions, they still attack those who can not be changed, which seems to indicate that they must feel something.

* Nicole Kidman, no doubt, used her tenure with Tom Cruise to get into character for this role.

* Never drink coffee while at a CDC press conference.

* Avoid this movie at all costs and watch the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the remake from 1978


How Roddy Piper and his Tight Jeans Saved the World From Yuppie Scum Aliens

From the moment we see him stroll into frame, his jeans fitting snugly, his blond streaked mullet flowing in the breeze; we instantly fall in love with part time actor/full time pro wrestler, Roddy Piper as the hero named Nada in 1988's They Live.

Based on the short story, Eight o Clock in the Morning, director, John Carpenter took and ran with the germ of this tale of an everyman who has to save the world from an alien invasion, into a cuckoo political fable of Reaganomics heavily seasoned with as much macho bravado and bad one liners as was humanly possible, and by default whipped up something of a camp classic.

Actually, They Live starts off pretty damn good. It's all atmosphere as Nada, a down on his luck guy, finds his way to L.A. looking for some honest work, and ends up living in a tent city with some other folks who are all victims of the rotten economic times brought on by that failed movie star in the White House. These people spend their days working in menial jobs, and their nights camped around discarded television sets (that inexplicably have cable hook ups) watching shows that celebrate how the other half lives.

When he's not shirtless and sweating and looking damn hot, Nada is noticing that something peculiar is afoot. Like the strange interruptions in programing (stations are being hacked and an announcer appears warning the audiences that they are, even now, under attack) that cause a blind preacher to mimic what is being said on the television, or the odd comings and goings at a local church.

Eventually, Nada charms a local youth into giving him his binoculars so he can spy on the church from a distance, and he notices folks coming and going at all hours.

Before he can really investigate, the tent city is set upon by a thug-like cadre of police officers who arrest, beat or just drive the squatters away. It is during this disturbance that Nada stumbles upon a pair of funky sunglasses...and that's when the fun starts.

After beating a hasty retreat from the demolished tent city, Nada strolls the streets of L.A. and decides to try on the sunglasses. When he sports the Foster Grant knock-offs, suddenly the world around him goes from living color, to black and white - what's more, signage is significantly changed. Where a billboard once read, "Come to The Caribbean" it now states starkly, in plain black letters, "Marry and Reproduce". More signs say similar things like, "Sleep", "Obey", "Don't Question Authority". Upon glancing at a dollar bill, Nada now reads, "This Is Your God".

If all this is not enough to send a fellow into a state of panic, the sunglasses also reveal that many of the more successful residents of L.A. are actually zombified monstrosities of some sort. And most of them have these nifty little two-way radio devices built into their watches, which allows them to report suspicious activity to ... well, at this point we don't know exactly what they are, and who they might be reporting to.

As it turns out, we discover that the creatures are actually space aliens who have invaded our planet long ago and have taken over by controlling us economically as opposed to the use of laser beams and killer flying saucers - it's really a brilliant idea. The Yuppie Scum are from another planet, and they've acquired Earth via a non-hostile take over bid.

After the discovery of all of this, and just when They Live should really take off as a major indictment of The Reagan Era, the movie just flies off the tracks and becomes a testosterone fueled roller coaster of an action film.

In spite of this turn, my favorite scene comes when Nada, armed to the teeth with all kind of firearms strolls into a bank, wearing the tell-all-specs and shouts the immortal line, "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum".

That is such a stupid turn of phrase, and yet it's fucking brilliant - word is that Piper improvised it - so make of that what you will.

Now that the one liner bottle is open, they keep coming fast and furious. Here are a few other priceless bits:

"Life's a bitch, and she's back in heat again."
"The Golden Rule, he who has the gold, makes the rules."

"You look like you fell in the cheese-dip back in 1957"

"The world needs a wake up call, and we are gonna' phone it it."

"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't Daddy's little boy no more. "

Trust me, they just keep getting worse.

Anyway, now that our hero knows the deal, he has to convince someone, anyone, about what is going on. First he kidnaps a woman named Holly (Meg Foster) and tells her. But Holly don't take no shit from no tight jean wearing drifter - so she pushes Nada out her living room window (really!) and after he falls, god knows how many feet down, he brushes him self off and walks away. And he tries again.

This time he tries to tell fellow drifter Frank (Keith David). Frank does not want to know either, but this time, there ain't no window to be pushed out of, so for the next six minutes, the most ridiculous fight scene ever put to film occurs.

In this corner, weighing in at 280 pounds from Denver, it's conspiracy theorist, Nada. His opponent, weighing in at 310 pounds and hailing from Michigan, it's the brown bomber, Frank!

Now we get to watch these two bulls beat each other to a pulp, all, presumably, because one wants the other to wear the damn glasses, and the other wants no part of it. Frankly, I think this is just the two of them working off some sexual energy, but hey that's just my take on things.

Finally, the fight over, Frank puts on the glasses and sees the light.

Next up the boys take a room at a dive motel on skid row, upon entering the room, Nada turns to Frank and utters another of those great one-liners (though this one seems rather telling), "Ain't love grand?" he smirks to his bruised comrade. Yes, to be sure, the relationship between Nada and Frank is filled with homoerotic overtones.

Anyway, now it's time for the boys to play cowboy, and play they do. Eventually they meet up with a group of freedom fighters, infiltrate the alien's underground headquarters(and in one of the film's brightest spots discover that the aliens have been helped along by wealthy humans who have a vested interest in the alien's undertakings), and shoot a lot of creatures.

Might makes right, and in the end, Nada exposes the world to the nefarious plans of the space yuppies by blowing up their satellite feed, which in turn exposes all alien's passing for human (note the scene towards the end where we see an alien duo debating the violence in film and mentioning George Romero and John Carpenter specifically).

They Live is a fun little movie, that coulda' been a contender, were it not for the dorky turn it takes. Still though, it is worth it for Roddy's bare chest, his tight jeans, and watching him struggle to show an emotion other than anger.


Happy Birthday, Uncle Georgie!

How could this have slipped my mind?

Happy Birthday to the father of The Modern Zombie. George A. Romero is 68 today.

You know him from his "Dead Films", but Uncle Georgie should be celebrated for more than those (admittedly) groundbreaking films.

Seek out some of his more obscure pieces like, Season of the Witch, a film concerning a suburban housewife who feels that her very identity is being diluted by her existence as a trophy wife to a successful businessman . Then take a look at Knightriders in which Romero re-tells the King Arthur legend via a group of motorcyclists who live out the Camelot dream on their hogs (and make note of a peripheral character who is gay and is not played for laughs).

And as for you flesh eating fans, February 15th marks the release of his latest Dead Film, Diary of the Dead!

Many happy returns of the day, to one of the true independent film makers out there!


Grande Dame Guignol: Friday the 13th

Name: Pamela Voorhees. Retired camp cook.

Location: Camp Crystal Lake, New Jersey.

Modus Operandi: Deranged grieving mother who, at first seems like a caring person, but, in actuality blames the world for the death of her only son, Jason. Handy with a bow and arrow, axe, spears, knives, can throw a punch better than Muhammad Ali. Seemingly as strong as an ox. Possibly schizophrenic. Definitely psychotic. More than likely a victim of Jocasta complex. Fond of cable knit sweaters. Will sometimes speak in her dead son's voice, "Kill 'er mommy! Kill 'er!!!" Possible member of the moral majority.

Camp Factor: Mrs. Voorhees is a force of feminist nature; built like a linebacker while busily chewing up the scenery like a drunken drag queen doing Judy Garland at Wigstock. Done in by one of the best beheadings ever seen on the silver screen!

Played By: 50's B. Movie Queen and T.V. celebrity, Betsy Palmer.

mama gets beheaded