The summer I turned 15 we, finally, got cable in my small Western New York town. Of course, my parents kept us on the restrictive package. This only gave us, legally, the local station affiliates, WGN in Chicago and a couple of other unappealing options. Still, My brother and sister and I discovered, one evening, with wide eyed pleasure, that due to some kind of faulty reception in our old beaten up, ugly red paneled, black and white 12 incher in our family room (the color TV was in the living room), we got bootleg HBO.! Of course, there were often solid static lines, streaking through the middle of the miniature screen, but they were a small price to pay for such beautiful bounty and, by no means, diminished the joy of our watching, especially during those first hot few months of that unexpected entertainment oasis. Crouched around that tiny bright blob, gave me my first sense of unbridled joy – and quenched my long boiling desire for everything B-Movie and horror! This is something that late night Fridays and occasional Saturday evenings on CBS had only partially filled. And what summers – that first and the others that followed - those were! There weren’t many options, actually, but the ones given where played over and over again! Months of Morgan Fairchild in The Seduction, Susan Dey as a model in Looker, Malcolm McDowall in one of my favorites, the brilliantly creative, Time After Time, Susan George in The House Where Evil Dwells, Phyllis Diller and Cathryn Hart (Fairchild’s sister) in Pink Motel, Perry Lang and the adorable, Steve Bassett in Spring Break – and most importantly, becoming my personal favorite and my geeky gay boy salvation - there was the oft repeated Friday the 13th, Part 3. This better than average sequel, starred a lady who still brings swift admiration and giddy, swooning joy to my heart - one of my favorites of all time – Dana Kimmell!

Kimmell – later went on to a quickly recast role on Days of Our Lives (as a prostitute named Diane), and appeared, I am told, as Blair’s bitchy cousin on Facts of Life. She, also, co-starred in Lone Wolf McQuade with Chuck Norris, another bastion of cable, and had another genre credit with Sweet Sixteen – which I did not discover until many years later, post college. So it is truly her role in Friday the 13th that endears her so greatly to me.

Kimmell’s, heroine, Chris never seemed virginal – as is the stereotype- to me. She just seemed quiet, a step out of place with her friends (Much as I was in high school) and disturbed by a life and traumas she did not quite know how to handle yet. (Again, probably, much like myself, at the time that I first saw the film. Although, as far as I know, I was never attacked by a monstrously unstoppable serial killer as a teen. Unless, of course, you count portly balding priests under that frightening equation! J!)

Anyhow, I totally and completely related to, what I still find to be, Kimmell’s sensitive portrayal. In fact, Kimmell –and two others- Jamie Lee Curtis (‘Cause of Halloween, natch) and Melody Thomas (Young and the Restless’s Nikki and star of such B films as Piranha, The Car and The Fury) can be credited with my abiding love, fascination and goofily sincere respect for all things Scream Queen and B-Movie. Kimmell’s Chris was awkward and not, by a long yard, the most popular – yet she survived! With heart and gusto! And that was something for me to aspire to. It gave me hope. And, though, I have recently read that, perhaps, because of religious beliefs, Kimmell has distanced herself from her most popular works, I will forever respect her, for all the inspiration that she, unknowingly, gave me when I, seemingly, needed it most.

Friday the 13th, Part 3. She speaks! She, finally, speaks!! Kimmell provides commentary for this horror classic on the October 2004 DVD Box Set release, Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan. Along with co-stars Paul Kratka (“Rick”), Larry Zerner (“Shelly”) and Richard Brooker (“Jason”), Kimmell seems to, joyfully, reminisce about the making of this bloody cult entertainment. (There has long been speculation, something I was unaware of until recently, that Kimmell was not happy about appearing in this film. In fact, in interviews with her co-stars on The Friday the 13th Website, questions about Kimmell being difficult are asked frequently. This is something that they deny. In her commentary, she seems to have enjoyed her co-stars and grumbles only once about the multiple takes she had to endure for a certain scene. It does seem, though, at the time she had a burgeoning career on television and might have regretted her association with the film, career-wise, once they got filming. But that is neither here nor there, now.) Anyhow - nostalgia dictates that I can find little wrong with this fast paced gore fest – it would be nice to see a little more character depth in the writing– silly to ask, I know - especially from the pregnant character, Debbie, played zestfully and skillfully by Tracie Savage, but it is what it is. (The commentary makes note of the fact that the script changed, frequently, as it was filmed.) Anyhow, there are at least two amazing deaths- both, centered around the characters’ eyes or eyeballs and the trademark Jason hockey mask is introduced for the first time in this installment – filmed, originally – and difficultly, as noted in the commentary- in 3D for the movie theaters! There is, also, I believe, some of the best acting in the series (fro m a cast that, for the majority, is no longer working as performers) and some truly amusing sequences including a confrontation with a biker gang at a rural grocery store. Besides, the girls, especially Catherine Parks, are mindbendingly beautiful and the guys, specifically Jeffrey Rogers, are droolingly hot- so what else can you ask for from a quick moving timewaster besides some buttery popcorn and a nice cold Coke? (Well, a Dana Kimmell autograph, perhaps – but that may be asking for way too much.)

Sweet Sixteen. I really enjoyed this quirky and vaguely mysterious horror offering from 1983. The cast is excellent, first of all. Its one of those low budget offerings featuring established and steadily rising stars, filmed a few years before these offerings actually created their own celebrities. Susan Strasberg gives a refined and elegant quality to the proceedings, but then again, I could watch her drink water and enjoy it. Dana Kimmell is spunky, energetic and commands attention as a wannabe girl detective, Marci, who learns a few hard truths of life by the movie’s end. Bo Hopkins is her dad and is believable as a decent and kind small town sheriff. One of my favorite (and supposedly openly gay) crushes, Steve Antin, plays Kimmell’s brother - preparing his way for future roles in teen and schlock fare such as The Last American Virgin and Penitentary III. Sharon Farrell (of Its Ali ve, The Premonition, Night of the Comet and The Fifth Floor among others) offers solid comic relief as a love hungry associate of Hopkins – and my favorite genre actor of all time, Michael Pataki shows up as a powerful childhood nemesis of Strasberg’s. Only The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee seems out of place, but he gives his role enough sputtering bluster to be incredibly enjoyable to watch, all the same. Aleisa Shirley plays the wild and mysterious, Melissa, whose upcoming birthday bash gives the movie its title. Shirley is exotically beautiful and appeared in a bunch of stuff in the mid-80’s – The Hitchhiker cable series, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone and the Hollywood Wives miniseries – before disappearing from the entertainment industry. Shirley has plenty of nude scenes that give this movie a vaguely pedophilic quality. She is obviously in her 20’s, but her charact er is only 15 for 3/4ths of the film and the excessive nudity is vaguely unsettling, but this also gives it some distinction, perhaps, –another reason to make it a bit more memorable than similar offerings. There are some clunker scenes, obviously, but there is enough mood, texture and enjoyable acting to make this worthy of a viewing –and, along with Friday the 13th, this is definitely Kimmell’s most significant screen work, and probably, in all honesty, a better role for her than Friday’s Chris. Plus, the movie’s theme song has to be heard, at least once, or your genre life is totally incomplete!

Lone Wolf McQuade. I haven’t seen this in awhile, but I always found it kind of boring. Kimmell plays the daughter of Chuck Norris and Sharon Farrell. The best scene occurs when Kimmell’s character is terrorized. She is out parking, with her boyfriend, and some of Norris’ enemies happen by and give Kimmell another chance to prove that she had some of the best lungs in 80’s genre flicks. Barbara Carrerra slinks around trying to seduce Norris, who has to scare us all by taking off his shirt for a boxing scene. In my book, Kimmell, Carrerra and Farrell – genre veterans all-are the only reasons to even think about sitting through this thing again. Besides that, this is just a very standard “Chuck Norris getting revenge for a murdered buddy” timewaster.  

By the Dawn’s Early Light. Kimmell appears, briefly, in this 1990 HBO film that deals -a bit fantastically, of course, - with the real life horror of atomic warfare. It’s a bit heavy handed and a tad bit too long, but there are some decent plot twists and with the current political climate – in fact, I watched this on Election Day 2004 which made it all the more creepier- the events almost come off like a chillingly possible reality. Besides, there are truly strong performances from Rebecca DeMornay, Darren McGavin and Glenn Withrow as a pilot gone crazy with grief. It was, also, fun to play find the horror type genre veterans in the cast while I lay, curled up on my tiny couch. Of course, there is Kimmell (billed as Kimmell Anderson) whose brief scene is with, both, Withrow, whom was one of her co-stars in Sweet Sixt een and appeared in Roger Corman’s Lady in Red and the space horror antics of Nightflyers, and Danielle Von Zerneck, of teen comedies My Science Project and Under the Boardwalk (with T and A perennial Elizabeth Kaitan) and the animals gone deadly TV doings of Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare. McGavin, obviously, will always be known as Kolchak of the Night Stalker series and, also, appeared in the recently DVD-ized Happy Hell Night. Annabella Price, whom plays a nurse in this, appeared in the bizarre 80’s horror offering (and one of my goofy, sentimental favorites) Silent Scream. Scott Trost- who taught my make-up class in theater school- appears as a soldier and went on to be a minor semi-regular on Star Trek: The Next Generation and appeared in the Traci Lords’ thriller, The Killing Club. (She binds him up and throws him in the trunk of a car!) Steve Eastin is in a ton of horror flicks including Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Night Warning, The Hidden, Nightmare on the 13th Floor and Charles Band’s Robot Wars with Barbara Crampton of ReAnimator fame. Coolest, perhaps, though is the appearance of character actor, Jon Cedar. He was featured in Foxy Brown, Day of the Animals, Kiss Daddy Goodbye and wrote and starred in the horror craziness of The Manitou with Susan Strasberg. Of course, I am sure I have, probably, missed some too cool for school genre folks - so, I guess, it is up to you to rent or buy this sucker ($5.99 @ Best Buy) and find them on your own!

Night Angel. Well, Dana Kimmell is listed as a model in this slick and atmospheric little number – but I could find little to no evidence of her presence. I am assuming she appears, made up to be almost unrecognizable, in some of the photos that grace the office walls of “Siren” – the magazine around which most of the action of this spiffy shocker takes place. As for the movie, itself, – I truly love the legend of Lilith, so I am thrilled that there is a film out there featuring her as the main character. Unfortunately, not much motivation is given for her character’s actions and what could have been a truly haunting piece turns into nothing more than a minor, enjoyable timewaster. Still, there are some nice gore effects from Steve Johnson, Karen Black does her stereotypical sexually repressed freak-out and gives us some lesbian action with Isa Andersen as Lilith. I didn’t really buy Andersen as Lilith, but s he is truly not given much to explore and the truly embarrassing dance floor routine she has to perform, at one point, almost renders her to the point of ridiculousness – but she is, eventually, able to redeem herself- saying something about her talents, in the long run. Male genre vets Gary Hudson (Scanner Cop, Cameron’s Closet, Mind Twister) and Linden Ashby (Wild Things 2, The Perfect Bride, Mortal Kombat, The Slaughter of the Innocents, Into the Sun) are on hand – and as far as Ashby is concerned- on butt, also. Hudson’s death is truly fun and gruesome and 227’s Helen Martin has some fun moments as a zealot out to destroy Lilith. It is also a hoot to watch Twink Caplan, the sweet teacher that is set up with Wallace Shawn’s character in Clueless, go ballistic, in slow motion, none-the-less, with an axe on Ashby and his pretty female co-star, Debra Feuer. All in all, this movie is as slick and stylized as the fashion magazines it is centered around, so, perhaps director Dominique Othenin-Girard truly accomplished some artistic purpose with this femme-centered feature, after all.