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Sunday, October 26, 2008

THE HOT BABES OF HORROR: BARBARA CRAMPTON

Barabara Crampton vamps for the camera on the set of FROM BEYOND. I dunno what you think, but there's just something about a hot chick in glasses and a lab coat...

When I started this whole "Hot Babes of Horror" thing I initially intended it to be devoted to monsters who happened to be genuinely beautiful as well as scary, but for this post I feel I have to make an exception and pay tribute to an actress who while not ever portraying a monster certainly — and very memorably — ended up on the wrong end of the attentions of malevolent entities. That actress is the lovely and talented Barbara Crampton, venerated by genre fans for her role in Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986), but most especially for her incredibly shocking contribution to RE-ANIMATOR (1985) also helmed by Stuart Gordon, and there was just no way that I could leave her out.

Both FROM BEYOND and RE-ANIMATOR kicked off the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation revival, both taking considerable liberties with the material but managing to please hard-to-satisfy horror addicts with their clever scripts, lashings of extreme gore and violence, twisted sex stuff and very game casts. Crampton stands out as the the requisite horror heroine in roles that have been more or less stock characters since the fright stuff hit the 1950's, specifically the "good girl" love interest who ends up menaced by something nasty and the brainy scientist/psychiatrist/doctor-type who finds herself wrenched from the world of the clinical and rational and thrown into the deep end of outright awfulness, but as her two classic turns occurred in the mid-1980's, filmmakers could get away with far more than their predecessors could ever have imagined possible. Far, far more, believe you me.

FROM BEYOND finds Crampton in the role of a bespectacled brain specialist who finds her inner slut unleashed after having her perceptions widened following peering into a monster-laden dimension just out of sync with our own. The emanations of the device that allows this window to open affects the human Pineal gland in bizarre ways, causing the once icy and prim doctor to let her hair down, ditch the Clark Kents and borrow a fetching S/M ensemble from the local mad scientist's well-equipped playroom.

She then attempts to get her hump on with the even more fucked-up lab assistant (my man Jeffrey Combs) who'd experienced longer exposure to the "resonator" device


and later gets molested by the machine's pervy inventor, whose consciousness has now fused with some hideous, slime-covered Lovecraftian wiggly from the other dimension.

As his K-Y-covered spidery digits dance across her bared breasts, I defy you not to feel a sense of deep, primal revulsion.

But the sequence that gained Barbara Crampton screen immortality is definitely the bit in RE-ANIMATOR where her character, the Twinkie-wholesome daughter of a medical school's dean, is rendered unconscious and kidnapped by her own dead-but revived and mind-controlled father at the behest of the re-animated headless corpse of an evil brain surgeon (David Gale). The sleazy bastard had lusted after her throughout the film, and since we all understand the power of horniness it comes as no surprise that when brought back from the dead he'd still want a taste of the innocent girl, and since he's now able to carry his own noggin about in a bowling bag why not live out his most amoral of illicit desires? So when Crampton's character finally comes to, she's stark naked atop an operating table with her wrists and ankles securely restrained, leaving her in an uncomfortably vulnerable state. As she begins to comprehend her predicament, her horror escalates as she beholds the very active headless corpse approaching her helpless, splayed-out form. It's at that moment that things move into an area that was jaw-droppingly unbelievable to those of us who saw it onscreen in 1985: the corpse firmly grasps its own severed head and maneuvers it between the captive co-ed's legs and, well, let's just say that the poor girl would most likely be turned against receiving "oral kindness" for the rest of her life (which turns out not to be for all that much longer).

I shit you not, I witnessed this in a theater where a couple had brought their gaggle of under-tens, about six of them, to see the film with them rather than shell out the scratch for a babysitter, an aspect that only made the incredible bad taste and sick-as-shit humor of the sequence that much more potent. I'm pretty lenient when it comes to what I'd let kids watch, but there's no fucking way I would have let a group ranging from two to eight experience the image of a crudely-severed head eating some screaming woman's pussy. Call me a prude if you like, but that's just beyond the pale.

Nonetheless, the scene was a landmark in horror that pushed the envelope into a whole other level and blew the minds of genre fans everywhere, so for her fearless venturing where no other actress had gone before I salute Barbara Crampton and give her immeasurable kudos. Plus you know she has to be one hell of a pro for not laughing herself silly at the crass absurdity of the whole thing like the rest of us did!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. The Re-Animator remains a low-brown high-water mark for everyone involved in the film. I recall reading an interview with Crampton in which she said that David Gale's wife got up and stormed out of the screening room when that scene played itself out. I don't envy the explanation he would have had to have offered her after that!

For all its absurdity, Re-Animator wouldn't have been nearly as memorable had the cast members not been as spot-on as they were. From the leads to the extras, everyone portrayed their characters beautifully. In, I believe, that same interview, I remember reading that Gordon and most of the cast had just "graduated" from live theatre; they rehersed extensively for Re-Animator, and the results show in the film. Sure, the film remains a blast of bad-taste humor and bugfuck audacity. If the script and acting hadn't been so spot-on, however, the results wouldn't have been nearly as potent.

And yes, I agree - Crampton was - and remains - scrumptious. Check out her latest - it also stars Karen Black!

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Urban said...

You see new video Barbara Crampton Sex Tape ?
Great Girl!


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