‘Taint What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It):BDE In Horror
Throughout the decades of horror cinema, various descriptors are often invoked when it comes to characters, both heroes and villains alike. Terms like strong, badass, nuanced, maniacal, predatory, and even bloodthirsty are commonly used to paint a basic but often essential picture of the figures on hand.
But what about energy?
That presence of kinesis takes the hot combo of words, characterization, and actor to bring a certain force, a Sturm und Drang tangibility to a special role. We’re talking BDE, which is more crudely known as “big dick energy.”
While it might be more interesting in a prurient, slash-fiction type of way to speculate on the actual penis size of specific horror characters, this is more, to invoke Murray Head (whom you just know is packing heat), this about getting some “...kicks above the waistline, Sunshine.” This is about a key handful of horror characters who all but strut with massive BDE. They don’t even NEED a Gorga-sized magic-twanger to assert their innately cool (never chilly), writhing personal magnetism.
Now without further ado….
Check out this adorable pic of Gerrit Graham behind-the-scenes of C.H.U.D. II, courtesy of Fangoria's Twitter page.
Staunch magnitude is a description typically not lobbed at most sequels, especially direct-to-video ones. But like a shooting star, once in a while, it does happen, such is the case with the titular character of 1989’s C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud. This has nothing to do with the writing or direction and everything to do with the unforgettable performance by legendary character actor extraordinaire Gerrit Graham as Bud. Graham, who has stolen every scene he has ever been in dating back to his feature film debut in Brian DePalma’s 1968 film Greetings, is a total gift here. With his slick-backed hair and innate BDE energy, Graham makes a character named “Bud the CHUD,” simultaneously suave, hilarious, menacing, likable, and even….dare one say it? Sexy?
Yes! Sure, he eats people and probably smells like a necrophiles’ convention at the Low Tide No-Tell Motel, but what a way to go when it’s in Graham’s deft hands and sharpened chompers. After all, if you’re going to be viciously devoured and turned into a flesh-hungry member of the gray-skinned undead brigade, it might as well be thanks to this metaphorical hog-leg-sporting cadaveresque cutie.
Despite Bud’s rather gnarly take on the worst (or best, if you’re a fan of long pig) approach to the paleo diet, he is not the most innately gruesome on this list. Something like true, spiritual big-dick energy requires a spicy combination of dirt, sleaze, and swagger. This is not only plentiful in Clive Barker’s 1987 film, Hellraiser but is a motherfucking natural resource! As fantastically creepy as the cenobites are, complete in their bondage leather gear and shiny piercings or how cooly beautiful and sinister Julia is, it all comes down to Frank. More accurately, Frank 2.0. Sean Chapman’s Frank 1.0 is fine, though greasy in an sort of loser boyfriend way. If he had never gotten tied up with the Lament Configuration, his life would have traveled to a truly sadistic path: slam poetry aka the scientific antonym of BDE.
Speaking of BDE, it is only when Frank murders his brother Larry and takes on both his skin and presence that he truly blossoms into a figure of true manpower debut. Why? Cause it’s Andrew Robinson! Robinson’s Frank is so carnally cruel while being a walking, talking thermonuclear device of magnetism. When Frank 2.0 tries to comfort his daughter and says, “What Frank did was unspeakable…unspeakable,” it is so queasy and strangely horny that it skyrockets right to your brain, guts, and libido. Is it a comfortable mix? Absolutely not, but that’s part of the brilliance of both Clive Barker and Andy Robinson. It is truly a shame we did not get more screen time of Frank 2.0 but a little bit of a great/gross thing is better than none!
From the hot, sticky-sweet flames of Hellraiser to the goofy-Gus sugar-high one gets after snorting three fat lines of pixie stick dust off an old issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, there is the formidable figure of one Joseph Bologna in 1985’s Transylvania 6-5000. The late (but eternally great) Bologna plays one Dr. Malavaqua, the requisite mad scientist in a cinematic landscape that also includes a werewolf, a Frankenstein’s Monster-proxy, a lust-ridden vampiress, and Norman Fell. Malavaqua is not quite like any mad scientist seen in cinema before or since. Outside the lab, he is a meek, polite, and almost gentle soul who is paramount in the world of foreign hosts. Inside his lab, however, is when things get hilarious, nutty, and, yes, downright EROTIC.
Once Malavaqua crosses the threshold and trespasses into his inner demented sanctuary, gone is his once polite demeanor and soft Eastern European accent. In its place is a wild-eyed, darkly tousled-haired man that sounds like Chico Marx’s bad seed brother and moves around like a one-man demolition course. Not since Anthony Zerbe’s masterful turn as rock band KISS’ biggest foil (other than artistic integrity), Abner Devereaux in 1978’s Kiss Meets the Phantom has a mad scientist possessed such insanity-riddled sexual swagger. Clara Bow was the original “IT” girl, but if such sensual pow-pow-power could be applied to a horror comedy character, then Bologna’s Malavaqua has “IT” in spades.
However, in that tiny and often maligned horror-comedy subgenre, as much of a testosterone terror that Bologna is in Transylvania 6-5000, his va-va-va-voom ferocity is equally matched by John “THE MAN” Saxon in 1989’s My Mom is a Werewolf. Saxon’s seductive werewolf/pet shop owner might have the dopey name of “Harry Thropen,” which is the wordplay equivalent of an elbow nudging your ribs while the mantra of “Get it? Get it?” blunt force traumas your eardrums, but trust that this character is far from hokey or annoying. In a film titled My Mom is a Werewolf, somehow the titular matriarch (played by a very likable Susan Blakely) netting a lycanthropic condition is not the most implausible situation. It’s Blakely’s character nearly getting seduced by Saxon and then running from him back to the oblivious, status-quo, suburban-dad-bohunk of a husband. (Granted, he is played by John Schuck, who is great in everything, but still!)
In a world where Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves exists, Saxon being the BDE legend of cinematic loup-garous is no easy feat, but boy howdy, does he make it look like one! This is a character that could charm the most staunch nun out of her habit and usher her into the bloodlusty world of the supernatural/co-managing a local business. He easily nets a four out of four smelling salts due to Saxon's vapors-inducing performance.
The year before My Mom is a Werewolf, a cult horror classic was released in the form of Anthony Hickox’s Waxwork. This monster kid valentine for grown-ups has a stellar cast, including Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Patrick Macnee, Dana Ashbrook, Michelle Johnson, John Rhys-Davies, and Miles O’Keefe. As fantastically appealing that roll call is, there is only one actor's performance that puts the beeindruckend (That’s German for power, babies!) in the B in BDE in Waxwork and it is none of the talented aforementioned.
No. It’s the only man that can coolly leave others in his shadow despite being dressed like the dandiest carnival barker who also dabbles in the black arts, which in the world of Waxwork, can only be David Warner as the owner of the titular house of monster melty horrors. While he doesn’t get the biggest amount of screen time…probably due to all the random ovulations and faintings at test screenings, Warner, being a consummate professional, makes the most of it. His performance is the sweetest tincture of subtle, sexy, and menace. The only thing that rivals this man's love of selling his soul to the devil and murdering innocent people for a magic ritual is your loins becoming all marshy with BDE wonder!
Wanting to visit a gorgeous, mysterious house that doubles as a horror-themed wax museum is a given for any curious soul, but with David Warner in charge, he could be inviting you to a biker rally outhouse surrounded by methed-out cottonmouths and the answer is still gonna be, yes yes YES! That is the power of La Warner in Waxwork.
So, the next time someone tries to invoke possessing massive phallus energy, think of these brilliant actors and how they transformed these roles into the sinister and saucy sultans of swing.