Diatribe of A Mad White Woman: A Horror Hag SpeaksBy Shawn Baker / Thursday, March 20th, 2008
She’s a certain character type played by actresses of a certain age in a certain type of horror movie genre.
She’s a Horror Hag.
After all the big bugs, saucer men and pod people of the Eisenhower Era horror movies had abdicated the throne, the Horror Hag became Queen of the new tide of terrors made up of Psychos, Bad Seeds and Peeping Toms.
This matronly malefactor embodied all the mistrust toward Picket Fence Babylon weâ€™d come to harbor. Like chocolate cookies laced with gilt-edged razors, her nurture instinct had grown sick, delusional, deadly.
While her subgenre may have largely fallen by the wayside, the Horror Hagâ€™s shadow still remains in popular culture. Every year thereâ€™s a notable real-life contender who takes a cue from the big screen and proceeds to go publicly bat shit and just dares us to bar the door at Thanksgiving.
This year itâ€™s erstwhile Psycho-Biddy and Oklahoma Legislator Sally Kern (above right: upper left pic) who seems to be clutching like mad for the current title of Hag Supreme.
A recent closed-door meeting (left) presided over by Kerns — sort of a slightly upmarket KKK rally to us outsiders â€“- has come to light thanks to a leaked audio tape (Betrayed! Curses!) that finds the Corn Pone Crone giving a hysterically self-congratulatory, fact-free and historically inane lecture that sounds like Holly Hunter essaying the lead in the upcoming tele-film A Day Without Sunshine: The Anita Bryant Story.
There are clear indicators that clue you in that youâ€™re dealing with this type of grandam:
As with all great Horror Hags, our gal Salz clearly has an all-consuming devotion to a time of bygone glory (sometimes real, sometimes imaginary) she so desperately wants to resurrect.
Gloria Swanson had her silent movie career in Sunset Boulevard. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis longed for their Hollywood hey days drowned in booze and co-dependency in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?.
Shelly Winters needed that Old Time Religion to quell her latent lesbianism in Whatâ€™s The Matter With Helen?, while homicidal dowager Geraldine Page in Whatever Happened To Aunt Alice? relied on murdered housekeepersâ€™ savings to fund her faltering standard of living and their corpses to fertilize her spruce trees.
Like Miseryâ€™s Kathy Bates and her obsession with her gothic heroine dream self, Sally Kern longs to be Oklahomaâ€™s answer to Mayberryâ€™s Aunt Bea. Her nemeses: reality in the form of â€œthe gaysâ€, whom she seems certain are out to teach Opie how to macrome and recycle.
Itâ€™s paranoia (â€œThe City of Eureka Springs is now controlled by gays!â€) that both motivates these harpies and proves to be the very thing that pushes them over the edge into total mania. Their inner worlds of sturm und drang are too fragile (or osteoporatic) to sustain them. The Golden Girls‘ with-it sassy granny Sophia had her Shady Pines she knew to steer clear of; the Horror Hag has only the oblivion of total relichood she can never evade.
These harridans traditionally have an oppressive fixation on children, the young who so often become the vehicles for their mad ends. Part taloned Medea, part demented schoolmarm (Kernsâ€™ former profession, by the by), these wack bags will suffocate with their malignant doting and narcissistic manipulating.
Axe-happy La Crawford in Strait-Jacket would resort to anything to marry up her daughter from her white trash roots…maybe even murder! Bible-thumping bitch Tallulah Bankhead takes it upon herself to â€œpurifyâ€ her dead sonâ€™s fiancee in Die! Die! My Darling!. Slinky deadbeat mom Jamie Lee Curtis in Motherâ€™s Boys and Mint Julip screwloose Jessica Lange in Hush arenâ€™t about to let their youngins leave the nest, honey chile.
The Mother of them all? Psycho‘s Mrs. Bates, who even in death cast a pall over poor Norman. Fitting that former Disney Kid and future gay A-lister Jodie Foster would get wise in The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, killing her venal Mommie Dearest, burying her in the root cellar and stealing the movie out from under her.
In a story broke by Queerty.com, Kerns may have her own personal reasons for trying to create an enemy where none exists. Speculation is abounding that one of her sons may be a gay Flower In Her Attic (Hello…Mother Dear). Said sonâ€™s assertions that he is â€œcelibateâ€ and affiliated with the Des Moines School of Metaphysics havenâ€™t exactly quashed rumors. Maybe Salz has a troubled Norman on her hands and maybe she doesnâ€™t. Shrew that she is, her need to be heard and venerated has put someone she claims to care for under her own microscope.
A good mother and a real woman with a hint of humility would come to her senses and realize that the last thing logical people need or want is a grotesque parody of June Cleaver to be their EveryMom. A Horror Hag will just prattle on, preen endlessly before her broken mirror and wait in vain for her close-up.
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