Monday, January 18, 2010

For the Love of Woronov - Billups Allen

One of the most unique and underrated actors ever to grace the screen in cult and horror movies has a role in a new film by Ti West called House of the Devil. Mary Woronov has had an extensive film career that has hovered in relative obscurity. Her deep voice, stern disposition and vicious presence make her stand out in any film in which she appears. Devoid of any tomboyish charm, Woronov puts forth an angry female presence that reduces the men on the screen to a wormlike state. Her dominatrix-style of commanding authority is unprecedented tough and feminine. Even in a minor role as a stagehand, Woronov comes across as in command of the screen during her scenes. She is a commander, and has only ever been vexed on the screen by The Ramones.

Woronov’s film career began in Andy Warhol films. She was a key member in the Exploding Plastic Inevitable; a series of Warhol sponsored multi- media events that were also home to The Velvet Underground. Her filmography is extensive. Notably, she was a contender in the Roger Corman classic Death Race 2000. She was regularly seen in movies with the late, great 80s comedy writer Paul Bartel. Bartel’s charmingly spineless femininity made him the Akroid to her Belushi; Bartel and Woronov comprised a terrific team that culminated into one of her only leads in the underground classic Eating Raoul. Woronov is best known for her role as Principal Togar in Rock and Roll High School.

Woronov’s extensive work in movies and television includes few leads, but her time on the screen is always captivating. Her authoritative acting style makes her lingering obscurity one of the most questionable situations in film. Her appearance in House of the Devil begins with her emergence from a shadow into shadowy under lighting framing her face in a sinister grin. No doubt, she is shot like this because her appearance on the screen is an event. As a character actor, she rarely appears on the screen for more than a few minutes at a time, but her time on the screen can make an entire movie worthwhile. Woronov’s website promises the release of a documentary about her life to be released in 2010.

Now playing:
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (Ti West, 2009, 93 mins., Not Rated)

Billups Allen's interest in writing began composing lyrics for the band Shoutbus and later for the band Corn on Macabre. Lyrical duties led to writing poetry and short stories. Several of his short stories were published in a book entitled Unfurnished published by Florida’s now defunct Schematics Records. Allen currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where he writes Cramhole comic zine, writes reviews for Razorcake Magazine and the Tucson Citizen and hosts a radio show called The Groove Tomb.

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