Blu Review – What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the Films of the Gay Girls Riding Club (AGFA & Something Weird)

Blu Release – 3.5/5

Always on Sunday
Director – Ray Harrison (All About Alice, What Really Happened to Baby Jane)
Release Date – 1962
Rating – 2.5/5

A couple years ago I started collecting the blu releases of AGFA when I stumbled upon a couple of them when they were partnered with MVD. Since then they have became a Vinegar Syndrome Partner label and has released some seriously entertaining forgotten films with a few being very underwhelming. Sometime back AGFA once again teamed up with Something Weird to release What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the Films of the Gay Girls Riding Club. With the year about to end I decided it was the perfect time to try and sneak in as many films from this release as possible starting with the short Always on Sunday.

The silent film follows a prostitute in a bar where young men, mostly sailors, all have a good time enjoying themselves on Sunday.

**Spoiler Alert** The short runs for about eight minutes which is about seven minutes too long. Apparently its a parody of Never on Sunday but it’s difficult to call it a movie regardless of the film’s run time. I was expecting something a little more than this but I still have high hopes for the other films in the set. **Spoiler Alert**

The acting in this one fits the films. The cast looks like they are having an absolute blast but no one is really acting. We have some of the GGRC in drag portraying the female characters while the male characters dance around. The story just follows women dancing around men who are enjoying themselves at a bar. Nothing really stands out and unless you are curious about early queer cinema I would suggest moving on to another film in the set.

Finally, the movie doesn’t have any real special effects which should be obvious from the set. It’s not a film for horror fans but it is an odd but interesting early 60s drag parody. Overall, Always on Sunday will not be for everyone. Hell, I don’t know who it would actually be for but it’s still an interesting piece of cinema. It’s great seeing the LGBTQ+ community taking to filmmaker and not hiding who they are especially during a time when they were being persecuted by their peers for being who they are. It’s not a fun short but an important one.

What Really Happened to Baby Jane?
Director – Ray Harrison (All About Alice, Always on Sunday)
Starring – Freida and Roz Berri
Release Date – 1963
Rating – 3/5

As 2021 was coming to an end I decided to try to watch as many of the films in the new AGFA and Something Weird blu release of What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the films of the Gay Girls Riding Club. The film film to play was the short Always on Sunday. It was a little underwhelming but I did appreciate what they were doing especially when you consider it was a short made by the gay community in the early 60s when something like that was considered taboo.

The second film in the set is where this release gets it’s name from. What Really Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1963 “parody” of the 1962 horror-thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? I had seen the film it was mocking and couldn’t wait to check it out.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Baby Jane who suffers an accident after receiving an award for her performance. However, her jealous sister is tasked with taking care of her. Her sister was once a child star but was never able to transition to adult stardom like her sister. **Spoiler alert**

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is somewhat of a historic piece of horror genre which inspired several elderly centered horror titles in it’s wake. It’s a fun film for what it is but it’s not one I would say that I love or would add it to any list. However, I think I was more excited to see a drag parody of the film than I ever was with the original. This thirty minute parody is more of a queer homage to an eccentric horror thriller that was popular at the time. I enjoyed it but, much like the film that inspired it, I don’t see myself revisiting it anytime soon.

The acting in this one is fun. The cast is very eccentric and the characters match the film it’s parodying while keeping with the silent motif that can also be seen in Always on Sunday. They do a lot, especially with the story, without saying a single word. The story for this one is a fast tracked parody of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? which I had mentioned several times now, but it’s done in the GGRC style. It’s a silent tribute with some bold characters and some funny moments. I actually found it funny and really enjoyed it for what it was.

Finally, don’t expect blood or gore in this one. It’s centered around the characters and their place in the parody of WEHtBJ. It has a little bit of a horror tone but it’s not really a bloody horror flick that most of us expect out of the genre. Overall, What Really Happened to Baby Jane? was a fun rip at the classic with a drag touch. I think it’s an important film in regards to cinema and a solid watch but it doesn’t have much of a replay value.

The Roman Springs on Mrs. Jones
Director – Ray Harrison (Always on Sunday, What Really Happened to Baby Jane?)
Starring – Antonio Vierra
Release Date – 1963
Rating – 3/5

I had no idea what to expect when I ordered What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the Films of the Gay Girls Riding Club. I knew somewhat about the people behind it but I had no idea what the films in this set was going to be like. I was underwhelmed by Always on Sunday but the set paid for itself with What Really Happened to Baby Jane? I couldn’t wait to dive deeper into these drag parodies and the third in the set was The Roman Springs on Mrs. Stone which was, as you guess it, another parody. This time the film was a parody of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. I was unfamiliar with the film it drew inspiration from but that didn’t stop me from diving into it head first.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a woman who travels to Italy where she meets a young man. He tricks her into loving him while he conspires with an evil woman.**Spoiler Alert**

I actually enjoyed this one even though I was not familiar with the original film. I’m sure there was aspects of the film that went over my head but I found it funny and charming the way it was.

The acting in this one is similar to Always on Sunday where we follow overdramatic and eccentric characters as they do extraordinary things. The cast is fully committed to their roles even though it is apparent that they don’t have a lot of on screen experience. It’s still fun to watch all their energy while they are having fun. The story for this one is difficult to follow but it’s mostly the characters and their interactions that makes this one enjoyable. As I stated earlier, I’m not familiar with the original film so I can’t attest to how close it is to it but as a drag film I would have to say it’s fun and slightly funny at times.

Finally, the film has no blood and gore which is to be expected from a film like this. However, if you are looking for an early 60s short with some laughs then this one is for you. Overall, The Roman Springs on Mrs. Stone is not going to be for everyone and that’s alright because it wasn’t made for everyone. It was made for people who like to have fun and have a taste for odd cinema. It’s unique but not replayable. It’s worth your time but nothing life changing.

Spy on the Fly
Director – Ray Harrison (The Roman Springs on Mrs. Stone, Always on Sunday)
Starring – Warren Fremming
Release Date – 1967
Rating 2.5/5

I’m not a fan of the James Bond films. My grandmother would try for years to get me interested in them but they were just something that bored the hell out of me. I loved the cheeky characters but I hated how the situations and stories were always so predictable and cliched. Sure, I love cheesy movies that are often predictable but it was something about how series the movies tried to be that just turned me off.

When I ordered the What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the films of the Gay Girls Riding Club I never expected to see a drag parody of a James Bond film. Yet, here I sit writing a review for Spy on the Fly from 1967. I didn’t care for it but it was a lot more fun than most of the James Bond flicks.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a female spy who travels to San Francisco to stop an evil villain from nuking the world. However, her trip there results in several hijinks and calamities. **Spoiler Alert**

I’ve never been a fan of spy films. I grew up as a normal kid watching age appropriate films like Space Jam, Transformers: The Movie, Good Burger, Air Bud, and so on. I was born in the mid-80s but the 90s was my playground and during that time I was never really interested in spy flicks. In late middle-school and early high school I was introduced to John Waters after a few years of horror so my tastes in film started to change. That would explain why I found myself more interest in Spy on the Fly than films like those with James Bond or Mission Impossible. Regardless, Spy on the Fly had some moments but was also a wash like most of the films it was trying to parody.

The acting in this one is consistent with the other film in the set. The cast is all high energy and charismatic on screen but the characters have no depth and no attachment to the story. Not really the casts fault but don’t expect a traditionally acted short here. The story for this one is difficult to follow which is a theme for the films in this set. Its goofy, and there is a few humorous moments, but the way the film was shot doesn’t leave an actual plot or story for the viewer to enjoy. It’s chaotic and difficult to follow.

Finally, don’t expect a bloody mess of a film. No blood or gore here but we do have some men in drag bringing about levels of energy on screen that is rarely duplicated. Overall, Spy on the Fly is another weak contribution to this set. It’s not really a bad film but the lack of story and characters does make it a difficult one to finish. Honestly, I would skip this one for this releases flagship short.

All About Alice
Director – Ray Harrison (Always on Sunday, Spy on the Fly)
Starring – Warren Fremming (Mondo Rocco), Chuck Bratton, and Wallace Fredericks
Release Date – 1972
Rating – 3/5

After a couple days I’ve finally reached the end of my adventure. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when AGFA and Something Weird announced the release of What Really Happened to Baby Jane? and the films of Gay Girls Riding Club. The films, mostly shorts, have been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs but I was surprised by how much fun I actually had with these. As I begin the last film in the set I can’t help but wonder what else Harrison and the group did after the decade they spent making films. Anyway, the bitter end is here with All About Alice which was a parody of All About Eve.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Alice who is an awarding winning actress that remembers all the struggles, along with the betrayals and double crosses, before she found the success now. **Spoiler Alert**

All About Alice is unique in this set for several reasons. The first, and obvious reason, is that it is the only one to be filmed in color. When you combine that with an actual film with dialogue and a much better production value it definitely stands out.

The acting in this one is surprisingly the best out of all the films in the set. The cast is actually tasked with portraying real characters with personalities and somewhat developed back stories. The cast does a fantastic job with what they were given while still delivering that high energy and charisma that made the other shorts so much fun.

The story for this one, as I stated earlier, was a parody of All About Eve, which is another film I am not familiar with. However, I can say that this drag parody is very clever and funny. The sexual humor was not too common with films of this sort in the early 70s so it’s nice to see that every generation has a group of filmmakers that have their heads in the gutter. However, the film does hit a rut from time to time where the story just lacked something other than characters hamming it up with nothing else productive going on. I did like the characters but the story given was stretched a bit too thin.

Finally, as you would have guessed it, it’s not a bloody flick. It’s a character driven story that has some humor and a lot sex jokes. Overall, All About Alice is one of the better shorts in this set right behind What Really Happened to Baby Jane? It’s funny and I loved the characters. It’s a damn shame they never followed up this film because I would have loved to see them explore the drag parodies later in the 70s.

Special Features:
Region Free Blu-ray
2K preservations from the only known 16mm prints in existence
2K restoration of ALL ABOUT ALICE from the 16mm camera reversal
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?: Commentary withqueer film historian Evan Purchell and AGFA’s Bret Berg
Reversible cover with archival GGRC promotional material
English SDH subtitles

Written by Blacktooth

(Staff Writer) Lover of all things horror and metal. Also likes boobs and booze.

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