So Sad about Gloria

aka: Visions of Doom
aka: Visions of Evil

So Sad about Gloria is a ninety-minute horror/thriller movie that was filmed in central Arkansas and released in October 1975. Rated “PG” for Parental Guidance, it was directed by Arkansan Harry Thomason for Centronics International, a production company based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). So Sad about Gloria was also re-released under the titles Visions of Doom and Visions of Evil.

The plot, credited to Marshall Riggan, centers around a young woman who moves back to the family home after being released from a mental hospital. She soon experiences frightening visions concerning a series of ax murders. There is an element of romance after she meets young writer Chris Kenner, who is lounging in a tree. His rationale: “I sit in trees because it’s sort of philosophic.” They begin dating, and there are location shots of the couple canoeing, flying kites, playing on swings, sailing, horseback riding, and visiting the zoo. They marry and move into their new home, which had been the scene of an unsolved murder of a young woman. Strange things begin to occur.

The cast includes Lori Saunders as the heroine, Gloria Wellman. Saunders is best known for playing Bobbie Jo on TV’s Petticoat Junction. Gloria’s grandfather, Frederick Wellman, is played by Dean Jagger, who appeared in movies dating from the silent era and won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for the 1949 movie Twelve O’Clock High. He had previously come to Arkansas to take on a featured role in Thomason’s movie The Great Lester Boggs (1974).

Several local favorites appeared in So Sad about Gloria. Romantic interest Chris Kenner was portrayed by Little Rock advertising executive Robert (Bob) Ginnaven. Ginnaven also appeared in three other Thomason films, as well as the hit movie Steel Magnolias (1989). The character of Mr. Bellinger was played by Seymour Treitman, a regular in Little Rock’s community theater; this was his only film role. The ax murderer was portrayed by New York actor Joe Barone, who was working in Little Rock at the time. He also appeared in The Day It Came to Earth (1977), another Thomason production, and would later appear on Thomason’s hit TV show Designing Women. It was Barone’s ax-wielding image which was featured in stills distributed to the media and on the promotional poster for So Sad about Gloria.

Taglines on the posters tended to capitalize on the movie Love Story, which had been a hit in 1970, as well as a previous blockbuster by Alfred Hitchcock. One read, “The romance of LOVE STORY— the terror of PSYCHO!!” Another characterized it as “A MADMAN’S PLOT TO KILL A LOVE STORY.” When the movie premiered, there was a local telephone number to call. A recording of “Gloria” begging for help and a scream could be heard before the line went dead.

The movie was filmed at a number of locations in Little Rock and central Arkansas, including Crestview Park, Lakewood Park, and T. R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). One location shot was a private residence popularly known as “The Rock House” or “The Castle,” located on Stagecoach Road (Highway 5) near its intersection of David O. Dodd Road in west Little Rock.

The movie was a modest regional success and was later featured as a subject for parody on the syndicated TV show hosted by “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.” So Sad about Gloria marks the halfway point in Thomason’s low-budget Arkansas-based movie career, which began with with Encounter with the Unknown (1973) and The Great Lester Boggs (1974), going on to The Day It Came to Earth (1977) and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979) before Thomason moved successfully to television.

For additional information:
Albright, Brian. Regional Horror Films, 1958–1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.

Cochran, Robert, and Suzanne McCray. Lights! Camera! Arkansas!: From Broncho Billy to Billy Bob Thornton. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2015.

Film & TV Locations: So Sad about Gloria (1975). Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism. http://www.arkansas.com/things-to-do/entertainment/film-tv/detail.aspx?id=14 (accessed September 9, 2020).

So Sad about Gloria.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122722/ (accessed September 9, 2020)

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society

Last Updated: 09/09/2020

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