Goth Chick News: The (Trend-Setting) House on Haunted Hill

Thursday, September 17th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

House on Haunted Hill-small

House on Haunted Hill (Allied Artists, 1959)

In 2019 (aka “the Time Before”) one of the quintessential horror movies of our time celebrated its 60th birthday. The House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal and Julia Mitchum was not only critically acclaimed in its own time, but still has an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes today. Filmed for $200K over the course of 14 days in 1958, the film has netted over $1.5M and counting, thanks to video rentals and streaming. Ironically, its 40th anniversary remake in 1999, starring Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen cost $37M to make and has only netted $43M to date worldwide, making the original House proportionally the clear winner with fans.

What you may not know is the many ground-breaking elements of the film which still influence entertainment and promotion today. To start, director William Castle was the original master of guerilla marketing. His technique first appeared with his movie Macabre (1958) but due to its success, it was replicated with House a year later. Mr. Castle offered $1,000 Lloyd’s of London insurance policies for those brave enough to watch his horror film. However, if anyone with the policy by the died of fright during the movie, that person’s next of kin would be paid $1,000. In addition to this, Castle had select theater owners station nurses in their lobbies and park hearses outside. Castle himself said it was a shame no one actually expired during his movies as it would have been exceptional publicity. Today, directors such as J.J. Abrams (Super 8) and J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World; Fallen Kingdom) have taken such gimmicks even further to promote their films. Just Google the name of the movie and “guerilla marketing” to see the examples.

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Goth Chick News: The Beautiful Horror of Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Pan's Laybrinth poster-small

I could not leave the topic of early aughts nightmare-inducing films without bringing up this one. As rife with symbolism as it is horrors, Guillermo Del Toro’s 2007 dark fantasy, Pan’s Labyrinth is a simple story which explores complex and sometimes violent themes about human morality and free will. When I Googled “symbolism of Pan’s Labyrinth” I literally got back 35K responses, including several university thesis papers.

If you skipped this one because it is filmed entirely in Spanish, with English subtitles, I urge you to give it a go. Del Toro went to great lengths to avoid making this a main-stream English language film, including turning down several big-budget studios. He personally created the subtitles to ensure his meanings were translated perfectly, and gave up his entire salary, including back-end points, to see this film make it to production. The result is a visually stunning fairytale, which has been twisted for an adult audience. For example, after the first week Pan’s Labyrinth played in theaters in Mexico and Spain, signs were put outside the venues warning the audience about the graphic violence and urging parents not to bring children to see it.

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Goth Chick News: Throwback Thursday: The Disturbing Insanity of The Cell

Thursday, August 27th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Cell movie poster-small

Last week’s robust discussion about the 2002 horror flick Ghost Ship, got me to thinking about the look of the genre in the early 2000’s. A peruse through Rotten Tomato’s top horror movies of the 90’s reveals a trend toward monsters in all their iterations. Werewolves, vampires and demons were primary themes, so it is interesting to see the change brought on by the new decade. With the new millennium came introspective horror of the psychological kind. Collider’s list has titles like Saw, American Psycho and The Orphan where the frights came from our fellow humans. Even Ghost Ship had the mortals onboard being the victims of their own human failings. Maybe what we learned by the end of the 20th Century is that the human psyche is the scariest monster of all. So, when The Cell popped up on one of my feeds on its 20th anniversary this month, I thought it was worth looking at it again – especially if you haven’t seen it.

When The Cell hit theaters on August 18, 2000, audiences either loved it or hated it. There was literally no middle ground. On one hand Roger Ebert awarded The Cell four out of four stars, while dozens of other critics took issue with the subject matter and violence, not to mention the sympathetic slant the plot has toward an entirely deranged serial killer.

Now, 20 years later, The Cell, with its insane costume design, over-the-top production values and an Oscar-worthy performance by Vincent D’Onofrio, is well worth a look.

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Goth Chick News: No Vacation This Year? Get Back Onboard Ghost Ship

Thursday, August 20th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ghost Ship poster-small

Call it a phobia, but I am completely creeped out by things which seem too big to be allowed. I have no explanation for it, but as an example, I nearly drove off the road on a rainy night when I looked up to see a huge satellite dish looming over the intersection from behind the walls of a military installation in California. My heart also leapt out of my chest when I got an up-close look at a Kimoto Dragon (stuffed of course). And because this is something that unnerves me in real life, it stands to reason it is one of my favorite frights on the big screen. It’s probably why I liked Cloverfield, and Kong: Skull Island, and its most certainly part of the reason I liked Ghost Ship (2002) when it pretty much sunk at the box office.

If you haven’t seen it, a salvage crew discovers a cruise ship, lost for over forty years, floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea. When they attempt to bring it back to shore, they begin to discover there may still be “passengers” on board. Without spoiling anything, I will tell you that as horror movies go, it’s fairly predictable, though the twist at the end is pretty clever.

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Goth Chick News: My On-Again, Off-Again Relationship with Ridley Scott Continues…

Thursday, August 13th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ridley Scott vs Goth Chick

There is no director for whom I have more mixed feelings than Ridley Scott. On one hand, he is responsible for some of my favorite movies of all time such as Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. On the other, he is also responsible for several films on the rock bottom of my list such as Kingdom of Heaven, Exodus; Gods and Kings, and the two Alien prequels, Prometheus and Alien Covenant – neither of which I will likely ever forgive him for. I wish I could easily delineate and say as long as Scott sticks to science fiction, he’s generally good, but no joy.

So, it is with mixed feelings that I dig into his latest project, Raised by Wolves.

Originally created for Turner Network Television (TNT) the project was recently moved to the streaming service HBO Max as a 10-episode miniseries. This marks Scott’s debut on the American small screen as he is personally directing the first two episodes, while acting as executive producer for the rest.

Scott has done a fair job of keeping the plot of Raised by Wolves a secret. From what I’ve learned, you think you’re getting the gist from the trailer and the official synopsis, but from what I can piece together, the storyline goes much deeper and darker.

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Goth Chick News: Let’s Get ‘The Season’ Started with The Devil All the Time

Thursday, August 6th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Devil All the Time

Before I tell you about this, I need to make a couple of pre-emptive statements:

Yes, I know it’s only August.

You’re right. Halloween isn’t for weeks and weeks.

Yes, I’ve actually left the house when the sun is up / it’s warm / it’s summer, etc, etc.

Now that we have those items out of the way, I can gleefully report Netflix is definitely with me when it comes to launching their fall lineup, the moment there is a whiff of 70-degree temps in the air. And their first offering of the scare season is a doozy.

Premiering on September 16th, The Devil All the Time is based on a book by the same name, by author Donald Ray Pollack. Telling the story of a religious community who takes their faith to often horrific extremes in rural Ohio, it was actually shot in Alabama over a short, but apparently very intense 10 days. Filmmaker Antonio Campos (Simon Killer, 2016’s Christine) is a little secretive about the nature of the film’s plot, but there is no hiding the star-studded nature of the cast. The film is brimming with big names including Spider-Man‘s Tom Holland, It Chapter One and Two‘s Bill Skarsgård, The Lodge‘s Riley Keough, and Pet Sematary‘s Jason Clarke with Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, The Batman) and Mia Wasikowska (Stoker, Crimson Peak).

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Goth Chick News: Think 2020 is Bad? Check out Cursed Objects

Thursday, July 30th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Quirk Books Horror Preview Fall 2020

Quirk Books, publishers and seekers of all things awesome, more than live up to their self-proclamation.

They have been my personal source of quirky awesomeness since I was first introduced to them in 2013 via The Resurrectionist, a quintessentially odd bit of literature indeed. Following this came a litany of titles, all of which were so decidedly strange, so that I could not help but assign all Quirk publications a place of honor on the shelves of Goth Chick News.

It follows that in order to be the source of peculiar books Quirk must court very unusual authors, who by design, must be up to the task of… well… being quirky. This was made clear when I sought out the publisher’s booth at last year’s C2E2 event in Chicago, where I inquired whether or not The Resurrectionist would ever be followed by second book. I was informed the author had not submitted anything quite “strange enough” to date, but they would keep me informed.

I really do love these people.

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Goth Chick News: A New Monster from Harry Potter Creator J. K. Rowling

Thursday, July 16th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Ickabog

Shortly following the advent of the zombie apocalypse which caused us all to seek shelter in our homes and increase our body fat to survive potential food shortages, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling had an idea. Back in 2012 she began writing a new kind of children’s story which she read to her two younger kids, then aged 7 and 9 respectively, a chapter at a time as she created it. However, when it was done, she decided to publish the first of her adult mystery series, The Cuckoo’s Calling instead, and the completed children’s story went into the attic.

However, when the zombies came and we all went into hiding, Rowling understood the situation was particularly difficult for children. She went to the attic and dusted off her story and decided it might be a good way to provide some entertainment for the kids, who would otherwise have been finishing school, then enjoying their summer. She decided she would publish the story online for free, as so many parents were experiencing financial hardship, and new books might be pretty far down the line of priorities.

So, in May of this year, the first two chapters of The Ickabog appeared on its own, brand new website. Rowling then released a chapter or two every few days over the next seven weeks, and a week ago, the final chapter (number 64) was posted. In addition, Rowling provided her young readers with suggestions for illustrating her story. She invited them to send her their artwork, from which would be chosen a series of pictures to be included in the print version of The Ickabog, set to be released in November 2020.

And of course, I read it. No actually I devoured it, like the Ickabog devoured…

Never you mind, no spoilers here.

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Goth Chick News: Who Doesn’t Love (Halloween) Legos?

Thursday, July 9th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Haunted Legos

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a good Lego project. It must be a hold-over feeling of accomplishment from childhood that has caused a serious surge in Lego fandom in the last ten years, boosted still further these days by the fact we’re mostly stuck at home. Lego credits its recent success to adult fans who find building Lego projects relaxing, which I can personally vouch for, at least until you step on one.

Lego is still privately held by the Kristiansen family in Denmark, but recently released financial info has Lego sales up $5.5 billion in the first half of 2020. Difficult as it is to imagine, the company was on the brink of ruin about 15 years ago, but today is cited a one of the biggest turnarounds in corporate history due to embracing themed tie-in sets and a multi-generational fan base.

Speaking of themed tie-in sets, I’m always on the lookout for a new Legos, telling myself I’ll eventually turn my collection over to someone’s child (unlikely). And Lego, like me, considers any time of year fair game for a Halloween offering which is why I’m particularly excited about their announcement this week.

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Goth Chick News: A Plea for Classic Horror

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

They Live poster-small

Black Gate photographer Chris Z and I have the pleasure of meeting horror enthusiasts year-round at the various events and trade shows we attend. Though this year is definitely different is some regards, it thankfully has not interrupted the connections we continue to make in this fascinating industry. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Elichek in person, prior to the shutdown. He is not only a horror connoisseur, but an indie film writer and most importantly, a fan of Black Gate. It is therefore with great pleasure that I introduce you to him via his guest post for this week’s Goth Chick News.

Scott, meet everyone.

Everyone, meet Scott.

A Plea for Classic Horror

By Scott Elichek

Many legendary horror directors provided the foundation for the movies which came with the turn of the millennium. Trail-blazers such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Lucio Fulci, Clive Barker and Sean Cunningham, created films that not only entertained, but provided horror fans a mental escape. However, with the turn of the century the genre appeared to shift gears.  Many of these directors exited the industry for a variety of reasons, and a new generation took the helm.

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