Goth Chick News: Tales from the Haunted Mansion Book Series

Thursday, July 18th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Tales from the Haunted Mansion

Disney parks worldwide have a lot of things in common, namely being the ‘Happiest Place(s) on Earth’, which is why the Haunted Mansion ride may seem like a bit of an anomaly. From Mystic Manor in Hong Kong, to Phantom Manor in Paris, to the Haunted Mansions in Tokyo, California and Florida, each park has a unique haunted house ride. The only park where you won’t find one is Shanghai, where ghosts and the fear of hauntings have a very real place in the Chinese culture.

The first Disney “imagineers” dreamed up the idea of a haunted attraction in the late 1950’s, starting with the story of a “house on the hill” inhabited by 999 ghosts. The actual mansion didn’t open to the public until 1969 and guests were immediately hooked on the experience, though much of the backstory by that time had faded into the background. The attraction gained an enormous cult following, bolstered with oodles of official merchandise and even more homages created by its fanbase. Though hardcore fans can tell you the mansion’s story, which ties together even the minutest details seen in the ride, most visitors simply enjoy the spookiness of the experience without ever knowing the significance of “The Hatbox Ghost,” “The Bride,” and “Madame Leota.”

Until now.

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Goth Chick News Reviews: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child-small

It will come as a shock to absolute no one that I am a Harry Potter nerd of biblical proportion. I cop to it, I embrace it, and I proudly got out in public displaying it via my various “Hogwarts Alumni” gear, my custom HP Vans and my Gryffindor quidditch team pajamas. I make an annual pilgrimage to Universal Studios in Florida where I repeatedly get in line for the “Escape from Hogwarts” roller coaster, ride the Hogwarts Express until even the employees roll their eyes, and drink butterbeers to the point of terminal brain freeze. I’ve been to the Warner Brothers Studios in London where the movies were filmed and where security had to turn the lights off to get me to leave, and proudly taken selfies in Kings Cross Station where platform 9 ¾ can be plainly seen, unless of course, you’re a muggle.

And though I was in London on June 7, 2019 the opening night of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, actually getting into the Palace Theater to see it had become my own personal holy grail. Shows were sold out months in advance, plus it was a two-night commitment; the play unfolds in two parts performed on consecutive evenings. Following its record-breaking nine Laurence Olivier Awards in 2017, it was inevitable that Cursed Child would eventually arrive on Broadway in New York, which is precisely what it did in April 2018 where it opened at the Lyric Theater. And one day a week, on Wednesdays, both Part I and Part II are performed on the same, long, magically wonderful day.

The stars were aligned, the time was right, the boss was out of town, and on June 26th I crossed a sweltering Times Square, Cursed Child tickets in hand and feeling like a tween en route to a Justin Bieber concert, when he did concerts and had better hair.

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Goth Chick News: At the Midwest Haunters Convention

Thursday, June 27th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Midwest Haunter's Convention 2019-small

For the past 30 years, TransWorld Tradeshows LLC has hosted the Haunted Attractions Association show (HAA) where professional haunt content providers come together to show off their new offerings. Though 2019 actuals aren’t yet available, an estimated 9,000 guests from around the world piled into the St. Louis America’s Center, which has hosted the HAA for the past 10 years.  The tradeshow floor space itself has tripled since the show moved to St. Louis from Chicago in 2009, which is understandable when you think about Halloween now being a $9 billion industry, with most of that money being made in the month of October.

And though the HAA is the largest event of its kind, it requires professional credentials to attend; credentials Black Gate’s ‘big cheese’ John O. is more than happy to give us, ensuring that for two days every February, BG photog Chris Z. and I will be out of the office, enabling the ‘upstairs staff’ to smoke cigars indoors and hold their annual strip D&D game.

Don’t ask.

However, this has left Chicago bereft of a significant haunt-industry trade show. TransWorld’s other big event, the Midwest Haunters Convention (MHC) which unlike the HAA is open to the public, is a show we’ve talked about covering for years, but it was held in Columbus, OH. That meant signing up to a 12-hour round trip car journey, which in and of itself isn’t horrible, until we considered the sort of overnight accommodations our Black Gate expense account would allow us… in Columbus, OH. While we were considering the viability of sleeping in the car, Transworld made the incredibly convenient decision to move the MHC to a Chicago suburb.

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Goth Chick News: The Time We Went on the Mother of all Haunted House Bus Tours

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Midwest Haunters Convention Pre-convention Haunted Bus Tour-small

Though there is no denying that the opportunity to talk to you about my favorite genre each week is in general the most awesome job ever, there are certain Goth Chick News situations which transcend awesomeness into full-on unbelievable. Just such a situation occurred last week when Black Gate photog Chris Z and I were invited to join the Midwest Haunters Convention’s pre-convention, haunted house bus tour.

The MHC, which unlike the HAA is open to the public, is a show we’ve talked about covering for years, but until 2019 it had been held in Columbus, OH. That meant signing up to a 12-hour round trip car journey, which in and of itself isn’t horrible, until we considered the sort of overnight accommodations our Black Gate expense account would allow us… in Columbus, OH. While we were considering the viability of sleeping in the car, the show organizers, Transworld, made the incredibly convenient decision to move the MHC to a Chicago suburb.

Insert fan-girl squee here.

In advance of the show, MCH organized a Haunted House Bus Tour consisting of a 13-hour odyssey to visit four of the top, professional haunts in Chicagoland. These attractions would be fully staffed and operational (on a Thursday in June by the way) for the enjoyment of the guests who would experience each of them twice; once as visitors do during “the season” in October, and once with the lights turned on and all the magic revealed.

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Goth Chick News: Well This Was Inevitable

Thursday, June 6th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Salem's Lot

There’s no stopping the juggernaut that is Stephen King.

Granted, there is quite a lot of distance between “in development” and a finished product, but after looking into each of these King-related projects, they all seem to be past the “development hell” stage where many projects languish eternally. So, in addition to recent reboots of Carrie, It: Chapter 1 and Pet Semetary which we’ve already seen, here’s the list of King big and small screen projects we can look forward to in 2019 and beyond.

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Goth Chick News: Terror in Broad Daylight is Kind of Awesome

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Hey Lars-small

As the offspring of a Swedish immigrant, I grew up with a slightly augmented holiday calendar. For instance, Halloween was kind of a two-day thing in that my Swedish family celebrated All Saints Day on November 1. Easter was a four-day celebration that included not only ‘Good Friday’ but also ‘Easter Monday’ and the Christmas celebration started on December 24th and went straight through to Epiphany on January 6th, with pretty much non-stop partying for thirteen days. But one of my favorite Swedish holidays was Midsommar (or the Americanized “Midsummer”) which occurs toward the end of June; this year landing on June 21.

The Midsommar Festival in Sweden is steeped in magic, which the Swedes brought with them to America. Its origins can be traced back to the pagan celebrations around the summer solstice, and with winters being what they are in that part of the world, it’s no wonder the end of the long cold darkness was reason to dance. Flower rings were woven and worn as head dresses, there were large poles or majas decorated with greenery to dance around, and plenty of flirting; all to celebrate the awakening of Mother Earth. It was and still is a holiday to rival Christmas, and I remember the whole Swedish community gathering in a local forest preserve on Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day to eat, play music, dance, have a huge bonfire and generally banish old man winter. I also heard stories of Midsummer festivities “back home” where entire towns decamped to the countryside to do these same things only on a much grander scale.

Now, it is important to remember that, in spite of the general flower-laden celebratory feel of the Midsummer rituals, it is still a pagan festival at its heart, and that opens it up to all sorts of dark imaginings in the hands of certain movie makers.

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Goth Chick News: Touch My Books and I’ll Turn You into a Newt

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick She turned me into a newt-small

For years my one grand ambition was to have an Edwardian-type library in my house, providing the perfect sanctuary for perusing my favorite titles, while offering all my lovely tomes a suitable resting place from which to be admired. So, when I built this house the focus was entirely on having my library, and who cared about anything else?

Though my collection of hardcover volumes is small by most standards (not the least of which is compared to BG Big Cheese John O’s library), I am extremely proud and highly protective of my 500+ collection. Each one tells a story in addition to the literal one, as I’ve collected them on my travels and sometimes, in those early days, saved up for extended periods to buy a highly-desired volume, stood outside in Chicago winters to get first editions signed by the authors, or had them given to me by very special people. Friends have long since stopped asking to borrow a book off my shelf as I’d rather purchase another copy and gift it to them then let any of mine out of sight.

You get the idea.

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Goth Chick New: Who You Gonna Call? The Vatican Apparently…

Thursday, May 16th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth chick meme 1

The Roman Catholic Church has always been a bit cagey on their stance regarding possession. They haven’t exactly confirmed they believe it exists in the modern day, nor have they denied it exactly. After a bit of online research, I discovered that even “official” Catholic websites seem to indicate that yes, demon possession ran rampant in ancient times, but today is extremely rare and most often the symptoms of mental illness.

Rumors of there being an official “head exorcist” at the Vatican have for years been the stuff of urban legend and movie plots, which is why this most current information is a bit astounding. Apparently, the Roman Catholic Church has been hosting an annual exorcism class in Rome for the past fourteen years and this year, due to the rising tide of demonic forces worldwide, opened up the class up to all major Christian faiths.

“The idea is to help each other, to establish best practices if you will,” Father Pedro Barrajon, 61, one of the organizers of the 14th edition of the “Course on Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” taking place at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum, told the Telegraph News in the UK. “This is the first time that different denominations have come together to compare their experiences on exorcisms.”

Described as the first of its kind in the world that proposes academic and interdisciplinary research of exorcisms, the one-week course, taught exclusively in Italian, from May 6 to 11, was priced at $450.

Accommodations and meals not included.

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Goth Chick News: Please Welcome the New Official GCN Game Company

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Roswell 51

You know how you feel when you meet a new friend and there’s an instant connection? Someone you know will just ‘get you’ and who you’ll now want to spend all your time with, texting them, stalking them on social media, finding out where they live and driving by, and…

Okay, never mind.

The point is, I just met this guy Larry Wickman.

Now Larry has quite a lot going for him. For a start, he’s a big fan of Black Gate, and right behind that he’s an indie game designer. Not of slick VR stuff, but of the righteous RPG-card game variety, the kind of games that consumed a large chunk of the youth of most of us here at BG, and which a lot of the guys upstairs still spend a lot of time playing when they’re supposed to be writing. Which alone would make Larry a very popular guy around here — but now there’s this.

Larry is the creator of a series of board games called Shuffling Horror, and this is where his most recent honor lies: the title of Official Game Designer of Goth Chick News, as bestowed by me.

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Goth Chick News: Strange Blood

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Strange Blood-small

As our friends over at The Nerdist pointed out, 2019 is seeing a resurgence in our favorite classic fiend, the vampire. Not those angsty, flannel-wearing lot from Seattle, but the old school leather and lace variety who unapologetically drink human blood. The kind who either haunt our nightmares or make us think maybe sunlight is overrated after all.

And that’s a big relief if you ask me.

So, know it or not, the timing was just about perfect for author Vanessa Morgan to come out with a compilation of the strangest of the strange vampire stories ever placed between covers.

Strange Blood brings together 71 essays from 23 countries, delving into the most offbeat and underrated vampire movies going back 90 years and right up to the present day. Titles include The White Reindeer (1952), Requiem for a Vampire (1971), Nadja (1994) and my person favorite, the Swedish version of Let the Right One In (2008) just to name a few.

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