Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
It definitely would have been a very good scoop to have landed back at C2E2. Then again, I might have been too busy having a fan girl swoon to have caught on anyway.
Earlier this month I had the chance to chat with Max Brooks, author of one of my favorite novels, World War Z. At the time I pressed him as much as I dared on the topic of a sequel as it seemed to be a rather touchy subject. Brooks stated he’d do it when the spirit moved him to and not a moment before.
This week I learned two things – first, something has definitely moved Brooks, and second, a possible reason why the topic of a follow up story might have been a tad touchy at the time I asked about it.
Paramount Pictures has just set a release date for the sequel to World War Z, effectively ending speculation, and Max Brooks is on board as one of the writers.
Granted, we’ve been hearing rumors about this for some time. In spite of the original production being plagued by so many problems it came close to being scrapped, World War Z ultimately became a blockbuster hit ($540M worldwide) and is in fact considered the highest grossing film in Brad Pitt’s career.
As Pitt not only starred in but produced the original film via his Plan B production company, it seemed inevitable that Paramount would green light a follow up at some point.
Thursday, May 14th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
Back in February the Horror Writers Association announced their nominees for the annual Bram Stoker Awards for superior writing in eleven categories, including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction.
This week they announced the winners, who will receive what must be the coolest trophy ever.
Here are all the winners, as well as the runners up.
Superior Achievement in a Novel – Blood Kin, Steve Rasnic Tem (Solaris)
If you happened to be hanging out in downtown Chicago recently, perhaps enjoying the first wiff of a thaw in the air, then you also ran a fair chance of seeing Khaleesi riding the El train.
After all, April in the Windy City can only mean one thing.
It is once again time for the mother of all spandex parades, otherwise known as the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids).
Started back in 2010, C2E2 is a fan convention spanning the latest and greatest from the worlds of comics, movies, television, toys, anime, manga and video games. The 840K square foot show floor was packed light saber to body suit with literally hundreds of exhibitors, panels and autograph sessions. And though this year’s attendance has not yet been officially published, estimates place it at a record-breaking 60K plus.
As we have done for the prior four years, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I gleefully donned our official press passes (by far the coolest looking ones in the industry) and waded into the fray; in order to provide you a chance to peep at least a small portion of the sights too numerous to catalog.
Thanks to a pre-opening chat with perennial Goth Chick News fav, horror comic writer Dirk Manning, we were able to skirt the biblical-sized masses queued at the entrance and get an early look at show floor. The sheer number of booths dedicated to comics alone made me wonder (and later discover) the actual size of the domestic industry for comics and graphic novels, in dollars.
Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the only US stop of the touring exhibit Vikings at the Field Museum in Chicago. There I learned much about the Norse “tribe of gods,” which included stories about Odin, the god of war and death, but also the god of wisdom and poetry credited with creating the world. I also learned about Loki, the trickster god and companion of Odin, who helped him with clever plans but sometimes caused a world of trouble (literally).
It is easy to see some similarities between Odin and Loki, and Christianity’s God and Satan, though Norse mythology is far less black and white. Odin and Loki often work together to teach mankind lessons, both directly and through their own failings.
All in all, a fascinating experience.
Which is why I was beyond thrilled to find a package from my friends at Wunderkind, waiting for me when I got home.
The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne M. Harris, is scheduled for release on May 5th and at first, I thought I was going to have a chance to delve deeper into the Norse myth of Loki, which in and of itself would have been a treat.
However, what I really received was so much more fun.
Now this may come as a shock, but my favorite type of humor is that which is liberally tinged with irreverence. In other words, I like no one I like better than someone with the ability to poke fun at topics which are normally taken seriously by everyone else.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
It’s been three years – count them because I sure have – since I crushed on author Steven Roman over his first novel Blood Feud.
Back then I was all enamored due to the fact that Roman’s main character, Pandora (Pan) Zwieback, was a zombie-shooting, werewolf booting, leather clad heroine of a goth chick.
Finally, a book I could relate to.
Never mind that Blood Feud landed in the “young adult fiction” category either. Roman doesn’t insult readers of any age, with lip-nibbling, flannel-wearing whiners. These characters were a dark fantasy cross-over all the way, with nary a “romantic” slipped in there anywhere.
If Roman’s name sounds familiar it may be because before Blood Feud he was responsible for highly successful, but mainly fan-boy facing fare such as X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy and Final Destination: Dead Man’s Hand, as well as appearing in anthologies such as Untold Tales of Spider-Man and Dr. Who: Short Trips.
I’m not knocking Roman’s horror chops – no way, not now.
But when you’re a guy taking on the persona of a sixteen-year-old goth girl and aiming your story at a young adult audience, you’re taking on a whole new level of imagination.
Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
Last week I mentioned running into Mike “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and his crew at the HAA in St. Louis. Fitz is the proprietor of Evil Intentions, a haunted attraction housed in the former Elgin Metal Casket Company in the suburbs of Chicago and during what is now the off-season, Fitz has opened the place up for paranormal investigations.
When we visited Evil Intentions last fall we agreed it was one of the best experiences of the dozen or so haunts we attended, mainly because of Fitz’s “low tech” approach which allowed the utter creepiness of the building to play a central role in the attraction. So I was entirely psyched when Fitz invited us to do a ride along during an upcoming investigation.
Mysteriously, BG photog Chris Z had a pressing engagement elsewhere, and perhaps not so unexpectedly, I could not solicit any of my colleagues to join me on this little outing. So it was down to me to go hang out in the abandoned casket company from 9 p.m. on a Friday night, to 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
Granted, the building does look even eerier in the middle of a March night while not decked out in all its Halloween lighting and finery. But the first thing I had to ask is why Fitz thought the place was haunted, just because it used to make coffins?
Apparently, it is a documented, historical fact that in 1890 a cemetery on the grounds became overcrowded and remains of early settlers were dug up and moved to the new Bluff City Cemetery less than a mile away.
Relocating bodies… Doesn’t it always start that way?
Thursday, April 9th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
For the fifteenth year, Transworld invited Black Gate back to cover one of the largest horror industry trade expos in the US; the Halloween and Attractions Show (“HAA”) in St. Louis, MO.
If you’ve ever wondered where the movie special effects guys go when they aren’t slinging gore for the latest scream-fest, then I can safely report that I know – they’re cooking up crazy makeup, animatronics and other visual gross-outs for the professional haunt industry.
The HAA is a “trade only” event, meaning the general public isn’t invited, but that didn’t stop a perpetual crowd from standing around outside the main entrance to the America’s Convention Center in order to get a glimpse of the attendees.
And as always, there is quite a lot to glimpse.
Over 250 exhibitors, some with what were essentially full-scale, mobile attractions, filled the cavernous convention space displaying everything from fog machines (with realistic “scents” – let’s just say yuck right here) to audio backgrounds and latex makeup elements to $15K+ robotic effects. As one attendee put it, “This is Christmas in March for everyone in the horror industry.”
Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be back in his cold steel Terminator role later this year, but first it looks like he’s going to get all warm and gooey.
In a new film called Maggie, Schwarzenegger plays a loving father to a teen daughter he’s doing his best to protect at the peak of a zombie apocalypse. When Maggie becomes infected, the all-consuming virus begins to transform her into an undead creature with a budding appetite for human brains. Wade stands by her and attempts to ward off the authorities who are trying to collect her for quarantine and termination. Though her condition worsens, Wade is firm in his love; although Maggie would like him to save himself from the disease that is undoing her humanity.
Schwarzenegger manages all this while dropping only a few manly tears and sporting a grief beard that would put Tyrion Lannister to shame; though I’ll bet you an adult beverage that sometime before the credits roll we’ll see Arnie doing what he does best, involving fire and heavy weaponry.
Freshman Henry Hobson is in the director’s chair, and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine and Zombieland) stars as Schwarzenegger’s ill-fated daughter. Maggie is scheduled to hit theaters May 8th.
Monday, March 30th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
You may truly be unaware of this little tid bit, and no one would blame you if you were, but the Chia Pet has been around for almost 40 years.
Marketed by Joe Pedott’s California-based company Joseph Enterprises Inc., Pedott first learned about Chia Pets when he attended a housewares show in Chicago in 1977. But it wasn’t until that mind-worm of a catchphrase (“Ch-ch-ch-chia!”) and the release of the ram Chia Pet in 1982 that they became little terrracotta icons.
Chia Pets have managed to survive in exactly the same way that Pet Rocks and Beenie Babies have not. Maybe part of the reason for their longevity is that Chia Pets have kept pace with pop culture, with Chias hitting the market depicting everything from Disney characters to Looney-Tunes, The Simpsons to SpongeBob and recently, Duck Dynasty and President Obama.
So I considered it complete validation of my assertion that zombies are the current “it” monster — successfully unseating angsty, flannel-wearing vampires — when a Chia Zombie arrived at my door, direct from none other than Joseph Enterprises themselves.
You won’t see Chia Zombies around until fall, since Chias are traditionally only on store shelves for the holiday buying season, but I did find them on Amazon.
Thursday, March 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist
Norman Reedus at Wizard World’s Fan Fest
If you’re the kind of person who gets misty-eyed with nostalgia when you hear sitcom titles like Growing Pains, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Married With Children, then Wizard World’s Fan Fest which took place March 7-8 in Chicago would have been just the place for you.
And if you’re considering possible explanations for how the heck I ended up there (dragging BG photog Chris Z along for fun), the answer is no – I did not have a fever or a head injury.
There is a darn good explanation actually.
Fan Fest came to be when Bruce Campbell, the cult-favorite TV and movie actor, had to cancel his appearance at the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest because of a television commitment. The horror fest was scheduled to take place that weekend and Goth Chick News had been invited to attend.
“We knew we couldn’t continue to hold the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest without Bruce Campbell!” said Jerry Milani of Wizard Entertainment. “But it also seemed a shame to let the weekend go to waste, since we already had the date and the venue.”
And so, the idea of Fan Fest was born. Organizers quickly secured a lineup of actors along with celebrities from the comic-book and pro-wrestling worlds. (The Bruce Campbell event has been rescheduled to take place in August with Wizard World’s Chicago Comic Con.)