Goth Chick News: The Fireball Makes Our Feet Hurt Less, or 2020 Show Coverage

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

Goth Chick Press Pass

As the winter doldrums settle over the offices of Black Gate, exacerbating the fug which permanently hangs over the men’s WC, the only remedy is to start thinking about all our upcoming events.

Black Gate photog Chris Z and I will once again be crisscrossing the Midwest seeking out new authors, indie filmmakers and the purveyors of the strange and unusual; partially for our own amusement, but mostly for yours. I mean, let’s be honest, once we’ve downed our customary pre-show Fireball shots, pretty much everything is funny. But I am always careful to get a good night’s sleep before telling you about all we saw, to ensure what I share is interesting, if not hilarious, once we’ve sobered up.

So, without further ado, here is the 2020 lineup. Most of these shows are open to the public and many do a wider national tour, so if you’re interested, be sure to click the link to see if a similar event is coming to a city near you.

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Goth Chick News: Disturbing Wood

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

Disturbing Wood 1

Welcome to a new decade of frightfully entertaining information from the subterranean offices of Goth Chick News. 2020 is already shaping up to be a busy year with multiple trade shows to cover, interesting people to introduce you to, an epic Halloween bash to plan and multiple random bits of creepiness to share, starting with this.

You’ve likely never heard of Japanese artist Nagato Iwasaki. I certainly hadn’t until I came across him in a photo exhibition. The first words that came to mind when I saw Iwasaki’s sculptures were “beautiful nightmare” and I knew I had to share them with you. Iwasaki create humanoid figures from driftwood.

Back in the early 70’s, Masahiro Mori, Japan’s first creator of robots which had a human-like appearance, coined the term “uncanny valley”. He used it to describe the uneasy feeling, boarding on revulsion, which people experience when non-human objects look a bit too much like real humans. I immediately think of ginger roots which look very much like human babies and have been creeping people out for centuries. Inspired by the concept of the “uncanny valley,” Iwasaki set out to purposely create it in nature, by blurring the line between flesh and wood.

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Goth Chick News: “The Wish,” a Haunting (and Forgotten) Winter Tale from Ray Bradbury

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick winter

In 1973, Ray Bradbury published a short story in the December issue of Woman’s Day magazine. It later appeared in his short story collection Long After Midnight, but it was that Christmas that is forever lodged in my memory, along with Mr. Bradbury.

I was wouldn’t turn 9 years old until January but that December I felt much older as I had just experienced real death for the first time. Earlier in the year I had lost my beloved Grandpa and I recall simply not being able to believe I would never see him again. He had loomed exceptionally large in my life and for an 8-years-old me, there had never been a time when he wasn’t holding my hand. But he had gone suddenly from a heart attack and I didn’t get to say goodbye, and that experience had made me feel older than myself.

But my feelings of loss were nothing to my Dad’s. He had been very close with his own Dad his entire life, and when Grandpa died, to me anyway, it seemed like part of Dad went with him. By Christmas, Dad was putting on a brave face and trying to be cheery for me and my very young siblings. But I could see he his grief was winning. Mom tried everything to bring him around from making his favorite dishes to decorating (it looked like Christmas exploded in our house that year), but Dad’s smile was watery and he spent more time than usual ‘working’ out in the garage where I suspected he shed the tears he couldn’t do in front of us.

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Goth Chick News: Christmas Roses for That “Special” Person

Thursday, December 12th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Nightmare Before Christmas Roseshire

Is there a special someone in your life who isn’t the standard sugarplum fairy at the holidays? Even wonder how to express your feelings to them in a way that is as unconventional as they are?

Roseshire, purveyors of extraordinary roses, have you covered.

Roseshire curates a variety of rose ‘experiences’ and delivers them directly to home, castle or mountainside caves. Each unique experience includes a designer box, a calligraphied message from you, sealed with wax, and perfect roses, hand-groomed to within an inch of their lives.

If that wasn’t enough, Roseshire has outdone themselves for the holidays with a Grinch-inspired experience, complete with green roses, as well as a Nightmare Before Christmas experience delivered in a coffin box.

There are other holiday boxes but who cares?

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Goth Chick News: Finishing Out “The Season” at the Holiday Horror Con

Thursday, December 5th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Holiday Horror Con 2019-small

Last week I told you about how BG reader R.K. Robinson gave me a bit of grief for writing about Halloween in March. The fact this column is entitled Goth Chick News aside, I couldn’t help but drag him into the coverage of what is normally the last show of “the season.” Days of the Dead used to be where our road-tripping to various horror-related events ended for the year, and we settled into a long winter of Netflicking and reading before picking it all up again at the Halloween Attractions Association show in March; which is where RK came in.

However, this year BG photog Chris Z and I got an offer we could not refuse; not the least of which because it provided a perfect opportunity to offer RK a further extension of the Halloween season. That and because covering a show of this type the weekend after Thanksgiving when the Christmas décor is dripping from everywhere was just too appealing.

Enter the Holiday Horror Con.

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Goth Chick News: It’s Not Over Yet! Days of the Dead Lurches into Chicago

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Days of the Dead 2019

I will start this week’s article with a shout out to Black Gate reader R.K. Robinson who posted “It’s only March!” on my coverage of the Haunted Association and Attractions show. Apparently, he is genuinely unaware that “the season” begins with the HAA which often happens in February (it was late this year) and generally goes all the way into November, ending with Days of the Dead. However, in honor of R.K., Black Gate photog Chris Z and I have accepted an invitation to cover the Holiday Horror Con taking place this weekend outside of Chicago, officially extending “the season” into December.

Next week our Holiday Horror Con coverage will be dedicated to R.K.

But this week we’re talking Days of the Dead (or DotD for you cool kids) and the fabulous event that it was last weekend.

DotD is a horror and pop culture convention with annual stops in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Charlotte, wrapping up its tour in Chicago. Due to its increasing popularity, the 2019 event here was moved to a bigger hotel venue then in the past, and from the looks of it, probably needs to upsize again next year. As always, DotD attracted an impressive list of celebrity guests including Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws), Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon, Police Academy) and Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator) among many others. Additionally, there were over 100, horror-themed vendors selling everything from jewelry to movie memorabilia. What is especially wonderful about DotD in Chicago is the amount of material we always get from meeting indie filmmakers, new artists and aspiring writers.

That, and the opportunity to do a bit of holiday shopping…

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Goth Chick News: Thanksgiving History Makes for a Horror Feast

Thursday, November 21st, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick News Pilgrims-small

Considering all the stories one hears about how stressful Thanksgiving family time can be, it’s surprising that the annual bacchanalia of feasting and intoxicated relatives has not been fodder for more Thanksgiving-themed horror movies. There have been a few of course, such as Home Sweet Home and Thankskilling, but they have been campy and largely forgettable, in spite of the bewildering amount of material to work with.

But, as we reported last week, Jason Blum and his crew at Blumhouse Productions are on a very entertaining roll turning your cherished memories upside down. Last year they joined forces with Hulu for an analogy project called Into the Dark, dedicated to releasing holiday-themed horror films every month. Blumhouse’s Thanksgiving offering for 2019 will likely go down in history as the best Thanksgiving-horror movie tie in ever.

In a collaboration between screenwriter Noah Feinberg and the writing duo Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (Feast, Saw IV-VII) Pilgrim isn’t just a horror story that happens to be set during Thanksgiving, but instead is a film steeped in Thanksgiving history and tradition; all of which is perversely twisted for our enjoyment.

A woman invites Pilgrim re-enactors into her home to give her family an authentic recreation of the first Thanksgiving, all in the hopes that they’ll put down their phones, cast their differences aside, and learn to truly appreciate one another – if only for a couple days. But when the actors refuse to ever break character and their behavior becomes increasingly concerning, the lessons they bring may come at a deadly cost.

Not long after daughter Cody wishes on a turkey wishbone that her step-mother’s Thanksgiving plans backfire in her face, Pilgrims Ethan (Peter Giles) and Patience (Elyse Levesque) arrive at the family’s home and her fears (and wishes) come true. Ethan and Patience represent Puritanical extremism at its most frightening and aren’t afraid to get a whole lot of blood on their hands in the process of spreading their message. Their mission is simple: make the family appreciate what they’ve got.

Check out the trailer….

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Goth Chick News: Welcome to Fantasy/Horror Island…

Thursday, November 14th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Fantasy Island-small

If you’re not familiar with the fairly cheesy but no less iconic television series Fantasy Island (1977-1984), you immediately need to find it on your favorite streaming service and watch a few episodes. I found at least a few of the 286 installments for free on YouTube and those should be enough to hook you as well as give you the context for the most awesome news since Elsa got drunk and crapped up Chicago with 4 inches of snow.

The storyline was fairly simple. The incredibly wealthy and mysterious Mr. Roarke, played perfectly by the exotically-accented Ricardo Montalban, has a tropical island. In each episode he hosts several guests who have come there to live out their most secret fantasies. Mr. Roarke and his rather adorable but equally creepy sidekick “Tattoo” played by Hervé Villechaize, magically transport each guest into their fantasy where they routinely learn a hard lesson / get their comeuppance / get their heart’s desire, etc, etc.

Now, even my grade-school self who was obsessed with this show, wondered why these fantasies were always so G-rated, even if they sometimes bordered on scary. Like most kids I had stumbled across and snuck looks at verboten material and understood in a small way that the dark recesses of the human imagination were far murkier than finally showing up the high school cheerleader who was always more popular than you, by become a millionaire business woman. In college, Fantasy Island occasionally cropped up in discussion as we mulled over what would actually go on if a place like this really existed. And having run across the show on late night reruns, my adult self immediately wondered why some enterprising film maker had never explored that exact question. I figured there had to be some legal hang up somewhere.

And now this.

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Goth Chick News: Fantasticland Is Well… Fantastic

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Fantasticland-smallA couple months back, before the insanity of “the season” got into full swing, my Amazon account hit on an incredibly spot-on recommendation. Under the “ you might like” section was a book I had not come across previously; Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven. I opted for the audio book, as the description made it seem like a fine way to spend my daily hellacious commute in Chi-town traffic.

Since the 1970s, FantasticLand has been the theme park where “Fun is Guaranteed!” But when a hurricane ravages the Florida coast and isolates the park, the employees find it anything but fun. Five weeks later, the authorities who rescue the survivors encounter a scene of horror. Photos soon emerge online of heads on spikes outside of rides and viscera and human bones littering the gift shops, breaking records for hits, views, likes, clicks, and shares. How could a group of survivors, mostly teenagers, commit such terrible acts?

Presented as a fact-finding investigation and a series of first-person interviews, FantasticLand pieces together the grisly series of events. Park policy was that the mostly college-aged employees surrender their electronic devices to preserve the authenticity of the FantasticLand experience. Cut off from the world and left on their own, the teenagers soon form rival tribes who viciously compete for food, medicine, social dominance, and even human flesh. This new social network divides the ravaged dreamland into territories ruled by the Pirates, the ShopGirls, the Freaks, and the Mole People. If meticulously curated online personas can replace private identities, what takes over when those constructs are lost?

FantasticLand is a modern take on Lord of the Flies meets Battle Royale that probes the consequences of a social civilization built online.

Fantasticland might end up at the top of my 2019 reading list. As a frequent visitor to Disney World in Florida, the parallels are entirely obvious, though Disney is presented as a competitor to Fantasticland.

The story is biting social commentary which explores themes we have all thought about – what would happen if our technology-rich environment was suddenly gone? It probes the prejudices, harassment and bullying that is all too frequent in today’s headlines, but pushes each to its most horrifying extreme. For me, it was all the more terrible taking place, as it was, against a backdrop that was the antithesis of all things negative; “where fun is guaranteed.”

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Goth Chick News: Count(ing) Dracula – There’s Always Room for One More

Thursday, October 31st, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Every Night is Halloween

First off, being today is the holiday around which the entire Goth Chick News year revolves, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! The Black Gate offices are positively awash in cobwebs and black candles, while the adult beverage maker is blending at top speed. It’s causing a brown out in the executive suite but is also serving to drown out John O shouting about not being able to hear his Robots of Gotham audio book. Black Gate photog Chris Z, who is wearing a Devil’s Rejects tee shirt with his kilt and army boots, is hosting a screening of Zombeavers for the interns, and the whole place smells like Fireball whiskey and pumpkin spice.

And never mind it’s snowing in Chicago…

So, before I head out to the Uber for my 24-hour bacchanalia of decadence marking October 31st, I had to take the time to give you this one tib bit of (hopefully) good news.

As you may or may not be aware, Dracula has headlined no less than 61 films since Mr. Stoker first introduced him to us in 1897. There has literally been a Dracula for all times and cultures, appearing on the big screen and small, and telling us about the children of the night in literally dozens of languages. But today we get a glimpse into the fanged-one’s spiritual homecoming. Though the vampire made his home in Transylvania, Dracula as a character was born in Cruden Bay, Scotland rooting his literary origins firmly in the U.K. and it is from London where he is once again being reborn.

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