The Poison Apple: Remember Buffy? An Interview with Tie-in Author Nancy Holder

Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

Buffy Encyclopedia

Buffy Encyclopedia

Let’s talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When I was doing the episode guidebooks for Buffy, I was taping Joss Whedon… Remember when Spike moves into the crypt? It was pitch-black dark in there and we were sitting on the crypt for our interview. It had been hard to get him, because he was been busy. I had sat waiting and waiting with these old-fashioned tape recorders that looked like movie cameras, and for both of them the batteries had run down and the tape was spooling out. When we got outside in the bright sunlight, I saw what had happened. I had been going for days without much sleep and there was my interview with Joss… not. The first thing I did was say the f-bomb and then, “Why you? Why you?”

He fixed the tape and said, “It’s okay.” I put more batteries in and asked, “Can you say everything you said over again? And he said, “I’ll try.” I was so embarrassed. But we got it done, and he was great. So articulate and smart.

How often did you get over to the set?

If you add all the days together, I was probably on the Buffy set for the total of a month. I was over on Angel, maybe a week or two.

Buffy had been set up in some empty warehouses in Santa Monica in this place called Bergamot Station. Mutant Enemy was there, and they had all the Buffy stuff there plus the writers offices and post production for Angel. When you went to Angel, it was very Hollywoody, because it was on the Paramount lot. You had the golf cart guys, the scrolly gates at the front…

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The Black Panther’s Magical World of Wakanda

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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I watched Black Panther yesterday with my 13-year-old son and enjoyed it more than most superhero movies. Ant-Man and the first Iron Man movie usually top my charts for fun superhero movies. Wonder Woman (which I reviewed here) and then Captain America top the charts for me as superhero war movies. The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy and Justice League are too busy and quippy to have much emotional resonance after the popcorn is done. But Black Panther felt very different.

A big part of it was that Black Panther doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in places we know. Sure, there’s a great sequence in Busan, South Korea, but most of it takes place in Wakanda, and Wakanda itself is a powerful experience.  It seems like so much of the visuals in superhero movies are the same, so the surprising and beautiful aesthetic of Afro-futurism hits the eyeballs hard, like tasting a great new food. But with our eyes.

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The Last Dragon (1985): My Big Trouble in Little China or Black Panther Double Feature Pick

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

Last-Dragon-title-card-1985

This week I have two reasons to write about The Last Dragon, a.k.a. Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. First, the biggest black superhero movie ever produced arrives in theaters this weekend, Black Panther. If projections are accurate, it will steamroller all February opening records with a domestic box-office take of $200 million and become a cultural touchstone for 2018. It’s the right time to celebrate with one of Black Panther’s earlier progenitors in black superhero movies that isn’t Blade. (Nothing against Blade, but it’s the example the other magazines will cover.)

Second, I looked at Big Trouble in Little China last week for my John Carpenter series. Few films are a better fit for a double feature with Big Trouble in Little China than The Last Dragon, a martial arts comedy fantasy that came out the year before Carpenter’s take on a genre still unfamiliar to U.S. audiences.

On a double bill with Big Trouble in Little China, I’d show The Last Dragon first. This is based on my guidelines for crafting double features — a subject I’ve given far too much thought — that either 1) the lesser quality film goes first, or 2) the lighter/less grim film goes second, whichever factor feels dominant. Since both movies are on the same level of buoyancy and feel-good fun, The Last Dragon opens for Big Trouble in Little China.

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I Need A Vacation – Or Is It A Holiday?

Friday, February 16th, 2018 | Posted by Violette Malan

National LampoonI wonder if there’s still a distinction to be made between holidays and vacations?* Back before “holy day” became “holiday” was there even such a thing as a vacation? Or were holy days really enforced vacations, in the sense that for some of them at least no work was allowed? Would that make the Sabbath a vacation as well as a holy day? Hmmm.

I’m fairly certain that while the two words are now considered synonyms (at least in English) the concept of a vacation as a time of recreational activities is a relatively new one. That is, not just a cessation of work on the part of one’s self, one’s servants and even on occasion one’s animals, but the active pursuing of another activity altogether. Did the Romans go on vacation? Did travelling for a holiday start with the “grand tours” of the 18th century? Or with seaside bathing in the 19th?

Since seaside bathing was considered healthy, as was “taking the waters” in resorts like Bath in England, Lanjeron in Spain, and Baden-Baden in Germany was travel to these places a vacation?

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Goth Chick News Anniversary Interview: Aliens Carrie Henn

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Aliens Newt

One of my favorite horror/sci fi movies of all time is the second in the original Alien franchise, Aliens (1986) directed by James Cameron, which I’ve watched more times than I can count. The film is a classic, from the story to the acting to the special effects, not to mention being one of the most quotable movies ever made (“Game over, man” and “Get away from her, you bitch!”). Even though the movies that came after paled in comparison, fans have continued to follow the crew of the Nostromo in games such as Alien: Isolation and kept hope alive for a real sequel to the storyline.

So, it is with great pleasure that I celebrate my 18th year and 400th article for Black Gate by scoring an interview with the youngest star of Aliens, Carrie Henn who played Rebecca “Newt” Jorden alongside Sigourney Weaver. As I mentioned in the post about Days of the Dead, she agreed to an interview in spite of my telling her how I cyberstalked her, while Black Gate photog Chris Z died of embarrassment behind me.

So without further delay – everyone, meet Carrie. Carrie, meet everyone.

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Incendiary Conspiracy Theory Suggests Possible Collusion Between She-Ra: Princess of Power and Hordak

Monday, February 12th, 2018 | Posted by Nick Ozment

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The 1985 cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spin-off of He Man and the Masters of the Universe aimed at young girls. It ran for 2 seasons, 93 episodes, and was canceled in 1986. Both series were produced by Filmation in conjunction with toymaker Mattel.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN OFFSCREEN CONVERSATION FROM A SECRET RECORDING OF SOME OF THE SUPPORTING CAST. 

This is a partial transcript of video obtained from the memory files of one of Hordak’s captured Hover Robot spies. It has never been declassified or released on Etheria or Eternia, and we are publishing the audio transcript here at Black Gate at great personal risk, like the brave souls in the movie The Post. You’re welcome, people of planet Earth!

FLUTTERINA: “Well, since we’re dishing gossip, lemme tell you guys — totally off the record — lemme tell you what bothers me about this whole She-Ra charade. I saw her lift a whole lake once.”

LOO-KEE: “Huh?”

FLUTTERINA: “A whole lake. With the bedrock beneath it — like a bowl, ‘cuz you can’t just lift a body of water — and toss it like a mile through the air. A lake. That puts her at what power level? Like a hundred He-Mans? So why doesn’t she just stamp out The Horde?”

KOWL: [flaps his ear-wings and hovers excitedly] “Yeah! Every time she ‘defeats’ Hordak, she just lets him slip away. Sometimes she sees him off with a shake of her finger and a ‘Don’t you ever get up to this sort of mischief again’!”

FLUTTERINA: “It is kind of demented, isn’t it? Like she just likes toying with him, dragging out a cruel game for her own perverse pleasure.”

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The Complete Carpenter: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Saturday, February 10th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

big-trouble-little-china-poster-dru-struzanJohn Carpenter has seen plenty of his films underperform when first released, only to turn into cult icons years later. But Big Trouble in Little China, Carpenter’s ninth feature film, didn’t just underperform. It was the biggest flop of his career up to that point, pulling in $1.1 million against a budget of $25 million. This ended Carpenter’s phase with the big studios and sent him back to the indie world.

Big Trouble in Little China started on the page as a Western set in 1899. It was rewritten for a modern-day setting by script-doctor (and Buckaroo Banzai director) W. D. Richter before Carpenter arrived. Carpenter sparkled up the screenplay with his love of screwball comedy characters and dialogue and took inspiration from Chinese martial arts fantasy movies like Tsui Hark’s Zu Warriors of the Magic Mountain. Out of this stew, Carpenter created what he called “an action adventure comedy Kung-Fu ghost story monster movie.” Something for everybody. Kurt Russell promised audiences in a promotional featurette that they’d definitely get their five-bucks’ worth.

But the final product baffled the executives at 20th Century Fox. The studio dumped the promotional marketing into the sewer, contributing to the movie’s massive box-office crash. But, according to the Law of John Carpenter Cult Movies, Big Trouble in Little China gained a second life on cable and video. By the mid-‘90s, when the Hong Kong martial arts fantasy/comedy genre blew up in North America, this ode to Kung Fu, movie serials, Chuck Jones, and clueless macho heroes had become a classic.

The Story

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is the tough-talking, hoagie-munching truck driver of the Pork Chop Express. He arrives in San Francisco and meets his buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) for beer and pai gow. Jack drives Wang to the airport to pick up his friend’s fiancée, Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), who’s arriving from Beijing. But at the airport, a Chinatown street gang kidnaps Miao Yin to sell to a brothel. When Jack and Wang pull into Chinatown to search for her, they land in the middle of a war between the ancient societies the Chang Sing and Wing Kong — as well as an eruption of strange magic that leaves Jack Burton confused for … well, pretty much the rest of the movie.

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Deep Pockets, Abyssal Regions: Kong – Skull Island (2017)

Sunday, February 4th, 2018 | Posted by David Neil Lee

Kong – Skull Island-small

Who among us is so tired at heart, so bereft of purpose, so bored with life, that we would not want to risk our lives shooting at enormous monsters with high-powered guns? Not me, for sure, and I’m sure you feel the same way. This vicarious pleasure is certainly part of the appeal of watching the giant-monster films that began with King Kong in 1933, and that really got going in the 1950s with The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them!, and Godzilla.

I began watching these films as a young boy; as a boy, because of these iconic works, I felt that all that I needed to speed up my passage to manhood was a rampaging tyrannosaurus rex, and a bazooka. Fortunately, manhood eventually came to me through other means. Other boys, however, have grown up to make movies – in a handful of cases, to remake the favorite monster movies of their youths into multi-million dollar blockbusters.

Unfortunately, we’ve found that there are few films more disappointing than blockbuster remakes of modestly-budgeted originals. The 2010 Wolf Man doesn’t hold a candle to the 1941 original, the 2005 King Kong, like all Peter Jackson films, seems to go on forever, and although the makers of the 2014 Godzilla doubtless revere the 1954 original, their efforts will certainly never replace it as an iconic work that resonates for its time, and afterwards. What is needed is not to remake these now-classic stories, but to reconstruct them, to create something original out of them, that will force their familiar narratives into new and unexpected shapes.

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Goth Chick News: New Info on the Movie Adaptation of Doctor Sleep

Thursday, February 1st, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Mike Flanagan Doctor Sleep-small

Having taken a rather long hiatus from reading Stephen King novels, I tentatively put a big toe in back in 2013, due to my love for The Shining.

Doctor Sleep is King’s sequel to The Shining and as you may know from my past posts, I loved it, which is saying a lot. However, what wasn’t much of a shocker was that King almost immediately sold the movie rights to Warner Brothers, and that Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman stepped up to adapt Doctor Sleep. After all, Goldsman has had plenty of experience adapting other high-profile books such as The Da Vinci Code, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and The 5th Wave, though those last two were meh

However, we’ve now learned that following out-sized grosses on last summer’s movie adaptation of It, WB has put Doctor Sleep on the fast track. Mike Flanagan is set to direct the story, which picks up the life of tortured kid Danny Torrance (“Redrum!!”) now in his 40s and struggling with the same demons of anger and alcoholism that plagued his father and still haunted by the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel. Flanagan’s producing partner Trevor Macy will produce, along with Vertigo Entertainment’s Jon Berg.

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Happy National Gorilla Suit Day!

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

800px-Mardi_Gras_Drinking_Gorilla

It’s January 31, and that means it’s time to celebrate one our civilization’s greatest inventions–the gorilla suit!

On this holiday, we dust off that gorilla suit hanging in our closet and don it with pride. The idea is that you should do at least one thing in your regular schedule dressed up as a gorilla. Go to the store, go bowling, have a drink at your local bar, whatever.

National Gorilla Suit Day was invented by Mad Magazine cartoonist Don Martin. But of course the roots of this cultural phenomenon go way back to the beginnings of cinema, when early directors found that a man in a gorilla suit took direction much better than an actual gorilla.

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