Goth Chick News: 168 Days to Halloween

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Halloween 2018

CinemaCon was held in Vegas last week and for those of you lucky enough to attend, you got a first look at footage from the upcoming (final, and we mean it this time) installment in the Halloween franchise. The rest of us are going to have to wait for it to be released publicly, which is happening soon.

Still, a lot of scoop came out of the annual four-day event. Here is what we now know about David Gordon Green’s October sequel to the original classic.

Things Jamie Lee Curtis said at CinemaCon, along with descriptions of the footage that flooded social media, have revealed the basic plot details. As we already knew, the new movie takes place 40 years after the events of the original, with all subsequent sequels ignored. Michael Myers has been locked up in an asylum since tormenting the teenaged Laurie back in 1978, but of course he escapes. Only this time, Laurie isn’t a helpless victim – this time, Laurie is “ready.”

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Goth Chick News: Enjoy This… Whatever the Hell It Is

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Anthony Hopkins Westworld-small

With season two of HBO’s Westworld premiering this week It’s difficult not to consider the magnitude of Sir Anthony Hopkins’s body of work. I mean, after all, before his latest stint as Robert Ford making all our violent dreams come true, he portrayed iconic characters from Captain Bligh, and Don Diego to Richard Nixon. But it was his portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and that line, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” followed by sucking air through his teeth that not only permanently burned Hopkins into my psyche but gave me nightmares for weeks. I mean, that’s the scariest and most disturbing he’s ever been.

Right?

Wrong.

This week the 80-year-old Hopkins decided to treat the Twitter-verse to his most horrifying performance to date. For reasons unknown Hopkins posted the short video below with the caption:

“This is what happens when you’re all work and no play…”

which may or may not have been some sort of Shining reference. However, Jack Torrance would have been under this desk in a fetal position had he seen what you’re about to see. And before you think you’re watching a filter at work, you aren’t. This isn’t Instagram it’s Twitter, and that’s Hopkins’ face doing that.

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Aliens, the Apocalypse, and the CIA: Tribulation 99

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Tribulation 99-small

One of the best things about being a part of the Black Gate community is being able to share things here that I could never bring up in everyday conversation with any of the fine, upstanding, ordinary folks that I spend most of my time with. They just wouldn’t understand — but I know that you will.

For instance, if the topic should turn to films, and should further narrow to the strange, the odd, the offbeat, most people might bring up that bizarre movie where Samuel Jackson never once said the word… well, you know, or the one where Ben Kingsley briefly pretended that he wasn’t there just for the paycheck, or that really nutty one where Adam Sandler spent thirty consecutive seconds actually trying to act.

Whatever gets mentioned, though, I know with moral certainty that no one will bring up Tribulation 99, a 1992 film written and directed by underground filmmaker Craig Baldwin. This is probably because not one person in a million has even heard of it. But in a lifetime spent watching really weird movies, it is without a doubt one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. So… do you want to hear about it? Of course you do. That’s why you’re here.

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My 300th Black Gate Post: Why I Write About What I Write About

Saturday, April 21st, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

cushing02 godzilla-2014-1108x0-c-default steve-reeves-and-sylva-koscina-in-hercules-pietro-francisci-1958 john-carpenter-bw j allen st john tarzan

This is my three hundredth post at Black Gate. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of my first post as a regular blogger. I remember when John O’Neill first invited me to be a part of this project, back when none of us had any idea where it would go — I certainly didn’t think it would last for a decade and that I’d still be around. Or that John would win a World Fantasy Award for it. Yet here the site is, ten years later and a World Fantasy Award richer, and I still can’t believe people show up to read what I have to say about Hercules movies, Godzilla, and Tarzan. It’s humbling to be part of a site with such a wealth of amazing material, great contributors, and so many dedicated and intelligent readers.

I’ve changed enormously as a nonfiction writer over these ten years, and most of the changes happened because of Black Gate. When I started my regular posts, I had only a blurry vision of the sort of blogger I wanted to be. The reality has turned out different because I made interesting discoveries about my own tastes along the way: specifically, what it is that I most enjoy writing about. I once imagined I’d write primarily about fantasy literature, Conan pastiches, and writing techniques. Now I write about monster movies, John Carpenter, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

To mark my personal anniversary, I’m going to offer an apologia of sorts — an explanation of why I write about the topics I write about most frequently on Black Gate. None of these were in the plan on Day 1, and I’m probably the person who’s most curious about how these subjects turned into my main nonfiction focus.

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The Secret Origin of Ultron

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steve Carper

Avenges-67-August-1969-cover

With the entire world counting down to an imminent and inevitable event that may shake the entire world and light up Twitter like nothing previous – no, not a Trump impeachment, but the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War – an Avengers robot column may be the only thing to soothe and distract the hordes long enough for the rest of us to stock up on survival gear, water, and dark chocolate.

For that I need to go back one movie to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Every good comic historian knows the origin of Ultron. He’s introduced in the pulsating pages of Avengers #55 (August 1968) as Ultron-5 and his back story is laid out in delectable detail in Avengers #58 (November 1968). Some indefinite time in the past Hank Pym – Ant Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, pick one – was noodling around in his workshop tinkering with “a crude but workable robot .. A faltering step on the path to synthetic life!” For reasons never explained, the robot turns itself on and its brain evolves from infant to adult in a matter of magnificent moments, giving it more daddy issues than all the Miss Golden Globes titlests combined. He, now definitely a gendered he, blanks Hank’s memory while he spends time off-page continually upgrading his body so that when readers get their first glimpse he introduces himself as Ultron-5.

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Peplum Populist: The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema (2015)

Saturday, April 14th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

maciste-films-of-italian-silent-cinema

The mighty muscleman Maciste has battled his way across millions of cinema screens around the globe, toppling tyrants, aiding the oppressed, vanquishing monsters, and taking on evil armies. Yet most of the world doesn’t even know his name. Instead, Maciste has gone undercover with pseudonyms such as Colossus, Atlas, Goliath, and most often, Hercules.

Maciste first appeared in the Italian sword-and-sandal (peplum) boom of 1957–1965 in Maciste in the Valley of the Kings (1960), which became Son of Samson in English-speaking territories and started the tradition of erasing the character’s name outside his home country. Maciste featured in twenty-four more pepla over the next five years, placing him second only to Hercules in the pantheon of sword-and-sandal strongmen. Since I started these “Peplum Populist” articles a year and a half ago, I’ve examined four Maciste films — and just one has “Maciste” in its English title, Maciste in Hell (1962), and that was only in the U.K. It became The Witch’s Curse in the U.S. I’ve come across only two Maciste film that use his name in the English dubbing, and in Colossus and the Headhunters he still lost his name in the title. 

So who is this brawny Italian superman? Why did everyone in Italy seem to know who he was and hold him almost equal to Hercules at the movie palaces?

The short answer: Maciste is a hero created not from myth, folklore, or poetry, but from movies. The long answer: well, it’s a long answer, hence why this article exists. I’ve wanted to explore the whole “Maciste issue” at length, and discovered the best approach was to go right to the source — Maciste’s roots in the silent films of Italy. The most extensive English study on the topic is The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema by Jacqueline Reich (Indiana University Press, 2015). Consider this your history of the origin of Maciste by way of a book overview.

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Dead and Looking Great: Night of the Living Dead Gets the Criterion Treatment

Thursday, April 5th, 2018 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Night of the Living Dead Karen Cooper-small

Kyra Schon as Karen Cooper in Night of the Living Dead

When George Romero, the Don Corleone of zombie movies, died last year, I did what I’m sure countless others did: I turned off the lights, boarded up the windows, laid in a supply of popcorn and Molotov cocktails, and settled down to watch Night of the Living Dead.

I first heard about the movie in the early seventies, when I came across an outraged condemnation of it in a Reader’s Digest I was flipping through while waiting to get my hair cut. When the flabbergasted critic said that the film’s monsters actually ate their victims — right there on the screen, I thought, “Oh, man — I have got to see this!” I caught it very soon thereafter on late night TV; it did not disappoint. It left an indelible mark on my psyche, and as a result I spent the next few years ignoring the teachers I was supposed to be listening to because I was too busy sketching out ways to defend my high school from a zombie attack. A typical American adolescence.

I have always considered Night of the Living Dead to be the most frightening of all horror films, and this most recent viewing revealed the movie to be as great as it ever was. In the years since 1968, other movies have certainly gone farther, but no movie has ever had as much impact; Romero’s nightmare vision can make your skin crawl in all the right places even now, and the hopeless, downbeat ending still packs quite a wallop. I watched with the same mounting dread and finished with the same feeling of lingering unease that I always experience after spending a claustrophobic evening with this soulless, hungry crew.

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The Quatermass Experiment: The Shakespeare of Sci-Fi Television

Sunday, April 1st, 2018 | Posted by David Neil Lee

The Quatermas Experiment-small

One of the most influential series in early television has actually made its way into science fiction history as a book. You can see my copy below: The Quatermass Experiment by Nigel Kneale, a plain 1959 paperback with the classic Penguin orange, cream, and black cover.

Ridley Scott’s Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing, the very existence of Doctor Who, not to mention 1980s-1990s films such as Life Force, Species, and The Astronaut’s Wife, and contemporary films such as Under the Skin, Life and The Cloverfield Paradox, where alien invasion takes the form of infection and transformation – all these are different faces of a genre that began with The Quatermass Experiment in the shaky, static-filled first days of black-and-white television – back with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the years after World War II.

In 1953, Nigel Kneale was a young writer and actor on the make. He had won an award for his 1949 short story collection Tomato Cain (a book which includes, among more naturalistic tales, portraits of vengeful nature and ancient supernatural evil that foreshadow his later works for TV and film). After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Kneale did some acting, but he had more success as a writer in the emerging field of television.

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Godzilla Acid Trips Thru Tokyo: Godzilla ‘77, a.k.a. Cozzilla

Saturday, March 31st, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

godzilla-cozzilla-psychadelic-mira-goji-toy

Do you remember the time Godzilla dropped the brown acid while watching Mothra’s colored wings, and then Raymond Burr joined him and they tipped back a few cases of wine from Burr’s personal vineyards, while Burr told the plot of Perry Mason episodes backwards, where Mason would undo a court decision, Paul Drake would put evidence back in place, and at the climax a dead body would return to life?

None of this actually happened — but something close to it did. It involves the Italian film industry (doesn’t it always?) and the director of Starcrash and the Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies. It’s called Godzilla il re dei mostri (“Godzilla the King of Monsters”), a.k.a. Cozzilla after its creator, Luigi Cozzi — and it’s one of the strangest and least known chapters in Godzilla history. Not as much an acid trip as Godzilla vs. Hedorah, but in that ballpark.

It starts with the 1976 King Kong. The Dino De Laurentiis remake of the ‘33 giant monster classic may not be much good (I’ll give composer John Barry a hand for his score, and I like Jeff Bridges’s beard), but it took in such a big overseas haul that it triggered a mini-monster boom in Europe and Asia. We can thank its success in Japan for getting the momentum going to restart the Godzilla series, resulting in The Return of Godzilla in 1984 and the better Heisei movies that followed.

But King Kong ‘76 also shocked into life an Italian take on Godzilla that most people are unaware exists. Godzilla il re dei mostri isn’t exactly a “new” film. It’s an Italian colorization and re-edit of the 1956 U.S. reshoot and re-edit of the 1954 Japanese Godzilla, only now with tie-dye colors, a mishmash of stock footage, and Tangerine Dream-esque electronic music. Because that’s what those two earlier versions of Godzilla were missing.

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Chasing The Immortal

Monday, March 26th, 2018 | Posted by John Searle

The Immortal 1

The Immortal (1970)
ABC Television
TV Movie and 15 episodes, based on The Immortals by James Gunn.

John Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison. I know this because my father told me. Along with a hundred other small stories he told me while we watched television together. Whatever was on the screen would almost always prompt him to tell me something about the cast or the production or even, rarely and more precious because of it, what the particular story meant to him.

He often ended the little tale with a question as to what my five or seven or ten year old self thought about it. We did not interact like that anywhere else in our lives; two solitudes meeting in the one place we shared. So whatever was on the screen at the time filled the silences between my questions and his tales.

I believe I was prompted to track down The Immortal, at the risk of being maudlin, by moving my father who is suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s from our family home to a care facility permanently. In times like these mortal thoughts rise from your subconscious like Grendel from his cave. Sometimes you do things and you don’t really know why at the time. Nostalgia can find you paying for things on a whim, and in this Amazon is a ready enabler.

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