Goth Chick News: The Resurrection of Penny Dreadful

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

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Three years ago, I primal-screamed at Showtime for not only ending one of my favorite binge series, Penny Dreadful, but for how they ended it. I won’t put any spoilers here in case you haven’t had the pleasure since I still highly recommend it – all the way up until the last episode.

If you have seen it then you know showrunners left the door open just a smidge to allow for the series to possibly pick up where it left off. And now the news is out that Penny Dreadful is indeed coming back, but in an entirely new iteration entitled Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

First a little background. If you weren’t aware, “penny dreadfuls” were first produced in Britain in the 1830’s and referred to a serial story published in weekly parts, each costing a penny. The content was usually something shocking by Victorian standards, involving characters such as Varney the Vampire and Sweeny Todd and touched on crime or the supernatural. The Showtime series riffed on the same, artfully bringing together a litany of monsters into one storyline. Penny Dreadful showcased Dr. Frankenstein, his creature, his bride, Dorian Gray, vampires, witches and werewolves, to name a few, all set against a backdrop of 1830’s London.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is set to begin production “soon,” and creator John Logan describe it as a “spiritual descendant” of the original. As you would guess from the title, the new iteration takes place in Los Angeles and will once again deal with the conflicts between the forces of good and evil – both human and supernatural.

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The Assured Place of Superheroes in American Popular Culture

Friday, March 15th, 2019 | Posted by Nick Ozment

avengers assemble!Some people, 24 (or 25?) movies in, are expressing MCU superhero movie fatigue. (Certainly not me or most of my friends — the films continue to be some of the more fun, thrilling entertainments to be had at the cineplex two or three times a year. Is the quality dropping off? Hell no — try to rank ‘em; I’ll bet several of the ones at the top of the list came out just in the last couple years.) I’m talking about a few critics (some of whom were saying the genre was getting “tired” and “played out” 15 films ago), and a few newcomers who didn’t grow up on four-color comics but jumped on the bandwagon when the culture went crazy for costumed crime-fighters.

I can imagine how it must look to them: Now they turn on their TV and it seems like a dozen streaming and broadcast tv shows are about caped crusaders; they check the movie listings and half the films filling up theater screens are about super-powered beings.

They suggest it will eventually play out. They think audiences will finally be sated, the fad will pass. Everyone will grow tired of beautiful people in spandex.

I’ve got news for them.

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The Monster and the Ape

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

The Monster and the Ape still

A true oddity in the history of robots is the complete absence of robot films in American cinema before the 1950s. By my count studios made exactly zero full-length feature films with a major robot character. Not even Universal, at its twin peaks of fabulously successful and highly profitable monster movies in the 1930s and 1940s, thought to include a robot hero, antihero, or villain.

Would-be robot historians have to cheat mightily to drag a robot into their texts. For unknown reasons they credit Universal’s low-budget Man-Made Monster as a robot film. The title monster is a circus freak who can absorb electricity. Feeding him with ever-greater amounts of volts turns him into a mind-controlled, rampaging but still-human monster. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a favorite because of the Tin Man. The Tim Man – Nick Chopper as he would be named in a later Oz book – has a metal body but retains his human (or Ozian) personality. He’s a cyborg, not a robot. His greatest wish is for a heart, to make him even more human. (Baum created a true mechanical man, Tik-Tok, but just try finding him in a movie.) You might even see a mention of Basil Rathbone’s Fingers at the Window, whose newspaper ads scream “Mystery of the Robot Murders,” but whose monsters are hypnotized humans.

Therefore, even in an era we fondly remember for its pure cheeziness, robots are low-grade Gheeze Whiz. To find any, cinemaphiles need to descend to the bottom of the Hollywood pecking order, the serials.

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Higher, Further, Faster: Captain Marvel

Sunday, March 10th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

I just came back from watching Captain Marvel with my 14-year old son. He was super excited to see it. He hasn’t yet maxed out on superhero movies like his dad. That being said, I was also pretty hyped to see it, in part because Captain Marvel was one of the comics I first started collecting when I was eleven and twelve years old. Back then, I was reading the Mar-Vell version, but I also picked up some Claremont/Cockrum Ms. Marvel because of Captain Marvel and because Carol Danvers was a regular in the Uncanny X-Men at the time.

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Goth Chick News: As If Reliving Your Childhood Wasn’t Horror Enough…

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

Goth Chick Banana Splits

Long before doctors decided that television as an electronic babysitter was probably not the best idea, an entire generation of kids grew up thinking Sesame Street was a real place and dreaming of solving mysteries with friends and a Great Dane from the back of a psychedelic minivan. And if you weren’t old enough to catch all this TV goodness the first time around, the after-school reruns continued through nearly three generations via local cable access channels, The Cartoon Network and YouTube.

A particularly trippy offering called The Banana Splits originally aired on NBC from 1968 to 1970 and has since become famous for both being unintentionally creepy and resembling a bad acid trip. The classic children’s variety show, whose full name was The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, teamed executive producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with Sid and Marty Krofft, who designed the costumes for the show’s four main characters, Fleegle the beagle, Bingo the gorilla, Drooper the lion and Snorky the elephant. The Krofft brothers then went on to produce other 70’s favorites such as H.R. Pufnstuf and The Donny and Marie Hour along with a host of others. Hanna Barbera were already children’s entertainment icons, giving birth to Hanna Barbera Studios which was ultimately absorbed into Warner Brothers Animation.

Some people suggested that the Krofft brothers were influenced by marijuana and LSD, although they have always denied these claims. In a 2005 interview with USA Today, Marty Krofft said, “No drugs involved. You can’t do drugs when you’re making shows. Maybe after, but not during. We’re bizarre, that’s all.” Referring to the alleged LSD use, Marty said in another interview, “That was our look, those were the colors, everything we did had vivid colors, but there was no acid involved. That scared me. I’m no goody two-shoes, but you can’t create this stuff stoned.”

Okay, we’ll take their word for it but looking back, The Banana Splits was more than subtly frightening, which makes the idea of adapting it into a horror flick quite inspired.

Yep, you read that right – The Banana Splits is being made into a horror movie.

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With Dark and Twisted Turns: Bad Times at the El Royale

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 | Posted by Tina Jens

Bad Times at the El Royale

I just watched Bad Times at the El Royale and really liked it. It was clearly influenced by the best of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

The cast is an impressive one, including Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth (giving a remarkable messianic performance worthy of Jim Morrison), and Nick Offerman (in a small role). Cynthia Erivo also does her own singing. Her voice, like her acting, is stunning, and she provides the soundtrack to much of the movie.

Dakota Johnson, Cailee Spaeny, and Mark O’Brien also turn in top-notch performances. All the actors are excellent, and I do mean that. I’ve never seen a movie that was more perfectly cast and perfectly acted.

It toys with who the protagonist or point of view character is, slipping in and out of each character deftly. Each is revealed to be not who we thought they were, and then when we think we know who they really are, that’s proven wrong, too. With dark and twisted turns it explores the question of what is good and what is evil. It posits that there’s more than a little of each in all of us.

The movie handles time slips really well, which allows us to see scenes from different perspectives, turning our understanding of the events upside down.

The pacing is unusual, which is probably why the movie wasn’t a bigger hit. In the beginning, particularly, you have to settle in and not try to rush it. It starts out at a low simmer, lulling you into a false belief that you know what’s coming next. That makes the reveals that are coming far more powerful.


The Poison Apple: Mr. Sci-Fi: An Interview with Marc Zicree and the Future with Space Command

Monday, February 18th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: I wanted to interview someone whose focus was not only the entertainment industry but also science fiction. Previously, almost everyone I’ve interviewed has been involved in fantasy or horror. After following you on Facebook I really wanted to interview you. Right away, I’ve been able to pick up on your “contagious enthusiasm” and high energy.

Zicree: Glad I could do it.

What was your very first job in the entertainment industry, and how did you get your foot in the door?

I grew up reading in the genre watching the original versions of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I started going to science fiction conventions when I was a teenager growing up here in LA. My heroes were the writers. There was a lot of crossover from the stories I read and the writers from those three shows: Richard Mathieson, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison… they were all doing books and TV shows. When I was ten, I heard Ray Bradbury speak at a local library — a huge influence, and I became a big fan. When I was around fifteen or sixteen-years-old I started going to conventions and meeting them, and from there they became mentors.

There was also a radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles called Hour 25, and they interviewed all the great science fiction writers. Around 1973 when I was eighteen, I wrote a half hour radio play that was a satire of science fiction conventions, TV shows and movies called Lobotomy. So, I wrote, directed and acted in it with three of my friends and it aired on KPFK. On that same show, I heard Harlan Ellison talking about the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. When I was nineteen and an art student at UCLA, I attended Clarion that summer. It was at Michigan State University. The students included people like Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Crais, who became well-known science fiction and mystery novelists, respectively. Our teachers were Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delaney, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight and Joe Haldeman – all very famous and accomplished science fiction writers. It was a great lineup.

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Goth Chick News: When Pixar Met Christine…

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

Stranger Cars

Okay, admittedly I’m way late on this since it was uploaded to YouTube in October, but as it was just brought to my attention, and killer cars are always in vogue in my world, I had to share.

On the YouTube channel Fabulous Cars VEEVOOO, some complete genius took liberties with the John Carpenter classic Christine (1983) along with other vehicular horrors and “Pixarized” them. As you likely recall, Christine is the movie based on Stephen King’s story about a demonic 1958 Plymouth Fury of the same name, who was hard core in love with her rather backward teenaged owner and went about systematically destroying anyone who mistreated him or took too much of his attention.

If you haven’t read the book, trust me when I say it’s way more interesting than I’m making it sound, and this gem of a movie short has sent me back to read it again. If you ever fell in love with a car, you’ll get it.

The short, called Stranger Cars, has all the magic of Pixar with the imagination of John Carpenter, and blends them into one big Disney nightmare.

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Goth Chick News: Looking Back at a Good Old-Fashioned Exorcism…

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

The Exorcist poster-small

Long before Emily Rose, or Emma Evans there was Regan MacNeil, a once normal little girl who became quite a handful thanks to an imaginary friend who, as it turned out, happened to be an ancient Mesopotamian demon king. It was just over 45 years ago, on December 26, 1973, movie-going audiences were treated to what would come to be known as one of the scariest horror movies of all time – The Exorcist.

Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name, The Exorcist tells the story of a little girl possessed by the demon Pazuzu and the priests charged with saving her soul. There are tales of people being so frightened of Blatty’s book that they keep it in a separate part of the house, like a garage, a linen closet, or even a freezer; because it’s common knowledge that ancient demon spirits go dormant in the cold and can’t manage closed doors.

The movie terrified audiences even more so, with some believing there was actual evil contained in the film stock. Looking at the adjusted, highest-grossing film list, so named as all totals are twizzled to account for inflation, The Exorcist bests even Avatar. It racked up $232 million in box office takings, over $900 million by today’s standards. What is even more fascinating is the profound difference 45 years has made in what audiences consider terrifying. In spite of the advancements in special effects technology that make some of The Exorcist scenes borderline comical by today’s standards, no movie since its premier has had such an effect on movie-goers.

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Goth Chick News: The (Hot, Vampire) Boys Are Back in Town

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

Lost Boys for Goth Chick News

Long before new-age, flannel-wearing vampire Edward Cullen pouted and emo’d his way through not drinking blood in the Twilight series, there were the dangerously sexy boys from Santa Carla who introduced the 80’s to motorcycle-riding vampires with incredible fashion sense.

The Lost Boys premiered in the summer of 1987 with the tag line, “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die,” basically summing up every 80’s kid’s deepest desires. Though The Hunger arguably provided vampires with their first 20th century panache, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland brought us the idea of a teen-vamps in all their dark, leather-clad, bad-boy glory; effectively changing the genre forever by then giving rise to the Joss Whedon-helmed television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its subsequent universe.

Two unfortunate and highly-forgettable sequels followed, neither of which managed to capture the magic of the first. Lost BoysThe Tribe (2008) saw the return of only one original cast member, Cory Feldman, and tried to make up for its shortcomings of pretty much ripping off the original plot, by throwing in a whole lot of skin. Lost Boys – The Thirst followed two years later with Feldman still in tow and fared slightly better with fans, but it was clear the whole concept either needed to be dropped, or get a reboot for the 21st century.

And voila… here we go.

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