As an armchair satanic panic historian/debunker, I was clued in very early to the activism of what would soon become the Satanic Temple. A local Utah self-styled ‘therapist’ sought to exploit a mentally ill woman and write an awful satanic ritual abuse ‘memoir’ in the vein of “Michelle Remembers” for profit. Through various online efforts, I saw Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves and his associates aggressively debunk the book and its unscrupulous author, and advocate for the woman’s well-being. Continue reading
I am a fan of director Joe Berlinger. His work touches on many of my major true crime and cultural obsessions; plus, I will defend the awesome and 100% original Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows to the death. Now, in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile he turns his attention on one of the big names in dark Americana: serial killer Ted Bundy, who is presently having cultural moment. Continue reading
Director JD Dillard premiered his fairly cool monster movie, Sweetheart, at Sundance this year. This was a sophomore effort produced by Blumhouse, which recently announced its interest in reviving the ‘Dark Universe’ concept to make films about the Universal Monster stable of creatures. Sweetheart could well be The Creature From the Black Lagoon, minus any kind of inter-species love story.
This weekend, please enjoy 1971’s Lady Frankenstein. It’s a shlocky Hammer-derivative production with some interesting twists. Pseudo-erotica horror featuring the beautiful, strangely psychopathic daughter of Victor Frankenstein: Tania, a pioneering female surgeon who shares her dad’s tendencies to push ethics and boundaries of pursuing scientific knowledge and achievement. In its own weird, pervy way, it somehow honors Shelley’s mother’s brand of proto-feminism. And the Monster behaves exactly as most modern horror villains do, punishing beautiful women and horny men for having sex.
Don’t you just love saying “Frankenhooker?”
I may possibly have watched Frankenhooker on a certain online video platform where it probably shouldn’t be running. I watched it with Spanish subtitles. The Spanish title was just as elegant and flowing as “Frankenhooker”, if even more shocking and vulgar: “Frankenputa.”
The VHS box cover for Frankenhooker used to be on display at the video store near my college. It had a button you could press and one of those electronic voices you find on very expensive greeting cards, very manly, would exclaim “Wanna Date?” It would make me burst into hysterical laughter for no good reason.
I expected Showtime’s Penny Dreadful to be an overwrought, edgy attempt at League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the film adaptation, not the comic book series by Alan Moore, which cannot be outdone in ‘edginess’). I expected to see a team of classic Victorian characters fighting crime, and some standard twists, turns and whatnots.
I was wrong. Penny Dreadful is a complicated, high gothic horror thrill ride with a mix of classic public domain characters and original characters, brought to life by amazing actors. Eva Green as Vanessa Ives is an absolute revelation, she should be an icon. And Timothy Dalton should play every last Victorian occult researcher/protector of mankind. Continue reading
And yet, I’m being unfair, because on the surface, The Bride from 1985 isn’t completely without merit. The film was not well received when it was released, and beautiful Jennifer Beals was nominated for a Razzie for her performance as “Eva”, this film’s version of The Bride of Frankenstein. This I found particularly unfair. Beals well served the role that was written, right down to the helpless Gothic heroine hamming. But, the flashes of strength and independence she briefly snuck in, including the reference to Mary Wollstonecraft, were subversive, more important and telling than the Sting character’s pathetic blather about an “equal” woman.
But more on that below. For now, see details…. Continue reading