The Cultural Gutter

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"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

The Horrifying Power of a Mother’s Love: Rosemary’s Baby and The Babadook

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I had an uninvited guest once, and it was inside me. If you’ve ever seen a sonogram of a cancer tumor, a demon analogy isn’t too much hyperbole. Tumors look objectively wicked and wrong. The barbs of its flesh under my own skin pricked. And while it was there, I was never really alone. But […]

The Best Adaption of the Fantastic Four Happened Nearly 50 Years Ago

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After the already-dreaded Fantastic Four came out and landed in theatres with a thud so hard in August that its own director disowned it, a school of thought emerged: maybe it’s just impossible to bring the Fantastic Four to life onscreen. The body of evidence they pointed to—which includes two other majorly-derided big-budget films, a […]

Sequential Facts: Big Books Offered An Education in Comic Styles

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Comics Editor Carol is off convincing mummies that those ladies who look like their beloved are spunky archaeologists who have their own lives now, thank you very much. She’s also running the official TIFF Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs and will be back next month. Now, please enjoy this fantastic piece by Nick Hanover. […]

Strange Men and Magic

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This week’s Guest Star Kate Laity writes about the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Laity is an author, Medieval Studies scholar and History Witch. At Edge-Lit 4, my publisher, Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books, was on a panel about Grimdark. What is ‘grim dark?’ Well, that was the first topic. It […]

Number Dumber

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This month’s Guest Star is John Crye, a storyteller, filmmaker and producer and a long time friend of the Gutter. For as long as I can remember, I have loved movies. I consumed all things cinema long before I was involved in the business of entertainment, even before my first jobs managing a video store […]

The Core Dynamic; or why I won’t give a show half a series to figure it out

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I want to talk about why I don’t watch Marvel’s Agents of Shield. The reason I gave it four episodes and then walked away from it in spite of everyone telling me ‘it gets much better about halfway through the series’. I want to talk about why ‘halfway through the series’ isn’t good enough and […]

Absolute Beginners ’86

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When Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners was released in 1986 it was met with general indifference and some critical dismissals. While the film may have some problems, today its reputation seems to be clouded by the misconception that it single-handedly ruined the prestigious British film studio Goldcrest and was universally panned. Neither of these assumptions is […]

Essential Crew

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This month’s Guest Star is the excellent Kaitlin Tremblay. Content Warning: self-harm, emotional abuse My roommate and I are obnoxious in the way that only best friends who live together can be. We have more inside jokes than books we’ve read (and as two girls who work in publishing and with five degrees in subjects […]

My Year With The Fantastic Four

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Days after we rang in the New Year, I finished a year spent reading all of the Fantastic Four comics, from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s earth-shattering first issue in 1961, which explained how four family members and friends were transformed by cosmic rays into super-powered adventurers, through the latest issues in 2015 by James […]

Transformers: The Romance of the Machine

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Hasbro’s toy brand Transformers turned thirty last year. Children around the world have been hearing the Transformers’ story for decades, passed on by cartoons, comics, movies, and toys. It’s always the same, more or less. An alien race of transforming robots is at war, divided into two factions: the villainous Decepticons, led by Megatron, and […]

Little Fat Nothing: Herbie Popnecker and Early Meta-Comics Narratives

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Publicly admitting you read comics means you’re willing to put up with a perplexingly persistent notion of the medium as the exclusive domain of the super heroes. Even in the current realm of savvy pop art dabblers as likely to pray at the altar of independents like Image Comics as they are the Big Two […]

Stories Are Important

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This week SF/F Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star! Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” […]

Black Napoleon’s Throne Of Satan

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This week, Guest Star David Foster writes about how an Australian pulp thriller is altered when it was published in the United States as part of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit‘s Swapathon. Comics Editor Carol will be back in April. There are many elements that made up the counter culture movement of the […]

The Stephen King Universe

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This week, Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star. Screen Editor alex MacFadyen will return next month. You can easily glance off the top of any book by Stephen King–get a few frights and move on. But there’s a hidden world beneath almost all of his books, and not only is […]

It Started Out Being A Book That Obeyed The Laws of Physics: An Interview with Samit Basu

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Author Samit Basu’s first American release, Turbulence, is the story of a few regular people who arrive in Delhi on a flight from London…with superpowers. Talk about baggage. Not just the standard flying, invisible, very very fast kinds of superpowers, either: each one of them gets what they most want in life. Basu doesn’t bother […]

Xanadu‘s Persistence of Memory

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I watched Xanadu on HBO dozens of times in the early 1980s. My obsession also included the soundtrack, which I listened to on a Walkman while attired in scarves, leotards, ruffled skirts, and legwarmers. Sadly, my skills at ballet, tap, and jazz did not translate into roller skating, so I pretended I was Olivia Newton-John […]

Ray Harryhausen and Me: A Life of High Adventure and Escapism

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Ray Harryhausen passed away last week. This has been noted by people more qualified than I to discuss the master of stop-motion magic—Rick Baker, Adam Savage, Todd Masters, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and more. The superhuman talent and perseverance evident in a Harryhausen effects sequence can easily be seen in countless visual effects artists since […]

The Good Outnumber You: A Look at Heroism in Storytelling

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When I was a mere lad, I picked up a battered newsstand copy of Power Man and Iron Fist. I had grown up with superheroes in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and The Herculoids on the television, but my comics reading prior to that issue of Power Man and Iron Fist was […]

The Words Got Stuck In My Throat

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“If I had a hidden microphone inside of my heart/I would turn the power on/It would amplify my love for you and swear to always love you/and you’d never be gone.” I love when old movies–that are not musicals per se–spotlight the performance of a song, because it’s symptomatic of a sincere desire to entertain […]

The Monster in Me

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I’ve been spending a portion of my wee small hours (normally spent standing under a solitary street lamp on a lonely street, staring in melancholy reverie at my cigarette) revisiting old horror films. As a budding cult film obsessive, I cut my teeth on the horror films of cinema’s early decades. In the days before […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Margaret Sixel, editor of Mad Max: Fury Road. “I wanted every single shot to progress the story. I don’t like repetition. And I think we applied that rule religiously throughout the film….I watched a film last night and they kept cutting back again and again and the expression on the actor’s face was exactly the same. I felt like, ‘You’ve used the shot three times already!’ That’s what I don’t like. There’d better be some progress.”

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    “During the 1970’s Black filmmakers found their voices by making films that spoke to urban audiences in a way that had never been done before. Films like Sugar Hill, Abby, The Zebra Killers and so many more packed theaters with audiences hungry for Horror Movies where the Black Guy didn’t die first. 40 years later, Black horror films have made a lasting impact within the Black community. These films are national treasures and should be a part of any film collection. The Museum of UnCut Funk pays homage to the Blaxpolitation Horror films of 1974.” Click through for more. (via @GrveyardShiftSisters)

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    Mubi has a collection of film posters designed by Eva Švankmajerová, Surrealist painter, writer and filmmaker. Learn more about Eva Švankmajerová with an posthumous interview with Gwendolyn Albert, the translator of her novel, Baradla Cave.

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    At The Toast, Mo Moulton watches Downton Abbey and discusses its portrayal of Neville Chamberlain. “Here, then, is Neville Chamberlain in 1925. He is fulfilling the expectations set by an extraordinary political family. His father, Joseph Chamberlain, ran a screw factory in Birmingham, where he became passionate about urban improvement as a method for bettering the lives of his workers. As Liberal mayor of Birmingham, he was an early, passionate proponent of what became known as “gas and water socialism”: he wanted to put those services within reach of every resident by putting them under the management of local government. So far, it’s hard to imagine the Earl of Grantham having much in common with this energetic, egalitarian entrepreneur.”

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    In honor of Black History and Women In Horror Month, Graveyard Shift Sisters take a look at Audre’s Revenge Film collective, which was founded by Monika Estrella Negra:  “Audre’s Revenge Film was created in order to promote visibility of womyn, queer, trans and intersex folks of color in the sci fi and horror universe.

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    Please enjoy an hour of rare Bollywood synth funk (and an interview with DJ Fitz who put the mix together). (via @BethLovesBolly)

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