The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

lego mount doom 2

When I was about 12, my parents took me to see a stage version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings performed with life-sized puppets. As Frodo was agonizing over pitching his precious ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, Sam, exhausted from the epic journey but determined to help his beloved friend, inched […]

The Trouble with Endings, Part 2: The Re-conclusioning


The trouble with endings, of course, is that they are really difficult to do well. I’ll try to take that warning to heart myself, since this piece will be my last for The Cultural Gutter. And what better way to wrap up a really fun time on a neat project than to look at endings!

What Changing An Ending Means

Becky Chambers breaks down the controversy around the ending of Mass Effect 3 in a spoiler-free, accessible and interesting article at The Mary-Sue.

An Outrageous Farewell

The Aquaman Shrine says good-bye to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, the cartoon in which Aquaman was the break-out star, with a look at the last episode, “Mitefall!,” and an interview with James Tucker, producer of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

The Psychology of Spoilers

Science studies whether spoilers spoil. Strangely enough, they might not. Even more strangely, they might make the spoiled story more enjoyable.

No More Uncertain Endings

College Humor fixes ambiguous endings from The Graduate to The Sopranos to No Country for Old Men. I’d be happier if Anton Chigurh were taken out by Llewellyn Moss’ ninjitsu, though.

Breaking into the Business by Being Really, Really Disturbing


Disturbing as hell, an elegantly constructed first-person plunge into the mind of a maniac, a teenager who murdered kids when he was a kid (and got away with it), and now has elaborate rituals that mostly involve killing small mammals. As a first novel, that’s one way to make a splash – The Wasp Factory […]

His Dark Ending

The anti-Narnia has a stinker of an ending

I call it a bait and switch. The first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass, was an adventure fantasy that was fast-paced and written in an incredibly smooth style. Intrigue, danger, children in peril, armoured polar bears, witch clans at war with each other, and above all, a girl named […]

The Trouble with Endings

Hey Spielberg! Get somebody to finish the script.

I’ve noticed recently that otherwise good stories have been let down by their endings. It’s partly due to the expectations of the audience: you can imagine any kind of ending you want, but when the ending finally arrives, it’s been narrowed down to a single one of those possibilities and it might not be as […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Office Hours #9, friend of the Gutter/Midnight Madness programmer/Shudder curator Colin Geddes and fellow Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman talk about horror. I especially enjoy the discussion about the difference between a “terror film” and a “horror film.”


    Art News shares 12 artist cameos on tv shows. (Thanks, Ami!)


    Footage of Sammo Hung, Lau Ching-Wan Louis Koo, Yuan Quan, Jiang Shuying, Eddie Peng, Liu Kai-Chi and Wu Jing on the set of Benny Chan’s The Deadly Reclaim. (Thanks, Brian!)


    The Vinyl Factory has an interactive timeline of women in electronic music from Ada Lovelace to the 2014 Ada Project–with links to recommended listening.


    Chica Non Grata has made two of the three songs commissioned for the 2015 Gutterthon available. You can listen to “Fortune Cookie” and “See Me” here. And check back for the final track!


    At The Brattle Film Notes, Kerry Fristoe writes about The Road Warrior and Lord Byron’s poem, “Darkness,” in The Road Warrior or Mad Max and Lord Byron Walk into a Bar…”


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