The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

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 […]

“Strange & Norrell: III–Away With The Fairies”


John Reppion continues his series on English magic and Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Next up, “Away With The Fairies.”

“Strange & Norrell : II–On Fairies & Witchcraft”


John Reppion continues his discussion of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at The Daily Grail, “pluck[ing] out some of the more easily disentangled fragments of folklore, magic, and the like from the book (and the show) and takes a closer look at them.” This time, he considers fairies and witchcraft.

“Strange & Norrell: The Language of Birds”


At Daily Grail, John Reppion writes about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, English magic and the language of birds.

It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past

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I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions. The idea of a chance to reset the clock on things I keep meaning to do more consistently or successfully than I ever seem to manage is appealing, but it seems like a bit of a gimmick to me. It’s never really a clean slate because you […]

RIP, Francis Matthews

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Actor Francis Matthews has died. Matthews voiced Captain Scarlet in the Supermarionation adventure show Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-8). He also appeared in Hammer horror films The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966) and Rasputin, The Mad Monk (1966) and as the suave detective, Paul Temple in the eponymous television series. […]

RIP, Rik Mayall

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Actor and comedian Rik Mayall has died. Mayall is probably best known for his roles in The Young Ones (1982-4), Blackadder (1983-9), The New Statesman (1987-94) and Bottom (1991-5). He also starred in Drop Dead Fred (1991) and Guesthouse Paradiso (1999). The Telegraph, The Guardian and Rolling Stone have obituaries. ITV has clips and lines […]

RIP, Bob Hoskins


Actor Bob Hoskins has died. Most sources are mentioning Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but Hoskins also appeared in Brazil, Nixon, The Long Good Friday, Pink Floyd The Wall, Unleashed, The Secret Agent and the tv show, Tales From The Crypt (“Fatal Caper”). And Hoskins was Chris Claremont’s first choice for Wolverine (via @Zemrag).  The Guardian, The […]

Black Victoriana


A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe)

RIP, Kate O’Mara


Actor Kate O’Mara has died. She performed the Rani in Doctor Who, Caress Morell in Dynasty, Mademoiselle Perrodot in The Vampire Lovers and Alys in The Horror of Frankenstein. O’Mara also had roles in Absolutely Fabulous, The Avengers, The Saint, Danger Man / Secret Agent, The Persuaders and Adam Adamant Lives!  The Guardian, Digital Spy […]

“What’s To Be Done With The Fantastic Four (Part 1)”


Colin Smith returns to Too Busy Thinking About My Comics to ask, “What’s To Be Done With The Fantastic Four?”

Theater as Seance


“In 1911, the famed American medium Anna Eva Fay held a public seance at the London Coliseum, inviting audience members to ask questions that she would answer by channelling the dead. Seated in the auditorium was Violet Coward, whose beloved 11-year-old son, Noël, had just begun his stage career after Violet spotted an advert in the […]

RIP, Roger Lloyd-Pack


Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack has died. Lloyd-Pack appeared in Doctor Who; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Only Fools and Horses; The Vicar of Dibley; Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy (2011); and many other films and television shows. The BBC and The AV Club have obituaries. The BBC is collecting and sharing reader’s memories of Lloyd-Pack. […]

The Graves of Russian Mafiya Bosses


Denis Tarasov has photographed the elaborate graves of Russian and Ukrainian organized crime bosses. They’re currently being shown at London’s Saatchi gallery. (via @jakeadelstein)

“How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground”


‘In her excellent and morbidly fascinating book Necropolis: London and Its Dead, author Catharine Arnold describes in detail the subterranean presence of corpses found throughout the British capital. To no small extent, she makes clear, dead bodies were basically buried everywhere, to the point that, as Arnold pithily states, ‘London is one giant grave.”’ More […]

Haunted History


Just in time for Halloween, The Gutter’s own Keith Allison explores haunted history in New York City; Louisville, KY; Centralia, PA; London, UK; and Sydney, Australia at his website, Teleport City.

RIP, Antonia Bird


Director and producer Antonia Bird has died. Bird is probably best known for her films Ravenous (1999) and Priest (1994), but she also directed UK television series, episodes and  tv movies such as, The Village,  Cracker, MI-5, Inspector Morse and EastEnders. The BBC has an obituary. The Guardian has collected tributes to Bird. The Guardian […]

“A History of British Folk Horror”


Spectacular Optical has an overview of British folklore in horror film and television. (Thanks, Colin!)

Teddy Girls

A gallery and some information about the British Teddy Girls of the 1950s. (Thanks, Keith!)

Jane Eyre is a Darker than People Think

“[T]he mainstreaming of Jane Eyre as a vanilla romance, or even as an exploration of a woman’s pure, uncompromising, and uncomplicated (and religious! and feminist!) integrity, says all kinds of things about our inability to speak honestly about violence and sex.” More on Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, consent, sex and submission, here. (via K.A. Laity)

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    There’s a free audio book adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke & Key at


    At Actionland, Heroic Sister Achillesgirl writes about subtitling the 1964 wuxia film, Buddha Palm. And she provides you with the subtitles and a link to the film!


    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


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