The Cultural Gutter

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

RIP, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

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Actor, producer and musician Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. has died. Zimbalist starred in the tv series FBI and 77 Sunset Strip. He had roles in Airport 1975 (1974) and Wait Until Dark  (1967). He had recurring roles in Remington Steele and Babylyon 5.  Zimbalist was the voice of Alfred in the Batman, Static Shock,  Justice League […]

Blurry Images Coming Clear: Hong Kong Cinema, Censorship and Me

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Every April, we like to switch things up at the Gutter, with the editors writing about something outside their domains. This week, Comics Editor Carol writes about subtitles, censorship and Hong Kong cinema. I don’t remember the first kung fu movie I ever watched. I am terrible at remembering “firsts.”  But I do remember the […]

“On The Trail Of The Golem”

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The Gutter’s own Keith tracks the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem–with some dips into alchemy and art–through Prague.  “So how did Rabbi Loew’s name become associated with the legend of the golem? Well, it’s no surprise, really, given how much weird, wizardy stuff is already attributed to him. It seems more or less […]

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!

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The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a beacon in a grittily realistic, grimdark pop culture landscape, one guiding lost souls to fun, charm and adventure. And I’m glad to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour adapted from podcast radio play into graphic novel because I like what it portends for fun stories in the future and because […]

“The Fleming Files”

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At Teleport City, The Gutter‘s own Keith examines Ian Fleming’s historical and fictional lives in espionage. “There were many British celebrities who dabbled to some degree or other in intelligence work during the war: Fleming, of course, but also entertainer Noel Coward[,] occult fiction author Dennis Wheatley, even notorious Ordo Templi Orientis leader Aleister Crowley […]

RIP, Hiroo Onoda

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Hiroo Onoda has died. Onoda was the last soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender, after hiding in the Philippines forest until 1974. Asia News and The New York Times have obituaries.

RIP, Russell Johnson

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Actor Russell Johnson has died. Johnson was best known as the Professor on the television show, Gilligan’s Island, and as physicist Steve Carlson in This Island Earth (1955). Terence Towles Canote has more on Johnson’s life and work at A Shroud of Thoughts. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. The […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

A Conversation with Lee Epstein

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Daily Grindhouse interviews Lee Espstein, author of the biography, Lee Marvin: Point Blank (2013). “I had several moments when I realized that when you study someone’s career you’re going to see certain themes become prevalent, and with Marvin it was this constant thread of violence. I wanted to know where that came from. I also […]

The Subtle Noir of Dorothy B. Hughes

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At The LA Review of Books, Sarah Weinman writes about fine, subtle and underappreciated noir writer, Dorothy B. Hughes. “In a Lonely Place…blasted my mind open to new ways of reading. I wasn’t only enjoying the story and getting creeped out by the wholly unreliable narrator, Dix Steele, but marveling at the way Hughes let […]

A Man’s Life

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“The type of thing I came up with was what sold at the time: Guys with guns and gals with no pants on.”–Norm Saunders (1983) A man presses himself against the wall of a collapsed mine as a grizzly, reared on its hind legs, swipes at him through a gap in the rocks. A man, […]

“‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”

“It’s easier to tell the same stories everyone else does. There’s no particular shame in it. It’s just that it’s lazy, which is just about the worst possible thing a spec fic writer can be. Oh, and it’s not true.” Kameron Hurley writes about lazy writing, cannibal llamas, female soldiers, and women here. (Thanks, James!)

The Spymaster and The Cuckoo

“This, then, is the story of Maxwell Knight—the man called M—and a cuckoo called Goo. Knight was a tall, patrician British intelligence officer in charge of MI5 departments dealing with counter-subversion on home ground. And yes, as ‘M’ he was the inspiration for James Bond’s controller.” Helen MacDonald recounts the story in an excellent piece. […]

The Men of 30AU

“In essence what Fleming was proposing was a team of authorised thieves and looters – mavericks who would operate ahead of the forward troops and who were instructed to do whatever necessary to capture enemy intelligence, equipment or personnel.” James Bond creator, Ian Fleming also created a special unit a commando unit for British Naval […]

Hunting the Hell Portal with L. Ron Hubbard

“It was the dawn of World War II when [Jack] Parsons, who’d also co-founded the missile manufacturing firm Aerojet around the same time as [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory]’s inception, took to the Ordo Templi Orientis….But soon enough the young explosives guru was running with another OTO buck, a young writer named L. Ron. Hubbard. ” […]

RIP, Joe Kubert

Comics creator, educator and founder of The Kubert School, Joe Kubert has died.  The Beat has an obituary.  NPR’s Monkey See has an appreciation with links to many others, including a gallery of Kubert’s comics covers. The New York Times has a slide show including pictures of his workspace and his original art.  Here he […]

Chinese Animation from the 1940s

Princess Iron Fan is the first Chinese animated feature and it stars Monkey, Sun Wu-Kong. The Wan Bros. made it in 1941 in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. LoveHKFilm has more and you can watch it here.  

RIP, Isuzu Yamada

Actress Isuzu Yamada has died. Yamada worked with a range of directors including, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Ozu and Kinji Fukasaku. The New York Times has an obituary.  The Gutter remembers her with a scene of her performances as Lady Washizu in Throne of Blood.  

Special Effects Master Eiji Tsuburaya

Just in time for Eiji Tsuburaya’s birthday, here’s a brief video documentary on his career in special effects for films ranging from Godzilla and War of the Gargantuas to Throne of Blood and Chushingura.  

Let There Be Light

John Huston’s rarely seen and controversial documentary about what was called “shell shock,” “psychoneurosis,” and “neuropsychosis” among returning World War II veterans, Let There Be Light, is now available for free online viewing. Read more about the film and its history at Keyframe and view it at the National Film Preservation Foundation. (Thanks, @FOURDK)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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    At Sequart, friend of the Gutter Colin Smith is taking an exhaustive look at the American superhero comics of Mark Millar–and by exhaustive, we mean, “28 Part.”

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