Book Update – September/October 2022

White Noise
by Don DeLillo

Jack Gladney is a Professor of Hitler Studies at his Midwestern college. He’s married to Babette, his fourth wife, and they live with four children to make up their contemporary, for 1985, family. Consumerism dominates the family discourse; everything is analyzed through this critical lens. The pressures of modernity manifest in the form of a toxic airborne event that threatens to kill anyone exposed to it within 30-40 years. Death is a constant theme in this family’s life despite never really coming close to it. Their fears are based more on the concepts of mortality and the idea of being the last one left and watching the others pass away. To remedy this, Babette begins taking an experimental medication behind Jack’s back that makes her immune to these morbid thoughts but also distances her from the family as a side effect.

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PopCult Podcast – Pearl/Top 5 Horror Films/Barbarian

The horror is upon us with this Halloween special. Learn the terrifying truth about the girl on the farm. Marvel at the best horror has to offer. And journey into the depths of an AirBnB gone wrong.

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Movie Review – Scream (2022)

Scream (2022)
Written by James Vanderbilt & Guy Busick
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Eleven years after Scream 4, yet another sequel was released. However, unlike the previous films, this was the first entry that Wes Craven did not direct, as he passed away in 2015. This would cause an attempt to jumpstart a new trilogy to be helmed by new creators. As Scream is a continuous meta-commentary not just on horror but the nature of sequels and franchises now, this puts it in the same place as Star Wars, whose sequel trilogy was helmed by an entirely new creative team. As you would expect, this is a fact hinted at in the film. There’s even a pivot from a focus on the franchise’s original heroes to a younger generation and the death of one of our longtime players that serve as motivation for the hero to stop Ghostface. But does it live up to the original movie while expanding it into new places and ideas? 

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Movie Review – Scream 4

Scream 4 (2011)
Written by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Wes Craven

Scream 3 seemed to put the lid on this horror franchise, and that was the case for eleven years. In 2008, The Weinstein Company announced Scream 4 was in pre-production. Wes Craven would be returning at age 71 to direct. This would be his final film. In 2010, Kevin Williamson confirmed he would return to the series after having too much on his plate for 2000’s Scream 3. As part of the backstory to the world, Craven shared that Ghostface murders had gone completely extinct in the eleven years between these movies. The Stab film franchise in-universe kept making movies, but Sidney Prescott was able to move on with her life. It seemed like a new chapter was beginning for all the familiar characters as new ones were introduced to take their places.

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Movie Review – Scream 3

Scream 3 (2000)
Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Wes Craven

The success of the first two Scream movies made it inevitable that a third would be coming down the pipeline, and sure enough, it dropped with the new millennium. With his original script, writer Kevin Williamson provided treatments for two potential sequels. By the time production on the third film rolled around, Williamson had garnered a full plate of work and was unavailable to pen the script. He was writing & directing the short-lived tv series Wasteland and his feature film debut, Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Miramax decided to move on without Williamson. Then Columbine happened, and suddenly Hollywood executives started wondering if they should make films that were playful with murder & violence. The result was a mandate that Scream 3 lean more into the satirical elements than the murderous parts resulting in a tonally strange entry into the series.

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Movie Review – Scream 2

Scream 2 (1997)
Written by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Wes Craven

Since the 1980s, there haven’t been too many long-lasting horror franchises. Paranormal Activity is probably the most recent series to have legs for a while, but it seemed to have burnt out just before the pandemic hit. Scream is the only other one I can think of, and it represents the end of the 1980s slasher obsession. In my brain, I often associated Scream with grunge as they both were subgenres that deconstructed what had come before. Grunge was a response to 1980s metal and its overproduction, while Scream serves to comment on the movies that inspired it. Kevin Williamson, the screenwriter, decided he wanted to make this a franchise from the start and sold a five-page treatment for Scream 2 with the original film’s script. This is also one of the first films altered by the internet as the screenplay leaked online during production revealing four killers. Rewrites were made, and actors weren’t given the final pages until a few days before the scenes were shot. It was a hit then, but is Scream 2 as good as the original?

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PopCult Podcast – Halloween Ends/What We’ve Been Reading (Horror)

David Gordon Green has brought his Halloween trilogy to an end, but is it any good? Also, nothing is better than curling up with a great horror story on a gloomy October Night.

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Movie Review – Viy

Viy (1967)
Written by Aleksandr Ptushko, Konstantin Yershov, and Georgi Kropachyov
Directed by Konstantin Yershov & Georgi Kropachyov

There was a recent clip going around from an interview with George Lucas where he talked about the difference between the American film system he came up with in the Soviet analog. Lucas’ remarks expressed his frustration with the film industry as a whole is centered on making profits rather than allowing artists to make art. He explains that he is forced to only make a particular type of movie if he wants to continue having access to the resources needed to make them. Conversations with Soviet directors in the 1980s caused him to realize they had more creative freedom than in the United States. While making films critical of the Soviet government was forbidden, Lucas says he felt more penned in by Commercialism restraining him. 

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Movie Review – Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Written by John Elder and John Sansom
Directed by Terence Fisher

I was born over a decade after Hammer’s golden age, but I was certainly aware of it. There were children’s books about monster movies that I gravitated toward as a kid. My earliest memories of learning the Dewey Decimal System were memorizing where the movie books were (790s) and where the books about comic books were (741.5). I remember pouring through these books and coming across a section in one about Hammer Horror; an image of Christopher Lee as the fanged Count Dracula accompanied the text. Around this time, some local stations would do a pretty good job programming horror movies on the weekend afternoons during October. I vividly remember a promo for The Curse of Frankenstein but not being allowed to watch it, despite being censored for television. This solidified my desire to seek out horror.

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Movie Review – The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting (1963)
Written by Nelson Gidding
Directed by Robert Wise

Haunted houses are not something new. Books, movies, comics, and every other form of media have presented haunted houses in one form or another to the point they have become relatively cliche. In today’s world, poorly made “ghost hunter” television shows and web series are a dime a dozen. The film The Haunting is the product of two minds: the author of the original novel Shirley Jackson and the director/producer Robert Wise. Through each artist, this story delivers a haunted house story unlike many that had come before and essentially shaped the subgenre going forward to the present; even those “ghost hunter” shows are profoundly influenced by this story.

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