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Showing posts from March, 2019

Gothic Themes in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the trailer (2019)

The trailer for the upcoming Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) is here, and I wanted to provide my initial impressions. In other words, how is it Gothic?

Note: Spoilers! Watch the trailer before reading this!


Before I start, a synopsis: The trailer begins; small town images fade and disappear, on-screen. You might recognize the locale, if only by reputation—the kind with a creepy old house on the corner (the star attraction for many-a-novel, from Clara Reeve, to Poe, to R. L. Stein). On Halloween (note the clown outfit), a group of youngsters go inside. For them, it's probably a rite of passage, the kind ridiculed by Joe Dante, in The 'Burbs (1989): "They're daring each other to ring the doorbell." The children trespass, breaking into, by all appearances, an old, vacant home. Inside, something insidious awaits them: a black book.

Watching the children stumble to their doom, I recalled the words of Ellen Ripley during her inquest: "It was a derelict spa…

Gothic Themes in Love, Death & Robots (2019)

Love, Death & Robots (2019) is effectively a collection of short stories—of ghosts, monsters and demons. The stories, like their symbols and characters, are tied up in ambiguous material and superstition. I wish to write about it, here, specifically the episodes "Helping Hand," "Good Hunting," "Beyond the Aquila Rift," and "Sonnie's Edge."

Note: Lots of spoilers. Watch the show, first.




Rudolph Otto once wrote of the inexorable appeal of the ghost story—an "abortive off-shoot" of the Numinous, or object-feeling (stupor) in the presence of the numen (the "mysterious, tremendous, fascinating" stamp of God, or a god-like presence). He used Latin terms and religious symbols to describe the Numinous as going beyond ordinary religious experience. Often, according to him, the Numinous is teased out in "lesser," non-religious stories: ghost, but also daemonic (another register of the Numinous spectrum).

These four ski…

Burning (2018): Review

It's not often that a movie catches me completely off-guard in such off-handed fashion, but Burning (2018) does. It musters what few movies can manage: gradual surprise and genuine doubt.

Note: This movie depends on total ignorance, going in. Because this review has spoilers, I fully recommend watching the movie, first. 



It would be difficult to confuse Chang-dong Lee's Burning (2018) with Tony Maylam's The Burning (1981). One is a top-shelf thriller, driven by careful pacing and deliberate, understated performances; its cast is excellent, the characters they play sharply-drawn and announced by a distinct lack of obvious musical cues. The other is more the straightforward slasher exercise from earlier times (the music, while excellent, is anything but subtle); Maylam hides little. Burning hides much, but does so in plain sight.

I feel the act—of calling Burning a thriller—gives little away. If I did, would you believe me? I, myself, read the synopsis, and felt grossly indif…

Stranger Things: Season 3 Trailer Impressions

"We're not kids, anymore!" the voice-over exclaims. "What? Did you think we'd sit in my basement and play games for the rest of our lives?" Oh, they grow up so fast!

Note: This is my first impression of the new trailer to season 3 of Stranger Things (2016). I may not have caught every single detail. Still, spoilers!



Stranger Things season three is nigh, and one thing seems plain: the show, now more than ever, remains stuck in a time warp. The children age; the show does not. Its "past" is the sort envisioned by the likes of Carpenter, Henson, or Spielberg. Here, the action builds to a crescendo courtesy of Pete Townsend. Even as the world of these extraordinary children continues to change, the immortal lyrics of "Baba O'Reilly" (1971) provide a sense of wistful nostalgia.

The actors themselves have all grown. Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, is taller, with a full head of hair. No longer the awkward, ball tween, she's a young…

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) - Is it Gothic?

Can Dragon Ball be Gothic? As a scholar of the Gothic, that's exactly what I wondered when I sat down to watch Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019). In the movie, the death god Beerus literally takes a vacation. The Gothic mostly does, too, but let's take a closer look...


The movie more or less starts with King Vegeta looking upon his infant son, Prince Vegeta. Incubating inside the royal saiyan maternity ward, the boy is small; his power levels are not. The king looks smug. "I look forward to watching you grow into a vicious king!" he boasts. King Vegeta and those under him work for King Cold, an even bigger tyrant. At the movie's start, Cold retires, putting his son in charge. Ever the enfant terrible, Freiza belittles the saiyans for their poor technology. After killing a handful for seemingly no reason, he introduces the now-infamous scanners for the survivors to use. With more explanation than the original show ever bothered to provide, DBS: Broly throws the sava…