Peking Opera Blues

One of the great films of the Hong Kong New Wave, Tsui Hark’s Chinese Revolution era adventure is notable for focusing not on the war or heroic men, but on the friendship that grows between three women who find themselves involved in a tangled web of espionage.

Cultural Gutter: Neuromancin’ with Myself

The early 1990s was also when I read Neuromancer. I read it enthusiastically, devoured every word, and fell in love not so much with the story but with William Gibson’s proficiency with the written word. Into this maelstrom of personal evolution and conflicting feelings came Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk.

The Return of Captain Invincible

A washed-up, alcoholic superhero must pull himself out of depression and obscurity in order to defeat the villainous Christopher Lee in one of cinema’s first deconstructions of comic book superheroes. It also happens to be a musical.

Cultural Gutter: Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

James Bond vs. the ’80s

When last we saw James Bond, in 1984’s Role of Honour, we did not part on good terms. It was an awful book in my opinion, with clumsy romance and a tremendously dull plot full of James Bond flipping through manuals about the COBOL programming language before finally ending in an idiotic blimp finale, the…

Legend of Suram Fortress

One of the great joys of watching movies from countries and cultures with which I have maybe, at best, a passing familiarity is discovering their language of film — both in their mainstream as well as their fringes. There is a thrill in discovering how differently one country, one region, one filmmaker can interpret how…

Chinese Ghost Story

Partially a remake of a Shaw Bros. classic, partially an adaptation of an old Chinese folk tale, Chinese Ghost Story became one of the defining films of the Hong Kong New Wave and inspired countless imitations, including its own sequels and remakes. There is little in the short story “The Magic Sword,” part of the…

They Were 11

They Were 11 is an interesting take on sci-fi anime from the eighties, and definitely a marked departure from the space operas overflowing from the previous decades and the wham-bam sci-fi actioners that defined the eighties. There is really only one action scene in the entire movie, and that’s a pie fight. Yet despite the…

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf

There are those among us who, in a moment of moral weakness, find themselves unwilling or unable to turn away from a grisly situation. As to the psychological motivations behind this tendency, they are legion and vary from person to person. Perhaps it is a desire to affirm that someone is worse off than you,…

Streets of Fire

The two Michaels. Way cooler and more obscure than making obvious, played out jokes about the two Coreys. Michael Beck and Michael Pare — these two guys were both pegged at the beginning of their respective careers as the next big thing. Both sported a brooding, introspective air of mystery and toughness much like James…

Cultural Gutter: Where is All You Angels?

Back over at The Cultural Gutter for a Frolic Afield. Where is All You Angels? stared out as a jokey celebration of my favorite music video, Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys.” Things quickly spun out of control into an exploration of William S. Burroughs, LGBT rights, the mundanity of queer cinema, dayglo jockstraps, north Florida summers,…

The Hell

Hell has always been popular cinematic fodder. Italian strongman Maciste has conquered it (twice, at least), Claude Rains has managed it, and Nollywood has done its best to make a basement look like it (see Die Danger Die Die Kill’s review of 666: Beware! The End is At Hand). Still, when it comes to off-the-wall…