The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 5 – Planet of the Apes (1968)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

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The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 4 – Bewitched (1964-1972)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 4 – Bewitched (1964-1972)”

The Best Films of 2014

While there are still a few flicks from this year that I need to see (such as Inherent Vice, Birdman, Gone Girl, The Interview, Foxcatcher, The Babadook, and a handful of others), I still managed to see enough of 2014 releases to put together a “best of” list (because I know you’re all dying to read it). So presented here, in no particular order, are my 10 favorite movies of 2014. Let me know if you agree/disagree, and feel free to share your own lists.

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The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 3 – Carnival of Souls (1962)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

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The Hobbit International Research Project

Are you a Tolkien nerd? If so, Dr. Martin Barker of Aberystwyth University needs your help with his massive international survey of Lord of The Rings fans. Check out this blog post from Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard’s site, and learn how you can participate in a huge, international research project.

It's Playing, Just With Research

Are you a Tolkien fan? Did you enjoy the Lord of the Rings films? What do you think of The Hobbit films? Join in with thousands of others and share your thoughts in this massive international survey!

From Dr. Martin Barker, one of the lead researchers on the project, who previously oversaw a similar project on the Lord of the Rings films:

“In December 2014, the most ambitious film audience research project yet undertaken launched.  Based on research groups in 46 countries, and operating in over 30 languages, the World Hobbit Project has set itself the challenge of answering a series of difficult research questions.

With minimal research funding (just enough from the UK’s British Academy to create the complex website, multi-language questionnaire and associated database), we are totally dependent on our ability to use online means to reach a wide range of people around the world.  Our survey went…

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The Pop Culture Lens Podcast: Episode 2 – Freaks (1932)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Lens Podcast: Episode 2 – Freaks (1932)”

Chris’s Cult Catalogue: No Way Out (1973)

In Cult Catalogue, I offer my thoughts on cult movies, and try to determine whether or not they are essential, forgettable, or somewhere in between. Throughout this series I will endeavor to focus primarily on cultish, lesser-known, or largely forgotten films, though in the age of the Internet, nothing is ever truly forgotten, so occasionally the movies may seem more familiar. These posts will be less academic, and more in the vein of straight up reviews or blog posts, though occasionally I will attempt to bring in some sort of scholarship or academic approach to these write ups whenever warranted. More than anything, these posts simply represent my attempt to put forth my thoughts on lesser known cult films and so-called “bad” movies. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. As always, I welcome your feedback, so please, let me know what you think of this entry in the comments after the article.

Similar to Voyage of the Rock Aliens, I had never heard of the 1973 Italian gangster film No Way Out (aka Big Guns aka Tony Arzenta) prior to purchasing a copy of Trailer War, the superb compilation of old grindhouse, horror, kung fu, and exploitation movie trailers released by Drafthouse Films. When I saw the trailer, however, I knew immediately that I had to see the full movie, which stars French New Wave heartthrob Alain Delon (perhaps most famous for his role as existential assassin Jef Costello in the classic Le Samouraï from 1967). Here he plays Tony Arzenta, a freelance contract killer who has grown tired of the business of death and wants nothing more than to retire and spend time with his loving wife and son. Of course, as countless movies and television shows have illustrated, quitting the mafia is never easy, and Arzenta’s bosses waste no time in ordering a hit on the hit man himself. They plant a bomb in his car, and then sit back and wait for the fireworks. Unfortunately, while the assassination attempt misses Arzenta, his wife and son are not so lucky, and they both die in the explosion. After burying his family, Arzenta immediately sets out to get revenge on his former employers, and manages to tear up most of Europe in the process.

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From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II

This post is based on a presentation that I delivered along with Dr. CarrieLynn D. Reinhard at the MPCA/ACA annual conference which took place October 3-5, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This paper is part of a larger project exploring how exorcism films deal a variety of cultural tensions, including female subjugation/rebellion, colonialism, and more. We hope to develop this project as a book, and recently submitted a prospectus and a version of this sample chapter to a publisher. As always, I welcome any and all feedback, so if you have an suggestions or questions, please leave them in the comments below the article. In any event, thanks for reading.

From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II

 Introduction

This paper examines how The Last Exorcism (2010) and The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) differ in their representation of the concepts of possession and exorcism. While The Last Exorcism makes use of the found footage conceit to project the illusion that the events onscreen are real, the film’s narrative reflects what we have termed the “traditional exorcism narrative” initially established in The Exorcist (1973). Beat for beat, The Last Exorcism presents a savior priest attempting to exorcise a helpless woman whose possession makes her at once a monster and a damsel in distress. Thus, the film’s innovation primarily lies in how it portrays these events, rather than in its content. In contrast, The Last Exorcism Part II rejects the found footage conceit in favor of a more straightforward Hollywood narrative structure. The film’s portrayal of exorcism, however, problematizes the traditional exorcism narrative due to the way it ultimately resolves the central character’s possession, because it represents the rare occurrence of a possession narrative that does not align with the idea of oppressing or suppressing feminine power, sexuality, and agency.

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The Pop Culture Lens Podcast: Episode 1 – Easy Rider (1969)

The Pop Culture Lens is a new scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we offer fresh perspectives on past media to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so that the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but but present our information in a way that everyone can understand.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Lens Podcast: Episode 1 – Easy Rider (1969)”

Chris’s Cult Catalogue: Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984)

In Cult Catalogue, I offer my thoughts on cult movies, and try to determine whether or not they are essential, forgettable, or somewhere in between. Throughout this series I will endeavor to focus primarily on cultish, lesser-known, or largely forgotten films, though in the age of the Internet, nothing is ever truly forgotten, so occasionally the movies may seem more familiar. These posts will be less academic, and more in the vein of straight up reviews or blog posts, though occasionally I will attempt to bring in some sort of scholarship or academic approach to these write ups whenever warranted. More than anything, these posts simply represent my attempt to put forth my thoughts on lesser known cult films and so-called “bad” movies. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. As always, I welcome your feedback, so please, let me know what you think of this entry in the comments after the article.

Unlike the last entry in this series, I was quite sure that I had never seen Voyage of the Rock Aliens. In fact, I had never even heard of the movie prior to this year, and only became aware of its existence when I bought a copy of Trailer War, the fantastic and fun compilation of old grindhouse, exploitation, kung fu, and horror movie trailers released by Drafthouse Films. My complete ignorance of Voyage of the Rock Aliens most likely results from the fact that the film never received any sort of wide theatrical distribution anywhere in the world. In fact, according to the film’s IMDb trivia page, Voyage of the Rock Aliens only ever “played in extremely limited release in America and Europe and debuted on television in Canada.” Furthermore, the film only made its way to home video in a handful of places during the three decades following its initial release. As a result, it seemed as though Voyage of the Rock Aliens was one of those movies destined to fade into complete obscurity. Thanks to the efforts of an enterprising YouTube user who posts under the handle KingTaco7, however, the film has been unearthed for all the world to see, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier about that.

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