The Thing and the AIDS Epidemic

By Greg Mucci

Nothing is quite what it seems at Outpost #31.

Things move in the shadows. Equipment is being sabotaged. The temperature outside is dropping, and something wants out of there. One by one, the crew of an Antarctic research facility is becoming infected by a mysterious alien lifeform, which causes the crew to take the shape of those around them. Soon, friends begin turning on each other as paranoia sets in, and credence is shattered. How do you trust what can’t be seen? Who is really who, and what do you believe when the things you see aren’t what they seem? These questions linger on the minds of our characters, and we wind up asking ourselves the same questions long after the final credits roll in John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror masterpiece, The Thing.

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Don’t Torture a Duckling and Religion in the Eyes of Fulci

By Greg Mucci

Lucio Fulci left behind a legacy steeped in horror—dozens of films ranging from sex romps, spaghetti westerns to science fiction socio-political fables—after his death in 1996 from complications with diabetes. Coined the godfather of gore alongside maestro Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci can be instantly recognized by fans of horror for his contribution to the ever-fluctuating zombie genre with Zombi 2, a 1978 spiritual successor to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, titled Zombi for Italian audiences. Fulci followed up Zombi 2’s box office success—grossing more internationally than Dawn—with City of the Living Dead in 1980 and The Beyond in 1981. Both tackle themes of religion and the supernatural, and showcase some of Fulci’s more inspired splatter moments; a power drill through the brain, a face doused in acid. For fans of giallo—a genre blending mystery, murder, and psychological elements with that of the slasher genre—Lucio Fulci had been a household name since 1969’s One on Top of the Other; a film that heavily prefigured the shift into erotic thrillers of the 1990s, such as Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct. However, his garish visual flare and the sleek stylistic choice of the giallo genre wouldn’t stalk hand-in-hand until Don’t Torture a Duckling; Fulci’s lambaste of the Catholic Church. Dealing heavily in the sin of sex, Duckling would ultimately find itself blacklisted all around Europe, marking it as Fulci’s most controversial examination of religion.

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Wayne’s World: Penelope Spheeris and the Amplified Femininity

By Greg Mucci

Back in February of 1992, a ‘Saturday Night Live’ spinoff head-banged its way into theaters in the form of Wayne’s World, an ode to music and personal creativity that caused a “Schwing!” to be heard from around the world. It’s a sound that carried with it an affirmatively virile pelvic thrust, one that’s used to rate notable women – their photo enlarged to poster size –acting as its own gesticulating male gaze. With its sexual utterance, forever engrained in the pop canon, comes the sound of money – also brought forth into the cartoon cash lexicon by our film – its “Cha-ching” indicating a tremendous box office success. This so happens to play to the tune of both money and industry sexism, frequent collaborators that have been a discordant scratch on the records of female directors since the birth of Hollywood.

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The Night of the Hunter and the Fear of Christian Antipathy

By Greg Mucci

When director Charles Laughton’s first and sadly final film, The Night of the Hunter, was released back in the summer of 1955, it marked an irrevocable burden on the mind of one of Britain’s most applauded stage and screen actors. Laughton, who trained in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, starred in more than 50 works of film, both short and theatrical, before stepping behind the camera to adapt Davis Grubb’s novel of the same name. The burden that caused Laughton to abandon the director’s chair came in the form of critical disdain and audience dismissal upon release of his debut, an outcome that many believed to be caused by little to no marketing. Given the subject matter, themes and tones stalking every frame, marketing it to a wide audience in 1955 would have been a difficult and daunting task, even if we weren’t judging its history through decades of reflection. Though no matter how many lobby cards filled theaters, television spots small screens, or write-ups newspapers, the new Christianity of the Eisenhower era wasn’t ready for such a film.

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