Sunday, September 3, 2017

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era (&) Now Playing -- Two Podcasts You Can't Live Without

As in you might actually stop living if you don't listen to these casts on at least a semi-regular basis. Now that's a serious sounding statement (woo, three s words in a row!), and I'm not trying to scare anyone unnecessarily by saying it, but you gotta trust me when I tell you I really do have your best interest at heart here.

Now here's the thing: I used to listen to a whole lot of podcasts. Then, as life got busier, I listened to fewer (and fewer, and fewer still), until one day I woke up and realized I wasn't much of a podcast listener anymore at all. Except for these two. These podcasts just aren't give-up-able no matter how busy a fellow gets. So I'm doing the right thing, and pointing them out loud to you, so you can then do the right thing. (And listen to them. That's your Right Thing in this scenario.)

And in case you were wondering, "pointing out loud" is a combination of "pointing out" and "saying right out loud"--as in I am not even whispering this quietly from the shadows. Nope, this is loud and proud, boldly-stated Advice for Better Living, right here. These are both fantastic podcasts that no deadmans regular-stopper-by-er, or even one-time-passerby-er, should be trying to struggle through life without--it's just not necessary. Life can be challenging enough without missing out on amazing genre movie podcasts to boot, amiright?

So then. Our first must-have is most appropriately titled Decades of Horror: The Classic Era.

Now this is an amaz-ulous (so amazing as to make one incredulous, natch) 1960s and earlier horror film dissection reminiscence podcast, and it's part of Gruesome Magazine's larger Decades of Horror lineup.

Said lineup also includes podcasts devoted to 70s, 80s and 90s horror, respectively. But the Classic Era cast is far and away my favorite. (The 70s cast does take a very reasonable second place, in my mind. If you're wondering.) A lot of parentheses going on here today, aren't there? (Aren't there?) (And italics, too!) (And exclamation points!!)

Okay. Back to the podcast. It's hosted by four groovy souls who are obviously nuts about old horror films, and each of 'em brings a unique and enjoyable perspective to their every-other-week discussions. Here's who they are, shamelessly copied and pasted from their bios at Gruesome Magazine):
Chad Hunt is The Art Director and Copy Editor for Gruesome Magazine quarterly print edition. He is also a comic book artist and writer whose credits include work for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse and various independent companies. A lifelong horror fan, Chad cut his horror teeth on Universal monsters and Kaiju as a kid and hasn't looked back. Also infamously known for playing Black Sabbath riffs on the guitar at an unholy volume.

Erin Miskell is a horror fan that hails from the Western New York region. A love of Poe at a young age turned into exposure to Vincent Price, which lead to a deep love of classic horror films. International horror from France and South East Asia has become a staple of her diet, which mixes well with her tendency to gravitate toward shlock horror and comedy. Erin loves to analyze films and their meanings, and does so at her site, The Backseat Driver Reviews (www.thebackseatdriverreviews.com). When not watching or writing about film, you can find her listening to music and spending time with her children.

Jeff Mohr lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an “Old Boy.” Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine and co-hosted the SQ Bloodlines podcast. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is co-host of the Decades of Horror The Classic Era and 1970s podcasts.

Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Not sure what I can add to those bios, other than to tell you these folks all have serious heart: they obviously love and care about what they're doing and they all show up as real, which reflects extremely well on the cast they're putting out. Oh, and they're having a blast while doing it. That's pretty darn apparent, too.

Now, the podcast itself is fairly new--just started in January of 2017--and the group is only sixteen (seventeen if you count their introductory "Episode Zero," which is well worth a listen) episodes in as of this writing. But what a set of episodes! Take a look at the films these folks've covered so far:
Psycho (1960)
Man-eater of Hydra (1967)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
King Kong (1933)
The Tingler (1959)
IT! (1967)
The Thing From Another World (1951)
Freaks (1932)
The Queen of Spades (1949)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The Mummy (1932)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Half Human (Jû jin yuki otoko) (1955)
So out of sixteen movies, that's a 20s, four 30s, a 40s, four 50s, and six 60s, so far. A pretty decent decade-spread, as well as a nice mix of well-knowns versus not-so-wells. Depending on the movie, you'll be listening to the group lovingly knock, reverently pay tribute to, unashamedly geek out over and generally dig right to the bone every behind and in-front-of camera thing-to-be-known-that-can-be-known. Great Stuff.

So yeah. That's the first podcast I flat out make time to listen to. (AND YOU CAN TOO.) So worth a more than casual listen.

And now you're wondering what's the other podcast is that I just can't give up? Well I'm glad you asked. It's this one:

Now Playing is not a new podcast. In fact, they've been around for ten years and have... I don't know, hundreds of episodes in their archives--close to a thousand, I'd guess. They specialize in retrospectives of entire genre film series right across the board--horror, action, sci-fi, superhero, you name it. Endless movies to choose from at this place.

If you've always wanted to hear in-depth discussions of all four Jaws films (that's the Google search that turned me onto these guys in the first place), or coverage of every Planet of the Apes film from 1968 to present, or just wished somebody would talk about those besmirched 1970s Marvel TV movies you love so much but can hardly sit through these days, these folks are gonna be your go-to's.

Who are they? Well, the crew can change depending on which series is being covered, but the three guys you're most likely to hear are these (who's bios are also shamelessly copied and pasted in from their own website):
Arnie graduated with a standard liberal-arts degree in Communications where he studied filmmaking, TV and Radio production, and creative writing.  His papers and projects usually involved Freddy or Jason, and his Senior Thesis was a literary deconstruction of Clive Barker's Imajica. In 2005 Arnie took that background along with his web design skills and entered Podcasting with the award-winning Star Wars Action News - the first podcast dedicated to Star Wars collecting.  From there he created more podcasts including Now Playing, the book review podcast Books & Nachos, and the Marvel toy collecting podcast Marvelicious Toys. Along that way he has interviewed celebrities including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Keenan Thompson, and Robert Englund,  He has traveled across the country and to Germany to present on Star Wars collectibles and podcasting. You can read his random thoughts on Twitter at @thearniec. Favorite Movies: Star Wars: A New Hope, The Professional, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Its a Wonderful Life.

Contrary to his on-air nickname, Stuart is not a native of Los Angeles or even California.  He was born in Atlanta, GA, and grew up just a few blocks from fellow host Arnie in central Illinois. Friends since the second grade, Stuart and Arnie have launched several unusual business ventures prior to their collaboration on Now Playing Podcast:  detective agency, breakdancing crew, 80s synth pop band, and they are the original creators of Star Wars: Episode VII (suck it, JJ!!). Stuart attended Columbia College Chicago with the goal of one day being able to apply his Film Studies degree to slasher movie sequels and comic book-based television shows from the 1970s.  He has lived in Los Angeles since the early 2000s. Stuart joined Now Playing Podcast in 2008 as a special guest co-host for The Midnight Meat Train and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  He became a full-time host when Now Playing debuted the Friday the 13th Retrospective Series in 2009. In addition to his hosting duties, Stuart is responsible for scheduling Now Playing review, and he co-founded the Books & Nachos podcast, dedicated to reviewing all forms of print media. Favorite Movies: Silence of the Lambs, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Network.

Jakob wrote his first screenplay at age 7 after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark.  A few years later he wrote his second screenplay after seeing Die Hard. They were terrible scripts, because they were written by a child. Jakob currently spends his time finding cultural significance in exploitation films, feeling clueless every time he attempts to get into French New Wave cinema, and obsessing over the Step Up franchise. Favorite Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Robocop (1987), Fight Club, Step Up 3, The Royal Tenenbaums.
These guys have great on-air chemistry, and it's a blast-and-a-half to listen to the same group of folks covering what can sometimes amount to decades across a particular film franchise, comparing changes in directors, actors, script quality, and so on.

The vast majority of their current and archived stuff is free, but you can also donate to hear additional premium podcasts, and buy access to the older premium stuff they keep in their vault. Both current and vault premium podcasts are reasonably priced, and I've yet to shell out my cash and be disappointed.

So just for fun, here's a list of the various retrospectives the group has done to date. Now, keep in mind, each of these retrospectives includes multiple films, and they also have a ton of one-off casts not listed here.... (And again, just for fun, I've bolded the series I've already had the pleasure of listening to.)
2001 and 2010 Space Odyssey
28 Days/Weeks Later
Alien
Avengers
Avengers - Some Assembly Required
Back to the Future
Bad Boys
Batman
Battle Royale
Before.... Films
Black Christmas
Blade
Blair Witch Project
Bourne
Carrie
Catwoman
Child's Play
Children of the Corn
Christopher Nolan
Conjuring
Creepshow
Daredevil & Elektra
Dark Tower
DC Heroes
DC Hitmen
DC Movie Universe
DC Teams
Demons
Die Hard
Different Seasons - Stephen King's Novellas
Dune
Evil Dead
Exorcist
Fantastic Four
Fast and the Furious
Final Destination
Firestarter
Fly
Friday the 13th
Fright Night
G.I. Joe
Ghost Rider
Ghostbusters
Green Lantern
Gremlins
Halloween
Hannibal Lecter
Hellboy
Horror Films of 1986
Hulk
Human Centipede
Hunger Games
Independence Day
Indiana Jones
Insidious
James Bond
Jaws
John Wick
Jurassic Park
Karate Kid
Kingsman
Lawnmower Man
Leprechaun
Living Dead
Living Dead Official Remakes
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings Animated
Lost Boys
Machete
Mad Max
Mangler
Maniac
Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio
Marvel Comics Misfits
Matrix
Men in Black
Mission: Impossible
Nightmare on Elm Street
Ocean's Eleven
Pet Sematary
Philip K Dick
Pirates of the Caribbean
Planet of the Apes
Poltergeist
Predator
Psycho
Punisher
Quentin Tarantino
Rambo
Re-Animator
Resident Evil
Return of the Living Dead
Riddick
Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil's Rejects
Robocop
Rocky
Salem's Lot
Saw
Sci-Fi Summer of 1986
Scream
Shining
Short Circuit
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Simon Pegg / Nick Frost
Sinister
Sometimes They Come Back
Speed Racer
Spider-Man
Spirit
Star Trek
Star Wars
Stephen King Night Shift
Steven Spielberg Alien Films
Superman
Swamp Thing
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Terminator
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Thing From Another World
Trainspotting
Transformers
Transporter
Troll
Tron
Trucks
Twin Peaks
Westworld / Futureworld
Wild at Heart
Wonder Woman
X-Files
X-Men
 And that's it.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era, and Now Playing.

Go forth and listen.

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