Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Linnea Quigley is coming to Portland in July!

Okay, the rest of this edition of the Weekly Update is full of great stuff for Pacific Northwest Horror/Sci Fi/Fantasy Fans, but the big news is Linnea Quigley is coming to The Hollywood Theatre in July for a 30th anniversary screening of Night of the Demons in GORY-IOUS 35mm!

I'm sure she won't be appearing in the same makeup from the film.
But if she does, I DON'T CARE!

If you're a fan of 80s horror, you'll know her from other films such as The Return of the Living Dead, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Silent Night, Deadly Night and over a hundred other films.  She is a true SCREAM QUEEN, and you won't want to miss seeing her at The Hollywood!  Tickets are on sale NOW, so don't miss out!!

As for the rest of the week, things are slowing down a bit, but I'm sure you'll find something to pass the time before THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!  Sure, the sunny weather might drive most of us away from the "great" outdoors, but you'll find plenty of things to keep you indoors and away from the summer heat.  And I've included a few events that might make you venture outside, if that's your thing. 

Indoors or out, the Horror/Sci Fi/Fantasy Calendar is full of great events coming to the region, and I do my best to keep things updated through the rest of the year and into 2019!  Keep checking back, as new events are posted as often as I find them!!

Remember, you can have your event posted on The Shadow Over Portland with ease.  Just email me at with all the details, and promotional artwork, and I'll do the rest.  Best of all, it's FREE!

And if you attend any of the events listed below, please help spread the word.  Let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland!!

Playing This Week

The Lakewood Playhouse (5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd in Lakewood, WA) production of Little Shop of Horrors closes this weekend, on Sunday, June 24th.  For showtimes and tickets, visit the Lakewood Playhouse website.


The horror film Hereditary opens tonight at The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR).  The film runs through Thursday, June 28.  For more details, including showtimes and advance ticket sales, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.


The Summer Repertory season continues at the Academy Theater (7818 SE Stark St in Portland, OR).  This week, catch the original Ghostbusters through June 21.  For more details and showtimes, visit the Academy Theater website.

Buy Tickets Now

The Monolith comes back into orbit around The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR) as the new, GLORIOUS 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey returns for three encore showings.  The film will screen at 1 and 9:30 pm on Saturday, July 21, and at 9:30 pm on Sunday, July 22.  The previous screenings SOLD OUT quickly, so visit The Hollywood Theatre website as soon as possible!


Scream Queen Linnea Quigley is coming to The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR) for a 30th anniversary screening of Night of the Demons in GORY-IOUS 35mm on Saturday, July 28, at 7 pm.  Quigley will be present for a post Q and A after the film, signings and more!  Tickets are now on sale, and you know this event will SELL OUT!  For advance ticket sales and more information, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.

NOTE: Quigley will also be at Movie Madness (4320 SE Belmont St in Portland, OR) on Sunday, July 29, from noon to 1 pm for an autograph signing.


Frenetic Films Productions latest feature, the anthology Spunk's Not Dead, screens at 8 pm on Thursday, July 19 at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton St in Portland, OR).  The film is six crazy cautionary tales concerning a new drug, Spunk, sweeping the nation.  The film is recommended for those 18 and older.  The event includes trailers, raffle prizes and a Q and A.  Admission is $7.  Show your support for Pacific Northwest horror filmmakers and attend if you can!  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.
June, 2018

Wednesday, June 20

Weird Wednesday at The Joy Cinema and Pub (11959 SW Pacific Highway in Tigard, OR) takes a swim in the swamps with The Legend of Boggy Creek, showing tonight at 9:15 pm.  As always, admission is FREE, but you must be 18 or older to attend.  And don't forget to support The Joy's continuing efforts to keep Wednesdays WEIRD by stopping at the concession stand for some tasty treats and beverages before the show!  For more details, visit The Joy Cinema website.
Thursday, June 21

Manos Returns screens tonight at the Columbia City's Ark Lodge Cinemas (4816 Rainier Ave S in Seattle, WA) at 8 pm.  Directed by local filmmaker Tonjia Atomic, the film features original cast members Tom Neyman and Jackey Neyman Jones (The Master and Debbie).  For additional details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.


Queer Horror returns to The Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, OR) with a screening of Wes Craven's Scream tonight at 9:30 pm.  Portland's premier drag clown Carla Rossi will be present for a pre-show tribute to this slasher classic.  For more details and advance ticket sales, visit The Hollywood Theatre website.


Johnny Mnemonic, with Keanu Reeves, Henry Rollins, Dolph Lundgren and Ice-T, plays at the McMenamins Mission Theater and Pub (1624 NW Glisan in Portland, OR) tonight and tomorrow.  For showtimes and advance ticket sales, visit the Mission Theater website.

Friday, June 22

Local podcast The Horror Aisle hosts another edition of the Frightmare on Main Street series at The Kiggins Theatre (1011 Main St in Vancouver, WA) tonight at 9:30 pm.  Head in for crowd participation, games, prizes and tonight's feature, John Landis' horror/comedy classic, An American Werewolf in London.  Tickets are $10.  For more details and advance ticket sales, visit The Kiggins Theatre website.

The ACE Comic Con comes to the WaMu Theater and CenturyLink Field Event Center (800 Occidental Ave S in Seattle, WA) this weekend.  Along with plenty of comic artists and writers, and cosplayers, the feature guests are Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany (The Avengers).  More guests will be announced soon, so check out the Facebook Event Page or ACE Comic Con website for more details.

UPDATE: Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) and Tom Holland (the latest Spider-Man) are scheduled to appear.


Evil Dead The Musical takes to the stage tonight at the Funhouse Lounge (2432 SE 11th Ave in Portland, OR).  The show runs through July 14 and, of course, you can purchase seats in the "Splash Zone."  For more details and a link to advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.


The Geekenders Present: Star Trek Burlesque at 8 pm tonight and tomorrow night at the Rio Theatre (1660 East Broadway in Vancouver, BC).  For more details, including a list of performers and advance ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page.


The Summer Repertory season continues at the Academy Theater (7818 SE Stark St in Portland, OR).  This week, catch either (or both!) the anime film Kiki's Delivery Service or the sci fi comedy Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure through June 28.  For more details and showtimes (when available), visit the Academy Theater website.


The Olympia Film Society Fright Club conclude the 30 years of Chucky celebration with with one final screening of Child's Play tonight at 9 pm  at the Capitol Theater (206 5th Ave SE in Olympia, WA).  Tickets are available at the box office 1/2 hour before showtimes.  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.


The Joy Cinema and Pub (11959 SW Pacific Highway in Tigard, OR) will show Back to the Future through Thursday, June 28.  For more details, including showtimes, visit The Joy Cinema website.

Saturday, June 23

The Destiny City Comics and Arts Festival takes place at noon today at Alma Mater Tacoma (1322 S Fawcett Ave in Tacoma, WA).  The event will host independent writers and artists who want to sell you their latest creation.  For more details when available, visit the Facebook Event Page.


Dragonfly Cinema (822 Bay St in Port Orchard, WA) presents Serenity Nerd Night this evening.  It starts at 6 pm at Jak Aktion Comics and Games (839 Bay St in Port Orchard, WA) for Serenity trivia, then head to the Dragonfly for a costume contest and screening of the film Serenity at 7 pm.  Tickets are $10.  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.

Sunday, June 24

The 17th Annual Gothic Pride Seattle Parade takes place today from 10 am to 4 pm.  Details are coming, so check back later, or visit the Facebook Event Page.


ParanormalPub: Oregon Ghost Stories returns to the McMenamins Mission Theater and Pub (1624 NW Glisan St in Portland, OR) tonight at 7 pm.  Historian and paranormal investigator Rocky Smith will share ghost stories accumulated from his years of paranormal research, his knowledge of Oregon history and willingness to listen to fellow Oregonians share their brushes with the paranormal.  For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.

Tuesday, June 26

The Darkside Cinema (215 SW 4th St in Corvallis, OR) will screen 1925's Phantom of the Opera, starring the great Lon Chaney, tonight at 7 pm.  The film include a live musical accompaniment by Sonochromatic.  For more details, visit the Darkside Cinema website.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Dark Universe is a bit tattered after The Mummy. Here's some suggestions on how to wrap it up again.

It appears the Dark Universe might be rising from the dead.

According to a recent story on Movieweb, artist Robert Vargas took to Twitter about a recent meeting with executives still involved in the Dark Universe, promising "monstrous things in the works."

Though the post is rather vague, it appears Universal hasn't driven a stake into the heart of the Dark Universe quite yet.  While the studio hasn't re-started production on Bill Condon's remake of Bride of Frankenstein, it seems the allure of a cinematic universe similar to Marvel's, and the revenue it could generate, is still an enticing possibility to Universal, despite striking out with last year's remake of The Mummy and 2014's Dracula Untold.

Maybe the third time will be the charm, but I believe the studio must make some dramatic changes before attempting another relaunch.  And while I doubt they'll listen to the ramblings of a middle aged Monster Kid, who still watches their original films on a regular basis, I'm more than eager to help.  So, if any executives are listening, here's a few suggestions on how to get the Dark Universe on track.  And if you like what you've read, I'm open to any offers you might want to send my way.

Stay away from superhero antics

A few years ago, I wrote about the proposed Universal Monsters Online game the studio was developing.  It never came to fruition, which was probably for the best, as the ad tagline (as best I remember) of "Storm the castle.  Save the girl.  Be the hero!" showed the people in charge had no idea what makes the Universal Monsters so special.

Which is too bad, as you could have played as a Metaluna Mutant,
a Mole Man, or other more obscure creatures of the night.

First, villagers storm the castle, not monsters, often in response to the fear installed by some creature roaming the countryside, causing mayhem and death.  And while the pitchfork and torch carrying mobs might be misguided, as in the case of the early Frankenstein movies, most of the monsters are evil.  Sure, Larry Talbot is a sympathetic character, but his alter ego is a ferocious furball of claws and teeth.  The Creature from the Black Lagoon is toxic male ego unchecked.  Dracula is predator, more interested in draining his victims of their blood than rescuing them.  Should any of these creatures "save the girl," I doubt the outcome would be as pleasant as the ending of The Shape of Water.  Ask Kay Lawrence or Gwen Conliffe if they would like to end up with the beastly paramour persuading them and I'm certain the answer would be a resounding "Hell, NO!"

Trying to turn the monsters into heroic figures is a major misstep, as it reduces their power and the feelings they invoke within us.  And it is a problem Universal, and other movie studios, continue to forget.

Let's start with Universal's first official attempt to bring their classic monsters back to the big screen, Dracula Untold (which I reviewed in 2014).  To sum it up, Vlad is a wise and good king to his people, pushed into making a deal with a vampire for the power to defeat the Ottoman Empire troops. He only need not feast on human blood for three days, the time he figures it will take to defeat the Ottoman army, and he'll return to his human form.  Let's just say things don't go according to plan.  So, as the movie ends, he's spent centuries searching for the reincarnation of his long dead wife and just found her in a market.

No, I am NOT a stalker.
I have just search for you across centuries....
Wait, why are you calling the police?

So we have a set up for a sequel (oh, forgot to mention the vampire that cursed him is in the same market), but like most other vampire romances, it would likely not even mention the fact that Dracula has been feasting on humans FOR CENTURIES.  It's likely he now looks upon humans as cattle at this point, so why is he going to fall back in love with the equivalent of a quick snack?  And how would the object of his affections react when she discovers he's a cold as a corpse, sleeps all day and, oh yeah, survives on human blood?  Answering such questions could make for an interesting script, but any followup to Dracula Untold would have been little more than a fleshing out the upcoming battle between the army of the Ultimate Evil and the Monsters opposing it. 

It's not just Universal Studio making this mistake.  The right script COULD give the Frankenstein's Monster a heroic story arc (the best example is The Monster Squad).  But the Monster is not a superhero, as proven by 2014's I Frankenstein.  No matter how how flashy his fighting technique, turning the monster into a hero battling evil forces threatening humanity just rings hollow.

 I'd try writing a pun here,
but the memory of watching this atrocity stuns me into silence. 

So step one for Universal is to bring their monsters back to their roots.  Make them scary and threatening, even if their actions end up saving people at the end.  But for them to work, even in a modern movie, they must be monstrous.

Drop the excessive CGI

Once you stop making them superheroes or supervillains, you don't need the excessive CGI that seems to infest every movie coming out of a major studio.  I'm not saying do away with such effects completely, but you don't need to have Dracula controlling a fist o' bats to pummel those coming after him.  No matter how good it looks, such effects are only needed if you are adapting the X-Men verses Dracula story from the comics.  And even Marvel didn't feel the need to add such a scene into the comic book series.

Remember, don't just ask if you can do it,
but if you should do it.  And the answer is probably going to be no.

CGI effects in a superhero movie are great, but such films deal with spectacle, not atmosphere.  Monsters need to stay in the shadows, working their evil schemes in the dark, not in a sequence of over the top action.  Dracula would use minions, both undead and human, to take over the world, not a vulgar display that would alert everyone in the world to his threat.  And by using such moments in one film, the rest of the series is set up for other monsters to have such abilities.  No one needs a movie where the Creature from the Black Lagoon controls an army of fish like Aquaman, or manipulate water in some similar fashion.  Again, CGI can work in small doses in a monster movie, but not in a show stopping sequence.

That's not to say CGI effects won't work in a monster movie.  The 1999 version of The Mummy had some fine moments of special effects mayhem.  But that worked only because the script borrowed from monster movies and Indiana Jones films.  The film also kept massive effects sequences to a minimum, and the smaller moments were designed to be more creepy than thrilling.

But, whatever you do, DO NOT repeat shots from previous movies, as Universal did in the 2017 reboot of The Mummy.  It's going to induce groans from the audience and and come across as lazy.

I'm begging you, don't do this again.
Didn't The Mummy Returns teach you that a cool effect
isn't as impressive the second time around?
Speaking of 1999's The Mummy....

The Monsters are only as good as those opposing them

Okay, my mother doesn't like monster movies, but she loves 1999's The Mummy.  It was thrilling, funny at the right times, and had a great cast of characters.  Brandon Fraser and Rachel Weisz were such a great screen couple that I was happy to sit through The Mummy Returns just to watch them.  That said, I didn't bother with the third film, as Weisz didn't return and their chemistry was a big part of my enjoyment of the series.

I'm just being honest.  Get these two actors in the
Dark Universe, and I'll be happy to open my wallet for you.

It all comes down to the characters opposing the monster.  One could argue that heroes are less interesting than villains, and I would agree with that.  A protagonist's story arc is often rather simple, and the story often allows the antagonist more opportunity to be bigger than life.   But that works in monster movies, where the heroic characters are more like the audience, weak humans battling forces beyond our comprehension.  If the audience can see themselves in the monster hunters, if the connection between the characters is believable, the script will generate tension and hook people into the character's plight.

That's part of the reason 2017's The Mummy failed so spectacularly.  Tom Cruise and Annabella Walls, set up as another Rick and Evie, lacked any of the spark of Fraser and Weisz.  Cruise's Nick was nowhere near the lovable cad from the original, and Walls' Jenny didn't seem comfortable as an archeologist.  How they met, a off-screen one night stand where Nick stole a map to the tomb from Jenny, was a terrible idea and makes the idea of a romantic link unbelievable.  And the sidekick, played by Jake Johnson, wasn't close to the comic relief that Evie's brother (John Hannah) was in the 1999 version.

A good monster movie doesn't rely on the monster alone.  The other characters must be compelling or no one is going to care about the story.  Cushing's Van Helsing, Roddy McDowell's Peter Vincent, the kids in The Monster Squad, all made those movies work because we cared about them, were scared when they confronted the monsters and laughed out loud as they found unique ways to take on the supernatural threat.

Seriously, who didn't laugh when we discovered that
wolfman had nards?

Giving the monsters a compelling story arc is important, but that doesn't allow you to skimp on developing the human characters.  To be honest, they are more important to the success of a monster film than the creatures themselves.

And while we're on the subject on actors...

Ditch the big name stars

It's tempting for a studio to hedge their bets by attaching a big name star to a property, and Universal started dropping names after casting Cruise in The Mummy.  Russell Crowe was brought in as Jekyll, and the studio signed Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man.  Soon, Scarlett Johansson was mentioned as the lead in the Creature from the Black Lagoon remake, Javier Bardem was signed for the Bride of Frankenstein remake, with Angelina Jolie suggested as the Bride.

But a major star brings with them potential pitfalls in the form of contract demands.  As mentioned in a Variety article, Cruise brought in a team of writers and editor to make sure he was the focus of the film. I'm not trying to paint Cruise as the bad guy, but it's an example of how a star's power can exert the direction of a film.

Cruise has an image as an actor, one developed over many films, and the changes he made to The Mummy (as best I could tell from the article) were all to protect and enhance that image.  One can't blame him for that, but it took the focus away from Sofia Boutella's villainous character and probably changed the plans Universal had for the franchise.  Once those changes showed up onscreen, the direction for the Dark Universe was forced to adapt to them, leading to statements after the film's failure that the cinematic universe would not be as cohesive as initially suggested.

"Hey, Annabella, sorry about the running scene, but it's in my contract."
 Yeah, I know, it's a cheap joke.  Sorry.

Of course, the argument is that it worked for Marvel, and the current cinematic universe wouldn't have started had Robert Downey Jr not signed on for Iron Man.  But he wasn't a major movie star at the time, and Marvel switched to casting up and coming actors into major roles.  Sure, the salary demands might increase once their initial contracts are up, but one suspects the actors are less likely to demand changes in the script once a studio shows it has a handle on making successful films.  At that point, the actors might trust the studio to make decisions how to proceed with the franchise, and leave script demands for their next tent pole project.

So ditch the major stars.  Let the contracts expire and find some fresh talent eager to make their mark.  As a studio, you'll be able to present a cohesive plan for the Dark Universe, free from tampering, and deliver solid performances and a story line that doesn't have to change with each release.

Raid your vault

We all know the big players.  Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Frankenstein's Monster, and so on.  But don't limit yourself to the heavy hitters.  The Universal Monster vault contains a multitude of creatures to bring into the Dark Universe and, as Marvel has shown, even the minor players can deliver great movies with the right script and director.

Again, look at Marvel Studios.  Without Spider Man, The Fantastic Four and The X-Men, Marvel was forced to rely on lesser know characters and they made it work.  It would be easy for Universal to look into their Monster catalog, especially from the 50s, and create compelling films.  The Mole Men comes to mind, which could be a solid thriller mixed with social commentary.  The Neaderthal Man could come to the screen as a trippy extension of Altered States, with a little Dr. Strange thrown in for good measure.  A remake of Taratula, or some other big bug film, could introduce a mad scientist unleashing giant creatures in an attempt to take over the world.  And alien threats could play a role as well.  The Monolith Monsters is a great little cosmic horror film that could be a fun little film and introduce some interesting elements into the Dark Universe.

No one said outer space invaders couldn't be dumb as rocks.
And done right, it could be a great commentary on our own limits to
contain a threat as simple as rocks from space.

Not all of those suggestions would make good additions to the Dark Universe, but it would be a mistake to limit upcoming films to the heavy hitters.  The biggest stars would be fun to see in theaters once again, but leave some room for the little guys.  They might be more successful than you expect.

Focus on the scripts and directors

Okay, this final point isn't just about delivering a cohesive plan for the entire Dark Universe.  It's about making good movies. And bringing a classic movie monster into the modern world is difficult to do right.

Remember, the Universal Monsters exist in a cinematic world full of castles, cottages and small villages, horse drawn carriages, and no phones, streetlights or cameras.  Even as Universal entered the 50s, their creature movies involved isolating the heroes in some way.  Either scientists were exploring uncharted regions (Creature from the Black Lagoon), or the monsters were attacking a small desert town and, more often than not, managing to knock out the only telephone line to the outside world early in the movie.

Sorry, Verizon guy, we can't hear you now.
We're a little busy right now, running for our lives. 

Even 1999's The Mummy set up this sense of isolation by setting the action in the 1920s.  It worked, as no matter how powerful Imhotep became, no one had a digital camera to upload a photo onto the Internet.

But no one working on the 2017 remake took even a moment to think about how a modern urban population might react to a scantly bandaged woman casting magical dust storms on the streets of London.  Sure, most people would panic, but some fool would be on the streets with a cellphone, posting everything on YouTube, at least until Ahmanet smacks them into a building with a gust of wind.

No matter how scary it looks, you know it's only a matter of time
before some idiot runs up for a selfie.

By the time the movie ends, you know the Prodigium is no longer a secret organization, the world knows monsters exist, or at least supernatural mummies, and everyone will be on edge.  Yet, the final act has Cruise's character back in the desert, looking for a new purpose in life, and any after effects upon the world are simply ignored.  That just won't work if you want to bring the Universal Classic Monsters into a modern day setting.

It's not an impossible task to create a film that brings these monsters into modern times, but it will take more than a group of filmmakers looking to make a movie with the characters.  The writers and directors can't just love the idea of bringing them into a modern blockbuster film.  They must have a deep understanding of what makes them work and how to translate that into a modern setting.

Let's look at vampires for a moment.  It was easy to create a world in which these creatures of the night could exist in a setting where peasants live in fear of them, where long distant communication was limited to telegraphs and letters, and where photo ID is needed for the simplest transactions, like opening a bank account.

To bring vampires into the modern world, one has to create a world within ours, allowing vampires to access financial institutes, the ability to move about without a passport or other form of identification and a way to explain how they can live forever in a world of video surveillance and fingerprints without raising questions.  The easy out is to just ignore such issues, but that path is fraught with pitfalls.  It might lead to a lack of suspension of disbelief in audiences who've experienced the need for the proper identification to do most anything in modern times.

And as for their nefarious plans, the filmmakers must figure out how they would keep their existence a secret while their hunger keeps adding to missing person reports.  Or how a dead body is dealt with now, placed in a morgue for an autopsy to determine a cause of death.  In earlier times, it's easy to expect a body to be discovered in the morning and interred by the end of the day.  That's not the case today, and any film dealing with vampires in a serious way needs to explain how becoming one of the undead could happen with modern technology.

And I suspect current embalming practices might have adverse effects
on vampires and zombies alike.

Any filmmaker tackling the creation of a modern Dark Universe needs to spend a few moments of script time to tackle such issues, as well as making the plans of such creatures, whether world domination or vengeance against those that wronged them years ago, have a sense of working within the rules set by modern society.  Just having them wreck havoc during the film, only to have it not matter by the final scene, is going to cheapen any attempt at franchise building.

Again, look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The end of Age of Ultron fed into Civil War, as the entire world saw what happened.  If you want to set up a cinematic universe, Ahmanet can't wreck most of London and not have such actions dealt with in upcoming films.  Yet, as I mentioned above, the final scene of The Mummy remake feels the filmmakers didn't have a plan to deal with that moment of destruction, other than ignore it and move on.

What, you think this isn't going to be on all the cable new networks
for at least a week?

I'm not saying one will be able to provide perfect answers to the questions I raised in this section.  But any reasonable attempt to explain how the monsters interact with the modern world, and how events in the first film effect the story in the second film, will make it easier for the audience to accept it. 

Or maybe the next time, start out small.  Focus on Dracula trying to make a grab at dominating a nation from the shadows, than build upon that into a crescendo that leads to a world changing event, and go from there.

The key is to find the right filmmakers, ones willing to put some effort into making the classic monsters work within the rules of modern times, and turn them loose.  I suspect the results will be a cinematic universe worthy of the Universal name.

Obviously, I have some ideas on making it work, Universal.  Just give me a call. 

And please think about getting these actors back into the Dark Universe.
I have great plans for their return into the world of gods and monsters.