Showing posts with label Christopher Robinson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christopher Robinson. Show all posts

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Sun Sets on a Solid Site

Some of the material on my weblog is linked to another one called Western Magazine Digest which I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to for a couple of years. WMD, as we call it, is an informative and entertaining online publication covering Western history, fiction, biographies, cinema and trivia— though it unfortunately will no longer be actively published.

The western weblog has been run by publisher Allan Colombo since 2018 and as Al is perpetually working on a dizzying number of projects, he decided it was time to unhitch his wagon and water his horses.

Over the years, Al and an impressive team of contributors have posted articles on just about every kind of western subject and story, fictional or true, under the sun. I myself enjoyed sharpening my writing skills and sharing knowledge learned about that most quintessential of American topics, the Wild West.

One of my favorite projects was a piece where I had the honor of interviewing James Drury of TV’s The Virginian. It became quite popular and incidentally turned out to be one of the actor’s final interviews. Below is a short video in which I discussed that experience.

Fortunately, Al will keep WMD online so we can continue to enjoy it and learn from its countless articles and stories. A matrix on the site helps visitors find topics alphabetically and access those corresponding articles easily. Links to some of my early pieces, such as the Virginian interview, can likewise be found on the ‘articles’ page of my own weblog’s menu.

I may even occasionally continue to post new reviews on the WMD weblog under my WMD Movie Reviews page, much like a prospector checks into an old ghost town now and again.

So be sure to keep visiting Western Magazine Digest and continue to post any comments you may have. You never know what you might come across or may have missed the first time around.

I can attest to WMD’s high quality and well-researched content and I think it capably served its role in helping to inform and remind us of those old cowboys and gunslingers and the crucial values that go along with their wild western mystique. Thanks for ridin’ along, folks. Happy trails.

Western Magazine Digest (image)
Click for the 'Western Magazine Digest'

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Christopher Robinson, Writer Extraordinaire (image)
Christopher Robinson, Writer Extraordinaire 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Bad Kids Aplenty

Hear ye! All horror enthusiasts and movie aficionados should immediately seek out a new book called Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children. An exhaustingly comprehensive movie reference guide on horror films featuring evil kids, it features reviews from over 40 international writers of which I was very honored to be included.

Agglomerating this extraordinary collection of invaluable essays is author Vanessa Morgan who also contributed many such reviews to the book herself. Vanessa is the author of the books- Avalon, Drowned Sorrow, The Strangers Outside, A Good Man and Clowders. In addition, she is a screenwriter and blogger as well as host and programmer for several European film festivals.

Recently, Vanessa answered some questions for me that should help shed light on her unique and enlightening new publication.

What is it about evil kids that frightens us so much?

I believe it has a lot to do with children being just like us, yet being different enough to stand apart, especially when there is something "off" about them (like the blonde wigs they used on the dark-haired children of Village of the Damned). The same goes for elderly people. Give them subtle macabre makeup or make them move strangely, and they can be absolutely frightening (the old-lady scene from It Follows springs to mind here). And when we are menaced by those over whom we thought to have absolute control – those who are smaller, weaker, and intellectually less developed – then is there anything left besides feeling utterly powerless?

Is this one of the first reference books on this particular topic to ever be published?

I have found one academic book in English, focusing on only a handful of classics (The Bad Seed, Village of the Damned), and one in French, equally serious in tone and aimed at literature. However, Evil Seeds is the only reference book that covers nearly all of the evil-child movies ever made (nearly 250 feature films from 40 different countries, and even more minor evil-child appearances in other movies). I wanted to create a book that not only gives readers insight into the stories they love, but also gives them plenty of new ones to discover.

How is Evil Seeds different from your previous reference guides?

When Animals Attack and Strange Blood very much started with the contributors and their unique vision on, and experience with the film. They were odes to love to particular films within the subgenres of animal-attack movies and offbeat vampire movies. Evil Seeds, on the other hand, is encyclopedic in nature as it covers nearly all the titles that exist within this particular subgenre.

Vanessa Morgan, author
What is your favorite ‘evil kid’ flick and why?

I'm completely in love with The Children of Ravensback (1980). I realize it's not the most intelligent or classy evil-kid movie out there – on the contrary – but it contains all of the elements that make a movie like this fun: creepy children, lots of murder scenes, subtle humor, and a great atmosphere. At the beginning of September, I screened and introduced this film at the BUT Film Festival in Breda, the Netherlands, to people who had never even heard of The Children before, and they were all in stitches. And what a delight to see my favorite on the big screen.

Do you have a particular recollection of seeing any of these films for the first time? How did it affect you as a young writer?

The first evil children that come to mind that scared me were the Grady twins from The Shining and the brothers from Salem's Lot. I watched Children of the Corn countless times on television when I was in my teens, but I don't think it holds up that well. I remember showing Bloody Birthday to my younger siblings, who weren't into horror at all but thought the film was amazing (especially the nudity) and wanted to watch it over and over again. I was also lucky enough to see The Good Son (1993) in cinemas as well. All these films started a passion that resulted in this book.

Do you find that there are characteristics of this sub genre that are unique to the different countries that produced them?

I love this question because I think this is the more interesting aspect of a book like this one. As with other film genres, these tropes often mirror the culture in which they are produced. In India, horror movies about evil children often involve the fear of black magic, whereas Ireland loves tackling fairytales about elves and changelings. In the Philippines, the evil baby Tiyanak is part of the cultural heritage. As the country grew its religious belief systems, the Tiyanak's characteristics evolved accordingly. Once the Spanish colonized the Philippines, the inhabitants were Christianized. The population copied the Christian values that abortion and non-baptizing are sins, so the myth transformed into Tiyanaks being souls of babies who died before baptism and later evolved into vengeful spirits from aborted fetuses.

On the other hand, the appeal of movies such as The Exorcist and The Omen was so huge internationally, that their cinematic influence was felt in countries where Christianity and the Devil weren't part of the main religious belief system (such as Egypt, India, Turkey, Japan, or Hong Kong), and this resulted in unofficial remakes and copycats.

What can your readers expect from you next?

I have MANY ideas for upcoming movie reference guides, and I probably won't wait too long to start a new one because I love the process of creating a book like this and introducing readers to obscure movies. But I have other projects I need to finish first – organizing the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels, renovating my new apartment, writing the screenplay and short story that I already said yes to, and in between all that, promoting this book and cuddling my cat Romero.

Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children is now available from Amazon (click to buy). Check it out!

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Days of Gods and Games

Statue (image)
Continuing my examination of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this week’s post sees another great gargantuan of Greece— the Statue of Zeus at Olympia.

The Greek sculptor Phidias, already renown for his earlier work, the Statue of Athena Parthenon, appropriately crafted his new 40-foot statue in the Temple of Zeus utilizing cedarwood, ivory, gold and ebony.

Seated on an opulent black marble throne, the god of sky, thunder and weather held a second statue in his hand, that of Nike, goddess of victory. In his other hand, he held a staff with a perched eagle. Allegedly, the statue had to be continually covered in olive oil as a safeguard from elemental erosion(!) The Temple of Zeus itself was located in Olympia, then controlled by the city-state of Elis, where every four years, fans congregated to witness its famed athletic games.

After eight years of construction, Phidias completed the statue in 5th Century BC which attracted awestruck onlookers from across the globe and dictated Zeus’s popular image in art, poetry and culture for centuries.

In 426 AD, the temple was destroyed in an earthquake but not before being desecrated and neglected by Roman emperor Theodosius I who banned all pagan cult activity, thus sidelining the Olympic Games for a spell.

But what became of Zeus? No longer a feature of the temple by the 6th Century, the statue of Zeus (formerly) of Olympia had seen renovation and subsequent relocation to Constantinople where anything from a tsunami, earthquake or fire may have claimed it.

That which we know of the majestic Statue of Zeus comes chiefly from its depiction in ancient art and coins. The timeline of its construction might also be a mystery were it not for the discovery of Phidias’ workshop in the 1950s. Little by little, discoveries of the such help us uncover the answers to the same age-old questions— When... where... how... and why?

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Christopher Robinson

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Rebels on Wheels

Recently I watched some old Hong Kong Kung Fu flicks and biker movies (Why has no one created a mash-up genre combining the two?). The biker flicks I just viewed were as follows: The Cycle Savages; Hell’s Belles; Run, Angel, Run!(all 1969) and Chrome and Hot Leather(1971).

The biker films of the Sixties were largely exploitative action dramas made on slim budgets and drawing on ‘straight’ America’s post-war fears and anxieties regarding the marginalized and outcast. They never sought to portray these subcultures accurately but rather as caricatures of their urban nightmares.

Usually the films pitted rival gangs against each other or saw them clash with townspeople, minorities, hippies or authority figures. Often protagonist and villain were interchangeable, the symbols of the hated and the vanquished emblazoned on leather vests and German helmets. During many of the other youth market-oriented features of the era, bikers were played as clowns or even buffoons. Ultimately the biker image became inextricably linked with that of Marlon Brando’s ‘Wild One’, an edgy and prickly but misunderstood rebel.

Rebellion is a frequent cinematic theme as well as a persistent cultural one. In reality, the ‘outlaws’ in most biker gangs express defiance in their rejection of motorcycle associations as opposed to governments and laws.

Today the concept of the rebel is also increasingly subjective and image-based.

Are you a rebel in some way? Do you think it might even be pretentious to think of yourself as such?

“Get your motor runnin’.”

Friday, May 1, 2020

Incidents or Occurrences of the Unexplained

I don’t read as much as I should, but one particular topic of interest for me has always been 'Incidents or Occurrences of the Unexplained.'

Perhaps much of what is happening right now will remain unexplained.

  • What are you reading?
  • What sources do you read?
  • Have you experienced anything you can’t explain?
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