PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

One more Halloween Treat

Just in case you’re looking for just one last way to celebrate Halloween, tonight at 10 PM, The Quicksilver Radio Theater is presenting a one-hour adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Modern Prometheus. You can listen to this award-winning audio play by tuning in to WHAV.Net, the streaming superstation.

The play runs at 10 PM, and then has an encore presentation at 1 AM, for the benefit of you late-night partygoers. This retelling of the Frankenstein story has been very well-received, with rave reviews from Leonard Maltin and Don Glut (author of “The Frankenstein Legend”), among others. The show is produced and adapted by Craig Wichman, one of my buddies from the Captain Action Mailing list, which I wrote about here. Quicksilver Radio Theater is in the midst of their tenth year of presenting quality audio productions in New York, on Radio, and on the web.

If you’ve got kids, you might be able to start a new Halloween tradition by having them listen to some great old-time radio drama right before they go to bed.

Halloween Music Blogging: Day Five

We wrap up our week of creepy Halloween music (or do we?) today with a piece of music that I wrote on October 10th. This isn’t creepy in and of itself, but it explains the title TenTen.

To me it evokes a foreboding barren landscape, suddenly overrun by giant spiders, crazily spinning webs. Other people might think it just sounds like noise.

I was trying to write something light and happy, but it came out sounding like this.

Since Monday is really Halloween, don’t be surprised if there’s a bonus Halloween music post, along with a nice apocalyptic photo depicting the time the Devil blew up South Charleston.

For even more Halloween fun, go here to carve your own Jack O’Lantern. Get into the holiday spirit, folks! It’s not like I’ve got a week’s worth of music that sounds all Christmas-y.

Halloween Music Blogging: Day Four

Remember those old, old Zombie movies? I’m talking about the ones before George Romero made Zombies seem really scary. In those movies, when the hero or heroine is trudging through the jungle, a bat flies by, and then they hear the bad mojo juju zombie voodoo drums.

That’s sort of the vibe you get from Native Drums.

Crash Gordon To The Rescue

On Friday, Nov. 4, award-winning West Virginia film maker Bill Richardson premieres his latest work at the Capitol Theater on Summers Street in Charleston. The film spoof, Crash Gordon, is a reworking of an old Flash Gordon movie serial, with a new soundtrack done in the style of Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily and The Firesign Theater’s J-Men Forever.

I”m psyched to see this, since I’m a huge fan of this type of humor. A great deal of work has gone into this production. With a voice cast of established actors and a new score performed by the Moscow International Symphony and the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra, Crash Gordon promises to be one high-class example of low brow humor.

The plot follows space pioneers Crash Gordon, Dull Ardent and Dr. Jagov as they try to stop the evil Emperor Bing from unleashing a plague of killer flatulence on the Earth. To succeed they must overcome silly robots, odd aliens, the minions of Emperor Bing and their own ineptitude. After the premiere, there will be a question and answer session with the film maker.

I’ll be posting more about Crash Gordon as the premiere approaches.

Halloween Music Blogging: Day Three

Today’s bit of music evokes a sweeping pan across a normal landscape. Everything looks normal on the surface, but something doesn’t seem right. A lone raven watches from a perch over a family crypt. Today’s music is The Raven Watches.

Actually, it was originally called “August 22 orchestral sketch,” but “The Raven Watches” sounds more Haloweeny and stuff.

Cool Cartoon News

Jerry Beck, over at his CARTOON BREW blog (one of the best sources for animation news on the ‘net) reports that this January, Turner Classic Movies will be showing nine movies by the master of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki. The titles include Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind(seen at right), Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, and Whisper of the Heart.

While more recent than most of TCM’s usual fare, these films all fall under the umbrella of “classic.” This is great news for those of us who are too cheap to buy the DVDs of these great works of modern animation. America first took notice of Miyazaki when a US release of My Neighbor Tortoro became a cult hit. In 2003 Spirited Away won the Academy Award for best animated feature. I’ve been a fan since I first found an English translation of the Nausicaa manga 20 years ago. Miyazaki is a genius who deserves much more exposure in this country.

Jerry Beck is also the author of many indispensable reference books about animation, which you can read about via links at Cartoon Brew. Along with his co-Brewmaster, Amid Amidi, Jerry Beck makes Cartoon Brew a daily must-read for animation fans everywhere.

Halloween Music Blogging: Day Two

I’ve always found Leprechauns to be more creepy than charming. The Halloween music for today sounded pretty creepy and mechanical to me, so I called it “Robot Leprechauns With LEGOs.” Since it’s more electronic than orchestral, instead of sounding like the score for a bad horror movie, it sounds like the score for a bad John Carpenter horror movie.

Halloween Music Blogging: Day One

Today, we kick off our week of really scary music with the appropriately-titled OoohScary. This little musical sketch was created when I first started playing around with orchestral arrangments with my Midi program. Imagine it in the background of the title sequence to a bad horror movie from the 1950s.

All week long, I’ll be presenting some of my little musical compositions, most of which sound like bad monster movie soundtrack music. So, I figured I could get away with subjecting my readers to them during the week leading up to Halloween.

Odds and Ends

Lots of updates, corrections and brief snide comments today, so let’s go:

Kanawha Players Briefs and Shorts “Twisted Halloween” program last night at the Charleston Ballet was loads of fun. The short, punchy plays were a real treat, and there were added Halloween fun and games. Great performances by all involved. Who knew Frankenstein could bust a move? I am officially intrigued by the Briefs and Shorts format, and expect to attend more in the future. If you’re anywhere near the Theater in the Community in Hurricane tonight (Friday)at 8 p.m., you ought to check out this short burst of Halloween fun.

Speaking of Halloween fun…next week right here at PopCult we’ll be bringing you NEW MUSIC EVERY DAY! Don’t get too excited. It’s all music that I wrote. See, since the vast majority of the music I write sounds like background music for a bad monster movie, I thought I’d embrace my inner rut, and pretend that I make my music sound that way on purpose. So each day next week PopCult will feature a different “Halloween Music Blog” that will present some of my brief snippets of eerie-sounding midi noodling. It’s up to you to decide if it’s a treat, or a trick.

Another highlight of the KP show last night was that I got to see my fellow Gazz blogger Charly “Jupiter” Hamilton for the first time since the Playhouse days about fifteen years ago. I’ve been enjoying his and Amy’s LocalArt blog, and it’s always cool to reconnect with an old friend from the Charleston Playhouse. When you get two or more Gazzbloggers together, it’s almost like the Algonquin Round Table…….or maybe the Algonquin Card Table.

Last Week, in my post about watching my brother make animated home movies, I had two mistakes (which my brother Frank was quick to point out). First, Super 8 film is actually shot at 18 frames per second, not 24 (and I knew that). Second, I had remembered the prices for film and processing from the wrong era. Back when Frank was making his films, the cost of film and processing was only around five dollars for three minutes. I had flashed back to my college days, when it shot up past twenty dollars. Now it’s more than fifty bucks, just for the processing. Video killed the film star.

Word has come that November 7th is the day that WHCP will debut their local newscast, with anchor Tom McGee. All eyes will be trained on them that night, to see if they produce a credible new entrant in the local TV news glut, or if it’s a train wreck. A train wreck would be more entertaining, but I have a feeling that the new management is going to try hard to give us a good show. With any luck, WHCP will go back and apply some more duct tape to their transmitter. After a few weeks of broadcasting a decent signal, lately they’ve fallen back into their old ways of intermittently losing the signal on a regular basis. After the debut, I’ll be blogging my reaction here.

A long time ago, Charleston’s mayor portrayed Lil’ Abner onstage at the Civic Center Little Theater. Apparently, that training has come in handy, as he’s been acting like the Mayor of Dogpatch all week long. Maybe he just doesn’t want to have to double the city’s user fee when all the lawsuit dust is settled. Somehow, I don’t think this is what Al Capp had in mind when he came up with the name,”Stupifyin’ Jones.”

Wallowing In Shorts

Thursday Night I’ll be heading out to catch my Animated Discussions co-conspirator, Melanie Larch, in a performance at the 4th annual “Briefs and Shorts” Program put on by Kanawha Players. Thursday Night’s performance will be at the Charleston Ballet at 822 Virginia Street, but they’re also presenting the three ten-minute plays Friday Evening at the Museum in the Community in Hurricane. Both performances start at 8 PM.

This is pretty interesting idea. The plays are new works by relatively unknown authors, and each play runs about ten minutes. Even if they turn out to be dreadful, at least you know they’ll be over soon! On the flipside, a really good play might end just as you get drawn into it, but heck, they can always be fleshed out to a longer form later. It’s a cool format. You get to see three plays and still make it home before 10 PM.

The batch of plays in this upcoming program are themed as Twisted Halloween, each one involving murder, mayhem and a little madness that shows man’s inhumanity to man. Happy stuff indeed—well, Halloween is quickly approaching. I’ve always had a taste for the macabre, so this evening looks to be very entertaining.

The plays are Rave Review by Bill Wine directed by Dave Miller; The Bed Time Story written, directed and performed by John Halstead; and Fear directed by Melody Ison. Melanie is in Rave Review, portraying a disgruntled actress hell-bent on revenge after a series of bad reviews. The role is quite a stretch for her. Brian Hatcher, who has an alter-ego in IWA East Coast, is in Fear.

KP is encouraging people to come in costume, which tends to annoy the heck out of me, but if it sells tickets, I guess it’s tolerable. I just hope I don’t get stuck behind somebody wearing a witch hat.