CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
CHICAGO – One of Chicago’s most popular pop culture gatherings is the Wizard World Comic Con, and the 2016 edition is building anticipation for the weekend of August 18th through the 21st. Besides the fan costumes, vendor booths and comic book legends, Wizard World has appearances from TV and movie celebrities, highlighted by Michael J. Fox (“Back to the Future”), David Duchovny (“The X-Files”) and Princess Leia herself, the one and only Carrie Fisher.
CHICAGO – After making incredibly influential, low-budget horror films like “The Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes,” Wes Craven was essentially at a career crossroads. Keep staying off the radar or join contemporaries like John Carpenter in a quest for more mainstream success. Thus, “Swamp Thing” was born. While it is seen as a cult B-movie now, this was Craven’s attempt at showing he could do something more crowd-pleasing than his dark fare.
CHICAGO – Scream Factory, the horror branch of the great Shout Factory, continues to impress with an ambitious slate of catalog films making their HD debut in the coming months, many of which were announced at Comic-Con last month (“Nightbreed”!). They also seem to be upping their release rate, unleashing two horror flicks last week, John Carpenter’s beloved “The Fog” and the truly horrendous “The Incredible Melting Man,” a cultural curiosity but a crap film.
CHICAGO – Our younger readers may find it hard to believe that John Carpenter was once one of the most inspiring filmmakers in the world. He’s still one of the truly influential voices of the ’70s and ’80s despite the tragedy that has been his career for the last couple decades. Save for the occasional flare-up (“Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns,” “In the Mouth of Madness”), Carpenter’s work has barely resembled his prime. For proof, check out the still-amazing and timeless “Escape From New York,” now available on Blu-ray for the first time.