In the late-1970s, horror cinema began making what I call the Lovecraft pivot. H.P. Lovecraft was not unknown to the previous era of horror, but the difficulties of his work — technically and thematically — gave him marginal placing beside his idol Edgar Allan Poe and his protégé Robert Bloch. Only a sliver of his already small body of work was adapted — The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and “The Dunwich Horror” by Roger Corman, for instance, and “Cool Air” for an episode of Night Gallery.

This changed as more prestige directors attempted science fiction, which inevitably led to…


The 1984 film Breakin’ tells the story of Kelly Bennett (Lucinda Dickey), a privileged California teen with a passion for dance. Growing disillusioned with her more traditional background, Bennett falls in with Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers) who specialize in less formal, rawer, and more urban street dancing. The film follows the three characters as they deal with the challenges of their respective worlds while also overcoming the conflicts that arise between their racial, class, and technical backgrounds to form their own successful dance team. …


In the 1980s, the longest and coldest of cold wars, that of adults against children, entered into a new and warmer phase. Before that time, it was waged beneath a veil of complacency. The “fronts” on which the “battles” were contested had an uneven advantage. The emergence in the postwar era of “popular culture” and “adolescence” created a youth consumer market that allowed people of college age and younger some sway in the direction of public taste and character. This was no threat to the adult authority, because it was a dominion of it. Narrow mediums through which to experience…


I wrote three years ago that horror was having a bit of a moment. It had always been popular, but taken seriously only in fits and starts. That changed in the middle of the last decade when studios like Blumhouse and A24 started taking risks on ambitious and nuanced but still scary “prestige” horror films that paid off in sales, in critical acclaim, and (selectively) in awards season. Two years later I also noted that trends tend to bottom out after a certain period. …


My seeing the appearance of Modern Love on Amazon over the weekend felt a bit like the shark seeing chum or an injured surfer from the depths of the ocean. And like the shark I barreled toward the delectable feast in a gratuitous spiral motion confident in every detail of what I was about to sink my teeth into and all the satisfactions I would gain from it. But the closer I made my way to it, and even as I was consuming it, the feast had reconstituted itself as something less savory and of uncertain nutritional merit, like whale…


“You’re not punk and I’m telling everyone” is the opening line of “Boxcar,” the anti-anthem of Jawbreaker, who wrote and recorded it amidst accusations they themselves had been receiving of having sold out, or of being on the fast track to doing so, all before they were signed to DGC. It is a song that resonates even after over 20 years. Punks have what I call “Boxcar syndrome,” a tendency to stop and ask what constitutes punk. Though perhaps “declare” is a better term, as it is not so much for exploratory reasons as for political ones, made by ones…


The scene: a high school classroom; the year: 2030 to 2035-ish; the cast: bright-eyed sophomores, the hope for America’s (or some new-fangled approximation’s) future, and you standing in front of them in your capacity as their history teacher.

You are giving them a lesson on recent American history, recounting one of the numerous paradigmatic events of 1999 to about right now. You have a reputation as an impassioned and eager but by no means crude or shallow educator; you are respected by peer and student alike and you love your job. But here your passion becomes notably intense, attached as…


Since the holding of the National Conservative Conference in Washington, DC the other week, the flood of commentary related to what is now being called “national conservatism” has been unceasing, possibly rivaling the chatter over neoconservatism in its peak in the 2000s. Such an abundance of takes may, at first, invalidate further comment. A case can be made for that, to be sure, but it can also be said that the commentary confuses the matter, and requires some attempt at clarification from a less invested but somehow still knowledgeable observer. In fact, that is what I’m saying.

The critiques of…


I’ve long admired the films of David Robert Mitchell. He’s not especially prolific, taking nearly four years out between projects, but the few he’d done between 2010 and 2015 — two to be exact — are remarkable cinematic works, if not certain masterpieces. Sure, The Myth of the American Sleepover and It Follows are similar movies. They are centered on the greater Detroit metropolitan area and the young people who dwell there, adults being few and far between. The cinematography is crisp but muted, favoring dusky or nocturnal scenes. The spare and elegant (or elegantly awkward) dialogue resembles a sort…


20 years ago, I decided that I was going to be a punk. The particulars that went into this decision escape me today. I was always a confirmed and natural loner, and by eighth grade I’d mustered the personal courage to rise to a lurker. My lurking was broad at first but soon narrowed to the punk crowd who sat in the farthest corner of the cafeteria with few other people and no windows. Weirdly, I hadn’t heard a real punk album before that, not consciously anyway. The timeline of my CD purchases is a bit hazy. Somewhere in there…

Chris (R) Morgan

“What? Who cares?” –Me

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