Context Sensitive: Phantasma-gorier

It’s the Halloween episode of Context Sensitive. This week, one hour on the misunderstood Crimson Peak. Why do people expect it to be a certain type of scary, and why are they disappointed when its an altogether different sort of scary? To tackle that question, Charles takes a journey back through ghost stories like Paranormal Activity, The Others, and The Innocents, and wonders where Gothic texts like Jane Eyre and Rebecca sit in our modern consciousness.


What can you expect from this episode:
– An impassioned defense of Crimson Peak
– Really moving clips from the 2011 Jane Eyre
– Some Kate Bush
– Gossip about Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and a lady with nipples for eyes
– A really great moment from a horror movie trailer where a guy in the audience yells “OH… NO… Too Scary…”
– Lots of Haunted Mansion
– Charles doing not one but two British accents (but, notably, deciding not to try to do a Guillermo del Toro imitation)
– Lots of Guillermo del Toro sounding smart about stuff
– Vincent Price, of course
– Charles admitting he’s a fraidy cat, because he’s an honest person


In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles and James watch Jack Black in Goosebumps and revisit their not-so-scary childhood. Was it a delightful trip down memory lane? Or a nostalgic money grab? Listen in to find out!

My Week in Movies – October 29th

This week I begin my end of the year movie binge and I kick off with several thrillers of varying quality and a few book adaptations.

Breach (2007)

I watched this movie on the recommendation of Ben. It took a while to get to but it was worth the wait. Based on the takedown of Robert Hanssen played by Chris Cooper. Eric O’Neill, played by Ryan Phillipe, is assigned to investigate Hanssen for sexual deviancy. The initial investigation goes nowhere until, O’Neill’s handler, Kate Burroughs, explains that Hanssen is a traitor who has been selling secrets to the Russians for years. The lying, thrills and relationships in this movie are top notch.

Watch It: If you’re in the mood for a slow, but expertly crafted thriller.
Skip It: Don’t.

The Loft (2014)

Another thriller with a faster pace than Breach. The Loft tells the story of five married men who share a condo for discrete encounters. Led by Karl Urban’s Vincent and James Marsden’s Chris, we watch the five men deal with a dead woman in their hideaway. As the story unfolds, we flashback to the precipitating events that led to the girl’s death. Slowly, it is revealed exactly what, how, and why things transpired the way they did.

Watch It: If you’re in the mood for another thriller with some decent twists.
Skip It: It’s pretty skippable. Certainly not a top tier thriller.

Wildcard (2015)

Billed as a “crime thriller”, this was more of an action flick and poor Jason Statham vehicle. Statham plays a gambling addict who currently pays the bills by chaperoning1 rich people as they visit Las Vegas. He’s called in by a friend of his, Holly played by Dominik Garcia-Lorido, to help her get revenge against a local gangster. The movie follows Statham as he follows up on leads to locate DeMarco, played by a creepy Milo Ventimiglia.

Watch It: If you’re willing to suffer through a bad film to see some good Statham fight scenes.
Skip It: If you want something, anything, of substance.

Goosebumps (2015)

A film I caught in theaters, Goosebumps is an entry banking on timing, and boy did it work. Released in October, it’s a perfectly not-so-scary scary film catering to kids. It’s also using nostalgia for all of the now-all-grown-up 90s kids. Jack Black did well as R.L. Stine and the villain was absolutely on point. The themes were resonant. All around good film. Not so much a book adaptation but a series adaptation.

Watch It: Good humor. Fun scares. Interesting characters.
Skip It: You have an issue with puppets.

Seventh Son (2015)

A second book adaptation film, Seventh Son is based on The Spook’s Apprentice, which I haven’t read. But it doesn’t seem to matter because from what I gathered on wikipedia, it was nothing like the book. It had a few actors I like. Julianne Moore. Jeff Bridges. Alicia Vikander. But the plot was lacking anything distinguishing. All the women being evil, with one exception, didn’t help either.

Watch It: If you need to see a high-ish fantasy flick.
Skip It: If you want to save yourself from boredom and a string of tropes.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

I remember liking the original Hot Tub Time Machine while catching it on Netflix a year or two ago. But this follow-up was an unnecessary mess. The characters are the same and still haven’t grown up. And playing with the paradoxes of time travel is a little heady for this film and the ending is unsatisfying at best.

Watch It: If you absolutely must see these guys attempt to solve a murder mystery.
Skip It: If you want to retain any shred of your sanity.

The Duff (2015)

The final movie this week is the young adult comedy, The Duff. Despite Mae Whitman being ten years out of high school, she manages to pull off the age of the role pretty well. Her co-stars do a solid job opposite her and I appreciate the message of the movie, even if it’s been done so many times before. This time the magical moment of exiting her cocoon of blandess, isn’t so magical and unbelievable. The transformation is just the right amount.

Watch It: For the laughs and awkwardness of another high school rom-com.
Skip It: If you’ve seen this theme one too many times.

  1. Aka bodyguard-ing 

The Martian

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles and James return to discuss one of their favorite subjects! No, not Marvel, Space! They see Ridley Scott’s latest movie, The Martian, starring Matt Damon. And wonder aloud about the red planet and speculative fiction.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back, fellow explorers! It’s been a while since Charles and I have done much around here. Our roommate experiment was a success!1 Everyone lived. Everyone was happy. Everyone except you, our listeners and readers! We’ve got a lot going on still but we’ve re-dedicated ourselves to our pursuit of our Pop Culture City of Gold and we’re inviting you to re-join us.

Season 3 of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast

Our journey begins anew! Charles and I started this journey way back in October 2012. Three years later, we’re hoping to take it to the next act. We kick off Season 3 talking about Ridley Scott’s The Martian and it’s star-studded cast. If you’re already subscribed, we’ve taken the liberty of updating our podcast URLs for you! But if you aren’t, subscribe now! We’re going to be trying a bunch of new ideas for this season. Expect experimental formats, quicker editing and more timely episodes!

Gaming Guerrillas Podcast

It’s not easy saying goodbye, so we won’t. We’re just going to say, see you later. Ben is busy getting hitched and I’m focusing my efforts on the main show. Once everything settles down for the three of us, we’ll re-examine the Gaming Guerrillas Podcast and see what improvements we can make. In the meantime, you can still subscribe to the GG feed and catch the show as soon as it goes live.

Context Sensitive Podcast

Charles is flying solo in his new podcast, Context Sensitive. In this show, Charles will discuss an upcoming (or recently released) movie’s place in cinema. What other films and events led to and influenced this particular movie? How did it come to be that Mars films were considered poison as recently as 20122 and yet The Martian is doing pretty damn well? Questions like these will be answered in a way only Charles can. Subscribe now!

Writing’s on the Wall

Throughout our partnership, Charles and I have tried many a times to produce quality written content on our website. It works! In phases. At times Charles conjures SIX THOUSAND words on movies like Jurassic World. At times I write weekly reviews for months! And Amber‘s written about so, so many books and Ben’s provided a TEN THOUSAND word treatise on V for Vendetta. But then it peters out. For me, this is mostly a result of the fact that I write thousands of words for my tabletop role-playing games every couple weeks.3 So, we’re not promising any regular schedule for written content. But it will show up every once and a while and we are digging through the archives to make sure every article we wrote will be here somewhere. So keep checking in and reading!

A New Website

Finally, we’ve moved our virtual home.4 A website update has been in the works for months, but it’s been a toil that’s been far too draining. So we’re restarting simple and fresh. Slowly the appearance will update as we find time but we’re going to be careful to not allow it to distract us from our quest, which is to deliver awesome conversations about pop culture. One cool new feature is a main podcast feed that will collect all the episodes of every show we do into a single, simple feed. You can subscribe and receive every episode of Culture Conquistadors, Gaming Guerrillas and Context Sensitive (and any new project we come up with). You might also notice that we’ve got a media player on the website so you can now listen to the episode right here in your web browser.

So, thanks for sticking with us even when you weren’t sure we’d come back. We are back now. So stay tuned for more awesome content for the Culture Conquistadors as we get into the swing of things again. And let us know what you like!5 So that we can do more of that and keep you listening and reading as we explore pop culture for our city of gold.

  1. But to the detriment of our podcast and website. Who could have foreseen that? 
  2. To the point of stripping the word Mars from all marketing materials for a movie. 
  3. Though this year, it’s mostly because I haven’t been to the theater as much. 
  4. Well, most of our home. Over the next few days, all the old content will be re-appearing. 
  5. Or don’t like. We want to hear it all. 

The Martian

In the first episode of Context Sensitive, Charles takes a look at what led to The Martian being a bestselling novel and hit movie. The big question: “Can we finally put Mars back in movie titles again?” The answer ropes in George R.R. Martin, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gravity, xenomorphs, Prometheus, Marvin the Maritan, Europa Report, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and so much more.