Venganza Media Gazette

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The Scariest Films Our Hosts Have Ever Seen

Do you remember which film gave you the biggest jump scare of your life?

All of us can point to at least one example of, “The scariest movie I ever saw!” but as we all know, one person’s nightmare fuel is another person’s fandom. For every viewer so freaked out by Freddy Krueger that they can’t watch another A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, there’s another happy to indulge in annual Nightmare marathons and endless replays of that Freddy’s Greatest Hits album.

But enough about the Springwood Slasher. After all, the lasting impact of a horror film is subjective, right? 

Not if you ask science. Recently, a study conducted by sought to determine the scariest movies ever made by measuring the rising heart rates of its participants. 

The “Science of Scare Project” determined 2012’s Sinister to be scariest of them all. Other films that made the Top 25 include InsidiousThe ExorcistHushHalloween, and the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street

See the Complete ‘Science of Scare Project’ List

But do those results hold up with our Now Playing Podcast hosts? Certainly, they’ve seen enough horror to be considered experts on the subject. So, we asked them.

Here are the movies that terrified, and still terrify, the hosts.

Jakob – The Thing
“Even after multiple watches, the blood test scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing is so tense I’m always on the edge of my seat. When the shapeshifter is finally revealed, it never fails to get my pulse pounding.”

Marjorie – Poltergeist
“I still don’t like TV static. Nor do I like looking under my bed. As an adult, it’s Fire In the Sky. I couldn’t even make it through the movie and had nightmares about what I did see.”

Brock – The Shining The first time I watched The Shining I recall being very uncomfortable. Psychological horror movies get me going more than slasher movies ever can. The Shining just keeps building the tension and creepiness as it pulls you in.”

Arnie – Contagion 
“Are we all picking Contagion? Or is that just me? I am hard pressed to think of a horror movie that has scared me, as in made me want to sleep with a night light on. Some gross me out, but to me that’s different than fear, it’s revolting.”  

Stuart – 2001: A Space Odyssey
“It’s not a horror movie, but 2001 elicits primal terror when the computer, HAL, clips unlucky astronaut Frank Poole’s air hose. I can’t watch that little guy float off, gasping into a silent abyss, without needing to grab an arm rest or something grounding. The worst death imaginable!”

October 23, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , | Comments Off on The Scariest Films Our Hosts Have Ever Seen

Now Playing Opens the Vault for 10th Anniversary

For years Now Playing Podcast listeners have received bonus podcasts for supporting the show during its bi-annual donation drives. These exclusive retrospective series’ have included some of the most sought after reviews – Alien, Child’s Play, Jaws, and others. When the donation drives end, those series’ have always gone back into the Now Playing “vault,” rarely to be heard again.

But we recognized that not every listener has been with Now Playing since the beginning. Maybe you first caught the show during the Marvel retrospective, and never had a chance to hear The Thing series. Maybe you became a listener during the Fast & Furious series, and have always wanted to hear The Matrix review.

So, as Now Playing Podcast enters its 10th year, we are opening the vault in a brand new way, through our Podbean Hosting Site. Now listeners who previously missed out can download every donation series in Now Playing history. And, because so many of you have been asking for an a la carte option, you can download individual shows, even our exclusive secret Easter Egg podcasts such as our 2010 San Diego Comic Con review of I Know Who Killed Me.

Another option available is the subscription option, which allows you to support Now Playing and receive all previous donation series’ plus every additional bonus show for 12 months.

How it Works

To access these bonus episodes you will need a PodBean account and a Web browser. Once you’ve made your donation for the episode you can listen on the PodBean player (available in the App Store), download it to your device, or listen on your computer.

We are in the process of adding all previous retrospective series’ to Podbean, but you can access the first series, Child’s Play via the Now Playing website.

Crowdsourcing Support

If you’re not interested in the vault series’ and just want to support the show, you can do so through our PodBean Patron page. You’ll be helping our show and still receive campaign rewards — including exclusive, bonus podcasts! These shows will not be available for purchase — they are only available to our backers, or those who get an annual subscription for all our shows.

Now Playing Podcast couldn’t have made it 10 years without listener support. Here’s to you and another 10 years!

January 4, 2017 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing Opens the Vault for 10th Anniversary

Venganza Q&A: ‘Fly’ On the Wall With the Hosts of Now Playing Podcast

Although the podcast is famous for chronicling Hollywood’s history of sequels and remakes, it’s not often the show ventures as far back as the mid-20th century.

Now Playing’s 2016 Fall Donation Drive kicked off Friday with a review of 1958’s sci-fi classic The Fly. The five-film Fly retrospective will cover the original Vincent Price starrer and its atomic age sequels, before leading into David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake and its 1988 sequel.

In a Venganza Media Gazette Q&A, hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob discuss remaking beloved science fiction and reinventing fear for 80s era audiences.

Venganza Gazette: First there was Carpenter’s The Thing, then The Fly, and later The Blob. What was it about remaking 50s sci-fi in the 80s?

Stuart: In the 50s we feared that scientists were dangerous, insensitive tinkerers who were always on the verge of bringing about the downfall of man with reckless experimentation in nuclear power and communication with aliens. I think that same fear can be found in 80s films, but we were putting more of the blame on robots and personal computers, as well as the conformity of mass-produced suburbia.

Jakob: Isn’t everything in the 80s about evil robots, or can I just not wait to revisit Chopping Mall?

Stuart: Just look at Jeff Goldblum – so lovable in The Fly, and yet behind his disarming quirkiness is a compulsion to enable technology to remap and transform the human body. He’s going to not only mutate, but also synthesize with the machine that causes his destruction.

Venganza Gazette: Machines did appear as recurring villains in the 80s.

Jakob: The 80s were all about materialism, so the biggest fear is the claustrophobic horror of all your “stuff” crashing in and turning against you.

Arnie: Mix that with jobless people feeling put-off by machines that can do their work for them, and a fear of the “other” due to tensions with the Soviet Union, it was a time to escape and have allegorical stories instead of bleak reality. Studies have shown that when things are bad, people actually go to horror movies more. They face a fear they can handle to cope with the things they can’t.

Venganza Gazette: And that drives Hollywood’s decision to remake old horror properties?

Jakob: Fears change decade to decade. I think if something must be remade, it should be done to reflect the fears and anxiety of the time.

Arnie: I also think many times there is a fandom involving the creators. They grew up watching these films and now, as adults in Hollywood, they have a chance to bring it back. Movies that spoke to creators at a young age and stuck with them were rife for reinterpretation. Though I would argue that the 80s remakes like The Fly and Thing brought radically new elements to the films that many of today’s remakes do not.

Venganza Gazette: Example?

Jakob: The originals had obvious limitations. You’re lucky if you get a decent rubber mask, and [1950s] social norms would never allow the extremes of a dismembered head sprouting legs and crawling across the screen in a film.

Stuart: [It was] a time when we were exploring the boundaries of movie effects and could really depict graphic deaths and grotesque things on the screen. There are lots of reasons to love and respect genre films from the 1950s, but very few of them get under your skin and horrify you.

Jakob: Vincent Price was a great actor, but he belongs to a different era of Hollywood. Can you imagine him investigating Jeff Goldblum’s transformation into a fly?

Stuart: The acting was too stilted, the special effects too embryonic, and the concepts often pulled back from the abyss so that audiences wouldn’t get too upset. It was an overall optimistic decade. Remakes don’t have the luxury of being original, but the best ones (like THING and FLY) can take familiar subject matter further into unsettling places.

Arnie: That could be why today’s remakes aren’t clicking as much as the 80s ones were. Now they’re just playing with CGI that, due to budget, is usually obvious and far from scary.

The Now Playing Podcast 2016 Fall Donation Series runs through December 31, 2016 and features three retrospectives: The Fly, Horror Movies of 1986, and the Re-Animator series.

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Venganza Q&A: ‘Fly’ On the Wall With the Hosts of Now Playing Podcast

Horror Master John Carpenter Teams With Venganza Media


Iconic director will pen foreword to company’s first book


Springfield, Ill. – Oct. 30, 2015 – John Carpenter, the visionary creator of the Halloween film franchise and director of cult classics The Thing and They Live, is teaming with the hosts of Venganza Media’s Now Playing Podcast, and adding his name to the company’s first publishing project, Underrated Movies We Recommend.

Carpenter will write the foreword to the fan-funded book, which features discussions and reviews of 125 undiscovered and underappreciated films selected by the hosts of Now Playing Podcast. The renowned “Master of Horror” will share his thoughts on films that fly under the radar, but slowly build a strong following of fans and become classics in their own right. Underrated is a celebration of filmmakers like Carpenter, the director, producer, screenwriter, and composer who is earning the respect of a new generation drawn to such memorable films as Escape From New York and The Fog.

Carpenter’s participation also adds another incredible chapter to the story behind Underrated and the fan-driven effort to bring the book to life in 2016. Launched as a 30-day Kickstarter project with a $40,000 goal, the book became an instant must-have for Now Playing Podcast listeners, who powered the campaign past its goal in the first four days, and went on to raise an astonishing $115,482 in pledges. Fans can pre-order the book now at the Now Playing Podcast website.

Underrated is being produced during one of the busiest years in Now Playing Podcast history. As the hosts write furiously behind the scenes, they continue to deliver extensive weekly reviews of 2015 biggest blockbuster franchises, including Star Wars and Jurassic Park. This fall, the show’s faithful supporters are also being treated to reviews of The Hunger Games franchise and the films of Quentin Tarantino.

Suggested tweet: Film legend @TheHorrorMaster to pen foreword to @NowPlayingPod #NowUnderrated book!

About Venganza Media Inc.

Venganza Media Inc. is an independent multimedia company and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and Now Playing Podcast. Since 2005 Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast

Since its launch as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playing’s highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

Media Contact: Jason R. Latham

October 30, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Horror Master John Carpenter Teams With Venganza Media

Review: Discord Graphic Novel by Paul J. Salamoff

Discord Cover

Discord may be less than the sum of its parts.

While DC reboots their entire universe to bring in new readers, and Marvel continually announces their “Next Big Thing”, it seems that superhero comic books have remained relatively stagnant for years.  Marvel will kill off a character, or have a new character inherit a hero’s mantle, but everyone knows it’s a matter of time before the status quo is returned.  DC is owned by Warner Brothers, Marvel by Disney, both large corporations with a bottom line to meet.  Superhero comics, at least from the big two publishers, have to by definition “play it safe”.

This is why it is so refreshing to see independent and alternative takes on the superhero genre that play with the tropes in a way that isn’t safe–the grandaddy of them all being Alan Moore’s Watchmen.

I couldn’t help but think of Watchmen as I read Discord, the graphic novel from writer Paul J. Salamoff (Logan’s Run: Last Day) and artist Giuseppe D’Elia (Lazarus Ledd).

Discord introduces us to a world immediately familiar to fans of superhero comics.  The first pages introduce the superheroes of Team War Hammer fighting their old enemy Sinew.  Salamoff’s writing immediately let me know that, though these are all original characters, I knew this team.  They are the Justice League of America, they are the Avengers.  In seven, action-packed pages the characters were introduced and I was comfortable in this world.  And once it is established that this is a reality that easily parallels that of the DC or Marvel universes, Salamoff shakes it up by killing all the heroes in a ship crash.

Strange aliens reconstruct the dismembered body parts into a single being.  This revived hero has the mind of Chromatic, Team War Hammer’s  second-in-command, but the body is a mish-mash of parts.  Each of Chromatic’s limbs are from a different person killed in the crash, including one of Sinew’s tendril-like arms.

Discord Back on Earth

Even in a hoodie Chromatic cannot pass for a normal human.

Upon returning to earth, Chromatic must try to come to terms with his new body parts, his new powers, and even his new half-feminine face.  Matters are complicated when Chromatic’s girlfriend, Team War Hammer leader Moiré, has trouble coping.  In addition to Chromatic’s new body, according to all medical scans he is still deceased–the flying dead.  Further, some superheroes aren’t exactly happy to see the involuntary organ donations made by deceased War Hammer members.

While the graphic novel has the exciting fight scenes that are the hallmark of superhero comics, the focus of the story is emotional and character-driven.  That is why Watchmen came to mind–I haven’t seen such a maudlin depiction of superheroes since Alan Moore’s deconstruction of their mental issues and sexual hang-ups.  This makes Discord an engaging and entertaining read.

Salamoff’s story is aided greatly by D’Elia’s visuals.  His art maintains a consistent feel throughout, but changes tones and hues based on the emotional state of our main character.  Every panel helps to sell the emotional state of Chromatic.  D’Elia is equally able to draw tender, quiet scenes as well as large, detailed battles.   From alien worlds to city streets, his art was always beautiful in service of the story.

Additionally, Chromatic’s make-shift body could easily have been done as a knock-off of Marvel villain Super-Skrull–with each limb representing a different person, a different power.  It is a real risk the story took, and it’s on D’Elia to drive that silly comparative from our minds.  He does so superbly.  Instead of Super-Skrull, the art of remade Chromatic reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing–an organic creature shifting itself in ways nature never intended.  Instead of comical, D’Elia sells it as grotesque and tragic, which is a true achievement.

Unfortunately the plot’s resolution is not as satisfying as its build-up.  Salamoff takes on an ambitious tale, but this story required more room to breathe.  The graphic novel is broken into four chapters.  The first three chapters are each the length of a comic book, and the fourth is “super-sized” with 10 extra pages.  With this little space in which to play, Salamoff introduces a few characters too many.    Major developments to Chromatic’s mental state hinge on minor characters that were not clearly set-up or introduced.  It seems like too much is taken on for a single graphic novel.    I understand and completely respect Salamoff’s desire to tell the full story, not holding back for a sequel which may never come.   But it seems like too much is taken on–some of the subplots would have been better saved for a future tale of our hero.

Discord Ship Crash

We meet Team War Hammer--and watch them burn.

I also feel the story has one villain too many.  Opening baddie Sinew becomes a part of Chromatic, but then a new threat emerges late in the book.  This new threat never felt organic to the story.  While it made sense for this new enemy to be part of the universe Salamoff has created, he seems to forget that this universe is familiar to us but we really don’t know these characters.  More, Chromatic never seemed to have any specific problems that part of his body was made up of an old enemy.  This could have been changed to make the story tighter and work in the space allotted.

But these pacing problems never detracted from the story’s heart, and that is the concept of what defines a person.  In addition to tweaking the superhero genre, the story provokes the real-world analogue of the new face-transplant surgery doctors have successfully tested, and the psychological effects on the patients who don’t recognize the face in the mirror.  These concepts are some that linger on, long after I’ve put down the graphic novel.

For anyone who, like me, was raised on a diet of comic book superheroes, I recommend Discord — a new look at the superhero genre.

Discord will be in stores Wednesday, Sept 14th.

Paul J. Salamoff will be holding signings of Discord in the Los Angeles area.  Check his website for specific dates and locations.

Order Discord now at


September 13, 2011 Posted by | Comic Books, Reviews | , , , , , | 3 Comments