In the season #15 premiere, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines The Theater of The Absurd, a philosophical and dramtic movement that flourished between the late 1920’s to the mid 1970’s and viewed the universe as an indecipherable and mysterious place – a place ripe with comic and tragic possibilities. Playwrights who challanged the conventions of modern drama include – 1 Luigi Pirandello – a quasi-illusionist who questioned the nature of identity and the relativity of truth. 2- Friedrich Durrenmatt – Whose works fall into the realm of grotesque , black comedy. 3- Samuel Beckett – Whose plays are overflowing with allusions to literature , philosophy and theology. 4- And last but not least – Jean Genet – who transformed the obscene and erotic into his own unique poetic and anarchistic vision of the universe.
A poisoned , sick and possibly dying Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines The American Horror Film of The 1930’s – this may be the last Godrock Radio program ever-
Noted film historian and lover of genre movies – Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the development of early talkie (1930-1939) horror cinema. With the codification of the American horror film , thanks to the success of Universal’s Dracula & Frankenstein (1931) , other studios decided to begin their own cycle of horror films culminating in the first sound Golden Age of horror cinema. First up its little known and forgotten gems – like Dracula’s Daughter (1936) an overlooked Gothic sequel to the Bela Lugosi classic in which a moon faced and beguiling Gloria Holder seeks love and eternal release. Next up its , Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) – whose sexuality was so explicit that many steamy scenes were edited out of many initial release prints and Murders in The Rue Morgue (1932) a creepy and perverse adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story which features Bela Lugosi as a twisted and obsessed deviant whose dream is to cross bred human beings with apes. Next up its Tod Browning’s sideshow classic Freaks (1932) a disturbing yet sympathetic entry in the disfigurement / deformity cycle that began in the 1920’s . Then its the team up of ghoulish and strange Lionel Atwill , Fay Wray and director Michael Curtiz – Dr X (1932) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) an interesting and macabre mixture of horror and chills that would become highly influential and be remade many many times. Jack also examines many other highly stylized forgotten gems , curios and obscurities that frightened not only the audience but censors as well.
Feeling that the story of the Silent European Horror film was left incomplete, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia chronicles the arrival of talking pictures or sound on film. An event that would unleash unforeseen forces that would rock the foundations of the international film industry with a period of chaos and instability. When sound horror films arrive in Europe nobody was more horrified than the film censors who cut and butchered them to pieces. Major film studios were put off by the limitation of patrons and distribution , the result being that with the exception of Britain, the horror film in Europe all but died. Jack examines the birth of the British horror film , an art form ignited by the Victorian taste for theatrical blood and melodrama and linked to a famous murder case with a supernatural ending that caught the imagination of the public and was filmed again and again. Then its the work of Boris Karloff in his native England, movies that would try and capture the look, manner and feel of his Universal films. And where goes Karloff, so goes Bela Lugosi but to lesser studios and budgets of course. Up next, the little known British fright film star , Todd Slaughter – who was the last in the line of Old School Victorian villains , Slaughter was an extraordinary cinematic presence – totally stylized in word and gesture and gleefully contemplated his evil deeds with sheer utter delight. With bigger studio support and larger budgets he could have been an international rival to Karloff and Lugosi. And last but not least , its some of the few European horror films produced during the 1930’s – including such classics as Carl Theodore Dreyer’s – moody atmospheric , disturbing and dream like Vampyr (1931) & Frank Wisbar’s – little known gem – Death & The Maiden – an enchanting and haunting story based on an ancient Nordic folk-tale.
With the Halloween specials now under his belt, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia returns to GRR’s highly acclaimed mini series , this time examining the role of the divine in the altered state of consciousness that we all experience and share-Dreaming. First up, its the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians who believed that dreams were coded messages sent by the Gods to sleeping minds and that those nocturnal images were a pathway to another dimension and another reality. Utterly fascinated with unlocking the mysteries of their dreams they established the act of dream interpretation. Then its – the ancient Hebrews and the role of dreams in the Old and New Testaments – where dream interpretation as viewed as a God given gift , and the dream expert was chosen to solve the symbolic and allegorical features of the dream. While in the New Testament , dreams illustrate divine intervention and guidance in the lives of Christ and his apostles. Next up, its ancient Greece and Rome – where dreams were believed to be phantoms that could assume different shapes at night. They visited sleeping mortals and projected the dream images into the mind’s eye. Signs and symbols that may be of divine origin. Then its the ancient Near East – where in India the Hindu/Vedics equated dreams with waking life and even believed that creation itself was the divine dream of a God. Chinese literature is overflowing with speculation about the nature of dreams and it was thought that waking and dreaming coexisted and were the same being. Next stop, the Native Americans who cherished and depended on their dreams , and used them to shape many aspects of tribal life – dreams and visions were the source function of their spirituality. Then its the Aborigines of Australia – who believe that all life is spiritually connected and that humanity originated in the Dream-Time. A different land , a different dimension and a different spiritual plane. The Dream Time is both an epoch of history and a state of being that remain accessible to those that participate in the ancient rituals. And last but not least – Jack recites The Momentous Dream journey of Mohammed. The sacred story in which the Prophet of Islam embarks on a mystical dream voyage that will take him to some of the Holiest places on Earth , a whirlwind tour of the universe , the Throne of God, Paradise and even Hell itself.
In the 1920s Weimar Republic Berlin was the cultural center of Europe and a type of golden age of cinema takes place between 1919-1930 . With many German films of the fantastic and uncanny becoming part of the world cinema cannon – Dr. Caligari , The Golem, Destiny , Nosferatu & Waxworks – etc. etc. etc – enter movie mythology and live on , recycled in parody and pastiche. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia , a noted film historian and lover of genre movies examines Expressionism , the artistic style of self conscious stylization in art design , acting and lighting with fantasy and/or nightmare visions as evidence of inner torment that would dominate bot only Europe but travel across the Atlantic to Hollywood and filled the screens of American theaters as well. Jack plays ringmaster to a cinematic parade of tyrants, madmen, somnambulists, crazed scientists and beautiful but predatory females as he chronicles the evolution of the Silent Horror film in Europe during the roaring twenties and the amazing writers , actors, technicians and film makers who brought these timeless images to life. People like – Conrad Veidt – whose acting style made him an international fright film star and whose portrayals of dark characters reached far beyond the scope of the usual villain cliches . Veidt would work with many of the best known directors of the time. F.W. Murnau – a gifted artist who as a film director had a unique sense of the supernatural and utilized an unbound , moving camera, art design and the idea that cinematic art could reveal a divine and sometimes disturbing truth. Benjamin Christensen – a danish film maker who not only used remarkable lighting but understood the entire language of film the sophisticated effects he coaxed from the shadows and chiaroscuro, and his remarkable editing seemed at times to be almost other worldly or supernatural just to name a few… Jack also takes an indepth look at forgotten gems, obscurities and important lost films- from Sweden, Italy, France and England during the time of Silent Cinemas maturity (The 1920’s).
A companion to last season’s highly acclaimed and popular mini-series on the history of The Silent Scream (1894-1919) . Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia travels back to Hollywood Land in the bygone days of the roaring twenties and the time of the silent cinema’s maturity. First up , its Lon Chaney – who became a superstar by hiding his face and distorting his body in a cinematic spectacle of suffering. Blessed with a gift for pantomime and an aura of romantic agony he searched for ever more difficult and strange roles that would drive him way beyond the normal call of acting and cinema. Then its director – Tod Browning , who would draw upon his youthful days working in the Carnival universe. He often focused on themes of sex-charged resentment and smoldering revenge melodramas that would push the grotesque to extremes achieving a perverse sexuality and dream like quality that rivaled any European filmmakers. Next up, its an in depth look at the Haunted House cycle of films, comedy chillers influenced by and adapted from Broadway plays. That used horror as a type of cinematic seasoning , while giving the opportunity for filmmakers to raise a few goosebumps and gasps from the audience. Jack examines everything from lost gems , to little known obscurities and genuine classics- oddly enough it was European immigrants who showed themselves to be the Masters of American Silent Horror cinema’s Gothic formulas and haunted house spoofs. Directors like – Paul Leni , who crafted superb expressionistic Gothic melodramas and comedic horrors and – Benjamin Christensen , who turned the haunted house chiller into a cinematic symphony of light and shadow.
In the Middle Ages all over Europe there was a type of Christian rebellion as about one third of the populace sought out alternative versions of Christianity – in a search for spiritual reform and renewal. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia chronicles this direct challenge to the very existence of the Orthrodox church itself. Heresy took generations and sometimes centuries to define – and the heretic was condemned for refusing to conform at a time when there were no independent intellectual terrain where alternative viewpoints could be brought up and metaphysical, moral and social issues had to always remain within the recognized orthrodox christian framework – or else! Jack examines the main thrusts of the Medieval heretical movement and some of the great minds involved. For example – the concept of poverty which splits the Franciscan order into two opposing factions and give birth to the highly secretive Waldensian church. The need for church reform , a movement within the orthrodox chuch itself led to disillusioned priests who become charismatic wandering preachers whose radical views sometimes sparked off bloody uprisings and whose writings and theories were the precursors to Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers. Then its the role of mysticism in the heretical movement – for example , Meister Eckhart – who formulated the Western version of spiritual detachment and the search for God within the depths of ones own soul. And the Free Spirit movement , spiritual radicals who felt the the indulgence of the senses – especially lots of sexual activity without any limitations was the pathway to the divine. And last but not least – its The Cathars – whose strong Non-Christian tendencies distinguish them from all the other major heretical groups. Quickly growing wealthy and powerful – The Cathars – were considered such a threat to the Orthrodox Church that a Holy War ensued, utterly destroying The Cathars distinctive religion and culture.
In the latest entry in the highly acclaimed mini series , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the mysterious , bizarre and outlandish religious movement – Gnosticism , which flourished along side and within Judaism and Christianity during the first to fourth centuries AD. The Gnostics sought knowledge and wisdom fro many sources and accepted insight wherever it could be found – so they absorbed diverse religious and philosophical texts. From scared Jewish literature and Christian documents, to Greco /Roman Paganism and the religions of ancient Egypt , Mesopotamia and India. Dualistic in their viewpoint (light vs. darkness) The Gnostics regarded the human body as a type of prison and the soul trapped within -longed to escape it and the evil material world and thus return to the transcendent and divine. While there was a wide variety of Gnostic sects, the ethics of these gnostic systems was the basic alienation from the world which was expressed in two extreme forms – sexual promiscuity and sex magic and a more pessimistic and repressive view, asceticism. Because of their opposition to authoritarian discipline , their liberal attitudes toward sexuality and the importance of the divine female principle (Sophia) to the enlightenment and salvation of humanity, the gnostic sects were persecuted by the Orthodox Christian church. Jack digs deeply into the surviving treasure trove of Gnostic texts , sacred stories, creation myths and spiritual narratives that were profound in the context of a religious cult in the hope of providing salvation for those that believed. Amazing literature overflowing with psychedelic imagery and parallels to the Old and New Testaments.
The world of Ancient Greece was very diverse but their rites ,rituals, cult practices and their pantheon of Gods and Goddesses had enough in common to be viewed as one religious system. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia travels back to the Aegean during the 3rd and 2nd Millennium BC and examines the origins of this Greek religious system hat developed over the course of centuries. The Minoans worshiped the Great Goddess and filled their palace sanctuaries , cave shrines and mountain peak temples with sacred stones , pillars , bull horns and representations of snakes and double axes that paid homage to the divine feminine principle. When the war like Mycenaeans became politically dominant they absorb the Minoan traditions but their divine war God , the archaic prototype for Zeus , Poseidon and Aries soon overshadows the Goddess. Jack also examines the role of The Iliad & The Odyssey in the Greek conception of deity. A divine society of supernatural beings who live more or less together on Mount Olympus and kept the universe in divine order and prevented it from falling into chaos. then Jack travels back to the Ancient Mediterranean and examines Roman religion. A religion of the state that was interwoven into Roman society. Where the proper performance of prayers, rites, rituals, ceremonies and festivals was thought to ensure Roman military success and imperialist expansion. Jack also examines Roman religion before the introduction of Greek elements. The early Romans believed in a type of Italian Shintoism , local and specialized spirit / deities without physical form. Every tree , stream , mountain or river had its own God or Goddess , vaguely defined divine , disembodied entities that had to be both respected and propriated. And last but not least , Jack examines how Roman religion changed over the course of centuries as the empire expanded and encountered new cultures , absorbing and adapting foreign deities and their cults into Roman Pantheon.