“Look It Up, Check It Out”: REX 84 and the History of an American Conspiracy

On July 5, 1987, the day after Independence Day, a year and two days after President Reagan’s centennial rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and at the height of the Iran-Contra hearings, a monumental story appeared in the Miami Herald. Penned by investigative reporter Alfonso Chardy, the piece claimed to expose the workings of a “secret government” in place during the first six-and-a-half years of the Reagan Presidency…

Pork Chops and Apple Sauce: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection

By Kirk Demarais

The world of The Brady Bunch can be defined by a conspicuous style. After all, the setting is an architect father’s passion project, accoutered with what Carol Brady once described as Danish Modern furniture. The family’s fashion arc went from Ozzie and Harriet in season one to post-’60s extremes in season three. Yet the Brady’s choice of household artwork seems oddly uninspired…

Vanishing Point: How the Light Grid Defined 1980s Futurism

By Richard McKenna

Of all the visual shorthand for a particular type of outmoded futurism, one of the most immediately recognizable—like the chrome lettering with which it is often paired—must be the light grid. Usually depicted as a network of glowing straight lines receding in perspective against a black background, occasionally with the outlines of mountains or the blush of dawn visible on the horizon…

Death Spirals: A History of the Hypnotic Horror Film

By Brother Bill

Anguish (1986) is an obscure and overlooked horror film from Spanish director Bigas Luna, a name perhaps better known for weird and erotic art-house dramas. Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist and Poltergeist II) stars as the overbearing mother of adult son John (Michael Lerner, Barton Fink) who still lives at home and under her thumb. Mother has a psychic connection with her slavish son and can communicate with him over long distances, a power she will use to direct him as her instrument of revenge…