Category Archives: Steampunk and Civil War

Events related to Steampunk and the Civil War Era

Stephen Manley on gothic horror film “Ghost Hunters” and beyond

Stephen Manley - Photo by Ruco used with permission
Stephen Manley – Photo by Ruco used with permission
Stephen Manley has been in the entertainment business for over 40 years in movies and on television.  His credits include classic shows as “All in the Family“, “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Love Boat” and movies such as playing the young Spock in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” when he was 17 years old.  When Mr. Manley started following our writer’s @weird_review twitter account, he checked in with Mr. Manley and requested an interview.
John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for following me on twitter and for agreeing to do an interview Stephen!
Stephen Manley (SM): My Pleasure, thank you for having me.
(JNC):  Over the years you have accumulated a pretty impressive set of credits, being in some of my favorite shows.  What led up to your becoming an actor?
(SM):My Grandfather, Stephen E. Soldi, got his start in the silent era. His first job was as a Roman soldier in D.W. Griffith’s film “Intolerance.” He stayed active as an actor and stunt man until 1966. He lived with my parents and I after his wife passed and since I was an only child I spent most of my time with him. Much like the relationship between the little boy and the projectionist in “Cinema Paradiso.”  He taught me how to read with film scripts, showed me the enchantment of theatrical makeup, I would study all of his still pictures from the sets he worked on. When I obtained my SAG card (with his help) and was fortunate to be taken by a wonderful agent, Dorothy Day Otis, I had a grounding of the life I was headed into along with a wonderful work ethic that he instilled in me. He unfortunately passed in November of 1974 while I was escaping the crash of “The Hindenburg” at Universal Studios on that huge feature film. However i carry his spirit with me on every audition and job that I book.
 (JNC): I watched the trailer to your new movie, “Ghosthunters” – and it looks great.  Mind telling us a bit about it as a sneak preview?
 (SM): “Ghosthunters” is a wonderful true Gothic horror film written and directed by the talented Pearry Teo. I play Dr. Henry Tanner, whom along with his colleagues Neil, played by David O’Donnell, Jessica, played by Liz Fenning and Neil’s girlfriend Amy, played by Francesca Santoro, attempt to truly capture some agonized spirits that inhabit a beautifully shambled tudor/ gingerbread house. Actresses , Anna Harr , Crystal Webb and Phyllis Spielmann are also there to help us. Everyone gave standout performances.
 (JNC): From the trailer it looks like an excellent choice casting you in it.  Other than that, why would you recommend readers drop what they are doing and watch this movie?
 (SM): Thank you. Though it is produced thru The Asylum, “Ghosthunters” looks to be the company’s first true gothic horror film . The movie is played straight, no camp, no farce, no tongue in cheek. The material Pearry gave us read like a wonderful play. Very character driven and all the actors and actresses brought tremendous depth to their roles. I think your readers will find the film a welcome change. Aside from the performances, the house location itself presented a wonderful stage to work from. A Gothic, Tudor gingerbread built circa 1903-5 located in the historic West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. The ambience reminded me of a throwback to the British Hammer films of the 1960’s-70’s but with some Steampunk infused elements that are unique to Pearry’s design and style. There are also some genuinely frightening moments, set in the context created, they should chill people.
"Ghosthunters" July 5th on Vimeo and Amazon
“Ghosthunters” July 5th on Vimeo and Amazon
 (JNC): The trailer shows some pretty creepy looking sets and it really looked like the kind of movie that those who were weak of bladder might want to wear Depend® undergarments.  Was it all Hollywood magic or did you have any weird experiences on the set.
 (SM): There were rooms in the house that nobody in the cast and crew wanted to go in. One was a windowless, pitch black Octagonal study in a remote corner on the lower level of the house that was accessed by a small set of stairs that led down to it . It reminded me of a tomb. I chose this room as my “rehearsal/prep” room when I needed to “go to that place” and “get in character” on my own. Our lovely production assistant Shelby was walking past it when she heard “voices and whispers” emanating from that room. She stopped and terror stricken she crouched to peer into the darkness. As I slowly emerged from the darkness I saw her go white with fear, recover with a “…whoa….oh god..” and head to the production office completely bugged out. So much for method acting. However my 9 year old daughter Morgana visited the house after the shoot and told me she saw a small boy in a vintage little league uniform who smiled and waved hi to her…!!
 (JNC): What else do you have coming up?
 (SM): Following Ghosthunters later in the summer or early fall Rogue Warrior, Robot Fighter starring Tracey Birdsall and directed by Neil Johnson is released. I also play a tormented doctor in this film, but this is a science fiction spectacle. Lasers blasting, dystopian future, great fun and Neil and Tracey are wonderful people, looking forward to RWRF. Also in the works is filmmaker Kris Krainock’sThe Idiot” loosely based on it’s namesake.  I play Joel Wolcott who is a devout optimistic “Panglossian” who is thrust into a corupt set of circumstances……hard to play as I am a lot more hardened than poor Joel but a wonderful opportunity to play against character. I also have a part in writer/actor London Boyd’s “Dealer”, directed by Adam Zielinski, which just made it’s debut at the Las Vegas Film Festival.
 (JNC): Do you have any closing comments?
 (SM): Thank you for the opportunity to speak out. I hope your readers will enjoy these films. Ghosthunters , released on Amazon and Vimeo on July 5th, I believe will be sure to please. Shelby is still recovering…! Please keep up to date with me on my sites:
Stephen Manley on IMDB
Stephen Manley’s Personal Website
Stephen Manley on Facebook
(JNC): Thanks again for getting with me Stephen!
(SM): Your welcome John, keep in touch my friend.
(JNC): I will!

Fantasy fun for a weird and wonderful weekend in Michigan

A friendly maiden offers her hair to climb
A friendly maiden offers her hair to climb

Michigan has a lot to offer residents and visitors to step outside of their normal routine and escape into some fantasy fun. This weekend you can step back in time and enter two realms of fantasy at The Olde World Village in Augusta, Michigan (13215 M-96, Augusta, MI, just north of I-94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek) and the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival in Vassar, Michigan (west of I-75 at 7464 Frankenmuth Rd.)

Story time with the Brothers Grimm at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival
Story time with the Brothers Grimm at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival

The Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival started last weekend and will continue on Saturdays and Sundays through June 26, 2016 with music, fun food, and fairytail fun. This weekend’s theme is “Pillage the Village” with Vikings and Pirates. In addition to their regular crew of pirates, Vikings, and scalawags, special guests include The Crew of the Pirate Ship Crysta, the Dread Pirate Roberts, The World of Swimming Mermaid School and Andromina The Mermaid.

At the Olde World Village they are having their Steam Dream Expo, Michigan’s longest running Steampunk Convention, this weekend. For those who are unaware, Steampunk is the science fiction genre of the 1800’s, the era of steam engines, dirigibles, clockwork contraptions, with dapperly dressed, dashing gents and gorgeous gals in corsets and other Victorian era finery.

The Olde World Village is decked out for the steampunk crowd which includes an invasion from Lansing’s Capitol Steam, Performances by Eli August and the Abandoned buildings, Bell, Book and Canto, and many others. DJ Vourteque will slinging the steamy tunes when he isn’t doing his duties as MC. If you enjoy things a bit more on the steamy side, make sure you get the VIP pass and hit the more adult orient and after dark events that will go through 10 p.m. and beyond. For a few free samples, check out some past performances from the Olde World Village.

After this weekend the Olde World Village takes a couple weeks off to retool and then returns on July 9th for the BlackRock Medieval Fest and other events through the December so you may want save their event schedule.

Next weekend, in addition to week three of the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival, an old favorite is being resurrected in Grand Rapids, Michigan as JAFAX 2.0 (Japanese Animation, Film, and Art Expo) at the Amway Grand and DeVos Place Conference Center. Anime and Cosplay fans will be hitting downtown Grand Rapids and enjoying the riverfront ambiance.

For those of a more historical bent, check out Michigan’s Civil War Musters where the Living History reenactors will don more traditional Civil War era wardrobe, roll in the canons, powder up the rifles, mount their steeds and maybe even cut loose later at the Emerald Pheasant. Hastings’ Charlton Park hosts their muster over the weekend of July 16-17. If you have never been to Charlton Park, you are in for a treat as they moved historic buildings to the park instead of tearing them down and it is a beautiful piece of history. Add the canons, costumes and live action history and you will be blown away! Down in Jackson the Jackson Civil War Muster happens on the weekend of August 20-21 and you can expect more guns, canons, horses and soldiers.

Find National Art, Music, Tourism, Celebrity, Steampunk and Geek Culture Examiner John N Collins on social media and let him know you read his article! Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

An urgent appeal from Aurelio Voltaire

It is rare when a man speaks well of his ex-wife and even more rare when he will reach out on her behalf to assist her.  Today the message of a remarkable fellow, singer, song writer, artist, author, Aurelio Voltaire, popped up on Facebook with such a request:

“Can I have your attention for a moment for something ACTUALLY really important that will change lives in a VERY real way???

My ex-wife and very dear friend, Jayme is selling the wedding dress she wore at our wedding. She’s been to India several times in the last couple of years and was affected very deeply by the phenomenon of violent attacks against women there. Many of these women have no education, no vocation and presumably are waiting for the day when they will meet theright man for whom they can be a devoted, loving wife and mother to their children. The problem is, when they are then sexually attacked by no fault of their own, no man will ever marry them. They are left futureless. Jayme, desperate to find a way to help, decided that she’d round up supplies and teach these girls to cut hair (Jayme is a licensed cosmetologist). That way, they’d have a means to support themselves and a future, much brighter than begging in the streets. Absolutely 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the dress are going to making this endeavor a reality. And incidentally… the dress is GORGEOUS!!!! Won’t you please have a look and if it’s not something you’d be interested in, will you please take a moment to pass it along to someone who might enjoy owning this amazing dress… At the same time, the future owner will truly be making a difference in the lives of some young women who simply do not deserve what has happened to them.

Thank you! There are much better photos on the Ebay page!!! Here’s the link

Later he posted another link for those of use who are not interested in buying a dress.  So if you are not interested in buying the beautiful wedding dress that was worn by Voltaire’s ex-wife but want to donate, check out her Gofundme campaign!

For more about National Geek Culture Examiner and creator of the Join The Parade card game, John N. Collins, find him on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook.

Mathew Bailey reviews The League of S.T.E.A.M.

The League of Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management better known as The League of S.T.E.A.M is a steampunk paranormal pest control service or better know as the “Steampunk Ghostbusters” based in sunny, Southern California. They are a performance art troupe who regularly attend conventions throughout the U.S. promoting their successful, YouTube web series.

The League of Steam - ©2015 Curious Josh Photography
The League of Steam – ©2015 Curious Josh Photography

The League’s original concept grew from Robin Blackburn’s desire for a one of a kind, glowing, ghost costume for the 2008 Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball in Hollywood, California.  Robin’s husband Nicholas, a costume and prop maker, was more interested in steampunk and he decided to play off her idea.  He made a “steampunk Ghostbuster” to match her. With the help and collaboration of friends like Scott & Gail Folsom, James Lavrakas and Aimee Chaouch their outfits were a great success.

So what do you get when you take a group of prop makers, clothing designers, and people with way too much imagination and an affinity for steampunk? That would be the League of S.T.E.A.M. Their wacky misadventures on their web series chronicle their shenanigans with ghostly monkeys, dastardly curses, mighty leviathans, beautiful valkeries, and even a captivating musical for their final episode in the third season which will be airing in December 2015.

The group is fantastic and amazing to meet and watch. There videos are very well done and are amazing quality. They even won the Best Costume Design and Best Makeup/Special Effects categories In 2013 for IAWTV. But to give a glimpse of how top -notch they are all you have to do is look at a collaboration they did with the band known as Panic! at the Disco and their music video ” The Ballad of Mona Lisa”

The League had a large part in the music video from the full ensemble being there as well as a good number of the props used in the videos including the working Net Gun. They have also had a plethora of stars and guest appearances on other youtube channels. The second season includes guest stars like Mythbusters’ Grant Imahara and the great Doug Jones!

While they produce a great, professional quality show, there is one caveat. The breaks between episodes are too sporadic, leaving fans hanging and waiting for the next spurt of shows. It really is that good that my only criticism is that I just can’t get it fast enough.

Watch the The League of S.T.E.A.M. and next time you are at a convention where they are featured, make sure to stop by their booth!  They usually will have a good chunk of their working props that you can hold for a photo while getting backstories on the items. To get up to date information on the League make sure to check out their Facebook page and the League of S.T.E.A.M. website.