PREVIOUS MONSTER MOVIE SALON EVENTS

CREATURE COMFORTS & SUBLIME MYSTERIES

our premiere event returning in spring 2018

CreatureComforts

What can we learn from The Invisible Man on the subject of our inhibitions? What can Carrie tell us about the tyranny of harassment? What can the District 9 alien experience teach us about prejudice?  What lessons related to human somatic experience can be gleaned from the movement of zombies, werewolves and daikaiju?

Venture beyond the hero’s journey to the wisdom in the monster’s journey! 

They are known throughout the world: the self-exiled Phantom of the Opera, who haunts the tunnels beneath Paris; the Tokyo destroying Godzilla; and the quintessentially American, dream haunting, wisecracking Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. These and the other monsters of cinema are unforgettable characters that have much to teach us about identity, grandiosity, difference, solitude, shame, family dysfunction, and other aspects of being human.

Through this multi-dimensional exploration you will:

  • Learn a unique epistemology of monsters.
  • Explore the various ways monster movies have been interpreted and used in psychology and cultural studies.
  • Enjoy film clips from across genres: horror, comedies, dramas, musicals, and animated films, in which monsters appear.  
  • Write; using dynamic writing exercises, explore the roles these cinematic creatures have played in our private and public worlds.
  • Play with art and experiential exercises that deepen the meaning of these modern myths.
  • Engage in group discussions with other monster movie fans, share your observations, reflections and personal associations.

What to Expect & Bring:

This is a designed experience that will lead you on personal and cultural explorations of movie monsters.

Wear loose comfortable clothing - there will be activities that invite movement.  

You may want to bring a journal or notebook to record your reflections in, though loose leaf paper will be available. 

As part of this creative exploration, you will be encouraged to make stuff. Art supplies will be available but if you have favorite art supplies of your own, feel free to bring them.

There will be a one hour meal break, meal not included (though light snacks will be offered during the workshop.)

COME AND STRETCH YOUR APPRECIATION AND CONNECTION WITH THESE MODELS OF THE IMAGINATION!

"In his essay on the uncanny, ‘Das Unheimliche’, Freud said that the uncanny is the only feeling which is more powerfully experienced in art than in life. If the [horror] genre required any justification, I should think this alone would serve as its credentials." - Stanley Kubrick, discussing The Shining

"The tale of the irrational is the sanest way I know of expressing the world in which I live. These tales have served me as instruments of both metaphor and morality; they continue to offer the best window I know on the question of how we perceive things and the question of how we do or do not behave on the basis of our perceptions." - Stephen King, Four Past Midnight
"A lot of life is dealing with your curse, dealing with the cards you were given that aren't so nice. Does it make you into a monster, or can you temper it in some way, or accept it and go in some other direction?" - Wes Craven, director A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream

About the Facilitator:  Doug Ronning, MA, RDT-BCT, is a screenwriter (HBO’s Tales from the Crypt), a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#MFC 51086), and a lifelong fan of creature features. He is currently writing a book about the life lessons found in monster movies.  To hear more about the book in-progress and the inspirations for the salon, listen to Episode 20 of the Geek Therapy Podcast. Read an interview about Monster Movie Salon at SF Weekly. To read some of Doug's writings on monster archetypes check out Casting Shadows: Playing in the Realm of Monsters and Tales of Monsters in Drama Therapy.

Monster Movie Salon is an event series that celebrates iconic movie monsters and the wonder and wisdom in their stories.  


monster movie salon summer series

Four Events Exploring the Human Dimensions of Monster Archetypes

“It may well be that the mass-media dream of horror can sometimes become a nationwide analyst’s couch.” - Stephen King

The monsters of cinema are unforgettable characters that have much to teach us about identity, grandiosity, difference, solitude, shame, family dysfunction, and other aspects of being human.

These highly interactive educational workshops include communal film viewing, engaging dialogue, personal writing, art making, and dramatic play.


Carrie, 1976, United Artists

Carrie, 1976, United Artists

Deranged Dads, Maniacal Moms, & Unholy Offspring: Family as Monster

Debuted Saturday, May 9, 2015, 1-4pm

“If Mr. Vincent Price were to be co-starred with Miss Bette Davis in a story by Mr. Edgar Allan Poe directed by Mr. Roger Corman, it could not fully express the pent-up violence and depravity of a single day in the life of the average family.” - Quentin Crisp

Most of us have some issue with our family, but we likely don’t have to deal with a psychic child (CarrieVillage of the Damned), gargantuan undead mother (Dead Alive), bloodthirsty sibling (Sisters, Basket Case), or homicidal father who takes advice from ghosts (The Shining). Starting in the 1950's, cinematic monsters went from being an outside force that threatens the family, to being contained therein. Parents, siblings, children and entire family systems have been depicted as monsters and are amongst the most popular horror movie themes. In this workshop we explore the shadow themes and archetypes of the modern family and how they relate to our own.


Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975, 20th Century Fox

Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975, 20th Century Fox

Sapphic Vamps, Dangerous Dandies, & Transexual Transylvanians: Queer identities as Monster

Debuted Saturday, June 13, 2015, 1-4pm

“The classical monster is the transgression of natural limits, of classifications.” - Michel Foucault

For years, many of the most famous silver screen depictions of GLBTQ characters were of the monstrous variety. Some, like those in Rocky Horror Picture Show were celebrated. Others, like those in Cruising, Silence of the Lambs, and Basic Instinct were met with protests. While these on-screen depictions were originally denounced by queer communities, some of the most celebrated genre filmmakers have been queer identified, including James Whale (Frankenstein), Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys), Don Mancini (Child’s Play), Clive Barker (Hellraiser) and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix). From camp classics, to homophobic and transphobic exploitation, to creatures created by queer identified filmmakers, we’ll take on the queer monsters of cinema. We'll explore their characterization and impact on the culture and on each of us.


They Live, 1988, Universal

They Live, 1988, Universal

Sinister States, Vile Ventures, & Cut-throat Consortiums: politics & corporations as Monster

Debuted Saturday, July 11, 2015, 1-4pm

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” - Victor Hugo

Political powers and corporations share a legacy of greed, oppression, racism and environmental degradation. This history has helped cast them as the ultimate threat in postmodern monster movies. The McCarthy hearings inspired Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the paranoia of the early 60’s gave us The Manchurian Candidate, yuppie greed manifested in They Live, corporate profiteering birthed the Ripley/Alien hybrid, and military ambition was responsible for The Mist. As late night comedian John Stewart joked, “If corporations are people... they are sociopaths.” And we’ve got the movies to prove it! From red state to blue state, from corporate personhood to subliminal seduction, we'll examine our shadowy beliefs surrounding society's power structures.


Phantom of the Opera, 2004, Warner Bros.

Phantom of the Opera, 2004, Warner Bros.

Perilous love, Toxic Desire, & Twisted Attachment: Romance, Mating, & Attraction as Monster

Debuted Saturday, August 8, 2015, 1-4pm

“O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” - William Shakespeare

Obsession, burning desire, and the scorn of betrayal have been favorite themes of Hollywood storytellers since the dawn of cinema. These themes permeate Phantom of the Opera, which was both an early silent film and a 21st century musical. But who could have guessed that zombie love stories would be a thing? Warm Bodies (cute zombie guy falls for cute human girl), Life After Beth (cute zombie girl is cared for by cute human guy), and Otto: Or Up With Dead People (cute gay zombie comes to terms with his sexuality despite being undead), prove that romance doesn’t die even when the body does! From a feline femme fatale (Cat People), to a bunny boiling scorned lover (Fatal Attraction), to cross species mating (Under the Skin, Species, King Kong, Twilight), we’ll dive into the dark underbelly of attraction and the cold heart of treachery.

About the Facilitator:  Doug Ronning, MA, RDT-BCT, is a screenwriter (HBO’s Tales from the Crypt), a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#MFC 51086), and a lifelong fan of creature features. He is currently writing a book about the life lessons found in monster movies.  To hear more about the book in-progress and the inspirations for the salon, listen to Episode 20 of the Geek Therapy Podcast. Read an interview about Monster Movie Salon at SF Weekly. To read some of Doug's writings on monster archetypes check out Casting Shadows: Playing in the Realm of Monsters and Tales of Monsters in Drama Therapy.