Skip to main content
All Posts By

Crystal Pulido Lugo

Person in Distress Screaming

Horror in Today’s Golden Age

By UncategorizedNo Comments

There is perhaps no better way to depict creative evolution than with the history of horror films. From the gothic horror of monsters in the 1930s to the slasher movies of the 1980s and 1990s and the psychological thrillers of the 2000s, this genre is as diverse as it is vast, spanning generations of sleepovers and theater experiences. 

It’s generally agreed upon that the “golden age” of horror began in the 1970s and ended before the 1990s. With iconic movies such as “The Shining,” “Poltergeist” and “Halloween,” there is no denying the cultural impact of this era. Modern horror was birthed amongst disco and arcade games and still stands to be vital in pop culture. 

Today, the genre is more than big-budget studios and shock-factors. It combines art and dread, psychological manipulation and laughter, supernatural beings and human monsters. It reaches the dark corners of your brain and the back of your throat, all while proving to be some of the best movies of our time. Whether it’s “Us,” “Midsommar,” “The Lighthouse,” “Hereditary” or “A Quiet Place,” the horror movies of these past two years are some of the most intense, gorgeous and important within the horror genre. The concept of horror may have been constructed over a hundred years ago, but it continues to rise as we now enter yet another golden age of horror.

To understand why horror is “golden” today, we must take a look at one of the most critically-acclaimed horror movies of the past few years. In Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” he not only breaks the barriers between genres, but uses satire and social commentary as a means to enhance horror. It’s not written just to scare you, but to make you think beyond what lies on the surface. This combination of well-developed characters, a unique storyline, horror and drama is a perfect example of the horror of today that goes beyond the usual flat and stereotypical plot that has dominated the horror scene since the 90s. So much so that in 2017, it became the sixth horror film in history to ever get nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Since then, the genre has continued to produce quality films full of depth, the most recent of which is Ari Aster’s “Midsommar.”Set in rural Sweden, “Midsommar” delves into the bizarre rituals associated with the Midsommar festival in a small village. It’s gory and dark, but it contains dozens of hidden images and messages similar to that of “The Shining.” Because of the constant online analysis of it all, this movie has been one of the most talked about of the past year.

In “The Lighthouse,” Robert Eggers directed the spiral of two men into insanity as they’re stuck on an island as lighthouse keepers. Its stunning black-and-white cinematography earned it an Oscar nomination, but its daunting view into the human psyche has cemented it into the forefront of horror today. 

These films, and many more of the past few years, have assembled an entirely new horror genre- one that doesn’t rely on just jumpscares. It doesn’t need to; the mind tricks it plays on you are enough to circle your brain for days after, the terror creeping in when you least expect it. There are no ghosts or demons to frighten you, only the horrifying reality of the monsters that lie within us.


Local Music Profile: Gina Rose Waller 

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Gina Rose Waller’s music has the ability to get your head bopping in that rare, infectious way. Amidst the dim lights of her stages, her soothing, emotion-filled voice and her rocking guitar solos resonate with an audience in a profound way that keeps them coming back. And keep coming back, they do — Waller has released three EPs so far, and her performances at the Holland Project continue to be supported, which motivates her to keep performing and making music. 

Waller has always held a deep appreciation of music; she’s been surrounded by it her entire life. “My brother is an excellent guitar player and inspired me to learn how to play when I was eight years old,” she said.

The distinctive twang of her voice and her guitar that accompanies her songs, all country/folk, adds an element of outsider or “outlaw” to her music, Waller said. “I’ve also been told that by listening to my lyrics in my songs, my music crosses into the ‘gothic Americana’ genre.” 

The guitar is incredibly important to her work — it contributes to the ominous darkness of her lyrics, yet the minor to major shifts add an element of optimism amongst the darkness, as seen in her song “Valley of Ashes.”

“My music is all about intimacy and accepting the … more troubling aspects of life … I want to inspire others to express their hardships and grief through a development of healthy and open emotional response,” said Waller.

When asked what inspires her music and her creativity, Waller stated that supporting the local music and art scene in Reno is what motivates her most. “When I see that a friend of mine releases a new record or my friend has an art exhibit up at a gallery, it inspires me to … continue that creative snowball.” 

Reno, however, has a noticeable lack of female musicians and female-fronted bands that gain exposure. They tend to be kicked to the curb in favor of male musicians, or seen as a “novelty” and “taken less seriously,” as Waller stated. Waller thinks that this doesn’t reflect an actual lack of women in Reno’s music scene, but rather, it reflects a lack of spaces where women can feel confident in playing shows and have their music and voice heard. 

“We are missing out on women sharing their experiences of growing up in a western town where things are historically male-dominated,” Waller says. “I think the first step in getting women to play more music is to take away the stigma surrounding them and give validation of their talents outside of their gender. Teaching girls from a young age these confidence-building methods can create momentum for future generations.”

She practices what she preaches; during the summer, Waller teaches guitar for Girls Rock Reno, a week-long rock camp where girls from the ages of 9 to 17 can learn an instrument of their choosing, form a band with their fellow musicians, and write and perform a song for their friends and family. Girls Rock Reno is an important initiative, Waller believes, since it creates a non-judgmental environment where girls can learn from actual female musicians in Reno that they don’t need to be afraid to express themselves through their music and art. 

The experience also helps the girls remember that they don’t have to change for the sake of generating sales or ‘making it.’ When I asked Waller what she’d want to change about the music industry, she stated that she would change how labels control a musician’s image and output. 

“Most times when an artist signs to a record label, they give up their rights to owning their music entirely and pretty much become puppets for money-hungry producers … women, especially, feel trapped by their producers and are told what to wear, what to say, and how to think on the daily.” Waller stated.

Nevertheless, Gina Rose Waller remains genuine and true to her music. You can catch her at Girls Rock Reno, (which runs from June 15th to June 19th this year and for which applications are currently open), or you can see her performances live on social media every Tuesday — 7 pm on her Instagram, @faunsandferns_, and at 8 p.m. on her Facebook!

Brick Wall Painted Red

The New and Improved West Side Story

By UncategorizedNo Comments

One of the most anticipated musicals of 2020 is the new “West Side Story,” which will be directed by Steven Spielberg. Loosely based off of Romeo and Juliet, “West Side Story” follows the tragic love story of Tony and Maria, whose ties to rival gangs inhibit them from being together.  The gangs’ main difference is that one gang, the Jets, are white, and the other gang, the Sharks, are Puerto Rican.

In 2018, Ansel Elgort was cast as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler was cast as Maria. When casting for Maria, as well as for the rest of the Sharks, Spielberg made it clear he was only looking for Latinx people to fill these roles.

The original “West Side Story” is arguably a cult classic. This movie was filmed in 1961 and quickly became a fan favorite. However, if it was released today, it might not receive the same praise. Unlike Spielberg’s explicit desire to cast Latinx actors in the roles that require them, the original directors, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, did not do the same.  

A lot has changed in the 59 years since the movie was released. Things that were popularly accepted back then are more commonly questioned today. In the case of the original movie, casting primarily white actors to play Latinx roles was acceptable. In fact, not only were white actors cast in Latinx roles, but they were required to have their skin painted darker to “better” portray a Puerto Rican character. Today, this sort of thing is extremely frowned upon, and we recognize that it is not acceptable in any way. 

More than ever, it is apparent that different cultures should be celebrated for their unique individualities, as well as what brings us together as a larger community. Appropriation of culture and ignorance of the beauty each one holds is a disservice to everyone. Taking an example from Spielberg, we would do well to remember the importance of representing each individual culture with the utmost respect. 

The change in not only our ideals but in our understanding and respect for different cultures is significant. The importance of Spielberg specifically casting Latinx actors in the roles that require them is something that should not be celebrated, but acknowledged. We should not praise him for doing what should have been done in the original movie. 

Instead, we can simply acknowledge the change and how important it is that we continue to do so. It is important to register these types of things in our history, acknowledge them for what they are, and make the changes that need to be made in ourselves today. 

“West Side Story” is set to be released on December 18, 2020. 

CALM by 5SOS Album Review

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Their previous album, “YoungBlood,” gave their listeners a more pop-infused sound blended with the rock sound they always possess. 5 Seconds of Summer continue to evolve their sound with each record, and they continue to surprise their fans with new sounds and storytelling. 

The band first teased the “CALM” with its first lead single “Easier,” released in May 2019. The song itself was just a quick snippet of what the rest of the album had to offer. The album starts off with “Red Desert”—a bold introduction that leaves you wanting more. “Red Desert” gives off a bluesy soul, Spanish-flavored guitar work and catchy choruses that go beyond anything the band has ever done — but the surprises don’t end there.

“Shout Out to the Old Me” is an homage to their younger selves. Straying away from blues and soul, I give 5 Seconds of Summer a pat on the back for stepping out of their comfort zones and giving “Old Me” an R&B vibe. In this single, the guys confess that each mistake is a learning experience and that it’s important to look back and reflect on your journey. This R&B mix is a song for the band and those who have followed their journey. 

The album exceeds people’s expectations with 39 minutes of 12 electric pop-infused songs that highlight the band’s exhilarating personalities. Although the album is mainly pop-infused, there are some 80s synth-pop grooves in there, such as “Wildflower” and “Teeth.” “Wildflower” is probably the brightest song off of the album. Providing strong drum beats, psychedelic wooshes and a heavy synth. This song emits a different sound for the band, but it’s beautiful. It’s a summery song that makes you feel euphoric. “Wildflower” lets you pretend you’re not trapped inside your house amidst a global crisis, but instead running freely through a meadow on a nice, hot summer day. 

As “CALM” comes to a close end, the album takes a soft redirection, showcasing a slower and more intimate approach. The last six songs claim a more colorful, warming and self-reflective tone. “Thin White Lies” poses a raw and emotional feeling with its languid pacing and sultry vocals. Luke Hemmings sings honestly “I don’t think I like me anymore” and pleads for “someone [to] tell me who I was before.” It’s an open act of vulnerability. 

The album ends with the saccharine, yet minimalistic song, “High.” “High” is an intriguing and contemplative track that tells the story of a man who is letting go and learning to move on. It’s a perfect summary of the album and a tribute to 5 Seconds of Summer’s ability to change, explore and mature not only with their sound, but in their personal lives, too. 

5 Seconds of Summer are without a doubt true rockstars. In the new album, the band shows off an impressive range to their audience. “CALM” is a refreshing evolution beyond their previous work in maturity and eclecticism. They incorporate a perfect mixture of genre fluidity that brings to life an album that never conforms and is always spontaneous. Showing off their pop sensibilities, new arrangements, incredible harmonies and the exploitation of their own hearts, 5 Seconds of Summer continue to flourish and remain unstoppable.  

Go stream 5 Seconds of Summer’s newest album “CALM.” Now available on all music streaming platforms.

Dreaming of Selena: Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s Legacy 25 Years Later

By UncategorizedNo Comments
When Selena is mentioned, red lips and bangs come to mind, along with the butt — yes, the butt. And don’t deny it — you’ve grabbed the scissors and cut your own bangs at some point, hoping to look good as the “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” singer, and you’ve performed the “washing machine” in front of your mirror. No? Okay, maybe that was just me. 
Growing up in a Mexican-American household, Selena was taught at an early age. The Texas native was often played during our Saturday morning cleaning — Latinx folks, you know exactly what I mean — or experienced through her biopic “Selena” (1997). 
Personally, I fell in love with Selena at an early age because she was the first celebrity I saw myself in due to our matching backgrounds, languages and darker features; I believe that’s why Selena resonates with so many. She was a successful Mexican-American woman who broke barriers, teaching many young Latinx children to do the same. 
But in learning about her life, listening to her iconic tunes like “Como La Flor” and “Baila Esta Cumbia” and quoting “Anything for Selenas,” came learning about her untimely death on March 31, 1995; Selena was murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was only 23-years-old. 
Since her passing, Selena has been remembered in many ways throughout the years, including in “Selena,” a biographical drama on Selena’s life, starring up-and-comer Jennifer Lopez as Selena. The film, which was released on March 21, 1997, shared Selena’s life story, starting from her father’s beginning as a struggling musician in the 60s to their struggles in the 70s and 80s, and her accomplishments and ultimate death in the 90s. 
The Quintanilla family joined the film’s team as producers, giving advice on the film’s direction for accuracy and authenticity. The family mentored and shared numerous mementos and rare footage of the singer with Lopez, helping her understand Selena and her mannerisms and personality. Lopez even slept in Selena’s bed and moved in with Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s sister, while preparing for her role. 
Not only did “Selena” share Selena’s story with millions, but it also shined a light on Latinx culture and struggles within the community; some themes tackled in “Selena” were the male-dominated Tejano music industry, generational differences between parents and their children and having to be “twice as perfect” by adhering and assimilating to two different cultures. 
“We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting,” said Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla Jr. in “Selena.”
Years later in 2016 and 2017, Selena earned two major pop culture recognitions. After over 100,000 people signed a petition for Madame Tussauds to create a sculpture of the singer, Madame Tussauds Hollywood unveiled their official Selena wax sculpture. The sculpture replicated the bedazzled and vibrant purple look she wore while recording “Selena Live” at the Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum in 1993, which earned her a Grammy in 1994 for Best Mexican-American Album. 
On November 3, 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Los Angeles also named the day “Selena Day.” Selena’s old bandmates, family and husband joined in on the celebration and revealed her star, which can be found in front of Capitol Records. Selena often visited the building after signing with EMI Latin.
In 2015, Selena superfan Patty Rodriguez created a petition, asking for MAC Cosmetics to release a Selena for MAC makeup collection — and MAC listened. On October 6, 2016, MAC delivered the Selena collection, which was packaged in purple —her favorite color. The collection featured lipsticks, eyeshadows, a bronzer and blush duo, lip gloss, eyeliner, mascara and brush — all named after songs or Selena-related titles. It sold out instantly.  
On April 21, 2020, MAC Cosmetics released another Selena makeup collection due to the first one’s success and in celebration of her legacy 25 years later. The new makeup line, titled “Selena La Reina,” or “Selena the Queen,” was inspired by the singer and her iconic rhinestone bustier. The makeup collection sold out instantly, too. 
Selena La Reina includes 14 makeup products and a makeup bag, packaged in radiant holographic packaging. The collection includes products like lipsticks, an eyeshadow palette, lip glosses and more, ranging in different colors and metallic and matte shades. Like the first collection, Selena La Reina’s products are named after songs or Selena-related titles such as: “The Washing Machine,” “Big Bertha,” “Me Siento Muy Excited,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Hey, Dad! Pizza!” 
The most recent and anticipated Selena-related project is “Selena: The Series,” a biographical drama series based on Selena’s life is set to be released on Netflix’s streaming service sometime in 2020. However, there’s little information on the upcoming two-parter (first 10 episodes will be released this year). 
“As Mexican-American Tejano singer Selena comes of age and realizes her dreams, she and her family make tough choices to hold on to love and music,” stated the Netflix’s synopsis.
On November 12, 2019, @selenanetflix released a teaser, showing Christian Serratos (“Walking Dead” and “Twilight”) as Selena in her iconic, purple jumpsuit, red lips and bangs, singing “Como La Flor.” Young Selena and her parents are also briefly shown.
Written by Moisés Zamora and directed by Hiromi Kamata, the series will star Madison Taylor Baez as young Selena, Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) as Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and Jesse Posey as Chris Pérez. 
As I reach my own 23rd birthday, I often think of Selena and her legacy, wondering what would have been if she were still here with us; through her fashion sense — catch me sporting a red lip and red nails almost always— and her admirable work ethic and love for education, Selena has always served as an inspiration, and as a reminder that the “impossible is always possible.”
Whatever your Selena memory may be, or even if you have little knowledge or are just learning about her today, Selena has lived on in many hearts, reigning today as a Latinx cultural staple and inspiring those during and after her time. Celebrate Selena’s legacy by streaming her tunes, wearing a red lip and dancing to a little cumbia today.