The Gooey 80’s – Transforming Bodies, Affect, and the Physicality of Practical Effects

June 14, 2022 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

June 14, 21, 28, 2022
Saturdays | 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. | 3 Sessions

Online via Zoom
Instructor: Donal Mosher


Please note: Issues of sexuality, race, and some violent imagery are part of the class.

Centered on the heyday of practical special effects in 1980’s horror and science fiction, this 3 week online seminar will examine the history of bodily transformation from the earliest days of cinema through contemporary films and visual arts. Through comparative viewings, short readings, and weekly discussions we will examine the concepts of the cinematic body;  representation of disease, bodily dissolution, and reparation; and the viewer relationship to on-screen physicality.s Discussion sessions will take place once a week. The third and final session will contain a special guest presentation by Nelson Lowry who has worked as head production designer for Danny Boyle, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, as well as recent Portland based Laika films.

The 1980’s are considered the golden era of gore, goo, and cinematic bodies in transformation. Censorship was looser than it had been in decades; physical special effects technologies were advancing rapidly; and both low budget and massive genre spectacles were in high demand. At the same time the AIDS crisis was raging, fears of nuclear war pervaded culture, and the world was rushing into the digital age. The bodily images from the era not only reflect its particular contradictions and fears, they also carry within them a history of representation and cultural conceptions of the body that go back to beginning of cinema. We may have left latex skin and rubber organs behind but in these times, when the vulnerability and strength of the body are the primary global issues, there is a greater need than ever to examine the ways we have shape and are shaped by images of the transforming body.

Donal Mosher is a filmmaker, writer, and musician. He is the co-director with Mike Palmieri of the award-winning documentaries October Country and The Gospel of Eureka. Their live cinema work NIGHT WIND REMEMBERS premiered at the Museum of The Moving Image’s First Look Festival in 2019. His written work has been published in the LAMBDA award-winning Portland Queer anthology, Talk House, and the U.K based Failed States Journal. Most recently he is the creator and co-director with Mike Palmieri of Spectral Transmissions, an ongoing audio broadcast and multi-media exhibit made in partnership with the Co:Laboratory at the Northwest Film Center. Spectral Transmissions Onstage had its world premiere at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2021.

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The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for lectures. All restrooms have accessible stalls but no power doors. There are single-stall all-gender bathrooms available. Please ask staff for directions.

We will do our best to accommodate your needs when you arrive, however, we need 2-3 weeks advance notice for some specific requests. Please email requests to, or call 503-226-2811.