In the late eighties and early nineties, while other kids were playing softball, Emily was sporting a Pink Ladies jacket, perfecting Michelle Pfeiffer’s “Cool Rider” choreography from Grease 2, and wearing out the VHS player. Comfort Sequels: The Psychology of Movie Sequels from the ‘80s and ‘90s tells stories from Emily's life, through the movie sequels of their childhood. When a film touches us, makes us deep-belly laugh, and has that feel-good spirit, we want more of it. We want the continuing story. We want the same story even, just recycled and offered in a slightly new way. What felt so good about the original can come back twofold and be the same, but different. Comfort Sequels examines the psychology behind what makes certain movie sequels memorable, safe, predictable, and comforting. These sequels are more of the universe we love—exploring something new while maintaining that which is familiar.
Comfort Sequels is a sneaky memoir, celebrating the campiness and nostalgia that these films evoke. Every chapter is a love letter to a specific movie sequel. As a licensed psychotherapist and psychology professor, Emily interprets characters, story arcs, and major themes in a unique voice from a unique perspective while sharing fun and random behind-the-scenes facts about each film.
Featuring interviews with Muppeteer Steve Whitmire (creator of Rizzo the Rat from The Great Muppet Caper), Christine Ebersole (My Girl 2), Stuart Pankin (Mannequin 2: On the Move), Peter Mosen (Ghostbusters II), Christopher McDonald and Leif Green (Grease 2), and the “Cool Rider” himself, Maxwell Caulfield (Michael, also from Grease 2).
Comfort Sequels covers the following twelve comfort sequels; Grease 2, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, My Girl 2, Karate Kid: Part II, The Great Muppet Caper, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze, Ghostbusters II, Batman Returns, Dream a Little Dream 2, Mannequin 2: On the Move, The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, and The Evening Star.
Comfort Sequels is a sneaky memoir, celebrating the campiness and nostalgia that these films evoke. Every chapter is a love letter to a specific movie sequel. As a licensed psychotherapist and psychology professor, Em interprets characters, story arcs, and major themes in a unique voice from a unique perspective while sharing fun and random behind-the-scenes facts about each film. This book will be released September 2024.
Emily (Em) Marinelli (they/them) is a genderqueer- and queer femme-identified Virgo writer and artist. Originally from Oklahoma, they now split time between California and Vermont. They are a psychotherapist and graduate professor in counseling psychology, working with trauma, LGBTQ-plus communities, and addiction and recovery.
They are a writer on the 25YL, Film Obsessive, and TV Obsessive websites, and their essay on the The Elephant Man will be included in the upcoming David Lynch Encyclopedia (coming in 2024 by Tucker DS Press).
Em was selected to participate in the 2023 Yale Writers’ Workshop to work on Comfort Sequels: The Psychology of Movie Sequels from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
They host the Twin Peaks Tattoo Podcast (based on their favorite cult TV show, Twin Peaks) and have been featured on Creamed Corn and the Universe and Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcasts. Their article “The Hermit as Harold Smith” was published in 2022 in Issue 17 of the Blue Rose Magazine. They even teach an elective on Twin Peaks and depth psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Basically, they know more about Twin Peaks than any person should ever know.
When not immersed in Twin Peaks, they enjoy comfort sequel films from the eighties and nineties, watching sketch comedy, reading queer YA, playing with their rescue dog, singing with their sweetheart, and tap dancing. They are doing the choreo to “Cool Rider” right at this moment. Follow them online at @emsmarinelli.