Back by popular demand! The Men from Mobius, last seen discussing genre films at By John Charles, have moved their discussion over here to Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot. Joining me in a wide-ranging discussion involving DEMONWARP, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, our collections of movie posters, Pam Grier, and the ultimate clash of sci-fi nerds—STAR TREK vs STAR WARS—are my Mobius Home Video Forum colleagues Mark Tinta, William Wilson, and John Charles.
MGM: I want to start our latest roundtable with a question I've always wanted to ask, but have rarely had the opportunity to. And that has to do with how your friends and family perceive your tastes in film. What do they think of your choice to watch a Nick Millard or Larry Buchanan movie instead of renting AVATAR again, and how do you explain your passion to someone whose film tastes extend no further than what's on the eighteen screens down the street?
WSW: I'm like a serial killer, and I keep all that bad movie viewing hidden from the real world. Seriously, I think most of my friends get it because they are movie buffs as well. I've only had one person accuse me of liking something "just because it isn't mainstream" (or the opposite "hating it because it’s popular") in all my years. My family is probably used to it since I grew up a movie-hound. As for the folks whose film tastes only extend to what is playing at the multiplex, I sum it up easily by saying I'm on a mission from God to find the worst film ever made, and I'm still looking.
JC: I've basically given up trying to explain why I like what I do when it comes to movies. My family and local friends will never get it, so I don't force it on them. I think they just accept it as one of my eccentricities. As far as others go, once I learn more about what unusual films they have liked in the past, then I will make some recommendations and say why, based on what I have seen, they might dig these other movies as well.
JC: No, not those particular ones. I had friends back in my high school and university days who were game for anything. Still have a friend from junior high that I see a few times a year who will watch whatever I throw at him as long as a) he's drunk and b) there is a high percentage of naked women in it. Even so, I would never inflict Andy Milligan or Larry Buchanan on anyone whose sensibilities are in any way normal.
WSW: Ha! Well, I wouldn't go that far with most of my friends. If I had to screen them, I'm sure I could make a valid case as to why it is entertaining, but I just don't think it is fair to them. I mean, it is like someone grabbing me and saying, "Hey, watch this GLEE marathon."
I know this will sound sad, but Hulk Hogan once gave a great quote regarding professional wrestling fandom. He said something like, "Those that get it, need no explanation. Those that don't get it could never get it with all the explanation in the world." I think that applies to my cult movie watching. And, yes, I seriously quoted the Hulkster.
MT: At this point, I basically don't explain it. In fact, starting my blog was probably the most open I've ever been about it with my friends and family. The Mobius gang and most cult movie message board folks all speak that language, so I've never felt "weird" in that context. I learned at a young age that I liked weird cult movies, as well as a lot of mainstream box-office hits (not so much with the hits anymore, just because they generally aren't as good as they used to be), and it didn't take long for me to figure out that most people weren't going for it. So I didn't keep it under wraps (I mean, we're not talking bestiality porn or anything), but I didn't exactly publicize it either. One of my co-workers recently said, "Mark writes about a bunch of movies nobody's heard of." I'm used to that. And as far as my blog goes, I'm not writing it for them. I'm not really writing it for anybody. I just enjoy writing about film.
The last "big" group outing I went to for a movie was the second PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Went out with a bunch of co-workers, and it was a great evening. Had dinner, went to the movie. And I was the only one who hated the movie. But I kept my mouth shut, because everybody else loved it and I didn't want to be an asshole. And it's not like I thought the night was a waste, or that I silently frowned upon them for liking it because my tastes were so "weird" or that I was some highbrow movie guy, because I'm not. I thought the first POTC was alright, and had no reservations about seeing the second one. But it was just terrible! I don't think less of people whose interests only extend to what's at the multiplex. Everyone has their interests, hobbies, obsessions, etc. Movies are more important to me than they are to most of my friends and acquaintances. Maybe they get to the theater two or three times a year. I don't judge.
Like most people, I've had different groups of friends at different points in my life, and while they're all good friends, there's some friends for whom I wouldn't suggest "Hey, let's watch PIECES," or "Hey, let's watch YOR," but others I would, and they've loved it. I've found that people who like MST3K are generally receptive to an Al Adamson or a Larry Buchanan flick, but those are almost examples of movies that are too bad to even enjoy, largely because none of us are as funny as the MST3K guys.
But I can't really see a circumstance where I'd say "Hey, how about a little EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE?" to any of my friends. I've introduced some friends to Fulci's golden era recently (ZOMBIE to THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, give or take a couple) and it went over well. So it really depends on the people.
MGM: I've discovered that my friends actually get a big kick out of some of these movies once they're exposed to them. For about ten years, I've held regular Trashy Movie Nights at my house. We eat, drink, and sit down to a double feature. Now, there is an art to programming these nights that I think I'm pretty good at. I would never, for instance, foist Jess Franco or Andy Milligan or Al Adamson on this crowd. But STUNT ROCK was a huge hit. THE STABILIZER, STARCRASH, ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. The first one I ever did was ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA. My friends were highly skeptical when they arrived, but became hooked on these Cannon films' mixture of violence and oddball charm.
WSW: Agreed. Really lousy directors like Franco and Adamson are solitary ventures for me, as if I feel some weird need to punish myself. The funny thing is I will write up a truly terrible movie and someone will say, "You make it sound great. I totally want to see it now." And my reply is always, "Oh no, you don't want to actually see it."
JC: Back in the '80s, after much study, some friends and I determined that the best movies to watch stoned were THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2, THE BEACH GIRLS and DEATHSTALKER. I haven't had a joint in years, so I don't know if that is still true.
WSW: Would you believe that everything I've watched has been while I've been sober?
MGM: Me too. I'm a teetotaler, but I can affirm that DEATHSTALKER and THE BEACH GIRLS are extreme crowdpleasers. One of my friends even bought a BEACH GIRLS one-sheet for his wall!
I’m curious about your film collections. How many films do you own, and how and where do you store them? Also, do you still own a VCR?
MT: I don't have a number. I've got several 200-capacity shelving units in my living room, alphabetized by title. I don't lump directors or actors or brands together. Just a straight alpha by title, and if it's a 2-3 film set (like the Corman/Shout Factory releases), I go by the first title on the spine. If it's a director box set, I go by last name. If it's a theme box (Anchor Bay's GIALLO COLLECTION or Blue Underground's BLIND DEAD coffin packaging), I go by the first word in the collection's title (G or B in that case). Some of those titles are box sets, and a good number are $3 Big Lots acquisitions. I've probably got 100 Blu-rays at this point. I have a VCR, but it's not even plugged in right now, and it's with an old TV in my bedroom that I never watch. It's there if I need it, but I haven't needed it.
MGM: Sounds a bit like me. I don't know how many DVDs I own, but I know about how many films I own on DVD: 4169. I keep Excel spreadsheets of my DVD and VHS collections. I'd say I have at least 2000 DVDs, Blu-rays, and DVD-Rs, and they're spread all over the house. I have some of them on shelves in my living room, some stacked on a DVD rack in the corner, about thirty file boxes of DVD-Rs stored in different rooms, three plastic tubs of discs I may never watch again (but haven't gotten rid of), and three medium cardboard boxes of VHS tapes. I also organize alphabetically. I have a VCR unplugged and in storage, in case I ever need it, and I have an old Panasonic DVD recorder with VHS capability and an internal hard drive that I use to burn programs from my DirecTV HD DVR. I'd say I still have over 100 tapes. Used to be a helluva lot more before I got that DVD recorder and started saving the tapes to DVD-R.
WSW: At last count, I had just less than 2000. I'm sure it is more than that now. About half of those are VHS and I keep them stored in boxes (which makes it a pain to get them out). The rest are DVDs or DVD-Rs. I keep the real DVDs in boxes as well and the DVD-Rs on spindles. I still have two working VCRs (one is in a DVD/VCR combo).
MGM: I think I'm the only one here who owns a house. It's difficult for me to find space in this three-bedroom house, so how do you apartment dwellers manage to keep from looking like a crazed hoarder?
MT: Well, it's a tight fit, but I keep the shelves cleaned and organized. I still have room in the living room for three chairs (I don't have a couch, believe it or not), a coffee table, and end table, a large bookcase, a smaller bookcase, and a 40-inch TV with accompanying glass stand. If I had a wife or roommate, it would probably be too cramped for comfort (and, more to the point, if I had a wife, I wouldn't have all this shit in the living room, and that goes as well for the Venezuelan one-sheet for—all same-sized lettering—1990 LOS GUERREROS DEL BRONX CON VIC MORROW), but for one person, I have no space issues at all...at least in the living room. I've got CDs on shelves in the bedroom and into the hallway by the bathroom. That's a little more cramped than I'd prefer things to be, but I live with it.
JC: I don't honestly know how many movies I have. I'd estimate in the neighborhood of 5000. I'm in a two-bedroom apartment, and space is at a premium, but I was able to make things much easier when I bit the bullet a few years back and disposed of almost all VHS tapes and most DVD cases, putting the discs in paper sleeves in cabinets or in storage cases. I have two unplugged VCRs that will likely never be used again, as I no longer hunt for tapes and, frankly, am glad to see that format dead and buried.
If I could hijack this for a minute—Mark's mention of his BRONX WARRIORS poster intrigued me. What posters do you currently have up? In my living room, I have HK theatrical posters for THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR, HARD BOILED, THE HEROIC TRIO, and EXECUTIONERS. In my bedroom/office, there is COFFY and SUGAR HILL, the HK poster for THE FIVE VENOMS (aka THE 5 DEADLY VENOMS) and the Japanese poster for the Taiwanese 3-D kung fu film DYNASTY.
MGM: Ha! I was going to ask you guys about memorabilia anyway, whether you were collectors or not. I don't collect as much as I used to when I was younger. A lot of the toys and so forth I used to have are boxed up. I do pick up posters here and there, but only inexpensively. If I can find a cool one-sheet for under $10, particularly if it's for an obscure film, I might pick it up. At least half of the posters I own I bought for just $1.
I rotate posters a couple of times a year, but right now, on display in the living room, I have framed one-sheets of FRIDAY FOSTER (which Pam Grier autographed for me at Chicago Comic Con last summer), a Sabu B-picture called JAGUAR (autographed by Mike Connors!), and THE RETURN OF MR. MOTO. I have STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, and SILENT RAGE in the hallway, BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY in the guest bedroom, a half-sheet for THE WITCHMAKER in the dining room, and a mini-poster for NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, autographed by Heather Langenkamp. I have a few lobby cards and autographed photos hanging too (Linda Blair and Richard Anderson are in the bathroom!).
Amazingly, a couple of years ago I bought a bunch of old, obscure one-sheets on eBay for a buck apiece. Most of them were autographed--two by Mike Connors, THE SECRET INVASION by Edd Byrnes and William Campbell, a couple of others. I have no idea how I got them for $1. I had SLAVERS autographed by Cameron Mitchell, but I gifted it to our friend Paul Talbot, who wrote the book MONDO MANDINGO.
MT: I'm not really big on memorabilia, though I used to be as a teenager. I've got five framed one-sheets in the living room: the Venezuelan BRONX WARRIORS; a "Coming This Summer" pre-release THE SHINING; and the U.S. one-sheets for DEEP RED, SUSPIRIA, and Lenzi's ALMOST HUMAN (the Joseph Brenner one that makes it look like a horror movie). I've also got a smaller frame for the ZOMBI 2 foldout replica that came in Shriek Show's DVD packaging.
I also have a framed photo by my front door of Enzo G. Castellari and Franco Nero on the set of either HIGH CRIME or STREET LAW, which Enzo sent me years ago when I got his e-mail address from a UK writer and sent him some questions for an interview. We never did get around to doing the interview (this was years before his DVD renaissance in the US), but Enzo did e-mail me to say, "My wife and I are having dinner with Franco Nero this weekend. Would you like me to have Franco sign a shot of the two of us?" or something to that effect. Would I like that?! About ten days later, I got a flat, oversized, sturdy envelope from Rome, and there it was, signed by Nero and Enzo. So yeah, that's in a frame and prominently displayed. Because it's awesome. So, even though Enzo never found the time to do the interview, he's a total class act nevertheless.
MGM: "Eh. No, don't worry about it, Enzo, that's cool..."
I have a few autographs. Honestly, I'm not real big on autographs, and if I met a celebrity out on the street, I would never ask for an autograph. I might introduce myself and say hello, but I wouldn't get an autograph. I have interviewed a couple of filmmakers, but I thought it would be uncool to ask someone I was interviewing for an autograph, so I didn't.
The autographs I have mainly came from stars I met at conventions or were procured by someone else. For instance, I have autographed autobiographies of Jewel Shepard, Don Knotts, and Deacon Jones, but a friend gifted them to me. He also met Danny Trejo at the SIX DAYS SEVEN NIGHTS premiere and had him autograph a program for me. Actually, I guess I have a lot of autographs around here, come to think of it.
JC: I'm not a paper guy. Always been more interested in the movies themselves, though I have a few posters that I've collected over the years. Like Marty, I don't believe in bothering celebrities, though I certainly appreciate the Brigitte Lin autograph a friend got for me. Also got H.G. Lewis to sign my ancient Beta pre-record of BLOOD FEAST. That was so long ago (1991), convention guests had not even started charging for autographs.
WSW: I'm not too big on memorabilia. I currently have one framed poster, which is a Thai poster for George Romero's MARTIN. I have maybe about five other posters folded up in my closet. Perhaps my biggest prize possessions are an original prop cup from THE STUFF signed by Larry Cohen and the novelization of MARTIN signed by George Romero. Only other autographs I've gotten in my life are from Tim Thomerson, William Lustig, and John Inman (really!).
MGM: Let's talk about some specific films. Give me a movie that you love that everyone else hates and another movie that you despise, but is beloved by everyone else. And then the rest of us will tell you why you're wrong. Go!
MT: I hate ADAPTATION and everyone else loves it. You could also put every Wes Anderson movie except THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS in that category. I don't know if "everyone" hates it, but enough people do that I don't understand the dislike for DOOMSDAY, which I think is an absolute blast. Same with SUCKER PUNCH, though that seems to be acquiring a cult following. But maybe I'd go with BLINDNESS there.
MGM: I can't wait to hear why you hate ADAPTATION. I'm not a Wes Anderson fan either, though I would say THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU where you said THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS.
I've never understood the love for FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF. The supporting cast is excellent (and Mia Sara perfectly cast as a high school dream girl), but Broderick's Ferris Bueller is one of the most obnoxious leading men in cinema history. Not once did I buy that he was the Big Man On Campus. Indeed, at my high school, he would have been the kid getting snapped with towels in the locker room and thumped in the head with seniors' class rings. Ferris Bueller is an awful person and stunningly cruel to his friends, which might have worked had the movie not been convinced that he was beloved by everyone. What's there to love about this guy? Jeffrey Jones and Edie McClurg are really funny in the movie though.
MT: Yeah, I don't like FERRIS BUELLER either. I'm kinda cold on a lot of John Hughes/Brat Pack stuff now that I'm older. THE BREAKFAST CLUB doesn't hold up for me. I still like SIXTEEN CANDLES and WEIRD SCIENCE. Of course, his masterpiece is PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES.
It's been ten years since I saw ADAPTATION. I'd be willing to give it another shot, but it just didn't register with me at all, other than that admittedly stunning car crash. But I do remember being the ONLY person I knew who didn't think it was "brilliant." For me, Charlie Kaufman has always been on a fine line between clever and annoying, and ADAPTATION annoyed the hell out of me. Maybe I was just in a shitty mood that night.
Wes Anderson just strikes me as insufferably precious and smug. THE DARJEELING LIMITED is unwatchable.
WSW: Hmmmm, a movie that I love and everyone hates? Maybe something like DEMON WIND or DEMONWARP. A movie that I despise but is loved by everyone else? THE MATRIX. I saw that on opening day and absolutely hated it. Cheap pseudo-philosophy, cheesy CGI, overblown action and terrible, fake looking fights. I have practically been lynched for saying that. What amused me is when the two sequels came out and everyone was down on them. Their reasons? Cheap pseudo-philosophy, cheesy CGI, overblown action and terrible, fake looking fights.
MGM: Whaaaaaat? Who hates DEMONWARP? Killer apes, zombies, Satanic space aliens, human sacrifices, Bronson Canyon, gore, topless Michelle Bauer, and George Kennedy in the world's funniest hat. Who's not down with that?
THE MATRIX is a terrible movie. I held off on it for years, but there was a young guy I worked with who hounded me every day to watch it. He even lent me his DVD, and every day at work he was, "Did you watch THE MATRIX yet?" Finally, I did just to get him off my back. Then I was forced to watch the first sequel at the theater as part of a Christmastime work outing. I would say it was even worse than the original, but it did have Anthony Zerbe in it and THE MATRIX didn't.
WSW: Yeah, I guess DEMONWARP isn't a good example, as I do know people who love it. I just think the average person wouldn't enjoy it.
MGM: I suspect the average person would like a lot of these movies that we do, if they only gave them a shot. At least, in my bubble, I don't see how anybody could not laugh their asses off watching DEMONWARP.
JC: I definitely agree with FERRIS BUELLER and THE MATRIX, and would add SPIDER-MAN, PRETTY WOMAN, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, THE BLIND SIDE, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE off the top of my head. If more than four decades of life has taught me anything, it's that no one loves Terry Gilliam's THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN as much as I do.
MT: I'm a huge fan of MUNCHAUSEN!
MGM: Pam Grier or Tamara Dobson?
MT: Pam Grier. Although she couldn't have played Tamara Dobson's part in CHAINED HEAT.
MGM: Why not?
MT: I don't think she would've been as deliriously over-the-top as Dobson was. I'm sure she could have played it, but I just like Dobson too much in that role. Other than that, I'm Pam Grier all the way.
WSW: Gotta go with Grier too.
JC: Definitely Pam Grier. Dobson was impressively imposing because of her size, but even taking that into consideration, she never dominated the screen the way Grier does.
MGM: Would you agree that Pam is America's only honest-to-goodness female action star? My reasoning is that she's the only actress to become a movie star exclusively through action roles.
JC: Yeah. Cynthia Rothrock never attained what could be termed movie star fame, and I don't think she has the acting chops for anything beyond the sort of picture she did.
MGM: Fast zombies or slow zombies?
WSW: Oh man, I am so torn on this subject. Normally I say slow, but my favorite zombie film of all time (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) featured fast zombies. I guess I will settle with slow though. Growing up, nothing was more terrifying to me than being that last guy in basement in DAWN OF THE DEAD where they are coming up the stairs. So scary.
JC: Slow. How can dead, decaying people run when they are falling apart?
Am I overthinking this?
WSW: No, because you didn't start with "how can dead people rise from the grave?"
JC: Well, movies are due a certain amount of poetic license...
MT: Slow. Fast is fine if they're just radioactive or contaminated, like NIGHTMARE CITY. But I like slow, wheezing zombies, like Guthrie in THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE.
MGM: Let me get your expert opinions on a very important matter I've been arguing with a friend for years. Is it possible to avoid being bitten by a zombie if you disguise yourself as one?
JC: Well, worked for a while in SHAUN OF THE DEAD...
But, no. You would get sniffed out.
MGM: Well, that would be part of your disguise, wouldn't it? You'd rub dead flesh over your body, so you'd smell like a zombie.
WSW: No. THE WALKING DEAD tried to do this and it was ridiculous. Zombies are drawn to smell of living human flesh like a dog is drawn to the smell of a steak. They could tell from a person's breath.
MGM: Considering I've yet to find a zombie expert who agrees with me, I may have to reluctantly give up the ghost on this argument.
Favorite slasher movie? And why?
JC: I guess I'd go with the original HALLOWEEN. BLACK CHRISTMAS more or less laid the groundwork, but Carpenter really established the rules and as a film, it holds up nicely.
MT: A toss-up between BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN, and the original FRIDAY THE 13TH. I don't think FRIDAY is as good as the other two, but it's a pretty huge and influential watershed moment in the slasher genre, and it still holds up nicely.
Favorite bad slasher is, of course, PIECES.
WSW: From a historical standpoint, obviously HALLOWEEN. I think it still holds up today. From an entertainment standpoint, I love me some HELL NIGHT and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.
MGM: Little doubt that HALLOWEEN is the best and FRIDAY THE 13TH the most influential (ironic, in that it was intended as a HALLOWEEN ripoff, more or less), but my favorite is HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.
First, it has a totally wonky premise that climaxes in one of the craziest WTF endings in horror film history. Then, you add slumming performers like Melissa Sue Anderson, then sweet Mary on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, Canadian mainstay Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, and what-the-hell-is-he-doing-here Glenn Flippin' Ford leading the call sheet. J. Lee Thompson, who made THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, directed. It has a heavy body count, creative kills, an excellent score, a professional look, and an absorbing if ultimately ludicrous mystery. What's there not to love?
I can't argue Mark's point about PIECES, but I think SLEEPAWAY CAMP might actually deliver a steadier stream of constant laughter. Plus. That. Ending.
WSW: Since Mark brought up PIECES, I'd also mention Romano Scavolini's NIGHTMARE. That is one of the few slasher films where I felt dirty after watching it as a kid. The ‘80s were pretty incredible for that subgenre. Even something as standard as THE MUTILATOR still holds my interest nowadays. Can't say that for post-modern slashers (or most horror stuff coming out today).
JC: NIGHTMARE is still a dirty movie all these years later. In the newest of the Code Red transfers (why did we need three versions?), the frame has been re-positioned during one scene to reveal an almost-XXX bit of sex not previously visible. It's difficult to imagine a movie like this playing in early multiplexes and shopping malls, but it apparently did.
MGM: 35mm or digital? Besides saving the studios money, is there any real advantage to shooting with digital cameras and sending the final result to theaters digitally over rolling 35mm film and shipping physical prints?
WSW: But is digital saving the studios money? Last I checked, the remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO cost a laughable $100 million to make and the STAR WARS prequels were insane. Having grown up watching film more, I am still partial to that format. Digital almost looks too clean to me and, while they are getting close, the focus depth just can't replace film.
MGM: Well, studios just find other ways of wasting money. There's no question that digital distribution is way cheaper than making 4000 35mm prints and shipping them to theaters around the world.
As for why it costs so much money to make movies, I doubt I'll ever understand. Union regulations and slippery studio overhead fees have a lot to do with it. With the persnickety Fincher shooting every scene 57 times, maybe his DRAGON TATTOO crews built up a lot of overtime. Realistically, there's no reason his film couldn't have been done for half its budget or less.
JC: I'm torn. I despise digital when it looks digital. But in 158 minutes of Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, there was only one shot that didn't look like film to my eye. Under those circumstances, I'm fine with digital video as a photographic medium.
As for digital presentation, I don't demand everything be spotless, but I don't subscribe to the "the scratches and breaks mean the print has been well loved" cry either. I'd rather watch a clean copy of a movie, no matter how crappy it might be, and digital at least ensures that I can see something five or six weeks in and not have to deal with a lot of damage.
MGM: Fincher is a special case, though. I hate CGI as a general rule because it almost always looks false and pulls me out of the story, but Fincher is a master craftsman. His use of CGI in ZODIAC is probably the best I've ever seen. So, of course, when he shoots digital, it looks damn good.
The problem is that most filmmakers don't have Fincher's technical prowess, and studios don't really give a damn if their movies look good or not. Strangely, CGI has made movies look worse and cost more. Nice going, Hollywood!
WSW: Yeah, I remember when TERMINATOR 2 and JURASSIC PARK came out that everyone was saying computer technology would make making films a lot easier and cheaper. Neither of those happened. I remember Schwarzenegger saying of his dream project something like, "We can't possibly make CRUSADES for less than $200 million." What!?! Thankfully, we do have folks showing what can be done with small budgets within the studio system (the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, for example). However, I don't expect things to change.
JC: I'd like more medium budget films to play theatres instead of just going to Video On Demand. Seems like it's either mega-budget franchise picture or no-budget crap like THE DEVIL INSIDE.
WSW: It's also struck the low-budget world too. Compare something like HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP to what passes for B-movie fodder today. It is just embarrassing.
MGM: Visual effects in low-budget films are worse than they were in the 1950s. The reason is that producers used to know their monetary limitations and work inside them. Today, they try to make their $2 million flick look like a $200 million blockbuster. Script calls for a giant octopus to eat the coast of California? Sure, we'll just get those guys on their Macs to draw one. I know Ray Harryhausen was a genius, but he was making movies fifty years ago, and there really should be no reason his visual effects in something like IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA should be so much richer and more entertaining than, say, SHARKTOPUS.
WSW: Ha, I almost said SHARKTOPUS as my counter example for HUMANOIDS.
JC: Yeah. Anybody can make a movie nowadays—not a good thing!
MT: I'm not really torn on digital vs. film. I realize the cost-effectiveness of it, and, yes, Fincher does do digital better than anybody (one of the many great things about ZODIAC). What bothers me more is repertory houses showing movies and just screening a DVD. Like, you go in and you can see the menu on the screen. If I see an older movie in a theater, I'm not going to see a projected DVD.
MGM: I agree. That is a bullshit move, and it’s happened to me more than once. At least my local arthouse announces in its ads whether it’s showing a film print or digital print or DVD, which is kosher.
Let's do a couple more quickies before wrapping up this edition of The Men from Mobius. What's your favorite title? It doesn't matter what you think of the movie. Just the title.
JC: There's so many...I'll go with FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! because it suggests about ten different movies at once.
WSW: I've always loved the title OH DAD, POOR DAD, MAMMA’S HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET AND I'M FEELIN' SO SAD. When a friend first mentioned that to me, I thought he had made it up on the spot. I've never even seen the movie. I've also really loved the title TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE.
MGM: Wilson, I'm upset you didn't say SH! THE OCTOPUS.
If you could own any prop from a movie, what would you choose?
WSW: Can I count Linnea Quigley from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT as a prop? Seriously, it would be cool to have one of canisters from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD sitting in my place.
JC: Robby the Robot. You can have your hi-tech modern automatons, Robby will be mine someday.
MT: I've never really thought about props. How about the awesome "DO NOT ENTRY" sign from THE BEYOND?
MGM: I often wonder what happens to props after a film is completed. Like that hilarious painting of James Brolin prominently seen in THE CAR. Where the hell did that go? The studio can't use it again, unless it's for another movie with James Brolin. Did they give it to the actor? Is it sitting in a prop house somewhere? Fred Olen Ray found a 20-year-old painting of Richard Chamberlain from THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK and used it in one of his erotic thrillers. Anyway, I love silly props.
That said, I'd have to pick the original captain's chair from STAR TREK.
Speaking of, STAR TREK or STAR WARS?
JC: STAR TREK. But really just the original series and (most of) the various movies. I watched NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE and ENTERPRISE more out of habit than genuine devotion.
MT: The correct answer is STARCRASH.
But probably STAR TREK. I enjoy the STAR WARS movies, especially the first three, but I don't have an emotional attachment to them. Well, I guess I have enough of one that the changes Lucas has made have certainly bothered me and I have no interest in owning the Blu-rays or seeing the 3D conversions. But I enjoy most of the STAR TREK movies a lot more, particularly II-thru-IV, which are just classics.
WSW: Nowadays, I would definitely say STAR TREK. As a kid, it was all about STAR WARS for me as it was lots of action. Having grown up (I think), I find the STAR TREK films to have much more depth to them.
MT: "More depth" demands Don Dohler's #1 fan!
We're definitely looking forward to the next edition of The Men from Mobius. Do you have any questions for us? Anything you'd like to know about our tastes, our likes and dislikes? Leave it in the comments section below.