Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Perhaps some of you have already heard about the band TERRIBLE FEELINGS. I wanted to share some (particularly extreme) thoughts on the group after seeing them when Night Birds was in Europe because I simply couldn’t stop thinking about how great they were. When I got home (now weeks ago) I wrote what you see below. I honestly read it back to myself and laughed - it didn’t seem possible that I could be accurate, so I decided to wait a bit and re-read it, thinking my perspective might change from such an extremity. Well, it didn’t! Read the following and check this band out online. I have 2 of their three 7”s here at Co-Op 87 if anybody needs the real thing …

From the UK to Germany to France and back and more - Night Birds’ 2011 European tour was laced with cool new bands. For some reason though, the band I heard about the most was a new Swedish group - TERRIBLE FEELINGS. “Angst-ridden power-pop”, “gloomy; with great energy”, “weird, not like anything else” … it seemed like people couldn’t pin down an exact (or even helpful) description for the band, and after hearing how great they were so many times, I honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to like them. Being wrong was never more delightful. Night Birds’ last gig in Europe was in Bremen, Germany with none other than Terrible Feelings. As they hung out before the show, shot the shit with the other Night Birds, and set up they all seemed perfectly sweet and well-mannered.

Then, about to get into their set, they started to test their gear a bit … Generally, I’m not into too many guitar sounds I hear live. I don’t think of myself as a snob, but I really do lean strongly to the side of treble-soaked reverberating wackiness over anything that’s bound to come out of a Marshall stack. So, when Anton of Terrible Feelings started filling the room with his wildly echoing double Music Man amp set up, I almost dropped my drink.

THEN, they actually started playing.

It was like someone set a wild animal loose in the room. Individually, the band were trapped in their own worlds of manic but perfect performance - the rhythm section of Andy and Willy pounding away a solid foundation in an educated Garage rock fashion, leaving space above for Anton (who quite seriously is one of the greatest guitar players I’ve ever seen) to weave rabid, reverberated lines of melancholy psychedelic surf-pop all around it. And Manuela - dear God! A possessed vocalist of the highest order, at once magnetically sexual and legitimately terrifying, she can crawl and slide with the best of them. I couldn’t help but think of early prime-era Debbie Harry or Iggy. And if you’re lucky enough to catch her eye, you can see the hot-orange glow of Hell in her gaze. This is a band without fear, and everyone in the room was wrapped around their little finger for it.

Some bands can ensnare an audience with antics. Some with politics, and some with cute outfits. Rare today is the group that actually mesmerizes an audience with the base elements of pure, white-hot Rock N’ Roll - which to me means the perfect blend of one thick stream sheer unbridled live ferocity and another of naturally brilliant song writing craft. And that’s what Terrible Feelings are, Rock N’ Roll; in the truest sense of the term. Meaning that while Terrible Feelings are instantly classic and widely appealing in their energy and ability in the way that the true greats of music were, they’re also totally (shockingly) fresh. The rather drastic comparisons that come to mind are band like the RAMONES - blending their obsessions with junk culture with primitive performance and marrying love of Glam and misfit-rock to the wide-eyed simplicity of 50’s and 60’s AM top 40. Or NIRVANA, who took all that the Ramones showed them, threw in the heaviness of Black Sabbath; filtered it through inescapable familiarity with the best music on the 1980’s underground from Scratch Acid to the Wipers to the Pixies and laced it with the pained scrawlings of a suicidal teenager’s notebooks for lyrics.

TERRIBLE FEELINGS’ music displays knowledge of every worthwhile shred of music that preceded it and basically sounds like none of it. Fucking rare.

I too will offer a confounding personal description of a band that I’d actually feel comfortable calling “THE NEXT BIG THING” (a phrase that’s really become antiquated beyond belief, but still - if there’s any justice or hope left in this cold, cruel world TERRIBLE FEELINGS will end up rich and famous beyond belief). To these fairly dumb American ears I hear kinship to the tough, fuzzy genius of SHOCKING BLUE’s first LP but with keen understanding of any decent counter-culture aural fad of the 90‘s and 00‘s … or perhaps the earnest pop genius of the first two BLONDIE LPs being ground though a pre-heroin STOOGES meat grinder. Take all of that diarrhea-of-the-keyboard nonsense I just said and put it next to this - hopefully most of you are familiar with the HIPSVILLE 29 B.C. compilation series, and it’s the first thing I thought of when I heard Terrible Feelings. Painfully REAL music, with equal amounts of strength and somberness, played by young people who seem as if they would die if weren’t for being able to hammer out these crude dollops of heartfelt, honest Rock N’ Roll. It’s “the real deal”. No shit, no joke, no fuckin’ around.

As a sincerely neurotic and clinically anxious pessimist I’d also like to bring up the unbelievable lyrical content that Terrible Feelings manages to bring to the already musically-flawless table:

“Don’t have childish visions
You won’t achieve a thing
There’s no meaning”

“Deny yourself fulfillment dreams
And you will live happily”

“Where do good dreams go?
I haven’t seen them for a long, long time
To my unborn child
There is nothing to enjoy in life.”

These are lyrics of stark naked sincerity, with one foot firmly planted in the cement of teenaged frustration and the other in the tar of adult intelligence. The words of Terrible Feelings songs are akin to the kind of things those of us with an unshakeable affinity for despair repeat to ourselves in our heads over and over and over again; unable to break the dark spell of gloom cast by being able to see the world as it actually is. In a way that I can easily compare to Nirvana and Leonard Cohen, Terrible Feelings have lyrics that you’ll actually want to read along with as you listen to their records. For those of us who live in the dark, Terrible Feelings will mean a whole lot.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011



Uncut, uncensored, unhinged - Director in person!

November 4-6 at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave, NY, NY 10003

“I always felt that I made exploitation films. Exploitation films have an attitude more than anything – an attitude that you don’t find with mainstream Hollywood productions. They’re a little ruder, a little raunchier, they deal with material people don’t usually touch on, whether it’s sex or drugs or rock and roll. They’re what I grew up on.” –Frank Henenlotter

Anthology is thrilled to unleash a wild and bloody batch of Frank Henenlotter’s classic films, all uncut, uncensored, and completely unhinged. Henenlotter is one of those mythic directors that people immersed in Exploitation and Horror culture absolutely worship. His knowledge of genre and classic films is scholarly, he’s been one of the primary behind-the-scenes brains at Something Weird Video since their breakout, and his films are both celebrations of American Exploitation cinema and legitimate extensions of it. It’s a tough line to toe indeed, but being an obsessive 42nd St. moviegoer from the time he was a teen was the perfect classroom for Henenlotter – he endlessly soaked up celluloid scum until he had no choice but to make his own vile offering to the cruel gods of ‘the Deuce’ in the form of his first feature film, BASKET CASE.

BRAIN DAMAGE (1988, 84 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)

Considered by many hardcore Henenlotter fans to be his finest, BRAIN DAMAGE is a wild yetcohesive patchwork of addiction-fueled mania, set in the disgusting glory oflate-80s NYC. Brian meets Aylmer, a mysterious, ancient, snake-like (ok, phallic) parasitic creature that lives off of brain juice, which it consumes by poking a fang into the host’s spine. The reward (or bait) that Aylmer offers for his meals is an overpowering color-soaked mind-trip that proves to be quite addictive. Gory, goopy, and hilarious, BRAIN DAMAGE is also somehow personal and touching. It’s perhaps the best example of Henenlotter’s extraordinary ability to make us sympathize with characters who are insurmountably separated from society by deformity and dementia. Featuring spectacularly funny (and uncredited) voice work from none other than John Zacharley! Drastically cut in its original theatrical release, BRAIN DAMAGE will be theatrically screenedhere totally uncut for the first time. – Friday, November 4 at 7:00 and Sunday, November 6 at 4:30.

FRANKENHOOKER - (1990, 85 minutes, 35mm.)

Easily Henenlotter’s most comedic film, FRANKENHOOKER still packs a wallop of 42nd St. sleaze, coated in bright purple slime. It’s the weird tale of Jeffery Franken (played by the hilarious James Lorinz of STREET TRASH and PUNCH THE CLOCK), a med school drop out who tragically loses his bride-to-be in a remote-control lawnmower accident. His love for her runs so deep, however, that he devises a way to get her back – and with a better body this time. Traveling from suburban New Jersey into Manhattan to find specimens for his fiancĂ©e’s reanimation, he crosses paths with tough guy pimp Zorro, and the downward spiral of fun andfreakiness goes full speed from there on out. It’s Henenlotter’s twist on BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and his version has a lot more prostitutes than James Whale’s. Not to mention “Supercrack”… –Friday, November 4 at 9:30 and Saturday, November 5 at 9:30.

BASKET CASE - (1982, 91 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)

The cult classic that started it all, painstakingly restored this year to its intended specifications and now completely remastered. Duane Bradley has a relationship with his twin brother that most people would consider odd – after all, Duane was born with his brother Belial growing out of his right ribcage. Yes, it’s disgusting – that’s what their father thought too, so he hired some unscrupulous doctors to sever the boys’ ties. Henenlotter’s debut is the most bizarre tale of brotherly love ever committed to film, and a brilliant, low-budget time capsule of Times Square and NYC in all its early-80s scum and glory – seeing the streets as they were then is worth the price of admission alone. Due to painfully scarce prints, BASKET CASE hasn’t been screened theatrically (possibly at all) since its 80s stint as a real-deal NYC Midnight Movie. We won’t tell you what’s in the basket though…you’ll have to see for yourself. –Saturday, November 5 at 4:45 and Sunday, November 6 at 6:30.

BASKET CASE 2 - (1990, 90 minutes, 35mm-to-video.)

Sequels can be tricky business. Duplicating the original film’s storyline almost never works, but departing from its style isn’t a solution either. Henenlotter pulls off the impossible here with a wildly original follow up that maintains thefirst film’s strong characters. Kevin Van Hentenryck returns as Duane Bradley, still toting around his big ol’ basket. This time he escapes the confines of the concrete jungle for a nice relaxing stay with Granny Ruth, perfectly played by legendary jazz vocalist Annie Ross, of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Granny Ruth has a soft spot for nature’s special ones, and she knows that other folks don’t share her point of view. So she’s worked hard to secretly operate a safe haven for freaks – lots of freaks – and lovingly takes Duane and Belial under her wing. But, as outsiders get wind of who might be hiding out at Granny Ruth’s, the boys’ sibling rivalry kicks into high gear again and the real freakshow begins.
–Saturday, November 5 at 7:00 and Sunday, November 6 at 8:30.

Credits: Organized by Mike Hunchback; special thanks to Frank Henenlotter, Joe Bob Briggs, James Glickenhaus, and Nadia Rawlings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

AMERICA LOVES ITS VILLAINS: The Boyd Rice Documentary Experience

ICONOCLAST: The Boyd Rice Documentary
Only current NY screenings: August 20th & 21st, 7 pm
at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave, NYC 10003

"America loves its Villains ..."

You’ll hear Boyd Rice say that a couple times over the course of Larry Wessel’s epic (4 hour) new documentary “ICONOCLAST” - a title which works in description of both Rice and the documentary itself. It’s almost like “Freakonomics” for the Goth / Industrial / Noise set, and it’s a very welcome banner to see hanging. I can’t think of a film that has better debunked the myth of the “evil” intentions and attitudes of this sect of society, and if hilarious anecdotes about Anton LaVey’s penchant for electronic whoopee cushions - or simply “fart machines” - doesn’t debunk it for you, then I‘m not sure anything ever will.

Boyd Rice's ouerve has various specific categories. His knowledge of many various areas of American pop and unpop culture is at the level of scholarly. He's considered to be one of the most seminal names in the Noise genre, he was part of the defining stages of Industrial Culture, he did enormous things for Exotica music and Tiki culture, he's written material in the "Answer Me!" zine, "Apocalypse Culture" Book; and his own books, both fiction and nonfiction. He and his friend Jim Morton literally wrote THE book on strange films, "Incredibly Strange Films", which would strongly influence coming generations to deviate from their local shopping mall multiplex's menu of pandering crap. The list goes on quite a long time. From teen years to my "adulthood", I'd heard the name Boyd Rice in association with so, so many fascinating things. Often these things seemed to fit into a kind of mold to me - it was as if the cool people that were 10 - 20 years older than I had found these magical connections between Charles Manson, old cartoons, H.G. Lewis, flea-markets, and weird records. They made fanzines and films, wrote books, recorded amazing records ... Some of the content featured was totally shocking to me - pictures of actual deaths/accidents, writing that championed the crimes of serial killers, and of course wildly offensive humor. At first it was hard to understand. I think it was because (in some ways at least) I was a 'good person'. I couldn't conceive of someone genuinely celebrating this kind of thing. I understood sarcasm, but this stuff was WAY more extreme than that. As I grew more, I increasingly became enraged by what I saw as injustice and stupidity around me. I began to have feelings that I couldn't exorcise with simple sarcasm. I was getting to the point of needing cathartic release, and I didn't know it yet. Seriously folks, if it wasn't for films like "The Defilers" and zines like "Answer Me!" I'm sure I would've went Columbine. So, sometime in my 20's, I started to "get it". And with that came a lot of knowledge and power. Part of what was so attractive about this (at times) extremely alienating culture was that so many people involved in it, unlike most people in most scenes, didn't appear to be total assholes. Or more accurately, these assholes seemed a whole lot more like me. In other words, breakfast cereal and mass murder were fine to talk about in the same breath.

As I became more exposed to this world, Boyd Rice seemed to be near the top of it. At once he was someone who had wonderful, honest and courageous taste; as well as someone who spoke freely about his thoughts and feelings AND accepted the same from others he widely and intensely disagreed with. Cumulatively, ignoring one's personal beliefs at the same time as refusing to accept another's seems like the new American Pastime - and it's through this unfortunate window that ICONOCLAST will look most poignant.

The opening image of “Iconoclast” is that of a woman’s vagina. A knife sits on her belly, the “NON” (Rice's Noise outfit) logo is scarred onto her pelvis, and she’s bleeding (not profusely by any means) from several fresh slices on her inner thighs and stomach. It’s clearly a confronting image. One that certain viewers might find distasteful; and therefore attribute an unwholesome, sexist, nihilistic, or even “evil” nature to the people involved with creating this image. It’s a rather brilliant choice on Wessel’s part, the next sequence is the “exorcism of homosexuality” of some poor woman who apparently did time as a lesbian. The preacher tells her “What those girls did to you - now, that’s not your fault. You can still accept Jesus into your life”. All of this before the speaking in tongues begins and another preacher demands that she “smell the bible” … The set up couldn’t be better, the audience’s nose is rubbed directly in an issue that I’ve always felt was widely ignored: if we as individuals all have these values that we say we do; if we all hold this particular morality and believe in our own freedom and civil rights, then by these standards WHO is the REAL “bad guy” here? Which of these situations is actually "wrong", or "unwholesome", or “evil”? People liking kinky sex and cutting themselves up might not exactly be an activity for Sunday School, but it’s really an individual’s choice if he or she would like to do something like that. It simply doesn't have anything to do with anyone else; unlike the idea that God would want those who spread his words of love, acceptance, and forgiveness to not only CARE about other people’s sex lives, but actually engage in the repulsive acts that one will witness in ICONOCLAST’S opening sequence. Those actions, to me, are a great example for "evil". The confrontation of the film’s opening forces the viewer to make a logical conclusion of whom they think the “bad guy” really is. It’s a hell of a morality barometer, and it draws a very obvious line as to what’s right and what’s wrong. The intensity of imagery and art does not support actual wrong action. It can indicate it, exploit it, expose it, embrace it - but as “wrong” as a viewer finds this imagery to be it’s only ever because of his or her own interpretation.

“Iconoclast” appeals to two different audiences. The Cult of Boyd will be thrilled, much of the information offered here is fresh, as Rice’s life story hasn’t been a very accessible one. The other audience, the audience who doesn’t know of Boyd Rice or his art, will be treated to an explicitly unique experience regarding someone who is completely, totally and gloriously, a truly underground entity.

I spoke to both Larry and Boyd recently about ICONOCLAST, their artistic processes; and of course, some incredibly strange films ...

Interview with ICONOCLAST director Larry Wessel -

Mike Hunchback: What was your first inspiration to make a documentary on Boyd Rice and how did Iconoclast go from just an idea to an actual project?

Larry Wessel: On November 16, 1997 I attended a show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles headlined by Death in June with NON/Boyd Rice as the opening act. Before entering the club, I encountered a very strange scene taking place on the sidewalk that night. There were a few protestors there who had somehow successfully gotten the management of the El Rey to ban NON/Boyd Rice from performing. When Boyd emerged from backstage during Death in June's set, I followed him outside to the front of the theatre and introduced myself. He said that he already knew who I was and that he was a big fan of Taurobolium, my Tijuana bullfight documentary and that Anton LaVey (another big fan of Taurobolium) had screened it for him at The Church of Satan. Incidentally I was told this story over and over again by various people who we're lucky enough to have an audience with Anton LaVey that he would require them on their first meeting to spend 2 hours watching Taurobolium with him! Boyd and I kept in touch with each other after that show. In 2000, I traveled to Colorado to shoot Boyd for a documentary I was doing about obsessed collectors. Boyd was a collector of Scopitone movies and obscure girl group records and I interviewed him about the obscure objects of his desire. It was during a dinner we were having at the bizarre restaurant/amusement park Casa Bonita that I pitched him on doing a documentary on his life. He didn’t seem very interested in doing this at the time. He suggested that I do a documentary about The Partridge Family Temple instead. On June 24, 2002 Death in June did a show at the Key Club in West Hollywood and I shot the entire concert. Two years later, Death in June and NON/Boyd Rice returned to the Key Club for another show. A few weeks prior to this return engagement, I received an email from Boyd. Boyd said that he was a big fan of all of my documentaries and ended the email message with, "What about doing a documentary about ME?". So I guess that I must've planted a seed when I had suggested this idea to him 4 years prior to this! I responded that I would love to do a documentary about him. he then informed me that it would be his last tour with Death in June and that it might be my last opportunity to interview Douglas P. Wearing his strange Death in June mask, Douglas gave me a very humorous and informative interview. The final show at the Key Club was made very strange by the presence of protestors once again. They were carrying picket signs. One of the signs had "STOP NAZI MUSIC" scrawled on it. Another read, "BOYD RICE IS A NAZI THROUGH AND THROUGH". I filmed Boyd confronting the protestors outside of the show and found it extremely odd that they didn't even recognize the man they we're protesting! This was the beginning of an odyssey that would end 6 years later with the red carpet world premiere of Iconoclast at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood on August 17, 2010.

MH: Was anyone particularly difficult to pin down for an interview?

LW: Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and Mark Pauline (Survival Research Laboratories) would not answer my email inquiries. I had a pleasant telephone chat with Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle) up until he told me that "there is no way that I would be in a documentary about Boyd Rice". I asked Gen why and he told me that he didn't have to give me an explanation. He said that "Boyd knows why". I asked Boyd about why he thought that Gen didn't want to participate in ICONOCLAST and Boyd was simply mystified. When I called RE/Search's V. Vale after he didn't return any of my emails, we talked on the phone for close to 4 hours. Vale said that the only way he would be in ICONOCLAST is if Boyd provided a signed affidavit that he was not in or affiliated with any white supremacist or neo-nazi groups.

MH: As a viewer I noticed some great reoccurring themes in ICONOCLAST. Did you have a direction in mind when you began filming, or perhaps when you began editing? Or were these occurrences totally natural?

LW: The process for making one of my documentaries always begins with shooting miles and miles of footage with everything unfolding naturally. No preconceptions or battle plan at all. I never dictate the content. I prefer that my subject matter and the audience for my documentaries think for themselves. In the case of Iconoclast, I ended up with 200 plus hours of interviews with Boyd Rice and approx. 40 or so other people! It is during the editing process that my films take shape. This is when I find the narrative structure, a natural beginning, middle and end and where I can begin to have fun with the content and infuse it with many levels of meaning.

MH: I don't think anyone interested in seeing a Boyd Rice documentary would be upset about the film's length, but did you have any reservations when you arrived at the 4 hour mark?

LW: I have always been very comfortable with the unusual length of ICONOCLAST. So far nobody who has seen ICONOCLAST has complained about it's length. On the contrary, people keep telling me that ICONOCLAST is so fast paced, so fun and exciting that they are left wanting to see more!

MH: Is there anything in particular that it hurt to leave out?

LW: There was an entertaining section on cult leader Uriel and her Unarius Academy in El Cajon that Boyd was fascinated by and would frequently visit that I felt a little sad about removing.

MH: Are you working on another documentary at the moment?

LW: Yes. As a matter of fact I am in the process of editing 4 more documentaries, all which have already completed shooting. The first one (mentioned previously) I began shooting it in the year 2000 and is about obsessed collectors. The second one is a documentary about the amazing artist from Albuquerque, Beth Moore-Love. Number three is a sequel to ULTRAMEGALOPOLIS, my documentary about Los Angeles. And the forth one is all about New York City and my adventures there.

Interview with Boyd Rice, subject of ICONOCLAST -

Mike Hunchback: Any reservation to having a documentary made on you?

Boyd Rice: No, no.

MH: And how did you meet Larry?

BR: I knew of him through Anton LaVey and other mutual friends and he’s sort of showed up one night when I was playing at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and we immediately hit it off. He had some sort of very favorable, lucky night because of being with me. He got to hang out with some sexy young girl, and he was saying “Boyd, you bring me luck, you bring me luck!”

MH: The thing I noticed perhaps most about ICONOCLAST was that you seem to have evolved into a very appropriate person. The image a lot of people have of you is that of a antagonist or a disrupter, but there’s so much of the film where we see you being quite courteous and quite polite. I really like the stuff near the end of them film where you’re speaking with Bob Larson and you're both laughing, even though you guys clearly disagree about a lot of things. It just didn’t seem to affect you that someone thought so differently.

BR: It never has, it never has. I was friends with Jello Biafra for over a decade and I never saw eye to eye with his politics, but it didn’t matter. I was apolitical and I didn’t care what anybody else thought. I kind of had that Thomas Jefferson thing where he says that “A man can believe in whatever he wants to so long as it doesn’t break my leg or pick my pocket”. I really don’t care. That’s sort of always been my attitude. There was a time when I disagreed far more severely with Bob Larson, I saw him as being emblematic of something that was baleful of Western Civilization.

MH: Is there anybody that you would’ve liked to see in ICONOCLAST that didn’t make it in? I heard Jello was hard to get a hold of.

BR: I thought that Larry did get a hold of Jello and he just said ‘I absolutely don’t wanna be a part of this”. Because early on, when Larry was saying ‘who should I interview for this?’ I said ‘Well, you really need to interview Jello Biafra’ and you need to interview Vale from Re/Search, you need to get some of these people … it’ll be more interesting if it’s like me being on Bob Larson’s radio show. There’s some people who are saying horrible things about me that will make it a lot more fun. Unfortunately, all those people, those dissenting voices, refused to be part of it. It’s not like they were excluded or disinvited or anything. We asked as many people as we could think of and some just said ‘no, forget about it’.

MH: That brings me to something we had talked about in email, the Village Voice review. Right off they mention Bob Larson being in the film, but quickly the piece begins to be about how no one interviewed in ICONOCLAST questioned you, or disagreed with you. It didn’t seem that way to me, and you were also saying how you didn’t feel that this was the case …

BR: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t think it was … I mean who could you get who is in greater disagreement with me than Bob Larson? The film starts with Bob Larson, Bob Larson is in the middle, and the film essentially ends with Bob Larson. It’s like you were saying earlier, you think I’m a mellower person, and I’m happier and I’m more civil and relaxed, and realistically that’s the person I’ve always been and that’s why I’ve been around for 33 years. Because I’m civil, and I’m polite and people really, really like me. There’s this perception out there that ‘Boyd is this guy that nobody likes’. I think the absolute adverse is true, everybody likes me except for a handful of malcontents. And I think even those malcontents once they see this movie will have a hard time reconciling their feelings against me towards what they see on the screen, because I’m obviously not what they imagine I am. And you know, that’s a good thing! (laughs)

MH: Some of my favorite material you’ve ever done is your material in “Answer Me!”. I expected to see a little bit about that in the documentary but it didn’t get covered. I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about the beginning of your collaboration with them.

BR: I went out to Musso and Frank’s [editor's note everyone should visit this amazing historical landmark at least once] in Hollywood for a meal … Jim and Debbie Goad were living right around the corner from Musso and Frank’s. I went out with them, Coop and his wife, and Adam Parfrey who does Feral House, we all went out to have dinner at Musso and Frank’s. And I think Russ Meyer was there with a babe in the corner booth. He was always there, back in the days that you could still smoke cigars in Musso and Frank’s, and he was always smoking a cigar. So, I met them then and they really took to me, they kind of expected me to be like y’know … [it was as if they were thinking] ‘Oh, this is just some guy who does noise music, why do you want us to meet him?’. But we realized there was some sort of overlap or interface between our world views. He had me do that thing where I gave the definition for those words or something ['Rice Ain't Nice', Answer Me! #3], so I did that, then they decided to do the rape issue of the magazine and I gave him that piece ['RAPE: Revolt Against Penis Envy' Answer Me! #4]. And that’s another of these things that I expected people to want to tar and feather me for … but people just said ‘ Wow, I love your article on Rape!”. Crispin Glover even told me he took that out of the magazine and had it bound! And read that to every girl who came to his house … I said ‘Really? What kind of reaction do you get?’ and he said [Crispin Glover voice] ‘Really good, really really good’ …Strange!

MH: (laughs) That’s great … changing gears just a little, have you had any personal discoveries of film in the recent years? And would you ever go back to the style of writing you did on “Incredibly Strange Films”?

BR: Yeah, yeah. That area is kind of vast and bottomless, so I’m discovering new stuff all the time. My friend Jim Morton who wrote the Incredibly Strange Films book with me recently spent a lot of time in Berlin and he’s discovered these East German films that are absolutely mind-blowing. Like, East German Beach Party movies, Disaster movies, Science Fiction movies. Especially now with DVD, a lot of obscure stuff is coming out that it would have been impossible to release 20 years back … it’s just like, everything is coming back again. And it’s stuff you’ve forgotten about, and it’s stuff you never even knew about, so I’m seeing new stuff all the time.

MH: For a while you weren’t using the internet much, but now you seem to be more frequent. Do you mind being on there these days, or does it serve its purpose for you?

BR: The internet is the triumph of communication over content; of information over knowledge. It's the opiate of the masses in a far more profound way than religion ever was. And, it’s a mixed blessing, it’s a double edged blade. I sort of need to do it for business purposes, because I’m doing stuff with people all over the world and it’s really the most convenient way to communicate with them. It still drives me crazy a bit … and I can’t be on there in some social networking fashion, I can’t put up with that. I don’t even like looking at the things people write, even the positive things sometimes drive me crazy. There’s a lot of stuff on there I’d rather not know about. My girlfriend sort of convinced me I need to be on there for business reasons, and you know it’s working really well lately, like this interview with you.

MH: Do you think the internet has changed much about the realms of culture you enjoy? Films for instance - do you think that the way that people talk about or discuss these movies has changed? Is there a different kind of appreciation now, and is it better or worse?

BR: Well, I’m not sure what you mean, but I think part of the charm to me of those movies we documented in the Incredibly Strange Films book was that you sort of had to be an insider. You had to sort of know about these things, and they rarely played in movie theatres; if they were on television at all you’d have to scan the TV Guide and watch them at three in the morning, and you‘re sort of watching these rarefied movies at a time when you knew everybody else in the city is asleep. So it made it seem special, it made it seem like something that was your own personal possession. And it seems like now it’s this proliferation of media where people don’t really have to try so hard, so I don’t know if these movies are as special to them as they were to me when I was 16 years old. You can just go on the internet and see them live streaming, and it makes other suggestions and you can see something similar … y’know, I don’t know if it’s bastardized the experience for everybody else or not … I still like if “Manos: Hands of Fate” is on TV. I just watched “A Bucket of Blood” again -

MH: (totally interrupts) Oh it’s so good, goddamn it’s great …

BR: This coffee table art book is coming out from Outre Press in Australia, and it’s of my collection of thrift store paintings. Martin Macintosh who owns Outre Gallery also has thrift store paintings. I wrote an intro to that and I mention “Bucket of Blood”, and how that represented this weird, beatnik ideal of ‘the artist as the free spirit!’ He just sent me the intro and he uses a photo of “Bucket of Blood”, and it was the same night “Bucket of Blood” was on television …

MH: I actually had the pleasure of seeing it on film at Anthology not long ago. There was an amazing retrospective of Corman films, with a bunch of the Corman Poe films, “Bucket of Blood”, and they even played “The Intruder”. To see that on film was unbelievable. You guys have a great home in showing “ICONOCLAST” at Anthology, they really are the coolest in NY I think.

BR: Wow, yeah. I’m excited about it, very excited.

MH: One of my favorite people in the film is Adam Parfrey. He comes off great in the documentary and seems like a wonderful guy. Can you tell me a little about your friendship with him? It seems like you guys get along very well in real life …

BR: Yeah well I met him, strangely enough, at a film screening in San Francisco many, many years ago, and he kind of approached me and said ‘Hey, I’m going to put out this book, called APOCALYPSE CULTURE, it’s gonna come out on Grove Press. I’d like you to write something for it.’ He gave me his prospectus and I went home and looked at it and it was just absolutely over the top. And I just thought ‘there’s no way anybody’s going to publish this book, not even Grove Press!’. But, he kept in touch with me, and every time he sent me the updated outlines for the book it became more and more cohesive, so I did something for it. And you know, it came out and at the time there was nobody in San Francisco I could talk to about the sort of things that were in “Apocalypse Culture”, none of my friends wanted to hear it. So I sort of began a long phone friendship with Adam. He was in New York, I was in San Francisco and this was in the days when long distance calls were really, really cost-prohibitive. But we spent hours on the phone talking about this stuff, and I suspect he had nobody in NY to really discuss this stuff with either, so it was like we’d get off the phone and we’d sort of recharged our batteries. Afterward we probably both thought 'Well gee, I’m not so crazy after all, there’s this other guy who sees very much eye to eye with me'. So yeah, we’ve been friends for … it’s gotta be 25 years or something. And he’s coming out with a book called “Feral Man in a Feral Land” and it’s essentially an oral biography of his life and experiences in publishing, and I’ve done a bunch of stuff for that.

MH: Speaking of “Apocalypse Culture” … it makes me think about the time period it came out in, about things like “Answer Me!”, and about a lot of really interesting visual art and music that were going on at the time … It seemed like there was a very intense uprising of that kind of extremely strong imagery and topics, often confrontational. I’ve had a couple of my friends tell me things like “The first time I read “Answer Me!” I was physically shaking”, or that it was “the biggest breath of fresh air we could have had at the time in the 90‘s“. Do you think there was something specific about that time that made that kind of art and talking about those kinds of things more appropriate?

BR: Things like "Apocalypse Culture" and "Answer Me!" were sort of a response to the times. They were a by-product of their times while still being one giant step ahead of them. If you're too young to remember the mid 80's, it was a very apocalyptic time: there was a lot of gang violence, drive-by shootings, the AIDS epidemic was just going full throttle, and the world seemed to be going to shit. Yet everyone was still talking about peace, love, and harmony. We were sort of the odd men out. We were the voices in the wilderness. People who were essentially asking "what if everyone's basic assumption is wrong?". And it seemed to be. My new book "Twilight Man" is about this period. It's an autobiographical novel due out in a month or so on Heartworm Press. It details some of the ugliness and violence I experienced on an almost nightly basis as an alarm agent working the graveyard shift. By the time I left San Francisco, my favorite film character was Travis Bickle. That more or less laid the foundation for my mindset during the late eighties and the decade of the nineties.

MH: Is there anything fresh or challenging coming out now that’s interested you lately?

BR: I like Cold Cave, if you’re familiar with them. I like this band that’s also on the same label, the Liars.

MH: Though I haven’t read Lisa Carver’s book myself, I keep hearing about some of its contents regarding an abusive relationship between you two. I’d love to hear what you have to say on the subject and also give you a chance to defend yourself against any rumors.

BR: I think Lisa got maybe one sentence in the film and that was one too many. I recently debunked her lies about me in an interview you can find on WFMUs BEWARE THE BLOG. It was good to finally defend myself after all these years and get the truth out there, but really it all seemed so sad and boring. After all this was like 16 years ago or something that these charges were literally laughed out of court. Lisa admitted in an interview that she wrote her book in order to destroy my life and career ... words of a spurned woman. I've undergone a few decades of false accusations about a great many things and if I cared enough to defend myself against them all it would be a full time job. Those who choose to believe such things are going to do so no matter what you say. Luckily, I don't really care. As you saw in the film, I live a great life and I'm very happy.

This one was for Amber! Visit Larry Wessel’s website here:

Visit Boyd Rice’s website here:

Visit Anthology Film Archives here for the most happening revival screenings in New York:

Very, very special thanks to Boyd and Larry for being so accessible.

And everyone check out ICONOCLAST tomorrow and Sunday at Anthology Film Archives!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


JUNE 8 – 12, 2011

In my world, Rene Daalder is best known for “Massacre at Central High”, a glorious little 1976 teen killer flick with the ample qualities of both a delicious potboiler and a smart, fresh independent film about violence. It fits that rare category of film that I place “Ms. 45” in, but inarguably it’s infinitely more playful. Beyond that I didn’t know who Daalder was; and when I heard Anthology was showing “Massacre …” as well as the director’s other features, my curiosity heightened. Further reading revealed that he’d also made the classic-era Punk film “Population: 1”, done a lot of work in effects (X-Files, Brainscan, Robocop 2, and many others) … AND that he was a friend and assistant to Russ Meyer; as if that revelation wasn’t enough, it seems that Daalder is also responsible for pieces of the Sex Pistols film “The Greatest Rock and Roll Swindle” … and trust me, this list goes on.

Rene Daalder is known for being at the forefront of many different aspects of art, special effects and filmmaking; so very much so that summarizing his art into one program could have several different angles from which to approach. It’s impossible that a better approach could have been taken than the one taken by Anthology Film Archives; New York’s most diverse Cinema is even topping themselves a bit with this quite obscure, absolutely wonderful series.

Daalder’s features remind me in a way of Buster Keaton. The magic of Buster Keaton is so often in his ability to make nearly-magical humor from the most mundane and common physical surroundings. It doesn’t matter if his only tools are a pile of paper garbage, a dollar bill and a broom – Buster manages to twist reality into any color of hilarity he wishes, and thusly paints a masterpiece each time. It’s from this school that Rene Daalder has graduated with honors. It’s interesting to think that Daalder is so successful creating wildly unique special effects for other films, for in what I’d call his most personal work, Daalder seems to have a similar ability to Keaton. In his most recent film, “The Terrestrials”, Daalder, in a manner seemingly more casual than most directors would display, takes things available to him – a houseful of brilliant and drug-addled, young Santa Cruz college students, access to Timothy Leary’s personal archive, his own experiences with drugs, science and art, his wild imagination; using video old a new to assemble a “sci-fi documentary” (Werner Herzog’s “Wild Blue Yonder” pleasantly comes to mind). It’s an absolutely incredible journey, and while the viewer can have crushes on the subjects of the film as if it were a romantic teen comedy, it’s at the same time that elements of this real story are being twisted into a science fiction parable that also works alongside the life and teachings of Dr. Timothy Leary, who makes many appearances in “The Terrestrials” via archive footage. It’s rare that achievements of this kind of creativity can be matched with a film’s content and watchability, and the combination of these elements places “The Terrestrials” extremely high on the list of films to not miss in NYC this summer - this is a brilliant, and refreshingly original piece of work.

Another major factor of interest regarding Daalder is how he’s consistently made films over the years. Perhaps with bigger gaps in some places, but without a doubt - this guy was never NOT working. Like his ability to put things available to him in front of the camera, certain periods of his career indicate that he had no qualms about utilizing this methodology behind the camera as well. During the 90’s Daalder found opportunity in the fascinating direct-to-video / direct-to-cable world. Now, when young Mike Hunchback was cutting his teeth in the world of esoteric cinema consumption, Michael J. Weldon’s seminal Mag “Psychotronic Video” was one of the only trustworthy sources for information. Daalder’s films “Hysteria” and “Habitat” are excellent examples of what a 90’s Psychotronic film can be. As much as the direct-to-video world had its majority of drek, it didn’t mean that the occasional nugget of gold wouldn’t slip out from time to time. Basically, if approached with a solid script and idea, the people producing these small/mid budgeted films had no reason to interfere with it (unlike major studios) and even less a reason to interfere if they had a real director on their hands. The freedom allowed by this situation made it possible for Rene to create, with his typical, ferociously unique and artful concepts, two completely delightful films that wouldn’t EVER have been able to come from a major studio. It’s not a world that most understand. I really learned a lot from reading the reviews pages of “Psychotronic”. There, nothing was subject to extremely negative scrutiny, at least not for reasons of budget and content. All these films had a fair shake between those pages. I began to watch films with a very open mind, knowing that although I may be about to watch something with a small budget, I was also potentially about to watch something totally unique. I can’t applaud Anthology enough for the inclusion of these films in their Daalder program. “Habitat” and “Hysteria” belong to our most recent cinematic ghost town, and films of this ilk are hardly in vogue with those who don’t still use their VCRs regularly. “Habitat” brings into question extreme concepts, of both an ecological and existential nature. Having seen Daalder’s “Here is Always Somewhere Else” (talked about later here) put these interesting, somewhat cyberpunkish flourishes into amazing perspective – this is conceptual art and straight-to-video science fiction blended perfectly together; with absolutely no pretension involved.

Again and again marrying what was at his disposable with his vivid imagination, Daalder repeated this success with the unbelievable tale of madness and individuality, “Hysteria”. Starring Michael Maloney, Amanda Plummer, Emmanuelle Vaugier, and Patrick McGoohan, “Hysteria” is a very fresh take on the concept of “group-mind” study and possession, with fun and clever metaphors on society and the murky definition of identity. My devolved eye couldn’t help notice not only the invigorating inspiration from Tod Browning’s “FREAKS”, but also the black humor of the film’s concept – “If everyone is crazy, does that not make insanity ‘sane’?”. Although I’m sure you all agree with the sentiment, I’d be very curious to know how many times YOU checked your email, facebook and text messages in the duration of reading this … see what I mean? That’s just ONE characteristic of the existing group mind of today’s society. Now put your damn phone away I’m almost done …

“Here is Always Somewhere Else” is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the series. While the other films are diamonds indeed, this documentary is the piece that makes all of them relevant as works of Rene Daalder. When Daalder immigrated to the US he did so with his friend, artist Bas Jan Ader. They both took journeys with their art as well, but Daalder admits that his own was then a more commercial (though not exclusively so) involvement. The sea becomes a major player in the film, as Ader’s thoughts on gravity (the subject of several of his pieces) eventually shift into an obsession with the Ocean. Ultimately, Ader took a small boat to water alone, with an artistic, conceptual influence in hopes of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. He was never found. I don’t want to say too much (this documentary is nothing less than essential viewing), but Daalder’s hypothesizing on the reality and potential meaning of his friend’s death and disappearance is riveting beyond belief, and absolutely territory that’s uncommon for the medium of film as a whole. It's one of the most significant discussions on the limits of art that cinema has yet produced. Rene and Bas Jan’s relationship was that of friendship and enormous respect; without being too deliberate, Daalder manages to incorporate himself in the doc at various times. Perhaps most humorously as he exposes his cocky former-self upon the debut of his first feature “The White Slave”, and most fascinatingly when he reveals the deeper, hidden, Ader-inspired influences that ended up in “Massacre at Central High”. In many ways, it’s that reveal alone that wraps a bow around this program and makes it a real gift. It’s an awesome indication that the cinema of Rene Daalder is a unique and ever-changing organism, and organism so concerned with its intense natural progression that no change in environment can stop it from evolving to higher levels of meaning and execution; and therefore glaring, glorious originality.

(212) 505-5181

June 8-12

To be screened:

1976, 87 minutes, 35mm. With Robert Carradine.
–Thursday, June 9 through Sunday, June 12 at 7:00 each night.

1969, 103 minutes, 35mm-to-video. In Dutch with English subtitles.
1, 2, 3, RHAPSODY (1965, 15 minutes, 16mm-to-video)
–Wednesday, June 8 at 7:00 and Sunday, June 12 at 9:00.

1986, 77 minutes, video. With Tomata du Plenty.
JE MAINTIENDRAI (1973, 25 minutes, 16mm-to-video)
–Wednesday, June 8 at 9:30 and Saturday, June 11 at 9:00.

1997, 103 minutes, video. With Balthazar Getty, Alice Krige, and Laura Harris.
–Thursday, June 9 at 9:00.

1998, 91 minutes, video. With Patrick McGoohan, Amanda Plummer, and Emmanuelle Vaugier.
–Friday, June 10 at 9:00.

2007, 78 minutes, video.
Plus, films by Bas Jan Ader, including:
I’M TOO SAD TO TELL YOU (1970, 3.5 minutes, 16mm-to-video)
NIGHTFALL (1971, 4 minutes, 16mm-to-video)
–Saturday, June 11 at 5:00.

2010, 84 minutes, video.
–Sunday, June 12 at 5:00.

For more info be sure to check out Rene’s website:

And of course:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride..." But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that?

-Bill Hicks

The “truth”. Do you remember it? Do you remember when you were a kid, when that word – TRUTH – meant a whole lot? Heck, it wasn’t even really a word so much then. It was like a universal constant. You couldn’t MAKE UP the truth; and, you KNEW when you were telling the truth, and you KNEW when you were lying. It made your inside feel all fuzzy with apprehension. It made your ears and cheeks warm, and it made a pit in your little belly. You’d be tingling, your sense of what’s right actually physically battling your body’s actions …

So … what happened?
Well that’s a long story. A story that’s likely different for everybody in some way; but if I were to GUESS, if I were to take a wild friggin’ stab in the dark – I’m thinking that what happened has A LOT to do those little green pieces of paper that we hear so much about. Bear with me here -

Without getting neck deep in the subject, I can say that one of the FACTS of our current existence is, whether you consider it legal or not, that large businesses and institutions own more of “things” (television, radio, print, etc.), both percentage-wise and quantity-wise, than they ever have. Ultimately, it's to secure profit. And somehow, the stronger the quest for dollars gets, the weaker our resistance to not telling the truth becomes; on both the side that’s selling AND the side that’s buying.

Well, it didn’t used to be that way. Really, it didn’t. Even in the greed-soaked excess of the 80’s there was some light at the end of the tunnel. There were still some unique opinions out there, some opinions not based on statistics or fear or payola. There were even companies – both good and evil – that allowed these opinions to be voiced. What was the result? Were these towering monuments of modern American “success” crippled? No, of course not. In fact, a lot of that openness to originality even made money. But as this ownership of “things” got further and further imbalanced, stakes got higher. WAY higher. In fact, the sheer chance of not turning profit began to spell out the potential loss of millions. So, with the strength of wealth, the aid of the US Government, and international renown, the powerhouses of American business all slowly began to eradicate anything but “well-researched”, “tested”, and “safe” practices … the result? Homogeneous tepidity. Look current magazines – the newsstand today is jam-packed with failing slicks. If a magazine is about the lives of famous people, each week’s cover will feature the same plastic faces; even the graphics and text look the same. If the magazine is about a genre of music, the cover again features whichever set of plastic faces are “supposed to” be of interest to the accurately programmed consumer. The problem doesn't exclude Horror Magazines. It’s unnatural selection at best; and at worst it’s a big part of America’s displacement from being a World Power.

The fun of this piece is of course that I can so easily prove my point on the strength of just one Writer / Editor. He edited Fangoria Magazine from 1979 to 1986, the "Splatter Boom Years", and he goes by the name UncleBob Martin (aka Robert Martin, and countless aliases) and in certain circles he’s regarded as a God.

“Why?” you may ask. “How can writing be THAT different or important? CLEARLY you’re just blowing things out of proportion to support your own taste!”

… Ah, the cry of the conditioned, one of the most familiar nature sounds of North America … Look – for me, one of the most aggravating aspects of existing is that some folks aren’t willing to notice the difference of certain things. I think that Fangoria; when it was edited by Bob Martin (and eventually both Bob and David Everitt, who sadly passed away last year), is a glaring and explicit example of Print’s infinite potential to be original, challenging, fascinating, and successful.

Just about any major Horror Magazine that's out now, with very little exception, is a copy of the classic Fango format OR a copy of the classic Famous Monsters format. These mags are willing to ape the template but NOT the attitude (in fact it's an easy argument that Bob's personal rejection of FM was one of Fango's strongest vertebrae). None of them seem to be willing to take the risks that Fangoria took while under UncleBob’s watch, the risks that without question made it revolutionary. As you’ll read about later in his “Fast Food of Horror” article, Bob was handed the helm of a sinking ship and told to "do whatever he wanted". What he wanted was obvious to him - he wanted to produce a magazine so good - so interesting - that he himself would actually fucking read it. I know, sounds complicated, right!?!

Not coincidentally, this is the recipe for success used by EC Comics, MAD Magazine, and of course PLAYBOY - not only market-changingly successful endeavors, but magazines whose creators prided themselves on creating material that appealed to their own tastes. This wildly sensible tone is absent from nearly all widely available print in America - you know, just about any Mag you can buy at 'Barnes and Noble', blecchh ...

You know what’s on the cover of Fangoria #23? A promo shot for "the EVIL DEAD" – a film that wouldn’t be released nationally until 6 months later. It clearly wasn’t Fango’s plan to capitalize on the upcoming release, quite the opposite. Fango’s coverage of the then-unknown "EVIL DEAD" (next to Stephen King’s quote praising the film) was one of the major factors in its success. That's the mark of a fearless Editor. Bob was also selfless and progressive in trying to bring in people like Underground cartoonist Howard Cruise, and especially Michael J. Weldon (of Psychotronic Video fame) and rockabilly singer Johnny Legend. At the time, I don’t know that any other mag with Fango’s level of distribution would have taken these guys on. Yet of course, they were truly experts; guys that were involved at the ground-level, seeking out of new, interesting things. These are the kind of guys who made and contributed to Fanzines, an area of fandom which Fangoria wisely payed close attention to, and even covered regularly.

Bob Martin’s Fangoria had a loving, focused mission: find out about the coolest stuff out there, and share it with their audience. Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” graces the cover of issue #8 (with an article on it written by Jim Wynorski); the next article is a write up of Hammer’s “Horror of Dracula”, a film released 22 years prior to that issue's publication. Gloriously and successfully so, Fangoria was a free-form project. Films like “Basket Case” were championed alongside big-budget studio fare without a second thought. Fangoria wasn't trying to follow what genre fans already liked - Fangoria was defining it.

Bob Martin's editorial reign at Fangoria changed the landscape of Horror Fandom. Much the same way Forry J. Ackerman's original Famous Monsters did in the 60's, Fangoria grabbed a butcher knife made up of passion and intelligence and psychotically cut their own gory niche into the brain of every literate Monster Kid that was tall enough to reach the newsstand. Gore was good between those pages - and not with an overblown adoration for negativity either - this stuff was fun. That era Fango can make you laugh out loud. But really, now I've gone on way too long - I can't it help it though, very few writers' work have the naked, unbridled passion of UncleBob Martin. I literally teared up a bit looking back on some of these pieces, they're so sadly from another era. An unprogrammed era, still lively with possibility and gore ... Now, finally, I'll let UncleBob speak for himself, first in an interview, then in one of my favorite pieces of his:

I was watching a documentary on Stanley Kubrick and they got into something that I found very interesting - apparently, Kubrick was certain that he was living in "end times" and that his lifetime would actually come close to the end of human race. No matter what time period one looks at, there's always folks like that around; and, of course, in some ways I even feel that way. Where do you stand on this kind of apocalyptic anxiety? Do we reach a point where it's not just paranoia anymore?

My opinion on this is very much shaped by my experience with Brother Theodore.

Throughout the last thirty years of his life -- perhaps even longer than that -- Theodore lived in anticipation of his end; not just of death, but of the slow breakdown of the physical shell that inevitably preceded it. He was not in terror of death at all, but he was in terror of incapacity, and of dependence on others; he hoped only to die standing on his own two feet, and by his own hands if incapacity was the only other choice.

The thirty years or more that Theodore spent on dying before he was actually dead struck me as a waste and a distraction from time he might otherwise have spent living.

Of course I have no basis to criticize Theodore, we all live our lives by our own means; Theodore's dread probably served him some useful purpose that was invisible to me. But I knew that Theodore's attitude toward death would not serve me well at all, and I have spent all my time since actively rejecting it.

So when Harlan Ellison announced his forthcoming demise to anyone who cared to listen back in the Fall of 2010 [], I was a little disgusted. Grandstanding your own death betrays a lack of class. If you can't make a proper exit, you should not even venture onto the stage.

As a solipsist who believes that we all die alone because of the sheer impossibility of communication in any circumstance, I see no personal distinction between the death of an individual and the end of the universe. In either case, anticipating the end, and altering your behavior to accommodate the imagined cessation, is to rob yourself of time -- which is all that you really have.

But, since I also have faith in an objective reality that is not dependent on my observation for its existence, I do not see my personal death as identical with the end of the universe. While grandstanding your death may expose a lack of class, identifying your own death with the end of the universe betrays untrammeled egoism -- since Kubrick created our world in 2001 and destroyed it in Dr. Strangelove, I'm not too surprised that he had a godlike identification with the universe itself.

What I'd choose to communicate to anyone confusing their own demise with that of our 14-billion-year-old universe [or just the end of our 100,000-year-old species] is, 'It's not all about you.'

One of my favorite Fangoria pieces was your Brother Theodore article. While Brother Theodore was purely a source of comedy when he was on Letterman or other shows, you seemed to hone in on his unbridled passion for true "Horror". To me, that kind of approach was very endearing and represents one of the mag's strongest traits. Did you have a sense that you were appealing to "outsiders" at the time?

Nope, we were appealing mostly to teens/children -- kids who lived in suburbs and had enough cash to spend on stupid movie magazines and equally-stupid movies. Children aren't outsiders.

But I did believe that I was cultivating outsiders among those kids. I think that the implied message we delivered was that the worst that could happen was, they wind up in a 9 to 5 job, working for a paycheck instead of for the creative jollies caused by making something.

Can you tell me a little more about getting to meet Brother Theodore?  Did you spend time with him again after that article?

I considered Theodore a comic genius, but Fangoria was about horror.  I wanted the readers to love his work as I did, but I also wanted the readers to identify with him, not to regard him as a freak. I was always mindful that the magazine's audience was young people, at the point when you decide who and what you are, all of them facing the horrifying issue of working for a living ... finding something to do that justifies your existence. I still can't make a reasonable argument about why I should exist ... and I know it’s not really necessary, existence is its own excuse ... no one unlucky enough to be born should be obligated to explain themselves, but the world does insist that we work for a living, and so the work we choose becomes our excuse for existence, at least in our heads. I think the last job I applied for before Fangoria was supermarket checkout, and I was thirty at the time. The whole idea of spending 8 hours daily in thrall to an employer was always a horror to me. None of the people I interviewed were doing 9 to 5, but they all started out as regular folks who had to find a career, I always interviewed people with the idea, 'how come you escaped all of that?'

When Theodore and a handful of other Jews made it out of the concentration camp and wound up in California, Theodore worked on the custodial staff of Stanford University. This was horror for him; he was born wealthy and had planned to devote himself to a life of indolence, hedonism, and the spending of the family fortune. Instead he was spending his days "scraping up the vomit of some worthless college brat" ... he started out reading horror stories in concert venues, mostly Edgar Alan Poe. One of his recordings includes his reading of an Ambrose Bierce story, "Oleum Canis," (the title of the Bierce story is actually "Oil of Dog" but Theodore gave the Latin such a wonderful reading that I always think of the story as "Oleum Canis") which he recites as if it was a memoir of his own youth. It was many years after I first heard it that I realized it was not his own composition.  A wonderful story.

It took quite a while for him to be able to make a living doing this sort of thing, but ultimately it was his passion for horror literature, and his ability to dramatize it, that brought him escape from the horror we all face, of having to make a living; so that was what I saw as the readers' way into the topic of Theodore.

In relation to that, I just noticed that it was you that pointed out Colson Whitehead's memoir of Fangoria and Psychotronic in the New Yorker. I got ahold of Whitehead through Twitter, and sent him a copy of the Brain Damage book, one of the few I have signed by Frank ... I inscribed it, "All I wanted of Fango's readers is that they escape the 9 to 5. Good Job!"

Coincidentally, Fangoria would never have happened if not for The New Yorker. Around 1975, I fell into a bad crowd, and entered a writing workshop that was run by Henry Beard, one of the founding editors of the National Lampoon, and Tony Hiss (son of Alger Hiss), who at that time was on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. My very first writing jobs came through that workshop.

I once heard you explain your acceptance of gore in film and in print with the phrase "I have not yet died".  Can you elaborate on this?

I haven't died yet, so death remains interesting, even if it's only a cessation, as I strongly suspect it to be.

Death is the final mystery, the last taboo ... when my paternal grandfather, who lived with my family, died, my family sent me off to relatives that same day and I came back after all he ritual was over. I was expected to pick up my routine where I'd left it. I hope parents are more sensitive to that nowadays, and include their kids in their rituals ... but then, as I recall, my grandfather was pretty much a pain in the ass to my parents, so I don't know how much actual mourning occurred. Considering their attitude toward my grampa, they were probably pleased to die while relatively young, neither of them ever became a burden to anyone.

But death is fascinating, and portraying death in spectacular fashion raises the interest factor further. We associate physical harm with pain, but the over-the-top grisliness of the gore film overloads those circuits. When extreme pain really does happen, we're shielded, they say, by the state of shock, but I've never been in enough pain to verify that, and I hope never to be. Still, seeing a guy turned inside out in a film is about me, not about the guy on screen.


And one of my favorite of Bob's non-Fango pieces, with a brief introduction from the man himself:
I forgot that I had written the following essay about 20 years ago, upon leaving Fango. It appeared in "Toxic Horror," another mag from the same publisher, and I recently found it posted on the web under my pseudonym "Berthe Roegger."

It was full of typos; I've cleaned it up and added a Pulp Fiction reference that wasn't in the original. –UncleBob Martin

The "Fast Food" of Horror: Jason, Michael & Freddy
By Berthe Roegger
Toxic Horror #1

When I first started writing about horror films ten years ago there was no Freddy Kreuger, no Jason, and Michael Myers had appeared in just one film, John Carpenter's Halloween. At that time, graphically violent horror film was still a disreputable genre. Magazine articles and television critics would occasionally throw a sop to George Romero for Night of the Living Dead, but Cronenberg, Craven, Dante, Carpenter, and others had yet to make "respectable" films, embraced by the mainstream opinion makers.

A lot of things have changed since then, for a lot of reasons. Stephen King has become the world’s best-known, best-selling writer. Horror anthologies are the second-largest genre in syndicated television after game shows. It seems that another Fangoria imitator reaches the newsstands every other month. And all the directors named above have gained some measure of "legitimacy."

The "slasher" film is now a genre unto itself, one that seems to thrive on repetition and formula.

But the producers of these films are not solely to blame for the formula; in fact, the makers of the Halloween and Friday The 13th movies attempted to kill off their lead maniacs early on. It was in response to fan demand that Jason and Michael have been snatched from the grave again and again, ultimately to be absorbed by the mainstream. While the M.P.A.A has gotten tougher than ever in its vigilance against breaches of taste, horror itself has become a part of the mainstream.

So why do I miss the "good old days?"

When Fangoria was first launched, I remember how refreshing it was to present a magazine that did not go on endlessly about the superiority of the "classic" approach to horror. I never could share Forry Ackerman's enthusiasm for Lugosi, Karloff and the rest of the moldering corpses of horror's past. An exploding head, gouting blood, cascades of dripping phlegm---that’s what spoke to me, and it still does. So you are not about to read a rant from me about how the "unseen" is more horrifically subtle then the graphic.

No, what annoys me is that horror has become a franchise system. Say the words "horror movie" nowadays, and the crowd will think of Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers.

To see how this has come about think about the rise of "fast food." I live in Hoboken, New Jersey. Ten years ago, there were about 6 different lunch counters on the main drag where you could get a decent hamburger for under two dollars. Today, there is only McDonald's and Burger King. How did these two close six different independent businesses by offering an inferior, more expensive product?

If you can answer that, you can probably tell me why Freddy, Jason and Michael rule the horror field today.

Fast food chains and mass-market maniacs offer brand name recognition and predictability.

A Big Mac tastes the same everywhere.

Jason remains an inarticulate bludgeoner

Michael is always a silent, single-minded stabber.

Freddy is an anarchistic wisecracking torturer.

In France, a quarter-pounder is a Royale. but you can still get it with cheese.

The popular films that first gave birth to the maniacal trio, by Carpenter, Cunningham, and Craven, were far from predictable, before each was killed, returned to life, and transformed into cash cows. All to please the fans.

But there are fans and there are fans. There's a big difference between the sort of fan I'm used to - the one who looks forward to the next Wes Craven or John Carpenter - and the fan that dominates horror today. He's the guy that thinks Jason is cool, and avidly awaits his next slaughter outing. Those fans were in minority ten years ago. Now they are the overwhelming majority. Why?

It used to be that horror films were given a slow, careful release; perhaps a dozen or so prints were initially struck, then more if success warranted it. A film would open first in New York or Los Angeles, and slowly roll out to other major cities. Word of mouth was the most powerful sales tool, and if a film was no good, it was word of mouth that killed it, quickly, before too much harm had been done.

Nowadays, it's all or nothing. It's a small release if only 300 prints are struck, and most horror films open nationwide, unless they go straight to video. Word of mouth? Forget it. TV ads (and Fango articles) get all the Jasonmaniacs' and Freddyphiles' mouths to watering, and the bulk of the film's money is made in the first opening weekend; even if word turns out to be bad, the investors' money has already been secured. Financial security - sure money - is what sequelizing is all about. Unfortunately for moviegoers, financial security and creative risks seldom mix.

Some would say that the horror sequel is the only way for horror to survive at all in today's market. There are less then 25,000 movie screens in this country; in a summer like the one just past, major releases like Indy Jones III, Batman, Ghostbusters II, License to Kill, and others occupied an overwhelming majority of those screens for most of the summer. Without an identifiable figure like Freddy Kreuger, how could a new, unknown horror film get booked into theaters at all, let alone make any kind of a dent in the market? The American moviegoer has been thoroughly trained to catch every "big" movie that they "must" see.

For myself, and a lot of horror fans like me, it was the little movies that hardly anyone had seen that always had the most appeal. But Jason, Michael, and Freddy have changed all that.

Maybe you think I'm an old fogey, a stick-in-th’-mud, someone who resents, out of jealousy, the amalgamation of greater and greater power in Hollywood. Maybe you have a point. But it also occurs to me that one of the first people to raise a howl about this mass market was the man who started it all. John Carpenter, the writer and director who devised the unkillable maniac in his picture Halloween, fought long and hard to prevent its sequelization; he found that it's very hard to stand between Hollywood sharks and money to be made. Today, the Halloween saga continues without Carpenter's participation, while he continues to make worthwhile horror films, particularly They Live! , which all by itself is worth all the Halloween sequels lumped in one basket.

If Carpenter could do it, so can you -- "Just say no" to junk food horror movies. Only when Jason, Freddy and Michael finally and thoroughly die can horror films start anew.

Both the editorial above and the cover below prove it - Fango had guts! The "feud" with Siskel (and Ebert, it went on in later issues) is a powerful example of the brazen truth-saying fire that existed within Fangoria's pages. It wasn't a critic's place to actually interfere with the production of films, especially through blatant censorship, and it was part of Fangoria's mission at the time to bring down any institution that supported such insidious un-American activity.

Who's that handsome fella!? Much like Kurtzman's magazines, the staff at Fango often made uncredited and hilarious cameos in their house ads, and as we see above Bob himself was no stranger to this.

Below is Fangoria's first George Romero interview. This, like the other interviews included here (do yourself a favor - print and READ these!), are with artists whose careers were very much aided by Fango. Although the merits of their films are apparent enough, the rabid fandom and "vision" of what these artists did was put into a community setting through the pages of Fango. I'll preface this with a brief passage, probably written by Bob, from an intro to a contest announcement in Fango #13:

"We've featured well over 100 films in the two years and 12 issues behind us; but there is still only a handful of filmmakers that we consider the real reason for this magazine's existence; the foremost of these is George Romero. Not only is he one of the most talented screenwriter-directors working today; he has also proved the value of independence - time and time again bypassing formula, risking all on each of his features. And, to the benefit of every truly creative filmmaker, as well as moviegoers, he has made that policy work."

A beautiful editorial below, highlighting with relish the intent of Bob's editorship. I can't even remotely imagine reading something like that in a current national mag's opening notes ...

One of my personal favorite Fango covers. I love reading this on the subway and showing off Giovanni Lombardo Radice's acting talents ... "Drilling for Brains!"

An amazing early John Carpenter interview below; again the perception of these artists as part of a "world" or community is apparent.

For me this is one of the truly interesting special effects pieces. Tom Sullivan and Bart Pierce were totally unknown, and the story of their effects for "Evil Dead" is hardly ordinary.

And in closing, another masterpiece of a cover. I hope to write more on UncleBob in the future, but until then please - for your own sanity, seek out some of his writing. And if perchance there's any young writers out there - take UncleBob on as an influence, it's likely your writing will become more truthful because of it. And if you don't want to write the truth - please don't write at all.

-Mike Hunchback