An interview with Chuck and Karolina Morrongiello, makers of Amityville Mt. Misery Road

We reviewd Amityville Mt. Misery Road a while back, but we were really excited to get the chance to interview the filmmakers, Chuck and Karolina Morrongiello, to learn more about how the movie got made. Thanks to them for opening up some time in their busy schedule for us!

The happy couple in better times before they took a ride down Mt. Misery Road

B&S About Movies: We were really by the distribution the film has.

Chuck Morrongiello: Yeah. We worked hard on that and it ended up being a great deal. When the film is good, that’s what happens.

B&S: What inspired you guys to make this movie?

Chuck: The thing is, my wife is from Poland and I’m from Long Island, New York. We went to Poland and she showed me some historical things like World War II bomb shelters and a lot of other places — ghostly places, haunted places — so when we came back to New York, I wanted to show her some of my old stomping grounds.

One of the most famous places and it’s considered one of the most haunted roads in the world is Mt. Misery Road. It’s been cursed for centuries and it’s right around the corner from Amityville.

I took her there right before Christmas in 2015 and we walked around in 10-degree weather and I said, “Hey, nobody has ever made a movie about this place and it would make a great story.”

We had about ten days there and I said, “Just start walking in the woods and I’ll start filming.” When we got back to the hotel, we watched it and thought that we were on to something. Within a day or two, we wrote 25 different scenes and it all came together.

We knew the story we wanted to tell, of the asylum that burned down and all the great history and tales of Mt. Misery Road, like the creature with red glowing eyes, a hellhound the haunts the woods and even Mothman, they’ve all been seen there.

Buzi has her copy!

B&S: Was it frightening to be in those places when you shot the film?

Chuck: We had many, many things happen while we were there.

Karolina Morrongiello: Check out our Facebook page!

Chuck: We have ten different testimonials of people that have witnessed the horror there. Plus, I grew up around the corner, so in the 70’s and 80’s we’d go there to get spooked. On Halloween, everyone goes there to find the hellhound.

While we were filming, we had a lot of problems. The camera wasn’t working. We went back another time a year later for more footage and we started hearing noises and seeing ectoplasmic fog and heard laughing sounds and even saw red dots that floated around. All of that is in the film. You can actually hear the granny laughing in the background and we left that in there. We experienced it — people won’t go there because it’s cursed and bad things have happened.

B&S: So you were lucky to escape with the footage you got.

Chuck: Well, we went in there with a mission. We wanted to see if we could really found something and we did. We were blown away when we listened to some of the audio and watched the footage.

When my wife was editing this film, she had nightmares!

B&S: Are there any plans for a sequel?

Chuck: That’s a good question. We’ve been talking about doing Mt. Misery Road 2 because people have been asking us. Everyone in Long Island — you can ask anyone there — they’re proud of having the most haunted road. My grandparents, my mom and dad, they all warned me to stay away from this place since I was a kid!

We put the movie out and it sold out in Long Island. WalMart stores were sold out across the country! You were lucky that you found a copy!

B&S: What are your influences? Did you grow up watching horror movies?

Chuck: We like horror flicks, we like drama and suspense. While we were there, the idea just came to my head though. Nobody ever made a film about this place.

We do watch Lifetime almost every night. Our new movie that we’re working on is very sinister, a blend of The Shining and the movie Misery. We liked A Quiet PlaceTerrifier was great.

Karolina: The Intruder.

Chuck: That was great.

B&S: What else would you tell people about your movie?

Chuck: It’s a b movie. We filmed it on our phones. That movie Tangerine and Unsane, they’ve been filmed on phones too. We made a low budget movie on our terms, with a few actors, and all three were from the area and knew that road. One of them even had their car jolted near the cemetery and had no idea how many people that has happened to! I said, “That was probably Mary!”

Our budget was probably the lowest ever — $2,500 bucks.

Karolina: We should call the Guinness Book of World Records.

Not a place for the easily freaked out!

B&S: It was cool to see that you’re a couple making movies together.

Chuck: We’re always doing things together. We have a passion for this kind of stuff. We have an album right now, I was Marty Balin’s guitar player. I even wrote the whole soundtrack for this movie.

We were inspired! I didn’t see my wife for six months because she was in the next room editing the film!

B&S: Where does your wife’s nickname come from in the film?

Chuck: Her character name is Buzi.

Karolina: (laughs) Buzi means kiss in Polish, so basically when we started dating, I was telling him, “Hey give me a kiss,” but I said, “Give me a buzi.” So he started calling me that instead of Karolina. So we left it in the movie.

The most haunted road in America!

To see Amityville Mt. Misery Road for yourself, you can grab the DVD at WalMart or watch it for free on Tubi. You can also visit official site to learn more.

An interview with Arlene Sidaris, producer of so many of the films we’ve covered this week

One of the things you may notice as you watch the Andy Sidaris movies that we’ve been covering this week is that they’re all produced by his wife, Arlene. We’re beyond pleased that she took the time to answer a few of our questions about these iconic films and why we still love them years after we first saw them on late night cable TV.

B&S ABOUT MOVIES: How did you and Andy meet?

ARLENE SIDARIS: I was working on Nightlife in NYC, hosted by Les Crane, directed by Mac Hrmiom, pal of Andy’s from ABC Sports. The show was moving to LA, the same weekend that Andy was moving from NYC to LA. Les gave a welcoming party. Mac invited Andy.

B&S: I’ve always loved that the L.E.T.H.A.L. movies seemed to be a family affair. What was it like to be on set?

AS: Andy set the tone of mutual support and cooperation on set and in our family life.

Andy Sidaris surrounded by the L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies

B&S:  It seems like every interviewer wants to know if you were intimidated on set or upset by the nudity. Does that question get old?

AS: No intimidation. The women are beautiful, with bodies they are proud of. I am happy to help them show their pride.

B&S: How did the movies become a series? How long did it take until you saw some level of success?

AS: Andy made a deal for 2 films. At first, HBO & Showtime scheduled them in the middle of the night. To their surprise, the films gathered an audience. From that attention, we then made a deal for another 5 films.

B&S: How much input did you have on script or story? Did you ever feel empowered to say, “This is a bad idea?”

AS: In the first round, my input concentrated on scheduling, location & budget. Once we were filming, on occasion, Andy would accept a take and I would request another…and then insist, if necessary.

B&S: The films are often filled with lots of humor. Was that what Andy enjoyed?

AS: Andy had a very unique, original way of looking at life which was reflected in the films.

B&S: What’s your favorite of the films you made?

AS: People often ask that question. My answer is that the films are like children, I love them all…but, if pressed, I can say Fit to Kill and our last, Return to Savage Beach.

The inspiration for this question. PS – I wouldn’t call Andy’s movies dumb.

B&S: I saw a really interesting Twitter post that said that in 20 plus Marvel movies, you have no idea of who Black Widow or any of the female characters really are, but in Andy Sidaris movies, you know all about the girls on a much deeper level. Thoughts?

AS: In our films, the good guys don’t stay good and the bad guys don’t stay dead.

B&S: I’m so excited that these films are getting a proper blu ray release from Mill Creek. Have you heard from any new fans?

AS: Yes. The increased theatrical dates, new HD DVD’s, streaming and social media have brought many new fans…and I love them all.

B&S: As you know, people get upset quite easily today. How do you think millennials will react to the films?

AS: In November, I was in San Francisco for a screening and Q&A. The screening was on a Wednesday night at 10:30. I didn’t think anyone would show up.  It was sold out.  The audience reaction was great and, except for me, I don’t think there was a person in the audience who was born when the film was made, almost 30 years ago.

A magical moment in Hard Ticket to Hawaii.

B&S:  If there was a big budget remake of Malibu Express, who would you cast from today?

AS: That question takes too much thought.

B&S: Finally, what do you miss most about Mr. Sidaris?

AS: How much time do you have?

Devin Devasquez, Liv Lindeland, Sybil Danning, Shelly Taylor Morgan, Julie Strain, Andy Sidaris and Arlene Sidaris (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)

Thanks again to Mrs. Sidaris for her time and great responses. Want to learn more? Visit and check out the shop section while you’re there for everything from the first two Mill Creek blu ray reissues of Malibu Express and Hard Ticket to Hawaii to the Girls, Guns & G-Strings 12 Movie Set (I have all of the above and recommend you do the same) and Bullets, Bombs and Babes, a coffee table book about Andy’s films. Plus, sign on with this Feedback form to get a monthly newsletter.

Interview with Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, author of Teen Movie Hell

Subtitled “A Crucible of Coming-of-Age Comedies from Animal House to Zapped!,” Mike “McBeardo” McPadden’s new book Teen Movie Hell does for teen films what his Heavy Metal Movies did for, well, heavy metal movies. I’ve long been an admirer of Mike’s writing and was super excited when he agreed to do an interview as part of our teen comedy week, which was totally inspired by his book!

B&S ABOUT MOVIES: In the postscript to the book, you wrote that you’ve been working on this off and on for a long time. Did today’s environment play into why you put this out now?

MIKE “MCBEARDO” MCPADDEN: The short answer is no. The longer answer is this book would have come out at any point since I started working on it in 1994 had a publisher agreed to make it happen. That TMH finally emerged now in the era of “cancel culture” et al was just happenstance.

On the surface, it seems like the exact wrong moment, but the challenge of our present culture directed the project into something better than it would have been in the past.

It was kind of like the limitation of haiku. Consideration of potential missteps with language inspired me to come up with clever means of expressing what I wanted to express and, more importantly, to open the book up to contributors who could experience these movies in ways I could simply could not.

B&S: Last year’s Blockers did a fun job of subverting the teen movie cliches. But honestly, is there any way 90% of the movies in your book could be released now?

MCBEARDO: No, but I think that’s true of all movies from the past. I get what you’re asking though, in terms of content and humor that is now deemed not just unacceptable but demanding of punishment. And that answer is very much a “no”—and that’s fine. It’s right even.

Any attempt to make something today as outrageous, say King Frat or Screwballs would come off like those christawful “neo-grindhouse” movies on the order of Machete or Hobo With a Shotgun or, worst of all, Mandy.

Those things are the lowest of the low to me—technically upscale Troma, cutesy shock charades imitating nostalgia for somebody else’s nostalgia, like living, stinking pages of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Misappropriating Legitimate Cult Cinema.”

Of course, those neo-grindhouse movies are allowable in the current cultural environment because they focus on violence. No one would dare attempt to translate that to the vintage teen comedies because sex—as it once was and perhaps will forever now again be— stands out as the ultimate “don’t go there” taboo.

B&S: Porky’s is often thought of first when it comes to these films. What would you say — outside of the beach movies of the 60’s — is the real progenitor? And if you had to pick 2-3 of these films for someone that had never seen them to give them an overall flavor of the genre, which would they be?

MCBEARDO: All previous teen comedies lead to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and all subsequent teen comedies have proceeded forth from it. So there’s that one.

Revenge of the Nerds really exemplifies the genre, overall. For good and ill.

In terms of utter insanity and to choose something off-Hollywood, I’d say Surf II. It’s the best made of the completely off-the-wall examples such King Frat, H.O.T.S., Screwballs, Oddballs, and Hamburger: The Motion Picture. There’s a film festival for you.

A near-legendary film, so to speak…

B&S: One of the most impressive parts of the book was that you had no issue printing a dissenting opinion if someone didn’t agree. The Valley Girl review really stands out. How did that come up?

MCBEARDO: Christina Ward, who hates Valley Girl, is a great writer and she has brilliantly taken over the reigns of Feral House publishing in the wake of founder Adam Parfrey’s death. I’m always interested in reading terrifically constructed words, regardless of whether I agree with the ideas being expressed or not.

On top of that, I’m also a fan of extremely well expressed hothead outbursts. Christina pulled that off, tone-wise, while also eloquently illustrating what she doesn’t like and why she doesn’t like it.

B&S: It’s a pleasant surprise to see a celebrity you don’t expect to show up in a teen sex comedy, like Kurt Vonnegut in Back to School or Charles Bukowski in Supervan. What would people who haven’t read your book be surprised by?

MCBEARDO: Crispin Glover comes to mind. He’s existed in the popular consciousness for a long time as offbeat cinema’s supreme King Weirdo, but he started out as just another young actor eager for gigs. As a result, he plays one of the leads in My Tutor, Teachers, and the 1983 NBC TV-movie High School USA.

Crispin also acts as the sort of host of The Best of Times, a 1981 narrative musical-variety series about “today’s youth” that ABC aired once and which, at age 12, I managed to watch. It’s really jaw-dropping.

In between sketches and dance numbers that are set to, like, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” there are dramatic monologues wherein a youthful cast member just addresses the camera. Nicolas Cage delivers a true stunner about being afraid to register for the draft. You can watch it on YouTube. Which means you should be watching it right now.

B&S: I’m always struck by the old Hollywood types that show up in these films. It reminds me of how old comedians and Boris Karloff would show up in beach pictures. Why do you think that happens so much?

MCBEARDO: From the actor’s point of view, a job’s a job. Especially when you’re old. From a studio’s point of view, a famous name is a famous name—and all the better when you can match it to a genre. That’s why John Carradine was still being “featured” in shitty Z-level horror movies into the ’80s and, I’m sure, even after he died.

So if you can get Huntz Hall and Joe E. Ross to do a few hours work in Gas Pump Girls, for example, you get them!

B&S: Who would be your dream teen movie cast?

MCBEARDO: It’s an interesting question, because, outside of the John Hughes casts, these movies really aren’t star driven.

When it comes to a core group of goofy dudes, Michael Zorek is a great party-hearty fat guy in Private School and Hot Moves. Eddie Deezen, of course, is the nerdo-di-tutti-nerdi. Dana Olsen, who plays a fast-talking preppie con man in Making the Grade, should have starred in more movies. He didn’t, opting instead to focus on screenwriting. He went on to write The ‘Burbs.

In terms of actresses, I am an enormous fan of Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, who ruled ’70s teensploitation in The Swinging Cheerleaders, The Pom-Pom Girls, Slumber Party ’57, and Revenge of the Cheerleaders. She first mesmerized me when I was 13 and caught Lemora the Lady Dracula on TV.

When it comes to ’80s, it’s always great when Corinne Bohrer shows up, as she does in Zapped!, Joysticks, Surf II, and Stewardess School.

The best female lead performance in the genre comes from Joyce Hyser in Just One of the Guys. The funniest female performance belongs to Katt Shea in Preppies.

B&S: Seriously, will any single scene change as many lives as Phoebe Cates in Fast Times?

MCBEARDO: No. That kind of shared cultural experience is as much a part of the past as the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. We don’t live that way any more.

The exact moment nearly every American teen in 1982 hit puberty.

B&S: I really liked the overall tone of the book, as it’s not leering but not prudish. You struck a real balance while keeping things fun. Was that a challenge?

MCBEARDO: Obviously—I hope—I’m a free speech advocate and that calls for defending offensive, ugly, and unpopular speech. Still, there can be odd value in imposing censorship on one’s self.

I recall the fearless and flamboyant writer Quentin Crisp once bemoaning the new cinematic freedom of after the 1970s, particularly in regard to sex. Now, bear in mind, Quentin got arrested for being gay in the 1940s and announced in a London courtroom, “I am a self-evident, self-possessed, effeminate homosexual for all the world to see!”

But in terms of sex on screen, Quentin thought the ability to just show it prevented filmmakers from having to use their imaginations and he asked, in effect, “Are movies in general better now because we can see the actors naked?”

I would agree with his implication that, no, after the New Hollywood explosion, movies have only always gotten dumber and duller and worse—which doesn’t mean I haven’t also enjoyed a bunch of nude scenes.

So to turn that back around to the book: I think writing it while thinking about larger implications resulted in a richer, funnier, and more meaningful project than it would have been had I just loaded it up with dick-and-tit jokes.

B&S: At numerous junctures, you call out John Hughes. Is that something you felt in your teen years or something you grew to feel? For me, it’s the scene in Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy is only seen as attractive once she conforms. I wanted to shut the movie off and I was just in my teens!

MCBEARDO: Sixteen Candles came out the year I turned 16. I reviewed it in my high school newspaper and expressed disgust over the ham-fisted obviousness of underscoring the family running around like idiots at the sisters wedding by playing David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on the soundtrack.

The bitch of that was that when the movie came out on video, they couldn’t get the rights to the song, so it’s no longer there. Anyway, Hughes annoyed me from the get-go.

The Breakfast Club opened while I was still 16 and a high-school fuck-up intimately familiar with detention sessions and I loathed Judd Nelson’s character being portrayed as this “noble savage.” And I let people know.

I always liked Pretty in Pink, though. Harry Dean Stanton as the alcoholic dad, Annie Potts as a glimmer of hip hope for the future, and especially the ending felt true to me.

Ferris Bueller gave me a fucking brain aneurysm on immediate contact, though. It was perhaps the only film that legitimately “offended” me.

I write in the book about that experience, but I’ll reiterate here—I was 17 years old. My heroes were Howard Stern, Sam Kinison, Don Rickles, and Johnny Rotten. Musically, I was obsessed with the Butthole Surfers, the Mentors, and S.O.D. I was actively attempting to consume every Nazisploitation and Italian cannibal film ever made. Into that exact milieu arrived Ferris Bueller and I was completely, frothing-at-the-head-holes outraged and infuriated and saddened for all humanity by it and by him.

Naturally, it annoys me now that the rest of the world seems to have “caught up” with me circa June 1986.

Mark Twain nailed a policy I think is proper: “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to check your position.” I checked and, to be sure, I remain where I always have regarding Ferris Bueller.

The real enemy.

B&S: Porky’s was another movie that made me feel similarly. Between that and Revenge of the Nerds, why does each oppressed group in those films only reply back with more oppression?

MCBEARDO: Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but, really, “Hurt people hurt people.”

In Porky’s, the jocks who suffered bruised egos literally destroy the livelihood of the guy they blame for it, along with all the people he employs. Today, Porky would taken down via doxxing or SWAT-ing.

In Revenge, the ugly and unloved nerds humiliate women they feel humiliated by simply for existing. In modern parlance, we’d call those guys “incels,” and we’re all too horribly aware of what they’ve been capable of doing.

B&S: Finally, it’s awesome that people are talking about The Last American Virgin. Were you warned to the ending or did you get punched in the balls like I did?

MCBEARDO: I saw The Last American Virgin at the Nostrand theater when I was 14 with a big, raucous group of dudes. The one guy among us who was 17 bought all the tickets. We snuck in an entire pizza and hooted and laughed through the whole movie, right up to that sudden pitch-black drop off a cliff.

Afterward, we all walked out in a thick, heavy silence. It was only broken a half-a-block away when that one 17-year-old said with genuine earnestness, “I felt bad for that asshole.” He spoke for all of us.

Don’t be fooled by this happy poster. This film crushes souls.

Thanks Mike for taking the time to do this. Look for our review of Teen Movie Hell later this week, but this is one book that all movie fans should pick up. You can get it now from Bazillion Points.

Interview with Dante Tomaselli (UPDATED)

Dante Tomaselli is a screenwriter, director, and score composer behind the films Desecration, Horror, Satan’s Playground and Torture ChamberThe evils of advertising have brought us into contact with one another as we’ve discussed the lost power of poster art, particularly when it comes to the artwork for the film Prophecy.

I’m excited to get the chance to share this conversation with our site readers, as Dante was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the shooting location of Alice, Sweet Alice and more to the point, he’s the cousin of director Alfred Sole. Currently, he’s working on a remake of the film along with another feature, The Doll.

B&S ABOUT MOVIES: This week, we’re covering many of the movies on the Church of Satan’s film list. I was wondering if you had any thoughts:

DANTE TOMASELLI: Visually, I would say The Masque of the Red Death is one of my favorite horror films.  It’s not very suspenseful but the cinematography by Nicolas Roeg and those eye-popping Daniel Haller sets are to-die-for. The movie glows and has the unearthly feel of the supernatural with its macabre and surreal visuals.  Corman is at the top of his game. It’s as if The Masque of the Red Death and The Pit and the Pendulum were directed by Poe himself. Vincent Price was born to portray sadistic characters and I just love him as the Devil-worshipping Prince Prospero. Dripping with evil, Price delivers a multi-layered Oscar-worthy performance.  The colors bathing the interiors of the film’s castle are pure 60’s psychedelia.  Filmmakers just don’t make stylish gothic horror films like this anymore.

Dante with Alfred on set.

B&S: Obviously, Alice, Sweet Alice is near and dear to your heart. It’s the final movie we’ll cover. I just saw it in a crowded theater and the end disquieted an entire crowd. Why do you think the movie still retains such power?

DT: Well, first off I just witnessed exclusive clips of the upcoming Arrow Blu-ray release of Alice, Sweet Alice and you will be blown away. I am floored by the quality of the print. It looks gorgeous, luscious, painterly, brand new…better than ever!  The movie is lovingly preserved by Arrow Video.  Michael Gingold and Glen Baisley created the featurettes and in one of them they brought their cameras to my home studio in south New Jersey and interviewed me.  I spoke about my love and passion for the film and how proud I am of my cousin, Alfred Sole. I think the film retains such power because it’s genuinely enigmatic. In this age of McDonalds movies where everything looks the same with the computer generated imagery and sounds the same with the exact sound design and scores…There’s a sameness to almost everything these days. It’s numbing. People are slaves…drones to their cell phones. I walk through Manhattan and almost everyone is looking down at their little boxes. I get into the bus at Port Authority and everyone is looking down at their boxes. I sometimes do it too of course and I don’t want to be this way. When I walk through the streets of Manhattan I often get a chill as I pass by a crowded area. I feel as if at any second I might explode. There have been major terrorist attacks in NYC and time after time I seem to miss each one by the skin of my teeth. I feel the Grim Reaper moving closer and closer.

But getting back…You will love this new Arrow preservation. What a treat!  And the featurettes. Alice, Sweet Alice fans have a present coming to them. It is hands down, the ultimate presentation of Communion also known as Alice, Sweet Alice. And what I was leading up to…

I do think the film retains its power because there’s a real mystery to Alice, Sweet Alice, an aura of mysteriousness, and that’s a rare thing, especially in these times where every horror film that you see advertised on TV has the same visuals and the same exact sounds!

Alice, Sweet Alice is ferociously unique and marches to the beat of its own drummer in every way. It remains a landmark independent horror film and I’m so proud of my cousin, Alfred, who worked miracles with his $340, 000 budget. The eerie mask is unforgettable and we are talking about the possibility of releasing official Alice, Sweet Alice Halloween masks.

B&S: Are you still in the works of remaking the film?

DT: Yes, definitely,  I won’t talk about it anymore until I’m literally on the set but, yes. Michael Gingold is co-writer of the remake screenplay and we think we have something very frightening in store for horror fans, almost like a Giallo.  It’s just a matter of funding and it could happen at any time.  No one should ever dismiss me in mounting an independent film…I am nothing if not tenacious.

For now I’m focusing on my next film, which will be my fifth feature, The Doll.  It’s also a project co-written by Michael Gingold, who brings a lot to the table. The Doll concerns a haunting at a family owned wax museum in Salem. I’m getting closer to the film’s actual production.

Desecration, my first film was recently re-released on Blu-ray by Code Red and Kino Lorber (available at Diabolik DVD). I just finished my fifth dark electronic album called, Out-of-Body Experience. It will be released digitally and on CD in a few months and I’ve been encouraged by the feedback in the horror world on all my instrumental  albums…Scream in the Dark, The Doll, Nightmare...Witches.

For example, Mark R. Hasan at Rue Morgue always analyses the music and surprisingly my last album, Witches was even nominated for Rue Morgue 2017 album of the year. I create these strange sound sculptures in my home studio.

Lately, I find myself really drawn to the music side of things. In fact that’s what I’ve been doing exclusively since 2012. It’s time now, though to get back into creating hallucinatory horror pictures. I’m painfully pregnant with The Doll. It’s clawing at my insides.

Check out Dante’s site, Enter the Torture Chamber.

DEATH WISH WEEK: An interview with Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose!: the Making of the Death Wish films

As I wrote this week worth of Death Wish, Paul Talbot’s Bronson’s Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films was an amazing resource. It’s packed with stories and anecdotes from director Michael Winner, actor Kevyn Major Howard, novelist Brian Garfield, and interviews and articles from when the films were originally released. There’s also a sequel, Bronson’s Loose Again! On the Set with Charles Bronson, that I’ll be grabbing.

I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Paul about the films and am so excited to share it with you.

B&S: How did you come to be such a fan of not only Death Wish, but Charles Bronson?

PAUL TALBOT: When I was a little boy in the 1970s, I’d watch a lot of Elvis Presley movies on TV with my mom. One weekend we watched Kid Galahad in which Elvis plays a boxer and Bronson played his trainer. It was the first time I saw Bronson and I was fascinated by him.A few days later, I watched The Great Escape on TV with my dad. It was his favorite movie. And I was fascinated by Bronson in that.

The mid-70s was the era of Bronsonmania when he was hot at the box office and his older movies and TV episodes were constantly on TV. This was way before cable TV and way, way before VHS and you had to find older movies and TV episodes on obscure local channels called UHF channels. I used to always look at the movie ads in the newspaper and I was intrigued by the image of Bronson at the bottom of the stairs and I was disturbed by a review that described the plot. In elementary school, one of best friend’s dad took him to the drive-in to see it and my friend described the images to me. But I was way too young to see it then.

I grew up in Beverly MA, which is a suburb of Boston. There was a local theater called the Cabot and they showed 2nd run movies (i.e. movies that had already played the big cities). I would walk there a lot to see matinees. In the fall of 1975, a friend and I went to see Breakout. It was the first Bronson movie I saw at a theater and I loved it. I saw Hard Times at the same theater a few months later. From then on, I saw almost every movie Bronson made at a theater until his last feature Death Wish 5. I didn’t get to see the original Death Wish until around 1981 when I saw it late-night on a cable station. (I think the station was a Washington, DC station.)

I loved Death Wish and I thought it was very disturbing. I did see Death Wish 2 thru 5 on their first theatrical run.

B&S: We’re from a town not far where Bronson was born, and some restaurants here still have his photo up on their walls and bars (I always request said tables). How much do you think his hardscrabble beginnings created his personality?

PT: That’s cool about the restaurants. He came from a dirt poor background and I think that had a lot to do with his stoic persona. He didn’t really trust people. He had a strong work ethic.

B&S: There are a lot of legends about the actor — Andrew Stevens shares one in the intro, after all. What are a few of your favorites?

PT: I interviewed dozens of Bronson’s coworkers for my two Bronson books and I collected lots of good stories. One of my favorite anecdotes involves Bronson’s mysterious oldest brother. Bronson wouldn’t see him for years and then the brother would show up on movie set. The brother lived on the streets and he would only accept small amounts of money from Bronson whenever they would meet. The brother ultimately ended up dead in a sleazy hotel in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles.

B&S: Do you have a favorite of the five movies? A least favorite?

PT: The original Death Wish is a flawless masterpiece and one of the best films of the 1970s. It is not an action film, it is a gritty, dark psychological drama. The sequels became progressively more absurd and more cartoonish, much like the James Bond and Dirty Harry movies did. But the sequels work on their own level as efficient comic book programmers. My least favorite is Part 2 because of the horrifying rape scenes and because it is a disappointment coming from Michael Winner.

B&S: What I find interesting about the films is that they each reflect the changing climates of the times they are made, going from introspective analysis of what it would take to make a man a vigilante to out and out high action epics. How do you feel about the shifting narrative tone of the films?

PT: The original Death Wish was shot in early 1974 when crime was rampant in the major U.S. cities—especially in New York. I remember that some of my classmates’ parents didn’t allow their kids to go on field trips into NYC. Death Wish audiences, particularly those in New York and especially those who had been victims of crimes themselves, screamed and applauded with delight as Paul Kersey responded on screen the way they wished they could have in real life. DWII was released in 1982 during the Reagan era when Americans were in a right wing, eye-for-an-eye mood. By the time DW3 went into production in 1985, every action film was copying the Stallone’s epic First Blood and Kersey was turned into a Rambo-like character with unlimited firepower. DW4 was released in 1987 during the heyday of the VHS boom when young men stayed home and watched an endless supply of action epics. DW5 hit video shelves during the last gasp of the video rental craze.

B&S: My theory is that all the films are in the same universe, unlike today’s films that often move in and out of canon with reimagining. That means that Paul is the most Jobian hero ever, constantly facing more misery than perhaps any fictional character ever. How does he keep going?

PT: My theory is slightly different. I see Kersey as only the same character in the first two movies. I see DW3 as being set in a bizarre alternate universe that bears no resemblance to Earth. That movie is totally insane and is like no other. DW4 and 5 I see as not sequels to DW but as sequels to The Mechanic with a retired skilled hit man assuming the name Kersey.

B&S: I love that! Have you seen any of the films inspired by Death Wish, like Il Giustiziere di Mezzogiorno, Mohra, the 1975 Turkish shot for shot remake The Executioner or Sex Wish?

PT: I’ve seen parts of the first, second and fourth movies on that list. I didn’t want to finish them.

B&S: I’m sure you’ve been asked this a ton of times, but please indulge me. What are your feelings on the Eli Roth remake?

PT: I have not seen it nor do I intend to. I read the script a few years before the film went into production and I thought it was not good. It had nothing to do with the novel or the original film. It was just another vigilante story but it was commissioned by the studio that owned the rights so the character was called “Paul Kersey.” I did try to watch the trailer but I couldn’t get through the first 2 seconds.

B&S: So much of the press for it was very reactionary — articles that said, “There’s no good time for a remake of Death Wish.” What are your feelings?

PT: A better phrase is “There’s no good time for a remake starring Bruce Willis or one directed by Eli Roth.” A remake should be set in the era of social media. Kersey’s teenage daughter gets bullied on Facebook and she commits suicide. Kersey goes after the kids that bullied her and breaks their fingers so they can’t type on their phones anymore.

B&S: Have you ever been in a personal situation like the film? Does that inform how you feel about the movies?

PT: I don’t want to go into the details. But, yes, I have been mugged and I have been a victim of crime on several other occasions and I got no help from law enforcement or the (in)justice system. I certainly understand Kersey’s rage in the first film. But I never suffered as bad as he did.

B&S: What inspired you to write the book?

PT: The first Bronson’s Loose! book came about when I re-watched the original Death Wish in the early 2000s. I hadn’t seen it in many years and I was shocked at how great it was. I then decided to revisit the sequels. This was before any of them were on DVD, and I had to go to several mom and pop video stores to find VHS copies of each sequel. I re-watched all of the sequels in one marathon weekend viewing. I thought, “How did we get from the original masterpiece to these bizarre sequels, especially since the first three were directed by the same man?” I decided to write an article on the first three movies. I did a lot of research on the first three and then I tracked down an address for Michael Winner and wrote him a letter. His assistant sent me an email with a time to call for an interview. He lived in London and I had to do the interview at around five a.m., my time. We talked for about an hour, and Winner told me some great stories. He was hilarious. I wrote an article on the first three movies, included Winner’s quotes, and sent a query to numerous movie magazine. I got no response. No magazine editors wanted to read the article. I then decided to track down more people from the series, do more research on the sequels, and write a book.

B&S: So how did the sequel to the book come up?

PT: I hadn’t done any extensive Bronson research in awhile. But around 2013, I did an interview with The Evil That Men Do screenwriter John Crowther and wrote an article on that film. I couldn’t find any magazines that were interested in even reading that article. But, that research got me thinking about a sequel to Bronson’s Loose! and I decided to try and interview as many living actors and crew members who worked with Bronson as I could. So over the course of two and a half years, I interviewed over three dozen actors, directors, producers, and writers and I put the book Bronson’s Loose Again! together. That book came out in 2016. Many of the people I’ve interviewed have since passed on and I’m grateful that I was able to capture and document their Bronson stories.

B&S: Thanks for answering our questions. I learned so much more about the films (and had already learned so much from the first book)!

PT: Thanks for talking to me, Sam. If people want to learn more about Bronson, they may want to read my books Bronson’s Loose: The Making of the Death Wish Films and Bronson’s Loose Again: On the Set with Charles Bronson.  I’ve done commentary tracks for the Blu rays of the Bronson movies Death Wish 2, 4 and 5 and Mr. MajestykCabo Blanco and The Stone Killer and I just recorded two more this month that will be out in early 2019.

An interview with the creators of Hitler Lives!

We watched and wrote about Hitler Lives! earlier this week and were excited when the creators agreed to answer our questions about this intriguing film.

B&S About Movies: Tell us who you are, your background and why you decided to make this project.

Stuart Roswell: My name is Stuart Rowsell, I am Creative Director of Bloodhound FX, a Sydney based special effects props manufacturing studio. I am also the Director of Hitler Lives!, which I like to describe as a deranged doom metal snuff film about Hitler’s private hell with puppets!!

My background is the visual arts. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture at university, I decided to follow up my obsession with special effects and start my own business in the Sydney film industry – which led to working as a Puppet Maker on many commercials and working as a Creature Technician on many feature films. Ultimately I decided that, with my film experience and a crew of good drinking mates, that we could all make a crazy little feature film ourselves, our own Eraserhead styled horror film…

Paul Hovey: I’m Paul Hovey. I started work as a labourer when I was 12, decided IT would be an easier way to make money when I was 16 so started my first business. I have worked in IT ostensibly since then with a Hotrod Workshop thrown in the middle. I now consult on enterprise strategy but when I met Stoo I was more delivery focused, thought – yeah sure, Hitler Lives!, interesting idea, happy to provide some guidance around project management etc. to people lined up for producer and so forth roles – when it came time for the rubber to hit the road – they vanished and Stoo and I had to decide, OK, screw them. Let’s make this film ourselves. I laid out what I expected of the end product – something that would pass iTunes store QC (the highest bar of all the streaming services) and we rolled up our sleeves and got started. Many talkers have come and gone over the life of the project leaving Stoo and I to teach ourselves their roles which I think ultimately delivered something as true to Stoo’s artistic vision as was practical, which was always my goal.

B&S: Have you had any backlash in regards to it being a Hitler movie?

SR: There are always those politically correct totalitarians who think history should be forgotten and people like Hitler should never be discussed – but we live in an age where world wars are a thing of the past and researching them and all the odd anomalies and mysteries that occurred within them is a fascination. Hitler lives! has only had a few harsh judgments – most people appreciate low-budget films for what they are, the film we made was only meant as a Trash Exploitation film, a surreal insight into the demented mind of Hitler, still living as a zombie-like creature in a bunker …  It was never made to offend anyone or cause controversy.

PH: Ergh, idiot comments from Millennial SJW types – Oh, I’ll read the name of the film and make a judgment – then post something trite.

Them “Why are you glorifying Hitler?”

Me – “Have you even watched the film?”

Them – Crickets – they’ve done their virtue signaling, patted themselves on the back and moved on.

Nothing serious, just annoying – but you have to have a thick skin to exist on the internet. Particularly if your movie is called Hitler Lives!

B&S: How did you compile all of the research that you had? Was there a certain book or piece of research that meant more to the project than others?

SR: Paul and I are conspiracy theorists – we are obsessed with what we are ‘not told’ in our history. Hitler’s escape from the Bunker and the hidden history of Nazi technologies, advanced 30 years ahead of any other nation at the time, was the real inspiration, especially Die Glocke…

PH: Yeah, what he said, I am fascinated by the breadcrumbs of the stories about Die Glocke and the mountain complex it was supposedly built in, Project Riese, 9km of tunnels, 20,000 strong labor force moving in and out every day – and not making munitions or planes – What were they doing?!? What was the henge for?!?

B&S: The effects are pretty amazing. Were there any challenges with them?

SR: We had no budget for high end animatronic creatures or complicated prosthetics – mostly due to the ‘theme’ of the film – so the budget was essentially zero. No one was going to help us with funding on a Hitler horror film!!! So we had to do the best we could with what we had and as with all low-budget films, the biggest challenge is making a $1 dollar prop look like $1000 dollar prop!!! If you have a collaborative process with a Producer like Paul, who helped with overall computer support, editing, and all the technical problems that come with cutting industry filmmaking corners – anyone can make their own movie.

PH: Ha, yes what he said – I took the filmmaking rulebook and in a lot of places said – well that seems unnecessarily expensive or convoluted and came up with a better way, for a “Monitor screen” which in film world costs $10,000 for a Kodak colour matched 8 inch screen that bolts onto a fancy camera rig, I replaced it with a spare 24 inch monitor I had and a wireless HDMI setup, it cost less than $100 and – same result – the monitor is for checking framing – not colour checks, to me that was just film industry wankery. Stoo knew the colour look he wanted and we knew the lenses/camera/lighting we had delivered that.

B&S: How did you find the actors for the film?

SR: I have been friends with Morte, Jay Katz and Rev Kriss Hades for many years and we had worked together on various commercials, short films and art projects. So for the feature film, I just needed to get them all in one place and make it happen – which was my Producer, Paul’s, own private hell!

PH: Yes, My patience was tested and more than once Stoo may have stopped me putting a head into a wall or going and kicking someone’s door down, throwing them in a van and delivering them to the studio…

B&S: So much of the movie is about the music that plays. How did you decide on the tone and what music would be in it?

SR: The soundtrack was a collaboration process, mostly between myself and Rev Kriss Hades. As we edited the film we discussed the various music and chose the songs that really struck a cord with the visuals.

PH: I may have blackmailed Kris into action as after 5 years of promises and no delivery I knocked out the entire soundtrack from samples in a weekend, when he saw what was done without him – Boom – He swung into action and pulled through in the end to produce something cool and creepy. Kris is a “Miracle at the last mile” kind of person though – it’s his trademark – getting him to work to a schedule is nigh on impossible though.

B&S: What movies influence you? Directors? If you had to choose a favorite film, what would it be?

SR: Personally I really enjoy the older classic movies, Universal Horror, Hammer Horror, 70’s Grindhouse Film, Exploitation Film, Extreme Trash Film, Horror and Mystery Film. Directors I admire are those who do amazing work on low-budgets; Whale, Corman, Bava, Fulci, Deodato, Argento, D’Amato, Romero, Hooper, Raimi, Carpenter, Craven, Lynch, Barker, Cronenberg, Miike etc … the megabudget films I will probably only watch once! Choosing a favorite film is virtually impossible as I have so many – if I had to choose one, it would probably be Frankenstein (1931).

PH: Carpenter is definitely my standout hero – followed by Lynch. Carpenter is a great storyteller and Lynch’s ability to create tension is unrivaled. Look out for prop choice and position in any lynch scene – they are all awkwardly mismatched or positioned – not overtly, just enough to make something in your head squirm – early Twin Peaks has some great examples. Like Stoo there is a long list and picking a favorite film is difficult but They Live is a real standout film for me.

B&S: Could you foresee a sequel to this? Or do you have a new project in mind?

SR: Making feature films with no budget is such an uphill battle, that I could never imagine revisiting this deranged bunker territory again …. a new Horror project is definitely in the works …

PH: Sequel, no. There’s definitely more meat on the bone story wise but there are other stories to tell. In the horror genre, I’d like to go back to the good old days on the 70’s and 80’s – Busty camper running through the woods, oh no, her shirt has fallen open as she trips (damned weak ankles!) now her boobs are flopping all over the place – and – Oh no, the killer is upon her! Entertainment that’s a little bit naughty, jump in your seat a few times scary but not in an over the top Saw kind of way, a lot silly but entertains you for 90 minutes. I do have a motor racing film project in mind, but the stars have to align (gap in my schedule) to focus on bringing that to life.

B&S: Thanks so much!

SR: Thank you Becca and Sam for your appreciation of our demented little film … Cheers.

PH: Ditto, really appreciate the time you took to watch, review and share your views, not many people catch the references in the film, it was so nice to see they resonated with you and you “Get it”

Don’t forget to check out the official site and get your own copy of Hitler Lives!

BIGFOOT WEEK: An interview with The Weirdest Movie Ever Made author Phil Hall

Yesterday, we reviewed The Weirdest Movie Ever Made, Phil Hall book that traces the convoluted history of how the Patterson and Gimlin film was created and impacted the scientific community and popular culture.
We had the opportunity to talk to Phil about the inspiration behind the book, a lost Bigfoot film and some thoughts on some of his favorite — or not so favorite — Bigfoot films.
B&S ABout Movies: What got you interested in Bigfoot? For me, it was the 1970’s show In Search Of…
Phil Hall: I had the great fortune of being a kid during the 1970’s, when there was a great fascination with subjects outside of the realm of established science. It seemed that you could not turn on the television, go to a movie theater, or open a publication without seeing something related to such topics as the Bermuda Triangle, ancient and contemporary extra-terrestrials and the superstars of cryptozoology, including Bigfoot. My initial interest was not in Bigfoot, per se, but in this wonderful parallel universe of funky subjects that, in many ways, helped define the happy lunacy of that decade.
B&S: When I was a kid, there was a traveling exhibit that came to our local K-Mart parking lot that was similar to the Minnesota Iceman. Did you ever encounter one of those?
Phil: I am from the Bronx in New York City. We didn’t have K-Marts – and, somewhat more disappointingly, we never experienced any of the Bigfoot or UFO sightings that permeated that era. Trust me, growing up in an urban setting comes with disadvantages.
B&S: I really got into the sections of the book that get into the four-walled exploitation film Bigfoot: America’s Abominable Snowman. Have you had a chance to see the film? What are your feelings on it?
Phil: I have yet to see the film. While doing my research, I was afraid that the film was lost – it’s not even listed in the Internet Movie Database. Mercifully, it survives in private collections, but it cannot be released on DVD due to copyright issues.
The most striking aspect of the Patterson-Gimlin Film story is how that film managed to reach so many people. In many ways, the distribution of Bigfoot: America’s Abominable Snowman is a milestone in the distribution of independent film productions. Sadly, very few people today know about the film because it has been out of circulation for so long.
B&S: Additionally, we’ve discussed the Sunn Classic Pictures 70’s documentaries on our site. Any recollections on those?
Phil: I have very fond memories of seeing Chariots of the Gods and The Lincoln Conspiracy during their theatrical releases, and I still have the paperback tie-ins to those films. Sunn Classic Pictures was the rare company that brought documentary films to mainstream audiences. I saw Chariots of the Gods at the Dale Theater in the Bronx, which was a neighborhood movie house.
I have looked at a few of the Sunn Classic films recently and, sadly, they are not as wonderful as I remembered them some forty years ago. But, then again, how many films that we loved in childhood still resonate with us as adults?
B&S: We’ve covered the Bigfoot films A Wish for Giants and Bigfoot on our site recently. I loved how you covered the latter, it’s a real piece of 1970’s drive-in weirdness. Do you have a favorite Bigfoot related film?
Phil: The answer may be a cop-out, but I have to say that I don’t have a favorite Bigfoot related film. The beauty of the Patterson-Gimlin Film is the elusive nature of Bigfoot, who is walking away from the camera and is mostly uninterested in human contact. There is also the blink-and-you-miss-it element of the film when Bigfoot very briefly turns around to acknowledge the camera, which is still shocking no matter how many times you watch it. Bigfoot films place our favorite hominid front-and-center, often in a cartoonishly violent situation, and then the film just becomes another monster movie.
B&S: The Legend of Boggy Creek is another favorite. I’ve debated the strangeness of that film and how it moves from straight ahead narrative to an attempted documentary. Why do you think it’s so strange?
Phil: I think the film works because it was made outside of the Hollywood studio system, so the filmmakers had the freedom to shoot their production in a style that would have been hack-chopped to death by studio editors. That’s the beauty of the indie films of the 1970’s — they don’t look like anything that came before or since.
B&S: I’m so glad you brought up some of the lesser known Bigfoot films, like the bonkers Cry Wilderness. Is that the strangest one you’ve seen?
Phil: It’s not a film, but I feel that the television series Bigfoot and Wildboy was the strangest in how it presented Bigfoot. Even for the 1970s, it was utterly bizarre – a crime-fighting Sasquatch teamed with a feral child sporting a Farrah Fawcett hairdo?
B&S: We often discuss the emotion of belief in our articles here, how we want something to be true even if it obviously isn’t. Do you think that’s why the footage has been so famous for so long?
Phil: I think the Patterson-Gimlin Film continues to haunt us because it doesn’t make logical sense. We are seeing something that we should not be seeing, if only because we’ve been told that what is on the screen cannot possibly exist. But it is there, which leads to the obvious questioning of whether it is real or fake. The weird thing is that there has never been a conclusive be-all/end-all answer to the question of the authenticity of the being that is caught on camera. Some people claim they were part of the hoax, but they never presented evidence that backed that claim. And those insist that the image of Bigfoot is real also need to explain the murky circumstances on how the film was shot and processed. A half-century later, we’re still on that cryptozoological carousel — we go in circles, but never really get anywhere.
B&S: In a world where we all carry incredibly high-quality cameras with us at all times, are you shocked there are not more cryptozoological videos?
Phil: The cynical answer is: You cannot film what does not exist. The optimistic answer is: You cannot film what does not want to be filmed. Bigfoot and the other creatures of cryptozoology are not attention hogs, and sightings of these creatures were always accidental surprises.
B&S: I loved the essays from other film fans. How did you choose who would appear?
Phil: I chose filmmakers and culture journalists whose opinions I trust and enjoy. It was a completely subjective decision.
B&S: Finally, what are some of your favorite films outside the cryptozoological spectrum?
Phil: Oh, I can watch anything from the classics of Akira Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray to the knockabout of the Three Stooges. As long as the film is not boring, I will be happy to watch it.
You can buy The Weirdest Movie Ever Made directly from the publisher, BearManor Media. You can also catch Phil’s podcast  “The Online Movie Show” on SoundCloud and his weekly column “The Bootleg Files” on Cinema Crazed.

Interview with Amanda Reyes of Made for TV Mayhem part 4

This is part 4 of our interview with Amanda from Made for TV Mayhem!

Other than TV movies, what are some of your other favorite films?

I’m a slasher fanatic! That’s where my heart is. I love the golden age of slashers, and some of my favorites are He Knows You’re Alone, Prom Night, Madman, The Mutilator, and The Slayer. I love the direct to video and late entry stuff too like Happy Hell Night. My favorite though is probably Killer Party. It’s flawed, but endlessly watchable because the characters are so great. I also love the silly stuff too like Killer Workout, Blood Diner and Pieces. There’s just so much to discover, rewatch and enjoy. I’m a big Lamberto Bava fan as well. I think he’s a really underrated talent. His big popcorn movies are great, but his smaller films like Macabre, Body Puzzle and Ghost Son are really emotionally raw. Also, Blade in the Dark is so amazing. I love that man. I LOVE THAT MAN.

As for non-horror, it’s quite varied and some of my favorites are a foreign film called Twist and Shout, Weird SciencePorky’s 2 (forever!), a British movie called Letter to Brezhnev, Hal Hartley movies, David Lynch (which is arguably horror), and I adore Harry and Tonto even though I’ve only seen it once. What a beautiful film. Another favorite is Christiane F., which I’ve seen way too many times, considering the content. And I think Jackie Brown is easily one of my all-time favorites. I’ve seen it five times on the big screen. I don’t even care about the heist. Just give me that romance between Jackie and Max Cherry. So good.

Are there any actors we’d be surprised made the transition from TV to movies?

Hmmm.. that’s a good question. It’s actually really tough for actors who start on TV to find leading roles in movies. I think it’s because, as the saying goes, “Why pay for it when you can get it for free.” You’ll notice that both Don Johnson and Tom Selleck struggled a bit with starting up a theatrical career. I guess a good place to look might be soaps, because you’ll see actors like Meg Ryan, Tommy Lee Jones, Mark Hamill, etc., all started there. However, I guess one of the more surprising names to start on TV might be Crispin Glover. He’s so amazing in High School USA and appeared in everything from Happy Days to The Facts of Life. I met him recently and he told me he thought High School USA was a very good film, which pleased me immensely. He’s absolutely hilarious in it.

Are there any current movies that you’re digging?

Yes, I love a lot of what I see on the big screen. I missed the last entry, but I’m a huge supporter of Insidious and the James Wan stuff in general. Insidious is great because it’s so wonderful to see a woman in her 70s leading a horror film and kicking butt. That’s actually really subversive and I love it. It’s important. Get Out and It Follows are phenomenal. I thought Black Panther was really fantastic and I enjoy the big popcorn blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek. I do think modern films are really good, but they don’t necessarily resonate with me like the films I first discovered at a younger age. I’m sure some of that is nostalgia, but I’m all for people’s love of modern cinema, and I’m always pleased to hear my friends talking about new films they love. I just probably don’t go as often as they do.

We just watched The Supernaturals, which isn’t necessarily a great movie but has great ideas and more importantly, has Scott Jacoby in the cast. How awesome is he? Like, in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, he’s a magician and just full of strange tics and mannerisms!

Scott Jacoby is the magic word. I love that man so much. He’s just an amazing talent. I thought The Supernaturals was really fun. It’s by the guy who did He Knows You’re Alone, and honestly, he can’t make a bad film as far as I’m concerned. I love the Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane as well. I haven’t seen it in years, but that goes back to my statement about the edgier climate of the seventies. They’d never make that film now!

How awesome would a series of The Norliss Tapes have been? I’m obsessed with TV pilots that went nowhere, like Poor Devil, the Sammy Davis Jr./Christopher Lee show or TV movies that became short-lived series like Salvage One and The Man from Atlantis. Any you love?

Norliss Tapes is one of my all-time faves. I’m a big Roy Thinnes fan. And, speaking of pilots, he starred in Children of the Lotus Eaters, aka God Bless the Children which was the pilot for a short-lived series called The Psychiatrist. It’s amazing. I also love Poor Devil. Pilots can be a mess though. I thought Sword of Justice was fun, but all over the map. I also liked Samurai with Joe Penny, but again, all over the map… and Mandrake too. One of the best might be Fame is the Name of the Game from the sixties. Just discovered it and I’m not going back! I think Cover Girls, which is about models who are also secret agents is pretty worthy of its awesomeness!

How did I not bring up Home for the Holidays?

I love it too. John Llewellyn Moxey is my favorite telefilm director. Double Home with something like A Taste of Evil or No Place to Hide. They all have similar endings, and are all fantastic films that he directed. Oh, and see The House that Wouldn’t Die. Or anything else he’s made. If you catch his TVM Smash-Up on Interstate 5, you’ll see Scott Jacoby. Just sayin’.

Are you a fan of Murder, She Wrote? We occasionally do a podcast about it. I’m always amazed at the budgets of that show. They bring in so many people per episode!

Huge Murder, She Wrote fan. I discovered it a bit late, like maybe only a few years ago, but I’ve been through the run of the series and just adore it. Again, we’ve got this older woman kicking ass and taking names. Angela Lansbury is wonderful. And Seth Hazlett for life!

Thanks Amanda for answering so many questions! I learned a lot and also have tons of new movies to watch with Becca! Please visit her site today!

Interview with Amanda Reyes of Made for TV Mayhem part 3

This is part three of our interview with Amanda from Made for TV Mayhem. In this installment, we asked for some of her recommendations and thoughts on TV movies!

B&S About Movies: Do you have any recommendations?

AR: Sure. In the first episode of the Made for TV Mayhem Show, I go into why I love This House Possessed, Fantasies and Dark Night of the Scarecrow, so I’ll just say check that out if you’re interested. Other titles I don’t mention as much but absolutely adore would probably be Secret Night Caller, which features Robert Reed in a really dark turn as an obscene phone caller! I also love Night Terror with Valerie Harper, which is a bit of a riff on Duel and really suspenseful. Midnight Offerings is one of the best telefilms ever made. I fall more in love with it with each viewing, and sit down with it a few times a year!

Other movies I love are The House that Wouldn’t Die, The Stranger Within, the small screen remake of I Saw What You Did, and the pilot for Nick Knight. Those are the ones that come to mind. Ummm… I also really dig The Haunted, Outrage, Sandcastles (that’s a supernatural romance), and Scream, Pretty Peggy is a favorite from my childhood. There’s dozens I’m forgetting! And that’s just the horror stuff. I love all the small screen genres!

B&S: Which film is most ripe to be remade?

AR: I’m one of those people who isn’t really up on remakes. I mean, some are quite good and I really liked The Woman in Black remake. I do think remakes often shine a spotlight on the originals so I tend to be more open to TVM remakes, and there are some good ones. The Initiation of Sarah remake (which was also made for television) is a lot of fun. So was Satan’s School for Girls, which is like a feature-length episode of Charmed, basically. Hmmm… I think something like She’s Dressed to Kill would be fun because it’s basically a giallo set in the fashion world and could be pretty fabulous on a larger scale. Plus, it’s fun but flawed, so it might be worth revisiting. In an old article I wrote about telefilms that would potentially make for a decent reboot I said I thought Crawlspace’s exploration of our disconnect with society might be relevant if put into a sort of Web 2.0 space. So, I’ll go with that!

B&S: Who would be your dream team if you could film your own made for TV movie?

AR: Oh gosh! I am hoping you mean living or dead? I would love to bring on Aaron Spelling as a producer because he understood how to mainstream hot button topics, and many of his films and TV shows have an interesting subtext to them. I’d get John Llewellyn Moxey to direct, and I’d either hire Rita Lakin or Paul Playdon to write the script. Or, maybe Juanita Bartlett, because Midnight Offerings is everything. As for the cast… that’s hard. I guess Stephanie Powers, Barbara Eden, Suzanne Pleshette and Joan Hackett could lead the cast, because I love female-driven films. For their co-stars? Robert Reed, Robert Culp and maybe John Ritter. What would the story be? Who cares!

What is it about 1970s TV movies that are so doom laden? So many of the storylines — and the endings — are downbeat, even as Hollywood made the transition to blockbusters with happy endings.

I would argue that most genre films of the 1970s were downbeat, whether they be theatrical or made for television. Look at Deathdream, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Massacre at Central High, Don’t Look Now, and even big films like The Omen embraced a sort of nihilism or pessimism that was fairly prevalent during the decade. And moving out of the horror genre, what about the disaster movies of that era? I remember Earthquake’s ending is a little shocking! That was sort of the joy though of movies from that decade. You never knew who’d make it out alive! It was just an edgier time in terms of the willingness to go there.

Is there more? Of course! Come back for part 4 tomorrow!

Interview with Amanda Reyes of Made for TV Mayhem part 2

We’re excited to bring you the second part of our interview with Amanda from Made for TV Mayhem. In this installment, she shared her thoughts on some of the made for TV films we’ve covered here at B&S About Movies.

B&S About Movies: Here are some of the films we’ve covered. Do you mind sharing your thoughts on them?

Death Car on the Freeway

AR: I really enjoy this one. It’s surprisingly subversive. It didn’t occur to me that this was a film with really deep feminist undertones until I read the review that Jennifer Wallis submitted for Are You in the House Alone? I mean, I got it, but not to the level she did. It’s a fascinating film. Also, it has great car stunts, so you can watch it for that too!

Something Evil

AR: I hate to admit that I’ve never seen this. I’ve had a copy for forever, but it just hasn’t reached the top of my “To Watch” pile. Not sure why.

Scream, Pretty Peggy

AR: Here’s Gordon Hessler. He told me he directed this film in five days! It’s wonderful. So creepy. The artwork is amazing. And I don’t mean just the sculptures the male protagonist creates, but all of the artwork throughout the house is stunning. It’s almost distracting! This one is also pretty feminist, but it’s more overt. It’s also a lot of fun. Bette Davis is wonderful in it as well.


AR: One of my favorites. This film really digs deep into the anxiety of the changing family unit in the 1970s. The childless couple and Richard, the man they take in, are both so desperate to create a traditional family unit that they end up destroying each other. It’s not a horror film in the conventional sense, but it’s extremely unsettling. The novel is just as good.

All the Kind Strangers

AR: Speaking of trying to maintain a traditional family unit! All the Kind Strangers does have some issues. Mostly with how it portrays the South as an unforgiving space clinging to a conservative ideology, which is a stereotype, but ultimately, it’s very effective. Also, John Savage is just amazing in it.

She Waits

AR: This is an oddball one. I think it’s a little too slow for its own good, but there’s something really interesting at play with the ghost. So, for me this movie is about how houses absorb our memories, but everyone in the house will remember events differently. There are so many versions surrounding the death of a young woman in the house that the ghost itself can’t actually remember who murdered her. It’s really a pretty interesting idea wrapped up in a slightly misguided film. But it is thought-provoking.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

AR: Absolutely one of the best films ever, and one of the first TV movies I ever saw. I love how quietly creepy it is, and those little monsters are terrifying! Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a classic for a reason. The ending is… oh man, I’ve never gotten over it.

Satan’s School for Girls

AR: Oh gosh, Satan’s School for Girls is so much fun. There’s not a lot going on here, it’s just a straightforward devil worship kind of thing, and I love it. The female ensemble is amazing, and it’s so cool to see Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd in a movie before they were both Angels. Also, Roy Thinnes is my husband.


AR: Another favorite. Gargoyles is the first movie I can remember where I wasn’t scared by the monster. I was drawn to them, and I wanted to see them survive. Those feelings of fascination and empathy would carry over when I started watching Godzilla films, but this was the first time I remember rooting for the beast. It’s a wonderful little movie. It does so much with so little, and Bernie Casey as the head Gargoyle is everything to me. This was one of those game changers I mentioned earlier. Such a gateway into horror and creature features for me.

Trilogy of Terror

AR: Oh my gosh, another classic! It’s all about that crazy Zuni Fetish doll, and it also gives Karen Black a really great arena as an actress. I think that the Millicent and Therese segment is predictable, but she’s so much fun in those roles! Still, I just go nuts for that dang doll!

Bad Ronald

AR: Such a favorite. I think Bad Ronald really goes to interesting places. It’s dark, and creepy. Plus, Scott Jacoby is amazing. He’s sympathetic but also scary. The novel makes Ronald much darker, and I appreciate the balancing act in this version, although I think the novel is really fantastic too!

The Night Stalker

AR: Confession: While I love the Night Stalker, I’m a bigger fan of The Night Strangler (and I love The Norliss Tapes even more than those two films!). I realize that The Night Stalker and its sequel are basically the same film, but there’s just something about the characters in Strangler that I’m drawn to. That said The Night Stalker is fantastic, and Skorzeny is absolutely terrifying. One of the great monsters of the small screen!

Curse of the Black Widow

AR: I’m on a bit of a James Franciosa kick. I just sat down with Fame is the Name of the Game, and I got to see Tenebre on the big screen last year. Curse is one of my escapist go-tos. James is always wonderful, and he shares the screen with some great small screen faces, including Patty Duke, Donna Mills and one of my favorite character actresses, Roz Kelly. This one just has oodles of energy. And the spider-cam is a hoot!

Believe it or not, we have even more questions for Amanda! Come back and see what she has to say tomorrow. Make sure to visit her on Twitter and Facebook, too! And you can see all of the B&S About Movies TV movies reviews right here!