Monday, April 14, 2008

JOE DANTE, YOUR MOVIE ORGY M.C.


MORE UPDATES! THURSDAY APRIL 17!


Last Friday, April 4, before I was briefly sidelined, I had the privilege of visiting Joe Dante in his office on the Warner Hollywood lot to talk about the movies he’s programmed as the curator of the Dante’s Inferno film festival at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. The festival is now nearing its midpoint, with lots of great stuff still waiting in the wings (or hanging from the rafters), and it was great fun sitting down to talk with one of my filmmaking favorites, someone who represents to me a perfect encapsulation and expression of the kind of movie fan, like myself, who grew up believing he was the only one who felt so strongly about the movies. In Dante’s case, he grew up to make terrific entertainments and the occasional masterpiece based on a pop culture-fed sensibility that has never been satisfied to regurgitate familiar bits and pieces, as well as maddeningly precise arcana, for its nostalgic appeal. Dante fuses pop, politics, satire and a bracing yet benign cynicism and enriches movies that in other hands might be rote projects-for-hire with a distinct point of view on the world. It is a mistake to think of The ‘burbs, for example, as simply a Tom Hanks comedy—that movie has barely hidden under its zany fa├žade a cackling, dark streak worthy of Brian De Palma, and a surgically precise critique of its own audience laying in wait for anyone casual enough to think the movie won’t bite. And in simply magnificent movies like Explorers and Gremlins 2: The New Batch Dante redefines the boundaries of the genre film, exploding the old wineskin (in the case of G2) or turning it inside out, as in Explorers, which refashions the conventions of his mentor Steven Spielberg into something uniquely magical, uniquely expectation-busting, uniquely Dante. Dante’s movies are infectiously entertaining, and so is the director in person; he’s a virtual oracle of cinematic knowledge, as well as a genuinely friendly, generous and affable person. And just try to keep up with the references he accesses like breaths of air-- to do so is to indulge in a futile, but heady pursuit. There just aren’t many who can keep up with Joe Dante. Best not to try. Better to just let him roll and convince you of the unexpected joys of some of the most unlikely movies you probably never heard of. Trust me; you’ll have a great time. We begin by talking about his legendary project The Movie Orgy, which screens as the festival’s closing-night feature.

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DC: Let’s talk about The Movie Orgy. I recalled hearing something about it several years ago, but when it was announced on the New Beverly schedule, to be honest I wasn’t even sure what it was.

JD: I’m not sure what it is either! (Laughs)

DC: Is it something that is constantly evolving?

JD: It was constantly evolving from 1968 to about 1977, and it’s hard to explain exactly what it is. It started out as Camp Movie Night at the Philadelphia College of Art. The Batman serial had just been released, the 1943 serial, which really astonished a lot of people because they’d never seen anything that racist before. It was all run in one sitting, so it was, like, five hours. People camped out, had a party, got pizza—it was a lot of fun. So serials had come back-- the whole idea of watching serials had come back. And I had all this extra footage—I was collecting films, all these pieces and bits, and I decided to run this Bela Lugosi serial, The Phantom Creeps, interspersed with other footage. Sometimes we would cut stuff directly into the serial. Anyway, it was pretty popular, and it eventually evolved into a somewhat more complex version that ran at NYU in 1968. It was a tremendous success—people were hanging off the rafters—and there had been an admission charge, so there was quite a bit of money. And while we were running it at Columbia University, somebody from Schlitz Beer came and said, “We would like to take this around on a tour of college campuses. We’ll give you $100 a night, you run the film and we sell beer.” So we said, “Okay!” And by now the thing was seven hours long, and at that point we couldn’t afford—What we would do is, we would legitimately rent three features. So we had one projector that ran the feature, and when it came to a dull part we would go to another projector, which had all kinds of odds and ends on it, and we’d run that we’d spun down into the next part of the feature that was interesting. But that got to be very time-consuming and very complicated, so we ended up just buying features and cutting them up. Ultimately, we had this seven-hour movie orgy that ran from coast to coast. And it was a product of its time—it was 1968, it was very political, very anti-military, very antiestablishment, it was in terrible taste (Laughs). But it also appealed to the nostalgic in baby boomers, because a lot of the TV shows we used were things they hadn’t seen since they were kids—this stuff wasn’t as readily available as it is now. They’d see this stuff, and they were in seventh heaven. They would react to things like a clip from an old TV show—everybody would “ooh!” and “ahh!” When Peter Graves says in Beginning of the End, “You can’t drop an atom bomb on Chicago!” it brought down the house, because the Chicago riots had just happened. So it was very much something of its time. The problem was that, as the Schlitz people told us, “Sometimes the kids don’t get some of the older stuff. Can’t you put some newer stuff in there?” So we would change it up and put in new things occasionally. But there was an interesting development. The newer shows, like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Flintstones, were self-aware, and they weren’t as funny as the movies of the past that were sincerely trying to say something and not doing it well. As soon as they got self-aware, the material wasn’t as funny. So eventually it got to the point where we just started filling it up with stuff that I didn’t think was funny and eventually abandoned it. In the meantime, we had one print and flew it to college campuses all over the country—we actually hired somebody to do it for us because Jon Davison and I were now working for Roger Corman and we didn’t have time to go off and follow it around. I would say it must have played every university in the country over a ten-year period.

DC: The way you put it together—

JD: It was put together with spit and glue. We only had one print and one splicer! There was no mixing, there was no color correction—whatever condition the film was in was what we had to work with We had to constantly refocus because it was all on different film stocks. And any kind of funny juxtaposition that we could make had to be done with the existing soundtrack, which meant sometimes we’d have to cut things so that the overlap from the previous shot was the joke when it overlapped the next shot.

DC: The whole project speaks to a very specific kind of film love. Today, with an AVID you could do something similar, but without the sweat and the inspiration.

JD: No, this is completely different. This is made with human hands. We called it A 2001 Splice Odyssey. But I don’t know what people will make of it today. I really don’t. I do remember at the time that some people said it was the greatest movie they’d ever seen, but that may have been because they were ingesting controlled substances (Laughs).

DC: Did you try to be really pointed in the way you juxtaposed images and sounds, or was it a more random kind of jumble to see what would shake out? Because, having not yet seen it myself, it almost sounds like a primitive form of film as film criticism.

JD: Sometimes there were definite political points or jokes. And it does have a certain sort of meta-critic element. But I haven’t seen it with an audience in 30 years. So it’ll be very interesting to see what their reaction is.

DC Especially the reaction of an audience who, over 30 years, has been exposed to a lot of random image juxtaposition that has seeped into the ways movies are now made and seen.

JD: Although I will say I think there’s things in The Movie Orgy that they’ve never seen. And it’s free, so they’d better get there early.

DC: You used to write for Famous Monsters of Filmland.

JD: Well, I wrote a letter to Famous Monsters which they printed as an article. But I used to write for Castle of Frankenstein. That was the competition.

DC: Did you just inundate them with material until they sat up and noticed?

JD: Well, everybody wrote to Famous Monsters. I wrote tons of letters trying to get my name in print. That was the whole deal. The coolest thing in the world was to get your name in Famous Monsters. I wrote all sorts of laundry lists—the best movies I ever saw, etc., etc. The worst movies I ever saw, that’s the one they printed—the 50 worst movies of all time, some of which I hadn’t seen. (I was 13.) So that was my first published stuff, although I think Forry (Famous Monsters founder Forrest J. Ackerman) put my name in earlier—I would send him tidbits. But it wasn’t until I was writing for Cal Beck at Castle of Frankenstein that I was really writing.

DC: It was at least consistent work?

JD: Well, they didn’t pay you anything. I handed in reviews and stuff like that. Eventually I criticized an article they had done about movies on TV and they said, “Why don’t you do a real survey of all the horror movies on TV? Start with A, B, C--” So they turned it into an ongoing thing that was in every other issue. I think I got up to “R” and the magazine went out of business.

DC: Some play fantasy baseball. Some play fantasy football. Were you one of these kids, like I was, who would sit at home and program their fantasy drive-in calendars or weekend Creature Feature double bills?

JD: Oh, sure! I collected movie ads. I would cut them out of the paper and make up different double bills. I did all that stuff.

DC: I know when I was growing up I assumed I was the only one.

JD: That was the great thing about Famous Monsters. The appearance of that magazine made a lot of kids realize they weren’t alone. There was a network of people who were interested in all the things they were interested in that no one else around them was. You can look back on it and say, well, it wasn’t much of a magazine, which it really wasn’t. But the transformative effect, the unifying effect that it had on an entire generation was amazing.

DC: It seems you can’t find anyone who’s of a certain age in this business, whether it’s writing, effects, directing, who didn’t read that magazine at some point.

JD: Remember, when that magazine came out, there were no magazines like it. In 1958 alone there were five or six different competitors that put out similar magazines, and from 1958-60 there were tons-- World Famous Creatures, Monster Parade and all these imitations. Then there was Horror Monsters and Mad Monsters, which was really cheap, printed on really crappy paper, and they lasted quite a while.

DC: Where did you go to school? Where did the Movie Orgy get its start?

JD: I was in Livingston, New Jersey, for quite a while, and then we moved to Parsippany in 1957, which was not nearly as good a place to live because it wasn’t centrally located, it didn’t have a neighborhood theater so you had to go far away to see movies. And the kids there were not my kind of kids, so I probably became even more insular there. That’s when I started making home movies. Then I went to the Philadelphia College of Art.

DC: Is that where you hooked up with Jon Davison?

JD: Yes. He was actually still in high school then. We met at a science fiction society that met in Philadelphia. Isaac Asimov used to show up there all the time. We would go to that together sometimes, but mostly we just went to the movies.

DC: Was it you and he that developed The Movie Orgy?

JD: Yeah. He was sort of the entrepreneur. He got it out to the public. He’s the one who came out to Los Angeles first, in 1973, to work for Roger Corman, on the recommendation of Martin Scorsese, who was one of his teachers at NYU. It was another friend of ours, Jonathan Kaplan, that actually came out here first. Roger would go to Marty and say, “Who’s coming up that I can use?” So Jon eventually asked me to come out here and work on trailers, and Allan Arkush and I became the New World Pictures trailer department. Instead of them hiring piecemeal editors and having to tell them what to do, we could tell them our style and then we’d just do it. For a number of years we did that, and then we finally asked Roger to let us make a movie. He said, “You have to keep making trailers! Make the movie like you make the trailers—cheap and short.” So we made Hollywood Boulevard, sort of a New World home movie.

DC: Hollywood Boulevard is one of those movies—

JD: That not many people saw! (Laughs)

DC: I always dreamed of seeing it in a drive-in.

JD: It didn’t play very many places.

DC: But it’s such a great time capsule of that sensibility and that period of ‘70s B-movie exploitation.

JD: Well, it’s really a home movie for us. All our friends are in it. It’s like a documentary. (Laughs)

DC: Is there anyone else besides Roger Corman who you met here who you’d say really influenced your sensibility, your point of view, or the direction your career ended up taking?

JD: Well, Spielberg, of course, but that was later. I sort of had a career by that time. But when I met Roger, like everybody who went to work for him, I had no credentials. I hadn’t even worked in 35 millimeter before, ever. I was locked in a room with a 35mm Moviola—that’s how we learned to do trailers. That’s how it worked. And if you can, you go on. If you can’t, you go into some other line of work.

DC: Was there a certain amount of fear in getting started this way?

JD: No, I don’t think so. I was too young and dumb to be afraid. I think, honestly, I said to myself, if I can’t do this, I’ll become a film critic or a cartoonist or something. When I took on my first directing job, it was really to see if I could do it. Because editing is a very solitary job; you do it almost in a vacuum. Movie directing, on the other hand, is a very social job, and if you’re not comfortable around people, as a lot of editors and writers aren’t, it becomes very wearing to have to deal with all these people. But I found that I enjoyed it.

DC: I often find myself thinking about what it was like to watch movies in a time before we knew everything about them, before they were so readily available, and almost every time I see a movie that I really love on a big screen, I started realizing there’s a lot to be said for delayed gratification.

JD: (Laughs)

DC: “Oh, my God, I waited three months to see this thing, and here it is.” The experience is so much different now when everything is just a download away.


JD: It’s a different world. People who didn’t grow up in the era we did can’t understand how long we would usually have to wait to see films. If something appeared in theaters in 1960, it wasn’t going to be on TV for at least five years. And if it was, it’d be sold to the networks and run once, cut, panned-and-scanned, all that. You couldn’t see ‘Scope movies for years. They were lost for decades until, partly through the efforts of the DGA, people started realizing that there’s more to the picture. People would complain about seeing Manhattan on TV and say, “Well, when I saw it in the theater everybody had legs!” There was an attempt to get people to understand that they were seeing more in theaters. Now it’s pretty hard to find a picture that's been released panned-and-scanned and not have a ‘Scope version, although Universal managed to do it with Colossus the Forbin Project. They actually put out a pan-and-scan DVD with no wide-screen version and never revisited it. Columbia tried it with Castle Keep, and Martin Scorsese and others made a big stink about it and they had to put out a wide-screen version. We take it for granted now, but in the old days if you missed them in a theater, chances are they’d turn up on some UHF channel at midnight, you’d check in TV Guide, and there were no VCRS, so you had to stay up. But there was a satisfaction to being a movie hound and finding these things.

DC: You had to work for it a little bit.

JD: The only problem was when you’d stay up really late, start to watch it, and then fall asleep. (Laughs)

DC: This makes me think of the first time I ever ran into you. You were doing a lecture at the Academy on horror films.

JD: I remember. That’s the night I dropped all my notes.

DC: (Laughs) Well, you didn’t present yourself incoherently. My best friend and I were there, and at some point in the lecture you dropped format altogether and said, “You know what? I’ve got this clip from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

JD: (Laughing)

DC: …and it would be horrible if I didn’t take advantage of this big screen, so sit back and relax.” And we end up watching the graveyard scene from the end of the movie with Tuco running the perimeter. And I remember thinking, “If this guy never makes another good movie, he’s still top-notch in my book for doing this!” It’s one of those things—20 years down the line, when The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is available everywhere you turn, such a moment might not have quite the zing, but—

JD: But it’s still the big screen.

DC: Exactly. And I’m sure I hadn’t at that point, ever seen it on the big screen before, so seeing even just that little morsel was really exciting. And speaking of excitement, we’re about midway through the Dante’s Inferno film festival at the New Beverly. All reports have been that it’s been a great success. What’s left on the schedule?


JD: The Sadist runs through Tuesday. That’s an early film of Vilmos Zsigmond’s, and he will be there on the last night (Tuesday). Larry Cohen will be there all three nights for The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover. The first time I heard Larry talk about that movie was at Filmex in 1977, when this thing came out. I had never seen a man wearing more jewelry.

(Both Laughing)

DC I caught the last half hour of The Sadist on TCM some months back, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

JD: It’s one of those movies that comes from a bucket of slime—these people make all these awful movies, and all of the sudden it just coalesces and they make their Casablanca. Everything in the picture works. It’s a brilliant little movie, and almost nobody has seen it. I saw it when it was new on a double bill with The Devil’s Messenger. I had to go to one of the most dangerous theaters in North Philadelphia to see it— it was an all-black theater in a time of great tension—and I got so swept up in the movie I forgot where I was.

DC: The Secret Invasion and Tomb of Ligeia.

JD: Well, I couldn’t do a series without having Roger in there. He’s gonna come down to the New Beverly on the second day (April 17). I haven’t seen Secret Invasion since it came out, and I remember it being awfully good. There is a print… hopefully! (Laughs). And I know the Ligeia print is good because I had it printed in 1980-something and it’s only played festivals, so it should be in pretty good shape.

DC: As I understand it, there’s some question as to whether the New Beverly is going to be able to secure a print of Wrong is Right.

JD: Well, I don’t think they’re going to be able to, and I may have to run it off of DVD. But I do want to run it because I think it’s a totally neglected movie. My jaw dropped when I watched it and I went, “Where is this movie going?!” When I saw it in 1982 I said, “I don’t get it. It’s just a bunch of… stuff. But now all that stuff has coalesced into our dangerous present. There’s so many elements of this picture that ring true today that I really think it’s worth rediscovering.

DC: It puts me in mind of the way Network seemed so prescient. And it makes me think of your movie The Second Civil War too. It’s a great, nasty, tough movie, and truthfully, I’ll jump at anything that has Elizabeth Pena in it.

JD: Oh, she’s great. The Second Civil War was the best cast I ever had.

(The New Beverly has still not announced what the second feature to play with Wrong Is Right will be—they’re billing it as a “mystery movie”—but I have a feeling that Joe, unlike Monty Hall, would never put a goat behind Door No. 2. – Dennis)

DC: I saw Blood on Satan’s Claw at the Cinematheque last summer, and that’s a real stunner on the big screen.

JD: It’s probably the same print we’ll be running. It’s really a beautifully photographed movie—such an atmosphere to it.


DC: And at the risk of my horror fan credentials, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Horror Express.

JD: Oh, well, Horror Express is a must-see. You cannot miss it. It’s one of the best Peter Cushing-Christopher Lee movies of all time.

DC: Which really is saying something.

JD: They are both great in it. It’s got a sense of humor, it’s got a really neat story, which borrows a bit from various other stories you might have heard before. It’s a spirited picture, a hell of a lot of fun.

DC: Who directed it?

JD: A guy named Eugenio Martin. He’s a Spanish director. This was part of a series made by a company named Scotia International—they made a lot of westerns, like Bad Man’s River, and Psychomania, the one with George Sanders. I think Horror Express is a wonderful picture. It’s so entertaining.

And then The Movie Orgy, which is going to be interesting. It may just sit there like a lox. Maybe people won’t relate to it.

DC: It’ll just be interesting to see how a modern audience used to Internet mash-ups and lots and lots of imagistic input will react to it. Will it test the boundaries of, for lack of a better crass generalization, the ADD generation?

JD: Well, this is the original attention-deficit movie because it was designed to be walked out on. The idea was you could go out, get a smoke, get a pizza, come back and you haven’t missed anything ‘cause it’s just a bunch of stuff. And if you missed something, you won’t know it.

DC: I’ll be interested to see if audiences relate to its uniqueness as much today as they did in the past.

JD: I don’t think there’s a lot of material in it that’s been used by other people. There’s a lot of old TV shows that will be completely foreign to a lot of people, like Andy’s Gang. This is a show that is so bizarre. The concept that this is really happening in reality is almost impossible to believe. It’s the strangest thing ever. And there’s Tales of the Texas Rangers and all these other shows that I saw when I was a kid—my generation, when I was in college, these were their memories. This generation doesn’t know any of this stuff. So you either strike them as absurd and amusing or simply as incredibly stupid.

DC: You risk turning into Stuntman Mike trying to impress the girls at the end of the bar.

JD: Yeah, exactly! But there’s some cool stuff in there. The fun used to be, when it was seven hours—now it’s four and something—it had rotating movies. We had I Was a Teenage Werewolf in for a while. We had College Confidential with Steve Allen, which is hilarious. We had Little Shop of Horrors for a while, and The Raven and a whole bunch of different things, and they would end up getting swapped out for other pictures later. Now, of the stories that concurrently run through the entire thing, there’s really only four or five movies, but there used to be seven or eight different stories going on simultaneously, sometimes with the same actors, dressed the same. Morris Ankrum, when he plays a general, always dresses the same way. So you can cut him in and it looks like he’s fighting six different monsters!

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The once-in-a-lifetime experience that is The Movie Orgy is the closing night selection of Dante’s Inferno at the New Beverly Cinema, April 22. Joe and everyone at the theater advises that if you want to get in, arriving early is a must. And remember, it’s free! My thanks to Joe Dante for taking the time to sit down with me and flesh out some of the great experiences waiting to be had as the second week of Dante’s Inferno gets under way. I’m sorry I had to miss the first week, but I’m all better now, so I’ll see you there!

For now, some thoughtful person shot some video of Edgar Wright and Joe on the opening night of the festival. Edgar introduces Joe, Joe talks up Mondo Cane and Zulu, and the whole thing makes me glad for YouTube but also pains me that I couldn’t be there. If you missed last week, enjoy these videos and get ready for another terrific week of Dante-picked treasures.



Edgar Wright introduces Joe Dante on the first night of the Dante’s Inferno festival at the New Beverly



Joe waxes rhapsodic over Mondo Cane



Joe gets the New Beverly crowd ready for the wide-screen spectacle of Zulu

UPDATE! April 15, 6:10 p.m. For those who couldn't be there, here are more great clips from YouTube straight from the New Beverly. To my great dismay, my personal situation has prevented me from attending any of the screenings so far, so I am particularly grateful to the person shooting this video and posting it for our enjoyment. I sincerely intend to be there this weekend for Wrong is Right, and I hope that the wild horses of the past week will not be strong enough to drag me away from The Movie Orgy Tuesday night! I'm keeping my fingers crossed. For now, enjoy this great clips!



Joe introduces Hollywood Boulevard



The Hollywood Boulevard Q&A (pt. 1)



The Hollywood Boulevard Q&A (pt. 2)



Joe and Jonathan Kaplan introduce Truck Turner

UPDATE Wednesday 4/16/08: Final results of the Joe Dante’s Best Movie poll reveal that 51% (68 votes) of those who chimed in think, not surprisingly, I suppose, that Gremlins deserves the title. Coming in second with a robust 39% (53 votes) was The Howling, followed by Gremlins 2: The New Batch at 33% (44 votes). The rather robust showing for Matinee (31%, 42 votes) shows that a whole lot more folks than just me would love to see a new DVD of this one, with the requisite extras and Dante commentary, of course, sooner than later. Innerspace and The ‘burbs both chalked up 19% (26 votes), while Explorers racked up 15% (21 votes). Piranha managed 16 votes, for 12%, and my beloved Hollywood Boulevard even got 15 votes, for 11%. All the other candidates, and worthy ones they all are (I highly recommend Runaway Daughters if you haven’t seen it yet), gathered little but a sliver of the vote.

UPDATE: Thursday 4/17/08: More video clips from the Dante's Inferno festival! I'll be there to see them with my own eyes Friday, but if there are more clips by then, you'll see 'em here! Let's see... What have we got today?...




Joe introduces The Sadist



Joe and Vilmos Zsigmond after the screening of The Sadist



Larry Cohen introduces The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover

19 comments:

phil said...

thanks for the great interview!

Adam Ross said...

"People would complain about seeing Manhattan on TV and say, “Well, when I saw it in the theater everybody had legs!”"

Hahahaha!!

Great interview -- this post is classic SLIFR, Dennis.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I have fond memories of going to bed early, setting my alarm for 1:55 AM, and waking up for the 2:00 AM late, late show of a classic movie. That way I wouldn't fall asleep during the movie (as Joe apparently did). Reading about Dante staying up to watch old movies in the pre-cable, pre-VCR days brought all that back. Being a cinephile before Netflix and cable, and even clunky old VCRs is like a badge of honor. As you said in the interview, you had to work for it.

Nice job Dennis.

Robert H. said...

Great interview!

You MUST see HORROR EXPRESS. It's a fun ride -- Lee and Cushing... and Telly Savalas stealing the show as a Cossack.

No print of WRONG IS RIGHT? A crime, a total crime...

www.socaldims.com said...

There is nothing better than reading an interview that has one film fan talking with another film. This is like everyday conversation. Except when I talk to my film fan friends, they don't turn around and make blockbuster movies.

Great stuff Dennis!

Thanks you Joe~!

driveindude said...

What's up with that socaldims guy and his typos?

Nice work fellas!

Pete R. said...

Awesome interview and great vid clips!! Thanks for posting!!

Tim Lucas said...

This posting was a real blast, Dennis! It's actually heartwarming to see Joe given his due, not only in your words and interview, but in Edgar Wright's enthusiastic, crowd-lathering introduction. The YouTube clips make a wonderful frosting on the cake, and Joe's words about MONDO CANE and GOODBYE UNCLE TOM may have finally helped me work up the courage to crack the plastic on my Blue Underground MONDO set!

Mr. Peel said...

Fantastic interview! I'm having a great time at the festival so far. It's been a blast and I'm anxiously awaiting the next time I go.

Jim Ridley said...

Your blog is always thoughtful and a lot of fun, but these pieces on Joe Dante, the Inferno and The Movie Orgy are just a delight. If I didn't live in Nashville, I'd have a sleeping bag at the New Beverly. Thanks for all the great work.

xtian said...

Great interview -- and that's me asking Dante about Corman on clip 2 of Hollywood Boulevard!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thanks, everyone! I hope the interview is half as fun to read as it was to take part in. I have to say that I've had some very good luck in that I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the nicest and most genuine people there could be possibly be in the movie business lately, and Joe Dante in a class by himself. From the minute I walked into his office for the first time, I felt like I'd already been there hundreds of times. And Joe's friendly, accommodating demeanor certainly took the edge off of interviewing someone whom I've admired for such a long time.

My major regret is that I have not yet been able to actually get to the New Beverly. The events of the past week have made it difficult to get out and into the stream of things. But I fully intend to be there Friday night for Wrong is Right, Sunday night for Horror Express and, of course, Tuesday night for The Movie Orgy.

Tim: So good to hear from you. I'm really glad you liked the interview. And like you, it makes me feel good to have any part in getting Joe his due. As Edgar Wright said in the first clip, he's not much one to toot his own horn, so...

Jim: Thanks for checking in, and thanks for the more-than-kind words. But if you ever head to L.A., I insist you throw your sleeping bag on my front lawn, rather than in front of the New Beverly. A little safer that way! (Oh, what the heck-- you can stay in my guest room!)

Xtian: When I heard your question, I realized that was one I should have asked Joe myself! Nice one!

cinebeats said...

I just got around to reading this and I loved the interview Dennis! Joe seems like such a nice guy and it's obvious he really loves movies - of course it's obvious that you do as well! Thanks for sharing this here.

cinebeats said...

p.s. Horror Express is a personal fave just because the cast is amazing and the plot is so far out there. Oddly enough I just quoted a bit from the film over at thehorrorblog.com when I was asked for some of my fave movie quotes.

I hope you enjoy it when you finally see it!

phi; said...

dennis, just wanted to let you know that the New Bev WAS able to secure a 35mm film print of Wrong Is Right. hopefully, i'll see you there !

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Phil, that's excellent news! I am definitely going to be there Friday night, and more ready than ever now. Thanks for passing that along, to me and everyone. And I'll keep an eye out for you!

Kimberly: I'll send you a note after I see Horror Express. I've been doing some reading up on this one, and it really does look like it's going to be fun! Thanks for the nice feedback on the interview too. It was one of the best times, creatively and personally, I've had yet at SLIFR.

xtian said...

I own HORROR EXPRESS in poor pan and scan, but it's definitely one of my fave 70's low budget horror sci-fi films. And it's great to see Chris Lee in a heroic part.

Headquarters 10 said...

Dennis,

Thank you so much for posting these videos. for those of us who don't live in L.A. and worship Dante, it's almost the next best thing.

Fantastic interview, too! I've read countless interviews with Dante throughout the years, but few have focused on THE MOVIE ORGY and his pre-Corman days, so it was quite a delight to read. And if you see Joe at the New Beverly, could you ask him to respond to MY interview request, please? :)

blaaagh said...

I finally got around to reading this, and what great fun it is! I would love to see the Movie Orgy; alas, I am too far from the New Beverly. HORROR EXPRESS, too, is now on my must-see list. I love the discussion of how difficult it once was to see movies after their release; I remember well the joy of finding something I'd always wanted to see in the TV listings, or better yet, at a repertory house.

Thanks for a great read! I hope you got to attend some of the program.