Who: John Clark is a New Jersey-based filmmaker who runs film-centric website, Haphazard Stuff. The site’s YouTube page and Vimeo channel feature his video reviews and analysis of various films and television shows. Most of these videos are part of two extended review series. Clark’s 007 Series examines the evolution of James Bond going back to the 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale (Clark notes that Ian Fleming sold the rights to his first Bond book to CBS for only $1,000), starring Barry Nelson as Bond — and up through (and beyond) 2012′s Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig. Clark’s Superhero Series focuses on film and television portrayals of heroes with superhuman abilities, beginning with 1951′s Superman and the Mole-Men, and including a 25th chapter that looks at 1984′s disastrous Supergirl. As of this interview’s original publication, a chapter in each series accounts for Clark’s two most-watched YouTube videos. James Bond – Part 1: The Connery Years with more than 178,000 views, and Superhero Films – Ch. 6: Wonder Woman with more than 200,000 views. Those large totals may be dwarfed by the millions of views many other videos on YouTube receive, but Clark’s long-form approach to his in-depth analysis is all-to-rare within the review format. He exploits both meticulous research and high-quality editing for definitive video essays on all the eras and reinventions of Bond, and the ever-evolving cinematic superhero genre. Another important element is how Clark handles nostalgia — often presenting context for how audiences originally received now-decades-old films and television shows. Indeed, a prime example of this occurs within Clark’s review of one of the worst films in the Superhero Series: 1980′s Super Fuzz. Following an opening montage, and a brief review of the varied Oscar-winning career of the film’s co-star, Ernest Borgnine (whose biography, Clark notes, has one passing mention to this terrible movie’s filming), Clark recounts the unique cultural role of subscription cable television channel HBO in the early 1980s — when it was the repository for a never-ending stream of sub-par feature films that would have never otherwise been inflicted on an unsuspecting film-watching American public. Camera In The Sun spoke with Clark for a March 2013 interview about his take on James Bond, superheroes, and lots of other haphazard stuff — including a creative approach that produced a third ongoing video series: Remake Recon, which compares an original film to its latter remake…
On the origins of Haphazard Stuff
Back in 2006, I had a previous YouTube channel [CappyNJ], and it was basically my edited projects. I’ve always been fascinated with editing. So it was a bunch of music videos, trailers, montages, just anything I could think of. There was no review content, or anything like I have with Haphazard Stuff. Then I finally decided, “I’ll try this blogging thing.” So I created this secondary channel which ended up being Haphazard Stuff. I can tell you exactly how I came up with that name. I was, and still am, a big fan of George Carlin. One of his most popular bits is the “Stuff” routine. It’s about our obsession with buying stuff, accumulating stuff, “Where am I gonna store my stuff?” If you go to YouTube, search “George Carlin, Stuff,” and you’re gonna see I posted that video on my old channel. Essentially, that’s where “Stuff” came from: George Carlin. I didn’t know what I was gonna do with this “haphazard” channel. So I thought, “OK, well, I’ll just name it ‘Random Stuff.’” Because I didn’t know if I would do reviews, or trailers, or open it up. I wouldn’t be penned in. I could do whatever I wanted on it. But I didn’t like “Random.” I wanted something with more syllables. So I ended up with “Haphazard.” That’s how that was born. Gradually, I added more videos, and that’s when I created a website, and my blog started taking off. So everything just fell underneath that haphazard-type of umbrella. But it wasn’t planned that way. I just had no idea where I was gonna go with this secondary channel.
On his James Bond series
Initially, those Bond reviews were supposed to be like a one-minute review of each film leading up to the release of Quantum of Solace. That didn’t happen. I missed Quantum of Solace. So I said, “OK, well, I’ve a couple of years until the next Bond movie. I’ll take a little more time with Timothy Dalton.” But at the time when I did those, my voiceover was just monotone. And I hate the fact that everybody’s watching that Connery review — my most-viewed Bond review on the channel — it’s like my worst voiceover ever. I didn’t have a microphone. I was using my built-in Mac microphone, and I was leaning in. It was uncomfortable. I was kind of trying to read and talk. It was horrible, and some people threw it back in my face. And I can’t blame them. They said, “Wow, you say Lazenby was wooden? Listen to you.” I was like, “You’ve got a point. I can’t argue.” But now, I have a nicer setup. I have a nicer microphone. I can sit back and relax a little bit more. And a lot of those reviews I used to script out a lot more. Now when I do the narration, I try to be a little bit looser, and not just read this script. It’s like a loosely-based script, so I can fill in some gaps and make it sound a little bit more natural. One of the funny things in my Supergirl review, at one point I start breaking up. It was a short burst of laughter. That Mia Farrow line, I just lost it. I was gonna take it out. But I was like, “You know what, this was true. It was accurate. I might as well just put it in.” I never do that. I always try to take out the goof-ups. But this was a pretty funny goof-up. And at least it will signal to people listening that, “I’m in pain here. It’s really tough to get through this one.” I was sitting on that superhero review for a long time. It had been a couple months since I did the last one, and I knew Supergirl was coming. I’ve had that message up, “Coming soon: Supergirl.” I knew it’d been months, and I just dragged my feet, and thought, “I should get to that thing.” But I said, “No, let me do a Remake Recon” or “No, I’ll do The Spy Who Loved Me trailer.” I just didn’t want to do Supergirl. I really didn’t. Because I remembered it from when I watched it in the ’80s, and I was not a fan.
For the superhero reviews, it opens the same way every time. Which is one of the reasons I like the superhero ones better than my James Bond ones. I mean, the formula has been set from the first one. I had actually planned it. So, the James Bond ones have kind of gone all over the place. But the superhero ones, it’s the same thing. It’s an opening clip, and then into a montage, which is one of the things I really want to continue doing when I start the Haphazard Channel. I love editing and piecing these montages together. So I want to maintain that. Anyway, it goes into a montage, and then it closes with the title — like Chapter 14: Super Fuzz — then the review. It’s funny, I don’t even think of them as reviews anymore. A lot of these things have become like reviews/documentaries. It seems like I spend as much time talking about the making of this movie, or the background, or how it was conceived or filmed, or all this trivia, as I do my opinions on the film. They’re like re-mentaries, or docu-views.
On his approach to re-cutting trailers for films like Clash of the Titans
I grew up in the ’80s, and Clash of the Titans was one of the movies I would watch on HBO. So I saw this remake coming out. Now everything’s a remake. It’s gotten kind of rediculous. The one thing that irks me is the way they present these remakes, when they’re just sub-par to the original. The way they market these remakes with the trailers, they make it sound so cool. For some reason, the trailers for a lot of the original films are really awful. The Clash of the Titans, the Die Hards, and Star Wars even — you could never sell those movies based on the old trailers. There’s no way. So I thought it would be interesting to try to resell this film with a robot owl, and Ray Harryhausen’s claymation and stop motion. I just jazzed it up, and cut it with a bit more of a rapid pace that audiences are more used to seeing, with that big orchestral booming trailer music. I just had fun with it. A lot of the younger kids now on Youtube — 15 to 18 — they would never watch the original Clash of the Titans. They would say, “What is this? This looks so silly. Look at how bad the effects are.” For some reason, they get drawn into the remake and all the CGI. To me, that’s just window dressing. It has nothing to do with the story. It’s not making the story any better.
Usually, the music I use is from the film soundtrack. The Queen song in my Flash Gordon review is right off the soundtrack. I’ll also take a lot of the music being played in the closing credits of movies, and the opening credits. And a lot of times with those updated trailers — like for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and for Wonder Woman — both of those were just brand new music. It was music from Immediate Music that’s specifically written for trailers today. Hardcore movie fans would probably recognize where that music was played from. The Clash of the Titans from my trailer was used in the Scream 4, If you watch the Scream 4 trailer that track comes in towards the end. But with those other two, I just took the music that’s isolated that you can find online, and just re-cut into Wonder Woman, or cut it into Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in Pelham.
On the various actors who have played Bond
I was talking to someone about who’s the best Bond. It’s gonna be a never-ending debate among Bond fans. And I can always understand why Connery would be top. Not only was he # 1, but he was there at the beginning of this genre. All of his Bond films were the precursor to everything else. All of these other imitators and action films. He was all by himself. By the end of the ’60s, when Roger Moore was coming up, we’d already had so many imitators of Bond films — like the Matt Helm series and The President’s Analyst. Already, the spy genre was just being overrun with imitators. There was nothing new. So I could understand why all of a sudden they said, “OK, we can’t just do another straight spy film anymore. Maybe we’ll steal some of the thunder from Blaxploitation, and all the popularity that has, and incorporate it into Bond.” Or “Let’s take Star Wars, and do Moonraker.” It kind of makes sense. It’s almost like they can’t do just spy movies anymore, because everybody else is doing spy movies. “We gotta do something special. We gotta do something to make this series stand out a little bit more.”
With Lazenby, I think he should have done a second. And I think he even agrees that he should have stuck around. And that’s just something that he still regrets, I guess, to this day. But I remember reading about John Gavin, the actor from Psycho. That’s the only thing I know him from. He signed on to be James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, until Connery agreed to come back. In which case, they agreed to pay off John Gavin, and he was no longer Bond. And I thought if they had cast him, an American, at the time it would have been… like right now, an American actor as James Bond is unheard of. But at that point, if he had been Bond in 1971, he probably would have done it for the rest of the decade. That really would have changed things. It would have been a different series, in my mind. Compared to Roger Moore’s English gentleman spy, you have John Gavin — this American actor who’s a handsome-looking guy, pretty built. That might have been the end of the series. I don’t even understand why they were thinking an American actor in this quintessential English role. It just seems so strange. It has nothing to do with the origins of the character. It’s baffling to me. Same as when they used to say that the studio wanted Burt Reynolds or Paul Newman. Why? It’s almost like you don’t need a name actor to play James Bond. The name “James Bond” is enough.
Supposedly Timothy Dalton was also offered Bond. Well, he was talked about. He’s very careful of how he words it. But it seems like they were considering him for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And by then he was like 23-24, and just felt like he was too young for that. But even then, it doesn’t seem like he was ever interested, at least in my mind, in the popularity that Bond would bring him. It just seemed he was like, “OK, I’ll be Bond. This will be fun.” And then, “They said I won’t be Bond anymore? OK, I’ll go back to doing the theater.” It didn’t seem like he really cared that much.
Roger Moore always seemed like he had a much more lighthearted approach to being James Bond with his portrayal of the character while doing these films. It just seemed like he said, “Yeah, we’re gonna have a lot of fun. I’m not gonna take this too seriously.” And I think they were also compensating him better money-wise than they had done for Connery. It also seemed like Moore would have kept on going. I know he had a good relationship with Cubby Broccoli. That’s why he came back for A View to a Kill. But it just seemed like he didn’t take himself as seriously as Connery. Outside of Bond, I can’t even think of other films that he was doing. I know in the ’70s he did a TV show with Tony Curtis, The Persuaders! That was the only other thing that I can think of him being in, outside of Bond. That, and The Saint.
I think Dalton has become more appreciated through the years. Especially now that Craig is the “gritty Bond” and the “hard-boiled Bond” and the “tough Bond.” You know, a lot of fans are going back and saying, “Hey, you know, Timothy Dalton did that first.” I can understand why some fans don’t really dig his movies. I mean, they are missing the sense of fun a lot of the more-popular Bond films had, like The Spy Who Loved Me. I liked The Living Daylights, but can see how it’s kind of almost a downer of a film. It’s a very serious-toned film. “We’re going to see the Taliban now? Oh joy.” So, I can understand why people were kind of cool on Dalton. But I thought he was a really effective Bond. I really liked him as Bond. I especially liked him in License to Kill. I remember at the time, I couldn’t wait for him to come back. I was like, “Boy, I can’t wait for the next Timothy Dalton one.” But I never knew we were getting Remington Steele.
There was an interview with Brosnan on The Actors Studio, and he talked about how he was gonna be Bond for The Living Daylights, and it was 60 days before NBC could renew the contract for Remington Steele. And so he just said, “OK, all I’ll have to do is wait it out. I just have to wait for the 60 days to pass, and then I can sign the contract to be James Bond.” Supposedly — and I always wanted to find these — he did the publicity stills of him posing with the gun and everything. So on the 59th day, NBC said, “No, we want to do more Remington Steeles.” So he got screwed, and he had to go back to doing Remington Steele. That’s when they recruited Timothy Dalton. I think Remington Steele got cancelled after 5 episodes. So they really screwed him. There was a Super Bowl commercial around that time where Brosnan gives sort of a wink-wink at the audience, like, “Hey, you know I could have been James Bond. Everybody knows I should have been James Bond.” Which is kind of dick-y in his way, when I think about it. OK, you lost the part. Don’t rain on Timothy Dalton’s parade. I start getting off onto tangents with Brosnan. He started to come off like a real whiner at points. It’s funny too — someone sent me a link, because the Oscars were coming up — TMZ found Pierce Brosnan in a food shopping parking lot or something. They said “Hey, Pierce, are all the Bonds getting back together?” And he says, “Uh… I don’t know about that.” And they said, “What? Who’s not gonna be there?” And he says, “Well… I don’t know.” So it threw out these rumors and speculation, whether he was gonna show up or not. He was just kind of cool on that. I was like, “Damn, out of all the Bond actors, I would have felt like he would have been there.”
I know a lot of people love Brosnan as Bond. If you watch The Brosnan Age, you know how I feel about him. I don’t think he was a particularly strong Bond. He just never grew on me. All I saw was a guy trying too hard to be Bond, or what our idea of Bond is. I don’t think he brought anything new to the table as Bond. He just tried to be an all-pleasing-to-everyone James Bond. And I hear fans say, “Well, he’s a little bit of Connery, Moore and Dalton all rolled into one.” Maybe he was trying to do that, but he just came off so bland. It was a very bland performance to me. But to his credit — and my Brosnan-backers don’t even remember this part — I said he did much better performances outside of Bond during his tenure. I love The Matador. I love that film. Nobody ever even watches it. I tell people, “Check this out.” I think he’s great in that movie. I thought he was really good in The Tailor of Panama. So he might have been able to have been a better Bond. If he played his Bond like The Tailor of Panama, I think he would have been a little bit stronger. But I think the scripts he was given just didn’t allow him to put his own mark on being 007. I mean, in his defense, the scripts that he got handed, I don’t think anybody could have done too much with. And they got worse and worse as he stuck around. A lot of people love GoldenEye, but I’m kind of lukewarm on that movie.
I’ve gotten some flack, saying like, “Why are you pissing on Brosnan?” I’m really not. I don’t want to. But I keep finding all these bad things that he said. So I gotta say, “Hey, this is what the man said.” Like a reporter told him, and I thought it was actually really funny when I found it, “Hey, I heard Daniel Craig is filming, and he apparently broke two teeth.” And Brosnan says, “Oh, isn’t that a shame.” Then he starts laughing. Wow, OK.
GoldenEye was ’95, Tomorrow Never Dies was ’97, The World is Not Enough was ’99. At that point in the ’90s, action films were all about machine guns, and John Woo slow-mo, and all this stuff. And so I can understand why they would give Brosnan a machine gun for the action sequences. Because that was the popular thing. You see John McClane running around. You see Terminator with machine guns. But it hasn’t aged well at all. To me, it really gets tiring to just see him pointing and firing guns, and seeing these squibs go off. There’s no pizazz to it. It’s just seeing sparks fly. There’s no tension. There’s no suspense to it. It doesn’t age well. That’s not to say they couldn’t do that with a machine gun. I mean, Die Hard is one of my favorite movies, and there’s a lot of machine gun fire in that, and I find it exciting as hell. But with this, he’s got two machine guns he’s firing. I was like, “They wanna talk about Ian Fleming’s James Bond? That’s not Ian Fleming’s James Bond.” That’s Barbara and Michael’s idea of how to keep the franchise viable in this action market of the ’90s: machine guns and explosions. Ugh, come on. That’s why the best scene in all of Brosnan’s films, I think, is in Tomorrow Never Dies. He’s with Dr. Kaufman locked in the room, and he’s got one gun pointed at him. It’s this tense little scene, and it ends with one gunshot. To me, that was more riveting and thrilling than all this running around with explosions and machine guns he did throughout the rest of his films.
I got nervous about Skyfall when I saw the trailers, and I saw machine guns going off. I didn’t know what was going on. I just saw Daniel Craig’s machine guns, and Javier Bardem’s machine guns, and that kind of got me worried. I was like, “Oh boy, what’s going on here?” But I really liked Bardem in it. I know he’s a really good actor. Everybody knows he can be scary as hell in No Country For Old Men. But the one thing that worried me about him when I saw the trailer, was I saw he had blond hair. I was surprised, like, “Wait a second, what’s going on?” Because I just assumed he was going to have black hair. I thought, “OK, so we’re gonna have a blond Bond… and we’re gonna have a blond villain.” But I thought Bardem was really good. There was that one scene when he sets the scotch on her head, and says, “OK, you’re gonna fire. Knock the scotch off her head.” I thought he was so great in that scene. I mean, he’s so intimidating. Especially that first introduction, when he’s just walking and talking — no cuts, no edits or anything. He’s just walking towards Daniel Craig, and he’s talking about the rats on the island, and how they’re used to eating rat. I was like, “Wow, he’s really good.”
When I watch You Only Live Twice now, and I see Donald Pleasence as Blofeld in that volcano, I can’t help but think of Mike Myers and Austin Powers. I mean, the Bond films were so parodied. I might have been too hard on Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. It’s just that for me, I like a little bit more mystery. A lot of films do this, but they don’t have to explain everything. The Blofeld character was more sinister when you just saw the back of his head — seeing this hand pet a cat and push buttons. When they got to Charles Gray, who played Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever, for some reason he’s got hair or a wig on, and the character loses something. He’s not as intimidating or memorable to me. It’s like all these movies that wanna do prequels, and explain to us who Hannibal Lecter was, or Darth Vader was. I don’t need to know that. They could leave a little bit of mystery, and it’s fine. They don’t have to take me through a character’s whole evolution. I guess Pleasence was all right, but the build-up to that character… I remember You Only Live Twice was one of the later ones I’d seen. The whole build-up of seeing this evil guy feed people to piranhas, just electrocute people by pushing a button — and then seeing Donald Pleasance there with the scar. I was like, “Oh… that’s it?” I don’t know, I guess I felt a little let down. And now it doesn’t help that I see Donald Pleasance, and I just think of Dr. Evil.
Everybody will go with Goldfinger for the quintessential Bond film. And I can’t really argue with that, because it’s a very entertaining film. It doesn’t go too overboard with the gadgets, and the villains are colorful. Yeah, Oddjob cuts people up with a hat. I think that’s part of the fun of James Bond. And even The Spy Who Loved Me, I was re-watching it not too long ago, and think that film really holds up too. I mean, the hairstyles, the tuxedo looks a little dorky, and it’s ridiculous when the oil tanker swallows the submarine. But there’s still a sense of fun in that film, and there’s an elegance. Roger Moore walking in ordering his martini, there’s sort of an elegance to all of it, a sophistication. I really don’t think general audiences care about Ian Fleming’s James Bond. People say that Timothy Dalton is the closest to Fleming’s Bond. I don’t think audiences really care about that. They want their James Bond that’s cinematic James Bond. They want to see him fight Jaws. They want to see him drive the Aston Martin with oil slicks. It doesn’t matter to them whether it’s straying too far from what Fleming originally conceived. I really don’t think they care. Which is kind of funny, because now it’s Daniel Craig, and people are saying, “Well, he’s pretty close to Fleming’s Bond.” People are pretty much embracing him. I don’t think they could get away with doing a Roger Moore movie now. There’s no way. Not in the climate where we’re so used to all of these Bourne films. That’s a major one. All these action films have become a lot more realistic. But if you go a little too overboard with these films, they just become parodies. Like The A-Team, I can’t take that seriously at all. Transformers? That’s a joke. I mean, there’s no realness to it. It’s like a cartoon. But I think Bond fans give the Bourne films a little too much credit on what happened with the Craig films. I mean, Brosnan’s last Bond film was Die Another Day, and they could see what was going on with the CGI waves and Halle Berry. I think I said this in the review of Casino Royale, but whether Bourne happened or not, they knew they had to get back to basics. It’s just a pattern the series goes through every couple of years. It just gets too outlandish, too crazy. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service did it after You Only Live Twice. For Your Eyes Only did it after Moonraker. They go back to more of a straitlaced spy thriller. I think they would have done that anyway after Die Another Day, and Craig came on board. But when they saw what Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass and Doug Liman did with the Bourne films — they took a cue from what they were doing, and kind of said, “Hey, you know that’s not a bad direction. Maybe we’ll do something similar to that.” I think they would have done it anyway, but Bourne was an influence on that — especially in the editing of Quantum of Solace. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody talk about Quantum of Solace without comparing it to the Bourne editing. It’s so similar, and done badly.
On his favorite exotic location in the Bond films
I think they’ve run out of locations around the world, quite frankly. Everything’s been done. I mean, most of Skyfall was filmed in England and Scotland. I heard a lot of fans complained about that. But it didn’t really bother me. In those earlier Bond films, like Dr. No, they filmed in Jamaica. That was a big to-do, like, “Wow, Jamaica!” The general audience never even got on a plane. They would never be able to see these places. Now it’s like, “Well, we’re gonna go there this summer.” The allure of these places, they don’t have the same cache as back then. They’re a lot more accessible. Maybe it’s because they used the tropical settings so much, but the cold wintery ones stand out to me much more than the beaches. In For Your Eyes Only, when they went to the ski resort, and they had that great ski chase — they filmed that in Italy. I thought that was beautiful with the mountains, the great snowy resorts and ice sculptures. For some reason, that stands out more to me than the warmer climates with Bond with his shirt off.
On the four Christopher Reeve Superman films
The first two Superman films were really well done. They had Richard Donner basically directing both the films. And then, of course, they canned him in the middle of production, and Richard Lester picked up the rest of the second one. But I still think Donner’s work came through on Superman II. Not to piss on Richard Lester too much, but he couldn’t screw it up that badly. A lot of what Donner had planned to do was already completed for the second film. But once they got away from what Donner’s vision was… I think Donner had a good idea of how to present Superman on the big screen, how to tell the story, the level of seriousness, and how to be true to the character. It was all good. But then they neglected that, when they fired Donner, and said, “OK, Richard Lester, we want a little bit more comedy.” For some reason they think that goofiness is gonna attract the kids. So they get Richard Pryor, the most vulgar comedian out there on the scene, like, “We’re gonna make this really funny movie, and the kids are just gonna love it.” Which I still don’t understand. My parents would never have let me listen to Richard Pryor albums back in ’83. But they get him to do a Superman movie? I guess they wanted to start pandering to more of a general audience, and make it a little bit more accessible for kids. I think when Cubby Broccoli was kind of ill, and he handed off the reins to the Bond films to Barbara and Michael, they went a bit more mainstream with the choice of Brosnan. I’ve heard some people tell me that Brosnan was the studio’s decision. But whoever’s decision that was, it was a very mainstream predictable choice to make. It wasn’t really risky. It wasn’t taking too much of a chance. It was just, “He’s gonna be an all-pleasing Bond. Everybody’s gonna love him.” The same with the Salkinds and, “We’re gonna make it with Richard Pryor. He’s gonna be a funny guy. Lois, she’s out of this. But we’re gonna go back to Smallville.” It seemed like such a boring lame adventure that they put him on for III. I mean, do something exciting. Up the stakes. It seemed like they didn’t want to take any more chances. Throw in Brainiac. Maybe it will be a little bit weird for some people. But maybe overall it’ll be a better movie. So he goes back to Smallville, which I think is the best part of that movie. When he goes back and sees Lana Lang, I was like, “OK, that’s a good little thing.” But in the meantime, they could have done so much more. When I was little, I didn’t mind Superman III. But then my brain got less mushy, and I realized, “Boy, this is pretty bad.” I think Ilya Salkind said he had story ideas for III, and it was gonna involve Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk. I figure if they wanted to do a comedy, Mxyzptlk would have been the perfect character to have. And it wouldn’t even have had to make sense. You know, they could have just done anything with him. I don’t know, make cars pop up on building tops. Instead, they had Richard Pryor skiing down a building. It was a real misfire. I haven’t even watched Superman IV in years. So I’m prepping myself for that. But from what I remember, Superman IV was a little bit more of a Superman film than Superman III. He fights Nuclear Man. But I know the special effects budget got completely slashed on that one. The special effects are horrible. And I think even the tone of that movie is more serious than the Richard Pryor computer one. It’s a lot less jokey. It actually feels like more of a Superman film than Superman III does, even though it looks like complete garbage.
On HBO exposing him to some of the worst films of the 1980s
HBO was like a godsend. I can’t really compare it for kids nowadays. When HBO came around, it was uncut movies all day long. It was like heaven. I watched all that garbage, and it’s where I stumbled onto Super Fuzz. During that HBO montage in the Super Fuzz review, I showed clips of like Under the Rainbow, The Ice Pirates — all these crappy movies that I’ve never seen since. But those were the movies that I was watching on HBO in the ’80s. God, I’d love to watch Caveman again, and see how bad that is. Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach. I did a lot of HBO-watching when I was a kid. You know, there were no DVDs when I was little. It’s kind of funny — Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark — HBO made me appreciate those movies more. Because I had to be in front of that television at 6 O’clock, when Star Wars started, or else I was gonna miss it. You know, now I just pop in the DVD, and don’t think twice about it. But back then, you had to work to watch even the crappy movies. Now, there’s DVR. I was DVRing The Walking Dead for the past two weeks. I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. If this were 1985, I would have watched Walking Dead immediately when it was on, and we would have been talking about what just happened on it. Now, if you said anything about what happened the last two episodes, I’d kill you, because I didn’t even watch them yet. I’m DVRing them. Now, there’s no community with television anymore. It’s just so fractured. People are watching at their own pace. I guess it’s good in a way. But there’s no water cooler television, where the next day you gather around in the office and talk about the Sopranos finale or the Friends finale. Everybody’s just watching at their own pace.
With HBO, you were paying for it, and there was the novelty too. There’s gonna be boobs in this movie. They’re not gonna cut ‘em out? No, they’re not gonna cut ‘em out. Are there commercials? No. OK, well this is gonna be the greatest movie ever — even if it’s Stroker Ace. Well, I’m gonna keep watching it. And then I’m gonna watch it again, man. Beastmaster was one of those. It’s funny, maybe it was because of Conan the Barbarian, but there were all these sword and sorcery movies in the early ’80s. I was talking to my friend about Krull. That’s coming up in a review. I was like, “Did you ever see Krull?” And he said, “No.” But I remember Yor, the Hunter from the Future, Red Sonja with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It seemed like those sandal epics — well, I shouldn’t call them “epics” — they were really popular at that point.
On DVDs and DVD extras changing his enjoyment of films he grew up with
One of the things that I loved when DVD players came out was the DVD commentaries. But I’d listen to a lot of them where the actors are saying “Oh, I remember this scene. Yeah, this was a really good scene to shoot. Oh, wasn’t this funny that day…” There’s no artistic insight. They don’t actually have criticisms of what went wrong. So, I’m very wary of interviews with actors on DVD commentaries. Because now they’re contracted to do a commentary as soon as they finish the film. It becomes part of filming the movie. Like, “OK, we finished the movie. Now, go into the studio and do the commentary.” There’s no perspective on any of these, because they’re still in “We’ve gotta sell this” mode. It’s really strange. I love a good commentary. But I’m much more interested in a commentary 15-20 years later by the director or the actor, or the interview looking back on that film with a much larger perspective. They’re much more honest. And when I see the interviews with the Supergirl cast during filming, it’s “Everything’s great. Oh yeah, it’s gonna be good.” It’s just all hard sell. It’s all bull. But then when I see the one with Mark McClure and Helen Slater that’s 30 years later, they’re very honest. McClure, who’s Jimmy Olsen, says, “I don’t know why I was in this movie.” He wouldn’t have said that at the time. Helen Slater I thought was very honest when she said she would have liked the story to have been told with a little bit more detail about this young girl coming of age — like a coming-of-age story, and how she adapts to this strange world — and to also have it happen “in a movie where everything makes sense.” Then she smiles. And I was like, “You know, she’s honest.” She knows the problem. Now, if she had recorded that back in ’84, when she was like 17 and all excited about being in this movie, she wouldn’t have said that.
There was a documentary that just came out to mark the 50th anniversary of Bond. It’s called Everything or Nothing, and it’s a documentary about Eon Productions. There’s an interview in it with Brosnan, and it was very honest. I was like, “Boy, this is my favorite interview of Brosnan’s.” Because he actually said, “You know, I really like Golden Eye. I remember filming GoldenEye. I don’t remember the other three films. I can’t remember what came afterwards.” And then he said, “There was that one where I was like hang-gliding on the wave,” and he starts laughing, and they show a clip of it. I was like, “Now he gets it.” It’s a really good documentary. But that interview really surprised me. I thought “OK, he’s just gonna say how great he did, and how he was happy to do it.” No. He actually had criticisms about those films. He said, “Yeah, that was ridiculous.” I was like, “OK, he caught up.”
My Bond Series takes a lot of work. When I’m lucky, I can find an old audio clip of Connery off of one of the DVDs, and think “Hey that’s pretty interesting.” But most of the time, I’ll search on the internet for clips of interviews. Two of the longest most-complicated projects I’ve put together was The Brosnan Age intro, and The Craig Reconstruction intro. Because they basically set the whole stage of where the actors were, what time period we’re at, all the press conferences announcing him being cast. All this stuff. And that’s where the magic of editing comes in. After I find all this stuff, I try to piece it together in a coherent fashion. It’s really time-consuming. And sometimes, I’ll be working on that stuff at 3 O’clock in the morning and thinking, “What am I doing? Who is gonna watch this?”
On the various 1970s TV adaptations of comic book superheroes
At that point in the ’70s, when the Marvel stuff was coming out, sci-fi was big. Star Wars kicked sci-fi into high gear in films. Maybe Marvel just didn’t see these properties as viable commodities to adapt into a big screen adventure. It seems crazy now, seeing Spiderman not in a big budget movie. Are you crazy? Maybe they just thought “OK, well, all these guys work in cartoons. Maybe we’ll just try live action. We’ll put them in some leotards and stuff, and we’ll see. Maybe the kids will buy it. Maybe they’ll enjoy that.” Getting into big budget films, maybe they didn’t want to invest the money for that. It’s a strange thing. Thinking about it now, how could they not have? It kind of amazes me that it took them until 2001 with a Spiderman film to finally register that “Oh, wow, you put Spiderman in a superhero movie, and people are gonna be excited to go see it, and we’re gonna make lots of money.” It took you that long? Because you just had Superman in ’78. You had Batman in ’89. And it still didn’t seem like superhero films were going to happen until not that long ago. It seems like they were relegated to low-budget movies at best, or these crappy TV episodes in the ’70s. It’s a strange thing. Like even Legends of the Superheroes. I don’t know what they were thinking with that. It’s just so surreal. With Ed McMahon? What are they doing? I used to have a little toy collection of my superhero guys. And I remember back when I was little you’d get Mego figures. They were the 8-inch dolls of superheroes, and they would include everybody – it was DC, it was Marvel, it was television shows, it was movies. Mego would have the licenses to all these characters. So they could make figures of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek. Today, Disney would never give up any of their rights to Marvel. They’re gonna hold onto them for dear life. Warner Brothers, they’re not gonna give up DC. They could make a fortune just by selling the toys themselves. It was so strange back then. I guess they just didn’t see the value in these characters.
On the importance of Linda Carter to the success of Wonder Woman
I don’t know if Wonder Woman would work as well if they didn’t have Linda Carter. I think she’s a big reason why that show worked. She’s gorgeous. I actually have an autographed picture of her. I’m such a fanboy. Carter didn’t play it as a joke. She played it pretty sincere. And in defense of Helen Slater too, she did the same thing. Carter could have come off looking like Suzanne Somers — as a real bimbo bouncing around in her little outfit and everything. But she never embarrassed herself, even if they gave her some ridiculous things to say and do. She was very respectful of the character, and she didn’t play it as some dumb role. She actually played it pretty respectfully. She was always sincere. Even when I was going back to rewatch some of those episodes, I was like, “She’s not bad.” It wasn’t campy or anything, which is what I think people were used to off of Batman. Wonder Woman wasn’t played for jokes or anything. And Bill Bixby, he played that very straight in The Incredible Hulk. He was tortured. He was angry. He was this lonely guy. You start to feel bad for him. He’s made into a real character, rather than just a comic book flat one-dimensional person. And I think that’s what could have happened with Linda Carter. But she did pretty good as Wonder Woman.
On reviewing mostly-terrible superhero TV shows/films
The intention at the beginning was to make the Superhero Series chronological, and go through every year. But at some point, I’m doing Supergirl and thinking, “Maybe I should just bounce around a little bit, and put some good ones in there. Let’s fast-forward to The Avengers, or something.” Yeah, I mean, there’s no shortage of crappy ones. You know, Danger: Diabolik was one that I was really surprised at. I’d never seen it until I did that review, and I wasn’t familiar with Mario Bava. I knew of him, but I’d never seen any of his films. And when I saw that, I was like, “This is a really, really good film.” Actually, after I did that review, I got emails from a couple of people saying, “Hey, I watched this movie after you recommended it, and it’s really good.” Hey, that’s pretty good praise. I like that. And I like Mystery Science Theater. I love that show, and Danger: Diabolik was on the final episode. I actually went to see them live doing their “Cinematic Titanic” show not too long ago. Danger: Diabolik’s not that bad. I mean, Pumaman, that deserved it. That was really bad. And actually, I think that’s the only way I could ever sit through that movie again — the MST3K episode with Pumaman on it. Just because it’s so stupid and awful. I also caught a lot of flack about Barbarella, because supposedly everybody likes it. I didn’t care for that movie. In Barbarella, Jane Fonda looks good. But, I mean, the sets look awful. They look ugly. I don’t understand what’s going on. I know this is supposed to be kind of a trippy ’60s movie, but I didn’t get any joy out of it. And then when I saw Diabolik, I was like, “You compare this to Barbarella, it’s no contest.”
The three Italian films I reviewed: Danger: Diabolik, Barbarella and Flash Gordon — they really stand out compared to all of the others, just visually from their look. Flash Gordon I really like. It might be my nostalgia glasses that are just creating my soft spot for it. Because I remember seeing that on HBO and loving it. I remember seeing that in my local theater and loving it. I still think it holds up. And I can understand why hardcore Flash Gordon fans don’t like that film. Because it camps him up and makes him look a little silly. The gold wings, we’re supposed to believe they can fly? Yeah, sure. I can understand why fans would take offense, but I think it’s a lot of fun. The lava lamp skies, and all the cool sets. The glossy costumes. And I think I even mentioned in my review, I never picked up on all the sex innuendos that run throughout that film. But yeah, I guess that’s the Italians. If they did something like that in The Avengers, they’d probably protest outside the theater now. Everybody is much more protective today. They used to get away with a lot more with a PG rating. A PG-rated film could really push that parental guidance stamp.
Thinking back on that Flash Gordon movie, Ming gives Dale a roofie, and he’s gonna try to have sex with her on the big bed. They’d never do that now. The MPAA would jump all over these guys. They wouldn’t even consider filming that scene. It’s just like, “They’re gonna slap us with a PG-13. They’re gonna ruin our chances with the young kids. We’ve gotta drop this. No roofies on that.” Or Flash Gordon in the little leather shorts, and she’s trying to grope him in the coffin. I was like, “No way.”
On Popeye making it into his superhero series
Is Popeye A Superhero? was the second Superhero Imponderables video I did. The first was Mighty Mouse VS Underdog — who would win the fight? Those videos were meant to be a break in between chapters of the Superhero Series. And it was gonna be sort of like when, in between breaks of the football game on Sunday, they would have those “You Make The Call” short segments. It was supposed to be a little head-scratcher before the next chapter. Somebody would be watching them in chronological order, and they’d come to that, and say, “Oh yeah, is Popeye a superhero? Hmm, interesting.” And then the episode would start. I’m gonna stop those, because I don’t think anybody’s interested in them. They barely get any views, and too much work goes into them. I’ll just write it on the blog. But Popeye, I was always fascinated with that movie, even when I was little. I remember seeing it in a local movie theater back when I was like five, and thinking, “This is a really weird movie.” I’d only seen like two movies at that point — Star Wars and Superman. But Popeye is strange, and I don’t know what was going on there. That was one, I would kill to get a Robin Williams commentary on that DVD. I would have loved to have Robert Alman’s recollections on that. It’s just a very strange movie. A huge Popeye fan in Italy or Greece or something — he was like head of the Popeye fan club in a European chapter — he saw my bad review of Popeye, and he contacted me. He said, “Oh, I really enjoyed your review.” I was like, “Really? I thought you were gonna really tear me up.” He said, “It was really good.” So, occasionally, I’ll get a nice email from somebody who actually enjoyed the review. But there’s no question, it is a strange movie. I can watch it, and be strangely drawn into it. The music’s horrible. It’s not even music really. It’s just the title of the song being repeated over and over again. You know, “He’s large, he’s large, he’s large.” OK, I get it. How about some lines here? Harry Nilsson wrote them, and he was a very popular singer/songwriter at the time. But I was like, “This is it?” When you think about it, there were some musicals going on like The Wiz and The Blues Brothers, Scorsese’s musical New York, New York, Pennies From Heaven. It wasn’t a completely dead genre, but Popeye didn’t help. I also didn’t understand why it had only circus performers. I’ll never understand that. I was like, “Get some dancers.”
In an Altman interview book, he really goes into great detail about Popeye. I think it was on Amazon, and they let you read a couple of free pages of the book. So I started reading it, and it was really interesting. He started going into the whole conception of this idea, and what his thoughts were when he started filming. And then the free preview ended, so I couldn’t go any further. The strange thing to me is, it’s such a weird film for Robert Altman. I would never in a million years think “Popeye”, and say “Oh yeah, Robert Altman.” But I think it was his biggest hit, ironically. Maybe other than The Player, and I’m not even sure about that.
On other YouTube channels he subscribes to
The CineFiles. I think they’re dynamite. I love what they do, and they’re a lot of fun. I’ve never been a real big horror guy, but I watched their one on Dario Argento. The main guy, Edwin is a big Argento fan. It’s a funny episode, because the other two guys tear him apart. But it’s so great, and it’s really funny. I watched it twice. I feel bad when I say that, because the poor guy really really loves this director, but he has no defense. He’s just getting torn apart. But they’re really smart guys. They know what they’re talking about when they hit a topic. The Movie Preview Critic I used to really enjoy. His earlier stuff was so good. Basically a new movie preview would come out, and he would talk about it and say, “OK, what can we expect? What’s H-wood’s problems gonna be here? What can we anticipate? Does it look like they’re falling back on the old overused cliches?” He’s a really interesting, fun guy. Then he started getting into actually doing DVD commentaries. So you’d go onto his blip.tv channel, cue up Crystal Skull, start playing his thing, and he’d talk you through Crystal Skull. I don’t have time for that, but occasionally I’ll still tune in to see what he’s talking about. Then there’s this other guy, Herve Attia, and it’s not really any film reviewing. Basically, he re-scouts and films movie locations. I don’t understand how he finances these things. Like Conan the Barbarian, he goes to where they constructed the original Conan sets in Spain. Where Schwarzenegger’s turning the wheel, he finds the spot where that wheel was. The rocks they’re galloping past in this one shot, he finds where those big boulders are, and shows you what they look like today. I don’t understand how this guy doesn’t have a million views, and isn’t doing work on DVDs. It’s so incredible. Every episode he does is just mind-blowing to me. The most recent one I saw, he did The Towering Inferno, which goes to San Francisco and shows you where they filmed it outside the lobby, and tries to match up the matte shots where that towering inferno was supposed to be in the city. He did The Blues Brothers, one of my favorite flicks, and took you all around Chicago. It’s just really amazing stuff. But he must be a millionaire, because he’s going all over the country. He went to see The Goonies [in Oregon]. He did Superman in New York. I recently finished The Untouchables. I think he mentioned it took him two years to finish that project, and it’s only a 15-minute thing. I was like, “Two years it took him to do this, and I complain about sitting through Supergirl?” His series is called “On The Set,” and it’s fascinating stuff.
On the future of his Superhero Series
Someone suggested Misfits of Science. I thought, “You know, that’s a pretty interesting one.” Because I didn’t really watch that show originally. Courteney Cox, it was one of her early roles. I think it lasted from October to February on NBC in ’85-86. And it’s basically these science students, and they have special powers. The guy who played Predator, he’s in it. And his power is he shrinks down to a little guy. He’s like The Atom. I was watching a couple of episodes, so that’s gonna be the next one. Although, I may squeeze in The Toxic Avenger before Misfits. I think that film may be worth looking at, and it would certainly make a unique entry in the series. After that, it’s gonna be the biggie: Howard the Duck. Actually, someone suggested Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. That would come in before Howard the Duck, but I’d have to think about that. Because when I think of Remo Williams, Fred Ward, I don’t really think of him as a superhero.
I like the idea of being a completionist with these. When I started, I didn’t think that many people would be watching this stuff, honestly. My early reviews, I’ll admit, they suck. The narration sucks. It sounds like HAL 9000. I thought, “This will just be an experiment. I’ll try it.” But getting views and subscribers was never really my goal. I figured maybe I’d get a couple of people — like good quality people that I’ll be happy with. And the subscribers I have, I really enjoy. They’ll email me. I have a Facebook page for the site. I don’t even do Facebook anymore, and all this social media stuff. You know, subscribers will ask me questions, and I’ll be more than happy to talk to them. And it amazed me that you actually watched the Super Fuzz review. In my wildest dreams, I figured maybe 50 people will watch that video and know what the heck I’m talking about. But at least there will be 50 people, and I’ll give them something decent to watch, and they’ll remember Super Fuzz and have a good laugh about it. Or if they actually like the film, get a little nostalgic jolt from watching it. But if I was concerned with numbers of viewers, I’d be talking about The Dark Knight. I must be out of my mind doing a Pumaman review. I’m not an idiot. Nobody’s interested in Pumaman. But when I started this, I didn’t want to skip anything — even though I kind of did. But I was like, “OK, the next one’s Pumaman? I’m gonna do Pumaman. Nobody interested? Oh well, to heck with it. I’m gonna try to do the best I can.”