The word from Cinemablend is that Mr. Tumnus is going to be a pre-bald Prof. X now in the new prequel X-Men First Class. Or he might still be bald. It doesn’t matter. Jimmy Mac is hot, and bonus…he can act. Click the link below for more details.
Archive for May, 2010
The word from Cinemablend is that Mr. Tumnus is going to be a pre-bald Prof. X now in the new prequel X-Men First Class. Or he might still be bald. It doesn’t matter. Jimmy Mac is hot, and bonus…he can act. Click the link below for more details.
Whoa whoa….before you get up in arms about the title of this opinion piece, give it a read.
We at Fangirl are not ashamed by our love of Doctor Who and we only want our fave Time Lord to rule the universe forever. But the latest incarnation is managing to stir up the fandom to a fever pitch of differing sides. Whatever side you may be on, Ren Willocks, this pieces writer has brought up a very good point of what may be part of the problem to many of the fans. What happens when you take the unattainable and the stuff of legend, and make him readily bonkable? What happens to the mystique? Take a read and while we are at it…
No Sonic Screwing Jokes!!
Remember half way through season one of the DW reboot? Episodes 6 and 7 were the best that far, Dalek being quite possibly the finest episode of the whole season. By comparison, remember Vampires of Venice? Maybe it’s just because the hurt is still fresh in my memory, but damn, what an absolute dog.
So what happened? And why the ridiculous title to this article? Some will theorize the culprit lies in the writing or acting or directing, but I think a stolen lyric from Robots In Disguise sums it up best, the sex has made Doctor Who stupid.
There is a very subtle but fundamental difference in this Doctor Who than the one before and that is that the Doctor has, for the first time, become sexually objectified. (oooo scary term! keep reading…) Remember all those times Russell T Davies and David Tenant, when asked cheekily in interviews about whether Doctor Who would ever have some ‘hanky panky in the TARDIS’ how they always smiled but firmly asserted “No.” Well there’s a reason, because when you cross that little line something very very important about the Doctor changes and the whole show goes off-kilter and plummets towards crapdom. Steven Moffat has made a decision that objectifying the doctor is now a green-zone where RTD had previously insisted otherwise, to the point of even describing the Doctor as asexual. Steve’s Doc is definitely different.
No one denies that Steven Moffat is a tremendous storyteller. Blink is frequently cited THE favorite episode of the rebooted DW so far. Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead are two of my very favorites, and who among us can forget the beautiful Girl in the Fireplace. But there is a fundamental difference in Steven’s Doctor that didn’t exist in Russell’s and it’s like a bad stone in a foundation, causing cracks (wow unexpected obscure pun) in the whole show. And that bad foundation stone is the sexual objectification of the Doctor.
Stay with me here, this is subtle and complex but very important. The fans have always been allowed to objectify the Doctor (and boy DO we! And well we should, you saw DT in that tight suit with that hair and the glasses and… just rawr) but that’s a liberty that we get to take as observers. We get to step over that little metaphorical line because it’s fun to break that rule. Its fun because we know the Doctor wouldn’t approve if he knew how we talk (and what we draw) about him. But in the presence of the Doctor (and if he existed) the utmost respect would be shown, just like the Doctor’s assistant respects him.
Consider the previous assistants. Rose: there’s a massive level of respect that goes along with loving the Doctor and being loved BY the Doctor. She couldn’t even say it until she thought she was trapped in another universe. And even when they were reunited and she was with 10.5, it was only whispered by him to her. Martha was in love with him too, but she respected him and herself enough not to try. Then there’s Jack who absolutely idolized him, but it was never said aloud. You just knew by the way he talked about him. He never actually tried to jump him, and he’s freaking Jack Harkness, whore of the universe!
And of course Donna, who became one of his best friends. Her loss was felt deeper than many because he’d come to respect her. And most importantly she had learned to respect herself and at the end she lost that and it broke the Doctor’s heart.
Now compare Donna and Amy.
Or don’t. It’s just disappointing.
(Actually I’m sure there’s a great deal of comparison going on already and I’ll admit to not having read any of it yet. But I will.)
None of us want cookie-cutter assistants who are all the same. But the one thing that WAS the same of all the assistants so far is that they were, in the words of 10, all “Brilliant”; shining examples of the best of humanity, courageous, valiant, kind, keen and good friends to the Doctor. Amy has so far exemplified herself by being the first to invite the Doctor for a quick and sloppy shag (the night before her wedding no less.)
The only people in the show that get to objectify the doctor where it still works are antagonists like Cassandra, the last human, who kissed him while in Rose’s body on New Earth, and very special characters who everyone recognizes as having a privileged relationship with the Doctor, like Rennet (Girl in the Fireplace) and River Song (Silence/Forrest).
The rest of the lowly (regular) humans respect him far too much to belittle him with advances. Not because he says so or because they fear him but because they love him. Everyone does! And maybe they do fear him too, just a little. Who wouldn’t have plenty of awe and a little fear of a man that is the only thing the Daleks are afraid of. Fear is exciting and attractive too. It’s an extremely delicate balance of character that is very hard to build but that RTD hit pitch-perfect with his version of the Doctor.
So here’s how it breaks down when that pitch is changed: When the Doctor is allowed to be openly ogled by his Assistant (first episode this season), even fumblingly and juvenily jumped (or attempted jumping), it shows that the Doctor no longer commands the same kind of respect and awe. He’s just as viable a partner as Amy’s next door neighbor (who I just made up) or her fiancé (just as easily beddable and attainable.)
And so it goes that if the Doctor’s assistant doesn’t respect him enough to refrain from trying to jump his bones then we as observers don’t either (since we experience the Doctor through the perspective of the Assistant largely). And if we can’t respect the Doctor then everything else stops working as well. The enemies no longer need to fear him so the peril is no longer epic (remember EPIC peril? remember the Satan Pit or Midnight?)
And this is the whole reason we’re frustrated while watching is because we love the doctor and want to respect him (so that we can secretly among ourselves giggling and grinning, cross the objectification line with some tasteful (and some less tasteful) fic ;]) but we can’t because no one else in the show does. Most importantly, the exciting and epic peril of the adventure is diminished because the baddies are rendered impotent by a Doctor who’s lost his mojo. A direct result ironically, of Steve trying to increase the Doctor’s mojo!
The Doctor deserves better and so do we.
I give you Brad Cooper losing his shit as he plummets in a tank to possible doom. OH yes…bring me my A-Team.
And SHARLTO!!! Nomnom D9 nomnom.
Now, I’m not a traditional horror fan. I rarely enjoy gallons of blood flying everywhere, limbs sometimes matching similiar trajectories to said gallons. Senseless killings by some patholgical monster do not amuse me, more so, they remind me of all the real monsters (be they events or people) that I see movies or read books to ignore. One of the rare exceptions in the slasher-horror genre that I did actaully enjoy was Repo-The Genetic Opera; which was written by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich. So when I heard from a friend that Terrance was writting a graphic novel and would I like to see it I joyfully said yes.
The Graphic Novel has always been a favorite past time of mine. Whether it is the Japanese style “manga” or the western “comic”, I enjoy the many avenues of art and expression it brings to my senses. Therre’s the tactile enjoyment of turning the pages, the smell of fresh ink, the visual panels for my eyes to devour, and lastly (and hopefully) a plot that engages my mind and demands more.
The story, without giving too much away, revolves around a young girl-Susan-and her older brother-Tony- who suffer the tragedy of theif parents death only to fall victim to a disgruntled and unkind uncle and negligent aunt. A skirmish ensues between the Uncle and the Brother leaving the Girl alone and without her hero. This short paraphrase doesn’t do it justice, I know, but I enjoyed the story. I had this crazy idea of what would have happened to Princess Leia had luke died? Not a great corollary, but this one of the reasons I like these stories—they make your mind think and wonder. In the second installment, of which I’m still rereading, Susan has grown with children of her own and is in a troubled relationship with her children’s father. The two boys, Jesse and Travor, seem to be troubled teens (in america? No!). I would have liked to have seen more on Susan, and less of the boys in the second installment. But there is more to come, I here, and so my hunger will continue.
The art! This, if for no other reason, is why I will keep reading The Mottling. The colors are rich and dark which only add to the depth of the story—this is not your happy disney story where Thumper and Bambi playin the forest. There isn’t a lot of cheer, thus few greens and yellows. Rich purples and deep blues evoke a sense of sadness and loss, without sending me reaching for a bottle of antidepressants. Browns are used as reference for deslotion, lost open spaces. Where red—predominately in hair and clothing—as a focus for characters who I think will come to have strong emotions and a “hey, you, this is the character to watch out for”. I wish I could go on and on about color theory in this comic. It goes without saying this isn’t quite like every other one out there. I’m a huge fan of gothic stylizing, and if you are to, pick this up.
In closing, I don’t feel I can necessarily do anything justice based on only a part of it. There are more issues to come. The very fact that I look forward to them only stresses that I enjoyed reading the first two issues. No matter what part of a comic you savor the most-be it story or art, or both– The Molting has plenty to offer.
The entire 24 experience is coming to DVD this December, just in time for the holidays. Nothing says Christmas like a good gunshot to the knee!!! The series may be over, but the film franchise is just beginning. Countdown to the New Year with 24.
LOS ANGELES, CA (May 25, 2010) – Time may be running out on 24, one of the most innovative and acclaimed dramas on television, but fans can relive every heart-pounding minute of the show’s final season when “24” Season Eight arrives on December 7, 2010 to Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Additionally on December 7, fans will also have a chance to experience all 8 days of Jack Bauer when “24” The Complete Series arrives in a collectible DVD box set.
“24” The Complete Series is a must-own collectible box set, that includes Seasons 1-8, and bursting with bonus features including deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes footage; a comprehensive retrospective that looks back at the show’s unforgettable eight seasons; an alternate ending for the series finale and much more.
In “24” Season Eight, New York City is the backdrop and Emmy Award® winner Kiefer Sutherland is back as rugged counter-terrorist, Jack Bauer. Just when he thought he was leaving the dangerous life behind to be with his daughter and her family, Jack is once again called on by CTU to uncover a Russian extremist plot to assassinate an Islamic leader during peace negotiations with U.S. President Taylor. Fan favorites Elisha Cuthbert, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Cherry Jones, and Annie Wersching are joined by new faces Anil Kapoor, Katee Sackoff, Bob Gunton and Freddie Prinze Jr. for Jack’s final, nail-biting 24 hours protecting America’s freedom.
Hello fellow geeks, fangirls and fanboys! I’m back with another blisteringly fun interview for you all! This time I’m speaking with Tim Sullivan about his latest project, the 2001 Maniacs comic book, soon to be unleashed on the unsuspecting public. Tim once again proves to be an absolute blast to chat with. He also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to speaking his mind and sharing his enthusiasm and love for his fans. And…he was driving at 90 miles an hour when we did this interview, so why not come along for the ride? Enjoy!
TS: Hey Slick, it’s Tim Sullivan.
FG: Hey Tim!
TS: I’m driving to San Francisco right now. I’m going to star in a short film Bryan Singer’s producing called War Prayer. And I’m playing a televangelist opposite Jeremy Sisto. As a stranger, he may or may not be a messenger of God. And Tommy Dekker, the kid who’s on Heroes, and is playing John Connor in the new Sarah Connor Chronicles, is in it.
FG: Oh my God.
TS: Isn’t that surreal? I’m a televangelist, go figure! And I just passed Pleasant Valley State Prison, I kid you not!
FG: (laughs VERY hard at that happy coincidental reference to 2001 Maniacs) Oh my God, that’s a sign!
TS: I know.
FG: A sign of what, I don’t know!
TS: Yeah, I don’t know that it’s a good sign or a bad sign. It might be where I end up one of these days, I don’t know.
FG: So you’re gonna work with Jeremy Sisto?
TS: Yeah, I’m gonna be working with Jeremy Sisto, isn’t that cool?
FG: I love him, I think he’s great.
TS: Oh he’s awesome. I’ve been a fan since he was in Grand Canyon. He’s done so many things…The ’60s, May…
FG: Dead & Breakfast!
TS: Yeah, Dead & Breakfast, Wrong Turn…he played Jesus!
TS: Workin’ with Jesus, I’m doing a movie with Jesus.
FG: Just don’t do one with Satan!
TS: Oh I already have…Eli Roth!
TS: You gotta put that in there, that’s funny!
FG: I will!
TS: Oh, that’s horrible!
FG: (still laughing) I’m just glad you said it and not me!
TS: God bless him!
FG: Awww. You’re a good man, Tim. So you’re really…you’re driving right now?
TS: I’m driving, in my Mustang, 90 miles an hour, going past the vineyards.
FG: Should you be on the phone? (laughs worriedly)
TS: Yeah, I’ve got the bluetooth in. If you can hear me…I’m hands-free, I’ve got that thing in my ear like Star Trek.
FG: Oh, good!
TS: It’s amazing, that I can be here and you’re there…you’re in Jersey, right?
FG: (smiling) Where?
TS: You’re not…where are you again?!
FG: (laughing) I’m in Tampa!
TS: Yeah, that’s right, Tampa! We’re on extreme opposite coasts right now.
FG: Yes, exactly.
TS: It’s pretty awesome. And right now I am surrounded by vineyards, tons and tons of grape trees. Or grapevines…I don’t know. They’re not grape trees, but they…yes they are, I don’t know!
FG: (laughing hard again)
TS: They look like trees, they’re about two feet tall, but they don’t look like a vine…
(both laughing now)
FG: Did you take something before you left? (really laughing now)
TS: No, this is how I usually am, unfortunately. I go through life punch-drunk.
FG: Ah well you know, there are worse ways to be.
TS: I know, I could be on LSD or snorting coke.
FG: Not good, not good.
TS: I just like to go through life happy.
FG: Yes, that’s good! That’s very good.
TS: So yeah, I got this comic book coming out that I’m pretty excited about.
FG: How did the whole thing happen? When I got the email from David Marks (Avatar Press) that was the first I’d heard about it.
TS: Well, I kept it kind of quiet. I’m tired of talking about things before they happen. I figured I’d do something different and talk about it after. Plus Bill Christensen at Avatar has been trying to keep the wraps on this because Avatar’s celebrating their tenth year in the comic book industry and this is one of their premiere titles for their tenth year. They’re going to have a big launching at Comic Con in July…this Maniac comic, along with George Romero’s Living Dead comic, so it’s very cool. I’m very honored to be paired with George Romero. I’ve been at all these conventions and I’ve always seen Bill and the Avatar people, and I’ve always loved the stuff they do, like the Nightmare On Elm Street and the Halloween and the Freddy Vs Jason. These guys, they push the limit and I often wish that some of these film companies would go to them for the plot versus what Freddy Vs Jason (the film) actually ended up being. And Bill’s a fan and he’s a great guy and we often shared booths and sat next to each other while I was promoting Maniacs and he was promoting his stuff. We really dug each other’s energy. And I’ve always felt when I do something, it’s not just a movie. I learned from my days working with Gene Simmons on Detroit Rock City, there’s an action figure, there’s a comic book…eventually there will be a Maniacs tampon, but we’re not there yet!
FG: Oh God! I don’t even want to imagine what that would be like!
TS: God only knows. Or a Maniacs coffin. I’m very happy because I always saw the Maniacs as something you could sink your teeth into as a fan, more than just a movie. You’ve got the t-shirts, you’ve got the collectible figures and now we finally have the comic book. But what I love about the comic book is it was really great to write it, to not just have it be based on and have other people write it, but to get down and dirty and write it myself with Chris Kobin, with whom I wrote Maniacs (the film) and (its sequel) Beverly Hellbillies. It was amazing because there was no restriction on budget, on schedule…it could be anything I wanted. And me and Chris and Avatar thought, we don’t want to do an adaptation of the movie, you already know that story if you saw the movie. Ever since the downfall of Pleasant Valley, every year they have risen from the grave, so we basically have 160 times that this has happened since 1864. So why not have fun and maybe one year have one issue go back to 1967, the summer of love and have a magical mystery tour bus full of hippies on their way to Woodstock show up. You know what I mean?
FG: Oh yeah!
TS: Have the hippies versus Buckman. Or in another issue have it be during the roaring ’20s and gangsters show up in old cars and it’s Al Capone versus Mayor Buckman. So we got really excited about that, and so for the first issue we thought we’d begin with the beginning. The first issue is called “The Curse Of The Confederacy” and it’s the origin of what happened, how these people in Pleasant Valley became cursed and became phantoms and ghosts in limbo. We show how Mayor Buckman lost his eye, we talk about these marauding northerners, a group of renegade northern soldiers who break off from their troops and go raiding and looting and raping and how they end up in Pleasant Valley. At the time, the folks in Pleasant Valley lived in an oasis of denial. They lived in their Li’l-Abner-meets-Russ-Meyer existence while all around them the world was going to hell during the war between the States…sort of similar to what’s happening in America today. We’re going to hell and we’ve got three things on the news…another 100 people were killed in Iraq, Sanjaya (American Idol contestant) has a new hair style and the girls of the Rutgers basketball team are nappy-headed hos. Those are the three main topics. And it’s like, wake up folks, the world’s going to hell, we’re sort of responsible for a lot of it, we may have the war in Iraq and global warming, but in the mean time, let’s tune in to see whether Sanjaya’s going to win or not! And in many ways, the folks in Pleasant Valley were doing that. They were trying to stay out of it, but at a certain point…and what I love about the comic is they (Avatar Press) literally told us, “We want this comic book to push all the boundaries, push the buttons, be as politically incorrect as you can, no barriers.” So there were no financial boundaries and no…
TS: Censorship, yeah. It was wonderful. So the Maniacs comic is just this over the top romp with tits, ass, boobs, buns, Hestor and Glendora skinny-dipping while Huckebilly’s spying on them, you know…all that fun stuff you expect from the Maniacs! It gets violent and then it gets dark and serious, just like the first film. Just like Beverly Hellbillies, when that comes out everyone will see. So it was really fun to follow that pattern in the comic and at the same time what I also love about it is there are new characters that are going to be introduced, that audiences will see in the sequel. A character named Doc Tickles, played by Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)…
TS: …a character named Jim Crow played by Tony Todd (Candyman, The Rock), and then we have a brand new little Maniac gal named Scarlet Red, who’s being played by a newcomer named Amy Baniecki. And fans of wrestling, especially Lucha Libre, they might know her by her wrestling name of Crybaby. And she’s awesome. She’s playing Scarlet Red, who we find out is Buckman and Granny’s daughter. And a lot of these characters that are going to be in the sequel are introduced in the comic book for the first time, so in many ways the comic serves as a bridge from the first movie to the second movie. If you haven’t read the comic you’ll still enjoy the film, but if you’ve read the comic, you’ll be familiar with all these new players, you’ll see where the curse came from and that it involves voodoo curses from Haiti that the slaves bring to Pleasant Valley, they’re brought about by Tony Todd’s character. It’s very cool, very cool. And I have to say, it has been the most fulfilling creative experience of my life, Slick. When I was a kid I used to read the re-prints of EC Comics…Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror…I probably learned how to be a screenwriter from reading those comics. It’s like a screenplay plus storyboard. You have your little square of exposition, then you’ve got your little dialogue bubble, and then you’ve got your picture, which is pretty much a storyboard. So going from screenwriting to comic writing was very easy for me and Chris because you write a description that is literally the prose that the reader will see, then there’s the dialogue, and then you write an actual description of the picture for the artist, which is very much how I would describe the scene to my storyboard artist. But then what I did to take it a step further, which most comic book writers don’t do…but I really felt that if Avatar wants Tim Sullivan’s vision they should get it, so I drew my own crappy-ass stick figure drawings on each panel on each page as a guide. You know, there’s nothing like stick figures with two balloons for boobs!
FG: That’s all I’d be able to manage.
TS: I used to do that as a kid and here I am now doing it at my age and getting paid for it, which is awesome. I felt like a kid in a candy shop doing this comic book. And then I scan these crappy stick drawings and I email them to Avatar and they send them to the artist in Spain. And forgive me because I forget his name…
FG: Oh, I have it in front of me…Raulo Caceres.
TS: Yes, yes! This guy is a fucking god! So I sent him my stick figure and it’s the gist of what I envision, and then a couple days later they email me back from Spain, beyond my expectations, a fully pencilled version of the page. This guy is amazing. This artwork is so good it’s sick! It’s very EC, you know…
FG: (excited) That’s what I almost asked, I was so hoping for that!
TS: That Al Feldstein, Wally Wood…very stark, almost film noire feel, it’s so fucking cool. It’s very realistic. It’s not…some of the comics now have more of a…they’re almost like, not existential, but the drawings are more of a sketch, it’s not as thick with ink. And this goes back to the EC way. Literally, EC did science fiction, horror, noire and war. And this is like they took Tales From The Crypt and Two-Fisted Tales, for those who know what I’m talking about, and put them together.
FG: Oh God.
TS: Imagine an EC story set in a civil war. It’s awesome. And we toyed with, “Oh maybe they’re stories told by Mayor Buckman.” No, there’s no narration, the narrator is third person, it’s me and Chris. And Buckman’s a character not a storyteller, and he’s very active. Robert Englund has approved his likeness and he’s very much in support of the comic, he’s floored by the art. Buckman is very much the axis which all the action surrounds. More so than even in the movie. At first they were like, “Please tell us we only have to make Buckman look like Robert!” I said nope, every fucking character I want to look like the actor, because the fans want that.
FG: Yes, exactly!
TS: When I was a kid and I used to get the Dark Shadows comic or the Star Trek comic from Gold Key, it sort of looked like Barnabas and it sort of looked like Spock and Kirk, but none of them looked like Sulu or any of the other characters.
FG: Right, which is ridiculous because they’re just as important to the fans as Spock and Kirk.
TS: Exactly. So it looks like Ryan Fleming, who plays Hucklebilly, it looks like Christa Campbell, it looks like Giuseppe Andrews. I mean, it’s amazing. Some of these actors are going to freak out when they see what positions we put them in! Especially Adam Robitel with Lester and the sheep Jezebel.
FG: Oh, good God.
TS: I had so many pictures from the set of Maniacs and I had every possible angle, side shot, profile, long shot, closeup…so that the artist has been so particular in the detail. I’m so proud to be working with a company like Avatar and an editor like Bill Christensen, who has allowed us to be so anal in the detail of the costumes, the detail of the likenesses and the detail to the Civil War era, the uniforms and the weapons, everything. So it’s just been a wonderful experience.
FG: It’s so amazing.
TS: If it sounds like I’m gushing, I am. Because it’s, again, beyond my expectation, it comes out in July, we will launch it at Comic Con followed by 2001 Maniacs: Beverly Hellbillies and there will be tie-ins. When Beverly Hellbillies comes out on DVD there will be a special comic that comes with it that you can’t get anywhere else. If the fans want it, I just hope to be able to keep telling different stories from Pleasant Valley, issue after issue.
FG: Well, the possibilities are pretty much endless with it.
TS: I’d love to have fans tell us like, “What year do you want to see? Do you want the ’50s, do you want Buckman versus Fonzie? We’ll do it!”
(both laugh again)
TS: We’ll do one where we have a Jimmy Dean type of character come through and give Harper a run for his money with the women, you know? Maybe one issue we’ll just go off and focus on the adventures of Hucklebilly or Hestor and Glendora or the Milk Maiden, expand on their characters. And all the actors are just so thrilled by this, they never thought that Maniacs would…we’re really blessed. I always hoped in my heart, and I envisioned it, and it really has happened thanks to repeated viewings on Showtime and The Movie Channel, and these characters have really become cult characters. And everybody has their favorite and all the actors have their own little fanbase. That’s why it was so important for me to bring all the characters back for the sequel and have their likenesses be accurate (in the comic).
FG: And from what I understand, there are going to be all these different covers, like the photo cover with Robert Englund and a special signed one and another one that’s got a poster signed by you and the Maniacs cast that’s a limited edition.
TS: Yeah, me and Robert and every single Maniac is going to sign it, there’s going to be 500 of that. There will be variants, they do that all the time. When Kiss did their comic there’d be one with Paul on the cover…that just gives me an idea…the original Kiss comic was printed with real Kiss blood…
FG: See, you’ve already answered the question before I asked it! That was the first question that came to mind…will you put your blood into the ink?
TS: I think we have to do that. I think that me and Robert…that’s what we’re going to do. On the set of Beverly Hellbillies, we’re all going to donate blood, put it in one vat and I’m telling you it’s going to be printed with real Maniacs blood! And we will have the pictures to prove it.
FG: Good. I was so hoping that was going to happen!
TS: And you can say I just decided it with you! You helped me come to that decision!
FG: (laughing delightedly) You read my mind! I didn’t even have to ask the fucking question! I have that written on my list!
TS: That’ll be so cool! We’re going to do a featurette for the DVD of Beverly Hellbillies on the comic. We’re going to have a section called “Faniacs” because there are so many fans. Like there’s one kid who wants to get a tattoo of Buckman. I said, “Don’t do it yet. Come down to the set and have your tattoo guy do it on the set and you’ll have Robert there and we’ll film it for the DVD.” One guy’s been making these collectible dolls that are two feet tall of each Maniac. It’s insane with fans, the art that they send me and the posters they Photoshop together. It warms my heart.
FG: You really did create something special with that film.
TS: Well, thank you.
FG: You’re welcome. You did, there’s something really cool about it, it’s so much fun and there’s all these really cool characters. I’m glad you’re doing the sequel. Have you started shooting that yet?
TS: No, not yet. It looks like May. Things got postponed a little bit. I had a little bit of a health issue, I had an accident. I suffered from some injuries and couldn’t be hobbling around with a broken wrist and a cracked vertebrae, so the film got postponed.
FG: Are you all better now?
TS: I’m all better now. It was actually good because during my physical recuperation, my rehab, I was able to do the comic book. The recovery period gave me the opportunity to both recover and do the comic, so everything worked out for a reason.
FG: No shit, that’s awesome.
TS: I’m 100% better now.
FG: Yeah, I can tell!
TS: I wasn’t able to type with my hand, I couldn’t use my left hand forever, so I literally wrote the comic with one hand, using my pointer finger of my right hand. It’s crazy.
FG: That would drive me nuts!
TS: I used my finger to type on the keys and used my thumb and pinky to do like the control and shift thing, it was a good system. I got pretty good at it. But yeah, I wrote the comic with one hand. I can write a comic with one hand tied behind my back!!
FG: (laughing) He’s that good!
TS: In all honesty, I would dictate and Chris Kobin would write it. We would sit together and he’d do all of the typing. So that really came in handy. And we would just crack each other up writing this thing.
FG: Oh, I should think so.
TS: I’m so jealous of Trey Parker and Matt Stone because every week they get to write a South Park episode and it must be so much fun for them to be sitting together going crazy with their imaginations. That’s what it was like writing this comic and I hope it really takes off and we get to do one every month or every two months because it was just so much fun.
FG: I would bet. Just to have that limitless freedom, it’s the complete opposite of when the Comics Code was happening.
TS: I know.
FG: It’s amazing, and that wasn’t all that long ago, you know? Free reign.
TS: The other thing too that’s really cool is in the old days…they still draw and ink it by hand, but they produce it using computers. So this is going to come out in different languages, because all they have to do is put a different language in the bubble. So it’s coming out internationally, which is really exciting.
FG: That is good because I know the film did pretty damn well internationally, too!
TS: Very good. There’s a huge European fanbase, especially in England. It went theatrical in Russia and was a big hit in Russia. There are MySpaces from all over…Armenia, Australia, Thailand, Japan…so they’ll be getting the comic, too. I hope they’re ready.
FG: They won’t know what hit them, I’m sure.
TS: Anyone we’ve yet to offend, we make sure we do in the comic!
FG: (laughing again) There’s nothing offensive in that!
TS: Oh no, nothing at all. I just hope we don’t get fired, like Don Imus (referring to radio DJ Imus being fired from his job for remarks he made on air about the Rutgers University ladies’ basketball team). We’ve got a bunch of nappy-headed Maniacs in this one, so better watch out!
TS: (laughing wickedly) Nappy-headed Maniacs!
FG: Why is it every time we talk I end up going, “OHHHH!”?
TS: Because if you don’t I feel I failed!
TS: Hopefully the Maniacs won’t have an Al Sharpton-type to come out against us. I think we’re pretty covered with Maniacs. I don’t know if there’s an NAACP for Maniacs, so far there isn’t one. But you never know.
FG: (laughing uncontrollably) They may go to the ACLU, you never know!
TS: Yeah, that’s true.
FG: Now is the comic completely done, the first issue?
TS: Pretty much, it’s being colored right now. And that’s not a racist remark.
(both laugh hard again)
FG: Oh my God!!
TS: So I’m just very pleased and hopefully in a couple weeks we’ll have it.
FG: Oh cool. And so it’s going to be debuted at Comic Con…
TS: I think it’ll actually be out before but we’re going to have a big launch at Comic Con, have a big party. Robert Englund’s going to come to Comic Con, I don’t think he’s been to Comic Con before, I may be wrong but, he’s going to be there. And we’ll be there with the film and the comic and we’re going to show the first five minutes of the film, of the Beverly Hellbillies.
FG: Oh man. Shit, I wish they’d have a Comic Con in Florida!
TS: I wish so, too. The other thing I have to say that’s really fucking hot is Beverly Hellbillies is part of a reality show. Battle Of The Bands has been filming for the last six months. It’s Bodog (Music’s) Battle Of The Bands. It’s going to start airing when American Idol ends, and it’s going to kick ass. I think it’s going to be really big. And over the last six months the producers of the show have been going all over the United States, having these battle of the bands contests, picking the best band from each state. And now every week there’s a challenge, each band does something that grants them immunity from being voted off the show. The judges are Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols, Billy Duffy from the Cult and Bif Naked. The week that they did their Hollywood show, the challenge was…the bands didn’t know it, but they were brought to a horror convention called Haunt X. And me and Robert (Englund) were there and we gave them a copy of Maniacs on DVD and a copy of the script of Beverly Hellbillies, and they went off for 24 hours. And each of the six bands had to come up with a theme song for the opening title credits sequence for Beverly Hellbillies. Then they flew out Dee Snider (legendary lead singer for classic heavy metal band Twisted Sister). And me and Robert Englund and Dee Snider heard all the bands play, picked the best one, and then me and Dee produced the track with the band. And this was all filmed over a five-day period for this reality show. So that was pretty fucking hot!
FG: Great, now I’m going to have to fucking watch a reality show. Thanks Tim!
TS: Dee was probably…Robert…I don’t know who was Simon (Cowell), who was Paula (Abdul) and who was…I don’t know…
FG: Oh, fuck those three. Fuck ’em! Don’t even make the comparison!
TS: Dee was probably Sanjaya because of the hair…
FG: (laughing and a bit horrified) No, Dee’s one of my favorite guys, he’s got way better hair!
TS: Dee is the greatest fucking guy in the world. Dee is the rock and roll version of Diamond Dallas Page. They’re both from Jersey, they’re both the same age, they’re both in incredible shape, they’re never going to get old.
FG: No shit!
TS: Being in a room with Dee…you think I talk a lot? Being in a room with Robert and Dee, I just sat in the corner and watched! It was awesome hearing those two talk.
FG: God, I’ve loved Dee Snider for…shit…Stay Hungry (Twisted Sister’s seminal 1984 album) was a staple of my youth, and I still love that album. He’s just fantastic. I’m so glad you got to work with him.
TS: There are a lot of people in our generation who grew up with Kiss and Twisted Sister. But Twisted Sister really walked the talk and anybody who’s an SMF (name of both Twisted Sister’s fan club and a song on Stay Hungry), those people know what Stay Hungry really means. Dee calls them his ‘Dee-Sciples’. It was really awesome, during a break I said, “Hey Dee, you want to go have lunch?” I’m thinking, let’s go to the Rainbow Room on Sunset (Boulevard). You know, the Rainbow Room was the big ’80s hot spot…
FG: (very familiar with the legendary Rainbow Bar & Grill) Oh yeah!
TS: Dee’s like, “I’ve never been there.” I said, “WHAT?! Mr Dee Snider, Twisted Sister, has never been to the Rainbow?!” He said, “Dude, I live in Long Island, I stay away from that, I’m a vegetarian.” I was like, “Oh my God!” So he said, “All right, all right, I’ll let you pop my Rainbow cherry.” (laughs) So I took Dee Snider to the Rainbow Room for the first time. Now that is an accomplishment.
FG: Yeah! Was Lemmy (legendary lead singer of brilliant heavy metal band Motorhead, who spends much of his time at the Rainbow) there? (laughs)
TS: Lemmy was there, we popped that little thing on his face, it was awesome!
FG: OHHHHH! Be nice to Lemmy, he’s a god!
TS: Lemmy was there, Don Dokken (lead singer of ’80s heavy metal band Dokken) waited on us…
FG: (laughing hysterically) Don’t say that!! Oh, that’s so wrong!! God, I heard “Breakin’ The Chains” (Dokken song) today, I still love that song! That’s so mean!
TS: Believe me, it was so cool because I was thinking of Robert (Englund). Here we are, Dokken did “Dream Warriors” for A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and now years later we’re finding the new cool band to do the new cool song, you know?
FG: That’s true. That’s very true.
TS: But I’m the biggest geek of all because I actually drove to the set of the reality show with “Dream Warriors” in my car stereo!
(both laugh again)
FG: That’s the best Nightmare On Elm Street movie, too.
TS: It is, after the first one.
FG: I actually think I like the third one more.
TS: You know, I think it’s more fun.
FG: Yeah. They’re two different beasts, yeah. The deaths are really cool and creative, like with the junkie.
TS: They still make you shudder. Even after 20 some odd years of grossing-you-out horror movies, when that kid becomes the puppet, being dragged along by his veins like a marionette, that freaks me out. “Welcome to prime time, bitch.” You don’t get any more classic than that!
FG: (going back to Tim working with Dee Snider) That is so cool. Well, you tell Dee that I’m a ‘Dee-Sciple’ and proud of it! (laughs)
TS: I will! I’ll email you a cool picture of me and Dee from 1985, when I worked at MTV. It was so funny…I worked at MTV and he was a guest VJ and we took a shot, so when I saw him recently I said, “Dude, you may not remember this…” and he was cracking up!
FG: Oh my God, that’s so awesome. You just know everybody!
TS: He’s a great guy, man. I just adore him.
FG: That’s cool. I’m glad to hear that because he always seemed very cool. And now his son Jesse’s got a kick ass band (Baptized By Fire, check out their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/bxftheband or Jesse’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/jesseblaze), too.
TS: Yeah! Dee is a good guy. He’s been married to the same woman for over 30 years, he married her before he got famous. He knew he had to marry before he got famous because otherwise he’d never be able to know if they married him for who he was, you know?
TS: The guy works out, he never did drugs, which is actually scary to think that during those times of spandex and filed teeth (Dee once had his two front teeth filed into fangs) he wasn’t high!
FG: The makeup was a sober choice!
TS: Yeah, he’s just the real fucking deal. I’m proud to say we’ve become really close friends. I’m just so grateful for the chances…the Maniacs world has just opened up so much for me, and to get to collaborate with and become friends with the heroes of my youth…I can’t believe it. I honestly cannot believe it. If I can give back, not to sound like I’m a fucking Hallmark card, but that’s why it’s so important for me. I really do try to keep in touch with the kids on MySpace who contact me. I’ll send them treats, I’ll get posters signed by Robert and mail it to them as much as I can. There’s only so much I can do, but as much as I can, I try.
FG: Well, I have my lovely signed John Landis photo framed and hanging on my wall! (Tim was kind enough to get his friend Landis to sign a photo for me.) And my signed Tim Sullivan picture’s also hanging on the wall!
FG: Of course!
TS: There’s this kid in Israel named Dor Maizles and he wrote letters to every actor (from Maniacs) and he mailed them to me. And it was so beautiful, he included like this little Jewish stone…these awesome letters he wrote, and I gave them to each actor and I took pictures of Robert reading the letter. And Robert actually signed artwork from the comic and sent it to this kid. When a kid goes out of his way like that…you can tell the real fans from just the casual fans.
FG: Yeah, definitely.
TS: When they go out of their way…a kid from Israel goes out of his way like that you have to take care of him.
FG: God, that is so insanely cool. But we know what it’s like to be fans, when you love somebody you want to tell them.
TS: Yeah. When someone takes the time to really write something nice and articulate, you want to say thank you. Every now and then though…this one kid felt so bad, his dog was being put to sleep and he sent me an email and he’s like, “My dog’s being put to sleep tomorrow. You’re the only person who could cheer me up. Can you please call me?”
FG: (genuinely touched) Awwww!
TS: So I call him up and I leave a message and I tell him not to feel bad, that my grandmother passed away two weeks before Maniacs was released and it was hard, but the show must go on. The people we love would want that. Then he calls me back, and he’s from the midwest and he says (adopting a ‘rural’ midwestern accent, if you will), “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there when you called, I was out diggin’ a hole.”
FG: (nearly crying with laughter) Oh God!
TS: (still speaking with that accent) “Yeah, Trixie died in her sleep and we were happy cos we saved money on gas, thought we were gonna have to take her to the vet to put her to sleep, but she died on her own. So that was good, saved about ten bucks.” I was like, “Oh…my…God.”
FG: (still laughing hard) You are like a magnet for this shit, I swear to God! I don’t want to laugh, but that’s fucking hilarious!
TS: (laughing hard as well) I saved the message! I called him back and I said, “Dude, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you know how fucking funny that sounds?” He said, “Yeah, I guess so. We kept her in a plastic bag. Man, it’s not like it is in the movies, once you get through the topsoil it’s like hard rock. And damn, I stuck her in there and she’s still sticking out a hair, so I had to take her out, put her in, take her out, put her in…so now I get to sit down, have some popcorn and watch Maniacs.” I told him, “You should have filmed your ordeal for YouTube.” The Last Rites Of Trixie, you know? (laughs)
FG: (literally crying from laughing so hard) You should put him in a Maniacs film!
TS: He’s coming out to be a Maniac! I told him to dig up Trixie and bring her, too!
FG: Oh God…oh my God…shit, I’m crying I’m laughing so hard!
TS: Another cool thing, the real die-hards, they’re like, “I’ll do anything to be in your movie.” I’m like, “Well, if you’re really that serious about it, then fine, the day we shoot the scene where we need all the extras, come on out and be a Maniac.” I’ve got like six fans coming out to be Maniacs and I’m like, “If they’re really that serious, and they really will fly themselves out and put themselves up, we need extras, if it’s going to rock their world that much, go for it!”
FG: Fuck me, if I had the money to get a plane ticket to get out there, I’d be in that fucking movie myself, shit. I think that’d be fun!
TS: You could do a set visit.
FG: Yeah, no shit! But that’s cool, now you’re like (George) Romero, because everyone wants to be a zombie in one of his flicks. And now everyone wants to be a Maniac in your flicks.
TS: I know, it’s so cool! It’s really an honor and I’m really looking forward to meeting these fans. Well…I may meet them and I won’t be so thrilled!
FG: You never know!
(both laughing again)
TS: No, I can’t wait until we shoot that day, the opening scene of the sequel. That’s when they’re still in Pleasant Valley before they leave for Beverly Hills. Only thirteen leave, so that’s a big crowd scene, so I can’t wait to shoot that. All the fans who want to come down and be a Maniac can.
TS: Up to 2001, then there’s a cutoff!
FG: We do have a finite number of Maniacs needed, thank you! You’re shooting it in California again, right?
TS: Well, we shot the first one in Georgia.
FG: Oh yeah, that’s right. Because the sets (in California for the first film) burned down!
TS: Yes, so we are shooting in California, which I’m really excited about. The idea is that the Maniacs come to California and set up a travelling carnival in Barstow. So we found this really cool open area where we’re setting up a bunch of tents. It’ll sort of look different, like Carnivale, you know, that TV show?
FG: Yeah! You found an open space in Barstow? I thought the whole fucking place was an open space! (laughs)
TS: (laughs, too) No, we found an open space close to LA that will play for Barstow. I ain’t driving to Barstow every day!
FG: Yeah, it’s what? Half way between LA and Vegas or something?
TS: The way gas prices are…
FG: Oh Jesus, no shit.
TS: It’s insane. I swear Bush is punishing us for voting Democratic in the last election! (laughs) Every time he’s pissed the prices of gas go up. Interesting.
FG: Yeah. No political involvement there!
TS: And now I’m passing a mandarin orange farm. Mandarin orange trees. And then it says ‘Lemons Too’.
TS: I’m going to have to stop and get gas soon.
FG: Okay Tim.
TS: Did you have any other questions? I feel like I did all the talking and I didn’t give you a chance to ask any questions.
FG: Well, you’ve answered all my questions before I even asked them! You kept reading my mind. It must be that Kiss connection we have!
TS: Oh yeah! Well I’m glad the timing worked out and I didn’t disturb your evening.
FG: Oh, I didn’t have anything planned anyway.
TS: Go see Disturbia, it’s better than it looks!
(both laughing yet again)
FG: Actually I’m going to see Grindhouse tomorrow!
TS: Oh yeah, go see that first. Robert’s (Rodriguez) part is perfection from beginning to end.
FG: I’m sure it is. Thanks for doing this Tim!
TS: No problem!
FG: Have a great weekend!
TS: You, too! Bye.
Visit Tim’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/newrebellion.
And visit the official 2001 Maniacs MySpace page at www.myspace.com/2001maniacs.
Also visit Avatar Press’ site to Pre-order your 2001 Maniacs comic book www.avatarpress.com.
Our latest interview is the wonderful, kind, funny, down-to-earth industry veteran, Tim Sullivan. Sullivan’s career in the film business spans more than two decades and began with him pumping blood on The Deadly Spawn when he was only sixteen years old. Sullivan’s credits include producing the much-underrated Detroit Rock City and directing the recent DVD release 2001 Maniacs. Kick back and enjoy the ride as Tim and I discuss the craziness involved in making Maniacs, his next film project Driftwood and forgive us as we geek out together over Kiss! Sullivan is and always will be a fan, and he’s a truly welcome change to what you usually find in entertainment industry vets. And if you haven’t seen 2001 Maniacs yet…see it now, lest you end up kicking yourself in the ass for having waited so long to see it!
FG: How you doing? You doing good?
TS: I’m doing good, I’m doing good. It’s been a crazy whirlwind the last couple of weeks, you know? It’s so funny, I spent four years trying to get 2001 Maniacs made and now it comes out and everything’s just taking off. It’s been very exciting, I’ve got to say.
FG: So it’s probably just as much craziness as if it had a theatrical release, I would imagine, because DVD releases are a big deal to us geeks, you know?
TS: Yeah well, you know, it’s so funny…I think back in the day, the concept of something only coming out on DVD had more of a bad vibe associated with it. It meant your film wasn’t good enough to go theatrical. That’s completely changing. We’re getting close to the day when movies come out in the theatre and on DVD literally on the same day. That’s just around the corner. But more importantly, a film like 2001 Maniacs is an homage to the drive-in, grindhouse exploitation films. But the problem is, we don’t have grindhouse theatres anymore. There’s very few drive-ins left, so the DVD market has really become the new drive-in, the new grindhouse. Even a film like Mission Impossible: III, which comes out and does big theatrical business, it’s only going to be in theatres maybe four weeks.
FG: Yeah, if that, maybe six weeks.
TS: Yeah! And then it lives forever on DVD. And the way I look at it, it’s funny, it’s kind of neat. A lot of times, let’s say Silent Hill comes out in the theatre and then three months later it comes out on DVD, and when it comes out on DVD it’s almost like that’s the end of it, you know what I mean? But with Maniacs, I feel like we’re an indie band who just put out our first album and now we’ve got to tour behind it. (laughs) So we’ve been touring behind it! And it’s just been so much fun!
FG: Well, that’s great, that’s great! It’s a fantastic movie. I don’t mean to sound like I’m kissing your ass, but I really loved it!
TS: Thank you so much!
FG: Well you’re very welcome! (giggles)
TS: It was a lot of fun to make, and I hope that that bleeds through in the film. We just had a ball! We were cracking ourselves up and we really enjoy each other’s company and we’re still friends and we all hang out and thank God for that.
FG: Yeah, I would imagine that could be the rare experience making films, you know? Sometimes it’s not so much fun, sometimes it is.
TS: It’s a gypsy trade, this business that I’m in. When I was a kid I used to do all the high school plays and it would be kind of sad because you’d spend this intense period of time with people putting on a show and you’d be with them 24 hours a day, in the trenches and then the show would close and it would be like you never saw half the people again. You’d just be left with this feeling of emptiness until the next show came along. That’s how a movie can be. And I’ve been very blessed in that I’ve worked on some very special projects, beginning with, my God, The Deadly Spawn back in the ’80s, when I was 16. Well, John Dodge, who created The Deadly Spawn, was my mentor and we just had the premier of 2001 Maniacs in New York about a month ago and to have John Dodge there…I can’t tell you what that meant to me. The short film that he and I made together, A Christmas Treat, back in 1985, it was a five-minute film that I did for my senior year at NYU and he designed the creature and we showed it before Maniacs. It was just like, wow! Sometimes you can stay friends with people. (laughs)
TS: And if you look at Maniacs, I got two of my actors from Detroit Rock City in there, Lin Shaye and Giuseppe Andrews. And here’s an interesting little trivia…the character of Cory? The one who, the penis flytrap gets him…
FG: Matt Carey, yeah…
TS: Matt Carey. That was written for Sam Huntington (who played Jam in Detroit Rock City).
FG: Oh really? Okay, I can see him doing that.
TS: In fact, we have storyboards that are drawn with Sam Huntington and he was all set to do it, but then…it was so funny, we originally had it set up four years ago and the first time we were going to do it, we had a false start. It was originally going to be a Blockbuster, the video chain Blockbuster was going to do it as their first produced project. Blockbuster Presents, it was a new concept they had. They were going to make their own movies and have them be exclusive to the Blockbuster video chain. And the day that we were supposed to sign the contract was 9/11!
FG: (moaning) Oh my God.
TS: Let’s just say that we all had other things on our minds than making 2001 Maniacs. And then the second time we had it ready to go, two weeks before we were about to film, our sets burnt down.
FG: (shocked) Oh my God!
TS: Here in Valencia, we had the entire movie cast, Robert Englund, Sam Huntington, sets, costumes, the makeups, severed heads in boxes ready to be thrown around (laughs)…and the set burnt down! So, I just kept saying to myself, “Is somebody trying to tell me something?”
FG: Was it an accident or did they rule it as arson or do they know?
TS: No. Out here, the sets in Valencia, it was the set where they used to shoot Little House On The Prairie…
FG: (laughs very hard)
TS: (laughs hard as well) I took perverse delight in knowing that we were going to have naked chicks biting off guys’ dicks in the place where Laura Ingalls once was making…(interviewer’s laughter drowns out what Tim says here)
FG: Oh, that’s fucking awesome!
TS: (laughing still) I really dug that concept. Every fall in LA, there’s all these fires and it burnt in a brush fire. So I just said, “My God! Do I do it a third time?” Either three strikes you’re out or third time’s the charm. I became almost obsessed with…like Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick going, “I’m going to make this Goddamn movie even if it kills me!”
FG: Get out of my way Queequeg!
TS: Exactly! And so that was when I met Eli Roth and we made it. But at the time…four years later, Sam Huntington was off playing Jimmy Olsen (in Superman Returns)…and this also will explain Ryan Fleming, who plays Hucklebilly (in Maniacs), when we first started making the film he was 14. Hucklebilly was originally envisioned as more of a homicidal Opie. (laughs) But by the time we made it he was 18, so his voice got kind of deep, so we did something in the edit, in the mix, where we tweaked it a little bit and that’s why he has that kind of weird voice. Everybody always asks me, “What’s up with that Hucklebilly kid’s voice?”
FG: I thought he was just doing it. I thought it was kind of weird.
TS: That’s not his natural voice.
FG: (giggles) Good thing!
TS: And to be honest with you, I didn’t do that, it was the producers, who like to tweak with things when their director’s not around.
FG: (laughs) Would this be the eponymous Yakin, Spiegel and Roth triumvirate? (Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel and Eli Roth, who created Raw Nerve, the production company behind 2001 Maniacs)
TS: The Unholy Three?
FG: (laughs harder) The Topless Unholy Three, hopefully! (inside joke here involving topless pics of Scott Spiegel)
TS: The Topless Unholy Three! You know, honestly, I love them all. But sometimes…let me just put it this way…I will never have three producers who are three directors ever again! (laughs)
FG: Yeah, I can see where that might be a bit of an issue!
TS: I’ll tell you…I don’t think Scotty will mind, he knows, I’ve told him this and he kind of laughs about it. Scotty Spiegel (who, along with co-producing Maniacs, plays one of the strolling minstrels in the flick) is, like me, a monster kid. And we’re still living in the playground. (laughs) We’re still sitting around with our boxes of Count Chocula cereal and our Aurora monster models and all this stuff. We had the script, the script was approved, we’re on the set and Scotty, God bless him, was like (does a good Spiegel impersonation), “Ah, ah, I got an idea!”
FG: (laughs hard again)
TS: (continuing the Spiegel impression) “How about if Kat has a cell phone! And she’s drawn and quartered, and later on in the movie Joey’s trying to call her and you just hear this weird rustling sound and then we cut to a shot of a horse crapping out the cell phone because the idea’s the horse ate the cell phone!” I was like, “You know what? Put on a purple coat, you’re going to be the strolling minstrel.”
FG: (laughs even harder) You’re going to be lip-synching through this whole thing!
TS: I say to myself, “How the hell do I get him out of my hair?” If I make him a strolling minstrel he’ll have to be on the set and he won’t be near me and he’ll be so focused on singing “The South Will Rise” he won’t have the chance…and that’s exactly what I did! (laughs)
FG: That’s good because he’s in it and that made me happy, so that was a smart move on your part.
TS: The thing was, honestly, he’s such a character I thought he’d be great and there was that element of, he’s such a ball of energy I wanted to give him something to do. But the joke was, not the joke, the thing was he’s great as that minstrel. He has a great singing voice!
FG: So that is him?
TS: Oh absolutely.
FG: I wondered about that because I was kind of surprised myself. I thought, “God, he’s a man of many talents.”
TS: It was so funny because, you know Johnny Legend (who plays the other strolling minstrel in Maniacs), who’s a legend in his own mind (laughs), I was like, “Oh my God,” here’s the guy who made “The South Will Rise” a hit in England. I don’t know if you realize this but Johnny Legend & The Shockabillys were quite a big deal in England, and they actually toured behind an album of songs from Herschell Gordon Lewis movies in the ’70s. And when I met Johnny I said, “You’re my link to the past. You’re my direct link to Herschell.” So, I didn’t know who the other minstrel was going to be and when I had that eureka-lightbulb-over-the-head moment with Scotty I wasn’t sure if he could sing or not, but we went into the studio and he has…I love his voice. I mean honestly, that “Trouble Came A Knockin'” song that the two of them do, I wrote the song and taught them the harmony and my God, Scotty…it was like they were my little Simon & Garfunkel of Pleasant Valley. I even think Scotty’s as tall as Paul Simon, so it worked out.
FG: (laughs very hard again) Oh, that’s funny!
TS: Watch the DVD, there’s a deleted scene of the entire cut, the entire take of the song “Trouble Came A Knockin'”, and they’re singing live, it’s Scotty singing you know, he’s got a great little voice.
FG: Oh shit, I’ll have to check that out. I haven’t watched all the deleted scenes yet.
TS: It’s titled “Trouble Came A Knockin'”, the full length song of them singing.
FG: That’s awesome! You know, going back to the fact that the sets burnt in Valencia, that was probably a blessing because the sets you ended up using in Georgia even had, you said, a vibe to them that made…because the ending of the movie gets very poignant when they’re telling you what happened to them…you get goosebumps…
TS: Thank you!
FG: You do! You get goosebumps and you see the other side of these spirits or people or whatever you want to call them and I think you said that on the DVD that there was a vibe there that kind of added to that, when you shot that.
TS: Absolutely. You know, through having done it now a couple of times, I’ve learned to just really be philosophical about things and when something initially appears to be a mishap or something negative I just sit back and say, “Okay, there’s a reason for this.” An actor is suddenly not available…okay. I mean, no offense to Sam Huntington but him not being available to be in the movie allowed me to use Matt Carey, who honestly, was brilliant. And had we shot the film on the Little House On The Prairie set, it would have looked like a $2 cheap piece of crap.
FG: Yeah, it really would have.
TS: The sets were very fake and we were kind of forcing a circle into a square. But after it burnt down, we got a new crew, we got a new producer, a guy named Chris Tuffin, who also produced Hood Of Horror, and then we got Eli and Raw Nerve involved. And Raw Nerve put up half the money and Chris Tuffin and his Bloodworks company put up the other half, and Chris found…he literally, I’m not kidding you, he literally went to Google and put in ‘Civil War re-enactment towns’, hit go and up came Westville. It was that easy. Sometimes the answer’s right in front of you. So we flew down to Georgia, you know the devil went down to Georgia (laughs) and lo and behold was this place and I swear to God it’s like…first of all, it’s called Lumpkin, Georgia…
FG: Oh yeah! I’ve heard of that.
TS: Can it be a more appropriate name? Bumfuck, Georgia!
FG: Yeah, really! (laughs)
TS: (laughing, too) It’s really called that. And I’m not kidding you, you go down there and you drive through crack central. I feel like it’s a scene out of Land Of The Dead and it’s all these people standing there with vacant expressions in their eyes with a bag of crack in one hand and a bottle of malt liquor in the other. And the remnants of a little town that used to be, and you drive through this, and I’m not exaggerating, there’s all these dogs roaming around and all these stores with the windows painted over white because there’s no one there. And you drive through crack central and then there’s this road and there’s this opening in the road, just like in the movie, like a detour road, and you take a turn, you go through those trees…that dirt path…just like in the movie, and then suddenly you’re in 1860.
FG: Oh wow.
TS: And it’s such a dichotomy and you say to yourself, “Okay, I can see why the south might be bitter.” (laughs)
FG: No shit!
TS: And there’s a hundred people, all these buildings are there…and the cotton press, that is the only working cotton press in America and there’s about a hundred people there and they’re dressed like 1860, and I think they go home at night, a lot of them don’t, a lot of them stay, but the bottom line is these people have kind of chosen to give up modern life to live in the past.
TS: Which I think a lot of us do. Who am I to talk? I’m sitting around surrounded by all the toys of my ten year old self.
FG: Yeah, I know, so am I! And there’s nothing wrong with that! (laughs) I wouldn’t have it any other way.
TS: Yeah! And they’re there and they’ve got…they wear the clothes and they do the activities that you would do in 1860…making maple syrup, quilting blankets, hanging black people.
FG: (groaning) Ohhhhh noooooo!
TS: (laughing) I swear, they do these Civil War re-enactments and they’re such sticklers, they’re like, “No! We didn’t have zippers then, we had buttons and we didn’t wear Abercrombie & Fitch, they didn’t wear nothin’, and it hurt!” They’re such sticklers, but there’s just one thing that they get wrong, and that’s that the south didn’t win the Civil War. And they just can’t get over that. And I’m not kidding you. The guy who was in charge of this place, who sort of was assigned to oversee our production, could have been one of the Maniacs himself. He had the perpetual bottle of Jack Daniel’s in his hand. We had an African-American assistant director and this guy was like, “I ain’t takin’ no orders from that colored boy! You want somethin’ done, you send somebody white over!”
FG: (in disbelief) Oh my God! Jesus!
TS: Well one day he comes running up to me, we’re about to shoot the scene where Malcolm gets crushed in the cotton press. And I guess it took him three weeks to finally get through the script, so he comes running up at six in the morning. Eli and Scotty, I think they were still waking up from having been at the strip clubs casting the Barbecuties.
FG: (laughs) It’s a tough job!
TS: Yeah, tough producer job. So anyway, this guy comes running down with his bottle of Jack and he goes, “You’ve been pullin’ the wool over my boys! There’s some blasphemistic stuff goin’ on here!” And I’m like, “What do you mean, sir?” He goes, “You got them girls kissin’ each other and you got that fairy boy and then the other day that colored boy was spittin’ on the Confederate flag and that’s it, you’re done, you’re outta here!” And I look at him and I go, “Oh my God.” And in this moment, here comes my set burning down, here comes 9/11 and I’m packing up my bag of tricks and going back to LA, I’m going to be transcribing divorce courts again to pay the rent. I had to do one of those dances for your life, you know what I mean?
TS: And I don’t know where this came from, and God forgive me, but it saved the production. Because of this, you all have 2001 Maniacs to enjoy, but I looked at the guy and I said, “Oh, sir! Oh, sir, you have got this all wrong. I’m a southern boy m’self, I’m from south Jersey. And sir, I feel exactly like you feel. But how are we going to be filled with the outrage we need to feel if we don’t see the colored boy spittin’ on the flag, if we don’t see all this blasphemistic stuff going on? Sir, we have to fill the audience with outrage so that when these sinners get their comeuppance we can cheer. And if you throw us off the set today sir, we’re about to shoot the scene where the colored boy gets killed in the cotton press, and if you don’t let us shoot that, all we’re gonna have is a bunch of blasphemy.” And he looked at me and tears welled up in his eyes, I could almost hear him starting to whistle “Dixie” and he just looked at me and he goes, “God bless you son, go kill that colored boy.”
FG: Oh NO! Oh shit! That’s horrifying, but it’s also really funny! Oh God, that’s more horrifying than…fucking The Exorcist or something!
TS: (laughing) True story, true story!
FG: That’s why it’s so good!
TS: And of course, I just have to press this, these are all…I kid a lot, the majority of people are not like that. There are sections. The majority of Americans are not fascist skinhead Nazis. But there are a bunch of them that do exist! And they’re not kidding. (laughs) And quite honestly, this film makes equal fun of the north and the south. What I really was trying to do with this film is not so much make fun of the north and the south, but make fun of the stereotypical views that each side has of the other. I was making fun of the way the red states view the blue states and the way the blue states view the red states. Nothing was sacred as far as I and my writing partner Chris Kobin were concerned.
FG: Oh yeah, and that comes across very well, I think. It’s just too much fun to get uptight about stupid shit like that.
TS: I tell you, if I didn’t secure a place in hell with the first one, I think I definitely insured it on the second one! (laughs) I just finished writing the sequel and I was like, “How do you top the first one?” You just dig even deeper into the depraved, you know?
FG: Oh man! I can’t even imagine. I look forward to that! (laughs)
TS: The south will rise again…
FG & TS (together as if on cue): Again! (both laugh)
FG: And then in the mean time, you’ve got Driftwood, right? Is that still in post or are you done with that?
TS: Driftwood‘s done. It’s very exciting. After I did Maniacs, I didn’t direct, but I created, wrote and produced a film called Snoop Dogg’s Hood Of Horror. Mr White Boy from Jersey is down yo, with the hood.
FG: Well, you got down with the south, so…
TS: The irony, I’m about as white as Casper, writing an urban horror story, but what the heck. It was an interesting opportunity. Jonathan McHugh, who is a wonderful friend, he has been the music supervisor of every movie that I’ve done, starting with Detroit Rock City. He is in charge of…at Jive Records he finds projects for his artists. And one that he had done was the Britney Spears movie Crossroads and I said, “Dude, we have to atone for that.” (laughs)
FG: Thank you.
TS: And he said, “Yeah, I know.” So he said, “Let’s just do the reverse, let’s be as un-PC and over the top, just like Maniacs. Look, I want to do a movie for Snoop. He’s a friend, he loves horror movies.” And I said, “I got it, let’s do Ghouls Gone Wild.” (laughs)
FG: (laughing) Oh shit!
TS: You know, and hey it worked for Tales From The Hood. I was kind of shocked that there was never a follow-up to Tales From The Hood, it just seemed like a natural. You know, you have Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror, so I figured okay, where’s the Hood Of Horror? So we came up with three stories that have a sort of urban feel to it, morals, I love those old Tales From The Crypt because there was always a moral underneath the mayhem. So we once again dug into familiar terrain with subjects of bigotry and racism and all kinds of fun stuff. We wrote three fun, scary, gory, kickass stories and then had Snoop serve as the ‘Crib Keeper’, if you will. (laughs) And he was just so much fun and this movie is done and it turned out really good and it’s actually having its premier on June 27 here in LA at the LA Film Festival, if anybody’s out this way. So that was more of the same vein as Maniacs and then I said to myself…you know, as much as I love to do what I call splatstick…my two favorite bands are Kiss and The Doors, and if those aren’t polar opposites, you know?
FG: Yeah, that’s true. (laughs)
TS: And I always said that Kiss represents my balls and The Doors represent my soul. (laughs)
FG: (laughing) That’s pretty good, yeah!
TS: I would say my guts and balls and The Doors represent my heart and soul. So I thought it’s time to look into that area, so I came up with a story called Driftwood that has been described as Stand By Me meets Ghost Story, which I think is pretty accurate.
FG: Oh, that’s cool.
TS: One of the things that is a theme in my life, that I am sure you can relate to, is I just bristle when anybody tries to tell me…”Shout It Out Loud”, what’s Kiss all about, don’t let them tell you that there’s too much noise, they’re too old to really understand.
FG: Fuck yes! Oh my God…(thinking of another Kiss song with a similar theme)…”Flaming Youth” man!
TS: Yeah, I know, “Flaming Youth”! I think one of the reasons why I always liked Kiss was because on the surface we all may look like Clark Kent, but there’s Superman underneath us. And if you look at those guys, they’re just pretty average looking guys, but then they put on the Kiss getups and they’re the Demon and the Starchild, the Spaceman and the Catman. It was so funny because when you were a Kiss fan…you like the Beatles and everyone is like, “Okay.” You say you like Kiss and suddenly people are trying to convert you, “Oh my God! We need to talk! You’re going to hell!” Damn, it’s like they want to stop you from being a Kiss fan. And if you listen to so many of the Kiss songs, so many of the themes of the Kiss songs are like, “You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud!” It’s like, no, we’re going to like Kiss and we’re not going to apologize for it and even though new wave’s in and Duran Duran’s in, we’re still going to listen to Kiss and Peter leaves but it doesn’t matter, we’re going to accept Eric (Carr, who replaced original Kiss drummer Peter Criss) and it’s just this sort of do or die thing. And I just hate people telling me what I should be, what I should like, what’s in vogue, how I should dress. You know, “You’re forty years old, don’t you think it’s time you got married and had a kid and stopped playing with monsters.” And I hate that, I absolutely hate anybody telling me what to do. That’s why my production company is called New Rebellion Entertainment. I always felt that heavy metal rock and roll was to the music industry what horror movies are to the film industry…
FG: (freaking out, not meaning to interrupt) Oh my God! I can’t believe you just said that! I’m always drawing parallels between the two!
FG: Oh my God, horror is the metal of film and vice versa! Absolutely, always. They don’t get the respect they deserve, people say they’re dead and that’s bullshit, they’re always going to be around.
TS: Absolutely. They’re the rebel bastard child of a medium. And I’m very happy to be a fan of both.
TS: Basically, what really has disturbed me in America is this trend, post-Columbine, of these attitude adjustment camps. I mean, these things aren’t even run by the government, they’re not even regulated by the government. And they’re owned by these yee-haws, yahoos, who are basically preying upon the misguided parents, and the not-so-misguided parents and they’re pretty much like the Lin Shaye character in Detroit Rock City. If somebody had offered her a chance to send Jam away, she would have dipped into the college fund.
FG: Well she tried to, in a way, taking him to, what was it? St Vincent’s or whatever.
TS: Yeah, yeah. And it’s very ironic and maybe you’ll get this, but in Driftwood Lin Shaye plays the mother, a serious version of the Mrs Bruce, a realistic version of the Mrs Bruce character. So I don’t know if anybody’s going to get that.
FG: (giggling) I will!
TS: (laughs) So, you know, it just drives me crazy that you can be a sixteen year old kid and you’re into AFI or HIM and your parents want you to be into The Carpenters, and maybe you got some piercings in places that they don’t want you to have, and so, next thing you know, Little Johnny’s sent off to some place in Florida or Utah or Arizona.
FG: Yeah, there’s a case here (Florida) that just happened where a kid died and it’s been a big deal.
TS: I know! And the thing is, if you’re under the age of eighteen, you’re fucked! Because if your parents sign the paper, you’re fucked until you’re eighteen. And to me, that’s the ultimate hell. Being told you can’t be who you are is one thing, but when you’re over eighteen you can say, “Fuck you!” and do what you want to do. But if you’re sixteen or seventeen, you have no choice but to become a victim of one of these places. So I decided I’ve got to tell a story about one of these places. And Chris Kobin, my writing partner, and I came up with the idea of a story of a kid who’s older brother…it’s like if Jim Morrison was your older brother, how cool would that be? Except you lose him when he’s twenty-seven, and that’s what happens in this story. So we have Ricky Ullman, who is better known as Phil Of The Future from the number one Disney show, and we’re so blessed because Ricky is just one of the greatest young actors. I mean, this kid is going to be a huge star. And he really wanted to subvert his Disney image, so he does! We have him in this film, and he plays a kid named David who’s older brother Dean has OD’d, and he’s just obsessed with his brother and the death of his brother, and he’s very dark and very…almost chasing death himself and haunted by death. And so Mom and Dad, instead of just sitting down and having a one-on-one with their kid and trying to figure out what’s going on with him, pack him up and send him off to Driftwood. And Driftwood is run by Captain Doug Kennedy, who’s played by the amazing Diamond Dallas Page, and just this big, hulking brute of a man that to me represents everything that’s wrong with America. “We’re gonna make him a man by beating him death!” And it turns out Driftwood is haunted by the ghost of a kid who may or may not have been murdered. So Ricky Ullman has to uncover the secret behind this kid to bring down Driftwood and bring down Doug Kennedy.
FG: So the tone of this one is more serious, far more serious than 2001 then, right?
TS: Oh, it’s like night and day. I wonder if people seeing both films would even know they were made by the same person.
FG: Oh, that’s cool, I like that! I like that. Rock on then, that’s good.
TS: Yeah, I would never want to say, “From the director of 2001 Maniacs comes Driftwood.” Because that would be like saying…it’s kind of interesting because if you look at the film from…oh God…hold on, give me a second.
TS: Let me see, because I want to get this guy’s name right…okay, yes, I was right! It’s Paul Weitz, he did American Pie, and what did he do for a second film? About A Boy.
FG: Oh, okay, yeah.
TS: I wonder…I hope that people who enjoy 2001 Maniacs are willing to take a different type of ride with me on Driftwood. It’s a character-driven supernatural teen thriller that is very much like Stand By Me with a ghost. But like I said, I like The Doors, I like Kiss, I don’t like to be pigeon-holed. I mean, Kiss had on the same album “Detroit Rock City” and they had “Beth”. You know what I mean?
FG: And “Great Expectations” with the boys’ choir.
TS: Exactly…boys choir. So, Maniacs was my “Shout It Out Loud” and Driftwood is my “Beth”, so to speak, and if Driftwood isn’t your cup of tea, well don’t worry, I’ve got 2002 Maniacs on the way. And if 2001 Maniacs is too much for you, well hopefully you’ll enjoy Driftwood. It’s cool because between the two of them I got the Fango crowd and the Teen Beat crowd covered. (laughs)
FG: Well you know, I wouldn’t worry about that. It seems to me…I was talking to a friend of mine just the other day, and we’re both big geeks, and anymore, for us, it’s a lot about who the director is on a project. I tend to get into certain directors and I’ll always check out whatever they do. I don’t understand a mentality, “Oh, this isn’t like the stuff he did before.” Well, so what? He’s an artist, he’s got to do what he’s got to do. It’s the same thing with actors when they get pigeon-holed into a certain type of role. It’s like, if you like them as an actor, why wouldn’t you like to see them do something different?
TS: I think a lot of times it’s…I don’t know what it is. At first, look at Sean Connery. Nobody wanted to see him do anything other than James Bond. He had to quit James Bond and take ten years before people finally accepted him as anything other than James Bond. A very dear friend of mine is John Landis and it’s just ironic to me, and to him, that he’s part of the Masters Of Horror. He’s only really made two horror films, American Werewolf In London and Innocent Blood, and both of them were horror comedies. The guy’s made arguably some of the greatest American comedies ever…Blues Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places, Coming To America, but yet he still gets the label of horror film director. Look at Sam Raimi, he did Evil Dead, but he also did For The Love Of The Game. And Spider-Man. I like directors like, say Robert Wise, who one day is doing West Side Story and the next day he’s doing The Haunting and the next day he’s doing The Day The Earth Stood Still, next day he’s doing Star Trek, then he’s doing Sound Of Music, you know?
TS: But I think what happens is it’s more of an industry thing, managers, agents, Hollywood, they need to be able to put a label on you so they can sell you as ‘Tim Sullivan, Apprentice Of Horror’, the new voice of horror! Horror happens to be the genre that got me into film and I love it, but I have all kinds of stories I want to tell and I might even be telling some stories that aren’t horror films at all one day.
FG: Oh yeah, absolutely! I noticed that in your interview with Edgar Wright (Tim writes a great column called Shock ‘N Roll on www.upcominghorrormovies.com ) he said after he got that signed, framed Evil Dead poster that I would kill for that was signed by Raimi, he said, “Okay, I’m done with horror comedies.” But how do you top Shaun Of The Dead? And now they’re doing Hot Fuzz. But I will absolutely see Hot Fuzz and I’m sure I’ll love it.
TS: Yeah. One thing I will say though, where I think you might be…the one parallel between Maniacs and Driftwood is that if you haven’t been able to figure it out, I like to blend genres. In Maniacs, there’s horror, at the end it gets a little scary and poignant, but it’s silly and there’s songs and it’s a horror film and it’s a comedy, it’s a musical, it’s a teen American Pie sex comedy. And Driftwood is part teen drama, part horror film, and I just believe life is not a genre. It’s not like you wake up one morning and say, “You know, I think today’s going to be a comedy.” You may want to just walk around and slip on banana peels and make people laugh that day, but damn it, somebody’s waiting around the corner with their car ready to have a hit and run with you, and suddenly your life’s turned into Crash. You may want to have it be American Pie, but sorry, fate has Crash in store for you. And that’s what I like to do with my films, I like to mix genres.
FG: I think that’s good because you’ve got a good point. Life is definitely like that. Can’t dictate.
TS: All kinds of things get thrown your way. You never know where it’s going to go. (laughs)
FG: Absolutely! I didn’t know two weeks ago when I saw 2001 the first time that I’d be talking to you two weeks later!
TS: Well, thank God for MySpace, huh?
FG: Yeah, no shit, that was really cool! I was like, “God, this guy is insanely cool!” And then you sent me all those pictures! (laughs hard)
TS: Well, you know, what good are having all those pictures if they’re just sitting in my computer? They were taken for people to enjoy and some of them have been out, but a lot of them haven’t. I thought you’d get a kick out of them. The bottom line is, I am still a fan as much as I am a filmmaker.
FG: Clearly, yeah.
TS: One day I’m maybe signing a DVD cover of Maniacs for a Maniacs fan and then the very next day I’m handing Rob Zombie his Educated Horses CD and asking him to sign it for me. That’s just the way it is. And I really feel that we are in a space now where the connection between artist and audience is direct. Because of MySpace, somebody can really watch Maniacs and maybe enjoy it or not enjoy it, and they can go right on MySpace and tell me, “Hey, I just saw your movie and I dug it,” or “Hey, you sick fuck, you should be locked up!” And it’s really me. I really go on MySpace because I love interacting with people who are of like mind and I just think to myself, my God, what would it have been like for me if back in the day after seeing Halloween or Nightmare On Elm Street I could’ve gone to something called MySpace and talked directly to John Carpenter or Wes Craven. How bitchen would that be? I mean, fuck, you come home after seeing Halloween and you get on your computer, “Hey John! Great stuff! Catchy song!”
FG: (laughing) “Great score!”
TS: “Catchy tune! I hope this does something for you. Maybe you’ll do a sequel. Hey, if I send you my theatre ticket, you think you can sign it and send it back to me?” But I do that, people ask and I’m like, “Sure.” I try to do the convention circuits, but we can’t hit every place and so a lot of people will say, “Hey, if I send you my DVD sleeve, will you sign it for me?” Sure, just send me that $4 stamp because it adds up and independent films don’t pay all that well. (laughs) And every day I get DVD sleeves in the mail and sign them and send them back. The other actors do as well. I just feel that…I remember one time I was with Gene Simmons and we were pulling up to have lunch somewhere and we get out and there’s this whole crowd of people hovering over him, you know, “Can I have your autograph? Can I have your picture?” And these security guards came over and started pushing them away, and he (Gene) just stopped them and he looked at them and he said, “Hey, this is my job.”
FG: Absolutely. Say what you will about Gene, but I mean, my God, Kiss has always been great to the fans.
TS: Absolutely. That’s why they’re so damn loyal! And I’ll tell you, like I said, I have that attitude, that Maniacs is an indie band. We’re not some corporate product that had billboards on every corner. And so we have to spread the word one person at a time, with one-on-one interaction. I know that when artists take that time to interact, it makes me more loyal, makes me buy every album that they put out, and I feel that when people know that the filmmakers really care what they think of their film and talk to them directly, they’re going to be there for whatever you do. Hood Of Horror, Driftwood, 2002 Maniacs and beyond. We’re going to have a great relationship, the fans and I. (laughs)
FG: Absolutely, absolutely! You’ve got me hooked and I’ll keep checking out your stuff and I think when I get Maniacs I’ll have to send you the sleeve to sign then, too!
TS: Absolutely! I have a couple of posters left, I’ll put one aside for you.
FG: (genuinely surprised and touched) Oh my God! Fantastic! That would be awesome, I’ll put it up next to my framed Shaun Of The Dead poster.
TS: Oh cool! Right now, Maniacs has come out in Germany, theatrically, which is such a thrill. But man! the poster that they did for it is just phenomenal!
FG: Is it like the DVD cover or is it different?
TS: The German DVD?
TS: Have you seen the German DVD?
FG: Yeah, you did send me that.
TS: Yes! It’s that, that is it. It’s gorgeous, it’s one sheet, and it looks something like right out of the 1970s exploitation pictures, it’s red and white and black. And the big flag, I just love it. I had to buy mine off of eBay, so go figure!
FG: (groaning in disbelief) Ohhhhhh! Oh no!
TS: Now I’m in touch with Sun Film, the company that…you know, people don’t realize it, but I can’t tell you how many…I remember when I was producing Detroit Rock City, and I went to Peter Criss and said, “Yeah man! So cool! Your solo albums finally came out, your post-Kiss, non-makeup solo albums finally came out on CD and I got them the other day.” And he’s like, “They did?” And you’d think…nobody ever told Peter Criss, “We put your CDs out, your albums are out on CD and here’s a couple of them.” And how many times have actors done commentaries for…Corey Feldman’s another friend of mine and he had done a commentary for Stand By Me and it was out and nobody bothered to send him one. And that just happens, it’s just the way it is so, I knew we were coming out in Germany, but nobody bothered to send me a poster or DVD. Finally, thanks to MySpace, I got in touch with the German distributor, Sun Film. Now they’re sending me a bunch of DVDs and I think I’m even going over there. But God knows, maybe there’s a Chinese poster somewhere, you know, who knows?
FG: Yeah really. That’s kind of fucked up. But I’m looking at the German one now and that was actually my favorite out of all of them.
TS: Me, too.
FG: Yeah, that’s really cool, I love the severed hand and the group shot of them underneath the Confederate flag, very cool.
TS: (first side of the tape ran out here and a small part of the conversation was lost) …telling me that they had gotten 2001 Maniacs at the army depot and how it was entertaining them and he put it, “Thank you for taking our minds off the real violence with your fake violence,” and it touched me and I was like oh my God and I said, “Man, thank you, you’re the real hero.” He said, “You keep doing the fake stuff and we’ll deal with the real thing and we’ll meet you down the road.” I was like…man…fuck…
FG: Yeah, that’s heavy.
TS: Real heavy. It really got to me. I was honored that I could provide ninety minutes of relief for these guys. But I have this image of civil war in Iraq and there’s some soldier there watching Matt Carey get his dick bit off, “Wait a minute! I’ll be right there! The kissing cousins are going at it again! I know that’s Bin Laden, but he can wait!”
FG: (laughing) “I’ve got something I’ve got to take care of right now!”
TS: “More than the south is risin’!”
FG: (goes into gales of laughter)
TS: (laughing, too)
FG: Oh, that was good, I like that one!
TS: I can’t believe I didn’t use that joke!
TS: I do in the second one.
FG: Is the second one…I mean, I don’t know if you want to talk about that one yet, but I mean, is it any of the same people? A sequel for this seems like it would be a totally new thing.
TS: It is. Well, it is and it isn’t. I can’t really say much about it because I’m not allowed to, but suffice it to say, it will satisfy Maniac fans and yet it’s not a rehash. It’s not like, “Okay, here’s six new campers going to Crystal Lake.” You know, it’s different. And some maniacs will be coming back and some won’t and we’ll have some new ones, just like the X-Men, you know? The X-Maniacs! (laughs)
FG: So, just for fun, for shits and giggles, do you have a favorite Kiss song? I can’t name one.
TS: Well, it’s so hard. My stock answer is “Detroit Rock City” because I’ve got to plug the movie. But I’ll tell you, there’s a couple of them. The one that is my favorite may surprise you because it’s a very unknown one. But it’s off of Carnival Of Souls and it’s “I Will Be There” by Paul Stanley.
FG: (nicely surprised) Oh, really?!
TS: Paul is a very dear friend of mine. I always felt that he was the heart and soul of Kiss.
FG: Absolutely. Yes.
TS: And he’s a poet, and that song he wrote for Evan, his son, “I Will Be There”. But I also feel like it’s him saying, “I will be there,” to the fans. And as corny as it sounds, Kiss has been there for me since I was twelve years old.
FG: Well, they’ve been there for me since I was three, so I know where you’re coming from.
TS: And they have been a consistent throughline in my life. I started out as a fan, then I became a friend, then a collaborator. I never thought that that little Jersey boy sitting in the nose-bleed section at Madison Square Garden on the Love Gun tour would one day have all four Kiss members in his cell phone. So when I heard “I Will Be There”, I just was really moved by it. And that’s my favorite Kiss song.
FG: Very cool.
TS: But other favorites…I love “Got To Choose”, I fucking love that song.
FG: Yes! Oh yeah!
TS: I love the guitar solo. I close my eyes and I feel it, you know what I mean?
FG: Oh yeah.
TS: And I really love…my favorite Kiss album, believe it or not, is Paul Stanley’s solo album.
FG: Oh my God! “It’s Alright” makes me CRAZY! That song will ALWAYS make me nuts, in the BEST way possible! I literally shove my head in front of the speakers and just go nuts.
TS: I love “Goodbye”.
FG: Oh, that one gets me teared up a bit, too. There’s something in that…
TS: Well, that was the first time that Paul actually got a little deep on his lyrics, wasn’t singing about “Love Gun”. It’s amazing because it really has a sound that was very progressive for ’78 and sounds very fresh today. Paul’s obviously my favorite member of Kiss.
FG: I always vacillate between Ace and Paul. And their solo albums are my favorites (of the solo albums). In a way, there’s more heart in Paul’s, I hate to say that, but there’s a lot in that, I love that solo album.
TS: I love them all. They represent different parts of me, which is so cool. And I love them all. “Hard Luck Woman” is one of my favorites as well. It’s one of my favorite Kiss songs to sing.
FG: Yeah! I was singing it last night, actually.
FG: (chuckling) Yeah.
TS: I love that song. I love “Tears Are Falling”, it’s probably my favorite non-makeup song.
FG: Yeah, that’s way up there.
TS: At the time, I guess I was kind of like, it took me a while to embrace Bruce (Kulick, who replaced Vinnie Vincent on guitar, who had replaced Ace Frehley) and I do now. That guitar solo is so fucking classic. And it’s such a great song.
FG: It’s a great song to sing, too.
TS: Yeah! On Lick It Up, there’s a song called “A Million To One”…
FG: (freaking out) Oh, that’s one of my favorites, shit!
TS: I love that song.
FG: Oh my God! Paul’s vocals on that kill me. And even the vocals in the fade out to “Tears Are Falling” are some of the best vocals that Paul ever did, and you have to crank it up on headphones to hear it.
TS: “A Million To One”, when he just holds his note…
FG: Yes! Goosebumps.
TS: And that’s real, I asked Paul, that’s not studio, that’s really him holding that note. He can do that, if you’ve seen Unplugged, when he sings “I Still Love You”.
FG: Oh, that is so awesome, I love that! He just keep going and going.
TS: Yeah. One of my greatest moments was when I saw him play in Phantom Of The Opera in Toronto. He just kicked major booty. He’s great.
FG: I’ve never had the chance to meet any of them, but I keep hoping some day.
TS: Did you read my interview with him on Shock ‘N Roll?
FG: No! I didn’t see that one! Holy shit.
TS: Yeah, it’s called “Phantoms Of The Opera”, and when the Joel Schumacher film came out I did an interview with Ron Chaney, who’s Lon Chaney’s grandson, Paul Stanley and Robert Englund about their different interpretations of the Phantom. And Paul got really deep on that, you should check it out.
FG: I’ve got it in front of me now. Cool!
TS: There’s some cool pics of me and him!
FG: (insanely jealous) Ahh, you bastard! (laughs) I’ll have to live vicariously through you Tim.
FG: Oh yeah, I see them now. Very cool. How did I miss this one? I think I was trying to tear through them the other night and was like, “Aahhh!” Oh, look at that signed picture of him as the Phantom! You are a bastard! (sighs) That’s not fair.
FG: That’s so not fair.
TS: I’m a very lucky boy! Believe me, I know it. I don’t take any of this for granted. I just thank the saints every day. I pinch myself every day. How did this happen? I don’t know, I don’t really know sometimes. All I know is I saw Dracula when I was five years old and I saw Kiss when I was twelve and I just knew in my gut that somehow I wanted to make people feel what I felt when I watched Dracula and saw Kiss in concert and listened to them on records. And every step I’ve taken has just been in pursuit of that goal. And along the way I was nurtured by a mother who allowed me my interests, whereas my father did not, my mother allowed me to embrace my interests. And then I met people like John Dodge, who helped me realize that you can do and not just dream. And I went to NYU film school. And the event that changed my life, that took me from dreaming to doing, was in 1982, Kiss took off their makeup. It was a little devastating, kind of like the Lone Ranger taking off his mask. But they really made a conscious effort to re-introduce themselves to the fans, and for the first time ever, they did in-stores for signings. And they were appearing in a record store in New York called Sam Goody. And I knew that this was a moment that would never happen again and this was going to be the test of whether or not I was ever going to do what I wanted to do. Here was a moment that guaranteed that I was going to meet Kiss. How do I take that five seconds of walking through with my Lick It Up album and turn it into everything that I wanted it to be? So I knew Gene was a horror movie freak and something inside me said, “If you meet Gene Simmons, don’t ask him about Kiss, ask him about horror movies. That’ll stand you apart. Don’t say, ‘Man, you rock!'” Anyway, I had just worked on The Deadly Spawn and I had a rubber severed head left over from the film. So I put it in a box and I wrapped it up with a big bow. And there I am, 1982, in my little new wave Duran Duran suit with a thin leather tie, on line, with a big box with a severed head in it. And now they’d probably arrest me, think I was Al-Quaeda or something. And they’re pushing me through, and I’ll never forget, I had a Deadly Spawn poster and it was for Gene, it’s my turn and I put the poster down to give to Gene, and fucking Vinnie Vincent signed it! I was like, “NO!”
FG: Oh my God!
TS: “That’s for fucking Gene!” I can’t believe I’m yelling at Vinnie Vincent. But I’m like, “This is for Gene, not for you to sign, you asswipe! Why would I have you sign a Deadly Spawn poster?”
FG: Shit, what a jackass.
TS: And so Gene looks at Vinnie and Vinnie’s like, “I don’t know.” Gene’s like, “What have you got in the box?” I go, “It’s for you.” And the security guards are trying to take me away and Gene was like, “Leave him alone. Let’s see what he’s got.” And he opens up this thing and now everyone’s watching, photographers are there with their cameras poised and he takes out this severed head. And he starts grinning and he holds it up and he starts licking it and the cameras are going off and he puts his arm around me and pulls me in for the picture and he goes, “Look at this! The kid gave me head!” Oh you know, polite applause, aren’t you clever Gene. And Paul’s all getting pissy because the focus isn’t on him for a moment and Eric’s just sitting there and Vinnie’s, you know…
TS: …trying to find his wig.
FG: (giggling) No shit! God, what an ass!
TS: (laughing) So Gene’s like, okay kid, what do you got? You’ve got your moment, you’ve got my attention, what’s next? I could just tell that’s what was going through his head. I don’t know where this came from, but I had been an avid reader of Fangoria and because of Deadly Spawn I had visited the offices of Fangoria a couple of times. I knew Bob Martin, who was then the editor, and I knew their number by heart, because I was such an uber-geek. And I just looked at Gene and before I knew what I was saying I said, “Gene, I’m a journalist. I’m a reporter from Fangoria magazine.” And his eyes lit up. I go, “We want to do the first non-rock and roll article with Gene Simmons, Horror’s Rock Demon. We want to know why you like horror films, how they influenced you, what you think is right, what you think is wrong with horror movies today.” And he was like, “Well, well, here’s my assistant’s number. Why don’t you give me the number of the Fangoria office, and I’ll have my assistant confirm that this is real, and we can do this.” I was like (voice cracking a bit), “All right. I don’t have a card Gene, but…” So I knew the number, so I wrote it down on a piece of paper and I don’t even think I got an autograph, but I did get a phone number in his handwriting. I forgot to even get my Lick It Up album signed, but at that point I didn’t care. So I walk off onto the streets of New York, this phone number in hand and I’m thinking, “Fuck! Now what? Now what?!” So I ran to the nearest pay phone, these were the days when cell phones weren’t even invented yet, and I find some change, I make the call, I get the Fangoria office and Bob Martin comes on and he’s like, “Oh yeah, hey Tim.” I was like this little, I guess they were amused by me because I was always showing up, “Hi!” He’s like, “What’s up Tim?” I go, “You’re not going to believe it! Gene Simmons has agreed to do his first non-rock and roll magazine interview with Fangoria!” They’re like, “No way! Really? Fantastic! So okay, great, give us his number, we’ll get our number one journalist on it.” I’m like, “Uhhh no…I’m doing the interview.” They’re like, “Have you ever done this before?” I’m like, “I was the editor of my school newspaper.” And there’s like silence…and they’re like, “So you’re saying basically that unless you write the interview, there’s no interview?” I go, “Uh, yeah!” They’re like, “All right, we’ll give you 100 bucks.” I’m like, “YES!” So, by the time Gene’s assistant called Fangoria, the lie had become a reality and the two lies cancelled each other out and next thing you know, I’m sitting with Gene Simmons in the frickin’ Kiss offices on Madison Avenue, interviewing him at age twenty.
FG: That is so insane.
TS: And thus began two things: Thus began my journalism career with Fangoria that put me through college and then that led to me also writing the music news for MTV, and began my lifelong relationship with Gene Simmons and Kiss, that directly led to Detroit Rock City. So it all began because of that one day.
FG: Good God. That is one of the best stories ever, I think!
TS: I finally told Gene the truth about that when we were doing Detroit Rock City and he laughed his ass off. I swear, one of the best ways to get into the film business is by being a journalist, honestly. Detroit Rock City came about from me interviewing Gene, Maniacs came about from me interviewing Robert Englund. Because when you interview somebody, you’re given carte blanche to get intimate and it’s like instant intimacy, you know what I mean?
FG: Yeah, I do now! (laughs hard) Because you’re my third interview and when I interviewed (Greg) Nicotero I did that one over the phone, too, and I’ve stayed in touch with him.
TS: Yeah, and with Shock ‘N Roll it was like I knew all these people and I still am torn, I love being a journalist and I am really torn between shining the spotlight on others and being in the spotlight. So that’s why I do Shock ‘N Roll because I still love writing essays about the people who influenced me and that I love. And if there’s anybody I haven’t met it’s a great excuse to meet them. “I wanna meet Edgar Wright!” All right, I’ll interview him. Now we’re friends.
FG: Oh God, I’d like to meet him, too!
TS: All you’ve got to do is…believe it or not, these people are more accessible than you think.
FG: Well, actually, if you said the name Slick to Simon Pegg, and probably Edgar, they would kind of know me because…I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the PeggLeggs?
TS: No, tell me.
FG: Well, we’re Simon Pegg fans that found each other on the Shaun Squad site (now-defunct site dedicated to Shaun Of The Dead fans) and then subsequently one of us made, a guy called Thomas created www.frostitution.net (fan site for Nick Frost) and a girl called Harmony made www.peggster.net (fan site for Simon Pegg) and we share the same message boards and we all kind of went there. But, in the process, I dubbed us PeggLeggs, just thinking it was the world’s worst pun, like a Spiegel pun, and everybody fucking embraced it! And now there’s all these people calling themselves PeggLeggs and Simon knows about us and he’s posted messages for us and stuff.
TS: How cool is that?
FG: It’s very cool! It’s insanely cool. On the Shaun Squad site, a few months after we got dubbed this, he left a Christmas message for us, for the PeggLeggs. And I printed it and framed it, it’s hanging in my living room by my front door!
TS: Oh, that is great!
FG: He’s just so awesome. We sent him birthday gifts and he always comes on and leaves a big, long message thanking each of us individually for what we got him. I mean, he’s just so cool. I hope that Edgar and Nick know that we love them, too! It’s not just Simon. (laughs) Because we have Eballers and Frostitutes as well. And I got to talk to Simon on a JoBlo chat, told him about the PeggLeggs.
TS: How cool is that, that he was in Mission Impossible: III?
FG: Oh my God! I was so excited for him! I’m so proud of him. I know that probably sounds weird because I don’t know him. Insanely proud of him.
TS: It doesn’t sound weird. To be in such a big movie like that? God.
FG: And everything I’ve read about it, they have to single him out. And I’m like, “See, the rest of the world is going to know his fucking genius soon!”
TS: Yeah. He sort of is the Q character, he’s comic relief, and he’s cool. Obviously a character that if they do more of these, I’m sure he’ll be in them. But I’m sure that came from somebody being a Shaun Of The Dead fan. “We gotta put this guy in this.”
FG: Absolutely. Yeah, Shaun Of The Dead or Spaced or something! They saw one of them and said, “This guy’s fucking genius, we have got to put him in this movie!”
TS: I didn’t know he was in it (Mission Impossible: III), I hadn’t heard that and when he showed up it was such a delightful surprise. I was like, “Wow! This is really cool!”
FG: Very cool. Because he’s like yours, he’s like your…you know what I mean? Like, Kiss is always going to be my band to me. I would never accuse them of selling out. I hate when people get like that. It’s like, no! Be happy for them, be proud of them. You were there early on, but now you’re seeing the rest of the world get it, be happy for that.
FG: It’s like, fuck yeah! I was into Metallica really early on, and then the Black album hit, suddenly everybody knew a Metallica song, they all knew “Enter Sandman”, but fuck, I was thrilled! I’m like, that’s awesome! Now they’re like the biggest metal band in the world. And it doesn’t piss me off, I can still listen to Kill ‘Em All, I can still listen to Ride The Lightning, what difference does it make? So that’s bullshit.
TS: Exactly! Exactly. Well, this has been so much fun, I apologize, I have a doctor’s appointment.
FG: I know you do! I’m sorry, I forgot about that. (laughs)
TS: That’s okay. I got enough time to get there.
FG: Good. Good, good, good.
TS: I just want to say, I love the site (Fangirl) and I love…
FG: Awww, thank you!
TS: I think it’s so cool to have chicks being into horror movies like that. The irony of it is, the demographic used to be mostly guys. I’m amazed that the demographic has changed so much in the last five years. Teenage girls are some of the biggest attendees of horror movies. And judging from the MySpace friends I have, they’re giving the guys a run for their money. We did our signings and I would say there were more girls than guys at our signings.
FG: Very cool!
TS: Maybe it’s because we’ve got a lot of cute guys in the movie! I don’t know if they knew there was, I just think they came because of Robert.
FG: Oh! I just met him in January, I met him and Romero at a convention. Oh, it was so awesome! They’re both so cool.
TS: Yeah, they’re the best. They’re really the best.
FG: And just for the record really quick…I have to say, I was not kidding when I said I wanted to see Spiegel topless.
TS: (laughs very hard)
FG: If you talk to him about it, you tell him I was being serious. I’ve had the hots for him for years, I think he’s brilliant, I love him and I own My Name Is Modesty, I own Intruder…I love the man.
TS: Well I’m glad. I thought you’d have fun with those pictures.
FG: I sure did!
TS: By the way, just to let you know, he’s lost like seventy pounds since those pictures were taken.
FG: Oh my God, really?
TS: Yeah, he looks terrific.
FG: Well, you know, have a pool party and get a new picture for me.
TS: I will.
FG: Oh Tim, I can’t thank you enough, this has been a blast.
TS: It’s been lots of fun. Keep up the good work with your site.
Anyone interested in getting their 2001 Maniacs DVD sleeve signed by Tim, contact him at MySpace (include postage for him to send it back) and he’ll be happy to do it.