“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds."
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Interview: Ira Brooker
Ira caught my attention when I saw in a post on "Rupert Pupkin Speaks" that, like me, he'd seen "Godmonster of Indian Flats" - and liked it. Then I saw that we live in the same town and had some other common interests. He's gainfully employed as a writer and editor, is married with a child and has a group of long-term friends he keeps close; in other words, he's a successful version of me.
This interview, unedited, was done on Twitter.
haven't done an interview on my blog in quite a while. Would you care
to answer about 10 questions on the subject of bad films?
love to! I'm working on a profile of local trash film series right now,
so it'd be good for my street cred. Thanks for asking.
The warm-up task: 1) In five minutes, name as many prolific directors as bad as Ed Wood as you can.
the caveat that I genuinely appreciate most of these folks, William
Beaudine, Andy Milligan, Michael and Roberta Findlay, Ray Dennis
Steckler and Coleman Francis.
Oh, can I scratch Steckler in favor of Dwain Esper?
And swap the Findlays for Al Adamson?
wait, I misread the question. No need for swapping. Although I'm having
second thoughts about calling the Findlays bad. Ah well.
You may have seen more Andy Milligan films than anyone else. Why?! Is
it like when I watched all 250 films with John Carradine in them?
don't know if it's quite the same. I'm a bit of a Carradine hound too,
but when I watch even his worst movies I'm waiting for the splash
beautiful, bloviating Carradinery I know is coming. It's fun. Andy
Milligan movies are not fun. But I love watching them anyway, because
was such a unique voice with an inimitable personal style. His world is
hateful and ugly and horrifying and I find all of that
fascinating. None of his movies works more than sporadically as entertainment but a good number of them work as art.
are still a handful of surviving Milligan films that I haven't seen,
but only because I haven't been able to track them down.)
seen 11 Milligan films, though I despise them (and he was from St.
Paul!) I should try again as I've survived Ulli Lommel's worst.
3) In the bad film made about your life, why is the man in the gorilla suit on fire?
the director understood that nothing would honor my memory better than
shoehorning in a Duke Mitchell-Sammy Petrillo reference
that'd be lost on 99% of the audience.
yeah, it bothers me that no one from here seems to care that we birthed
something like Andy Milligan. Where's Andy's statue?]
[I just did a post on a Bill Cody B western. He was from St. Paul, too!]
4) Doris Wishman or Roberta Findlay? (I think I know...)
Findlay, all day, every day. In fact, I desperately want to backtrack
on calling the Findlays bad filmmakers a few questions ago.
Findlays made many bad, very bad, movies, but they were always
opportunists, not hacks. Roberta in particular is one of the savviest
in the history of exploitation cinema. She knows how to give the people
exactly what they want without giving them so much of it
it'll exceed a shoestring budget. You don't make trash as perfect as
TENEMENT if you don't have a pretty damn good idea of what you're
I honestly think Roberta Findlay is one of the most important female
directors of her era. I hope someday she's recognized as such.
she doesn't desultorily get shots of carpeting and knickknacks during
conversations like Doris did! I once got a Findlay film for the U
Film Society and it had to be cash only with her and the film was hand-delivered by a guy in a trenchcoat and sunglasses.
I find trash to be a solitary endeavor. Do you have friends that would
watch "White Slaves of Chinatown" with you? What's your wife say?
When did you work for UFS? I was the writer/PR guy/Milgrom wrangler from '98-'00. One of the best jobs I've ever had.
I usually watch my trash alone too, but I do have one pal with whom I
watch all sorts of shameful stuff. He lives elsewhere so we don't
get to indulge often, but when he's in town we always set aside at least one night to dig in the dirt. It's a rare thing to find
someone who's up for that. (Even he draws the line at Andy Milligan, though.)
wife generally ignores that aspect of my arts intake, although she will
occasionally sit down and watch with me if it's something
post-apocalyptic or action-heavy.
I never really worked at UFS (or anywhere, for that matter), but they were doing exploitation and I had some connections.
6) Is there anything you absolutely refuse to watch?
can't do modern "torture porn" (which I know is a problematic term) or
anything of recent vintage where extreme sadism drives the movie.
some reason I have no problem with the darker corners of '60s, '70s and
'80s cinema but even reading descriptions of modern stuff like,
COLLAR or CHAOS or even higher-minded things like MARTYRS or INSIDE
turns me off completely. Also, I have no time for winking,
self-aware "bad movies" of the SyFy Original ilk. Those things are an insult to true trash auteurs.
(Oh, and thinking of the sleazier corners of the '70s and '80s reminds me Joe D'Amato belongs on that list of bad directors.)
I stopped with D'Amato around "Anal Paprika;" besides Ator and Blade Master, he seems to have gone hard-core.
We'll always have ANTHROPOPHAGUS...
I've seen so many films with that title that I forget which one is his.
How would you describe your blog? It reminds me of my first one, where I
profiled failed geniuses one day, explained how to make Vitamin
at home with six compatible organisms the next and then explained how
to write in the undecipherable Voynich B language. No one read it
does sound like a similar focus, or lack thereof. When I started A
Talent for Idleness the idea was to catalog all of my pop culture
but that got tiresome and it quickly turned into a clearinghouse for
essays about underappreciated or bizarre bits of art, lists of
and movies that are primarily of interest to an audience of me, and the
dissection of every minute aspect of Lou Reed's career.
the 6 years that I've been maintaining it, the writing landscape has
changed a ton. The market for a lot of things that I used to be
able to sell to or at least publish on external sites stopped existing, so instead I post that stuff on my blog.
I mean, it's not like I have the option of NOT writing about Tommy James's weird '90s concept album.