Friday, May 30, 2008

FRIDAY SCREEN TEST: Chris Poggiali

The saying goes, 'Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life.' If that's true, Chris Poggiali lifetime workload has barely cracked 10 minutes: in addition to writing for the likes of Fangoria, Shock Cinema and BadAzz MoFo, Chris has even written DVD liner notes and back-cover info for a few of your favorite films (Zombie Holocaust, The Young Erotic Fanny Hill, Diamonds On Her Naked Flesh, Mean Mother, etc.). But if you were lucky enough to read the late-80s fanzine Temple of Schlock ('subs are $3 for 6 [issues], and you have your choice of ham or turkey') then you already know all about Chris (a few issues are available to read in the 'writing' section of his MySpace pictures section). And if you happen to see a graphic novel by the name of Bleed for sale, well that was based on one of Chris' screenplays. Hey Chris, get back to work!

EARLIEST MOVIE-WATCHING MEMORY: 'When I was 3 years old, my grandmother took me to see Herbie Rides Again at the Main Street Cinema in New Rochelle, NY. I remember the experience vividly, and I’ve been a fan of Disney live-action comedies ever since.'

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT: 'Big Bob Johnson and his Fantastic Speed Circus (1978), a TV movie from Playboy Productions starring Charles Napier, Maud Adams and James Bond III. Purchased from Truckerflicks.com'

IF YOU WERE A TCM GUEST PROGRAMMER, WHAT THREE MOVIES WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR TASTES, OR A FAVORITE GENRE OR THEME: 'Last year the American Cinematheque did a series of neglected American movies from the 1970s, and some great, great stuff was screened. But not everyone lives in L.A. obviously, and the New York version that was done at the Film Forum wasn’t nearly as strong, so I would schedule something comparable for TCM. My first 3 choices: (1) Frank Perry’s Man on a Swing, (2) Richard Sarafian’s Lolly-Madonna XXX, and (3) a coin-toss between William Graham’s Together Brothers and Jack Starrett’s The Gravy Train.'

FAVORITE MOVIE ENDING: 'When I was in the second grade, I got in trouble for twisting myself up in my desk trying to recreate the final shot of Barry Robins in Bless the Beasts and the Children. I’ll never forget the blood rushing to my head and the (upside down) sight of Mrs. Lambert at the blackboard pointing at me and yelling, “Chris, get up! Stop fooling around and get up!” So that ending immediately comes to mind. But the key word is “favorite,” so I’ll have to say It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN, AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE: 'American films I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen? Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). My excuse: I read all of James Cain’s books and burned out on him before I got around to seeing these two adaptations. I haven’t seen the 1981 version of Postman either. I did see Ossessione, though, which brings me to a few international films I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen: The Apu Trilogy and Sansho the Bailiff. No excuse whatsoever. I’ve owned them both for years and just haven’t watched them. Someday.'

PICK
ONE OF THE FOLLOWING FOUR MOVIES AND WRITE TWO SENTENCES ABOUT IT:
Date with an Angel
Only Angels Have Wings -- 'I watched this back-to-back-to-back with I Was a Male War Bride and Monkey Business about 15 years ago. I remember this being the one that didn’t put Cary Grant in drag, or give him a crew cut and stick him opposite Ginger Rogers and a chimpanzee.'
Angels in America
Angel Heart

WHO WOULD YOU AWARD AN HONORARY BEST ACTOR/ACTRESS OSCAR TO:
'For actor, the easy choice would be Jeff Bridges – four nominations, zero wins – but I never do these things the easy way so I’m going with his Fat City co-star, Stacy Keach. End of the Road, The New Centurions, Doc, Luther, The Gravy Train, The Ninth Configuration, Road Games -- take your pick. For actress, I’d give it to Diana Sands for The Landlord. Lee Grant got the Oscar nomination, but Sands’ performance is the one I can’t get out of my head years later. Her final scene is heartbreaking.'

LAST TIME YOU WERE AT A DRIVE-IN, AND WHAT DID YOU SEE: '
April or May of 1989. I saw Saturday the 14th Strikes Back and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure at the Buffalo Drive-In, a three-screener in Cheektowaga, just outside of Buffalo, New York. The manager tapped into the AM frequency before each feature so he could crack lame jokes and make fun of the movies we were about to watch. By the way, next week marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the very first drive-in theatre, the Camden Drive-In in Camden, New Jersey. I think it only stayed in business for three years. My girlfriend lives a short distance from Shankweiler’s, the very second drive-in theatre (and the oldest one still in business), but we haven't gotten there yet. Every summer I say I’m going to go see something at a drive-in, but I never get my act together -- probably because the drive-ins rarely show anything I want to sit through.'

FILM ERA OR GENRE YOU'RE A LITTLE OBSESSED:
'For 30 years I’ve been obsessed with horror, action and exploitation movies, specifically from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, a “wild west” period for movie distribution in the U.S. Even as a 7-year-old who clipped ad mats out of the newspaper, I knew that certain films were destined to play only drive-ins and seedy downtown theaters, so I’ve always thought of these movies as “outlaw cinema.” Japanese monster movies, biker movies, spaghetti westerns, chainsaw massacres, car chase flicks, redneck revenge epics, kung fu, blaxploitation, sexploitation, 3-D – that’s the kind of stuff I live for. The way kids from earlier generations followed the violent exploits of Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger, I used to devour everything I could find on Roger Corman, Al Adamson, Herschell Gordon Lewis and other outlaw moviemakers. The confusion that some of the schlockmeisters created back in the day is just mind-boggling. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t e-mail me to see if I can help them locate the real credits for a French sexploitation flick or identify the U.S. distributor of an obscure yakuza movie. Thirty, thirty-five, forty years later, we’re still sorting out the mess.'

FILM CRITIC YOU TRUST THE MOST: 'The only critics I trust these days are Dave Kehr and Glenn Erickson. As a teenager, I thought Lawrence Cohn at Variety was the king because he was a legitimate critic who actually got paid to cover all the obscure exploitation movies playing on 42nd Street. That seemed like a dream job to me! Also, I lived for a while in Syracuse, NY, where there were three pretty good movie critics – Douglas Brode, Joan Vadeboncoeur, and Bill DeLapp – plus Steve Puchalski, whose Slimetime fanzine was available in Syracuse University stores and local comic book shops. I was an usher at the old Shoppingtown theaters in Syracuse, so I got to talk to the critics whenever they came by to see a movie. DeLapp was really nice – I think I even gave him copies of my fanzine, Temple of Schlock. I liked Joan because she was a Walter Hill fan and the only critic in the area who caught every Italian horror movie that rolled through town. I still have her reviews of Burial Ground, The Gates of Hell, Guardian of Hell…'

FAVORITE BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF FILM: 'I can’t pick just one, but I’ll try to keep it to a handful. Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, Danny Peary’s Cult Movies and Cult Movies 2 (I never got the third volume, for some reason), Harlan Ellison’s Watching, the two-volume American Directors edited by Jean-Pierre Coursodon, anything by William Goldman, and The Total Film-Maker by Jerry Lewis.'

DESCRIBE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR FILM WATCHING:
'I see 3-5 movies a week at home, and maybe one movie a month in a theatre.'

THREE THINGS YOU'VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING MOVIES:
'(1) Movies were better when they were written and directed by people with life experience rather than film school or “I-watch-a-lotta-films” experience. (2) The stories behind the making and the marketing of certain movies can be more interesting than the movies themselves. (3) Roger Corman and Jerry Lewis deserve Honorary Academy Awards.'

Email DVD Panache if you are interested in being featured on Friday Screen Test.

3 comments:

Richard Harland Smith said...

The only critics I trust these days are Dave Kehr and Glenn Erickson.

Sniff!

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