Friday, February 15, 2008


More than a mere blogger, Nate Yapp is a Web-siteur -- meaning he has an actual Web site, and a good one at that. Nate's Classic-Horror has been churning out scares since the Pre-MySpace age of the Internet (2002), and has nearly 600 meaty reviews inside its meat locker of movie reviews. A man who can savor the finer flavors of classic horror films, such as the atmospheric chills of The Body Snatcher, or the blind romance of The Toxic Avenger. Appreciative of the genre's true masters, Nate is one of at least two Friday Screen Testers to suffer permanent lumbar damage from trying to read Tim Lucas' Mario Bava tome. Lucas avoided litigation by granting Nate an interview, just as many fine horror folks have done -- including P.J. Soles (!).

FAVORITE GROSS-OUT MOMENT ON FILM: 'The custard scene in Peter Jackson's Braindead/Dead Alive. "Mmm, rich and creamy!" The first time I saw that I nearly puked. I had a chance towatch it on the big screen recently and while my gorge didn't risenearly as high, I was still feeling a bit green. Brilliant.'

FAVORITE KIND OF MOVIE TO REVIEW: 'Something I have a little research material on. I keep a small libraryof cinema-related books (mostly related to the horror genre for obviousreasons) and I like to have some historical background to put into thereview. Director's intentions, shooting conditions, how the project cametogether, what was thought of it at the time, etc. These things help meget into the headspace of the film, so to speak. Right now, the majorpoints of convergence in the book collection regard American horrorbetween 1930 and 1946, English horror in the time of Hammer, and Euro-horror in general in the 1960s and 70s.'

A GENRE OR ERA YOU'RE A LITTLE OBSESSED WITH: 'European horror of the 1960s and 1970s, especially the Italian-madevariety, fascinates me. The blatant psycho-sexuality in much of it wouldmake Freud blush and reach for some more cocaine. I'm drawn to filmswith themes of sexual repression (and reversal/expression of thoserepressed feelings) and countries like Italy and Spain were bustin' outall over the place with those kind of movies at the time.'

EARLIEST MOVIE-WATCHING MEMORY: 'Watching Return of the Jedi in my grandparents' den, on theirtop-loading VCR. It's kind of a rush and a blur, but I do recallthinking that Return of the Jedi was actually Star Wars. I must'vewatched it a half-dozen times (always as a rental tape and always,oddly, at Grandma and Grandpa's) before I ever saw the real Star Wars(and don't give me any of that A New Hope crap -- it's a lame title thatthey only got away with because it was Star Wars first). I also rememberthinking how cool it was that the freaky-talking, highly masculine alienbounty hunter guy took off his helmet to reveal a girl underneath. Callit the spark that lit off a weird tendency to fixate on gender andsexuality subtexts in my reviews.'

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT: 'I just picked up Ju-on: The Grudge (2003) and A Tale of Two Sisters(2003) from Borders last night. A friend bought me David Kalat's"J-Horror" for Christmas, an excellent primer on the "dead wet girl"films of East Asia, and it's inspired me to dive head-first into ahorror subgenre I've long neglected. I'm very conscious of which filmswe review on Classic-Horror -- how many older films vs. newer films andhow many English-language vs. foreign -- and 2008 will be my year forgiving Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea their due.'

WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN -- AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE?: 'If I can sidetrack for a moment, I hate "you-haven't-seen-that"syndrome. It afflicts film critics and self-styled film geeks alike andit has but one symptom: friends, family, and random strangers treatingthe affected with derisive statements like "I can't believe you haven'tseen ___" and "How can you be a film geek if you've never seen ____?"Please, have some consideration for the film-lover. Tradition hasdecreed that movies run 75-240 minutes and there's only so many hours ina day, some of which are (shockingly) not spent watching DVDs or goingto the cinema.

'Back to the subject at hand, until recently, my answer would have been The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but that has been fixed. Of course,after witnessing its awesomeness, I think I might be more ashamed nowfor having waited so long. I guess the next film down the list would be Lawrence of Arabia and my only defense there is that the runtime isdaunting and my roommate has no interest.'

TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES RECENTLY WRAPPED UP A MONTH OF GUEST PROGRAMMERS, IF YOU WERE A GUEST PROGRAMMER WHAT THREE MOVIES WOULD YOU PICK TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR TASTES OR A FAVORITE GENRE OR THEME?: 'My tastes tend to bounce all over the place, so I'd want arepresentative sample: The Body Snatcher (1945), one of the finest, moodiest horror storiesever told. Certainly the best of the Val Lewton chillers. On the Town (1949), because it has one of the best song and danceensembles I know, with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, BettyGarrett, Vera-Ellen, and... oh yes, you can never, ever forget JulesMunshin. Ever. This is one of the reasons to love movies. Brazil (1985), because it's a visionary, ballsy film that shouldn't work-- in a lot of ways it doesn't work -- but at the same time, Terry Gilliam's eccentricities suit me perfectly. Just don't call it sciencefiction -- it's the sputtering, crazed child of a black comedy and a screwball comedy.'

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE AT A DRIVE-IN, AND WHAT DID YOU SEE?: 'The last time I was at a drive-in was 1989, when Tim Burton's Batman was playing. I remember a lot of horsing around in the back of my Dad's station wagon. There's a drive-in here in town, so I really should makean effort to go before it disappears.'

Sleeping Beauty
Death Wish--I've never seen Death Wish. Should I?
Withnail & I

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU VEHEMENTLY DISAGREED WITH SOMEONE OVER THE SUBJECT OF FILM?: 'I recently got into it with someone regarding the role of the filmcritic. They seemed to feel that a good film critic was one that agreedwith "the people." I feel that the critic's responsibility is one ofcommunication, not taste. We all have opinions on films. A critic's jobis to communicate that opinion clearly and concisely. Of course, theycan hope the reader will agree, but in all likelihood, many will not.You'll know a good critic when their 4-star or A+ review for a film youdislike makes you feel like you've just participated in a greatconversation or debate.'

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF FILM?: 'Tim Lucas's 1128-page magnum opus Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, bar none. Everything you thought you knew about Mario Bava, Italian cinema, horror is either illuminated to a greater degree or(better) completely tossed in the wastebin. The sheer comprehensiveness of the work makes me giddy.'

DESCRIBE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR FILM INTAKE: 'I try to watch 2-3 movies during the week and 3-4 on the weekends. I'd do more, but I also have a website to edit and a full-time job. About once a month, I head to a small second-run theater in Chandler, AZ to catch whatever crazy B-movie double feature the Midnite Movie Mamacita ( is playing. Last time it was Anguish and Blood Rage. Can you imagine watching Anguish on the bigscreen, with all that movie-in-a-movie stuff going on? It was transcendant (and yes, okay, a little silly at times).'

THREE THINGS YOU'VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING MOVIES: '1. Shoot them in the head. 2. When all else fails, it's time for synchronized dancing. 3. Physics are irrelevant in the face of awesomeness.'

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Unknown said...

What's really crazy is that I went to school with Chris Stangl at the University of Iowa. I didn't know him personally, but I hung around No Shame Theater enough to see him around.

Bava apparently attracts Iowa refugees. Craaaaazy.

Anonymous said...

I've know Nate for 25 years. I often wondered when he was 8 or 9 years old if his passion for horror was some sort of bizzar interest in gore and death. Of course I was wrong. Fathers are often wrong.

While Nate and I are different in many ways we're very much alike in that we're both total geeks for our passions. I go to for reviews with the best insight and integrity, not just because he's my son. My pride and respect for him is indescribable.

Adam Ross said...

Nate-- Interesting! Or maybe there's something about the topography of Iowa that makes Bava's morbid tales more appealing?

Anonymous-- Thanks for the great comment, and for you I will waive any trademark fees if you want to create a "My son was featured on Friday Screen Test" bumper sticker.