Friday, April 04, 2008


Like a modern-day David Soul wearing a mask and calling himself The Covered Man, Arbogast's true identity is a mystery -- he lets his writing do the talking at Arbogast on Film. It's been said that one day a woman of purest heart will cause Arbogast to drop his guard, and subsequently his mask, but until then all we know is that he is a published film critic. This professional experience often adds an encyclopedic quality to Arbogast on Film, only there's no mulleted teens pushing it into your living room (and encyclopedias rarely feature The Blood on Satan's Claw). Horror fans are indeed well served by Arbogast, and his blog has even been described as 'uncommonly incisive' by one Tim Lucas. Need another reason to pay Arby a visit today? It's his birthday -- and I happen to know that more than material possessions, what he would like the most is for you (you) to stop by his blog, and then plant an olive tree in your neighbor's yard in his honor.

EARLIEST MOVIE-WATCHING MEMORY: 'Probably the scene at the end of Kings Go Forth where war veteran Frank Sinatra, who has lost his arm in combat, explains to the Italian urchin that they'll give him a new one back in the States. I don't remember anything else about that movie and have never seen it since.'

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT: 'My DVD buying has really decreased over the past couple of years, although I do get a fair amount of them for free these days. I think the last DVDs I bought with my own folding money were the latest MGM/Sony "Midnite Movies," principally Chosen Survivors/The Earth Dies Screaming. I'm a sucker for anything remotely end-of-the-world, and if it's made in Mexico I'm Johnny on the Spot.'

IF YOU WERE A GUEST PROGRAMMER FOR TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES, WHAT THREE MOVIES WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR TASTES, OR A FAVORITE GENRE OR THEME: 'To try and strike a vein untouched as yet, I might go for a trio of eerie westerns. Certainly, Phil Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid would be at the top of my list; it strikes this creepy vibe without being a scary movie per se. Then, if allowed, the Spanish western Cut-Throats 9, the American ads for which in the early 1970s really got under my skin. (I was in the habit of tape recording TV broadcasts and got this spot on tape and used to run it over and over to make my neck hair rise. Which it did.) Django the Bastard with Anthony Steffen would be great to show too, being the likely inspiration for High Plains Drifter but much darker. If I had to squeeze another American movie in there instead, I guess it might be something really Gothic like Curse of the Undead, which Universal has yet to put on DVD.'

FAVORITE GROSS-OUT MOMENT: 'Ellen Barkin's demise in a very obscure mid-80s Canadian thriller called Terminal Choice. She plays one of a number of hospital workers participating in a death lottery and of course the players themselves begin to die. While shopping, somebody sneaks up on her cart and injects something nasty into meat she's buying and when she eats it she just begins throwing up buckets. She may not have the projection of Mr. Creosote, but she makes up for it in volume, volume, volume.

WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN, AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE?: 'When Kon Ichikawa died, I wanted to do up a little obit on my blog in the form of a letter of apology for never having seen any of his movies. And it's a name I've known for over 20 years, so there really is no excuse, except that maybe I thought, because his films were so acclaimed, they might be boring. Isn't that always the way, though? You have to force yourself to watch something that has a 90% chance of being excellent while you'll rush towards something else that's guaranteed to be an utter piece of shit.'

The Big Sleep
The Big Bus -- 'Stockard Channing is in The Big Bus, one of several absolutely unwatchable movies she made before her breakthrough in Grease, after which she was in The Fish That Saved Pittsburg and Safari 3000. Life is hard.'
The Big Hit
Shaft's Big Score.

FAVORITE KIND OF MOVIE TO REVIEW: 'Genre wise, I love a creaky old black-and-white spook show, a Poverty Row gem nobody has heard about, or a British crime film from the Angry Young Man era. More generally, I enjoy being a dissenting voice about something widely reviled, like M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, which I thought had great merit. Meanwhile, something that I really like, like Cloverfield, kind of strikes me dumb. It's been a while since I've seen it yet I haven't written a word about it.'

LAST TIME YOU WERE AT A DRIVE-IN, AND WHAT DID YOU SEE?: 'Yeesh, I think it might have been a double feature of Hair and Roadie. So we're talking a long, long time ago. No, wait, I do remember seeing John Carpenter's The Thing at the drive-in, although I'm not sure what the "co-hit" was.'

FILM ERA OR GENRE YOU'RE A LITTLE OBSESSED WITH: 'I'm a horror man, a lifer. I live it and breathe it, everything from the silent era right up to the 80s, after which I started being a lot more selective in my ardor. During the franchise horrors of the Reagan era, I went into a kind of latency period, laying low until Freddy and Jason and Michael and Pinhead all retreated to their respective hells.'

LAST TIME YOU VEHEMENTLY DISAGREED WITH SOMEONE OVER FILM: 'I know a young director who is 15 years younger than me and I love the guy like a kid brother and respect the hell out of him but 9 out of 10 times I hate, hate, hate the movies he loves. While he raves about Requiem for a Dream and Black Snake Moan, I have to remind myself that friendships matter more than movies. But one day I'm just going to smack him.'

FAVORITE BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF FILM: 'There are so many but I go back to Michel Ciment's Losey on Losey all the time.'

DESCRIBE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR FILM INTAKE: 'I see films constantly all week long for work and, less frequently, personal pleasure, but maybe 8-10 movies a week, which is less than a lot of people I know who have terrible bags under their eyes.'

1. Never turn your back on Skip Homeier.
2. Return home expecting someone to be waiting for you in the dark.
3. A switchblade is a poor defense against The Blind Dead.

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