Interview: Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, author of “Heavy Metal Movies”

Heavy Metal Movies

Cover art by Andrei Bouzikov

The new book “Heavy Metal Movies” is, as the subtitle proclaims, devoted to “Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever!” It was also my most anticipated book of the year — look for a review soon. In the meantime, though, author Mike “McBeardo” McPadden took time out to answer some questions.

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“Dracula Untold” trailer

This trailer leaked out last week and was quickly pulled. An official one has been up for a few days now, so I’ll go ahead and run it. This is another movie that looks like something I would have made if I had the resources to make movies in my early 20′s. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, here’s to hoping it leans towards the “legitimately good” side of the spectrum more than “guilty pleasure.”

Tim Burton’s “Batman” Turns 25

25 years. Seriously?!? It hurts my brain to think that a quarter of a century has passed since Tim Burton’s “Batman” changed popular cinema.

What’s even harder to believe is that in 1989, I didn’t care that it was “a Tim Burton film.” I didn’t see “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and was mostly confused by “Beetlejuice.” I listened exclusively to heavy metal at the time, so Danny Elfman’s involvement held no weight with me. While I had watched the Adam West series as a kid, I didn’t have a lot of vested interest in Batman, so the “MICHAEL KEATON IS GOING TO RUIN BATMAN!!!” furor didn’t affect me. “Batman” was more my brother’s thing, so we went to a midnight show. I enjoyed it. I’d like to say that it converted me into a Tim Burton fan on the spot, but it didn’t. I just enjoyed it, though I particularly loved Anton Furst’s gorgeous design work.

Flash forward 25 years.  I’m still not a hardcore Batman fan, but I give the movie props for effectively breaking Burton’s pop-gothic vision to the masses. Yeah, both “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beetlejuice” were successful, but neither were nowhere near the blockbuster level of “Batman.” This blog simply would not exist without “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood,” and especially “Sleepy Hollow,” not to mention his collaboration with director Henry Selick, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

BTW, if you are a fan of the Burton era of “Batman,” be sure to check out 1989batman.com. Loaded with content, I tell ya.

Tim Burton’s “Hansel and Gretel”

Two things went through my head while watching this: 1.) it’s a shame that we’ll never get to see a collaboration between ’80′s era Tim Burton and the late Ernie Kovacs, and 2.) I wonder if Burton is a fan of Nobuhiko Obayahshi’s wonderfully deranged film “Hausu?”

Tim Burton made this during his tenure at Disney in the early ’80′s. The Disney Channel aired this one time in 1983 (Halloween, naturally) and then promptly buried it. Sure, the budget looks barely existent, and the acting is… something, but visually, it’s pure Burton. He may have bigger budgets to work with these days, but I miss this guy.

Yours Truly to appear in “V Wars: Blood and Fire”

Vampire Wars: Blood & Fire

Bestselling horror author and all-around cool guy Jonathan Maberry just informed me that I’ll be making a cameo in the upcoming anthology “V Wars: Blood & Fire.” The book will arrive at the end of July, so be sure to check it out and see what happens to my latest fictional alter ego. “V Wars” is currently being developed for television, so if the Derek Tatum character appears onscreen, I suggest casting Tyler Labine from “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.”

Description:
It’s been one year since a virus triggered junk DNA and people all over the world started changing. Becoming something else. Craving blood. It’s been ten months since the word ‘vampire’ stopped being something from old monster stories and Hollywood movies. It’s been six months since our world and theirs erupted into war. It’s been two months since an uneasy peace was signed. It’s been one hour since that peace was shattered. The war is here again. The vampire war. Our world will burn. Our world will bleed! When anyone can turn, when every street is a battlefield, there is nowhere to run! V Wars: Blood and Fire features all new stories of the Vampire Wars by Kevin J. Anderson, Scott Sigler, Larry Corriea, Joe McKinney, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, James A. Moore, and Jonathan Maberry.

20th Century Fox’s “Victor Frankenstein”

Dracula isn’t the only guy having a resurgence; Victor Frankenstein and/or the Monster have also been actively lately. While I’ll probably always be known as “the vampire guy,” Frankenstein’s Monster is actually my favorite single character. I’m forgiving enough that I enjoyed January’s much-derided “I, Frankenstein.” And of course, Harry Treadaway and Rory Kinnear have been crushing it weekly as, respectively, Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster on Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful.”

20th Century Fox has been developing it’s own spin on the Frankenstein mythos, due in movie theaters October 2015. The film had been simply titled “Frankenstein,” however it has officially been retitled “Victor Frankenstein.” The studio has also released the following synopsis:

“James McAvoy is Victor Von Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe stars as Igor in a unique, never-before-seen twist on Mary Shelley’s classic 19th century novel.

Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Victor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man – and the legend – we know today.”

This is one of my more anticipated films. I like James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe… Radcliffe in particular seems like he’s on a mission to help make Gothic horror commercially viable again (quick — someone cast him as Jonathan Harker). Paul McGuigan is directing with Max Landis handling screenwriter duties. This doesn’t even seem like the kind of movie I’ll have to apologize for liking. Fingers crossed.

(Source: 20th Century Fox’s Frankenstein Retitled)

Criterion Spookshow — “Eraserhead” and “The Innocents” announced!

Perhaps the first and last time these guys will be associated with a reissue of "The Innocents."

Perhaps the first and last time these guys will be associated with the Criterion release of “The Innocents.”

The Criterion Collection has released its September 2014 line-up, and are we in for a treat. September 16 brings their long-awaited release of David Lynch’s debut “Eraserhead.” I was happy to see that, since they’ve hinted at it for a couple of years now. But what floored me was the unexpected announcement that they’ll be releasing Jack Clayton’s magisterial “The Innocents.” I am really happy to see a Blu-ray of “Eraserhead” coming out, but I am completely, utterly, fully-involved jazzed about a Criterion Blu-ray of “The Innocents.” It’s my favorite ghost movie of all time, and it’s subtle scares haunt longer than any overt special effect could. The point I’m making is, September will be a good month for high-brow horror and cult movie fans.

Click here for some specs

“Dracula Untold” Unveiled

Dracula Untold

IGN debuted two posters for Universal’s upcoming “Dracula Untold,” which tells of Vlad Tepes’ transformation into the vampire we all know and love. Luke Evans stars as the Impaler, with Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Diarmaid Murtagh, and Samantha Barks (as Baba Yaga!) in supporting roles. Gary Shore directs the film, which sees U.S. release October 17, 2014.

I’m hoping this turns out OK, since I’ve long thought that “Dracula Begins” would be a good subject for a movie. We’ll see, and I look forward to seeing a trailer. The posters sure look nifty, though.

(Source: Dracula Untold Poster: Exclusive First Look)

Dracula UntoldThe international poster

 

“Top 100 Fantasy Movies”

Top 100 Fantasy Movies

I hesitate to describe Gary Gerani’s book “Top 100 Fantasy Movies” as “charming,” as that term can carry a hint of condescension. But it is a fun book. I’ve never met Gerani, but his writing style reminds me of someone who gets so excited about a topic that he starts talking fast. He may flub his lines here and there, but he clearly loves the material, so you just roll with it. The generous selection of photographs, stills, and movie posters certainly don’t hurt.

As with all “best of” books, you are almost certainly not going to agree with the author’s choices. If you get upset at seeing a film excluded, or one that you love is swimming around in the lower rungs, well then don’t read “best of” books. You have to look at these things as a resource for discovering films that you may not have heard of.

That said, there are some surprising omissions. Neither “Dragonslayer” nor the original “Conan the Barbarian” are present, nor are any of the Sinbad films outside “7th Voyage.” Gerani takes a broad view of the concept of “fantasy film,” which may not be to every reader’s liking. But that’s why I liked this book. For Gerani, “fantasy” is not synonymous with Tolkienesque heroic fantasy or sword and sorcery. So while you’re going to see “Jason and the Argonauts” and “The Fellowship of the Ring” here, you’ll also see “Groundhog Day,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” too.

Gerani purposefully excludes comic book-derived films as well as wholly animated ones — he promises volumes on those two topics are in the works. I probably would have excluded many of the comedies, myself; while I enjoyed reading about those films, there’s a touch too many ghost/afterlife/supernatural comedies included for my tastes. Gerani even acknowledges that fantasy film is a far broader range than his earlier works on horror and science fiction movies. It’s a slippery slope to start defining what “is” and “isn’t” a “proper” fantasy film, so again, you have to take books like this as subjective.

My biggest complaint with this book had nothing to do with Gerani’s opinion, it’s that someone needed to proofread it at least one more time before going to press. “John Malkovich” is misspelled as “John Malkovitch” multiple times, despite being on the same page as a large image of the “Being John Malkovich” poster. At one point, he describes H.P. Lovecraft as “America’s Poe.” Isn’t Edgar Allan Poe already “America’s Poe?” But again, this is where that “charm” I mentioned at the beginning comes in.

I still would have included “Dragonslayer,” though.

Description:
Fanciful worlds of hobbits and pixies, magical glimpses into the future, doting guardian angels, and dangerous, seductive devils on our shoulder… this is the world of fantasy cinema, from the earliest silent days to the mega-budget extravaganzas of Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, and other world-class moviemakers who are obsessed with worlds beyond reality. Screenwriter/historian Gary Gerani follows up his exploration of the best horror and sci-fi offerings with Top 100 Fantasy Movies, a super-colorful trade paperback containing more than 600 rare visuals and an introduction by a famed Hollywood director associated with the genre.

“Super Duper Alice Cooper”

Super Duper Alice Cooper

I just caught Banger Films’ new documentary “Super Duper Alice Cooper.” I interviewed Alice a couple of years ago at Dragon Con, and found him and his wife Sheryl to be lovely people. I had to shut half my brain off for it to function around him, but he was a total pro. But seriously, dude who sang “Hello Hooray” was JUST SITTING RIGHT THERE.

Ahem… but I digress. The first thing to understand about “Super Duper Alice Cooper” is that it is more of a biographical sketch of Alice Cooper than it is about the band’s music. Banger Films dubs this film a “Doc Opera,” and uses the music to dramatize the engaging onscreen visuals. In addition to archival footage, scenes from silent horror movies punctuates the film — most notably the John Barrymore “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

“Super Duper Alice Cooper” pulls no punches. Yeah, Cooper recounts the “chicken incident,” but he also talks candidly about his battles with addiction and his stay in a mental institution. I was a bit surprised that Cooper’s love of golf was only alluded to in the main feature (though it’s discussed in the deleted scenes). The filmmakers use 1986 as a stopping point, because that’s when Cooper seemed to get his bearings straight and find peace with himself.

I enjoyed it. It definitely brushed over some things due to its running time, and I wonder how it would play to audiences unfamiliar with Cooper’s life. Still, Banger Films has yet to let me down personally, and I look forward to what they come up with next.

 

 

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