IT’S “20 QUESTIONS WITH CROSS” DAY!
When I first started this blog/interview series, I mentioned that the most important part of these interviews is art and the people who make it. Art is a wide genre and horror films are a huge part of this genre, at least to me. I enjoy watching horror movies as much as I do enjoy drawing or exploring/listening to music (heavy music usually) and obviously my humble “trying to be” a guitar shredder (laughs).
To talk about horror films and those who make them, one needs a horror fan obviously. If you all remember, most of the band members I interviewed recently, showed their love about horror films, but the only one who did show more excitement about getting to sit down and talk about this passion, was Mike of “The Tell Offs” band.
Cross – Hey Mike! How is it going?
Mike – Hi Cross! Down live-stream on the 29th, let’s go! Haha
Cross – Hell Yeah!!! (Laughs) You ready for this? Hah!
Mike – I am sooo ready!
Cross – First of all, tell us what genre of horror films do you like? Do not mention titles!
Mike – Ok so, I’m open to whatever. A good movie is a good movie but I seem to gravitate towards gore and slasher type films. The gorier the better! I’m actually not crazy about paranormal stuff or exorcism type stuff. I want murder and blood in my horror for some reason, I dunno haha!
Cross – On our first interview we had, you said your favorite horror film is, Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (one of my favorite movies of all time. The Beautiful, Marilyn Burns and the Giant, Gunnar Hansen).
When was the first time you’ve watched it, where were you? What did the movie spark in you? Why do you love it as much as you say you do?
Mike – Ok so! The original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. I was probably about 8 years old? I was watching a movie from the 1980s, this comedy called “Summer School” with Kirstie Alley and Mark Harmon. In the movie, two of the students were obsessed with “ The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. I somehow managed to convince my dad into letting me rent it during a blockbuster trip. Starting to show my age here haha. I had this little TV in my room with a VHS player attached to it. I watched it there in my room, by myself. It scared the living s**t out of me, but I friggin’ loved it.
Cross – I hear great words from people I know who had the chance to meet Gunnar Hansen, a real great person. Have you ever had the chance to meet him (I would have loved to)?
Mike – I never have, sadly!
Cross – Paul A. Partain (Franklin Hardesty). Many people say he has been a pain during the shooting of the movie and not many like his performance. I do love him in the movie though. What are your thoughts about it?
Mike – Well if he was a pain in the a**, it sure didn’t stop the movie from being a classic! Franklin surely isn’t my favorite character in the movie but he’s essential and he became essential in “The Texas Chain Saw 2”. Again, all the little things about this movie. I kinda found myself having sympathy for Franklin. Here’s a guy in a wheelchair that kinda got dragged on this trip and then you have that one scene where they are all upstairs having a great time and he’s all alone and he starts spitting up at them in disgust? I dunno, I kinda felt for him. I mean, I’m not in a wheelchair and I’m blessed by way of that so I’m not complaining but I’ve been a 3rd wheel a few times in my life haha it’s not the greatest feeling in the world.
Cross – I agree with you there.
Are you a Dario Argento’s fan Mike? His “Suspiria” (in Latin means “sighs”) is a treat for my eyes and not only that. The greatest part of the movie is “Suspiria”’s Soundtrack, by Goblin.
Mike – I have never seen or heard of this movie but this is another reason why I’m glad we’re doing this! I don’t claim to be a know it all but I sure as s**t wanna be! This is added to the list!
Cross – It’s not slasher as you like them but it gonna stay with you, trust me.
Mike – After I watch it, I’ll let you know. Hey by the way….you got me goin’ with the death metal band Portal. Brilliant music. Haha
Cross – One of the scariest, greatest, darkest bands out there, Portal that is.
They made a remake of “Suspiria”, Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” (Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s singer did the soundtrack, which reminds me of Philip Glass somehow… the composer and pianist who made the soundtrack for “Candyman”. True genius…). In my opinion they should have called it something else but it wasn’t bad at all. Sorry I keep talking about it. (Laughs)
Mike – Well, I will get back to you on this one too, but I did love Candyman!
Cross – Rob Zombie. I’m sure we both know him from his music but he does horror movies too. I’m not that much of a fan of his horror movies (don’t get me wrong, they’re beautifully shot) but… you’ve got to love Sid Haig and Bill Moseley (here we go, back to Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2”, Chop – Top… laughs) in ” The House of 1000 Corpses”. What can you say about all that (too much happening on that train of thought)?
Mike – I love Rob Zombie’s films. Besides his recurring cast, I tend to lean more towards gore with my horror movies. I like feeling a bit uncomfortable. If I can think about a movie long after I’ve watched it, and think about specific scenes later, I feel like it’s a good movie or at least resonated with me, again going back to “ The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. So many little scenes I just think about from time to time and it’s just eerie. But with gore, there’s also a visual that I find pleasing which you just touched on saying they’re beautifully shot.
I feel that with “House of 1000 Corpses” (this one in particular), “The Devils Rejects” and “3 From Hell” which by the way got a bit of heat but I still enjoyed it, I feel that visually, Rob Zombie takes a page out of the book of “ The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” with these movies. That uncomfortable, unsettling feeling. And again, the cast of characters is just so damn strong. So many one liners, and the music is so damn good, in all 3 movies. I’m ashamed to say I just discovered Suzi Quatro last year thanks to “3 From Hell”. And I also think that the final scene in “The Devil’s Rejects” with “Free Bird“ is just breathtaking.
These three movies sure do take me on a wild ride. I also love the look on people’s faces who say they’ve seen this movie and I have to remind them that Dwight Schrute is in “House of 1000 Corpses” haha, I also really enjoyed “31”, which to me was like Rob Zombie’s version of “Saw” if “Saw” didn’t suck (sorry folks, I’m not a fan) and “The Lords of Salem” was really good. I may be biased though because I love the town of Salem, Massachusetts. I’ve been there quite a lot and it’s a damn good time. I also have issues with remakes sometimes but I thought Rob Zombie’s take on “Halloween” was very enjoyable. I thought he put his Rob Zombie spin on it while doing the original plot justice but also added more depth to the origins of Michael Myers. Who he was and why? All that stuff. Wasn’t too crazy about the sequel though. Seemed a bit unnecessary but that’s just me.
Cross – Ain’t a “Saw “ fan either. About “Halloween” we’ll get to that in the next question. Enjoyed “House of 1000 Corpses“, I’ve been a fan of Sid Haig since Ralph Merrye in “Spider Baby”. Which one was your first movie of his?
Mike – My first Sid Haig movie was actually the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever!” Sid Haig was just fantastic. May he rest in power.
Cross – Michael Myers, Jon Carpenter’s masterpiece “Halloween”, my favorite!!! (told you we’ll get to it) with the iconic Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Mike – We touched on this earlier. Yes! I love “Halloween”! Between “ The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Halloween”, these movies were definitely a gateway in horror movies as a young boy.
Cross – How many Halloween movies are there?
Mike – Haha oh boy, there’s been lots right?
Cross – Way too many. (Laughs)
Mike – I mean you had the first 6. The third one not involving Michael Myers. You had H2O which I thought was pretty stellar. Then you had “Halloween Resurrection” which, my god what a piece of s**t haha… and then the most recent one which I thought was good. I wouldn’t have named it “Halloween” but that’s me nitpicking haha. So not including Rob Zombie’s, we have had 9? With a tenth on the way this fall? Did I nail it?
Cross – Haven’t watched them all, told you my love stays with the first one but, I think you nailed it. (Laughs) Which one do you prefer?
Mike – Besides the original, I really enjoyed “Halloween 4”. Michael Myers mask kinda sucked haha but I thought the story was strong and we really need to give a shout out to Donald Pleasance because I don’t care how many remakes you do… he is and always will be Dr Loomis haha. May he rest in power.
Cross – I’m a huge fan of F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferaru”. I’m sure it shows in my drawings (laughs). My favorite silent movie ever, and I do love immensely “Nosferatu the Vampyre” with Kinski and Adjani. Which one do you like better?
Mike – “Nosferatu” rules! Again, eerie. One of the best things about the older horror movies is that they’re so old it makes them even scarier. Sometimes I feel like horror movies aren’t meant for a massive budget. Nobody wants to watch Die Hard here. Haha
Cross – That’s a Venom song. (Laughs)
Mike – With that said, I like the original better BUT! I enjoyed “Nosferatu the Vampyre” a lot. I thought Kinski’s take on the count was really good. He had this sympathetic approach to his character in a way. If that makes any sense. Haha
Cross – How about Bela Lugosi as Dracula (music was composed by Philip Glass later on, I mentioned him earlier. Laughs)?
Mike – Lemme tell you something, put Bela Lugosi on a screen staring directly into it for 1 hour straight with them bug eyes he does and I’ll call it a horror classic. Bela Lugosi for me is to horror what The Beatles are to rock n’ roll. Nobody will ever touch him and he planted the seeds whether he realized it or not. Also, shout out to “White Zombie” another one I love.
Cross – I’m sure he knew how good he was. And all you said there made me happy. I couldn’t agree more.
When we talk about horror films we have to mention Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”. The first movie is my favorite. Which one does it for you and have you watched the TV show “Ash vs Evil Dead”?
Mike – The first movie is absolutely my favorite and I haven’t watched the show yet! It’s on my list of stuff I need to watch along with “Suspiria” now!
Cross – Are you Mike an Alfred Hitchcock fan? “Psycho”, the perfect nightmare. A classic!
Mike – Oh “Psycho” has to be a top 10 all time, am I right? That would be a good one for Halloween! I could be Norman when he dresses up like his mom!
Cross – (Laughs)
Mike – All I’d need is a dress, a wig and a knife (a styrofoam one of course haha). Maybe next year. This year I’m gonna be Walter from the Big Lebowski. Haha sidenote, Hitchcock… loved “Dial M for Murder”.
Cross – You already planned it huh? And that’s a good one too. Everytime I talk about Hitchcock, Roman Polanski pops in my mind. To name some of his horror masterpieces, “The Tenant”, “Repulsion”, “Rosemary’s Baby”. He has many other great movies, but since we’re talking about horror I’ll stop there. Ever heard of him or any of these films I just mentioned?
Mike – Rosemary’s Baby was great, only recently found out Mia Farrow was married to Frank Sinatra and I’m deeply ashamed by that. Haha another thing Roman Polanski did that was great was marry Sharon Tate, she was beautiful!
Cross – They didn’t stay that long together though, Sinatra and Farrow. And Tate, she was stunningly beautiful.
Rod Serling, unmistakable voice. I’m a Mad fan of his work. From “The Twilight Zone” to “Night Gallery” and his books too. He died two years after his participation in the ” Encounter with the Unknown”, a horror/mystery film. Do you know about him or the TV shows? Any thoughts?
Mike – Well surely I know “The Twilight Zone”. Funny quick story, last year I went to a Phish concert in upstate New York with my guitar player and a couple of friends. By the way, not a big jam band guy, but they’re great musicians and my guitar player lets me take him to see bands like Anthrax, Slayer and Eyehategod so I feel like I wanna go to a Phish show sometimes because he loves them haha. Anyway, we got a hotel to spend the night and I brought my DVD player. Having gotten a bit drunk… ok really drunk and maybe there was some hippie lettuce present… not too sure haha… when we got back to the hotel I was the first one to pass out. That was maybe around 1am. About 4am I woke up and my guitar player had put “The Twilight Zone” on because it’s on Netflix. So by that point they were all asleep so I sat up for a couple of hours eating Doritos and watching “The Twilight Zone”. End of story. Hahahaha
Cross – Bullshit Artist. Does that ring a bell? (Laughs)
Mike – If anyone hasn’t seen “The Greasy Strangler” yet, see it! I ain’t playin’. Hahahaha what a movie. Nothing like it.
Cross – You tell them Mike!!!
Chucky, Jason, Freddy Krueger, Ghostface… which one does Mike like the most?
Mike – Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh… this is tough……. I’m a “Friday the 13th” guy overall but I’m gonna say Freddy, I just think he’s got the most depth. I have a sister whose 4 1/2 years older than me so around this time, the movie “Scream”, was really big… right or wrong it was big haha. I remember being in 4th grade and in a catholic school no less. Haha everyone dressed as the Ghostface that year. Except me of course, I don’t remember who I was. But there’s a scene in that movie where they’re all watching “Halloween” with Jamie Lee Curtis. So I feel like interest in “Halloween” came about with my generation based on that so I had seen that movie around this time too and while I loved “Halloween” and still do believe me it’s one of my favorites, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” resonated in a totally different way. I’ve seen it a zillion times now and I still have that same eerie vibe at 32 that I got watching it at 8 years old. There’s nothing like it.
Cross – I Love Matthew Lillard but I ain’t a Scream fan. “Eden Lake” (2008), “Hatchet” (2006), “The Midnight Meat Train” (2008), “Tucker & Dale vs Evil” (one of my favorite horror comedies), are you a fan of any of these Mike?
Mike – “Tucker & Dale vs Evil” was awesome! Plus the fat guy got the girl. Speaking as a horizontally challenged man myself, that’s always good. We need more of that! Haha
Cross – He sure did. (Laughs)
Not sure how much of a Black Flag, Henry Rollins (love him!) fan you are, but he did appear in some horror films: “Wrong Turn 2 – Dead End” and “He Never Died”, to mention one or two. Have you seen these two and what do you think about them?
Mike – I love Henry! I feel like when you’re a big Phil Anselmo fan, you have to like Henry by default I mean c’mon! Haha I’ve never seen these films but I’m intrigued. Did you ever see “The Chase” with Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson? Henry is in it. Reeked of 1990s. Great cameos by Anthony Keidis and Flea from the Chili Peppers too haha… dammit I miss the 90s!
Cross – Yeah I’ve seen it. How Henry says, if I like an artist I want to even know wtf they had for breakfast. (Laughs) Talking about Phil Anselmo…
American Guinea Pig movies. The second one “Bloodshock” premiered on Housecore Horror Film Fest part lll in 2015, I believe. I haven’t watched the last two ones though but are on my list. Ever heard of them Mike, do you like any?
Mike – Never heard of any of these but I’m tellin ya right now, if there’s ever another Housecore Horror Film Fest I don’t care where it is, I’m going.
Cross – If that ever happens, and I really hope it will soon, we have to sit down and talk about that experience.
We talked mostly about sort of “old horror” movies. Any other ones you’d like to suggest or talk about, old or new, Mike? What are your feelings about the horror genre nowadays?
Mike – Let’s see, well if you wanna ever gross out non horror movie fans show them the movie “Terrifier.” Art, the Clown will not appeal to them. Hahahaha
Cross – I go with “ Blookshock” and “ Nekromantik “ for that. (Laughs)
Mike – Let’s see what else… so, I’m a big pro wrestling nerd. There’s a wrestler whose retired now but his name is CM Punk. He’s ventured out into acting recently and he starred in a horror film called “Girl On The Third Floor.” Came out last year. Kind of a haunted house type flick. I thoroughly enjoyed it so check that out and listen… I may get hung for this but seeing as how I have the platform I’m gonna do something that not a lot of people have done and that’s openly admit my love for the Kevin Smith horror movie “Tusk.” I friggin’ loved it. Yes, the plot was beyond ridiculous, the idea of it is stupid but the acting. First of all you’ve got Michael Parks. A genius. Then, I’m gonna tip my hat to Justin Long because… spoiler alert here… there’s a scene where he’s drugged by Michael Parks character and when he comes to, he’s all out of it and realizes that his leg has been cut off. Justin Longs reaction was superb. Because seriously imagine that happening.
Cross – No spoilers Mike!!! (Laughs)
“Tusk” has been on my list for a while now. Every time I mention “The Greasy Strangler” people suggest me “Tusk”.
Mike – Lastly, Johnny Depp’s cameo was literally out of this world. Another deep cut Johnny Depp transformation. The movie was so universally panned when I’ve told people to watch it, they didn’t even realize it was Johnny Depp I had to tell them later. Haha! Anyways, I do like my horror movies older usually but there’s been some gems here and there. I just hope they stop remaking the classics. How many “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” remakes can they do? And did we really need to reboot “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”? No thanks. I understand remakes have been happening forever but some performances are just so timeless I don’t see how it can be done. Not horror but I’ve heard of a “Scarface” remake coming? How can you possibly top that movie in general let alone Al Pacino’s performance in it? Haha end rant.
Cross – I know, right? Make your own f*****g movie!! (Laughs)
Thank you for taking the time to answer to all my questions, Mike. Can’t thank you enough brother, it has been a blast!!!
Mike – Thanks for the time Cross this was fun let’s do it again, sometime!