TRASH FILM GURU - MIXING IT UP, BLOG STYLE

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If you want to truly create something awe inspiring, you have to think 'out of the box'. Would the Mona Lisa have that enigmatic smile, if Leonardo Dicaprio never starred in the film, 'Titanic'? Would the Spice Girls have devised the concept of 'Girl Power', if they never got molested by the same sheep? Would my mate Ryan have created his smashing blog, if he never... err? No. Not telling. He will. In this conversation we had only the other day, whilst breading sheep for Leonardo Dicaprio.


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1) What are your own origins Ryan? And what inspired you to develop ‘Trash Film Guru’?   My --ahem! -- "inspiration" for starting up my site just comes from the fact that I've seen entirely too many movies over the course of my life. Eventually, it occurred to me that I'd read entirely too many comics as well! So in recent months I've incorporated some comics reviews into the proceedings. In fact, truth be told, they've taken over the last few months, but I'll be transitioning into a more equitable balance of both going forward. I've had a special fondness for low-budget "B" movies for as long as I can remember, so I've always made them my primary focus.

2) In your own words, how would you describe your website?   I try to mix it up a bit, but mostly it's just a review site for whatever I find interesting. Nobody's paying me to write this shit, so there's no reason I can't just write about whatever I want, and what I want to write about tends to be 70s- and 80s-era exploitation films, comics, and the occasional big-budget Hollywood blockbuster or "indie" arthouse-type flick.

3) If ‘Trash’ was a piece of music, what would it be and why?   It would be brash, in your face, unrestrained, and opinionated, as my writing tends to be -- with no qualms whatsoever about offending the more delicate sensibilities of the self-appointed guardians of "good" taste. So maybe a good musical analogy would be something along the lines of really good Norwegian Black Metal -- you know, back before they became rock stars and got respectability. Old school Dark Throne, Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon -- that's the sound of Trash Film Guru.

4) Has your site had any media recognition as of yet?   That depends on what you mean by "media". My writing's been noticed by the guys who run the very fine website DailyGrindhouse.com, and I've contributed the occasional review for them. A guy named Arleigh, who runs a good, eclectic site called 'Through The Shattered Lens' -- which can be found at unobtainium13.com and features some fine writers like Lisa Marie Bowman -- is another person who's taken a liking to my work to the point where I contribute a fair amount of material for his site. Bian Harris, who runs the soon-to-be-shuttered Wildside Cinema, has been a big supporter of my site over time and I've recently had a piece I wrote run in his new print magazine, Weng's Chop. Beyond that, I've had some DVD labels like Troma and Intervision take notice of my stuff and run some pull quotes from my reviews in promotions for their releases. It's always gratifying to be noticed on whatever level, I suppose.

5) What odour would your campaign omit if it gave off a scent? Non trash related, of course.   It can't smell like trash? Why not? Because, honestly, it would.

6) Could you list your top five all time favorite movies and comic books?    Probably not. I mean, it all depends on my mood as to what my "favorite" movies or comics on any particular day would be. But I can certainly say that on most any days there are certain films I would freely acknowledge are among the best of I've ever seen, regardless of my particular frame of mind. For instance, flicks like Buddy Giovinazzo's "Combat Shock", Deodato's "Cannibal Holocaust", David Lynch's "Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me" and "Mulholland Drive", Cronenberg's "Videodrome", John Carpenter's "Halloween", Roger Watkins' "Last House On Dead End Street", and Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", all have a type of integrity and honesty that I think sets them apart from just about anything else, and I would be more than pleased to call any of them "favorites". But that's already more than five right there, isn't it?

For comics it might be easier, as Alan Moore's "Watchmen" and "From Hell" are two that I could pretty much see falling on my "all-time favorites" list at any given time, as well as Dan Clowes' "David Boring", Chester Brown's "I Never Liked You", and anything and everything, really, by Harvey Pekar. But I already feel bad for not including Miller's "Dark Knight" and "Dark Knight 2" (yes, I loved it!) off the list, as well as Art Spiegelamn's "Maus", Craig Thomspson's "Blankets", Seth's "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken", Dylan Horrocks' "Hicksville", Debbie Drechler's "Daddy's Girl", and Chris Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan", off the list. So I dunno -- narrowing it down to just five might, once again, be just flat-out impossible. 

Kirby's entire "Fourth World" saga belongs at or near the very top of any list, as well. But that was four separate monthly series right there, so how to include that in a "top five" list, without it taking the whole thing over? It's a great question, but one that might be impossible to answer for me in such straightforward terms.

7) What was the first comic book you ever read? And how do feel about the current comic book industry?   I couldn't say for sure what the first comic I ever read was, but I can certainly tell you what the first comic I vividly remember was --- it was a collection of Charlton "Blue Beetle" reprints of some sort, and it's a damn shame I didn't hang onto it looking back, because they were all Steve Ditko stories. Fortunately, DC reprinted them in their "Action Heroes Archives Volume Two" a few years ago, so I'm now once again in proud possession of the first comics that I really remember sitting down and reading. 

I can certainly see why they struck a chord with me -- they're expertly constructed stories and magnificently well-drawn. But, of course, there's no way I could have possibly caught onto the heavy-handed zeal (and I mean that as a compliment!) with which Ditko had already begun infusing his work at the time when I was a kid. Re-discovering his work in recent years has been an absolute revelation. Granted, I agree with more or less absolutely nothing in terms of his almost comically didactic and fundamentalist rand-inspired worldview, but his uncompromising nature and single-minded tenacity are truly awesome things to behold, and he will always have my respect for that. 

Integrity is integrity -- and I'll always salute that, even if it's in service of philosophical ends with which I vehemently disagree. 

The second part of your question here gets a bit trickier for me, and I think we have to draw a clear distinction between comics as an art form and as an industry. As an art form, I think comics are in great shape. There are several talented creators putting out independent, small-press releases -- often laboring in isolation and near-total obscurity -- that are pushing the medium in exciting new directions all the time. The only tragedy is that, by and large, they're not making a dime for any of their efforts. And that gets into what's wrong with comics as an industry.

The "Big Two" are stuck in both a commercial and creative rut. They're putting out and endless amount of truly wretched products that looks and reads nearly identically the same! As a result, they're found themselves stuck with an unsustainable business model that seems them peddling more of the same, quite literally, to an ever-shrinking audience, and counting on one gimmick after another to fleece their justifiably declining readership out of their cash. Whether it's DC with their "new 52" and "Zero Month," or Marvel with "Avengers Vs. X-Men: and "Marvel Now!," it's all about coming up with the next publicity stunt to generate artificial interest from a fan base that would otherwise run dry of it. Instead of "Before Watchmen" they should be hard at work finding the creators who are capable of delivering the next "Watchmen", or something even better. But as long as they cling to these iron-clad work-made-for-hire contracts that ensure the creators will never be properly compensated for their labors, small-press publishing and even self-publishing will continue to be the only sane route for creators with a truly distinctive vision and the ability to do something other than by-the-numbers superhero work to go with. 

If you had a great idea, would you sign all the rights for it over to Marvel or DC and allow their editorial staff to dumb down your work to the point where it was indistinguishable from all the other dross out there? And invest them with the power to replace you on your own book if you refused to play along with their editorial "guidelines"? So that's the problem these days with the industry -- staying true to yourself almost certainly means a life of poverty, but playing the "Big Two"'s game means watering down your work in the sort run and poverty in the long run anyway since their refusal to think "outside the box".

8) If your website was a singleton looking for a date, who would this date be, and why would they want to date this person?   Interesting question -- probably "Coffy" and "Foxy Brown" era Pam Grier, for the simple reason that -- hell, she's "Coffy" and "Foxy Brown" era Pam Grier! What more needs to be said? She's the baddest-ass, and best-looking lady the cinema has ever produced! Miraculously wrapped up in one devastating package.

9) Keeping in mind what you've answered in the previous question, who would your website be if given human form and was a ‘celebrity’?   I couldn't pick just one, I'd go for an amalgamation of traits liberally borrowed from all sorts of people. I'd love for the "human version of my website" --- what a weird concept right there! --- to have the revolutionary intelligence of an Alan Moore, the flat-out dangerous edge of a Davd Hess, the surreal imagination of a David Lynch, the self-doubting neurosis of a Woody Allen (to keep him honest!), and the "get out of my way or get moved out of it" attitude of vintage Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. How does that sound? 

Perfect, Ryan. F*cking perfect. So what are you waiting for dear reader? You know what you have to do! Check out Trash Film Guru today, and do that tweet-tweet thing once the internet comes to life.