Just because I write movie reviews of my own, I still have some favorite movie reviewers of my own, whose work I like to read. One of those individuals is Steve from Anti-Film School (website / Twitter: @AntiFilmSchool). To help you get better acquainted with him, I took a few moments of his time and got him to answer some questions.
Q: On the whole, Disney movies do count as movies, but let’s talk about ones that aren’t specifically geared towards young kids. What are some of the first few movies you can remember seeing?
Steve from Anti-Film School: I saw Tim Burton’s Batman at a very young age and I was absolutely mesmerized by it. After seeing that movie, I knew I’d be a Batman for life. Some of the other movies I was into were the Indiana Jones trilogy and the Steve Reeves Hercules movies. I can also remember watching George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and seeing several of the Universal Studios monster movies. I can vividly remember watching James Whale’s Frankenstein and being obsessed with the scene where the Monster picks flowers with the little girl on the edge of the lake. I had a really hard time getting the sequence out of my head.
Q: Would you say you have a favorite movie genre?
@AntiFilmSchool: Absolutely! I love the horror genre. I always have and I always will.
Q: They don’t have to be your all-time favorites by any means, but in terms of movies you enjoyed, what are some that stick out in your mind as being especially unique?
@AntiFilmSchool:I would definitely say that Alejandro Jodorowsky has made some truly unique stuff. A few years ago, I watched El Topo and that was really something. El Topo has actually shot up my favorites list since I’ve seen it. Another movie that really stood out to me was the art house horror film Begotten, which was directed by E. Elias Merhige. If I had to make a list of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen, I think that would be near the top of that list. I promise you that you have NEVER seen anything like it. I really don’t know if I liked Begotten all that much, but it is very unique. I’d also have to say that anything by Stanley Kubrick really sticks out. Every single movie he made was in a league of its own, but I am particularly fond of A Clockwork Orange.
Q:Are there any actors (and/or actresses) who are on your personal “seek out” list? Meaning, if they’re in something, you’ll almost definitely watch the film primarily because they’re in it.
@AntiFilmSchool: Recently, I have been hooked on Leonardo DiCaprio. He has been on one hell of a streak over the past few years. Another actor that I just love is Christoph Waltz. That guy is just fantastic. I have also been a big fan of Klaus Kinski, especially after seeing his performance as Dracula in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre. As far as actresses go, I’ve found myself drawn to a lot of stuff that Margot Kidder was in. I really think she was awesome. As far as newer actresses go, Jennifer Lawrence is pretty solid in almost everything she does and I’ve been really blown away by Jessica Chastain.
Q:Do you have any directors who fall into a similar “seek out” list?
@AntiFilmSchool: I’ll usually try to catch anything that George A. Romero does. I wasn’t really impressed with his last two Dead movies, but they have made their way into my movie collection solely because they are his. Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan are also on the “seek out” list. I swear that those guys are incapable of making a bad movie. I’ll also watch anything directed by Sergio Leone and Lucio Fulci.
Q:On the other end of the spectrum, are there any actors / actresses / directors whose work you’ll typically avoid?
@AntiFilmSchool: I usually try to stay far away from anything that has Adam Sandler in it. I can’t stand him. I’m also not too big on Nicholas Cage. As far as directors go, I’m really baffled by M. Night Shyamalan. He has fallen apart right before our eyes. There was so much potential there and now everything he does is almost unbearable.
Q: Aside from things you recently watched in the theater, how do you decide what movies to review?
@AntiFilmSchool: Well, I really love finding old B-movies and exploitation flicks to review. They keep with the theme of my website and they are just so entertaining, even the ones that are just terrible. I especially enjoy tracking down the rare ones to review. It’s really thrilling to introduce these movies to people who aren’t familiar with them. I’ll also sort of go by what is out in theaters right now. If superhero movies are all the rage, I’ll usually try to review a couple of those. This summer looks to be all about science fiction, so I have been trying to track down old science fiction and drive-in movies from the 1950s to write about. I’ve been watching stuff like Mothra, Tarantula, Attack of the 50 ft Woman, The Mole People, Godzilla Raids Again, Forbidden Planet, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s all about giant monsters that you would have seen at the drive-in.
Q: What are some of your movie “guilty pleasures”, where maybe it’s not a great film in terms of quality for one reason or another, but that you love watching?
@AntiFilmSchool: I’m a big sucker for trashy horror movies from the 1970s and 1980s. I’m especially big on the Italian zombies movies that were made in the wake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Things like Fulci’s Zombie, City of the Living Dead, and The Beyond are big “guilty pleasures.” I also just love Hell of the Living Dead, Nightmare City, and Zombi Holocaust. As far as newer guilty pleasures go, I really like Step Brothers. I think that movie is hilarious. I’d also say that Seth Rogen’s The Green Hornet is another one. I know a lot of people really disliked it but it entertains the hell out of me. I’d also throw the first Transformers movie on the “guilty pleasures” list. It is really hard to resist giant alien robots beating the crap out of each other.
Q: Are there any movies out there that are widely considered “great” that you just didn’t enjoy?
@AntiFilmSchool: Hmmm this question can get someone is a lot of trouble. One classic that I just really can’t get into is The Wizard of Oz. I just think its kind of creepy and not nearly as enchanting as people make it out to be. A recent example would probably be Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. That one was met with unanimous praise but I just didn’t see it. Another movie that is considered great by so many people is the first Hangover movie. It’s average at best. I just don’t see the appeal of it. There was even Oscar talk around it and I was absolutely stunned by that. I always get accused of disliking it just to be different, but I was actually really excited to see it when it came out. There was so much positive buzz around it and everyone was raving about it. I love a good comedy as much as the next guy but that one did nothing for me.
Q: What’s your stance on a movie being in black & white?
@AntiFilmSchool: There are some movies that are in black and white that I would never want to see in color. Black and white can actually add quite a bit of mood to a movie. I love a horror movie in black and white. It can really up the scare level.
Q: Recently I had a discussion with some friends about ANCHORMAN, which I’ve openly admitted to being part of my “blind spot” in terms of movies that everyone seems to enjoy, but that I don’t. At all. Are there any movies in your personal “blind spot” where you understand why other people would really enjoy them, but you find yourself really not enjoying?
@AntiFilmSchool: It’s funny you bring up Anchorman because that is one that would definitely fall into this category. I can see the appeal but it just doesn’t work for me. Another one would be Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Being a massive horror fan, you’d assume that I love it but I just can’t stand that movie. I can see why a lot of people find it scary, but I just think it is sort of stupid. Freddy is too campy for my tastes.
Q: How large is your movie (DVD and Blu-ray and VHS and LaserDisc) library?
@AntiFilmSchool: If I combined my DVD and Blu-ray collection, I think it would fall somewhere in the 400 range.
Q: Have you ever worked at a movie theater?
@AntiFilmSchool: No, but I actually interviewed for a job at one back in 2008. I don’t think I’d ever go home if I did work at one.
Q: Have you ever had an idea for a movie that you developed into more than just a one-line description? Maybe not in terms of a full screenplay, but even a couple paragraphs?
@AntiFilmSchool: Well, I made two short films in college. One was a gory horror movie and the other was a spy thriller. They were basically little stories that I came up with on the spot. I guess I expanded those mini-stories visually. Over the past two years, I’ve been slowly chipping away at two books, a tribute to spaghetti westerns and a tribute to classic horror movies. The western is about four rival gunfighters banding together in the last days of the Wild West and the horror story is about a dysfunctional family that moves to a secluded house in the woods and is terrorized by monsters that come out at night. I guess I’ve visualized both of them as movies, but there is just so much to both of them that I’d rather see them as books.
Q: What sort of movie-watching setup do you have at your house?
@AntiFilmSchool: There used to be a pretty cool home theater in my basement but it’s severely out of date now. It had surround sound and a huge television. These days, I just watch movies on the 1080p television in my living room. It’s nothing too special. Maybe one day I will have something more impressive.
Q: Have you ever been in a movie-watching club where everyone will watch the same film before a meet-up or by a certain date, and then you’d discuss it? School classes might count for this…
@AntiFilmSchool: In film school, this was a weekly thing. We’d watch movies as a class and then discuss them the next day. One cool thing that we did was go to the local art house theater in downtown Dayton with our teacher to see Winter’s Bone. After it was over, we sort of hung out for an hour and analyzed it. That was really great.
Q: Preferences time. I’ll name two things, you tell me which you prefer… (feel free to give as much or as little of a response as you want)
Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino
@AntiFilmSchool: DeNiro all the way. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Godfather Part II beat anything Pacino has ever done.
Jason Statham or Vin Diesel
@AntiFilmSchool: I’ll go with Statham. He’s a bit more entertaining than Vin Diesel. I just love Statham in Snatch.
Jet Li or Jackie Chan
@AntiFilmSchool: Hmmm Jackie Chan.
Chevy Chase & Steve Martin or Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson
@AntiFilmSchool: Oh man, I have to go with Chevy Chase and Steve Martin over Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Slyvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger
@AntiFilmSchool: This is a close one but I think I’ll go with Stallone due to his grindhouse roots. I make fun of him all the time but he was awesome in Rocky and Death Race 2000. Funny enough, I recently had a “grindhouse night” at my house, which involved a group of my friends coming over for a alcohol-fueled double feature of Sonny Chiba’s The Street Fighter and Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Before and in between the movies, I showed a number of old exploitation trailers and one of them was a trailer for Stallone’s porno, Italian Stallion. Yes, Sylvester Stallone did porn before he was Rocky or Rambo.
Star Wars or Star Trek
@AntiFilmSchool: Star Wars. Gotta love the original three movies. The Empire Strikes Back is one of the greatest sequels ever made.
The Old Star Trek or the New Star Trek (movies only)
@AntiFilmSchool: New Star Trek. Don’t really know too much about the old Star Trek.
Indiana Jones or Han Solo
@AntiFilmSchool: I’m going to go with Indiana Jones. I saw and marveled at him long before I saw Han Solo.
Spielberg movies or Hitchcock movies
@AntiFilmSchool: I do like Hitchcock but once again, childhood wins out here. It’s Spielberg all the way. My college professors would probably kill me if they read that.
Seeing movies with lots of friends OR seeing movies by yourself
@AntiFilmSchool: I love seeing them with lots of friends. There is nothing better than getting a group of friends together in the summer and checking out a big budget popcorn flick.
Movie theater popcorn or candy
@AntiFilmSchool: Movie theater popcorn. I’m not really big on candy.
First two rows in a theater or last two rows in a theater
@AntiFilmSchool: I usually go for the middle, but if I had to choose, I’d go last two rows. Easier to see the entire screen. First two rows usually require you to make an appointment with your chiropractor after the movie.