For months I’ve been going to Mondo Movie Night (and Matinee) events and writing about them. It’s sparked a lot of curiosity among readers, so Rogue Cinema’s editor decided that I should interview the event’s coordinator and originator, Blake Monahan, better known as The Reverend Doctor Zombie M.D.! Blake is a huge cult movie fan and is deeply in love with the genre. Though his forte is mostly Italian horror and science fiction, giallo thrillers, and spaghetti westerns, his taste extends to all things cult movie related. Thankfully, Blake took a break from his exceptionally busy schedule to answer some questions concerning the event he gave birth to.
To start things off, would you please do me the honor of introducing yourself to the readers. Tell us all why you love the cult movie genre so much and what films and film makers have influence your taste in cinema! Also, you happen to be an ordained Reverend of the Universal Life Church. How did you manage that?!
In the horror circle, I am the Rev. Doctorzombiemd. In real life I am just a dude named Blake that loves to watch all things horror and cult. Growing up, horror films were my constructive escape from a dreary little lonely life. I am sure a lot of horror fans can agree that while providing a nice outlet for the frustrations of everyday life, horror films also offer them an imaginative realm of characters and stories that tie in to the themes of their lives. For example, while none of us may identify with wanting to chop people up (I hope), many of us can identify with the story of a person who is treated like an outsider and a freak for whatever reason. While we are not driven to do these awful things in real life (again, I hope), it is very cathartic to see someone get their just desserts on the big screen. That’s one part of it, the other I think would be that the subject of death can be very terrifying to a person and I think that horror films help us confront our fears. As far as being a Reverend, that started as a gimmick for the Halloween all day horror fest that we did but when I realized that I am actually legally a reverend… I dunno it’s kinda cool. I can marry people and I have always been preaching to people so I guess it makes sense. Anyone interested in becoming a reverend just needs to check out the ULC website. It is an extremely simple process. My favorite films and directors are many but I love Franco, Cronenberg, Argento, Hennenlotter, I could do this forever, Jordy c’mon man!
Mondo Movie Night began back in May of last year and is still going strong. You mentioned once or twice that you were inspired to start the event so that you could bring back the fun and spirit of the 42nd Street Grindhouse theaters. Is that your main reason for starting Mondo Movie Night or were there other factors involved?
Bags and bags of money… HA! I wish! I guess it was a two fold influence, my ex and I went to a convention in the middle of a freezing January a little over a year ago. I was on unemployment at the time and it was about to run out and I really wanted the show to be my last hurrah before going back to everyday BS. Anyway, we wound up catching the late night movies presented in 16mm at the show and I had a blast. Drinking, yelling out… it changed the entire dynamic of the movies. It became a happening, an event, not just a screening. It was also around this time that I was reading Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis and in that book he goes into great detail about how each theater on the old school times square circuit had it’s own personality in terms of films and clientele. I began to realize that there was an entire aspect of the cult movie that younger generations never experienced and I really wanted to try and do something to bring that back.
The Endless Mountain Theater is currently an independently owned business which helped make Mondo Movie Night possible. Have you encountered any obstacles with the owner and management in setting up the monthly events or has everything gone smoothly?
Endless Mountains Theater is owned and operated by one of the coolest groups of people I have ever met. I don’t think that they have ever said no to me about ANYTHING. “You want to disembowel an audience member?” “Sure, what can we do to help!” I mean it, these guys rock! Every person on the staff from Dave, the owner, to JW, the assistant CEO…even the kids at the candy counter bust their asses to make every Mondo Movie Night a success. As far as planning, I usually work on every show for about a month or two in advance.
This is probably the most frequently asked question you get but how to you obtain the original theatrical prints of the movies you show?
Lots of ass kissing and bugging people. Most of the guys who own prints know other guys and so on…. it kinda seems like every time I work with one guy they turn me on to someone else that has stuff. Really though, it just comes down to having been going to shows for so long and establishing relationships with private collectors.
I know you’ve had a few problems with certain companies involving the film’s you’ve shown (namely “The Beyond” and “Evil Dead 2”). Thus far, which film company has been the best to work with, and which one has been the worst?
I am going to skip this one so as not to piss anyone off. But there are some real creeps out there, that is for sure.
You know I love every Mondo Movie Night event, but what about everyone else? Has the event gotten a good response overall?
For the most part, yeah. I have been told by guys in NY and LA that the attendance numbers we have gotten, even the low ones are quite impressive. Locally, the kids seem to enjoy it a lot. Some of them drive over an hour to come to every show so we must be doing something right. One time only, maybe two, did I have to refund money because the people were pissed off that the audience was participating. Well, DUH! Isn’t that the point of Mondo Movie Night?! If you want silence sit home and watch the movie by yourself Ebert.
Back in December you managed to get Director (and Blue Underground DVD President) William Lustig as the evening’s distinguished guest and last month you got director Doug Sakmann to show up for a Q&A session at the “Punk Rock Holocaust” screening. How did you meet up with these guys and how did you get them to appear at the shows?!
Bill, I had talked to a while back before I started this and he told me that he often came to the area to do BU (Blue Underground) work. As soon as I started this, I knew that I wanted to get him to come up. So when I ran into him again, I asked and he agreed right away. He had actually heard of what we were doing and was really enthusiastic about it. Doug approached me via email after hearing about us and I hit it off with him pretty quick. They are both super nice guys and were really happy with our audience. I look forward to working with both of them again as in both cases I walked away from the screenings with a new friend.
This summer you’re getting Troma President (and creator of the Toxic Avenger) Lloyd Kaufman to be the guest of honor for a Troma weekend! What other cult film celebrities (and semi-celebrities) can we expect in the future?!
Ha…I have no idea…who do you want to see…email me!
Concerning the films you show, how do you decide what to screen for each event? Do you choose them randomly or do you really mull it over for hours?
Usually, I just pick three and then decide from there. Sometimes it is motivated by schedules as in the case of having guests. I don’t know really, it just seems to come to me from time to time. The only one I chased down was Evil Dead II. It took almost a month to find out who owned it.
Any chance of letting me pick a movie? There’s plenty of guilty cinematic pleasures that I’d like to inflict on an audience!
I am actually considering doing some web polling in the future to decide on upcoming flicks. Maybe Jordy, if you are real nice to me I will let you pick one.
While we’re still on the topic, what other films can we expect to see at future Mondo Movie Nights and Matinees?
I’ll stay mum on that subject for now. LOL!
I’m not sure I should be mentioning this, but a while back you told me that you had aspirations to turn Mondo Movie Night into a mini (horror) film convention. Is this a future goal that you’re definitely working toward, or are you content with how Mondo Movie Night is right now?
I am actually looking at a few possibilities and that is one of them. The other is taking Mondo Movie Night on the road so that we can spread our influence, not everyone that would like to see classic horror on the big screen wants to drive very far, so we will see I guess!
With the success your event has enjoyed, have any Mondo Movie Night knock-offs sprung up anywhere in the area?
I am the one and only. Yeah baby!
I already know that answer to this but…. do you have all these Mondo Movie events because you want to make a quick buck, or do you do it sheerly for the cult film fans that attend?
Actually, I do it for the women and the hard drugs. Every Mondo Movie Night is followed up by a raucous bout of coke and strippers! Seriously, I do it for no other reason than indulging my grindhouse gland. Sitting and listening to what you guys are all saying and then having you come up afterwards and tell me what a great time you had… that is what it is all about baby!
Well that’s about all I have left to ask. Do you have anything else to add before we wrap up this interview? (i.e. Humorous anecdotes, life changing philosophies, dirty jokes, family recipes, dating advice, or shameless self-promotion.)
Hmmmm… Come to Mondo Movie Night; you will laugh, cry, and have a great f*cking time! Oh yeah, be sure to hit the concession stand. The large soda can accomodate a ton of Rum!