FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jul 6, 2010

Bloggenaire: Amanda by Night, Made for TV Mayhem

Look, I KNOW. I've been so bad about posting the Bloggenaires that remiss is fifty miles back in the rearview mirror. I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but I think it has to do with how much I suck. The past, however, is the past and I think we should just move on rather than sit here all day trying to figure out who's to blame. I can't think of a better way to do said moving on than to read answers provided by the illustrious Amanda by Night of Made for TV Mayhem!

I thought I had a head for movie trivia- then I met Amanda Reyes. She's a walking cinematic encyclopedia; that sounds obnoxious, really, but it's not at all- in fact, it's awesome. She knows pretty much all there is to know about cool stuff like 70s and 80s horror movies, sex comedies, made-for-TV movies, soaps, and everything in between...and she looks glamorous while knowing it. Just read her blog, will ya? You won't regret it.

1) What's the key moment that led you to click that "Start Your Blog" button?

I’d been down the blog road a few times before I started Made for TV Mayhem. Since I write so much about slashers, I think I was getting burnt out and decided to expand a little. But just a little. I started a column at Pretty Scary for Lifetime thrillers and then another column at Horror Yearbook dedicated to erotic thrillers, but made for television movies was always my passion. There’s not a huge demand for these small films, but because I love them so much and because I thought there might be a minimal audience, I decided to take my years of video collecting and reading about TVMs and put it to good use. Originally, my blog was intended only for mysteries, thrillers and horror, but there is just so much stuff worth writing about, so it expanded into all types of films, television shows, etc,… I got some encouragement from fellow bloggers who mentioned me and I could see that some people were genuinely interested in reading about what I was covering. A lot of these films and shows are unavailable, so I started adding stills and trying to throw as much info as possible into the pot. It’s almost become a sort of obsessive archival process. I want to preserve the memory of these films, most of which have largely been forgotten. I think when people read my blog, they won’t get the sense of that intention, but I think they enjoy the trips down memory lane.

2) Please describe your blog in no more than 3 sentences. You must include the words / phrases "morbid", "aesthetic", and "electromagnetic".

Maybe it’s a morbid obsession but a lot the aesthetics of my blog come from my electromagnetic attitude towards Bert Convy and various other small screen babes.

3) Bearing in mind that opinions are subjective (except mine because I'm always right), do you enjoy movies that are generally considered "bad"? Why or why not?

This is where I can’t be funny (well, I’m actually hardly ever funny), and I have to use some of that critical thinking college has been instilling in me. First, what is the criterion for bad? I mean, the Mutilator is not a good film technically, but it’s entertaining and visceral and works as a horror film regardless of some of its faults. I think the real question (for me) is, do I like movies that are purposefully bad, and that answer is no. I think there is this new movement among low rent filmmakers who think that if they knowingly set out to make a “bad” movie, they’re making something good a la Ed Wood. But Ed Wood movies were good because he wasn’t trying to make a bad film. There’s your catch-22. His heart and soul (and many an angora sweater) went into making Glen or Glenda or Plan 9 from Outer Space. That’s why, all these years later, his films have endured. I associate the word bad with films by lazy filmmakers, not with movies that try to be good, and just don’t make the grade. I kind of hate to use the Mutilator again, but it applies: it’s got its shortcomings, but the director (Buddy Cooper) put his heart into that fucker, and I love him for it. I watch that movie all the time. As far as I’m concerned, it’s quite good and not bad in any sense at all.

And that was a whole lot of nothing.

4) Did you know that there exists one variety of carnivorous parrot? It's true. They live in the mountains of New Zealand, and they eat the fat surrounding the kidneys of sheep- WHILE THE SHEEP ARE ALIVE. It's horrible.

There is this parasite I heard about that gets into your leg and is so long and difficult to extract that someone has to stand over you with a stick and literally roll the parasite out. It takes days.

Also, that Zuni Fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror is creepy!

5) What's the one- ONE- horror movie you love so much you want to stick it down your pants?

This House Possessed. Mostly because Parker Stevenson really needs to be down my pants and I can’t think of any other way to get him there.

6) Adrienne Barbeau. Discuss.

Adrienne played, to the best of my television movie knowledge, the first openly lesbian character in a TVM. In Someone’s Watching Me, directed by John Carpenter, she plays Lauren Hutton’s BFF and pulls no punches with who she’d rather be kissing (and it’s not John!). The relationship is handled so well, her sexuality never overwhelms the platonic friendship between the two women, which is spectacular. I’d say it’s fairly progressive, and pulled off so well because 1) Carpenter knows how to write women and 2) Adrienne is wonderful in the role. There are no aggressive bull dyke stereotypes nor is there any kind of lipstick lesbian pandering. She’s just a woman. One incredible woman. Pretty much like Adrienne is in real life, I would suppose! I mean, she knew Bea Arthur…

7) Why should people bother to read your blog?

My blog is for a very small niche. I’m surprised I get any readers at all (and a big thanks to those who do stop by). Made for television movies are really only of interest to those who grew up on them. And not only that, you have to have a big nostalgia streak and you also have to know my blog exists. It’s all very complicated and like I said, I’m really amazed people come by and then keep coming by. What I think makes my blog stand out is that, as far as I know, it’s the only one that covers this sub-genre as much as mine does. I’m not an expert in the field, but I think my love of made for television movies comes through and anyone with a crush on Scott Jacoby can see that!

8) Where does Jigsaw get all the money he needs to build all those traps and buy all that warehouse space? Better yet, does he have some sort of engineering background? He must, right, if he designs all that crap?

Just like everyone else in Hollywood, he steals the money and the ideas to build those things and then takes the credit! Oh Jigsaw, you silly little minx…

9) Several theories regarding the reasons why people would subject themselves to watching horror films (when they're so, you know, traumatic) exist. Which is closest in line with your feelings on and reactions to the genre? Feel free to elaborate. Or don't, see if I care.

a) RELIEF THEORY: The unpleasant feelings of distress cause more stimulating feelings of relief when the unpleasantness passes- the stressed arousal caused by fear becomes pleasurable arousal later on.
b) CONTINUOUS REWARD: The excitement felt during the film is the appeal in and of itself.
1) Stereotypical gender roles are reinforced: men act as protectors, women need protection.
2) Violating social norms- watching "deviant" entertainment- is exciting.
3) Experiencing heightened emotions with others makes us feel like we "belong" and we're truly part of a group.

My Psych 101 class did not prepare me for this! I guess it’s a mixture of a lot of the above. There are definitely parts of the horror community that are like a group and foster community. Kindertrauma instantly come to mind as an online network of people who seem to respect, and more importantly, get each other. For me though, a lot of it is just style. I love retro horror because I love the 70s and 80s and I really loved the way they looked. The women were gorgeous (and actually looked like women), machismo was all over the joint (OK, 80s machismo is questionable), the clothes were FAB (well, until we get into the late 80s, which was just inexcusable) and also, it was all kind of new then. Even retread felt fresh. Now, with a few exceptions (House of the Devil, anyone?), it just feels like it’s been done and been done better. And even though Scream was a masterpiece, I think that self-knowing thing is really hard to pull off and very few films have done it correctly. Also, if I could vent a bit, I really hate the way women interact with each other in horror films today. It’s so antagonistic. In the early 80s, it was a lot more real. I always use Humongous as my prime example. Maybe not a great film by traditional standards, but look at the requisite “slut” character and the final girl. The dynamic is realistic. Hell, even Blood Lake has more realistic dynamics than the horrid Black Christmas remake.

10) Which year produced better horror movies: 1977 or 1981? Why?

1981 was the shizz-nit as you kids would say. Good stuff. Halloween II, Hell Night, Home Sweet Home, Happy Birthday to Me, all the H’s are there!

11) What the eff is up with those French and their crazy horror flicks?

Honestly, the last French horror movie I saw was Baby Blood and that was about 4 years ago. I’m behind.

12) What's your favorite Animals Run Amok movie?

That’s a hard one. I promised myself I’d keep everything fairly TV-centric, so I’ll say Ants! because you just want to yell “Step on them!” and because Moosie Drier gets his (oh Moosie, how I love thee) and because Barry Van Dyke is freakin’ hawt. And let’s throw The Beasts are on the Street into the mix if only for the ostrich in the backyard gag.

13) If Jason Voorhees is on a train heading east at 80mph and Leatherface is on a train heading west at 65mph…why the hell would anyone ever watch Rob Zombie's Halloween?

Because with both of those trains going at that speed, you’re sure to see the wreck known as RZ’s Halloween or H2 (if you’re unlucky that is!).

14) What are your funereal wishes?

Parker Stevenson and Scott Jacoby show up and fight over who I loved more.

15) Why do I have such a fondness for Shelley Hack? It's not like she's really done much to deserve it, but there it is.

Because she is such a self-centered bitch in Death Car on the Freeway and then got even bitchier in Trackdown: Finding the Goodbar Killer. Take a xanax girl!

16) You're on a sinking ghost ship that's being piloted by a witch. What are your last words?

If that witch is Kim Novak and this is Satan’s Triangle, I guess it would be “Yikes!” Of course, that’s Satan and not a witch, but you get the point…

17) Asking about your funereal wishes and your last words means nothing, I swear.

Well, if you can make sure Parker Stevenson and Scott Jacoby show up, I’m ready to say goodbye to this cruel world.

18) Do you know where I can get some lye?

I actually took your question and googled it and got the lyrics to a Notorious B.I.G. song. Here’s a taste: “Anyway I'm up in the motherfuckin spot, so boom I'm up in the pussy, whatever whatever. I sparks up some lye, Pop Duke creeps up in on some, must have been rained out or something *laughing* because he's in the spot. Had me scared, had me scared, I was shook Daddy - but I forget I
had my Roscoe on me. Always. You know how we do.”

Please don’t ask me that question again.

19) Weren't you glad when THAT JERK in THAT HORROR MOVIE got what was coming to him?

If you mean Nick in Humungous, then yes! Now that was an historic occasion (fans of the film will hopefully get that reference!).

20) Overall, what’s your favorite era of horror films?

That’s tough. I love the TV movies of the 70s, but I love the slasher movies of the 80s just as much. Can I say that’s one era, cuz that’s what I’m going to say.

21) Would you rather be:

1) a vampire
2) a witch/warlock
3) a werewolf
4) a Frankenstein (and yes, I know technically its “Frankenstein’s monster” but “a Frankenstein” sounds better)
5) a Jaws

Jaws in Jaws 2, cuz he was like Jason, except a shark, preying on young teen girls in hot pants and of course, Keith Gordon!

22) If you could turn back time- if you could find a way- would you take back those words that hurt me, so I’d stay?

If I could turn back time, I’d hit 1982 like it was nobody’s business and who gives a fuck if I hurt anyone? I’m cruel that way.

23) What's something you want people to know about you or your blog that I didn't ask?

I can’t really think of anything, except that maybe it’s your one stop shop for all things Bert Convy.


Big thanks to Amanda! Stay tuned for another exciting episode of...THE BLOGGENAIRES!


Amanda By Night said...

Hey Stacie, thanks for this. It looks fabulous... I feel all good about the world now!

Nostalgia Kinky said...

All sorts of awesomeness in this post. Of the many blogging buddies I have made in the past couple of years, there are few that I value as much as Amanda. She's really incredible and I am always left in awe of her film and TV knowledge. Plus she is a great writer and friend...and the fact that she gives a shout out to HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME makes her even cooler than I already knew she was.
Great stuff Stacie and favorite one of this series so far.

dave s said...

Stacie- Glad you got around to profiling Amanda. Her writing and her blog are the bee's knees! Killer bees, that is, buzzing after Kate Jackson! Go get 'em.

Anonymous said...

This entry made me think: Has there been a slasher where two Final Girls survived? I guess Scream, maybe, but that doesn't really count.

Great interview. If you two did a commentary track for a DVD, I might actually listen to it!

AK said...

Oh my GOSH! "Satan's Triangle" with Kim Novak! That last scene traumatized me as a tot, haven't thought of it in years.
Great interview AND subject!

scarina said...

This post made me so nostalgic for those made for tv movies. I remember not having cable and they were kind of a big deal as a tot when I couldn't see R-rated movies. Now made for tv movies all seem to be heartwarming stories for Hallmark channel about people overcoming obstacles. I want to see someone get slashed, dernit!

Arbogast said...

In a word, yay!

Candi said...

Amanda hilariously funny, smart, witty and GORGEOUS!! Anything and everything i know about movies & tv, i learned from Amanda...i love everything about her!

kindertrauma said...

Outstanding bloggenaire post that perfectly illustrates the wonder that is Amanda! Not only is she the go-to gal for television movies, her knowledge of horror in general literally knows no bounds. She never ceases to amaze and she is wonderfully generous with what she knows. If it turned out that the only thing that I accomplished on the internet was getting to know Amanda...I could live with that! Thanks SP, for letting me get to know her a little bit more!-Unk

Pearce said...

Great post. Totally agree about movies that set out to suck - what's fun about bad movies is usually the things that weren't supposed to happen.

Those parrots (kea) are ridiculously smart and will also dismantle anything they can get their beaks on - including your car. Potentially leaving you trapped and alone, with only the fat around your liver to keep you company.