I was recently blessed with a copy of Scott's latest, TRASHFIEND: DISPOSABLE HORROR FARE OF THE 1960's & 1970's. Not only is it an insanely informative book, but it's a book that really enables Mr. Stine to slash and stab away with a cruel humor that makes this piece a delight to read. Scott isn't malicious in anyway, he's funny, and he's respectful in approach. What strikes me as amazing however, is the fact that the man just doesn't miss a beat.
From THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER, to the WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON, and just about every outlandish flick to see release throughout the course of the 60's and 70's is all right here, tucked away and discussed with an animated character. A character I find extremely intelligent, and acutely aware of just about every piece of entertainment that passes the man's eyes or ears: Kudos to you Mr. Stine, your level of focus and observation I an admirable thing.
For those wondering if the book is filled with repetitive review after review; rest assured, it's not. There're more than enough supplements to keep horrorhounds good and happy. Interviews with Cal Bolder, Richard Cardella, and John Stanley are amongst the quality one-on-one's conducted by Scott. There's also an excellent assortment of in depth articles that cover just about everything from the monsters of Marvel Comics to Wally Wood's MARS ATTACKS!
As an extremely satisfied reader, I offer you now a complete discussion with Mr. Scott Stine himself.
Matt Molgaard: For those unfamiliar with TRASHFIEND, break down the concept of the book.
Scott Stine: This book is a continuation of a short-lived publication of mine that was devoted to 'disposable horror fare of the 1960s and 1970s,' which in itself was a continuation of several fanzines which I had started in the mid-1980s. Although horror cinema of a trashier persuasion formed the crux of the magazine, the book further explores other mediums, including comics, magazines, toys, what have you. In other words, I ramble on incessantly about all of the groovy monster crap that replaced anything remotely resembling a healthy social life during my formative years.
MM: Obviously there are a lot of hardcore fans who share a special affinity for the trash films of yesteryear. Do you think those fans will embrace this book and be able to openly acknowledge and appreciate the positives and negatives within this piece of literature?
SS: Going by the other fans with whom I've talked and met, I'm pretty certain that those poor souls who thrive on this type of fare will 'get' my approach. Humor is an essential facet of vintage exploitation cinema, so if you are asking that my thrashing of the very fare I adore will offend like-minded fans, I seriously doubt it.
My first book, which covered some of the same types of material as my recent Trashfiend book was fairly well-received, despite its innumerable faults. (Of which, I take full accountability.) Alas, I found with my second volume of the Gorehound's Guide that fans of newer (post-1979) fare are a much different breed of beast altogether, and often take films from that era far too seriously, or are simply unable to separate nostalgia from objectivity. Granted, my humor was a little more pointed when approaching the glut of rote slasher fare I found myself having to trudge through in the 80s book, but it still surprises me that my opinions on some of these films offended so many readers. (Reviews on Amazon for this book will attest to that.) C'est la vie.
MM: I know you also wrote GOREHOUND'S GUIDE TO SPLATTER FILMS OF THE 1960's and 1970s, as well as an additional GUIDE TO SPLATTER FILMS OF THE 1980s (amongst a few others). What kind of different obstacles did you face while writing TRASHFIEND: DISPOSABLE HORROR FARE OF THE 1960's AND 1970s, and was it much of a shift from penning the previous TRASHFIEND volumes?
SS: Having published three issues of Trashfiend (the magazine) between the second and third books, I made a concerted effort to improve upon my obvious weaknesses as a non-fiction writer (which many reviews of the Gorehound's Guides pointed out, thankfully). I also worked on refining my 'formula,' at least when it came to the reviews. Since many of the pieces in Trashfiend focused more on exploring the history of disposable horror fare, I adapted a slightly more academic tone for such coverage, which also forced me to extend my writing beyond the simple subjective critique. Hopefully, this book retains the balance between 'entertaining' and 'educational' for which I strove.
Aside from the writing end, I faced numerous obstacles, not the least of which was losing my nearly completed final draft to a virus-related crash only days before it was originally due. (Since then, I have switched over from PC to Mac, and have never regretted it.) Thankfully, the book's release was delayed due to problems on the distribution end, which allotted me about four months to completely reconstruct Trashfiend using whatever bits and pieces I was able to salvage from my soon-to-be junked hard drive. Despite the perpetual migraines and loss of ten years off my life that this disaster claimed, I think the book was the better for it in the long run.
MM: Now when it comes to compiling a comprehensive piece of work like this, I imagine an unbelievable time is invested in it. What kind of time frame does it take to research and compile a piece of work the likes of TRASHFIEND?
SS: The original book took about two years of fairly dogged research, but every time I deluded myself into thinking that it was solid, more information would surface on the Internet, which often exposed other areas in which the coverage was lacking. In the six months between delivering the final product to the publisher, and the book hitting the streets, some previously unavailable information came to light which I deeply regretted not having in time, as some of it made me look less professional than I would have liked. As it was, I made a handful of unconscious but easily rectifiable errors that wormed their way into the final text, and these would suffice in making Yours Truly look like a brain-damaged dilettante. (I know this because the ever-vigilant Stephen R. Bissette, an artist and writer of stature whose talents I've always admired, brought some embarrassing errata to my attention, which convinced me that I should hire him as editor the next time around so as to salvage my good name.)
MM: You cover a massive amount of some absolutely wretched films throughout the course of this book, but you also seem to find some enjoyment out of plenty of these films - It's probably important to add the fact that I do as well - Is that a fair assessment?
SS: Of course. First and foremost, I am a cinephile, and love everything about films, warts and all. Truly good films from any genre are priceless, but a pretty rare breed in my book. I do, though, have little patience for mediocre fare in general, unless I, for whatever reason, find them somehow nostalgically appealing. I find bad film, 'particularly those that constitute the bottom feeders from my favorite genres equally as precious as the bona fide classics. I will gladly choose the unintentional humor of an Ed Wood film over the moronic escapades of whatever beloved 'comedian' is dragging the masses into the local theaters these days. Tired slapstick will never hold a candle to the brilliance of the bygone days of cinematic ineptitude, at least for me, and no amount of burgeoning filmmakers trying to intentionally recreate such train wrecks will ever satisfy me.
MM: Now I haven't completed the book in its entirety, but I one of my favorite aspects of the book is the interviews. Let's say (hopefully) another Scott Stine book hit's the shelves in the somewhat near future, can we expect more of the same - maybe a few more interviews along the way?
SS: I will definitely be searching out more forgotten 'stars' to interview for forthcoming volumes, but how many I am able to actually secure will dictate such breadth. (Locating many of these individuals even in light of such powerful online tools as IMDb and Facebook is not an easy task, especially those lucky enough to still be with the living.) Conducting interviews is a fairly new process for me, so when all is said and done, I was not entirely happy with how I approached them in this first Trashfiend book, as I see a lot of room for improvement. Ultimately, though, the interviews are a critical part of this series; books and the like can give you a sound basis with which to start such an exploration, but to hear about such bygone fare from the very people who were personally involved is essential to fully engage the reader, especially those who may have not lived through the era, or were just too young (like myself) to fully appreciate it at the time.
MM: As a writer myself I aspire to one day be able to create a quality piece of work, similar in nature to some of the pieces you've written. What kind of advice can you give to me, and all the other hopeful (and often struggling) authors out there?
SS: The same thing many wise wordsmiths told me throughout the years, and which I continue to pass on to others who wish to pursue such a career or self-fulfilling hobby: Write, write, write. The more you pen, the easier it is for you to see your own shortcomings, and act upon them. Be proud of what you do accomplish, but not so much that you are not able to be objective about your own work. Finding your own voice seems to be something which many beginning writers obsess over unnecessarily; just keep writing, and it will come out organically, and evolve as you do as a person and a writer.
Another thing which most writers have problem with is getting feedback, especially if you become prolific. About ten years ago, I helped form a writer's group that met once a week at a local library, where we would each read our works and listen to constructive criticism from our peers. Even though we used this primarily as a means to improve upon our fiction, there is no reason why it cannot be applied to the whole of writing. (The group proved short-lived; about two years, but what I learned during this time was priceless.) I am currently working part-time as a certified English tutor, and it never ceases to amaze me what I can learn from someone with a very basic grasp of the language, even ESL students.
Anyone who claims that they are working on the Great American Novel is full of it; the person actually writing it is far too busy doing just that instead of throwing around such claims.
MM: Your writing is extremely polished, and in today's market, mediocrity has been known to find its way to print. I'd like to know some of the authors that may have influenced you over time.
SS: Thanks for the praise, although I'm not sure if I'm deserving of such; most of the time, I'm just happy when people find reading my work a pleasant diversion. As to writers, I've been an insatiable reader my entire life, so 'for better or for worse I've been somehow influenced by the lot of it. When it comes to my film reviews, it goes way back to Forrest J Ackerman and Famous Monsters of Filmland, to Fangoria's very own Bob Martin, and Michael Weldon, whose Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film opened up a whole new world to me that has undoubtedly left me shy a few billion neurons. (Thankfully, I still retain just enough basic motor function with which to respond to your questions' even if I am only able to plunk out my responses with a single, functional index finger.) Without a doubt, I owe a tremendous debt to Harlan Ellison, whose essays and reviews have resonated with me since I seriously decided to become a writer twenty-some-odd years ago. I'm sure there are others, but they elude me at the moment.
MM: Any similar projects on deck for the future?
SS: Although I'm currently taking some time off from professional writing in order to pursue college, I have already started working on the next volume of Trashfiend, as well as a related collection that compiles earlier, out-of-print material from my various self-published magazines, completely rewritten in order to adopt the style and breadth of my newer works. I'm also currently reworking my first novel and several unpublished collections of short stories, all of which will be released under my fictional nom de plume of 'Reginald Bloom.'
MM: And finally - let's let the people know exactly how and where fans can pick up TRASHFIEND!
SS: Trashfiend: Disposable Horror Fare of the 1960s & 1970s is available from only the finest retail outlets, but if you want to save time, you can order it online directly from the publisher, Critical Vision, at http://www.headpress.com.
Note: You can always order your copy of Trashfiend directly from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Trashfiend-Disposable-Horror-Culture-1960s/dp/1900486660/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317950671&sr=8-1