As it is my delight (and I hope it will continue with upcoming reviews and articles as well), I like to contact authors and/or artists I write about to usually get some updates about their work and to let the readers (myself included, of course) know them a little better, say, on more personal level.
And when such a person is also a movie afficionado – and let‘s be more precise – a BAD movie afficionado, it does really count as a double joy, you know…a feeling of a true comraderie of sharing the love for the cinematic trash not many people would understand.
I was, therefore, very glad I could direct a few questions towards Michael Adams, the author of Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro-Zombies: A Film Critic‘s Year-Long Quest To Find the Worst Movie Ever Made.
Hello, Michael, and thank you so much for your time and – last but not least – for your endurance during watching some truly awful movies. The very first question is – when did you actually change from a casual TV/moviegoer to a more discerning viewer and how did you actually become a cinephile and a movie critic?
I’ve been mad about movies ever since I was blasted through the back of the Roxy cinema in Parramatta in 1977 by a little film called Star Wars. From then on I was hooked. I bought the action figures, the novelisations, hung out for Empire. I even enjoyed the Star Wars Christmas special – unironically. I started collecting magazines like Starlog, Starburst, Famous Monsters and Fangoria and scoured the TV guide for movies I’d read about, stuff like the old Univeral creature features, dubbed Italian sci-fi, early 1970s schlockers. When video tapes came out, my passion intensified. At age 14 I tried to write a science fiction film quiz book. At 17 I started a short-lived fanzine about cult films, called Night Creatures.
Your book – and why not to repeat the title – Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro-Zombies: A Film Critic‘s Year-Long Quest To Find the Worst Movie Ever Made – was published almost 9 years ago. And we both know there were a lot of very bad films made during that period. Do you still watch the turds, the Z-graders and such, or did your a year-long quest put you off those for good? Any notable examples of bad-bad-bad movies you‘ve watched lately?
I’d like to watch more bad movies but there’s so little time. I still enjoy howling at inadvertantly terrible films, but I usually encounter them by accident rather than by design. I have to say I thought The Greatest Showman was a shocker. Enjoyably so, because my daughter really liked it. As a sidenote, I was really impressed by how well The Disaster Artist turned out as a sympathetic tribute to an outside artist. Not as good as Ed Wood, but up there.
I quite admire your clever thinking of choosing the categories to watch (I could never make myself to watch some stuff you did). Do you, in retrospective, wish to add some movie(s) into the list, which by the time of your writing you haven‘t known?
The year of bad movies preceded a few that’ve become wildly popular. Birdemic, which I have seen, would have been good to include. And as a mainstream-ish bad movie phenomenon, I probably would have delved into Sharknado. I reckon Baby Sharknado must be greenlit by now? It’d be a no-brainer, right? There were other flicks from The Asylum I watched after the bad-movie year, including Titanic 2, which was pretty shit-tastic. It has an average user rating of 1.6 out of 10 on imdb – impressive.
Since I‘ve started to watch „the other cinema“ (so to speak), I find it hard to appreciate big blockbusters. You know, sometimes the difference is just a bigger budget, but I tend to view b-movies and such more favorable, as many of those were done in quite a clever way due to a budget restrictions. How does your experience of bad cinema affect your movie-critical thinking? In which way, if any at all, does it enhance your reviewing?
I actually don’t review much anymore. I write books and actually work in TV, writing shows other people think are crap. The experience taught me to appreciate the effort people put into their art. That’s not a free pass – if it’s crap, it’s crap. I still see blockbuster mainstream films but very often I find myself just numbed by the spectacle. The Avengers: Infinity War and Mission Impossible: Fallout spring to mind as recent examples. They’re enjoyable enough but essentially a series of setpieces in vague service to an even vaguer story. I much prefer something with more focus on story. Give me 90 minutes of high tension over 145 minutes of big-budget spectacle and I’m happy.
Apart from yourself, other main characters in your story were your wife Clare and your daughter Ava. Did they evolve into the b-movie afficionados as well?
No, not at all!
Anyway, when we were talking about crapola produced from 2010 onwards, do you think you could do another year-long quest to do a sequel? I bet we could see some interesting titles coming up…
I couldn’t do it again. I’d much rather do a year of classics. All those great movies I’ve read about but am yet to see.
The profession of a movie critic has its advantages, no doubt about that. Although sometimes I wonder if I could force myself to watch certain movies, meetings with important people from the showbiz quite definitely is a bonus. From your personal experience, who do you remember as the most approachable person? I, for one, liked the intro penned by the late great George Romero…
George Romero was wonderful and I was saddened very much by his loss. Other people I’ve found very easy to chat with included James Gunn, Matt Damon, Lloyd Kaufman, Holly Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Gareth Edwards. There’s too many. Most people are pretty good. Then again, it’s their job to be nice to interviewers.
Busy bee as you are, it‘s no secret (and those who read your book already know that) you have been in a few movies. Up to date it was Bloodlust (1992) and an appearance in above mentioned George Romero‘s Surival of the Dead (2009). I couldn‘t find any more info about your involvement as an actor – does it mean you no longer aspire to appear in movies? Or it‘s just shabby investigation on my part?
Ha! I never wanted to be an actor. I did appear in The Movie Show and later on The Movie Club but since then I’ve been happier behind the camera or laptop. I’ve got a face for radio.
I was surprised to discover – although, curiously, not through Amazon – that you are also an established fiction author. Would you mind to share some details of your work with our readers? I am aware of two series, The Seven Signs and The Last Trilogy, c an you briefly introduce those to us? Any other interesting works to offer and where should those interested look for them?
The Last Trilogy is an Australian-set apocalyptic tale about what happens after the whole world becomes telepathic simultaneously. Think The Stand meets The Dead Zone and you’re there. The Seven Signs is a middle-grade adventure about seven kids who’re chosen for a trillionaire’s special award programs, only to find themselves receiving signs that seem to predict the end of the world. My latest book is called Australia’s Sweetheart. It’s a return to non-fiction as the first-ever biography of Mary Maguire, who went from being a teen actress in Australia in 1936 to experiencing the Golden Age of Hollywood as a starlet for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.
Well, we are almost done for today…what are your plans for the near future and what can readers expect from you? Any advice for the aspiring bad movie lovers?
I hope to get cracking on another book about forgotten celebrities soon. I’ve developed a real passion for obscure history as an extension of the obscuria of bad movies. As for advice for bad movie lovers? Have fun with them. Look for the good moments. There’ll likely be more than expected. And be sure to see Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster, The Room, Reefer Madness, Maniac, Ben And Arthur, The Swarm, Glen Or Glenda, Showgirls, Battlefield Earth and… well… there’s so much more fun to be had with so many more!