Talking Horror with Cinemassacre’s Mike Matei

If you are frequent purveyor of our blog, you may know that we’re HUGE fans of Cinemassacre – home of the brilliant web series, The Angry Video Game Nerd.

And one thing we love about the Cinemassacre site is that alongside the AVGN reviews, James Rolfe and Mike Matei also have done numerous videos discussing movies and B-movies in particular, most notably in their annual Monster Madness review series.

I recently got the chance to send Mike a few questions about the horror genre, Monster Madness, and what the future of Cinemassacre holds.


 

[The Paper Masque] – Mike, obviously most people will know Cinemassacre for its Angry Video Game Nerd videos, but the site also has a wealth of material concerning movies and especially horror movies with Monster Madness. Have horror movies always been something you’ve gravitated toward?

[Mike] – Most definitely. The horror/sci-fi genre is unquestionably the type of movie I watch most!

What are some of the earliest horror films you remember watching?

The earliest I can remember offhand is Alien (1979), which is still one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a basic plot, but the execution is incredible. Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is perhaps my favorite female role in any movie. And the way the film builds suspense works better than most other movies of its type.

Dracula (1931) was also one of the first horror films that I saw. People make fun of it, but I still say that’s the best Dracula there ever was or can ever be. Lugosi acting as the count has to be the most iconic performance of all time.

Is there a type of these movies that you tend to enjoy more – the classics, slashers, schlock, etc?

Slashers can get dull pretty quick for me. I like Friday the 13th and Halloween, but they’re not nearly as interesting to me as something like Night of the Living Dead. Which is more about the human element, the drama of how people would react in that situation. Or Horror of Dracula, where we watch in anticipation as Van Helsing attempts to foil Dracula’s evil schemes. Peter Cushing brings an intelligence to the role that is absolutely mesmerizing.

Schlock is also a category which I love without a doubt. I know a lot of people have a hard time enjoying films that are “So Bad it’s Good”. And that’s a shame, because those are some of the most entertaining movies. You just need to know how to enjoy them. I mean, how can you not laugh at shit like Infra-Man, Drunken Wu-Tang or The Giant Claw?

We at The Paper Masque have covered a lot of movies from Hammer Films. Are you a fan of this series of movies? What are some of your favorites and why?

Of course! I mentioned earlier Peter Cushing. If I had to choose a favorite actor, it would be him. When he’s on screen, I can’t take my eyes away. There’s few actors that can do that (Jack Nicholson is another). But absolutely I love Hammer Horror.

Some of my favorites won’t come as a surprise. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) Horror of Dracula (1958) and The Mummy (1959) top the list. But I’m also a huge fan of Quatermass 2 (1957) In that one, the government and everyone around Quatermass is acting so suspicious. It gives me such an uneasy feeling. Eventually we find it’s all a cover up for an alien invasion. Quatermass has to convince the brainwashed public to take a stand against the impending threat, in order to save their lives. It’s great stuff.

Image courtesy of hollywoodgothique.com

I think part of the fun of Hammer is that you can often discover a lot of great, stylized work, and yet it’s equally likely that you may find a perplexing mess of crap (Lust for a Vampire and Moon Zero Two come to mind). Are there any Hammer movies that stick out as particularly bad to you?

A lot of people might shout out Scars of Dracula, but at least that has the “So Bad it’s Good” thing working for it. There are a lot of funny moments. Like the ultra fake bats on strings!

But yes, Hammer had it’s share of crap for sure. Horror of Frankenstein pops out in my mind. That’s the one without Peter Cushing, and it just goes to show how important he was to those movies. It’d be like watching Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford. It just doesn’t work. And to top it off, the monster looks like shit. I’m also not a fan of Hammer’s Phantom of the Opera (or the Universal version with Claude Rains from 1943 for that matter).

Lon Chaney will always be the Phantom. You need no other.

I personally got interested in Hammer and horror flicks in general from watching the Monster Madness videos on Cinemassacre. What sort of involvement do you have in this series? Do you watch all of the movies with James?

Very happy to hear you enjoy Monster Madness! When it started in 2007 with the “History of Horror,” James did all the writing and editing. I enjoyed it so much, I asked if he was planning to do it again the following year. He told me he probably wouldn’t have the time (since he was so involved with producing AVGN) but if he did, he always wanted to review all the Godzilla movies.

Right then, I offered to edit the project for him as long as he’d write it. So I’ve been involved since Godzilla-Thon. Since then, I’ve been the main editor on the series. Both of us watch all the movies. James writes and voices all the videos. Then it’s my job to capture the movies and edit it into a watchable video. I do that for all 31 reviews, and then hand the entire thing over to James on a large hard drive. From there, he adds finishing touches where he sees fit.

It’s the biggest, most involved project we do. And takes most of the year to prepare for the following October. After Halloween, we take a break from it for a few months until after New Years. Then the writing process begins again. It’s an ongoing project, and I love it because it lets me learn more about the horror genre as it evolves. It’s an endlessly rewarding and fun project to work on and it’s my favorite thing we do.

A few random questions from watching some of your videos…

You and James did a video a while ago talking about VHS artwork from films in the public domain. What do you think are some of the best and worst p.d. movies you’ve seen?

Without a doubt Night of the Living Dead, Phantom of the Opera (1925) and White Zombie are the best. All classics. Metropolis is another good one, but that’s not horror.

As far as the WORST public domain movies – wow! That would be a humongous list. Just go get yourself one of those cheap “50 movie packs” and have a blast! Almost all of those movies are crap. But if you really need me to name a few… The Screaming Skull, Beast of Yucca Flats, The Terror and Attack of the Giant Leeches are all unbearable.


In one of the videos where you and James go through your DVD collection, you touch briefly upon the movie Vertigo. Although isn’t necessarily “horror,” are you a Hitchcock fan? What are your favorites?

Some of these questions, I’d have to do entire videos to answer fully. But yes, of course I am a Hitchcock fan. I could talk about the classics like Vertigo, Psycho, North By Northwest and Rear Window but I’d rather highlight two of my favorites that are often overlooked.

Strangers on a Train (1951) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943). I could sit here and describe the plots to you, but that’s what Wikipedia’s for. They are two of my favorites that don’t get enough attention because of his bigger hits like Vertigo. Just go watch them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Now the big question. Could you give us your top five horror films of all time?

Get ready for some cliche answers, but here you go..

All the classic Universal Monster Movies
King Kong (1933)
Alien (1979)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

There are so many horror movies I love, but you can’t beat the classics. Beyond that, watch Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness to get more examples of great horror flicks we love.

And lastly, what does the future hold for Cinemassacre?

For the near future, we hope to bring back some of the old Cinemassacre series that have been adrift in limbo for a while. Once Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie has wrapped up its theatrical run and DVD releases, we intend to focus more on web content again for a while.

In the distant future, I hope to continue the same type of entertainment the fans have come to expect from us, as well as eventually bring in some new web series ideas.


A big thanks to Mike for taking the time to answer our questions!

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