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NYC Sleaze Special: An Interview with 5 Legendary Filmmakers from New York!

Personally, I can hardly think of a better location for a gritty old-school horror flick than the dirty, sleazy and trash-filled streets of New York City in the 70s and 80s with its run-down housing blocks, twisted denizens and overall dark and depressing atmosphere… I can’t even explain why, but the shabbier the environment in films like MANIAC, BASKET CAST or DRILLER KILLER looks, the more I freakin’ love it! It’s as if those seemingly disgusting and repulsive places convey a very own, twisted aesthetics that, once you got it, totally blows your mind! To revel in my love for good ol’ NYC sleaze and pay a little homage to some of my fave horror films of all time, I hooked up with five legendary filmmakers from the Big Apple and asked `em to share a couple of anecdotes about their teenage days on 42nd street, their shooting experiences in New York and the role this larger-than-life city played in the makings of some of the biggest cult films of the genre… enjoy!

GL = Greg Lamberson (writer and director of SLIME CITY)
LK = Lloyd Kaufman (writer and director of SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD)
RF = Roy Frumkes (writer and producer of STREET TRASH)
FH = Frank Henenlotter (writer and director of BASKET CASE)
BG = Buddy Giovinazzo (writer and director of COMBAT SHOCK)

BLOODY DISGUSTING: What importance did the 42nd Street and its grindhouses have for the indie film scene in New York City in the 70s and 80s? Have you and your contemporaries been influenced a lot by the films you watched on 42nd Street and the things you saw and experienced while hanging out on the Deuce?

GREG LAMBERSON: 42nd was crucial to this sub-genre. In many ways, I think most of us made films we wanted to see play on 42nd street. There were grindhouses all over the country, not only on the Deuce, with theatre after theatre showing sleaze films (and also mainstream films in a sleaze environment). I lived on 34th street and 9th Avenue, in a YMCA that devoted two floors as dormitory space for my college, the School of Visual Arts. Jimmy Muro, who directed STREET TRASH, lived there with me. We had the “moonies” cult headquartered across the street, and we ate breakfast in the same diner as pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. That’s the 42nd street “flavour.” I also worked in a movie theatre called the RKO National Twin on Broadway and 43rd, just a heartbeat away from 42nd street. We premiered THE EVIL DEAD there, and THE DEADLY SPAWN had its theatrical run there, and BAD BOYS with Sean Penn was a huge hit there. So Times Square became my new neighbourhood after growing up in a small town, and SLIME CITY is all about an innocent guy’s experiences in the big bad city. I know Jimmy spent a lot of time on 42nd street growing up, and Frank Henenlotter did too.

LLOYD KAUFMAN: It’s hard to say that Troma was so much influenced by these films, when we were one of the production companies creating that scene. It began with our 1973 film, SUGAR COOKIES, our lesbian homage to VERTIGO. Also, CRY UNCLE, BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, SQUEEZE PLAY, WAITRESS, STUCK ON YOU and THE FIRST TURN ON are classic. However, what really made a lasting impression on me was that I could go around the corner from one of our 42nd Street cinemas in New York City’s Times Square and receive fellatio from Gladys, who was known as the foremost transsexual hooker on the grindhouse circuit. Around 1970, it only cost $15.00 for a 42nd Street hooker to come back to my home.

ROY FRUMKES: Yes and no. My contemporaries might have a different story to tell than I do. I lived about an hour from Manhattan, in an affluent community in Westchester County. Before I was legally able to drive at night, we would take the train to Grand Central Station, which let you out on 42nd Street several avenues from Times Square, and then we’d walk over to our destination. The town in which I lived was rural, and for me, it was too quiet. I needed that Times Square fix periodically. Not everyone in my town did. Some were quite happy being in serene surroundings. So while I gravitated toward the decadence of Times Square, very few of us did.

I liked the danger of it. The bums in the theatres squawking and smoking and lying around stinking. The beat up prints of exploitations films, and the posters in the windows outside the theatres. The sense that I was seeing something raunchy I could never see in my pristine home town.

Was I personally influenced by all that? Maybe. More likely it was already in my psyche and a connection was made. Only a few of my films genuinely reflected that area, or the grindhouse ethos. TALES THAT WILL TEAR YOUR HEART OUT (unfinished), SHRIEK-OUT (unfinished), THE PROJECTIONIST. STREET TRASH was too gorgeous and polished to ever be considered grindhouse. You’d be hard put to find the grain in that film. In those 42nd street Grindhouse theatres, you were often hard put to find the narrative behind the grain…

FRANK HENENLOTTER: I can’t speak for the others, but 42nd Street introduced me to a world of films I probably otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to see, and proved that there was a venue for these kinds of films to be shown. I started going there when I was 15. I would cut high school, take a train to Manhattan, and then walk to 42nd Street and try to see as many films as possible.

Let me describe the street to you in those days. Theater, next to theater next to theater, on both sides of the street from 7th to 8th Avenue. Yes, some theaters continued down past 6th Avenue and up 8th Avenue, but the concentration of theaters, the action, the excitement was between 7th and 8th. In between the theaters were hot-dog stands and pinball arcades and stores–clothing stores, army and navy stores, but mostly what were then called Back-Date-Magazine Stores. Stores that sold old issues of Life and Look and Time. And, of course, adult paperback, tit magazines, nudist magazines, and even some adult books. Very much the prototype of today’s porno shops.

And the theaters were embellished with elaborate displays out front. In addition to the garish one-sheets and photos, a little plywood arch was erected along the sides of the lobby and above the entrance to it so you saw a collage of stills promising sex and violence – some with painted blood added and cleavage with black tape covering the nipples. You had to enter that archway to buy tickets and enter the theater. It was more like a carnival tent than a movie theater. And passing by, all day long, all night long, a parade of people coming and going and occasionally stopping to stare.

(I don’t remember ever seeing hookers on the street. You’d see them on 8th Avenue and in Times Square itself, but I don’t ever remember seeing them on 42nd Street. But you did see men dressed as cowboys. I didn’t figure that out at the time but they were gay hustlers, all looking like the cowboys in the Marlboro cigarette commercials.)

And the films shown there were… well, almost everything. Everything except the fancy smancy Hollywood A film of the moment. That was at a fancier theater around the corner. But on 42nd Street were double features of Hollywood A films and B’s, kung-fu, horror, westerns, foreign imports, sexploitation, action, you name it.

So obviously, the street held many lures for my impressionable teenage mind. By the 80’s, those Back-Date-Magazine stores became full-blown porno shops and the first hardcore magazine and films were sold there on 42nd Street. And by then, porno films were playing theatrically on the big 42nd Street screens.

BUDDY GIOVINAZZO: 42nd Street for me and my friends, and other people like Bill Lustig, who is also a friend of mine, was a place to go and see films that we never would have seen otherwise `cause they never played anywhere else. And it always was a bit dangerous to go there… it was even dangerous to go into the theaters, cause you were surrounded by thugs and prostitutes and everything. You know, 42nd Street was really exotic, there was nothing like it. So unless you lived on 42nd Street, your day-to-day life wasn’t like that. Back then, New York was a very violent place to live, there was street crime and street violence and the city was really poor. If you think of films like FINGERS with Harvey Keitel or TAXI DRIVER or Friedkin’s CRUISING, that’s how New York was back then… and 42nd Street really smelled like pee. I was filled with bums, drug addicts, alcoholics and muggers and they just peed all over the place, so I remember in the summer, 42nd Street was just really nasty!

One other thing about the Strip, by the way, is that we used to go to there and buy weapons. 42nd Street had those army stores where you could buy handgranates that didn’t work or switchblades, which were a big deal when I was a kid. Or fireworks. You know, when I was a kid, I didn’t do drugs or anything, so instead I went up there and bought knives or handgranates. And, of course, me and my friends went there to buy pornography, too. The pornostores on 42nd Street were like supermarkets, they had different sections like “dominance & submission” or “animals” and for young guys like us it was the most amazing thing to go there. And they didn’t just have tapes and magazines, but also peep shows and stuff like that. Which reminds me of another great film called HARDCORE with George C. Scott, which is about the porno industry and I’m not sure if it takes place in New York, but it’s very, very realistic.

BD: Some of the biggest cult horror films of all times–as for example BASKET CASE, STREET TRASH, MANIAC, SLIME CITY, COMBAT SHOCK and DRILLER KILLER–have all been shot in NYC. Do you think that this has just been a coincidence or was there something special about the New York of the late 70s and 80s, that made it a particularly attractive place for lowbudget and indy film makers to shoot their flicks?

GL: There was certainly an energy and a vibe to New York City, as well as the birth of home video, that contributed to the creation of these films. I don’t think it was really conscious on our parts, though; we absorbed it by osmosis, probably from sitting in those disgusting theatre seats, which reeked of bum urine. I think the video boom, and 42nd Street being at its all time sleaziest, really created something special, something that was evident in the underground press as well. We didn’t have websites on the internet, we had xeroxed and mimeographed fanszines, like Sleazoid Express, Psychotronic and The Gore Gazette, zines that celebrated the Deuce and helped mythologize it.

LK: They all followed the huge success of Troma in the 1970’s and later with THE TOXIC AVENGER. I think the element that made many of these films successful is that they, like Troma, went by Shakespeare’s motto, “To thine own self be true!” This was not true in Hollywood, New York is where the true art scene was.

RF: And let us not forget Larry Cohen – GOD TOLD ME TO, Q, etc., and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Yes, it was shot in Connecticut, but the filmmakers’ offices were in NYC. I’m almost tempted to say East Coast Vs. West Coast. Then I could even drag in Romero (MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD) and DEATHDREAM (Florida), and even Cronenberg (VIDEODROME), who was on the East Coast of Canada…

Even Deodato wanted a piece of us (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST).

The West coast stuff was slicker, they had more dough, they understood the demands of exhibitors, the rigors of distribution, better than we did, and they went for a certain mainstream look to guarantee box office – HALLOWEEN, JAWS, THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE OMEN, THE TERMINATOR, BLUE VELVET, DRESSED TO KILL, MIRACLE MILE, GHOSTBUSTERS, POLTERGEIST, THE THING, NEAR DARK, CAT PEOPLE. Those kinds of films with their market research, remake potential, etc. Not that we didn’t surprise them doing our off-Hollywood work. Half the films you mentioned did quite well. But they wouldn’t have chosen to take the chances we took.

It’s not a co-incidence about the kinship of East Coast product, but outside of the lure of NYC’s grit and grime of the period, it may have more or as much to do with budgetary constraints. Hollywood always seemed to be in better economic health than NYC when it came to films. The films you list in your question were poverty stricken productions (except for STREET TRASH, I’m almost slightly embarrassed to admit).

FH: I just think a couple of us were of the age and had access to equipment and labs, that’s all. New York was a big dark place then so it didn’t matter too much if you had permission to shoot or not, you just shot. I had no permission or permits with BASKET CASE or BRAIN DAMAGE. We just did it. Never saw a cop. Kevin Van Hentenryck ran naked through what is now Tribeca but was then just dark empty streets full of industrial buildings. It was one of the coldest nights of the year. We had him run from one heated van to another. I swept the sidewalk to make sure he was safe for him to run barefoot on, then we honked the horn, started the camera, he run from one van to the next which sped off with him. If someone saw us, we’d just say, “What naked man?” but no one saw us. No one said a thing. Didn’t need permits until FRANKENHOOKER but that’s because it was a bigger production and we had a lot of lights and were filming in the middle of Times Square.

BG: Well, it might have been attractive `cause the labs were here. And we also went on 42nd Street, so we knew that these films would find an audience and maybe if I had lived in the country somewhere, I would never have seen a film like BASKET CASE. Or I remember when I saw MANIAC in the theater. If I had lived somewhere else, I would have been lucky if I had found a VHS tape of it, but as New Yorkers we got to see them on a big screen. The thing with 42nd Street was that it was such an experience to go and see triple bill movies. You didn’t just go to see MANIAC, you’d see MANIAC and THE CORPSEGRINDERS and BARBARELLA and it only costed like a dime and fifty. It was really great!

BD: One common denominator that almost all of the NYC horror flicks share is their dirty, gritty look and bleak atmosphere… the protagonists are usually somewhat shady characters that live in shabby apartments or huts and stalk the down-and-out city streets at night and perform horrible acts of violence in order to escape the inner demons that haunt them or the miserable life that plagues them. What do you think is the reason for the overall bleakness and depressiveness of most of the NYC horror films and do you think that in their entirety the whole shabbiness and grittiness of the locatiosn, sets, costumes, characters, etc does even create a certain kind of aesthetics that can be spotted in all of the NYC horror flicks of the 70s and 80s?

GL: This really grew out of the 1970s. It was a reaction to Watergate and Vietnam. Suddenly, you couldn’t trust the government, and everyone in the establishment was the Man. The 70s showed that no one was safe and nowhere was safe: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, DELIVERANCE and LITTLE MURDERS. TAXI DRIVER may have been the ultimate 42nd Street movie, because it included 42nd Street as part of its story, and it was a studio picture! I think the 70s really created this genre, and the 80s celebrated it, aspired to it. Its only recently that people beyond cultists have begun to recognize it as a genuine subgenre of its own, an important part of cinema history.

LK: New York City looked depressing and shabby to anyone who had lived through the sixties and had taken too much acid. Perhaps it’s all reflective of an entire collective of people who were coming down off of hallucinogenic drugs! I still get Iron Maiden flashbacks! Also, New York City was a dangerous bankrupt city in the 70’s.

RF: And non-horror flicks as well. TAXI DRIVER and THE FRENCH CONNECTION, two major 70s flicks, are gritty/contrasty character studies of the city. I remember Ernest Tidyman, who won the Academy Award for his screenplay for THE FRENCH CONNECTION, and was a friend of mine, telling me that as far as he was concerned, the best thing about that film was its `look.’ Which supports your thesis. TAXI DRIVER, too, has a look that won’t quit. An extraordinary feel for the environment.

In THE PROJECTIONIST, we even had a movie theatre marquee (not really on 42nd street, but made to look that way) proclaiming the name of our film and our cast as a reflexive gesture. And near the beginning of the film, as the film the projectionist is showing breaks, the audience hoots and whistles just like a rowdy Times Square audience would. Again, this wasn’t the real thing – we used the screening room at Deluxe Precision Laboratories at 45th and 9th Avenue and filled it with family and friends–but it was replicating the Times Square experience. THE PROJECTIONIST is out on DVD, by the way, and if you’re submitting examples to bolster your paper, you must get your hands on it. It’s a beautiful transfer, except that they 1.85’d the frame, which was a mistake. We were using so many clips from the 30s and 40s, going 1.33 or 1.66 would have been desirable.

FH: Well, New York IS dirty and gritty. And that grittiness can almost be poetic at times. If you live here, you either embrace the grit and dirt or move to Los Angeles. And if you’re making a film here, why not have your characters be a part of that darkness? Makes sense to me. I love New York’s darkness. Always have. I’ll go to beautiful foreign countries and see nice pretty cities then come back to NY, take a cab from JFK to New York over the Manhattan Bridge and just marvel at how grim and dirty Delancey Street is. That’s when I know I’m back home.

BG: Yeah, I think so. Most of these filmmakers, if they weren’t born and raised in New York, they lived in New York, so they knew the city and they knew what made it different from Los Angeles or Chicago. If you think of this, a good example is FATAL ATTRACTION by Adrian Lyne. FATAL ATTRACTION is a film that was shot completely in New York City but doesn’t look like New York City whatsoever. So here’s a director who didn’t know New York City, but shot there. Had the same film been shot by Martin Scrosese or Bill Lustig or anyone else who lived in New York City, it would have been a completely different film.

BD: If you compare the horror films shot in New York City in the 80s to those made in Hollywood at the same time, where do you see the major differences?

GL: First of all, mainstream Hollywood films in the 1970s, right up until the time STAR WARS hit, were every bit as daring as the exploitation of films, and even after STAR WARS, you still had a proliferation of “devil” films. But it was really because of STAR WARS, coming after JAWS and THE EXORCIST, that studios started looking for bigger budget, “tent pole” films – the special effects driven franchises. Why make 10 decent movies when you can make two big movies, and if one of the big movies hits it will make more money than all of the lower budgeted decent movies? Home video spurned the production boom, but also created a glut, which led to movies going straight to video. I remember seeing John Carpenter’s THE THING on 42nd Street, on a double feature with TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS – in 3D! That was in 1982. One year later, I remember the excitement when Charles Band’s METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF HARED SYN also opened on 42nd Street. And other films, like RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL and even TROLL played in Times Square, but the handwriting was already on the wall as far as these kinds of films going straight to video, except maybe for a token midnight release to raise audience awareness.

LK: We in New York did not care about stars or the mainstream. The major differences are the differences that we still see today in the world of cinema. The independent way is the most creative, artistic, and capitalistic form of success. Whereas the way of the huge studios, with a few exceptions, is an example of feeding audiences baby food without any true vision behind the final product. Even the indie horror films of Los Angeles used stars and tried to be part of the mainstream.

RF: New York is harder-edged. More indie. Budgetary seams are showing (except for STREET TRASH, an anomaly in the sub-genre). I mention this above. Sorry. You can move the answers around as best fits your paper.

FH: New York is dark. New York is different. It’s dirty and dank and underworld even above.

BG: I just think that the New York filmmakers had a different view of life `cause we were confronted with different things. We grew up around here with the headlines and all the shit that we saw back then and it effected the films.

BD: What side of New York City does your film show and how accurate and reliable is its vision and picture of the city? Sure, the story is totally over-the-top and doesn’t take itself serious at all, but do you nevertheless think that there is still something about New York City in the 80s that one can learn from watching your movie?

GL: It’s funny, the original script for SLIME CITY had a sequence where Alex (Robert Sabin) is riding the subway, and he gets and goes into the subway station to put his “Invisible Man” bandages on, and then we would have shown him prowling 42nd Street. Instead, we cut right to him bringing the hooker home. I think the film would have gained so much more if we’d actually nailed 42nd Street, but that didn’t happen. As it stands, it’s sort of a fantastical creation of NYC: we shot primarily in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx–the only time we were in Manhattan was in the Alphabet City projects! But you feel it in every frame of the film: the apartments, the accents, the characters of the bum, the prostitute, and the bum–that’s what NYC was all about in the 70s and 80s. Interestingly, my third film, captured 42nd Street itself better even though we filmed most of that one in New Jersey: I finally got Robert Sabin walking around 42nd Street, right when all the theatres were boarded up, before Giuliani and Walt Disney came in and destroyed everything. That film is even dedicated to the Deuce.

LK: SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD uses New York City as a colorful background to show how Asian and Western values can be merged peacefully and lead to a golden age. In the 1980’s, many politicians were angry that the Japanese were buying up Rockefeller Center and other New York land marks.

RF: It’s quite accurate. I mean, the problem with the term `documentary’ is that people think it’s real. The subject matter in docs is real, but once you (director/DP) place the camera in position for a shot, you’ve made a subjective decision. I remember when I attended the Free School of New York long ago, we were given such an assignment. Film a rose. We each got the Super 8 mm camera for an hour or so. You would think we would get ten similar films. But the shock was that we got ten entirely different films, according to our personal visions. So much for `documentary.’ Same with STREET TRASH. As you say, it’s all subjective, over-the-top stuff, but at the same time, we were on location for most of it, not in studio, on the Brooklyn/Queens borderland, and it’s all initially as real as a doc would be. Lenses made it more hyper-real – lots of polarizing filtration, to intensify what was there. And we hired Atom & Lucy, Brooklyn’s most notorious graffiti artists, to do all that gorgeous and colourful graffiti that enlivens the locations. But there’s no getting around the fact that the general terrain existed, just waiting for us to mine it. And that was Atom & Lucy’s stomping grounds, so the graffiti was real, too – it was more like moving a garbage can into frame to get a better shot when we used their talents to enliven our frames.

FH: Nothing about BASKET CASE is remotely accurate or realistic. But it has the 80’s New York City gutter vibe. Grindhouse vibe. Exploitation-movie vibe.

BG: Absolutely, but not just COMBAT SHOCK. COMBAT SHOCK was shot in Staten Island, which is actually about 20-25 kilometres out of Manattan, but it’s still New York City. COMBAT SHOCK was basically in a world where… you know, if you drove a bus, you’d probably live in Staten Island. It was a working class neighbourhood. It wasn’t really poor but it wasn’t wealthy either, it was like lower middleclass. So COMBAT SHOCK completely reflects that life. And it’s very accurate, especially since I didn’t have money to build sets or shoot in a studio, so I shot on the streets where I grew up. For example, the house where Frankie lives is actually 10 minutes away from where I grew up as a kid and the streets were the ones I walked on as a kid. This vision, I think, is influenced by a whole school of films, like CRUISING, FINGERS and TAXI DRIVER, which are all fantastic films about NewYork City. And, like COMBAT SHOCK, they all show the city in a way that you won’t see it anymore. It’s gone.

BD: What do you think is the main reason for your movie’s ongoing success and popularity among the horror film fans worldwide? What is it that made this movie an evergreen that’s still enjoyed and celebrated by tons of fans almost a quarter of a century after it had originally been shot?

GL: It’s hard to say what connects with an audience. I think there’s a certain naivte to the film that makes it enjoyable; the film somehow doesn’t take itself seriously, even though we took it seriously when we were making it. I’m talking about a certain innocence that contrasts with the gore and outrageous effects, a quality that we inadvertently achieved which makes the film somehow “friendly.” And the bad performance by the girl who plays the hooker certainly qualifies it as 42nd Street fare. And then, for all its silliness, some people are actually disturbed by its slimy imagery, that whole idea of bodily fluids doing bad things.

LK: SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD is hilarious, sexy, and deals with themes bigger than life itself–but is small and intimate enough to touch each and every one of us. Audiences still love SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD because it, like all of the 850 films in the famous and eclectic Troma library, shows that you don’t have to operate inside the Hollywood system to produce great art. SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD has moments that you will never forget, like Sgt. Kabukiman eating real worms and other very funny special effects. SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD is a one of a kind movie. Now, Hollywood big shots want to remake it. The guys who made THE MASK with Jim Carry obviously loved SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD.

RF: I think fans recognize its unexpurgated nature–that we didn’t hold back in our hazing of all races, sexes, minority groups, and life forms on the planet. That doesn’t mean we didn’t use some editorial discretion. We would gather groups of ten or so off-the-street audiences in the editing room and screen our rough and fine cuts for them. These weren’t random groups–we would carefully pick people like students at local colleges, etc., who we knew would be our target audience when the time came. And when all ten of them would get up and walk out in disgust, we realized we needed to pare the footage down a bit. The idea was to shock and offend, but not to evacuate the premises. So while the film has a balls-out aura, we definitely found the right level of shock-vs-annihilate that you now have on the DVDs.

Also, Jimmy’s direction was remarkable. He was able to get a truly disparate group of actors and non-actors on the same wave length, and he kept the energy level up long after cast and crew should have been sick of doing the film and walking out on us.

FH: Honestly, the success of BASKET CASE has always baffled me. I can’t even begin to understand it. Seriously.

BG: Back then, COMBAT SHOCK wasn’t successful at all. You know, people went to COMBAT SHOCK expecting to see an action film like RAMBO. However, after the release fanzines and magazines started writing about it and describing it and over the years COMBAT SHOCK became sort of a cult film… but originally it was a disaster.

I think the reason why people still appreciate COMBAT SHOCK after so many years is because it tells the truth. And we don’t see the truth very often in films, especially in films like these. It’s not a horror film but it’s still mostly a horror audience that likes the film. What’s horrifying about COMBAT SHOCK is that it’s realistic, that this guy exists. We think we meet people like Frankie Dunlan every day. I think the film lives on because it’s very truthful in many ways.

BD: What are you personal fave NYC horror flicks and midnight movies?

GL: BASKET CASE was playing at the Waverly Twin when I arrived in New York City to study filmmaking. That was the first time I saw a cult film actually becoming a cult film, instead of reading later on that something was a cult film. I think Frank Henenlotter somehow created this whole sleazy subgenre we’re talking about. SLIME CITY my entry, and friends of mine made or worked on STREET TRASH, and many of us worked together on BRAIN DAMAGE, so those films are like home movies for me, and I see things when I watch them that most other people can’t. I was never big on the Troma stuff. Larry Cohen’s Q – THE WINGED SERPENT certainly delivered the goods, and COMBAT SHOCK. But I think TAXI DRIVER and BASKET CASE will always rule the roost.


RF: Boy, I could answer that for a while. I’ll try to keep the list brief. Q. GOD TOLD ME TO. THE AMBULANCE (can you tell I’m fond of Larry Cohen’s work…?). STREET TRASH. THE PROJECTIONIST (can you tell I’m fond of my work)…? NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER. BRAIN DAMAGE. WOLFEN. THE 7TH VICTIM. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (’62). CAT PEOPLE (’42). THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS. THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK. GHOSTBUSTERS. Too early to tell about CLOVERFIELD, though I liked it very much. It was our GODZILLA. And you can add HABIT to the list. The only Fessenden directed film I’m fond of. Also TAXI DRIVER and THE BAD LIEUTENANT.

And the ones I left out–ROSEMARY’S BABY, etc.–I was definitely making a statement about through omission.

FH: I love MS. 45. Best film Abel ever made although KING OF NEW YORK comes damn close. And I love LIQUID SKY. No other film quite like it.

BG: Shot in New York City? That’s a tough one. Well, MANIAC and BASKET CASE, of course. And also FRANKENHOOKER, that’s a great film, I really like it. And TAXI DRIVER, not to forget. And also MANIAC COP and VIGILANTE.



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