Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hobby Hoedown: Stuart West's Passion for Bad Movies

Welcome YA author Stuart West to Hobby Hoedown. His hobby is finding and actually watching over-the-top bad movies. Have you ever met anyone else with this hobby? Me either. 

Howdy-do, JQ, and thanks for having me on your hobby hoedown!

Yee-haw, Stuart. Happy to have you as my guest. Congratulations on your new release in your series, Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia, available July 26. I have to admit this is one of the most unusual hobbies, so far, that has graced the pages of the J.Q. Rose blog! Tell us all about it!

I’m author Stuart R. West and I have a confession to make. Several weeks ago, Erin Albert shared her passion for running. I aim to take you back inside, plant you firmly on the couch, and draw the shades tight. Things are about to get lazy. And ugly. For you see, my passion (my wife calls it a sickness) is a true love for bad genre movies.
Wait! Before you go back outdoors running, let me explain! I’ve always loved films, dating back to when I was a child. While my friends were playing outside every Sunday, I’d hunker inside, searching the three channels available (I know, right?) for that rare piece of cinematic oddity. It was a tough life, but someone had to do it.
When the advent of videotape happened, celestial chords opened above. Now I could see the elusive treasures I’d read about for years. Finally! But it wasn’t enough. Like the worst sort of addict, I needed more. I needed films that would truly expand my mind, full of hidden treasures and strange context.
Then something terrible happened. Two words: Adam Sandler. Most of my peers found his comedies riotous. I couldn’t stand his films, never saw anything funny about them or any of the comedies made in the past thirty years or so. Film comedies were dead to me.
I mourned until one Sunday afternoon in 1993. Looking through the dusty racks of the local Mom and Pop video store (anyone remember those?), I came across a ginormous, oversized video box with the alluring title, “The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!” With shaking hands, I brought this strange, enticing video grail to the counter. The woman eyeballed me, grimaced, and rang me up.
Placing the videotape into the player, I settled back, not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t laughed so hard since the days of watching the Marx Brothers as a child. Pitched at a level of hysteria higher than the worst sixties soap opera, the sordid horror tale unfolded before my unbelieving eyes. A werewolf family curse! Cruel mother figures! Hunchbacks with pet rats! Family betrayals! Cheap cardboard sets! Dialogue to make you cringe! Comedic Nirvana!
I soon sought out the other works of “auteur” Andy Milligan. And trust me. For the novice bad movie buff, Milligan makes Ed Wood look like Orson Welles. Themes developed. There were always hateful mother figures and hunchbacks. And even though Milligan’s budgets never soared past a couple hundred bucks, he insisted on making costume melodrama/horror films. But it was his universe. A true vision from a warped mind. Are his movies good? No, not in the least. Are they funnier than modern day comedies? Believe it.
Next, I discovered other crazy low-budget directors. I couldn’t believe the outlandish plots or foot fetishes of Doris Wishman (who’d plant a camera on a lamp while actors spewed dire dialogue). How about the cheap, ridiculous tales of the “Godfather of Gore,” H.G. Lewis?  The surprisingly psychologically-sound films of low budget erotica king, Joe Sarno. Then there’s the small, but much valued output of filmmaker/star Renee Harmon, whose accent was nearly as strange and indecipherable as her outlandish horror plots. So many treasures to discover.
The golden age for these films is roughly the sixties through the early ‘80’s. There’s no pleasure to be had in the Sy-Fy Channel’s newest piece of dreck of the week, “Shocktopus Versus Croconado.”  Nope, stick to the “classics.” Otherwise, how would I have ever discovered the world’s most hilarious film, “Winterbeast (wherein the hero’s facial hair actually changes within the same scene!).” Trust me, seek it out. I give it “five amazeballs.”
There you have it. My obsession, hobby, sickness, what have you. Have I gained anything valuable by watching so many bad films? Yes. I’ve learned how not to write bad dialogue (although some may disagree). But more importantly, laughter’s good medicine for the soul.

After working as a graphic and production artist for the last 23 years, the company for which I labored shuttered its doors in July of 2010, finally allowing me the time and mental energy to tackle something I'm passionate about.   Um, that would be writing.
I'm married to a professor of pharmacy (who greatly appreciates that I now prepare dinner for her). And my daughter just turned twenty-one! (Uh-oh.)

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I’ve written a YA paranormal, suspense, murder mystery, comedic romance series all dealing with topical teen issues. Tex,The Witch Boy was released in January, 2013. 

The second, Tex And The Gangs Of Suburbia is out on July 26th

Tex And The God Squad , the final book is due in December, 2013. Many more books to come.

TWITTER: @StuartRWest



Miss Mae said...

None of those movies ring a bell. But I recall, "The Green Slime", "Teen-Agers from Outer Space" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon". You have to yawn at that "scary" lizard suit today. You can see his zipper!

Great post, enjoyed the memories of times past. :)

Helena Fairfax said...

That's a fabulous hobby, Stuart! I love those bad films. Pass the popcorn!

Marie Laval said...

What a fun hobby, Stuart! We French do have lots and lots of bad and silly comedies, mostly from the sixties and seventies. The 'Gendarmes de Saint-Tropez' series for example. Some of them make you cringe, others laugh really hard. Quite a few of them, however, are so 'unpolitically correct' they would never get filmed today!

J.Q. Rose said...

When I saw Stuart's post, I thought what a crazy hobby, but what a fun post it turned out to be. Bad movies can be fun! I'm with him on Adam Sandler. I don't enjoy his movies either.

Cheryl said...

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! A must-see for people like you!

Nice interview!

Stuart R. West said...

Miss Mae: I'm familiar with the films you've cited. Believe me, they're Citizen Kane compared to the films I watch!

Helena: Passing the popcorn as I type!

Marie: I'm partial to a lot of the French Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo gangster films. Some true gems there!

Cheryl: Love those Tomatoes! But, alas, can't ever make it through the sequel! Even I have my standards.

J Q: Thanks again for having me on and a fun summer-long blog idea!

Marsha said...

Getting here late. Sorry. You made me laugh, Stuart. Thanks. Cheryl's right. If you haven't seen Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, you must. There's another one with a similar name, but I can't remember it. Tomatoes was better anyway. Good luck with your series.

Stuart R. West said...

Yay, Marsha, being all fashionably late to the party and stuff! I've seen Killer Tomatoes. Just can't make it through the sequel. It's gotta' be TRULY terrible for me not to finish a film. I've walked out of one theatre ever. That was "Batman & Robin," the one with Schwartznegger and Clooney. Gah.

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