Moving on to formatting. Streaming has become one of the most prevalent ways of watching movies at home. How do you think that’s going to affect the future of Blu-rays, DVDs, and everything else?
Well, like anything, streaming is growing, the problem is it’s not growing fast enough. In order to watch HD content it takes an enormous amount of bandwidth. Right now the lines can’t support them, there’s a limit to how much you can download, and even then it’s really compressed. It won’t look as good as a Blu-ray. Even the fast online streaming won’t look as good as a Blu-ray for another 5 to 10 years. Just because of the limitations of the technology – there’s only so much your phone lines can handle, there’s only so much your cable line can handle. It’ll need to be upgraded in order for that to kind of happen.
I think eventually it will be mostly streaming, just turn on your television set or whatever, select a menu of what you wanna watch. But there will always be a Blu-ray or a physical disc media because people will always want to own something, will always want something they can hold in their hand. But it may go back to being a collector’s market where they don’t make as many and the ones that they do make may be a little higher priced with more extras and stuff on it. The future of what I do is unknown because I think the content is king, so there’ll be room for what I do, but when you select the movie (to stream) you can watch it with or without the content online. But it comes back to, “We’re gonna need more bandwidth, we’re gonna need bigger servers, we’re gonna need to accommodate all that.” I think people want to keep all that stuff, but right now I think people want to stream the movie and that’s it.
My job didn’t exist 15 years ago and the idea [that] I can make a living doing documentaries and commentaries for VHS releases – none of that stuff was around. You could do some of it for VHS and Laserdisc re-releases but it was rare. I don’t know what the future is and anyone who says they know the future is lying, because they said it would be all HD streaming 10 years ago and it hasn’t happened yet. But I can tell you just from my own experience of streaming stuff at home, we’re a long way from Blu-ray and DVD [quality]. DVD is starting to fade, but as far as HD media, it’s got another 10 years before it will seriously threaten [Blu-ray].
On the opposite end of that argument, VHS collecting seems to be catching on with a niche group of horror fans. Do you have any opinion on that?
I think it’s kind of cool. I grew up with VHS, I can appreciate it because it was my format when I was a kid, I collected it. It’s kind of analogous to the whole LP thing, too, people still want vinyl. The difference is – vinyl is superior in sound, in many ways, to CDs because it’s not compressed. But… [dramatic beat]… VHS is a terrible format.
Yeah, it is.
It always was a terrible format. How anyone can watch a VHS now, after having DVD and Blu-ray is beyond me. Unless you’re watching it for an aesthetic purpose, that nostalgia of having that tape – that’s what I get, because I think most of it is just a marketing technique. I don’t think there are any actual VHS-philes who are saying, “Oh, it’s so much better than the Blu-ray.” And if you talk to anyone like that, they’re out of their mind, because VHS sucked. It was never an easy format to love, but it was all we had unless you were a Laser Disc collector, but that was always a very niche collector’s market thing. VHS and I have a love/hate relationship, but it is kind of cool when you see 555 coming back out on VHS or the promo for House of the Devil – they did a special retro VHS thing. But again, it’s a gimmick. I can understand VHS collecting from just wanting to preserve the artwork but I don’t ever see it becoming more than that. And if it does become more than that, we’ve gotta stop it because that’s just silly.
And I have one VCR left and I only use it on occasion to transfer stuff to VHS, like old behind-the-scenes stuff when I need it. I don’t have any tapes I regularly watch anymore. I used to have a VHS collection in the hundreds, but now I have three tapes I keep for sentimental value. But I’ll never watch them. I’m afraid to put them in the VCR – the damn tape is 30 years old.
Yeah, I’ve had old VHS tapes eat through my VCR, ruin it forever.
Yeah, it’s a format I have nostalgic feelings for – for reasons other than the quality.
There is a UK-based DVD and Blu-ray studio, Arrow Video, coming out of the gate. You do a lot of work for Synapse and major studios – have you worked with Arrow Video?
No, they have their own guys – Calum Waddell and High Rise productions in the UK tend to do all of Arrow’s work. I met Calum at HorrorHound last year, he was here doing stuff for Arrow and they’re good guys. They do a lot of good work.
I noticed a lot of their releases are at the same time as your company’s. What do you think of that sort of competition, that attempt to beat each other to the gate or go through at the same time?
There is some of that, but I know they are acquiring these movies because they love them first and foremost. It’s just bad timing sometimes. I’ve worked on several releases that they’ve done at the same time. Maniac Cop is one, House by the Cemetery is coming up from them. Inferno, Red Scorpion – there’s a whole bunch of them. I think the key is we just do our own thing, they do their own thing, and chances are if fans really love these movies, they’re gonna buy both of them anyway.
Are studios licensing those films at the same time? Does that have something to do with it?
Yeah, because the company will license it to the UK and the U.S. at the same time. Neither one of them are gonna share what the other is doing, because it’s kind of counterproductive. And you do kind of wonder how much the market can hold, with Red Scorpion, but that movie does seem to have a whole other life, so…
You’ve worked on the two major films of one of my favorite directors, Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps, Robocop 3). Is that guy ever coming back to directing?
He is, I think he is. It was unfortunate because he became a victim of what I like to call the “Three strikes and you’re out” curse. Night of the Creeps – great movie, didn’t get much of a release and was considered a bomb. Monster Squad – got a bigger release but had a marketing campaign that really didn’t work, considered a bomb. Robocop 3 – got caught in that it was a PG-13-rated entry in an R-rated series and also came with sort of a lackluster marketing campaign, and was caught right at the end of a studio bankruptcy. It goes and tanks.
Hollywood looks at that as, well that’s three times we’ve tried to work with this guy, even though it’s not the least bit fair and there’s other directors out there who have lost hundreds of millions of dollars for these studios and continue to work. Fred is actively developing new film projects and it was just a matter of time because now people are looking at the DVD re-releases and going, “Oh, these are good movies.” The sting of them not being box office successes has long since worn off so Fred is being re-appraised finally and I fully expect we’ll get another film out of him in the next few years, which would be wonderful.
First of all I think Fred is just a great guy, one of my favorite people I’ve ever got to work with. It’s always great when someone you’ve admired so much for so long is really as good a guy as you thought he is and has just so many good ideas and is a really, really strong director. He had a firm grip on everything from Night of the Creeps and I’m interested in whatever he has coming next, whether it’s a horror film or not I don’t care. If he wants to do Baby Geniuses 3, I’ll go see that.
One of the things that always fascinated me about Fred Dekker was that he so connected to Shane Black. Those guys definitely came up together. You have any idea what happened with them?
You’d have to ask Fred about the details of that, but I think they just sort of drifted apart because Shane exploded when Lethal Weapon hit, Shane’s career went up like a rocket. I think one thing led to another and they kind of lost [contact with one another]. Which happens sometimes – not because anyone gets left behind but because Shane went off like a rocket with his career and Fred was busy directing at the time. They sort of went off in their own direction. I don’t want to speak for Shane or Fred, I don’t know the exact details of what went down but my impression of it was always sort of a natural drifting apart, not a “Fuck you” kind of situation.
Yeah, I mention it because, you know, Shane Black’s career took a huge dip in the mid-’90s and now he’s coming back strong with Iron Man 3.
He was the highest paid screenwriter ever for a while and after the Long Kiss Goodnight – which I love, I think it’s a great movie – he just kind of disappeared there for a while and when he came back with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, people started paying attention to him again, but… you can’t be the guy on top forever. But he had a hell of a good run.
Is there any other director like Fred Dekker that you see making another big come back? Even outside of the realm of the horror genre?
There’s always guys out there like Don Coscarelli, who’s always making really good films. His new film, John Dies at the End, has gotten a lot of really good word of mouth. Coscarelli’s always been one of those filmmakers who you just never know what to expect from, especially since he stopped making Phantasm movies for a while. I loved Bubba Ho-Tep, that’s one of the most original films from a great short story that translated really well. I like the idea that he’s branched out and doing films people don’t expect from him anymore. I think he’s due for another big break again.
As far as the old veterans are concerned, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say how invested Carpenter is in doing films again. I think that he kind of dropped out after Ghosts of Mars, just kind of washed his hands and said, “I’m not interested in doing this kind of crap anymore.” So I don’t know how passionate he is about making other movies. George always has new stuff cooking and one of those could always connect. As far as filmmakers who have dropped off the map, not too many. Sometimes these guys drop off the map for very good reasons, they decide they don’t want to do this anymore, they go into television, they go into other aspects of production. I don’t know.
What I’m most interested in is to see other filmmakers like Sam Raimi. When he graduated and did the Spider-Man movies – I enjoyed them, particularly the first one and especially the second one, but I was glad when Spider-Man 4 didn’t happen for him. I was glad as a fan – I’m sure he was devastated because he loves Spider-Man, but I was happy because it’s like, you’re too good a filmmaker to do this over and over. I wanted to see him do something different. I’m actually kind of glad he’s off that and moving on to new stuff. You only have a limited time to do these things. I think he’s said all he had to say about the Spider-Man movies, and I’m very interested in his new Oz [The Great and Powerful] movie.
Peter Jackson’s another one, I’m hoping after The Hobbit he’ll move on to new things.
Yeah, I’m surprised he came back to The Hobbit after fighting it off for so long.
I understand why he fought it off, because that was a huge undertaking, you know, Lord of the Rings occupied so much of his time. It took 10 years out of his career – granted, 10 really great years, but I was also kind of hoping he’d just kind of be a producer on The Hobbit and kind of shepherd the project along. When I heard Guillermo Del Toro was going to do it I thought, “That’s an interesting fit.” But I think at the end of the day he realized he has an enormous amount of passion for that world and The Hobbit’s a great story, so he just figured, “I might as well go ahead and do it, and I don’t think anyone else can do it as well as I did.” And I think he felt a desire to go back. I would love to see him do something more stripped down, back to the days of Bad Taste and Meet The Feebles – maybe not that stripped down, but more, uh, low-budget. But I don’t know if he could go back – after doing a $250 million movie how do you a $25 million movie?
Yeah, especially when you own one of the biggest special effects houses in the world…
Yeah, it’s amazing, he’s become influential just in terms of visual effects with WETA. That’s the thing, you want these guys to be their old selves again. Well, you can’t go back.
You can get the skinny on past, present, and future Red Shirt Pictures projects by visiting their website or following them on Facebook. While you’re at it, check out Synapse or Amazon to pick up Intruder, Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except, and Red Scorpion on Blu-ray and see what all the fuss is about.
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