Last set of alt-posters for January. Enjoy.
Emmy and Lon Chaney Award-winning actor Bill Oberst Jr. is without a doubt one of the hardest working and incredibly talented actors to ever come out of the modern day era of horror. His intensity and dedication to his craft elevate any production that he’s a part of to a higher level. After Bill made a comment on one of my posts I decided to reach out to him for a couple of questions and lo and behold he said yes. Not only did I get (in my humble opinion) an excellent Q & A, but a new friendship was formed and my respect for this man grew even stronger. The only thing that Bill asked for was that I put up a link to his official website at www.billoberst.com. How easy is that?
Let’s start with an obvious one, Bill. Your IMDb.com entry lists a whopping 157 credits since you began with Sherman’s March in 2007; or was it Gilded Cage, which has no year of release? Where did it all begin and more importantly how did it all begin?
The History Channel docudrama Sherman’s March (2007) was my first on-camera role. For 16 years prior I was a working east coast stage actor with no ambition to be on-camera before I stumbled into the boots of General Sherman. On the first day of shooting I fell off my horse. A very kind director, Rick King (of Shark Week fame) helped me look reasonably heroic, and the program was highly-rated and well-reviewed. On the strength of it, I came to Los Angeles in 2008 for a two-week stay to see if I could land an agent. I ended up staying for 8 years and killing many, many people. It has been a bizarre and wondrous experience.
Ha ha. People unaware of your chosen profession might raise eyebrows at that next to last statement, Bill. You came to the audition for Sherman’s March in an authentic Civil War uniform. In addition to that you were spat upon and assailed by passersby when you wore an SS uniform for your audition as Adolf Eichmann for The Glass House, also in 2007. Auditions, Bill! What inspired this dedication to your chosen craft?
Acting is a personality disorder disguised as a profession. One of the less-toxic symptoms of this disorder is a compulsion to play dress up. In my case, it’s history that I get off on, so for any role involving a distinct time-period I am compelled to dive in wardrobe-wise. The fact that this comes across as dedication to craft is a fortunate occurrence.
Like all actors, I am dedicated to the idea of escape from the reality of actual life. Welcome to the curse. It is not curable.
You remind in a lot of ways of Christopher Walken. He’s said in interviews that he’ll take any role that’s offered him and with your immense list of credits it seems you may be the same way. In addition your dedication and preparation brings to mind actors like Robert De Niro, an actor well known for the lengths he would go to to become the characters he’s portrayed; driving fifteen hour days in a taxi and studying mental illness for Taxi Driver; living in Sicily for months for The Godfather Part II.
You’ve been described as gentle and with an interest in things spiritual in your personal life (I stole that from your IMDb page); quite a contrast to the menacing characters you portray in your films. How do you keep the two separate; or do you find that one complements or strengthens the other?
I think about this question often. This morning I go to church to hear about God’s love. Next week I start a film in which I play a man who sacrifices children. What to do?
My defensive inclination is to say, “It’s a job;” to absolve myself of any responsibility. But in my heart, I know I do have a responsibility. I’d love to play the angel, but if it falls to me to play the devil, I’m going to play the Devil with a capital “D” – the lying sonofabitch who said to Jesus, “Behold the kingdoms of the world; they are mine and I can give them to anyone I wish. They’re yours if you worship me.” I strive to play evil with conviction and purpose, because I know evil is an actual, living force in this world.
I want to disturb. I want to play the darkness to show the light.
End of sermon 🙂
I couldn’t hope for a better answer, Bill.
Before you stepped in front of a camera you were a stage actor. Would you care to tell me about working in theater?
Oh yes. Theater is a beautiful blind date. Every single performance is a new encounter with a collective stranger. You get to know the audience and to understand what moves them. When the time is right, you go in for a goodnight smooch, and (on the magic nights) part ways with a little yearning still intact in both parties. It’s a very chaste thrill. The camera, on the other hand, is a voracious lover who demands that you touch it in the way it wants to be touched by you. If you don’t get that touch just right, the camera happily looks at someone else. A wronged theater audience may deny you a goodnight kiss, but a wronged camera will take cash out of your wallet, laugh and toss you outside naked. In both cases, it’s your own damned fault.
Please pardon the sexual metaphors. They keep me honest. This profession is prone to pretensions.
That’s perfectly fine, Bill; you’re giving me your most honest and personal answers and how you see fit to do that is alright with me.
Were you often the villain or heavy when you were onstage; or did that evolve during your time in front of a camera?
An evolution, and a welcome one as an actor. It took several failed attempts at playing the villain to realize that the old quandary “I do not understand myself, for the good I want to do I do not do, but the wrong I hate, that I do” applies to all of us. It is interesting that the word “heavy” is used to describe these characters – it actually is a physically heavy feeling to live inside them. It feels isolated and very alone. I think that a lot of what we call villainy springs from being alone; from seeing our desires as the center of our universe. After playing these people it is hard to get back to being a part of a community again. Loneliness and isolation are very seductive and very dangerous – bad for the soul.
What about influences? There must have been someone, actor or otherwise, that has influenced you and inspired your performances.
My earliest inspiration was Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Forrey introduced my generation to the old masters of horror and, above all, to Lon Chaney Sr. In those days, the only way to see these performances was to order 8mm clips by mail, so I was introduced to them all in silent form projected on a sheet in my bedroom. I was mesmerized by their movements: (Boris) Karloff’s Monster reaching upwards towards the light; the wounded rage in the unmasked face of Chaney’s Phantom; the play of (Bela) Lugosi’s fingers as he pushed aside cobwebs. I studied them and ignored my homework.
Even today, my favorite moments on camera are the ones alone and with no words. That’s why Take This Lollipop will always be close to my heart; it’s my little contribution to that tradition of non-verbal horror.
I just had to click on the link for Take This Lollipop and now I’m afraid to step outside my door for fear that you are waiting menacingly for me, Bill! To be honest I get the feeling that the man you portray in that short interactive film would not let doors stand in his way at all.
On the subject of scaring people my wife and I watched your performance in the ‘Blood Relations’ episode of Criminal Minds. As soon as I saw your name in the credits I told her that we were in for a treat. With the show over I asked for her thoughts and all she could say was “that man scared the hell out of me!”. I told her “you have no idea how many people this man has scared.” Do you find that you get a sort of, and this is for lack of a better word, perverse satisfaction out of scaring people or creeping them the hell out?
Tell your wife that my Criminal Minds killer just needed love and he’d have turned out better!
Seriously, I hope she was able to feel some empathy for him. That is what I strove for in that characterization, as did the whole team behind creating that poor little killer – director Matthew Gray Gubler kept encouraging me to be more childlike in speech and movement, and Dayne Johnson and Christopher Allen Nelson, who created the make-up, were influenced by the humanity-infused monster make-ups of Lon Chaney Sr. I consider the character to be an homage to Chaney. The series’ producer and writer Breen Frazier signed my script “To the most heartbreaking serial killer ever.” That meant a lot.
I had a hard time getting a handle on the Take This Lollipop guy. Without Jason Zada, who wrote and directed it, I would have been over the top. But Jason kept whispering in my ear, “Just go darker into that basement of the mind. Go deeper.” There, too, we tried to lay in some bits that would create an empathy; moments where you see him trying to resist the compulsion. I must agree with you, though: doors wouldn’t stop him.
Sorry for the prelude there.
To your question: Do you find that you get a sort of, and this is for lack of a better word, perverse satisfaction out of scaring people or creeping them the hell out?
Yes. I personally hate roller coasters, but I see the perverse pleasure that people who know this get out of trying to goad me onto them. In the same way, my skill set as an actor includes a bit of knowledge about what makes people’s skin crawl and I justify my enjoyment of it by thinking “Well, it’s good for them to be scared – it makes them feel alive,” which is the exact same rationale my friends use to justify trying to terrify me! Boy, humans are just nefarious by nature, aren’t we?
You ask me that question and today I might agree with you and the next day I may not or be on the fence. I guess I am of the opinion that there are good people in this world capable of doing bad and vice versa. Does that make sense?
The main reason that we came into each other’s radar is because of your role in the excellent short werewolf film, The Beast; how did you become involved with the project?
I feel very fortunate to have been involved with The Beast. I loved werewolves so much as a kid that I used to sneak out of the house late at night and ride my bike out to the railroad tracks where I could safely howl at the moon, just to know what that felt like. They remain my favorite classic creature. I met Peter Dukes, writer and director of The Beast, online and then went to his house to read for him. Peter said “We’re going into the woods for one night with very little money, but with a group of pros who love old-school horror…and werewolves.” We shot it in one crazy night. I was really blown away by the intensity of Peter and Alexander Le Bas, who remain the only father and son acting team I have ever worked with. The Beast is an example of extreme class in a small-scale production.
Werewolves have also always been my favorite monsters so I can perfectly understand wanting to howl at the moon, Bill.
To me, The Beast was a perfect example of a group of people with a passion for a project-and werewolves-that used that passion and their imaginations to make a twelve-plus minute film on a low budget seem more alive than a lot of the feature-length movies that Hollywood is passing off on us.
I’ve posted nearly fifty short films since I began my Short Film Saturday showcase at Written in Blood. I’m leading to a question and I guess what it is is do you feel like short films are a good way for up and coming independent filmmakers to make their mark and get a foot in the door, so to speak?
Yes, and the shorter the short the better! When people see that video load bar go past the 10 or 15 minute mark, you lose them before you’ve grabbed them, The three shorts that I’ve been involved with which have gotten the most attention and have won the most awards – THE BEAST, ASSASSINS and HEIR – were all under 15 minutes. There’s little money in a short, but if you do it right and tight there’s a lot of potential for making a mark.
I get what you mean about losing your audience for a short film. I’ve skipped over quite a few films because they were 20-30 minutes long and I didn’t have the time (or patience) to give them my full attention.
April 26, 2016 was Alien Day and I kinda, sorta missed it. That’s why I have a few pieces of artwork here in commemoration. I hope you like them and the rest of what I have for you this week. Enjoy.
I searched high and low from the comfort of my ManCave, which I need to get off my ass and clean up, and I found some cool posters for this week’s installment of ALT-POSTR-MONDAY. Here’s hoping you enjoy them.
Taxi Driver is, in my opinion, not only one of the great films of the 1970’s, but one of the great films of all time. I love the use of black and yellow in the majority of these posters.
ALT-POSTR-MONDAY: TAXI DRIVER
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE-United States-95 Mins. 2014
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
Written by Thunder Levin
IT’S SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE!
THE SAME PLOT AS THE FIRST MOVIE! ONLY IT TAKES PLACE IN NEW YORK THIS TIME! IAN ZIERING VS SHARKS IN THE BIG APPLE! WITH A CHAINSAW!
CAMEOS FROM THOUSANDS…I MEAN HUNDREDS…I MEAN A WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE:
JARED FROM SUBWAY! ON THE SUBWAY!
KURT ANGLE! IT’S TRUE! IT’S DAMN TRUE!
TIFFANY SHEPIS! HOT!
BILLY RAY CYRUS AS A DOCTOR! WHO’DA THUNK IT?
AND MANY MORE!
ALLIGATORS IN THE SEWER! NO KIDDING!
TARA REID! IF YOU’RE INTO TARA REID.
KELLY OSBOURNE DECAPITATED BY A FLYING SHARK!
GREAT WHITE SHARKS! HAMMERHEAD SHARKS! TIGER SHARKS! EVEN A FRIGGIN’ WHALE SHARK! ALL OF THEM COMING OUT OF THE SKY IN A
Okay, all kidding aside. I now understand why John Bloom felt the need to create the persona of Joe Bob Briggs to review exploitation, B-Movie Horror and other genre films. A film like Sharknado 2: The Second One-and its predecessor-are in a class by themselves. You can’t help but find yourself watching them with a shit-eating grin on your face while the synapses in your brain misfire because you can’t help but thinking that this is the dumbest effing movie you have seen in your existence and still you just can’t look away. The term ‘so bad it’s good’ was created exclusively for a movie like Sharknado 2: The Second One. In fact I propose that a new category be created at the Academy Awards: The Sharknado Award. It would be awarded to the movie that is so unbelievably horrendous that it transcends its Z-Movie Status to become something extraordinary. Wait a minute. Did I say extraordinary? I meant
Robert Hays played a pilot in the beginning and said he has “been through worse” flying through a storm. This was a reference to him flying and landing a plane in the movie Airplane!
The characters played by Mark McGrath and Kari Wuhrer are named Martin and Ellen Brody. Those are the same names as Roy Schieder and Lorraine Gray’s characters in Jaws. Their son is named Vaughan, which was the name of Murray Hamilton’s character as the Mayor in Jaws.
Judd Hirsch played a cab driver. This is a nod to him co-starring in the series Taxi.
Wil Wheaton’s appearance in the film had originally been a joke in The Big Bang Theory: The Gorilla Dissolution (2014) where he gets the opportunity to audition for it after getting fired from another bad horror film.
When the cab drives through a flooded Manhattan, the camera pans to reveal the name Bickle on the passenger side front door. That’s a nod to Taxi Driver‘s character Travis Bickle played by Robert de Niro.
Although the movie is set in NYC in July, it was actually filmed in NYC in February of 2014. During that time NYC was experiencing record snowfall and unseasonably cold weather. The cold weather had to be worked into the story as you can see the actors cold breath in scenes and in certain scenes such as Liberty Island, you can see snow on the ground.
Most of the soundtrack songs were co-written by Robbie Rist. Rist was a well known child actor. One of his most famous roles was Oliver from The Brady Bunch.
Ian Ziering also appears in Sharknado and The Legend of Awesomest Maximus.
Tara Reid also appears in Sharknado and The Big Lebowski.
Vivica A. Fox also appears in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Independence Day.
Mark McGrath also appears in Scooby-Doo and Pauly Shore is Dead.
*2: THE SECOND ONE!
Wow, I’ve done ten editions of “What’s Their Best Film?” already. In that time I have received great response from some of my regular and my non-regular commentators. I’m sure that a lot of you have voiced your opinion of not what you thought a particular filmmaker’s best movie was; but listed your favorite film from said director instead. Hey, that’s cool; because in order to accurately give an opinion of a director’s best movie you would have had to have seen every film in their catalog. I love movies, but I will not and cannot watch movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are more important things such as work, supporting a family and figuring out ways to get Honey Boo Boo off the air. Damn what an annoying kid and her equally annoying mother!
So why am I babbling on and on? I shall tell you. In the last ten editions of “WTBF?” it has been you, dear reader, who has voiced your humble opinion. Now it’s my turn to give you my opinion. I will list each director below and I will tell what I think is their best movie or my favorite movie; whatever you want to call it.
Is it any surprise that I’m going with Goodfellas for this one? In my opinion it’s the greatest gangster flick ever made.
Runner-up: Taxi Driver
Most of what Bay puts out is complete shit; but if I had to choose a movie of his to watch I’d go with Armageddon . At least it got the Criterion Collection treatment.
Psycho. It’s my favorite “Hitch” film and in my humble opinion it is also his best. The shower scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Runner-up: Rear Window
Two words: Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Okay, so that’s six words. That’s because these movies rock so hard they blow up two words and turn them into six!
Runner-up: Pulp Fiction
I loved Magnolia and watch it at least three times every year. There are just so many great performances in this film from Julianne Moore to John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar for his role as informercial sex guru Frank ‘T.J.’ Mackey.
Runner-up: Boogie Nights
Do you honestly think I would choose anything other than The Thing?
Jeff Goldblum had the role of a lifetime in Cronenberg’s vision of the George Langelaan short story The Fly. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Runner-up: The Dead Zone
BRIAN DE PALMA
Some might say Carrie, some might say Scarface; I’m going with Blow Out as De Palma’s best. Travolta’s performance is one of the key reasons Tarantino wanted him for Pulp Fiction.
Runner-up: Carrie or Scarface (tie)
I loved Short Cuts the first time I saw it and every time after that. Fantastic ensemble acting.
Not only is Sin City Rodriguez’ best film; but it is also the single most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel from page to screen that I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s also the movie that once again made a contender out of Mickey Rourke.
Runner-up: From Dusk ’til Dawn
Unforgiven is one of the greatest westerns ever made. It was directed by Clint Eastwood; who in turn learned a few tricks from one of the greatest filmmakers, Sergio Leone.
Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River (tie)
This is cheating, but I’m going with the entire Evil Dead trilogy for this one. Who needs Spider-man when you’ve got Ash? Bruce Campbell rocks!!
Runner-up: Spider-man 2
To be honest, I’ve only seen three Argento films: Suspiria, Mother of Tears and Opera. Of the three of those I suppose my choice for his best would be Suspiria. What a creepy and atmospheric film.
I have to go with The Wrestler on this one. I’ve been a fan of the squared circle for quite a long time and it’s the first film to take the subject matter seriously. Mickey Rourke was amazing as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.
Runner-up: Black Swan
I could be a complete asshole and go totally against the popular choice of A Nightmare on Elm Street as Craven’s best; but that would just be stupid. He gave us Freddy Fucking Krueger with this one, for crying out loud!
Runner-up: The Last House on the Left or Scream (tie)
Just as Craven brought usFreddy Krueger with his greatest film A Nightmare on Elm Street; so did Tobe Hooper bring us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface 10 years prior. Watch this movie and you’ll think twice about picking up hitchhikers and eating Texas Bar-B-Que.
It may seem like a strange choice, but I pick his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes over High Tension (aka Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance) as Aja’s best film. It’s close though; both movies are fucking brutal.
Runner-up: High Tension
Some people seem to love Rob Zombie’s films and other people seem to hate his films and his fucking guts. There’s no middle ground. What’s his best film? That’s easy: The Devil’s Rejects.
What have I said before? The Howling is the greatest werewolf movie ever made; so the choice here is a no-brainer.
Re-animator, of course. Those of you who disagree can get a job in a sideshow. This film brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘giving head.’
Runner-up: From Beyond
GUILLERMO DEL TORO
I haven’t seen everything by Del Toro, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. It was an amazing little ghost story.
There is no question that Night of the Living Dead is Romero’s greatest film; the trouble is that Dawn of the Dead is every bit as awesome. Folks, we have a tie! Zombies everywhere have Uncle George to thank for their popularity.
Runner-up: Day of the Dead
I loved Session 9 and The Machinist on equal terms; but if I had to choose I’d have to go with the latter based simply on the strength of the performance from Christian Bale. The Machinist is a brilliant film about guilt and how it can affect us so deeply.
Runner-up: Session 9
The Exorcist. Nothing else need be said.
Runner-up: The French Connection
I choose May as McKee’s best for one simple reason: the deliciously disturbing performance from Angela Bettis. She deserved an Oscar for that movie.
Runner-up: The Woman
It’s going to take Sanchez a long time before he gets out from under the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. He’s been making heavy strides with films like Altered and Lovely Molly. Still, it is the witch who holds sway over all.
I’ve only seen one Bava film and that is Black Sunday. I do want to see more.
The same goes for Lucio Fulci and Zombie. I know, I know I need to watch more Fulci and Bava.
The man who gave us The Man with No Name. It’s hard to pick one great Leone film. A Fistful of Dollars? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Once Upon a Time in the West? Once Upon a Time in America? Nope, I just can’t do it.
There you go; my choices. Some are your choices as well and some are not. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they make the world go ’round.
- Criterion Collection Coming to Hulu Plus (savings.com)
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