Quantcast ICONS OF FRIGHT presents TIM SULLIVAN'S SHOCK N' ROLL ISSUE 1

I knew after having only one conversation with Tim Sullivan at a FANGORIA convention that he was one of us. I had followed his film career since just prior to the release of 2001 MANIACS, but eventually delved a bit further back to discover that we had a lot more in common then I had initially thought. Tim's from the East Coast. He worked on films back there. Went on to become a horror journalist for several years, contributing to FANGORIA magazine before making the jump into filmmaking. I too had been following a similar path, so it was easy & natural for me to form a kinship with Tim, which has turned into a life-long friendship.

Considering how much I love and respect Tim's work, both as a filmmaker and journalist, I was pleasantly surprised when he called me several weeks back and suggested resurrecting his SHOCK 'N' ROLL column which originated on Upcoming Horror Movies.com. I was a fan of the column and loved the way that Tim's interviews were in the same vein of what we tried to do with our interviews here on ICONS. Once we started throwing around a few ideas of new interviews and features, we became tremendously excited at the prospect of SHOCK 'N' ROLL's rebirth. So, what better way to kick off this new ICONS exclusive column then with an interview with the man himself explaining why he's coming back to journalism after all these years. Read on for the first Issue of SHOCK 'N' ROLL! -Robg. (9/1/08)

Tim! You’d appreciate this. I was at a PARTY CITY earlier today and they were already getting set up for HALLOWEEN…

Already?

Yeah! But that’s exciting! I love when they do that.

It used to be the end of September, but now they start up right at the end of the summer. I guess it’s a sign this is a good time to start SHOCK N’ ROLL. Back to school… Back to “ghoul”! Jeez.

(Laughs) Yes! Back to “ghoul”!

That’s the kind of cheesy pun dear old Uncle Forry Ackerman would make. “It’s “Back to Ghoul Time” here on ICONS OF FRIGHT!”

So, the thing I loved about the previous incarnation of SHOCK N’ ROLL is that it embodies what we’ve been trying to do for years here on ICONS, which is have these casual yet informative conversations with people that we grew up admiring and are doing things in the genre. Obviously, it’s been dormant for a little while, so what’s the motive behind bringing it back now?

I need a job while I wait for my next movie to finally happen, man! (Laughs) Well, the bottom line is, you and I know each other, Rob, so you already know a lot of this, but for those reading this, I started out as a horror journalist. I went to film school at NYU with 2 majors in mind. One was to become a filmmaker and the other was to become a film journalist. And all my life ever since I’ve been torn between the two. I’m very grateful and humbled that I’ve gotten a chance to actually be in the spotlight as a filmmaker. But I also love shining that spotlight on the people whose work I love and admire and have been inspired and influenced by.
It blows my mind that a lot of these people have actually become my friends and colleagues. My first major interview (other than the one I did for my High school newspaper when with my gym teacher when he left to become a Jersey State Trooper!) was Gene Simmons (from KISS) for FANGORIA magazine. Back when I was going to NYU in ‘82, I used to hang out at the old FANGO office on Park Avenue, long before good old Tony (Timpone) was there, back when it was Bob Martin and Dave Everett. I just hung out there and I really wanted to be a journalist! They actually put me on the cover of CINEMAGIC to illustrate an article by John Dods ("Deadly Spawn") about shooting set stills! Yes, I was a Cinemagic Cover Boy!" Anyways, I was 18 and they didn’t have any 18 year old FANGO journalists, and then Gene Simmons came to town to promote the new KISS album, LICK IT UP.
They were taking off their make-up and they were doing record store signings, which they had never done before. So I was thinking to myself, OK. How can I parlay this chance 5 second meeting with Gene Simmons into something substantial? I didn’t know what I was going to do! But I waited in line like everybody else and when it got time to shake Gene’s hand and get him to sign the LICK IT UP album, it was like I had turrets and just blurted out “I’m a journalist for FANGORIA and they want to publish your first non-rock n’ roll interview discussing your love of the horror genre.” And I forget where I had heard it, but someone once said that if you ever meet a celebrity and you really want to make an impression, the best thing to do is to not talk to them about what everybody else talks to them about.

So, had I asked “Hey, Gene, is that really your tongue?” Or “Why did Ace Frehley and Peter Criss quit?” I would’ve been thrown to the curb! But I saw the twinkle in his eye when I mentioned the genre, because no one at that point had ever asked him about his love of horror movies or comic books or Warner Brothers cartoons. So he said yes! And so, I ran to the nearest pay phone, long before the days of cell phones. And because I was a geek, I knew the FANGORIA office number by heart. I dialed Bob and Dave, and told them I got this interview with Gene Simmons going and he’s agreed to do his first non-rock interview with FANGORIA. And they said, “Great! We’ll get our top journalist on it!” It probably would’ve been Mick Garris at the time! (Laughs) So, I said, “No, no, I’m going to do it.” And they said, “Do you have any experience?” “Yeah, yeah! I interviewed my gym teacher for my high school newspaper!” (Laughs) They were quiet for a minute and then finally said, “Ok, kid. We’ll give ya a hundred bucks!” So, before I knew it, I was hanging out with Gene Simmons at his office! I still have the cassette tape of the interview to this day… Maybe I should digitize it and put it up on ICONS?

Yeah! I’m sure people would love to hear that!

What’s so cool is that we just geeked out. My hero, Gene Simmons, the rock n’ roll demon and me just sitting there for 45 minutes geeking out about our favorite horror movies. That led to 2 things – It began my film career and it began my journalism career, because I continued to write for FANGORIA, but I turned that interview with Gene into a friendship, which years later directly led to producing DETROIT ROCK CITY. After I did that, I thought “Well, who do I want to meet? I’ll just interview them!
Well, I’d like to meet Robert Englund!” So, I did that. And that became a friendship which directly led to 2001 MANIACS. So basically, and I’ve always said this to you and I know you take it to heart, I think one of the best ways to become a producer or filmmaker in this industry is to start out as a journalist, because it gives you intimate access to the people who are doing it. It can be an incredible thing and lead to other things as it has for me. And more importantly, it’s just been so great to document these incredible conversations that I’ve had with some of my favorite people both in front of and behind the camera. And I stress the word “conversation”, Rob, because having now grown up and being a guy that makes these movies, I get a lot of requests for interviews, and I’m always incredibly grateful, and I’ll do them all, weather it’s a big publication or for a kid starting on a My Space page.

But, I think the art of journalism and the art of conversation has been lost along the way. Because half of the interviews that I’m asked to do end up just being a questionnaire. Now, I appreciate that, but don’t call yourself a journalist if you’re just giving someone a questionnaire because a journalist is somebody who probes and gets somebody to open up. It’s an art form to start a conversation and lead it in a direction you want to go, or to be able to allow it to go on a detour and then run with that detour. Reading an interview should feel like you’re sitting in on a conversation between two friends over lunch! Of course, the difficulty of that is how long it takes to transcribe! (Laughs)

Oh yes. Trust me, I know all about the transcribing process and it’s the worst part, but I feel I’ve personally gotten it down fairly fast! (Laughs) And at the end of the day, it’s worth it. In my case and with ICONS, I love that those conversations I’ve been lucky enough to have are moments captured in time, including the ones we’ve done with you! We’ve interviewed you twice now, and I’m very excited at the prospect of YOU being one of our writers now.

Well, I’m excited too! And I also feel that in the transcription process, that’s when you find the story! For SHOCK N’ ROLL in the past, I would always write an introduction and then present the interview verbatim. In other journalism I’ve done, you sort of weave the answers into a story. And whenever I’ve transcribed, I view them the same way I view the dailies of a film I’ve shot, because when watching the dailies, that’s when I start to find the film. When doing a transcription, that’s when I start to find the article. I gotta be honest, I’ve missed that! Whenever I have a really great genre conversation, I often think wow, I wish I tape recorded that for one of my SHOCK & ROLL columns!

Now before we go any further, I really want to give props to Michael Wilbur who’s better known as FRIGHTIE on Upcoming Horror Movies.com. Frightie was the first guy to believe and support SHOCK & ROLL. Back in 2003, I had just shot 2001 MANIACS and delivered my director’s cut. Because there were so many “cooks in the kitchen”, I just knew it was going to be years before the finished film would actually be seen by anybody. So, I thought what the hell am I going to do? I’ve been talking to everybody about how I made this movie and 2 years are going to go by before it actually comes out. What am I going to do in the meantime?! So I thought why not go back to being a journalist during this time and talk to all my friends in the industry and publish those interviews yet at the same time, every time one of these columns came out, give readers a little update, you know, “Hang tight! MANIACS is coming!” I had my hands tied behind my back while the investors tried to figure out who they were going to sell the film to and for how much and all this and all that. And then there were some re-shoots that I wasn’t a part of and didn’t approve, so SHOCK N’ ROLL is what kept me sane and kept me going and kept MANIACS out there during that process!

I’ve always loved the Upcoming Horror Movies.com site, and they’ve always been really supportive of ICONS when we were first starting out. Why did you pick that site to debut SHOCK N’ ROLL?

I was a big fan of the site and it was fairly new at the time, it was young, and it wasn’t corporate. Michael Wilbur is this amazing guy, recently became a dad actually, and he was very enthusiastic and his site was very fan oriented. I had been interviewed a lot about MANIACS and DETOIT ROCK CITY for other sites that I adored, BLOODY-DISGUSTING and Ryan Rotten, who was at FANGORIA at the time and DREAD CENTRAL, I love them all! But at the time, I felt that I had been on those sites a little too much as a filmmaker. Also, Upcoming Horror Movies didn’t really do interviews with filmmakers back then. They were mostly reporting on what was new and, well, upcoming! So I contacted Michael and introduced myself and said, “I have this idea! Would you be willing to host it?” And he said, “Yes!” And we had a hell of a great time. I’d send the transcripts and he’d put it all together, and it was great. We did it for two years.

Have you done any journalism since?

I’ve done a couple of little things here and there – I just did a piece on Forry Ackerman for the upcoming RUE MORGUE celebrating the 50th anniversary of FAMOUS MONSTERS. And I’ve been asked to write introductions to several books, there’s one coming out called TABOO BREAKERS by Calum Waddell, who’s a journalist in Scotland. And I’ve written a piece called MY TOP 10 SPLATSTICKS for the HORROR BOOK OF LISTS which comes out September 16th. I can’t get away from writing! I love to write and I love journalism!

So when you were in town with Mike C. a couple of weeks ago and we were having Chinese and talking about the art of journalism and conversations, it really hit me, I’d love to get back to SHOCK & ROLL. And I thought I’d really love to do this for ICONS OF FRIGHT, I’ve always looked at ICONS as an archival site. Not knocking anybody else, but the nature of the beast for a most genre sites is very temporal, to give you the news as it happens! But, you’re not going to go back to a video of last week’s 11 o’clock news and watch it again, unless , of course, it showcased Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, and you want to be inspired, or Sarah Palin’s and you’ve got something stuck in your throat and need to throw up…. Sorry, man. Just can’t help myself.

Of course! (Laughs)

So, I don’t think you’re going to go back too often and read news breaks. But, to go back and read a timeless interview or have access to interview archives is really cool. And I like how ICONS archives their interviews. I like how you frame a photo of the person being interviewing. It’s like you’re saying we’re taking this snapshot of this person at this moment in his career and preserving this moment forever.

Yeah, exactly! The whole idea is to go to the interview index and see this giant wall of framed pictures. These are the ICONS OF FRIGHT that we’ve collected! We’ve given them a frame and this is where you can find them all.

Exactly.

Well, one of the things I really liked about SHOCK N’ ROLL in its original incarnation was the way you weaved in personal stories into your introductions for each interview. For example, when you interviewed Edgar Wright for SHAUN OF THE DEAD, you started it out with the story of how you first saw DAWN OF THE DEAD as a kid. You did that kind of thing with all your interviews. So, is that a motif you’re going to keep with the new SHOCK N’ ROLL on ICONS?
Absolutely! Yeah, I always called that “setting the stage” because I debated on weather I would weave the interviews into an article or just present them raw & unedited. After doing a couple of them, I thought it was really important to give the reader a raw, unedited experience of the conversation. But I did want to set the stage and give my impression of the person I’m interviewing, what that person means to me. And I always like to put things in context. I think that context is really important for the full appreciation of any type of music or film. Context! Setting the stage for Edgar by writing about the first time I saw DAWN OF THE DEAD, like you said earlier, it’s “geeking out”. What can I say? First and foremost I’m a fan and always will be. To some people that’s a dirty word. Some agent once said to me, “You know, Tim. If you were the fifth member of KISS, you’d be called “Fanboy”. It’d be The Catman, Space Ace, The Lover, The Demon and Fanboy.” And in a way, it was said as sort of an insult.
It was meant as “Ya know man, you need to stop being such a fan of these things. Nobody’s going to take you seriously if you’re geeking out at Comic-Con over some TEENAGE WEREWOLF doll that they just put out.” What can I say, Rob. I’m a monster kid! And guess what? The people I interview are monster kids too! We all were inspired by this stuff- and somehow we all become lucky enough to work in the sandbox we used to play in. And when we get together and have these interviews, we’ll certainly talk about their work in the industry, but we may also take a detour and talk about some new toys or Blu Ray editions of classic movies that just came out.

I’m just going to geek out on ICONS, and I invite people to come and geek out with me. And I’m also gonna be talking to a wide variety of folk. It’s called SHOCK N’ ROLL because it’s not going to be just horror, but we’re going to do some rock n’ roll stuff like when I interviewed Paul Stanley, or Rob Zombie who has his feet in both worlds. I may even talk to someone that you might not think is part of horror like… for instance Clint Eastwood when THE CHANGELING comes out… Yet if you dig deep enough, THE BEGUILED, PALE RIDER, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER could be considered “ghost” stories…

Hell, his very first appearance was in REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON sequel! And there’s PLAY MISTY FOR ME!

See? There ya go. Basically, anybody I want to interview, I’m going to interview and find a way to make it fit in with ICONS OF FRIGHT! (Laughs)

Well, we don’t need to “make” it fit. We welcome it and it’ll be fine! If it’s something worth talking about, then we’d be glad to run an interview with someone like Clint Eastwood or Oliver Stone. They all have done what can be considered horror films at one point!

Well, Oliver Stone has one of the scariest movies coming out of ever, with one of the greatest monsters of all time….. George W. Bush!

Yes, you speak of W.!

We elected this moron and allowed him to create more destruction then any giant movie monster ever dreamed of! Man, how cool would it be to interview Oliver Stone for Icons?

Well, hey! He’s bringing us W, but don’t forget he also brought us THE HAND with Michael Caine! (Laughs)

That’s right! That’s right. His first screenwriting gig. Thank you very much for giving me my intro to my conversation with Oliver for ICONS OF FRIGHT!

I hope you will talk to him about THE HAND!

Well, I better now! If for some reason we don’t get Oliver Stone, people will be asking “What ever happened to that Oliver Stone interview?”

Hey, key word is we’re going to “try”! (Laughs) Now, can you give us and our readers a little hint of what we might be able to expect with SHOCK N’ ROLL?

Well, we’re gonna revamp and eventually reprint all the previous SHOCK & ROLL’s with the Robg/ICONS touch. We might pair them with brand new interviews with the same people. Or not! (Laughs). And three or four new interviews per month. And there’s gonna be two really major surprises within the next three weeks. A very unique gift from a major horror director that is really, really fucking cool. Trust me. 80’s horror fans are gonna bust a nut. Bottom line, this is gonna be a party, a celebration. But with heart and soul. I want people to come away from SHOCK & ROLL feeling that they’ve seen a side of somebody that they’d never seen before. That’s my main goal. I really want people to get an insight into the human beings behind the “ICONS”.

That’s fantastic, and ICONS OF FRIGHT is honored to have you as one of our staff, starting with this interview! Thanks Tim!



http://www.upcominghorrormovies.com/shock/c1.php


Midnight. The Witching Hour. A full moon dangles over my Venice bungalow shedding light on my predicament. Even the roar of the Pacific Ocean, five blocks away, cannot drown out the tell tale pounding of my heart. Boom. Boom. BOOM.

2001 MANIACS is finally in the can. Robert Englund has worn the mask of Mayor George W. Buckman, he the leader of those Civil War ghosts conjured 40 years ago by Herschell Gordon Lewis for a splatter dream played out on Drive-In movie screens 1964. I was born that year. What could that mean…? Boom. Boom. BOOM.

Having co-written and directed MANIACS, nothing left to do but wait for its release. I should be writing anew. Deadlines due. A rewrite of SHE FREAK. An outline for 2002 MANIACS. And yet… Boom. Boom. BOOM. The ebony cases on my file cabinet beckon. Plastic coffins in which entombed lie memory encoded silver spheres. Circular testaments to a past filled with Creature Features and Chiller Theaters and Famous Monsters and Tales from the Crypt. A schoolboy crush that never went away. A love of the dark and the macabre and all things that go bump in the night. Boom. Boom. BOOM.

Now, as I sit before my computer, meaning to create shadow plays of my own, I find myself reaching for that plastic case and succumbing to my DVD fix. A jolt of midnight madness, courtesy of Fox Home Video. My name is Tim. And I’m a horror junkie.

I would be not be where I am were it not for the monsters of my youth. Celluloid villains who graced my local TV stations and the Drive-In Theaters of my New Jersey summers. For years, mere memories recalled through black and white images in the pages of dear Uncle Forry Ackerman’s FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, and later, thank you very much Kerry O’Quinn, splashed across FANGORIA in a blood red color perfectly matching the hue of my 80’s teen angst. Like a Frankenstein patchwork, these influences collided with a dream made reality through film school and a 90’s move to Hollywood, where I now find myself humbly and numbly (thanks to 2001 MANIACS) sitting at the feet of the “Masters of Horror”, the self named (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) gang of horror fil mmakers who inspire and share my addiction. John Carpenter. Don Coscarelli. David Cronenberg. Joe Dante. Guillermo Del Toro. Mick Garris. Stuart Gordon. John Landis. Tobe Hooper. Eli Roth. Rob Zombie (naming but a few). Enablers all, we gather and share our stories. The movies that made us want to make movies. The movies we hope to make. The movies we wish we had.

The FrightMaster has asked me to share some of these stories here, with you. For if you are reading this, then you know of the heart palpitations of which I speak. You, too, spend restful nights wondering when MCA will release ISLE OF LOST SOULS, why MGM didn’t letterbox PUMPKINHEAD or why Paramount released the edited version of FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL on DVD when, on VHS, they previously released the uncut version. You know of the boom, boom BOOM. The jones for Jason Voorhees. The hankering for Halloween. If you know what I’m talking about, gather round. Here, I will review. Here, I will interview. Let us indulge together.

VISIT TIM SULLIVAN AT: WWW.MYSPACE.COM/NEWREBELLION

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