Episode 001 Transcript: Dark Star / Cocaine Cowboys

Gala On this episode of the Video Archives podcast, join Roger and Quentin as they revisit one of Roger’s favorite films: the 1974 cult classic, “Dark Star.” Originally created by John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon as a student film, buckle up for a ride amongst the stars as we follow a group of scientists on a mission to destroy unstable, stellar bodies. Listen as Quentin and Roger discuss changing opinions from opening day, break down the film and discuss the impact that it’s had on future movies in the genre, and laugh about a beach ball alien.


Next, we return to 1979 with Ulli Lommel’s cult film, “Cocaine Cowboys.” A rock band is on the brink of superstardom. All that stands in the way is a lost bag of cocaine worth $2 million. Starring Jack Palance, Tom Sullivan, Susannah Love and Andy Warhol?! This film benefits greatly from Quentin and Roger’s historical insights as they reveal the truth behind the scenes: Andy Warhol’s influences, the Trudeau connection, and how this true story made it onto the big screen. What real history is encoded in this film? Find out now, on the Video Archives Podcast. Here’s Quentin and Roger.



Quentin You are listening to the Video Archives podcast starring former employee of Video Archives, Quentin Tarantino. With my co-host, co-colleague behind the counter at Video Archives, co-writer of the Oscar winning “Pulp Fiction” and in this current endeavor, Sancho Panza to my windmill tilting Don Quixote. Roger Roberts Avary.


Roger That’s me. I was thinking about Video Archives today (obviously because of this podcast) and as I was driving in, I was thinking about when it started and how it started.


Quentin Which started in Manhattan Beach, California on 11822 North Sepulveda Boulevard.


Roger Yup. Archives began because when I was a kid, our friend Scott McGill’s dad had a store called “Video Outtakes.” The original title, I think was Video Take Out, and then there was another Video Take Out somewhere, or something.


Quentin They just reversed it.


Roger This is 1978, 1979.


Quentin So this is when the very first of the commercial videos started being released.


Roger This is in the days when we still rented beta tapes. For instance, Disney or Buena Vista, you could not buy their tapes to rent. You had to rent the tapes from Buena Vista and then rent them out to customers. The store never owned the tape, and so they were still discovering what the model for home video was.


Quentin And most of them were like Allied Artists home videos and Magnetic Home Videos.


Roger Yeah, exactly. Exactly. There was a partnership at that store. It was between Dean, who was Scott’s dad and this guy, Lance Lawson, who was kind of the videophile who owned all the cool titles at ‘Outtakes.’ I worked at the store for a number of years and that’s when you started walking in.


Quentin Yeah.


Roger You had been perusing other stores in the area and you landed there and –


Quentin I had a whole thing back then: wherever I was at, it didn’t matter; any town, any city that I was at, if I was driving around or just walking around or something, if I saw a mom and pop video store (actually, if I saw any video store) I would just go in. I would just go in to see what they had, because I always wanted to know what was available out there and what I could possibly get. I would spend 2 hours in the store seeing everything they had, but then you’d find two or three videos that nobody else had.


So I always did that, and there was some reason why I was in Redondo Beach without a car. I was just walking down PCH and then “Oh okay, here’s another mom and pop store. I’ve never been in before. Let’s just see.” I’m just used to the mom and pops knowing fuck all about movies. This is an investment for them. So I walked in the store and lo and behold, there’s Lance Lawson, who’s (at that time in my life) knew more about movies than any living person I had ever met. I was always the only person who knew that much about movies. But Lance was this mentor hippie guy –


Roger A beatnik, almost.


Quentin Yeah. A hippie guy in the early eighties, you know. I would come by and they had all this stuff that nobody else had, and I would go and shoot the shit with him.


Roger He would do things for us: he would get us Filmex tickets, he would take us to Douglas Trumbull’s “Showscan” when it was first invented. He would do all sorts of great things for our little community of guys.


Quentin The thing is, Lance was always doing stuff like that. I remember, he knew I was really into Rockabilly, and that was when the Everly Brothers got back together again. And he took me to the Greek Theater to see the Everly Brothers. I couldn’t have afforded those tickets normally, nor would it even ever occur to me to try to get tickets through the Greek Theater to go see the Everly Brothers. He took me down to the Ahmanson to see “Nicholas Nickleby” when it came to Los Angeles. That five hour version of “Nicholas Nickleby.” He introduced us to things and events more sophisticated than the things that we normally gravitated towards.


My whole introduction to Video Outtakes and Lance was just randomly stopping in to Video Outtakes, meeting Lance and having a two hour conversation with him. Whenever I found myself in Redondo Beach, I stopped by and talked to him again. Then about a year and a half later (or something) I would drop by and I never saw Lance there. It was usually Dean, but then there was this young kid there, Scott McGill, a mutual friend of ours. I met him. He was the son of the owner. So I started having nice conversations with him. Then at one point, I was about 22 and he was about 17, I come in there and I’m talking to Scott and I go, “Hey, what ever happened to that Lance guy? I kept coming by and I guess he doesn’t work here anymore.” And they were like, “Oh, no, he started his own store. It’s just down the street on Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach; it’s called “Video Archives.” So that’s how I knew about Video Archives.


Roger And so Lance started Video Archives and I went with him. As sort of a new, fresh kind of experience, I wrote the computer software for the inventory system on an Atari 800 computer using floppy disks. You probably remember actually operating that thing and actually having to swap out floppy disks.


Quentin We didn’t have a cash register for four years.


Roger Yeah. It was a really mom and pop place, where we were given complete title and license to run the place.


Quentin Even though it had the brick and mortar and the business model of a mom and pop video store, it was closer to an underground newspaper.


Roger Totally.


Quentin Not a fanzine, an official newspaper that required print and that required us to get our shit together, to pay bills and do all that stuff. The guise was that it was a bunch of video cassettes that the people of Manhattan Beach could come in there and rent. But it was the environment that we offered and the people that the store attracted, and the people in Manhattan Beach that it attracted. It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, the only people that came there were film geeks like us.’ No, that’s actually absolutely not the case. 80% of the people were just regular well-to-do families that lived in the neighborhood. They weren’t like us, but they liked that the people running the video store were like us. They were like, ‘Hey, let’s go down to the crazy movie guys and then let’s ask them what they suggest.’


We became a topic of conversation all over Manhattan Beach because we had this cool store. What it was really like, what it was exactly like is the real cool used record store in town (but it was a video store) with all the music heads and the wannabe musicians and archivists that work there and know the entire collection. The premise of this show is that one of the things that me and Roger did working at the video store, along with putting things on shelves, renting out, setting up new customers (which was always the biggest pain in the ass), renting out video cassettes and putting stuff back up on shelves and recommending films to people, was that we talked about movies all day. We watched movies all day. We talked about movies all day. Customers came in just to talk with us. We debated and argued about films, we saw everything that was out there. It was just this place where we could talk about movies and basically not have to work for a living.


My idea is to recreate that for this podcast. Now the thing is, when Video Archives went out of business, I bought the collection. So I have all the video cassettes from Video Archives and we’re sitting in a room that looks almost like an obsessive shrine to Video Archives, but it’s simply a place for me to put the videos.


Roger It’s like a mausoleum.


Quentin But it’s just a really groovy store room, alright. It’s not this fetishistic object that it probably appears.


Roger Well, understand that even to me, who spent years and years (like a decade more of my life) handling all of these tapes every single day: putting them in and out of the system and touching them every day and then not seeing them for 25 years (the majority of my life) and then coming back and the shelves are still the same.


Quentin Yeah, it’s the same shelves. Because they fit!


Roger I come back in and lo and behold, it’s the store. It’s the store. Now, I purchased all the laserdiscs.


Quentin Yes, you have the laserdiscs.


Roger So I –


Quentin Which you keep reminding me.


Roger Well, it was Avary’s folly. It was maybe a fool’s errand. I couldn’t afford the whole store.


Quentin My video cassettes are hanging in there far better than your laserdiscs. I just want to say.


Roger Yeah, my laser discs have succumbed mostly to laser rot. At least a good 25/30% of the collection, the glue that holds the patterns together, the two platters (because the laser discs have two sides, it’s like a DVD that you have to flip) and the glue tends to erode the optical data.


Quentin Over the course of decades.


Roger Yeah. Sometimes over the course of months, actually was the case. And so I have many, many discs where I can only play half of it.


Quentin Well the thing is, for the episode, is that I have all the Video Archives videos and then when another magnificent video store in L.A. County called “Eddie Brandt’s’ went out of business, I got their inventory.


Roger Yeah, they were great.


Quentin So the format of the show, that we’ll be dealing with from episode to episode, we’re going to do a little different on tonight’s episode. We’re just going to go with two films, but normally the way it’s going to work is that we’re going to pick three movies from the Video Archives collection that I pulled from the shelves that we’re going to discuss. The idea, usually, is the first two movies sort of work to some degree as a double feature. They can be completely opposite to each other, but they kind of work. If any of the films will be more known, it’ll be the first two. But then the idea for the third one is that third film that plays at a drive in triple feature: a very, very obscure videocassette, usually either exploitation-y or very obscure, in a foreign sense or just any obscurity.


These are not the kind of movies that when you found them at a video store, you had no fucking idea what this is. “Okay, maybe Jack Palance is in it. That’s interesting. Maybe Stuart Whitman is in it. Okay, that’s interesting. Carroll Baker is in it. Okay. Maybe that’s interesting. Okay. I don’t know what the fuck ‘Demonoid’ is. I’m going to give it a shot.” And you take it home and you have this big surprise. That was actually part of the joy of going to a video store and selecting those three tapes. There was always that one weird one. “Okay, I’ll throw that one in, too.” Those were some of the discoveries that you remembered from the eighties. So that’s our idea for a format for the show. But the point is here, we’re watching the video cassettes from the collection. We’re not watching the Blu rays. We’re not watching some weird director’s cut.


Roger It’s not on YouTube.


Quentin No, and if we don’t have the video cassette then they can’t be counted as a movie. It has to be from the collection.


Roger Has to be in our inventory.


Quentin And also because we’re all about the home video, physical media aspect, everything of that.


Roger The fetishism of tactile objects.


Quentin Along with the movie, it’s about the video, it’s about the transfer. Was it in the SP mode? Was it in the EP mode?


Roger Who was the video distributor?


Quentin SLP mode. If a film is from Paragon Home Video, we will go off for a while talking about the glories of Paragon Home Video, and then we’ll get around to the title that we’re talking about. Okay. So with no further ado, Roger, why don’t you start it off?


Roger We’re going to start off with, really, one of my favorite movies. Absolutely one of my favorite comedies, absolutely one of my favorite science fiction films. Absolutely one of my favorite cult films, which actually was pulled out of the cult section of Archives. I actually at first had trouble finding it.


Quentin Actually, it was in the science fiction section.


Roger No, actually, it was in the cult section. At least in the inventory. It was held in the cult section. That’s why I had trouble finding it. I was looking it up in my thing and I was like, “It’s not in the comedy. Oh my God, it’s not in the science fiction.”


Quentin I think in my day, we more –


Roger It should have been in the science fiction.


Quentin It’s rented more when it was in the science fiction. If you had two copies, you would put one in the comedy section.


Roger Yeah, exactly. It’s John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s magnificent science fiction comedy, Dark Star.


Quentin Brought to you by?


Roger Brought to you by United Home Video in one of the most beautiful plastic boxes.


Quentin Large sized, clam shell box.


Roger No paper, just good vinyl with a plastic sheeting around.


Quentin It’s actually the most witty. Of all the covers I’ve seen of it, it’s the wittiest cover.


Roger Yeah, it’s a later cover because early on they had trouble selling the movie. People thought it was a serious film. So this is the comedy cover.


Quentin Yeah. The floating toilet paper in space gives you a clear idea. I will now give a plot synopsis of the film by reading the back of the United Home Video box.


Roger Always the best way to get a glean on the film.


Quentin In the mid 21st century, mankind has reached a point in its technological advances to enable colonization of the far reaches of the universe. ‘Dark Star’ is a futuristic scout ship, traveling far in advance of colony ships. Armed with exponential thermo stellar bombs, it prowls unstable planets. One obstacle that its crew members did not count on: one of the ship’s thinking and talking bombs is lodged in the bay, threatening to destroy the entire ship and crew! John “Halloween” Carpenter and Dan “Alien” O’Bannon combined their writing, creative, and technical talents to bring you this thrilling and extraordinary science fiction parody.


That’s the only: parody. The word ‘parody’ is the only clue that the film is a comedy. 91 minutes, released in 1971, in color and the tape number (in the science fiction section) is 199.


Roger That is an early, early tape.


Quentin ‘Dark Star’ started off as a student film that was being done at USC, directed by John Carpenter and pretty much done in collaboration with a fellow student named Dan O’Bannon. He wrote the script with Carpenter and was the production designer, did of the special effects, edited the movie and is the lead of the film. So in every way, shape and form, it can be called a Carpenter/Dan O’Bannon film. It is a complete joint effort of these two men together. The only time they will ever work together. It’s understandable, but also sad at the same time because it was a magnificent collaboration. Roger, talk to us about ‘Dark Star.’


Roger I saw this movie in 1974 on its initial release. When it came out in theaters, I was in Palo Alto at the time and it played for the Stanford. I wasn’t a Stanford student, my family was living in the Menlo Park area.


Quentin How old were you then? Like 12?


Roger I was 9, I think. I was like nine years old. It was rated G and it’s a science fiction movie. So I went and saw it and my cousins went and took me to see it. I had a bunch of hippie cousins. I think because of them I immediately understood the movie, because they were totally dialed into counterculture. This movie is perfectly aligned with what would become how I view my sense of humor and my perspective on the world. I’ve since learned it’s really Dan O’Bannon. This movie is very well directed, but Dan O’Bannon is such a personality in this movie because he’s actually a physical presence within the film. There’s so much charm associated to his perspective of the universe, which is –


Quentin Anti-charm


Roger Yeah, which is anti charm. Dan O’Bannon was one of the very first guys who figured out this concept of a used universe. Where there was truckers and oil derrick workers and miners and stuff like that in space.


Quentin A lower class, working class that exists inside of space travel.


Roger Yeah.


Quentin Not everybody equal, like it is on the Enterprise.


Roger And to me, this was a massively successful comedy release. I was laughing and when I saw it, everybody around me was laughing. Years later, I heard (actually from O’Bannon) that people didn’t get the movie the way I did. People went expecting (I think, based on the poster) more of a “2001.” It was around 1989 or so when I was in college that I went hardcore on ‘Dark Star’ and I started watching it all the time. I started, frankly, just studying Dan O’Bannon’s humor; his kind of wack version of – I mean, he’s called it ‘Waiting for Godot.’ I did ‘Waiting for Godot’ when I was in theater in high school. And I don’t think ‘Waiting for Godot’ is anything like ‘Dark Star.’ ‘Waiting for Godot’ is completely abstract. To me, ‘Dark Star’ is not abstract at all. It’s comedy.


Quentin I mean, one of the things that was interesting and I’ll talk about when I talk about the film: watching it with you. I saw it once when it came out and I hadn’t seen it since. So it was funny watching it with you. Because I remember even from my being a little kid, I remember different elements of it. But I was really kind of seeing it for the first time with the exception of these moments when we watched it together. But I could tell you had seen it like ten times already. You’re responding to it in a different way.


Roger I’m anticipating the laughs that I’m about to make.


Quentin No, exactly. You were watching the way we would watch ‘Evil Dead 2’ with somebody who’s never seen it before.


Roger Exactly. Exactly. Part of what I love about ‘Dark Star’ is that it’s not perfect. I really like the imperfections in cinema. I like to see the handmade quality of things. ‘Dark Star’ is so handmade that it almost looks like a graphic novel; to the extent that I think some people might look at it and think it just looks like kind of cheap, bad effects. But to me –


Quentin I don’t think that.


Roger I don’t think that at all. As I started becoming a filmmaker, which was around the same time that we’re talking about, 89 or so – Really it was long before that I was making Super8 movies and we were doing all sorts of stuff together and writing and everything in those early days at Video Archives. But when I seriously started trying to approach being a filmmaker, I really looked to a lot of these handmade movies that I admired so deeply. There’s a number of them that I can point at.


Quentin Yeah, but ‘Dark Star’ really is a shining jewel among that.


Roger It is so much so, because it was a student film. It existed as one thing and they expanded it. The Scorsese film is like the only other one that I can think of offhand.


Quentin Oh, yeah. ‘Who’s that knocking on my door?’


Roger It’s a student film.


Quentin To some degree you can say the same thing about ‘Greetings’ and the same thing about ‘Hi Mom.’


Roger Frankly, we can say the same thing about ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ If we were to go there, that one of the things about ‘Reservoir Dogs’ is that we were talking about making that originally as a very handmade kind of film. It was a motorcycle garage that a friend owned.


Quentin A muffler shop.


Roger Right. It was a muffler shop.


Quentin But it’s not, though, because we actually got a budget and we were able to –


Roger We did it for real!


Quentin And we had trucks and shit, which we never would have had if we were putting it together on weekends.


Roger But I think the point is, though, that you were going to make that movie no matter what.


Quentin Oh yeah. That’s for sure.


Roger No matter what that movie was going to get made. I look at movies as 2 kinds of things: I look at them as plot and story. People will go to see a movie once for the plot. It’s just the basic events that occur, that move everything along. Story is everything that isn’t the plot. That you hang on the plot. It’s the lighting. It’s the theme. It’s the layers of the onion that are even unspoken. It’s all sorts of other elements. The screenplay, you can tell it’s written by people who, first of all, they saw ‘2001’ and they just went crazy. They were kids when they saw ‘2001’ (or teens) and it made an impression on them. And ‘2001’ is about technology that’s breaking.


Quentin Also, at the same time, I think this seems to be an answer to ‘2001.’ An anti ‘2001.’


Roger It’s ‘2001’ as made as ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ It’s about systems failing. Kubrick’s movies are all about systems that fail.


Quentin I think it’s also a criticism of ‘2001:’ a criticism of the suits, a criticism of the sixties, of middle age, middle class, a criticism of the antiseptic quality and of the lack of humanity that is supposedly all part of space travel in movies. This is bringing life and piss and shit and cum into the space world, literally, in the case of the toilet paper, which is an issue in the movie.


Roger And it’s witty, it’s incredibly witty. It’s making the same – Like, there’s one joke (supposedly) in ‘2001,’ which is the zero gravity toilet. Where he’s reading the instructions for it. One of the final images in this is the zero gravity toilet floating by after it survived the explosion.


Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah, right.


Roger So this Pinback character that’s played by Dan O’Bannon, he’s actually this guy, Bill Frug. You’re supposed to get like 700 on the test to be an astronaut, he scored 74. He’s just a maintenance worker.


Quentin He’s at the loading dock. Right?


Roger He’s literally working at the loading dock.


Quentin I’d completely forgotten about this aspect when I watched the movie again. Where I was like ‘Wait, Pinback isn’t Pinback?’


Roger He’s not even Pinback. None of them really care about this, but what’s interesting about that is he seems to be the one who cares the most about everything. I just love Dan O’Bannon’s voice, so when he says something like, ‘That’s the way to the heating manifold.’


Quentin Yeah, right. [Laughter]


Roger ‘That’s dangerous.’ He just has such a concern about things because he knows the workings of the ship.


Quentin In a strange way, everybody else has just gotten disillusioned. Or spaced out, like the guy who’s just basically taking bong hits.


Roger They’re actually at various levels of spaced out from the captain who’s like, “Helloooo?” He’s in a stasis or something.


Quentin Oh he’s dead.


Roger But he’s in a kind of weird state where he’s like, “Why don’t you visit me more often?”


Quentin But he’s dead. He’s not spaced out. He’s dead.


Roger Well, that’s a kind of spaced out. That’s the ultimate spaced out.


Quentin Yeah. But in a weird way, it’s like Pinback is the one who is grown into his character. He’s grown into his responsibilities while everyone else is forgetting theirs.


Roger Yeah. Yeah, and so when it finally came time for them to make the movie and when they got some extra money (and I don’t know how much they made the student film for, versus how much money they were getting)


Quentin Since they paid for the movie themselves, I’m sure it wasn’t more than $6,000 or something like that. But it’s always just mentioned that the entire budget was $40,000, which is just mind blowing.


Roger Yeah. It really is hard to wrap your head around. But at the same time, when everything’s handmade you’re also getting super talented people for nothing. You’re getting Ron Cobb, who at the time, I just knew him as a cartoonist.


Quentin But he was. He was just a cartoonist for the L.A. Free Press.  He would later go on to be the production designer on ‘Conan the Barbarian.’


Roger Yeah, and design all the ships for ‘Alien.’ I’ve seen the sketches that Ron Cobb did of ‘Dark Star,’ and they’re so beautiful. They are so professional.


Quentin But Dan O’Bannon did the special effects. He is the one responsible for the special effects. He marshaled all those talents. This is his movie, when it comes to special effects.


Roger I didn’t respect or know Dan O’Bannon well enough. I didn’t know his contribution. Not enough of it was available. There was no internet.


Quentin It was a name I knew. I was not a huge fan of Dan O’Bannon, I always liked everybody else he collaborated with more than him, you know.


Roger And frankly, when he did ‘Return of the Living Dead,’ I was such a George Romero fan that it became very easy for me to marginalize him a little bit.


Quentin ‘How dare you make the next ‘Night of the Living Dead’ sequel, the same year that George Romero is doing his? Sacrilege!


Roger Now with the benefit of time and perspective and also information; having access to it and being able to read about Dan O’Bannon and being able to read what happened to him and to I talked to Jodorowsky about him. Everything I’ve learned about him, I feel so bad for ever, ever maligning him in my mind. Not even maligning him, just soft pedaling him. I totally identify with him now.


Quentin I feel the same way. I feel the same way you do. Except I didn’t come to it until this week. I’ve enjoyed not liking Dan O’Bannon. I’ve enjoyed slagging him off and now I feel guilty.


Roger When we popped it in and watched it together, I hadn’t seen ‘Dark Star’ maybe for a couple of years at least. Then we watched it together and whenever you watch a movie with somebody else, you’re seeing it through their eyes. I don’t think we had seen it. I may have popped this in at the store because I can guarantee the week that this came out, I was pushing it. If it was in the story, I was playing it. I’m sure of it.


Quentin I’m sure if you put it on when I was in I was like, ‘Oh God, “Dark Star” fuuuuuuuck.’


Roger Yeah, yeah. Like, ‘Do you have to?’


Quentin ‘Oh, okay. Fine. Yeah, whatever.’


Roger But anyhow, I treasure the film now. I look at Dan O’Bannon and I understand his contribution and I appreciate it because I identify with it. I identify with that, ‘Hey, let’s make this movie. Let’s do whatever we can to make the impossible possible.’ I think my first exposure to ‘Dark Star’ was through Star Log magazine, and seeing all the handmade production art and everything made by Ron Cobb. Seeing what these guys were doing and that this was a student film.


Quentin When Carpenter does ‘Halloween,’ he’s going to be written about in every genre magazine in the world. They’re all going to have a section at the beginning of the piece that goes through the history of ‘Dark Star’ and then goes on to ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ before it gets to ‘Halloween.’


Roger Now let me ask you, when they were talking about ‘Dark Star’ immediately following ‘Halloween,’ was it sort of like, “Oh, this is his ‘Fear and Desire’ or his ‘Killer’s Kiss?’

Quentin Yeah, it was considered an absolute cult film classic by ’78. It’s absolutely a cult film classic. He’s the one talking it down more than anything else. He even said recently to the effect of, ‘Well, I don’t really respond to it because I see it’s student film origins.’ I see very little student film origins. To me, it just looks like a good science fiction movie. I know some of the effects have been done cheaply. I wouldn’t know that from just necessarily watching it. I see cleverness going on.


Roger You’d have to spend a lot of money to try to get that look now.


Quentin Yeah, I see cleverness up the wazoo. But I don’t think, “Oh look, isn’t this charming?” It’s full of charm. It exists on charm. That’s all it is, is charm. But there’s also craftsmanship there. I don’t see, ‘Oh, look at these cool kids that did this really neat thing with the little bit they had.’ Especially when I was a kid and I saw it. I didn’t like it, and I’ll go into that in a second, but it looked like a real science fiction movie. I had no question about the look of it: the special effects, the spaceship, the spaceship sets. I mean, I could watch it today having made movies and I would not know it was made for $40,000. I never would have guessed. I would not know anything about the student film origin. It’s just a fucking legitimate piece of work in every way, shape or form.


Roger Well, I’m going to presume that what Carpenter is talking about is that when you make a movie, it becomes the experience of making the film. You end up associating all the good or bad that nobody else ever knows or sees. If you’ve had a rough experience on something or been screwed over by a producer or whatever has occurred.


Quentin He looks at he goes, ‘Okay, those are ice cube trays that I’m shining light through.’ So he can only see the ice cube trays. He can only see the muffin tins.


Roger I love the ice cube trays.


Quentin Me too!


Roger To me, the ice cube trays show innovation and a resourcefulness that I didn’t really see again in a science fiction movie until ‘Battle Beyond the Stars.’ Where they were really like –


Quentin When James Cameron is going and buying the Styrofoam quarter pounder with cheese and Big Mac boxes.


Roger Just to have the Styrofoam container.


Quentin and then painting them and putting them all over the walls.


Roger Yeah, it was super innovation.


Quentin Okay, so now I’m gonna tell you my history with ‘Dark Star.’ I saw it in ’74 when it came out, I saw it in Marina del Rey. At the Marina del Rey UA. I hated it in ’74 when I saw it. I was probably 11. I hated it. I’ll tell you why I hated it: it was because I knew fuck all about it other than the TV spots that Jack Harris had blanketed afternoon television with. So I saw the TV spots a bunch of times and looked like a really groovy space movie to me. ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see this.’ So that weekend came about and I went and saw it. To say the least, this is before Star Wars. What did I want? I will say that I do think the TV spots were misleading.


Roger The whole ad campaign was misleading.


Quentin The spots made you think that it’s a Star Trek/Buck Rogers kind of thing. Not all the dare doing, but it just looks like a real standard space movie.


Roger They showed the plasma rifle going off. All the little moments that you could sell to make it look like that.


Quentin They don’t show you anything or give you a hint of the counterculture aspect of it and they don’t give you the ‘gonzo’ anti-establishment quality of it. So I’m thinking it’s just a straight ahead science fiction movie. If the movie they had played had been Luigi Cozzi’s ‘StarCrash,’ I would have thought, ‘Oh, this is it, man. Oh, this is exactly what I wanted to see.’ If I had been shown ‘StarCrash’ when I went and saw ‘Dark Star,’ I would have been completely satisfied. That would have been exactly what I wanted. That would have been exactly what the TV spot showed. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to see ‘StarCrash’ way before it was ever made, when to went see ‘Dark Star’. So what I ended up seeing, I fucking hated. It was very funny watching the movie now with a completely different point of view, because I’ve always said, ‘Oh, I “Dark Star,” I hate “Dark Star.”‘


Roger It almost became fashionable to say it.


Quentin It was interesting watching it now, remembering how much I hated it because everything that I love about the movie now is what irritated the shit out of me at 11. I hated the idea that the crew were these dirty fucking hippie guys. As a little boy, I was so over the fucking hippie thing. I was so over my babysitter’s boyfriends, all right? I was so over seeing those people, the older sons of my mom’s friends. I was so over that whole thing.


Roger My cousins, Jeff and David were those guys. So I got taken to the movie by those guys.


Quentin Not only that: by this point in time, I had seen bad actors before. This was the first time I went to a movie and bought a ticket where I’m sitting there watching the movie thinking, ‘Oh, these guys aren’t bad actors. They’re not even actors. These are amateur actors.’ Everything about them just seemed unprofessional. Everything about them seemed unlike actors.


Roger And they’re playing people you hate.


Quentin Yeah, the counter-culture stuff just bummed me out. One of the biggest laughs is when they go to their barracks, and it’s all porno magazines on the wall and all hippie kind of things. Oh god, I just – it’s like I was repelled from all the anti-establishment aspect of it. I was repelled by the fact that they looked like hippies. I did not like the the Captain. I thought, no way is this guy the captain of the ship.’ When the beach ball alien shows up. Also, I’m 11, so it’s right at that time where you start getting intolerant about stuff. ‘Ugh this is so stupid. Oh. Oh, God. Jeez. Oh, that’s so stupid. So dumb. It’s so stupid. It’s stupid’, and everything. The surfing at the end, ‘It’s just stupid. This is so stupid.’


Roger [Laughter]


Quentin I will admit that as time went on, I started responding to Pinback to some degree. But you have to understand, I’m watching the movie. I’m the only little boy there. Everybody else could be in the fucking movie. They’re all hippie, anti-establishment teenagers or guys in their twenties that are watching the movie. They all get it. They all get it, and they all love it and they’re loving everything I hate. And they’re fucking annoying me. I’m just getting madder and madder and madder because back when I was a little boy and I paid to see a movie and I felt I got hoodwinked, I was mad. And I’m sitting there mad watching the movie, and the fact that they were appreciating everything that made me mad made me mad at them. I’m just sitting there with my arms crossed and ‘This is a fucking rip off, man. Popcorn is the best thing about this fucking movie.’ I haven’t seen it since then.


I watched it with you the other day. I’m practically trepidatious about saying how I feel about the movie now, for the simple fact that the thing that I don’t want to do on this podcast is throw around the M-word. I want the M-word to mean something. The M-word is ‘masterpiece.’ I want the M-word to mean something. I don’t want to throw it around. I don’t want to use the M-word on the very first movie we talk about, but I actually think it applies to ‘Dark Star.’ It’s a science fiction masterpiece. It’s a counter-culture, anti-establishment, hippie filmmaking masterpiece. It’s an early seventies masterpiece. I still agree that the guy playing Boiler is miscast. He looks like some buddy of theirs.


Roger Like a biker, or something.


Quentin Yeah. He looks like some hippie buddy of theirs that they’ve enlisted to to do the movie, and the guy in the –


Roger He looks like an accounting student or something. He was the one guy outside of their group.


Quentin Yeah, well, you can tell. Also the guy in the dome doesn’t really make much of an impression. In the first half of the movie, I don’t really care for Captain Doolittle any more than I did back when I was younger. But he gets better as the movie goes on. In the course of time, he actually does grow as the film goes on. In the the climax of the movie: in his philosophical conversation with bomb 20, he’s fantastic. He’s great in that scene. He builds up until that moment, and I can’t really imagine that scene being done necessarily better. He is pretty terrific in that scene. But the thing that carries the entire movie through is Dan O’Bannon’s comedy performance that I did not appreciate when I was younger and I have not appreciated up until now. It rivals Bruce Campbell’s comedy performance in –


Roger That’s a good comparison.


Quentin – the Evil Dead movies, although they almost seem like there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two of them. The big set piece in the movie, which was added much later as part of the thing that they added for Jack H. Harris to make it feature length, is the entire what seems like a 15 minute set piece with Dan O’Bannon fighting with this alien beach ball monster that they brought on the ship. Now, the thing about the movie is that all the special effects in the film is them literally trying to do the best that they possibly can to make it look like a real movie and make it look like a real spaceship and make it look like real space travel. By the way, they completely predate the jump to lightspeed.


Roger Oh completely.


Quentin In Star Wars. I mean, to such a degree that it’s obvious George Lucas saw this and used the idea for the lightspeed travel.


Roger They’re doing a kind of proto-slit-scan photography.


Quentin It’s impossible that Lucas had not seen that. I mean, we know he saw it.


Roger I even think it’s better, because it feels more like what I imagine real lightspeed would be like. I love that they go into a kind of stasis and there’s a sort of highly graphic quality to that moment. I love that there’s these streaked sparks flying by.


Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Roger Most especially when they come out of lightspeed,


Quentin It just stops!


Roger It just comes dropping out of space, and it had a feeling to it. There’s so many feelings to the way the movie is made, like that feeling of coming out of lightspeed. I think it’s way better than any other lightspeed I’ve ever seen in any other movie. That feeling of coming out of it is sublime. It’s a sublime moment.


Quentin It’s amazing.


Roger The moment with the lightning bolt during the meteor shower, where the lightning bolt strikes the Access Bay and the camera kind of zooms in on the flash. Then you see this kind of highly graphic thing. I mean, it looks like a graphic novel. It looks like it was painted by Mobius or something. It’s like an animation. It has such a tactile, handmade feeling; like they really knew exactly what they were going for. They knew the comic beats that they were going for. Dan O’Bannon, I was convinced my whole life that he was the voice of the bomb. I’ve since heard he wasn’t the voice of the bomb.


Quentin One of the first huge laughs that I had in ‘Dark Star’ while watching it again, is when they’re dropping bomb 19. The conversation that Pinback has with Bomb 19: it goes off to blow up the planet and he’s like, “Okay bye!” After pulling off all these convincing special effects, they have this alien and they purposely make it cheesy. They purposely make it crazy. They take a red beach ball and put Creature From the Black Lagoon feet on it. And then again, like I said, when I was a kid, I despised that sequence.


But here I think it’s one of the great comedy set pieces of that time period and I think ranks up as right there with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell with the attack of the helping hand; the possessed hand sequence from Evil Dead 2. Even now acknowledging. ‘Oh, well, they’re having fun with the fact that it’s a red beach ball.’ Nick Castle is the puppeteer. He’s operating the beach ball alien monster, who later would play the shape in the first ‘Halloween’ film. Nick Castle does a tremendous job making that beach ball come to life. He actually gives it a personality.


Roger It’s a Muppet like performance. Just using his hands.


Quentin He gives it a sense of humor. He gives it a sense of mischievousness. He gives it a sense of malevolence.


Roger It kind of just wants to play. I have a cat like that. It just wants to come get me and claw me in the middle of the night. He just wants to play. I love how when Dan O’Bannon goes in they have some like a lighting effect that’s meant to be some other kind of –


Quentin Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Roger He’s just annoyed with everything, at this point.


Quentin There’s an entire sequence that is just absolute comedy gold, that takes place where Dan O’Bannon is stuck in an elevator shaft fighting the alien. At the end of the day, it’s one of the reasons why people talk about ‘Dark Star’ to this day. It’s this big sequence.


Roger It has a little nod there, in that moment, to ‘2001’ with the explosive bolts of the elevator and “prepare for the explosive bolts going off.”


Quentin What’s funny is, I’m buying the whole elevator shaft thing. I’m not going to relate how it was filmed, you have to figure that out yourself. But as I’m watching it, I’m buying the whole darn thing. Then at some point you go, ‘Well, see, he’s doing a really good job selling the effect,’ and when you said that, that made me figure out how they did it.


Roger Yeah, sorry. Sorry.


Quentin Which made me just appreciate it even more. But up until that time I bought it, I was just there.


Roger He was doing a kind of Harold Lloyd thing.


Quentin Yeah, yeah. He’s absolutely doing a Harold Lloyd.


Roger Amazing comic physical performance. I mean, Bruce Campbell is (again) a great comparison.


Quentin So that is my take on ‘Dark Star.’ I actually think it’s a classic now. I’ve revisited it and I could not be more in love with it. In fact, of all the films that we saw, it’s the one that I keep going back to. It’s the one that kind of haunted me a little bit. I keep finding myself thinking about it, whether it’s that Benson Arizona theme song or –


Roger It’s a very melancholic film.


Quentin O’Bannon’s moment, where he screams out–


Roger Yeah. When the lights turn on in the elevator shaft and when the bolts go off in the elevator, or at least when they are armed in the elevator. When they go off, to be honest, that scene doesn’t end until –


Quentin No, I know. It’s actually my biggest criticism of the whole film is to commit to such a long comic set piece as they do, I’m totally down with. But now you need to end it the right way, and they just kind of wrap it up. You don’t buy how he got out of it. After stretching it out and making it amazing, you don’t buy how they got out of that.


Roger Only then only then do I feel that the scene was inserted into something, that it didn’t really have a satisfying kind of end.


Quentin Yeah, he got himself into all this trouble. He had to get out of it in a way that you buy, and they just kind of wrap it up. Now, the thing is, I have a couple of quotes from going through my literature and stuff. Carpenter gave a quote about ‘Dark Star:’ that ‘after making the movie and releasing it, I thought that once it was out [meaning ‘Dark Star’], the film industry would come rushing at my door and carry me off on their shoulders to another film. So I was somewhat shocked and depressed that no one paid attention.’


Roger Yeah, I’ve been there.


Quentin ‘No one really cared. No one considered it a legitimate film. It may seem like a successful cult movie now, but for me it was a four year struggle.’


Roger Yeah, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pain of that.


Quentin In a similar vein in issue 20 of ‘Fangoria’ from 1982, there’s a roundtable discussion between Landis, Cronenberg and Carpenter by Mick Garris. They’re starting it off, and Mick goes, “Can you describe your experience from the transition from film school to becoming an actual director?” Carpenter kind of repeats this spiel about ‘Dark Star:’ “It’s difficult. I made a film from my own money, about $60,000, and I fought my way with it. Once it was released, I thought all the studio heads were going to come over to my house and limousines knock on the door and say, ‘We’ve seen your film. We know you’re great. Come on, there’s a crew waiting on the street.’


Roger We all think that, to some extent.


Quentin But they didn’t care.” All right, if you look it up in the Michael J. Weldon’s ‘Psychotronic Film Guide,’ the ‘Dark Star’ entry is “an impressive accomplishment that started as a USC project, shot in 16 millimeter and running around 45 minutes. Jack H. Harris put up additional funds so the original footage was blown up to 35mm and 43 minutes were added. The whole thing cost about $60,000 and received a limited theatrical release in 1975 and has since become a midnight and college favorite. Young spacemen fight boredom while on a protracted mission to destroy unstable suns. [Planets, actually] Except for a purposely laughable beach ball alien, the special effects are excellent. Co-script writer Dan O’Bannon also stars as Pinback.


He later wrote ‘Alien,’ a somewhat similar film, but without the comedy of ‘Dark Stars.’ Carpenter went on to demonstrate his directorial skill on ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ and ‘Halloween,’ a soundtrack is available.” Then in the L.A. Reader, Myron Mizell wrote about ‘Dark Star:’ “A witty and stylish science fiction satire by John ‘Asssault on Precint 13/Halloween’ Carpenter and Dan ‘Alien’ O’Bannon, the ‘Dark Star’ is the intergalactic bomber wandering through the universe on a vaguely Nixonian mission [I like the description of a Nixonian future] to destroy unpopulated planets that might stand in the way of space travel. The ship’s crew is variously bored, blissed out and relentlessly rambunctious. By introducing human eccentricities, mostly of a Southern Californian ilk, into the cold structure of sci fi, Carpenter creates a vision of the technological future that is both disillusioned and oddly affirmative in its insistence on the unscientific survival of emotional frailty. Amazingly, the film was made on a reported budget of $60,000.”


Roger We know that Dan O’Bannon is Pinback, and I think the hint of this is the bottle music machine. Do you think Doolittle is meant to be representative of Carpenter?


Quentin Well,


Roger Do you think that’s who Carpenter would place himself as, within the movie?


Quentin No, I don’t see Carpenter being as disillusioned as Doolittle is. He doesn’t care about anything. “Give me something to blow up.”


Roger He cares about what he remembers in the past.


Quentin Oh he does care about what he remembers. I see what you’re talking about, however, there’s only one reason I would say, ‘Wait a second.’ In that making of documentary, I actually thought that Doolittle playing that bottle organ was a Carpenter touch that he brought to it. But Carpenter hated that sequence entirely. That was one of the things that they added that he hated. .


Roger That’s right. They said that in the making of.


Quentin Before we move off of ‘Dark Star,’ we watched it on United Home Video. Which also released other films under the United Home video label: ‘Hustler Squad,’ Gorgo,’ ‘The Night Visitor’ with Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow. Another that they put together was another hippie science fiction classic; ‘Glen and Randa,’ by Jim McBride. Eddie Romero’s ‘Beyond Atlantis.’


Roger Early American New Wave.


Quentin Charles Band’s ‘Dracula’s Dog.’ Yeah. Also, Eddie Romero’s –


Roger I worked for Charlie Band for a while.


Quentin Yeah, I know you did. ‘Beast of the Yellow Night’ and the infamous Manson documentary that we watched a zillion times at Video Archives.


Roger God, look at this box. They went all out on this beautiful box.


Quentin Yeah, they did.


Roger Did you use this? Did you watch this? Of course. I mean, you must have.


Quentin Oh yeah. All the girls in the movie all had their own DVD of this. Yeah, but they also did movies like Jack Palance’s ‘One Man Jury,’ ‘Toolbox Murders,’ ‘The Devil’s Rain.’.


Roger I love ‘The Devil’s Rain.’ I definitely want to talk about that one later.


Quentin ‘Crater Lake Monster’ and Alastair Sim’s ‘Christmas Carol.’ That was United Home Video and they were a cool little company.


Clip from Dark Star trailer 20 years in space, 1 million light years. Their job is to clear a path for the colonization of space. “Back home, in Malibu, I used to surf a lot. I used to be a great surfer.” Travel in an infinite universe with mind building excitement from beyond the storms. ‘Dark Star.’ They are not lost in space. They are loose.


Ad copy ‘Dark Star’ with co-hit ‘Life Force’ will be playing on August 1st and 2nd on glorious 35 millimeter film at the New Beverly Cinema: 7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. For further information, go to the newbev.com. The New Beverly Cinema. Always on film.


Quentin Okay, and we’re back and starting the second half of our show. We are joined by our announcer, Gala Avary. Say hello to the nice people out there.


Gala Hello, everyone out there listening.


Roger Happens to be my daughter.


Gala Daughter and producer. Yes.


Roger So, Gala, we’ve been talking about these films. Which of these films did you managed to see?


Gala I actually managed to watch both the movies for this episode. For everyone out there in podcast land, you guys are in luck. ‘Dark Star’ is available pretty much everywhere. I watched mine out of my dad’s DVD collection, and I also have some special secret VHS tapes for you today, Quentin.


Quentin Oh, really?


Gala Yes. Straight from eBay.


Quentin Excellent. Excellent.


Roger And actually, before you begin, I should probably just say; while we were doing our stuff and I was watching all this, I didn’t supply Gala really with anything other than you told her the titles that we were doing. I just left her to her own devices.


Roger Gala does not have access to the Video Archives collection that I do and (via me) Roger does. So the idea is Gala is just a regular person out there trying to hunt these titles down the way you out in radio land might be hunting these titles down, and she’s either successful or she’s not.


Gala Thankfully this time I was successful.


Quentin And this time you were successful.


Quentin And I haven’t really talked to you about this at all. So I’m super excited.


Gala We kept this all under wraps so well. Today the first one you guys talked about was ‘Dark Star,’ which I was shown also when I was 12 years old by my dad. I have to tell you, the only thing I remember about ‘Dark Star’ is the alien sequence. It is ‘Alien’ for children, basically. In my brain when I was rewatching, I was like, ‘Where’s the alien?’ That’s supposed to be the entire movie in my brain, and I was like, ‘No, no, no, it’s not the entire film.’


Quentin When you rewatched the movie?


Gala When I rewatched the movie. I was waiting for that alien, and it’s only there for like 15, 20 minutes and I’m thinking, ‘Where did it go? Oh, it’s dead.’ But upon rewatching it, I’m able to appreciate, especially, the dialogue of the movie. I find the dialogue so witty, so interesting, so quick, and the visuals are so cool. I know you guys were talking about whether a younger audience connect with these visuals or not. The answer is yes. When I’m sitting there (sorry to all the Marvel fans out there) and I’m watching a movie that’s just big painted CGI. I get kind of bored.


Quentin Yeah, me too.


Gala And when I look and I see Dark Star, man, it has style. It’s so cool. You can tell that there is the artist’s paintbrush on every frame of the movie. It’s exciting. I love that. Obviously, my favorite character is Pinback. Dan O’Bannon is amazing in this movie, and I think it’s important because you guys were talking about how ‘2001’ has obviously influenced ‘Dark Star,’ but you guys didn’t really talk about the influence that ‘Dark Star’ had on modern comedic science fiction; including ‘Galaxy Quest,’ where Guy is Pinback. He’s that guy that’s not supposed to be on the ship. But he is.


Quentin Oh, the Sam Rockwell character. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Gala He’s the one guy that knows and cares. He looks them says, “Haven’t you guys seen the show before?’ That’s Pinback.


Roger He’s literally, the lowest status person on the crew. He doesn’t even belong on that crew, Sam Rockwell.


Quentin He knows he’s the most disposable.


Roger ‘I’m the red shirt! I didn’t have a name!’


Gala But that’s the influence I think that ‘Dark Star’ has had. Also you guys brought up something really interesting in your podcast earlier when you said, ‘Who is John Carpenter in this movie?’ Well, John Carpenter is not Doolittle. He’s the guy up in the bubble. He actually re-voices the guy up in the bubble.


Roger Wow, that’s Carpenter’s voice?


Gala That’s Carpenter’s voice.


Quentin I didn’t know that.


Gala Yeah. Which I believe is spoken about either in the audio commentary on the DVD.


Roger That super fan audio commentary?


Gala The super fan audio commentary on the DVD, which is what I watched, is that Carpenter (because the actor had such a thick and heavy accent) re-voiced the character. So if I was going to say, ‘Who is Carpenter’s self insert?’ It would be him.


Quentin The stunt guy in the bubble [laughing]


Gala Who’s going to fly off. And he’s like, ‘Oh, look at the pretty lights. They’re so pretty. I’m one of them.’ ‘I have to tell you something. It’s really important…’


Quentin I think that is the funniest thing I’ve heard this year. And again, I remember everyone laughing at the theater and me being mad at them. ‘But let me tell you this one last thing. It’s most important. Don’t ever…’


Gala I think it’s a great moment.


Roger And he’s going to tour the galaxy forever. Glowing like one of the stars, and maybe that is Carpenter.


Quentin Well, thank you very much for this mid-show report.


Gala Thank you guys so much for having me.


Quentin Thank you.






Audio from ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ [singing] We’re just cocaine cowboys. We’re just cocaine cowboys.


Quentin So now we’re going to move on to the next film, ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’


Roger Which was a first for me.


Quentin Well, this was definitely a first for myself as well. I’ve known about this movie. I’ve never heard it was good. I’ve never heard anybody say anything good about it. I never heard it was necessarily good. However, in the eighties, it did play from time to time in colleges and the calendars of revival houses, usually with a Warhol title. So you could see it with Andy Warhol’s ‘Bad’ or it might play with something like ‘200 Motels’ because of the title. Now I’m going to read the back of the video box that explains the story, which is not going to do a good job of it, by the way. “This thriller concerns the exploits of a struggling rock band whose members resort to drug smuggling in order to finance their music career. They end up in deep trouble with mobsters and hired killers. Special appearance by Andy Warhol. Rated R for Nudity and Graphic Violence. Rated R, 90 minutes.”


Roger This is everything you would need to say, except for the fact that you’ve got Jack Palance in this movie.


Quentin Yes, exactly.


Roger Now, why wouldn’t they say that in there? Why wouldn’t you sell Jack Palance?


Quentin Well, they should have. The basic storyline of the story (normally, I’ll try not to do this but on this one, that was insufficient so I’ll do it) is Tom Sullivan plays a guy who is a rock star. He’s got a band, and strangely the name of the band is never mentioned.


Roger I just assume they were the Cocaine Cowboys.


Quentin Yeah. Well, that would be a good name for them. But as they’re talked about in the abstract, the name of the band is never mentioned in the course of the movie. But their manager is Jack Palance. Their lead singer is Tommy Sullivan, and he’s playing himself in the film. It seems like the band is really, really starting to take off. They’re really starting to make a name for themselves. However, the way that they got started is they started working for these gangster guys and they became cocaine cowboys. What cocaine cowboys are is they’re smugglers. They would get a bunch of cocaine in duffel bags or whatever, and they would put them on a small single Cessna, an amateur airplane.


Roger Small airplane.


Quentin That would fly from Colombia or Mexico into America


Roger  First to Florida, then up to New York.


Quentin  Yes, exactly. Then while they’re in the sky, before they land, they will toss the drugs out of the airplane at a certain designated place somewhere out in the woods or in some open area. Then our heroes, the rock group, will pick up the drugs on horseback and that’s how the drugs are smuggled into America. But now the band is now starting to do really well, so they want to disassociate themselves from the smuggling business and just be a rock band. Jack Palance wants to help them with that. However, what happens is, they’re doing one of their cocaine runs and the guy in the plane sees some cops and he freaks at the airport. So he throws out the drugs. He just gets rid of the drugs, not at the designated place. Just throws it out by the beach somewhere. So it’s not the cocaine cowboys fault that this happens. Nevertheless, they’re on the hook for the drugs.


Roger ‘I don’t care where the drugs are. I want my money.’


Quentin Yeah, exactly. ‘You bought them.’ So they’re under the gun to come up with the money for the drugs or to find the drugs. So they spend a lot of the movie scouring on horseback looking for where the drugs possibly fell.


Roger There’s endless magic hour shots of them riding around on horses on these rocky, marshy lands. It’s really beautiful. Lyrical.


Quentin So that’s it. That’s the setup for the plot of the movie, what the movie is really about is two things: one, it’s it’s setting up the lead star of the film, Tommy Sullivan, as a rock star. There are many scenes of him and his band rehearsing, him and his band playing different songs. Eventually playing the Cocaine Cowboys song, which I actually quite like.


Roger You end up missing it at the end.


Quentin You absolutely want a reprise. You absolutely want to playing in the closing credits. Punctuated with these standalone scenes of Jack Palance, he probably only worked for three days and they did pretty much all of his stuff, either within a week or within three days. However, he’s fantastic in the movie. He’s completely doing an Alan Garfield in ‘Skateboard: The Movie,’ where most of the movie you can tell (even though there probably was a script to some degree or another) is pretty much improvised by the actor throughout the film. But Jack Palance’s improvisations are fantastic. He makes the film. Every sequence he’s in is just funny and it’s exciting. He looks amazing. He looks fit and handsome.


Roger He’s like the Jack Palance who’s doing one armed pushups on stage, or something.


Quentin He looks terrific and he looks like he’s having a great time. He looks like he’s having a great time and we’re having a great time. Whether or not you respond to this movie, is all going to be dependent on whether or not you respond to Tommy Sullivan; the lead. I think most of the people who don’t like the movie go, ‘Ah, it’s a horrible band and I can’t stand them. I hate the songs. I hate him. It’s a fucking drag.’ Well, I actually disagree. I actually thought he was really groovy, I really got into Tommy Sullivan. He’s like a Michael Madsen type of guy, alright. Dresses like a cowboy. He’s like a hippie Michael Madsen. Michael Madsen playing a seventies era Bob Dylan, is kind of what Tommy Sullivan is in this.


Roger Robbing bits of Billy Jack’s wardrobe.


Quentin Yes, exactly. I think he’s a good singer and he’s really coming on. He takes his shirt off when he sings and goes on to be really sexy. But I think he’s got a really powerful voice, I think he’s got a real good lead rock star singer’s voice. I like the songs, as Ulli Lommel is prone to do, he overused is that one song too many times. I would rather have had at least five different songs, but I actually really like the music in the film. One of the things about the movie that makes it work, rather than just this weird patchwork of various scenes, this that this movie actually is one of the more realistic movies about a drug deal gone wrong that I think I’ve ever seen.


Roger Yeah.


Quentin One of the things that actually gives this Tommy Sullivan and consequently the movie itself, authenticity is that it’s pretty fucking obvious this is who Tommy Sullivan is. He’s obviously a drug smuggler. He’s definitely more of a drug smuggler than he actually is a rock star. Even though I buy the rock star aspect as far as they’re selling it in the course of the movie. But he definitely is a drug dealer. He definitely is a drug smuggler. Everything about it is authentic. You buy it, you know? ‘This is this guy’s story. This is why they’re making the movie. He does all this.’ In reality, he was one of the most known drug smugglers of his era. He actually didn’t do cocaine, he actually smuggled marijuana and hashish. But he did it exactly this way, by renting airplanes and dumping shit out and catching it and having a team on horseback.


Roger Yeah


Quentin But again, that’s another aspect about the movie that works really well, is him and his band mates look fucking bitchin on their horses in their hippie cowboy outfits. It’s obvious they know how to ride horses. There’s a comfortability on the horses. This weird aspect of cocaine cowboys, of this hippie cowboy movie, they capture that. They absolutely capture that. There are moments in showing them in the drug dealing on the horses riding to do the things that they’re doing that suggests a hippie Peckinpah.


Roger For sure.


Quentin It’s one of the things that stops it from being a bunch of unrelated scenes that, while entertaining initially wears out its welcome, which is like a lot of these movies. That happens a lot, a lot of the reviews will end up doing on this show were like, ‘Okay, it was great, and then there’s that last 30 minutes and then it runs out of fucking gas.’ That’s going to be a lot of the movies, where we’re going to say that. Because that’s a lot of movies. But ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ actually does hold together all the way to the end. Because at the end of the day, it is a crime film. It actually is about a drug deal. To top it all off, there is a whole reveal; there’s a whole third act reveal about what happened to the money that I was not expecting. It was actually kind of clever. I bought it.


Roger Yeah, it was completely realistic too. It was actually how it would really play out


Quentin The way the drug deal plays out is about as realistic as anything I’ve ever seen in a movie about this subject. Yeah, I mean, it’s like, ‘Oh, that obviously happened to somebody.’


Roger You know, when we first started watching this film, I didn’t know anything. You called me up and you were like, ‘Ulli Lommel, Ulli Lommel.’ The only thing I knew about him was Fassbinder. Yeah. He was part of that gang.


Quentin The Fassbinder new German cinema gang in the early 70’s.


Roger [mangled attempt at pronouncing a german film title] or whatever they called it, part of the Oberkampf movement.


Quentin New queer cinema, all that. Yeah.


Roger Yeah it was. Well, it was actually even more than that because this was an entire generation of filmmakers who had no forefathers in cinema to look up to, to base their styles on. They didn’t have that because Germany had just gone through a period of barbarism. So instead they looked to the French new wave and all these Germans looked to what was happening in France; which was light cameras and sensitive film stocks. ‘Grab a camera, go out and catch something.’ Ulli Lommel comes to New York. He makes ‘Blank Generation,’ and then he makes this film.


Quentin His biggest claim to legitimacy is after starring in the Fassbinder films, he does a movie about a German serial killer that Fassbinder produces called ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’ that I’ve always heard about but I’ve never seen. It’s notorious, but apparently is pretty good. It has a bunch of the Fassbinder actors in it, Fassbinder is even in it himself. That was his claim to legitimacy. Then he came to New York and then he did his underground New Wave movie, which was ‘Blank Generation.’


Roger Which I hadn’t seen.


Quentin Yeah, well, I’d heard about it. Never seen it. We watched it after we saw ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ We watched it as a research movie.


Roger Which is interesting because the two movies, he’s really –


Quentin There’s a symbiotic relationship between the two, even though I don’t like ‘Blank Generation’ at all.


Roger Exactly. But ideas are thought out in ‘Blank Generation’ that would later be fulfilled in ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’


Quentin I agree. That’s very well said.


Roger Well, and that was kind of the CSI component of watching Cocaine Cowboys: the movie begins with this interview scene where Andy Warhol is interviewing Tom. You immediately can tell: either this guy is an amazing actor or he’s really recounting things that are real that really happened. ‘Oh, that guy must be a real drug dealer.’ I started just studying it and seeing, ‘Okay, it’s coverage. It’s two cameras. He’s got one in a dolly. He’s got another one where he’s catching close ups of people that’s just moving back and forth and catching closeups.’ And then I noticed there’s all these rehearsal sequences where he and his band are rehearsing, and it’s the same setups.


Quentin They rented Andy Warhol’s house in Montauk and shot the film there. Andy Warhol is actually in the movie as Andy Warhol throughout it. Actually, I liked him in it. I actually thought he was a neat element to it.


Roger He’s kind of fantastic. He’s super naturalistic. He’s actually asking the questions.


Quentin You can tell he actually has a fondness for Tommy Sullivan.


Roger Yeah. There’s that other interview scene where they’re looking at pictures and Tommy Sullivan’s talking about his hand.


Quentin Yeah. Well, one of the things about the film, which I have to say I didn’t notice it at first until it came up, is that he wears this really gorgeous white leather glove throughout the movie. He ends up talking about why he wears that glove and it turns out (and again, you realize that this is actually true) that he was on an airplane (probably doing a drug deal) and the plane crashed and he was terribly burnt and his hand was burnt to a nub.


Roger It’s just bone.


Quentin Yeah and so now he wears this glove wherever he goes.


Roger To hide the hideous claw.


Quentin Now, in ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries,’ in the entry dated January 9th, 1978, set in Halston’s townhouse, it reads: ‘Then Peter Beard came in with a guy who had a beautiful glove and a bottle of Coke in the other hand. Then later he showed us the hand, which was a stump. It looked like in the movies when they showed “The Fiendish Ghoul.” He lost it in a plane crash, his third plane crash, a DC-10 that he owns. He passed the bottle of Coke around.’ In the book ‘The Last Party,’ it reveals that man was Tom Sullivan and he was from Tampa, Florida: “Beard, a photographer and socialite who had been introduced to him by the tennis player, Sullivan looked like a charming rube and a former football player, which he was. What with his leather clothes, and his western hat. He also looked like a country rocker in a sixties band. Sullivan, in brief, may have seemed like an unlikely addition to the inner core of the club, except that he always seemed to have amazing quantities of both drugs and money.


So the Corps swiftly enfolded Sullivan into their embrace.” Two interesting quotes on Sullivan, both from ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries’ and from ‘The Last Party.’ So my thoughts, ultimately, on ‘Cocaine Cowboys:’ I really dug it. I really dug it. I was surprised. I expected it to be interesting, but I expected it to run out of gas. To me, it didn’t run out of gas. It’s the one that I was tempted to look at again but I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to put it under that much of a microscope. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it if I watched it again. I’m not sold on Ulli Lommel as a filmmaker, but I think he pulled off something with ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ One of the things that I really appreciate about the movie is that I think this film captures the esthetic that Dennis Hopper, as a filmmaker, was always trying to capture and never quite captured. I mean, you can make a case that he captured it in ‘Easy Rider’ and you’d be right.


However, he originally had a four hour cut of ‘Easy Rider’ which was cut down to make the film. But if these wild movies that Dennis Hopper had in his head in the first half of the seventies, if he had actually been able to make them and they had actually been coherent and could actually carry off like a real commercial movie (well, as a commercially released movie) they would have been like ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ I think that is the style that he was after, if he had ever found it. I’m making more of a case about Tommy Sullivan. I was prepared to make more of a case about Ulli Lommel until I saw ‘Blank Generation.’


Roger What do you think about his relationship with Fassbinder? Because it’s not like he works with Fassbinder again. He Fassbinder are close. He’s younger than Fassbinder. Fassbinder is part of that whole Oberkampf manifesto group. He was at the front of the new German cinema with Wim Wenders and Herzog and those guys. Lommel isn’t second generation, but is clearly like his (I don’t want to say protege, but-


Quentin It would appear it would appear that he was part of the Fassbinder camp and that was for sure in Germany. Then he moved to New York and then became part of the Andy Warhol camp. He traded one camp for another.


Roger And the question is why leave that camp? Unless the money was also being used for ‘Blank Generation,’ at that time in Germany, they had formed their own system because the German industry was kind of broken. So they formed their own distribution entity.


Quentin Why would he go to New York to make shitty exploitation movies? That I do not know. It seems like he has a good situation making gonzo art movies, I do not have an answer for that.


Roger There it is. The whole thing is watching it, I’m always thinking about production and economy of production. How do you get the most for less? We’ve just come off of a $40,000 film. This movie was for sure more than that, this is probably $300 or $400K.


Quentin I’d heard up to a million.


Roger Really?


Quentin I heard in some places, yeah.


Roger What they tell you. That’s what the producers say.


Quentin In some of the reports I’ve heard up to a million and I find that hard to believe. But there is a quality of camerawork. There is a quality of film. There is a quality to it that it-


Roger That is possible because they may have been searching for moments and that takes time, and you can definitely feel that someone was taking time to do things. However, so much of it is, ‘Okay, we’ve got this bed,’ which is the narration with Andy Warhol, ‘We’ve got these beds of music sequences where we’re rehearsing, that are endless.’ It goes on and on and on, and the movie is designed as a showcase for all of that.


Quentin Then we have our Jack Palance scene.


Roger And then we’ve got your four days with Jack Palance; where you jam him in and somehow- You get him high, probably. That’s probably why he’s so fucking on fire in the movie, is he’s on cocaine. He must be because he’s just outstanding.


Quentin He’s outstanding in the film.


Roger And you’re right. He is doing the Alan Garfield thing; where he has a very, very loose script (written by a German, probably) and he’s gonna make it his own.


Quentin He’s there to riff and make something out of nothing and he does.


Roger Oh, he brings it all.


Quentin He’s awesome. It’s just he’s amazing in it. So enjoyable.


Roger Then you’ve got these long, highly lyrical shots around Montauk. Just shooting them riding around on their horses through the marshes, searching for the cocaine and actually, I mean-


Quentin And again: you don’t expect the drug story to start getting into the minutia of it in the second half, and it does. There’s actually a plot that turns in a way you don’t expect it to.


Roger I’m saying it’s like 30% plot, 70% feeling.


Quentin Yes.


Roger There’s all this feeling going on and then you start realizing that this is all based on him actually talking to Andy Warhol. In those days, everybody loves an outlaw. He’s there in New York and they’re among all the glam people and all the glam people want to hang out with an outlaw and he’s telling them all these stories. Ulli Lommel is hanging out in that scene, and he’s just done ‘Blank Generation.’ It just makes sense.


Quentin So I finished the film and I’m like, ‘Well, who the fuck is this Tommy Sullivan guy?’ I go and find out. I do a lot of research now. Also, if you’re trying to go do research on Tommy Sullivan, you’re going to get screwed up a little bit on the Internet because there is that dorky blind singer guy, Tom Sullivan, from the seventies that’s out there. I hate him, he was on every talk show when I was a kid. I fucking hated that guy. In finding out who Tommy Sullivan is, he’s actually talked about quite a bit. He’s quite a character. In the book, ‘The Last Party,’ which is the book about Studio 54 by Anthony Hayden Guest. He’s also mentioned quite a bit in ‘The Warhol Diaries.’


He’s a main character in a couple of Albery Goldman articles and he’s mentioned in Margaret Trudeau’s autobiography, which will become clear later when I tell the Tommy Sullivan story. So basically what happened with Tommy Sullivan, is around 77′, he hits New York. in ‘The Last Party,’ the first mention of Tommy Sullivan is quoted as ‘a gangly Floridian with blue eyes, pink skin and longish fair hair.’ That’s how he’s described. He’s not just a successful drug smuggler, he’s one of the most known legendary drug smugglers of his time because he’s the one who came up with the whole concept of putting them in mini airplanes and dropping them. In fact, it’s even quoted as saying that the talk about Tommy Sullivan is: ‘Before Tommy Sullivan, drug smuggling was done on wheels. Tommy’s the one that gave it wings.’


All of a sudden, this cowboy hippie shows up in New York City with $2 million in cash and he wants to have a good time. So where does he go? Studio 54. He’s got drugs. He’s got unlimited cash and apparently, (in ‘The Last Party,’ according to one of the bartenders) he was the best tipper at Studio 54. He would go to Studio 54, he would ask for a Jack Daniels and he’d want the Jack Daniels poured right up to the rim. And then when they did that, he’d put $100 down. He would pay for every drink he ever bought at Studio 54 with $100, no matter what it cost. So from that point on, that bartender made sure that he always took care of Tommy Sullivan. So, he becomes a scenester there and while being a scenester, he becomes friendly with the Warhol mob that’s hanging out at Studio 54. At the same time all this is happening, Margaret Trudeau has left her husband (the Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau) and she’s in New York and she’s there to have a good time.


Roger She’s there to party.


Quentin She’s there to party. And so by hanging out with Andy Warhol, she meets Tommy Sullivan and they have an affair. There’s even a picture of them dancing together in ‘The Last Party.’ You can imagine how terrible this was for Pierre Trudeau, while he’s the prime minister.


Roger Yeah he’s the standing Prime Minister.


Quentin Not only is his wife in New York, catting around in public where paparazzi is filming her and everybody knows it. The last person you would want your wife to have an affair with is this skeezy drug dealer who thinks he’s a cowboy Michael Madsen. He’s the last guy you want with your wife. Well, but that’s what time it is.


Roger But they actually make a really good couple because she’s kind of elegant and chic and he’s kind of grimy.


Quentin Yeah, exactly.


Roger They actually look really good together.


Quentin There’s another Warhol gal, Kathryn Guinness. He’s having an affair with her, but also hanging around with Warhol and becoming part of Warhol’s little crew. He’s hanging out with people like Isabella Rossellini, Bianca Jagger, and Claus Von Bulow. He’s hanging out with all of them.


Roger Ol’ ‘Trust fund Bulow.’ All of them.


Quentin Yeah. All right. You’d probably throw in Truman Capote in there. Liz Taylor, too.


Roger Okay, now it’s all of them.


Quentin But also Ulli Lommel is one of them. So he now knows Ulli Lommel a little bit and he goes and visits the set (probably) ‘Blank Generation.’ He’s watching ‘Blank Generation’ being made and he’s watching them shoot Richard Hell and orchestrate everything around that. Warhol’s in that, and Sullivan sitting there watching this thing thinking, ‘Hey. This would be pretty fucking cool. I kind of like this.’ And he kind of wants to be a singer. He’s seeing the treatment that Richard Hell is getting. So he goes up to Lommel and says, “Look, if I can get the money and if I can get a name actor to agree to be in the film, would you be interested in doing a movie starring me? It’d be a similar thing to what you’re doing with Richard Hell: I get to sing, I get to do this and I’ll also tell my drug story. Will you direct the movie?’


And Lommel goes, ‘Yeah, sure. Fuck yeah, of course I’ll do it.’ So they write the film. Now at the same time, there are two other guys that Sullivan meets at this time: a guy named Tom Forshade and Lech Kowalski. They want to get into the moviemaking business. So basically, with Tommy’s drug money, he grubstakes them to get them going and they end up making two movies. The first movie is the famous punk rock documentary, ‘DOA.’ That’s the movie that has the big Sid and Nancy interview in it. The second movie is ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ Now, I heard that Tommy Sullivan grubstakes the movie. Also doing other research, I think he paid for the whole goddamn movie himself. At least when it comes to ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ he paid for the whole damn movie.


Roger It’s a vanity project, if we’re really talking about it, but.


Quentin It is, absolutely.


Roger A film of caprice. I mean.


Quentin I’ve heard different figures, as far as the budget of it is concerned, but I’ve even heard it being referred to as $1,000,000. That is the Tommy Sullivan story. He makes ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’ I couldn’t find out if it ever got a theatrical release in Los Angeles during its initial theatrical run. It did play in New York and it got a bad review in The New York Times. I think after that, that’s when it started falling into the repertory house circuit and the college circuit and the cult/midnight or whatever.


Roger The late night circuit.


Quentin Later, Tommy’s affair with Margaret Trudeau blew up. She actually dumped him for Jack Nicholson for a while. He was trying to get out of the drug business. I heard at some point, some gangster showed up in New York and he gave them a million of his dollars in order to keep from getting killed. He had a situation similar to what happened in the movie, except it didn’t happen with an airplane. It happened with a fishing boat. There is no band. They put together the band themselves for the film. It didn’t do for him what he wanted. He wasn’t able to get a recording contract out of it. He did later marry. I believe she was Miss Holland or something, and then he died in 81′. I think he was around 26. How he died, it’s not sure. The way Albert Goldman talks, you could believe that he was murdered by gangsters. Since it’s not recorded in the obituary exactly how he died, it suggests that he died of either an overdose or of pneumonia, or complications due to his drug use. That’s best we got.


Roger It sounds like HIV, to be honest. We’re talking about that time period. So.


Quentin Yeah. In Warhol’s diaries, he suggests that Tommy died due to the needle and one of his associates, Kowalski, suggests that he died due to pneumonia.


Roger Both can be true. The needle can give you pneumonia.


Quentin And that is the Tommy Sullivan story. So we watched ‘Cocaine Cowboy’s on the New Pacific Pictures video label, which is a fly by night video label that I was looking up. I found one other film in the collection that I have, it’s a South African slave drama called ‘Slavers;’ with Trevor Howard, Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell and Brett Eklund. I have always wanted to see this movie. I remember when it came out, it came out on the lower half of a double feature. We’ll check it out one of these days. That’s the only New Pacific Pictures other film that I found in the collection (not to say we don’t have others). They specialized in films like ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ in that they’re a bunch of public domain movies or movies that fell into a never, never land that a bunch of other outfits released. So they also released ‘A Ride in the Whirlwind,’ Monte Hellman’s Western. The Italian women in prison movie, ‘The Big Bust Out” and the horror title ‘Three on a Meat Hook.’ Those are some of the other New Pacific Pictures films. However, I will give New Pacific Pictures a shout out: while the box is completely anonymous, it has no pictures of the actors on it. It’s just a picture of the Roxy, a weird night vision picture of the Roxy on Hollywood Boulevard. As if that has anything to do with the movie.


Roger Yeah, which makes absolutely no sense.


Quentin Yeah, it has nothing to do with the movie. No pictures of Jack Palance, no pictures of anything, especially for a movie that actually has a really great one sheet. But you know what? The film is obviously made in SP, it has that nice heavy kind of SP heft to it. It was a really surprisingly good transfer from what looked like a very good 35 millimeter print. I mean, a really unblemished 35 millimeter print.


Roger It was very nice looking.


Quentin But also enjoyably not mint either. It had seen a projector or two in its day, but with very little wear and tear.


Roger It’s funny, this movie is such-


Quentin If the rest of the New Pacific Pictures transfers are as good as ‘Cocaine Cowboy,’ then way to go, company.


Roger This movie is such an East Coast Atlantic film that it’s funny that it’s released here by New Pacific and they’ve got a thing on Hollywood Boulevard.


Quentin Yeah, exactly.


Roger They’ve pacific-ized a very East Coast movie.


Quentin Yeah, it’s such a New York rock scene. Montauk, no less.


Gala Quentin. Here you go. Here is my VHS copy from Video Gems.


Quentin I can’t wait for us to have our first Video Gems tape on here.


Gala But here’s my copy of ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’


Roger Well that’s a really good box.


Quentin That’s bad ass, man.


Roger Did this box come out after or before?


Quentin What do you mean “after or before”?


Roger After this box.


Quentin Well, I’m sure this probably came out a little later. It first came out on media, then eventually (I guess) Video Gems got it and then any fly by night company could get a print.


Gala But I think it has a really cool opening sequence like you guys said, which is a little bit marred by it being repeated again and again, like in ‘Generation.’ Quentin, it’s interesting that you mentioned that it would play with ‘Heat.’ Especially because Elliot Goldenthal did the soundtrack for this and he also did the soundtrack for ‘Heat.’


Quentin Oh, okay. That makes sense, yeah.


Gala So it’s interesting. He also did ‘Interview with a Vampire’ and ‘Pet Sematery.’


Quentin In revival houses and college campuses, it was just an easy one. They probably had a few copies laying around the film exchange house, so it was very easy to pair with a Warhol centric movie. Actually a movie that it got paired with a lot, was that Eddie Sedgwick documentary, ‘Ciao, Manhattan.’ That’s where it played a lot, was with ‘Bad’ and ‘Ciao, Manhattan.’


Roger We have that here somewhere, don’t we?


Quentin Yeah, we have ‘Ciao, Manhattan.’


Gala One thing I felt that you guys didn’t really touch upon, in your discussion of ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ was the strange (I’m going to just say fetishistic) homo-erotic ness of the film. I don’t know if either of you picked up on it.


Quentin I don’t think I did. We’ve seen so many homo erotic movies.


Roger We were cuddling while watching it, so.


Quentin ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ didn’t break the surface of all the shit we’ve been watching lately.


Gala I think it’s really, really fascinating because the drug dealers, their nicknames for each other are ‘Daddy-O’ and ‘Baby.’ ‘Just Call me “Baby.”‘ It’s this interesting, strange thing.


Quentin It’s one of my favorite lines of the whole thing is when the drug dealer says ‘Just call me baby’ and Jack Palance goes, [doing a Jack Palance impression] ‘Okay, if you insist, baby.’


Gala And beyond that, the funniest scene (for me) in the movie is the baby powder sex scene. When the assistant houseboy and the maid are kind of romping around and she’s like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ And he’s like, ‘Get the baby powder.’


Quentin And the maid is Susanna Love. That’s Ulli Lommel’s wife.


Roger Who was in almost all of his movies, if not all of them.


Quentin Well for a while. Yeah.


Roger Yeah.


Gala That scene just made no sense to me whatsoever. It was a strange, fetishistic thing that just kind of came out of nowhere. Really fun and interesting, but.


Quentin Okay, you heard my fascination for Tommy Sullivan. What was your take on Tommy Sullivan?


Gala You know, I liked the music in the movie, but I wasn’t so captivated by him. I actually enjoyed the music in this movie more than ‘Blank Generation.’ But I wasn’t so captivated by his character in his story. I think the scene when he’s on the horse at the very end and he’s calling the guy out, but he’s wrong. That’s the most interesting moment that he has for me. Other than that, I kind of was more interested actually in the houseboy assistant and the maid.


Quentin Oh, you were? Okay. Then you’re in luck because they end up taking over the third act.


Gala Yeah, exactly. Also, I liked the Asian chef who I felt was a little underutilized.


Quentin Yeah, yeah, I agree with that. He was a cool character.


Gala This movie is way more interesting knowing the back story that Quentin and Rogers just talked about. When I did not know this backstory, it was a little bit of a snooze fest for me. But hearing that this is like an actual ‘based on true events’ thing that is based on someone’s actual life; that they did these things. That makes you go, ‘Huh? I wish I would’ve paid a little bit more attention to those aspects of the movie.’ I think this movie is definitely something that could have a rewatch for me.


Roger You would revisit?


Gala And re-appreciate it. Yeah.


Quentin You watched a couple of our background films, as far as Ulli Lommel. Right?


Gala Yes, and actually I was aware of Ulli Lommel because he has the ninth lowest rated movie on Letterboxd. So I was aware of him.


Quentin Which one?


Gala It’s one of his newer movies. I always mix these up, it’s either ‘Daniel the Magician’ or ‘Daniel the Wizard’


Roger I think it’s ‘Daniel the Magician’


Gala I think it’s ‘Daniel the magician.’ But apparently that movie is notorious. People hate Ulli Lommel for it. I was like, ‘God, this guy, he must be terrible.’ Then I watched ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ and I was like, ‘He’s not that bad.’ Then I watched ‘The Boogeyman’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, I really like “The Boogeyman.”‘ I know that might not be the case in the whole room right now, but I really like ‘The Boogeyman’ but I thought it had style and I thought it was fun.


Quentin Here’s the deal about ‘The Boogeyman,’ is that I didn’t see it when it came out. I remember when it came out, I think it was actually seeing John Carradine so high in the credits. I was like, ‘Well, that’s never a good sign.’ Even though I like John Carradine. Actually, he’s one of my more favorite things in the movie, especially the fact that he has a real role. He serious in the film. It’s nice for him to commit to playing a real role in a movie, not just a goofy cameo.


Roger All they’re able to do is put him in a chair, and it’s always the same chair.


Quentin But he’s serious, though. He’s really a serious performance. He’s playing a serious character that has something to do with the movie. He’s not being paraded as a grotesquerie. I didn’t see it, then Ulli Lommel became infamous, so I was like, ‘Well, I don’t wanna see this.’ Then I ended up picking up a print, a 35 millimeter print, of ‘Boogeyman’ about four or five years ago. When I picked up the print, I thought, ‘Well, you know, I got a print now. Might as well give it a watch,’ and I watched it. I was like, ‘Oh, this was actually pretty good.’ Now, when we watched it together again, it was far lesser the second time around for me. I even thought it kicked the evening in the nuts, a little bit.


Roger Yeah. My problem with the film is that it didn’t follow its own rules. It didn’t follow any rules. Usually, if there’s a kind of horror phenomenon type thing, there’s some kind of rules to follow and they just didn’t. Everything was just whatever.


Quentin I will give it this: the first 15 minutes made me think it was going to be a better movie, because the first 15 minutes is the stuff that’s the most like ‘Halloween.’ It actually follows it pretty good, there’s even an interesting aspect to it: that it’s a devil possession movie, but it’s built around these random killings. So it has the structure of a slasher film, even though it’s a devil possession movie. I think I was more in the same boat that you were in when I watched the print. It didn’t hold up a second time for me.


Gala You know, I think those last 15, 20 minutes of it are really super cool, though. The thing I have to say about ‘The Boogeyman,’ (and Roger might agree with me on this) for me, it’s like a slasher meets ‘The Exorcist.’ I think it has some really cool killing scenes that you don’t see. We see a lot of slasher movies that are just rote slasher. But in this, for example, ‘The Boogeyman’ had the what I call the “knife kiss” scene in the car: where one dies and the knife goes through and the other one moves forward to kiss, and is stuck in that eternal kiss. I thought, ‘Man, that’s so cool,’ because their friends are just like, ‘Oh God, these two, they’re always making out. Get out of here.’ I like that.


Quentin I like the scissor kill. I think that’s cool.


Gala The scissor kill is cool, the knife kiss kill is cool.


Roger Listen, that mirror in the eye bit (which was part of the commercial when it originally played, part of the trailer when it was on TV) was what got me excited when the movie first came out, was that crazy mirror


Quentin Even the whole concept of a mirror possessed (though it actually becomes interesting when you learn who’s possessing the mirror, that’s interesting) and the pieces breaking up, I think that stopped me from seeing it when it first came out in. That sounds bad, and it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. I will say one thing about ‘The Boogeyman,’ is one of my favorite critics (that I’ve introduced to Roger) is a critic from the late seventies, early eighties named Jim Shelton.


Roger Oh, yeah.


Quentin He wrote for that porno rag, ‘Hollywood Press.’ The only film we mentioned that he actually did a review for is ‘The Boogeyman.’ I’m going to read from it. His reviews consist of the plot line of the movie, but also there’s a little bit of an opinion at the beginning and a little bit of opinion at the end. This is from the November 28, 1980 edition of ‘Hollywood Press;’ Jim Shelton’s review for ‘The Boogeyman:’ “‘The Boogeyman’ has ‘Exorcist’-like pizzaz” and music and titles, “and Amityville-looking House,”-


Roger Yeah, absolutely. This is before the first Amityville film, right?


Quentin Yeah. It continues: “and other regurgitated cliches in the first American film from German semi underground, Ulli Lommel.” He describes the plot line. Then he ends with,”The obviously surreal dealings of Lommel (who also wrote and produced) are not enhanced by diluted lensing, mediocre acting and the mirthful appearance by John Carradine in a straight role as a shrink. Don’t pick this boogie, D-minus.’


Gala For anyone that’s interested in ‘The Boogeyman,’ it’s available on VHS and DVD. You guys are in luck, because ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ is available for free on YouTube.


Quentin Well, I think that wraps it up for the very first episode of the Video Archives podcast. I want to thank my co-host, Roger Avary. I want to thank the lovely Gala Avary: our researcher, reporter on the beat and announcer.


Roger Hey Quentin, I’m so happy to be back at Video Archives. Thanks for this.


Quentin Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. Be kind, rewind and I’ll talk to you guys later.


Gala The Video Archives podcast is hosted by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, and produced by Josh Richmond and Gala Avary. Our engineer is Devon Torrey Bryant and our executive producers are Colin Anderson and Natalie Mooallem. This episode featured additional production by Raven Goldston. Find out more about the show by heading to Videoarchivespodcast.com.