Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview with Harry Medved by Kris Gilpin

The Harry Medved Interview
By Kris A. Gilpin
On Sunday, April 20 1980, I interviewed the younger author of The Golden Turkey Awards for a Canadian fanzine on bad film called Yecch! We spoke in New York's Beacon Theatre (in which the World's Worst Film Festival was being held), between screenings of The Terror Tiny Town and The Creeping Terror (one of my favorite bad films).

KG: You're from Philadelphia right?

HM: No, Michael [his film critic brother and co-author of Golden Turkey] was born in Philadelphia; I was born in San Diego. Moved when I was two to L.A., and right now I'm going to the University of California in San Diego; I transferred from U.C.L.A.

Among one of the worst films of 1979

KG: When did you first become involved with bad film?

HM: Ever since I was eight years old. I've just always been fascinated by bad movies. I notice that people usually have more fun laughing together over the bad films that they despise than trying to extol the virtues of the great cinema classics. You talk about the films of each year--like if you want to talk about the films of 1979, you get around to talking about the best films--a lot of time people will have opinions, but they'll feel very bored and stuffy and it's very predictable, but if you ask them, "What are the worst films of 1979?" almost everybody's got an opinion, and even the most reticent can't help but suggest a beloved Turkey for consideration.
But The Creeping Terror was a film I has seen after I wrote The 50 Worst Films of All Time and, after I had seen The Creeping Terror, I felt so ashamed of myself to say, "This is the worst film I have ever seen," except at that time I couldn't even decide whether I considered it a film, because it almost is a non-film. It violates so many standards of basic filmmaking.

The ole' slurp and burp

KG: Totally inept, right?

HM: Yeah it's hardly a movie.

KG: Were there any films that you wanted that you couldn't get--for any reason--for the festival?

HM: A lot of them. We wanted to show Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; we couldn't get that. Dracula Vs. Frankenstein; we couldn't get that. Eegah! we couldn't get, so we went with The Creeping Terror. Fire Maidens from Outer Space, Cat Women of The Moon: films like that.

Golden Turkey Approved!

KG: Have you been happy with the response to the festival?

HM: I'm very pleased, There were about 750 people who showed up to see I Changed My Sex, which is very reassuring to me because I thought I was crazy, because I love that film so much, it's been proven that there are hundreds of bad film aficionados around the country--at least people who liked I Changed My Sex.

KG: Do you plan to stage another festival soon, or at least next year?

HM: It's conceivable, but we don't have any definite plans.

KG: What would you call the worst film of 79?

HM: Prophecy.

KG: Yeah I agree!

HM: Just because it's the worst mutant bear movie I've ever seen. Also Players with Ali McGraw, Fedora with Marthe Keller; oh God, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. Meteor was just incredibly bad; it was close to The Swarm. The Killer Nun, starring Anita Ekberg. Kung Fu Exorcist, which is about this aging Buddhist monk who is reincarnated as a flying leather shoe. Hurricane.

Man-Bear-Pig the cover model

KG: Do you, by chance, happen to know what happened to Bert I. Gordon's latest film Devil Fish? I believe it's been shelved, or they might not've even made it after all.

HM: No and I didn't get to see Devil Fish, which I've heard is really bad.

An unmade film with no relation to the Lamberto Bava trash

KG: What do you think about the films of H.G. Lewis?

HM: I think they're lovely. Very enjoyable.

KG: So do I

HM: Same with Creeping Terror, I do love the film.

KG: I know what you consider the worst, now what would you say are the best films of all time?

HM: Well, some of my favorites are Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa; Alexander Nevsky, I love that. Potemkin. Godfather 2.

KG: What did you think of Eraserhead?

HM: I thought it was very bizarre. There are certain films where it's very simple to say, "I liked it" or "I didn't", and Richard Corliss has criticized us; as he pointed out, it's probably wrong to say, "This movie is bad", "This movie is good", and I think Eraserhead is a case in point where you really can't distinguish it; it just exists. It's fascinating.

Bunel influenced Lynch?

KG: It's like it's set apart from anything I've ever seen.

HM: Yeah; it is very much like The Andalusian Dog.

KG: Have you ever thought about going into film production?

HM: I think I'll be viewing films, mostly, but I'd like to learn a little bit about that.

KG: Do you know what your next book will be about?

HM: I'm not writing anymore books; this is it. I want to get my academic career back on track first; I'm going to go back to U.C., San Diego, and then back to U.C.L.A. and eventually end up in film production, if possible.

KG: Our readers would love to know what do you think about The Creeping Terror?

HM: I think it's astounding; it's right up there with Robot Monster, featuring the most ridiculous monster I've ever seen. If you look closely, you can actually see the feet at the bottom of the original monster. It's hilarious!

KG: It has the worst production values I've ever seen in a film.

HM: It's just an astonishing masterpiece in reverse. It's a classic movie and I love it.

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