In McCrae’s mind, there is only one hope for independent film, and he continues to reiterate that hope: “Same two words as before; aesthetic terrorism. They say that being polite can get you anywhere, but who wants to go anywhere? Set your goals and ruthlessly follow them, and when I say ruthlessly that doesn’t mean being reckless or screwing other people to make your way to the top. When a friend does me a favor I do them a favor back; that’s the currency that makes the low-budget storytelling industry run. Anyone who breaks that train of trust must be hunted down and killed immediately before that kinda’ shit spreads any further.
“Overall, the world of indie filmmaking as we’ve always known it and romanticized it to be, always wanted to be a part of and be king or queen of, is dead. Kiss it goodbye, baby. The major studios purchased it and fucked the cheap whore till it bled and then left it for dead in the back of a dark alleyway. People like us who shoot projects outside the realm of the classifiable, who live in small tribes in relative obscurity instead of amongst the idiot masses of great nations, who watch each others flicks in the studied privacy of our own homes instead of the great dark caves filled with insatiable idiots who crave endless sensations in our cities multiplexes, we are the true future of indie filmmaking – which is inextricably linked to the act of indie film viewing. Maybe we are doomed or, blessed finally, to shit where we eat; and by that I mean us indies gotta keep on making good stuff for each other to watch if we’re gonna survive. And if I may mangle the ending of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel “The Martian Chronicles”, perhaps we indie-humans have finally seen the indie-Martians and they are us.”
There are others out there that seem to be working under McCrae’s “aesthetic terrorism” theory. Like them or hate them, they are movies that exist and have been shocking and/or surprising audiences for some time.
“I just saw Mike DiPaolo’s “Daddy” recently and like that one a lot. “The Dividing Hour” [directed by Mike Prosser] just came out on DVD and that one is also worth checking out. My friend Steve Ballot’s “The Bride Of Frank” is finally out on disc and, while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I find it hilarious and there’s lots of fun bonus material on the disc. That one just came out from Sub Rosa because I’ve been pushing Steve to get it out there for years and he finally decided to release it; I’ll take all the credit for finally nagging him into doing it! Also enjoyed Mark Pirro’s “Rectuma” quite a bit; damn thing got me laughing and that’s not so easy to do. Finally, a spooky thing called “The Ghouls” (directed by Chad Ferrin) with “Day Of The Dead”’s Joe Pilato that’s coming to DVD soon (through Heretic Films).”
In addition to the cry for Aesthetic Terrorism, McCrae offers this advice to other indie filmmakers – both the current and the future: “Just be true to yourself, don’t ever rip off someone else’s good idea, if you can’t afford to pay people always treat them kindly and with respect, never write anything above your means, never use CGI as anything other than the briefest tool to fix what went wrong on-set and, above all else, you must take as much responsibility for the things that go right as the things that go wrong.”
As mentioned, when “Shatter Dead” was initially released in 1994, reaction was almost equally polarized: it had supporters and detractors, but very little in between. As each new sub-generation of horror fans discover the movie for themselves, the polarization continues. There are still very few who are luke-warm towards the film, either citing it as genius or garbage.
There is every chance in the world that “Sixteen Tongues” will share the same fate. While most who have seen advanced prints have reported on the positive side, there are still the walk-outs, the irate, and the ever-present critics. McCrae, however, isn’t worried.
“As someone who’s been writing film criticism more than usual lately, I’ve been especially sensitive to the role of the critic in the artistic process, and my conclusion is that not only do they have none whatsoever but also that they should be completely ignored and probably beaten to death if encountered in the street. To my critics, I say this; fuck you. Go make a better movie. If you don’t, then shut-up. If you do, than more power to you and please send me a copy because I like to see good movies. I think people shouldn’t be employed as film critics until they themselves have made a movie of their own and demonstrated some proficiency or talent in the medium. We’ve gotten many great filmmakers who started out as critics; Truffaut, Goddard, Schrader, etc. I mean, how the hell do they have any idea what they are talking about if they don’t know how the process works? Sure, everyone thinks they know how the filmmaking process works, thanks to the supposedly self-referential Hollywood crap that pats itself on the back for being rip-roaringly honest about itself while lying through it’s mother’s teeth. Pieces of shit like “Boogie Nights” or Altman’s “The Player” are just the tip of the iceberg of unwatchable crap that the industry churns out as self-deprecating penance for it’s self-indulgent sins. Makes everyone who watches it suddenly feel like an “insider” who knows how the industry and filmmaking works, and nothing could be farther from the truth.
“Perhaps it’s funny I should be so harsh on critics when I’ve gotten (for the most part) such good notices from the genre folks I respect concerning “Shatter Dead”. There are some critics out there who are very good writers and I enjoy reading their opinions, but they are so few and far between. One of my favorite writers, Harlan Ellison (an excellent critic, by the way, though I only intermittently agree with his opinions) said it best when he declared that people are not, in fact, entitled to have an out-loud opinion; he amended the famous phrase to say that people are entitled to have their own informed opinion, and I think that’s a very important distinction.”
“Sixteen Tongues” is scheduled for a February release through Sub Rosa Studios. For more information, please visit www.b-movie.com or www.sixteentongues.com.
Posted on September 14, 2004 in Interviews by Mike Watt
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- SCOOTER McCRAE: SHATTERED TONGUES
- SCOOTER McCRAE: SHATTERED TONGUES
- ROMERO TO MAKE “DIARY OF THE DEAD”
- FT’S VONDER HAAR A FOUNDING MEMBER OF NEW HOUSTON FILM CRITICS SOCIETY
- EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: TEN HORROR FILMS OF NOTE PART 6 — DAWN OF THE DEAD
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