I don’t think I’ve had the time to sit and reflect fully on how bizarre 2020 was. It marked the massive fade out of people from my life. It also marked the biggest Drive In summer of all time. With the anxiety, stress and losses of 2020 there were also some major wins. All I can dare hope for in this new year is to continue to watch horror movies and write about fashion. That’s what makes me happy. I guess if it’s any solid cliché that we took away from 2020 it’s to actually do what makes us happy because we could all fucking die at any moment.
Bloody New Year from 1987 was the perfect movie to end the year with. Pretty much everything about this one was as bad as 2020. I will shout out to the fake snow and cool ghost moments, but while watching this one a few days before New Years it was clear that it was the depression cherry on top of the 2020 cake. The epic intro of the goodbye to the 50s NYE party and the babe that gets pulled into the mirror was the best part of this movie hands down. Ultimately the babes bring it all home, or at the very least what they are wearing made the movie bearable for me. So, happy 2021 bitches, let’s talk about fashion.
Janet, Carol and Lesley are the 3 babes that round out this film. When we first meet the girls they are at a carnival in early summer. As insane story-line magic would have it they end up sinking a boat in the ocean and get stranded on an island where they find a hotel to change into late 50s clothes that belonged to the babes who partied and perished New Years of 1960. So, yea, this movie doesn’t take place in December at all but thankfully we get outfit changes that keep us interested.
Let’s start with Janet, played by Nikki Brooks. Love the vibe we are given for her with a summer color scheme and outfit that foreshadows the style she changes into later.
A knee length yellow dress, a long orange plaid coat, an orange beaded necklace and a vibrant apricot lip? She looks like a Starburst but we love a statement so I’m not hating. She pulls it off.
Of course, Janet is the only babe we get to see in the tub at the Grand Island Hotel they all check into. No complaints there but with the lack of killings in this movie overall it was a double disappointment that we didn’t get any nudity either. But what we do get is a great ghost moment in the bathroom and the bubbles become their own character in this scene. I also can’t say enough about this incredible hair bow.
When Janet changes, we get the best possible choice for her character. A picnic plaid pink dress with a synched waist and flower barrette that matches her string of iridescent pearls.
Janet is complete. Every outfit and accessory choice for her is great. There are zero complaints that I have for her prim and proper character in her outfit choices. From beginning to end she is a solid 10 for me.
There are few things I actually understand about this movie, one of them being the outfit choices for Carol. Carol, played by Catherine Roman is not giving us much to go off of in this movie. There’s a hidden character in there somewhere but overall her choices seem rooted in either wonder or fear. All that we know is that she has a horrible eye for color combinations with the pastel orange Dreamsicle ensemble she wears in the beginning.
At least we know that Carol’s choices are consistently confusing once she changes into the pastel blue dress. The mix of horizontal and vertical stripes are cause enough for conversation but this dress absolutely looks 80s does 50s and the bustier-like top is positioned too high is too small for her chest.
Lets just take one second on the hairstyle here. This was a hairstyle choice AFTER she was wet in the ocean. With this decision we now know that Carol sucks. She wanted a half-up hairdo with a high pony after getting salt water in her curly hair? Talk about a fucking sin. Carol is a conundrum from beginning to end. The only part of the movie that made her hair and outfit look cool was when it was getting it completely covered in fake snow.
Lesley, our babe, our annoying third, our villain? Again, I don’t know what to say about arch when it comes to these girls, especially Lesley. All I can gather is that she starts out super lame, looking the part through and through, then dies with a hole through the stomach, then transforms into a strange metallic version of Batman’s Two-Face and also a zombie but isn’t completely a bad guy.
We meet Lesley, played by Suzy Aitchison, she’s the typical least hot babe of the three babes. This is SUCH a trope in film, the classic uncool, unfunny and unfuckable third member. Honestly though, the white lab coat style jacket isn’t helping her, and neither are the shirt and pearls. God, even the hair is like they wanted to do the whole 80s androgynous manly-girl vibe for her but completely failed. I think the worst thing about this combination is in the pants. If only they were jeans, or something more structured it would have balanced out the chaos up top. Even a fucking paper bag would have helped her more than those blue pants.
All is not lost for Lesley. When she changes into her second outfit she keeps the blue vibe going in a MUCH better way.
A fully buttoned baby blue cardigan is already a complete vibe but along with an iconic 50s pair of capri trousers with a matching black silk necktie, it’s too good. It’s so simple and so effective. Then after she transforms into her creature-self the outfit is almost too perfect for words. The necktie becomes fully wrapped around her neck like its holding her head on and its a fantastic move. This outfit compliments what we know of her character and thankfully she is redeemed by this combination for the rest of the film.
The costume designer for this film was Katie Pegg and everything that I could praise her for is in Lesley’s redemption look and Janets style overall. The movie completely sucks but the outfits keep us watching. 😉
They did their best with the fashion in this terrible film. It shows. Something cool came out of something really bad. Let this be the silver lining we can all look towards for the year of 2021. Cheers!
Well, summer is officially over. I couldn’t let it fade away without devouring a few more horror movies set in the season. Slumber Party Massacre II was a great one to finally watch all the way through, especially during Joe Bob Briggs’ “Summer Sleepover Series” on Shudder in late August. Thank all the gods for that streaming service. Killing Spree was an absolute treat in so many ways. We dug that one out from the VHS room one night and I have no regrets. The last one I managed to rewatch this summer is an epic movie from 1979 called Tourist Trap. Over the past few years this movie has become one of my absolute summer favorites. This is the movie I’m choosing for my horror fashion review to kiss the summer goodbye.
No summer is complete without a road trip, especially one that leads to skinny dipping and good ol’ American western museums. If you want some authentic late 70s horror that creeps you the fuck out while taking in some killer style, look no further than Tourist Trap. Think House of Wax meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a sprinkle of the supernatural and you have yourself one great fucking film. I cannot say enough about this movie, especially the opening scene. The opening scene is EVERYTHING.
SPOILERS AHEAD: If you’ve seen my other reviews you know by now that I focus on style and fashion of only female characters. I’ll dabble in male characters from time to time moving forward but I predominantly stick to what I know. What each character wears in a film says a lot about them, or at least it should, in my opinion. That’s what I try to focus on; how the style reflects (or doesn’t reflect) their individual characteristics, how it connects (or doesn’t) to the vibe of the overall film, and even sometimes how it adds to or takes away from their individual story arch. Because of this, there are spoilers to these films. So if you’re worried about knowing how a character dies ahead of time, you better watch the movie first.
This film revolves around three main female characters; Eileen, played by the lovely Robin Sherwood. Becky is played by the gorgeous and unstoppable Tanya Roberts, and Molly, played by the beautiful and incredibly talented Jocelyn Jones. They are separated in character not only by their attitudes but by their outfits in this film in a way that is effortless and effective.
Eileen is the brunette goddess dressed in blue. The actress, Robin Sherwood doesn’t have a ton of acting credits and though her roll in this movie is short and sweet, she packs a punch. Her color palette is blue and red in this movie. The colors play really well between the themes of babe vs bad guy, good vs evil and what’s to come for her. The all blue bathing suit under a tight deeper blue pair of shorts gives us that late 70s style we crave. The red heart-shaped sunglasses draw us into her playful but dangerous look. Her character is a bit too outgoing to make it through an entire film and we can sense that right from the start. These choices say everything we need to know about her character and why she’s the first to go.
What I love about the red accents chosen for Eileen is that they play well with her story arch. When she sneaks into the house the bright red kerchief around her neck proves to be a fatal move. The foreshadowing of this neckerchief comes back around in the end when her mannequin head gets cut off. Also, let’s not forget the light pink crochet shoulder wrap that she wears into the house. This pink shoulder wrap and red neck tie combo are essential because they are used as identifying pieces of Eileen’s character when she never returns from the house. We as the audience and the characters within the film can know that it was Eileen who was taken and we then assumed was turned into a mannequin. BONUS: The villain wears both articles of clothing throughout the film as to increase the overall horrifying idea of ownership and possession. So, that fucking neck tie and shawl says and does A LOT. Probably why it’s also used in the movie poster for the film.
Give us cool blue tones. Give us a white and blue striped tube top and cut off light wash denim jeans. Give us a tan leather braided belt. Give us Becky. Becky is played by the great Tanya Roberts, and in this this movie she oozes babe and brains.
With a nice subdued color palette consisting of cool blue tones it allows us to connect with her on a much more personal level. She’s a realistic character that we can identify with most. She’s girl next door, but in a very real way. Also, the tube top is SUCH an excellent touch. It’s sexy but wholesome all at the same time, especially in this color combo. With this outfit, Becky gives us everything we need to understand her.
Also, check this out, the blood that becomes an accent color on Becky throughout the film is that magic juxtaposition we see earlier with Eileen’s red vs blue. The film is doing GREAT things with these two colors and it’s awesome to catch it. Even as we root for Becky until her unhappy ending, we somehow are soothed again by this lovely pairing of colors. Blood in the water, death versus life. Major shout outs to Christine Boyar, the head of costume and wardrobe and her assistant Jessica Doyle, their efforts here are definitely not lost on me. They completely killed it.
Last but not least we have Molly played by the insanely talented Jocelyn Jones. Molly is HEAD to TOE dressed in white during the entire film.
The pure, the innocent, the goddess in white; it’s clear that Molly’s character is supposed to embody all of these and she very much does. This almost suffocatingly synched up look fits her character perfectly. From the very beginning we see her with a sun hat and braids. Classic assimilation of purity and class.
The white jacket buttoned up to the neck along with the hat actually tied under her chin with a light pink ribbon is a dead giveaway to her as the ‘good girl’ of the group. Modest and careful Molly. Its a wonderful treat that Molly ends up being the main babe of the film. She’s unsuspecting and it makes for a great character arch. Molly’s white hat and cleanliness that we are introduced to is so perfect set against the black hat and rugged look of Mr. Slausen. Again, drawing on good vs evil.
We see Molly unravel from beginning to end, remaining in white but being stripped down little by little in very smart ways. We meet her all dolled up, prim and proper. Then she reveals herself without her hat and jacket after the skinny dipping scene and we are taking notice.
The thicker straps on her dress, the synch and tie at the waist, the long past-the-knee length of her skirt, the white lace??? GREAT character details here, all the more linked to her innocence. AND THE HAIR, I mean, come on, it’s so fucking prim.
The white is also very bridal which I believe helped this choice of color pallet for Molly’s character. It’s all the more reason why Mr. Slausen gravitates towards Molly in the film, finding similarities between her and his late wife. Molly also seems to lean into the connection fascinated by Slausen’s stories about her.
As the film continues her hair begins to unravel, the white of her clothes get dirty and for her we feel its the cusp of an inevitable escape, escape from innocence and into darkness of the unknown, or dare I say, womanhood. That’s what makes the shift to her capture and nightgown scenes even more unnerving. She was so close.
We see Molly clean and manicured again towards the end, dressed in that white full length nightgown with sleeves and curled tendrils of soft blonde hair. We can only assume the nightgown came from Slausen’s missing/dead wife. I mean, if he even had one? Spooky shit.
The white is iconic. Molly’s arch from beginning to the end is palpable. The white propels Molly’s character entirely in connection with her actions. It’s incredibly done. When we finally see Molly escape, eyes deranged, the angel dressed in white in a car full of her dead waxified friends, we are content.
Idaho isn’t the place to be for summer 2020 in case anyone was wondering. This is already a place with hardly anything going on and now people keep getting sick. Big time. Bars are still shut down and restaurants might close up again, and the running joke that circulates this small ass town is that aliens will come next in line for their time to shine. I feel like that was a meme over two months ago. Whatever, people still wear early 2000’s bedazzled back-pocket jeans here so I’m not surprised.
The Western Idaho Fair officially released its cancellation announcement for this year. It was a matter of time. Unfortunately I’ve come to depend on the god damn fair because when I saw the announcement I got choked up. The fair is my second favorite place in the whole world. Here’s my simple list of favorite places to be:
2. The Western Idaho State Fair
3. Baseball Game
4. ANY side walk or street that I can roller skate
Basically, I’m bummin’. My 2 & 3 faves are off the summer list for good this year. Minor league is out of the question. Hawks cancelled their season over a month ago and don’t even get me started on Major league. When I watched my first game of the “season” I was pulled even farther down the rabbit hole that I’ve been falling for the past 5 months. Remember that part in the movie Little Nemo where he meets Flip and they walk into that upside down room for a second and then it’s never acknowledged again? Baseball feels like that right now. Cardboard cut outs and fake audience sounds. It’s bizarre. It’s not like it’s the end of the world to see a fake ballpark hot dog vendor frozen in the stands or commentators zooming-in from their bedrooms, it’s just sooooooo weird thouuuuuugh. I feel like this is all a dream now, officially.
But really, I don’t remember a time in my life when the fair didn’t roll into town. I’m glad it’s not coming this year because it would be a nightmare of a time. It wouldn’t be the same, just like everything else that’s trying to come back isn’t the same. I’d rather remember it how it was. Also, wearing a mask outside for hours in 100 degrees sounds like torture.
I’m going to miss those bright colored tents and the way the twinkling lights look at night. I’m a sucker for that. The smell of fried food and Victoria’s Secret perfume filling the dusty desert air? CLASSIC Idaho summer. No fear of dying on the carnival rides this year. No cotton candy stomach aches, or the frosted-tipped carnies inviting me to go to their tents with them after hours. I’m even going to miss the fucking clowns.
Whatever, I’m not going to waste any more of your time being all sad. Life is a trip, nothing is real, 2020 will go down in the history books and maybe I’m just lucky enough to be a part of it all.
I’ve decided to morn the loss of the summer carnival and welcome the actual possibility of aliens visiting us soon by doing a Horror Fashion Review of my all-time summer go-to, Killer Klowns from Outer Space from 1988.
Fuck, this movie is good. A vastly underrated masterpiece. Opening with the iconic, and arguably best Dickies song. The rest of the music is also great. Such a clever movie. Definitely watch it if you haven’t yet. Then just keep watching it because it rules.
Straight out the gate we are introduced to our main girl, Debbie. Played by Suzanne Snyder. Think, Return of the Living Dead Part II & Weird Science, think 80’s blonde with a killer smile.
We dive right into a classic car scene at the local make-out spot. The lovely strawberry lipstick and blown out hair is a GREAT introduction to our main babe. As the film rolls on and we get a good glimpse of her entire outfit, it’s all downhill from there you guys.
All white sweatpants and a white long sleeve shirt underneath what looks to be a linen tan colored dress in size 2XL with saggy pockets. This dress MUST have been kept wadded up in a suitcase for two weeks before she put it on cause it’s looking rouuuugh. Add to this look a chunky black belt and yellow dinosaur earrings and you have yourself an outfit that screams 80s. But the 80s aside, this outfit is confusing. The earrings and the all-white says, “I’m Debbie. I’m cute and pure and a tad immature,” then the chunky belt with the strawberry lip says, “but I’m totally down to park and make out on a yellow blow-up raft while drinking wine.” Honestly, I have no idea what the brown dress is saying. Probably not anything good.
From a character standpoint, having this be our introductory outfit to Debbie was doing her and us no favors at all. The conflicting combination of this outfit makes it hard to pin down her personality in these opening scenes. PS there’s NOTHING worse than a hot ass babe that doesn’t know how to dress herself, especially in a film, unless of course it’s for character development. Not sure what’s being developed here with this ensemble. Point is, I wouldn’t want to be seen by anyone in this get-up, let alone an alien clown.
Granted, this was none of Snyder’s doing. Darcee F. Olson was the the costume and wardrobe designer for the film. Olson completely slayed the Klowns and costuming in literally every other aspect of the movie, so I’ll chalk it up to her being distracted with millions of other details by the time it came down to main character fashion decisions.
Thankfully we get a breather from this outfit in the middle when Debbie takes it off and jumps in the shower. We then see the Klowns getting mischievous with door dash deliveries. The iconic moment when mega-babe mystery girl opens the door to Killer Klowns with a pizza we get like 5 seconds of exactly what we need for this character based on what we can see of her outfit.
A sheer white lace cami with dark blue eye shadow and a raspberry lip. Half up half down hair that gives attitude and charisma all at once. Why I bring this into the mix? Because with a side character they did more to build her up with this one outfit than they did for Debbie the entire movie. Just sayin. Debbie is a confusing character. We don’t really know what she wants, we don’t really get her vibe, and her clothes don’t help us figure it out.
This brings me to Deb’s second outfit. A light brown ribbed sweater over a white top. She’s also wearing red, white, and blue beaded necklaces. What is Debbie’s vibe here? She’s obviously the kinda girl who will put on jewelry after seeing a Klown drink blood from a cotton candy-fied person. So, I guess we finally get some characterization here. I’ll admit that the sweater is a great call and it gets even cooler after she’s bit by those bathroom cabinet worm Klowns. The light wash blue denim jeans and the dirty tennis shoes look typical girl next door 80s who’s not trying so hard. I think it’s great.
The hairdo is helping her here, the half up half down with the poofy bangs brings her more sophistication. To add some confusion to this outfit, Deb completes the look with chunky salt and pepper colored leg warmers and she’s back to being a complete stranger again.
I’m not opposed to the muted color pallet chosen for Debbie, that’s a good move overall given the crazy awesomely bright colors of the entire movie. It creates a good contrast. The classic separation of good and evil. This is probably the smartest thing they did with her outfits. Debbie’s a tough cookie to crack in this one and maybe the magic of these outfits is in the mystery. Just like with most things.
Summer is upon us. Covid-19 still reins supreme, all the pools are shut down for the season, bars are once again closed, and I’m working less than I ever have before. Now with all this stressful time on my hands, and my recent deletion of instagram, I get to watch summer horror movies on VHS to keep myself motivated and forget about how insignificant life is. I’ve loved fashion all of my life. Ever since horror movies gripped me as a kid and the interest grew fully during High School, I realized that my love of horror and my love of fashion were beautifully intertwined. Not a movie went by that I didn’t make note of everything the characters were wearing and judging them not by their actions but by their outfits. As a woman of color in a world with no foreseeable future, there’s nothing quite like the impending doom of current life to give me the push that I’ve needed to put this love of horror and fashion together in a consistent place. Now I can give killer reviews of the style that exceeded expectations, ruined scenes, built characters, and made me fall in love with the horror genre. Let’s not waste anymore time. The very first summer horror fashion review I’m giving is for the iconic 1988 slasher Sleepaway Camp II : Unhappy Campers.
If you’ve never seen this movie before, do yourself the favor because it is 81 minutes of 80s slasher glory. An iconic performance by Pamela Springsteen as the transexual camp killer who picks off each victim in a great and surprising way. This movie doesn’t leave you with too many unanswered questions, and the ones it does leave, linger nicely in the back of the imagination. Let’s talk the look: Super simple and effective. A baby blue Camp Rolling Hills t-shirt that is the ultimate fashion statement of this film along with belted khaki high waisted camp shorts. This is the outfit choice for the majority of the film. The reason this look works so well is because of the subtlety and purity of the combination. You think, nothing bad can ever happen to someone in a cute pair of khaki shorts. This creates a perfect palette to work wonders from, and wardrobe supervisor Laura Paris HAD to know this in her efforts along with her assistant Tracy Thornton. They get all my praise on this combo. It’s a simple choice, sure, but thinking about the little details they threw in to each look is what makes it so great.
In this movie there are three main girls that the film circles around, the villain, the bad girl, and the good girl. That’s it. Super straight forward and to the point. The way that this simple camp outfit was styled slightly different for each actress helped to build their attitude and character throughout the narrative.
Let’s talk about the bad girl: Ally, played by Valerie Hartman, is the sexually free and ready to bang because why the fuck not kinda gal. She also doesn’t give a damn about anyone else but herself. Classic hot bad girl with big messy 80s hair who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take it. A true icon. Her sleeves were often rolled up with her shirt tied in a side-knot above her waist. Her shorts were chosen to be form fitted and probably the greatest khaki shorts I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m STILL on the hunt for these because Ally looks stunningly gorgeous literally the entire film in these shorts.
The added touch on these shorts is that the bottoms are also rolled up once to be even shorter than anyone else’s. GREAT detail. The belt they chose for her was a chunky canvas type in a tan color that created the slightest color change to the khaki with a big gold buckle. Perfect vibe for a camp bad ass. Let’s be honest, Valerie Hartman wore this outfit like a goddess, even when being shoved into that leech infested toilet. Everything about this look was tailored to her character and her personality in this film. Hats off.
In comparison to Ally, we have the girl next door and her exact opposite, Molly, played by Renée Estevez. She’s the camp good girl who is so nice it’s hard to be mad at her. It just so happens that Ally and Molly are into the same dude throughout the film, which makes for spicy moments and even more chances to enhance the parallels between them.
The same exact camp staples are chosen for Molly but I bet you can already pick up on the differences here. The shirt isn’t fitted to her body or tied in any way to reveal even the slightest bit of skin, its a little loose and tucked into the high waisted shorts, contributing to her modesty and character. The rolled sleeves look less like attitude here and more like it’s just a hot day at camp. The hair choice for this outfit is fantastic, well combed and clean and partly up with a barrette holding it in place. The perfect goodie good camp look.
It’s obvious that the biggest change to this look is the choice in khaki shorts. They are baggier, bunched in the front, and not form fitting whatsoever. Again, a nod to her modesty in character, her inability to want to show anything off, even her curves. This is a perfect choice for her. The belt doesn’t look like it’s wanting to be a part of this outfit, fastened tightly in a “you won’t get in” kinda way. The differences between Ally and Molly’s camp style is imperative to their opposites in characters.
Lastly we have the camp villain, Angela, played by the lovely Pamela Springsteen who is the most innocent looking girl of them all. She ironically shares attributes in her fashion to both Ally and Molly, taking the good girl but definitely bad girl vibe to a new place. If you notice, she has the same shorts as Ally throughout the film but they are baggier. Angela doesn’t roll up her camp t-shirt sleeves, and always has her hair either back in a pony tail or braid.
The inconspicuous hat on her head as a camp leader and counselor solidifies her as ‘harmless’. The knife on her belt is all the more girl-scout-innocent looking. With such a ‘simple’ camp outfit, this killer character is anything but simple. The little chunky wrist watch, the details on the strap of her camp guitar, to the Camp Rolling Hills sweater in the same baby blue all give exactly what the viewer needs, a complex character with conflicting style that helps to develop her till the end.
Angela is definitely one of my all time favorite slasher movie killers. The way she brings every look together in her rising insanity in the film just helps make her more terrifying. Who knew fashion could be so fucking killer!
During our time in quarantine, Nicky and I started organizing our stuff. Similar to a lot of people during this time, it was a way to clean and consolidate our apartment because we finally had the time. We decided to go through his incredible tape collection. Nicky Mustard has been a collector of VHS tapes for over 18 years, and we both have been adding steadily to the collection. While we sat on our living room floor and sorted through it all, I seized the opportunity to have a conversation with him about it. He told me about the reasons behind his fascination, the charm in analog culture, the ugly side of collecting, and what truly matters most.
Grace Lovera: Now that we see everything out, how many tapes do you think you have total?
Nicky Mustard: Probably 300?
GL: Yeah, I would say, maybe a little bit closer to four…
NM: Yeah, over three.
GL: When did you start collecting tapes?
NM: I remember the first time I ever made a list of the ones I had, I was 19 years old. That was 18 years ago.
GL: What made you start?
NM: I started because they were cheap. Slowly they were getting faded out, and DVDs were getting more popular. That’s the only reason I started collecting tapes in the first place, there were all these movies I loved and it felt like they were all going extinct. That’s the short version.
GL: Okay, what’s the long version?
NM: The long version is that I loved the feeling of movie stores so much. The feeling of finding something on a shelf that felt like you were the only person in the universe that knew what it was. Back when movie stores existed, it was like you found some buried treasure that was just sitting there.
GL: So, bad movies are what you collect the most of?
NM: I guess it’s not just bad movies, it’s kind of an umbrella term for ‘weird.’ I buy family home videos, weird instructional videos, cheap knockoff things, stock footage or police footage. Most of them would have never been released. Up until the last 10 years, they weren’t rereleasing any of this. The only way you could get it was by going to a movie store that was closing and for two bucks a piece you could clean up on all this stuff. You thought there was never going to be a way that you were going to see it ever again.
GL: I guess there aren’t a lot of the movies that you have on tape that have been released on DVD.
NM: Yeah, it’s like the small tape companies that released movies or instructional videos. There’s no way anyone’s going to re-release Country Line Dancing, or Nude Aerobics on DVD. So it’s almost just like collecting a dying species is what it felt like.
GL: Like digging for fossils.
NM: Yeah. I don’t necessarily care that it’s on VHS, but it’s just the only way I could get it. For a long time, nobody cared. You would find the most insane weird stuff you’ve ever heard of for $1. Within the last 10 years the collector’s market started and it’s just kind of ruined it because it’s all about showing off that you have a stack of the rarest stuff. I just want to see this stuff. So in a way it’s dying for me too now. At least I have Monster Truck Bloopers III.
GL: Being a tape collector in 2020 invites a niche audience it seems. It might get harder and harder to find certain things but some of the audience is what you’re talking about, the ones who want to brag about what they have instead of sharing weird stuff.
NM: Yeah. It’s less of a love for movies, and more of a love for analog culture, which is cool. To me, the point is these are little pieces of history. Each one is a piece of somebody’s life, that’s what is interesting to me. Also, watching them in this way, feels like I did when I was 16 years old in the garage, freezing, seeing a snippet of somebody else’s life, and it was so incredibly weird. You can’t believe that you’re watching it, you know?
GL: Yeah, I know what you mean. So, analog culture, explain what you mean by that?
NM: Well, I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like an old man.
GL: Haha, that’s okay.
NM: I’ll explain it and sound like an old man. A lot of young people missed out on this type of stuff and they’re trying to reclaim it, bring it back or be a part of it. I think a lot of people are excited about the fact that it’s just cool or like old or retro, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with thinking that but the point isn’t that it’s just on VHS and looks like shit. To me, that’s not the point. The point is that it’s like the only way you can get it.
GL: So it’s actually a piece of history is what you’re saying. It’s like someone’s work.
NM: Yeah, that’s what is interesting to me because that’s someone’s life to them, maybe they were trying, you know? I’ll watch these movies and see these actors that suck, the boom-mic will fall into the frame, or bad editing, and I think that’s hilarious. Then I think, somebody made this, this is real. To me, it’s a personal thing. I don’t give a shit if I saw it on LaserDisc or DVD, it doesn’t matter, this is a piece of someone’s story, and I found it sitting there at a thrift store.
GL: They went through it all to do something, and then put it out.
NM: Yeah, and we can laugh at that and think, ‘this movie sucks’ or ‘this is the worst movie of all time,’ but at least they made a movie, you know? I haven’t made a movie.
GL: What’s your favorite tape that you have, if you could pick just one?
NM: If I had to pick only one?
GL: Yeah, one that embodies everything that you’ve been talking about, like someone putting themselves on the line, going through this whole thing, doing their absolute best. I know that you have really liked Coven.
NM: That’s number two, if I could only keep one, Things is the one. It would be that one because, okay, it’s terrible. It’s a complete failure if you’re looking at textbook, but you can tell it’s three people that are making a movie because they love movies. You can tell that they tried their best. It’s just so unique and cool. Getting to know the guy who made it has made me like it even more.
GL: What is his name again?
NM: Berry Gillis
GL: Have there been any bad side effects for you as a collector?
NM: Oh yeah, for sure. It’s like a compulsion. Thinking that buying more stuff is going to make you feel good but then once you get it, you don’t feel any better about your life. It’s just a thing. I’ve learned a lot about what I want and don’t want out of life just by buying VHS tapes.
GL: What has been the hardest thing that you’ve had to deal with or confront inside yourself as a collector?
NM: It’s been hard to balance the feeling that I need something or why I even do it. Nothing in my life has ever been affected by the fact that I own hundreds of VHS. I’ve met friends through it, but you know, my personal life hasn’t really changed that much. So it’s been hard to learn why I do it and what it’s good for.
GL: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with as a person?
NM: Like, the hardest specific time of my life?
GL: Yeah, the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through.
NM: The hardest time of my life was three things all at the same time. A failing long term relationship along with my music career, and my mom having cancer. Wow, I never really thought about it like that. That’s a lot of stuff. No wonder I went nuts.
GL: How did you respond to that?
NM: Well, by trying to feel good any way I could, trying to get away from it. Smoking weed and continuing to work. Then dropping everything and moving to Idaho and spending six months not doing good.
GL: You’ve mentioned to me before that collecting as a side-affect for people who are into history. Could you say more about what you mean by that?
NM: With some collectors I think the thing they collect is just the mascot for the overall feeling that they are trying to regain or remember. The historical aspects of collecting is trying to feel a piece of history that’s gone and not forgetting it.
GL: What are some challenges that you think the next generation will face in collecting old or old media?
NM I think about that a lot when I go to the thrift store. Stuff in the past 20 years hasn’t been made to last. I also think that people buy things differently now, stuff is meant to be bought every five years now. Nothing is held onto. The generations before The Boomers were more the type to not get rid of stuff and fix things.
GL: Yeah, I think that’s true. Maintaining things isn’t part of everyday life as much as it used to be.
NM: I think that’s going to change the way things go in the next 20 years when it comes to collecting old junk. I mean, a VHS tape sold in 1999 right now is essentially garbage to people. There’s no way people are going to be able to find it later.
GL: Yeah, it might even come down to thrift stores changing quite a bit because the amount of stuff that’s going to last will be less and less.
NM: In 10 years or so, there’s no way you’re going to go to the thrift store and see stuff that I have a hard time not buying, like old fake wood-grain clock radios and stuff from the 70s that reminds me of being a kid. I mean, it doesn’t matter, it’s not going to affect my life or anyone’s life, but it’s just changing. That’s why I think people buy and collect stuff anyway, is because things are changing and they want to remember.
GL: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I think that people collect things because they feel like a sense of compulsion to hang on to what they had before.
NM: Yeah, and also comfort, because life is hard. You know, there’s this guy I see at my work, he comes in every day or every other day with his daughter to buy Hot Wheels cars. He repaints them and collects them. I just wonder what that guy’s life is like, you know. He’s a nice guy, we talk and stuff, but why does he do it? I don’t know. But I can’t blame him.
GL: We talked about the hardest thing you went through in your life, what is something that you’re most grateful for?
NM: That’s hard. I feel like I got lucky. I haven’t had a bad life or hard life. Not any more than the average person. I feel lucky that I got a good branch of my family tree. I feel lucky that my dreams from when I was a kid came true as in my life goals of wanting to be a touring musician and put out records. I feel lucky that when I thought it was all over, life got better.
GL: You’ve been collecting tapes for a really long time. You were even in a tape collecting documentary, right? What was that called?
NM: It’s called Adjust Your Tracking. You can see it on YouTube. It’s collectors and filmmakers talking about VHS.
GL: Wasn’t there another movie you were involved with?
NM: Yeah, there’s another movie called Hi-8, a Hi8 is a type of analog tape recording. There was a Facebook group for it. A lot of people that made pretty famous SOV films were in that group, and everyone would talk. It was super cool and positive. I posted on there and said, ‘with all the talent in this group, we should make an anthology movie,’ because everyone lived in different places, but had all made movies. Then Tim Ritter who made a bunch of movies was the first one to comment and it took off. The movie got made and released and reviewed in Fangoria Magazine. I had nothing to do with it other than that first post, so I’m not taking any credit, everyone else did it. One of the guys who was involved in it did an interview where he said, ‘I was sitting at home thinking about the old days and how we used to do stuff and blah, blah, blah, so I had this idea to make an anthology movie.’ He just took the whole credit. All the credit should go to the Facebook group of people that were working together, not just some piece of shit guy that thinks he’s cool because he made a really shitty low budget $1,000 movie in the 80s that no one cares about. It just offended me. There’s a lot of that mentality in collecting and collecting circles. But they’re are shitty people in everything, so it’s not really surprising.
GL: You’ve talked with me about that before, the weird collector evil side. Explain more about what that is.
NM: It’s like when you see someone wearing designer shoes at WinCo. No one gives a shit about your shoes, because it doesn’t matter. It’s the same thing in tape collecting. If you have the rarest or most sought after one that everyone wants, people just want to show off, fill a hole in their personality or self-esteem. They just want to be the one with the most. I just think that’s kind of gross. You show that you have Tales From the QuadeaD Zone on VHS and everyone’s supposed to act like you are a great and interesting person because you spent a bunch of money on it. Nobody cares. You know, at the end of the day, you may have 400 tapes and your mom may be going through cancer treatments, you know, and what is that going to do for you? I think you have to find your balance or else you’re just making your life worse. You’re letting the collection ruin your life.
GL: Yeah, absolutely. I think that can be said for a lot of things. I want to talk more about Tales From the QuadeaD Zone but first, talk to me about SOV.
NM: In the 80s when VHS got more affordable, and movie stores started opening up, there wasn’t a very big selection of tapes to rent, and shit was getting rented like crazy. VHS was a really cheap way that you could make movies. With home video cameras, there was no developing costs and editing was easier. Movie stores needed more tapes. People realized they could make a really bad movie, spend most of their budget on good box art, call the movie stores and sell it themselves. These movies would do well because some dumb-ass Megadeth fan stoner would rent a horror movie with someone getting eaten, like Cannibal Campout, and think that it was awesome and rented over and over again. It created this sub-genre of horror movies. People could make their own movie for 500 bucks and then get distribution to Blockbuster. It would do really well. These movies were sold in the backs of magazines, too. They were also considered pieces of shit, so nobody hung onto them. Then by 2008, they’re hard to find, collectors are starting to catch on, and everyone wants to see the weirdest shit they can. They go, ‘Okay, well, have you seen this? This is the weirdest move ever,’ and there’s like four copies in existence. That’s how, of course, all collector’s markets turn out.
GL: That’s pretty cool. SOV just stands for ‘Shot On Video’ then?
NM: Yeah, and it’s kind of like calling a type of music ‘Indie Rock.’ It sounds more vague than it really is. Shot On Video is a type of sub-genre.
GL: Do you think that there are any SOV movies that people still don’t know about?
NM: For sure. There are ones that people made that never got released that blogs like Bleeding Skull are putting out for the first time. There’s so much lost stuff like that. Now is the best time ever for being a collector if you just want to see cool rare stuff, because people are releasing stuff like that. A lot of people complain about how the old days are gone, of discovering something you feel like no one else in the world knows about. I complain about that too, but if you just want cool stuff, it’s all there now. We’re living in God’s computer, anything you want, you can have. Any TV show, any movie, any album.
GL: This concept of finding something that no one else has found before, I think that that has been deeply rooted in humanity for a long time. Where’s the weirdest place that you have gone and how far you have gone to find something?
NM: Like digging through moldy boxes in the basement of an old strip club? I’ve embarrassed myself sometimes looking for tapes. I’ve shown up places and asked for tapes, called all the old movies stores and they act like I’m crazy. Yeah the strip club, it was an abandoned strip club with a sign, a handmade sign that said, ‘Estate Sale.’ There was just a guy selling moldy boxes of old magazines and books. I’ve been in places before where I felt unsafe, like they were selling something illegal. There’s been a few places looking for tapes that I’ve ended up and felt uncomfortable. For sure. Where I didn’t know what else they were selling behind the scenes. If I get that feeling, no tapes worth that, you know.
GL: Yeah, that’s crazy. What are the most sought-after rare tapes right now?
NM: I’m sure that there is more now. In the past three years I quit being a part of that whole scene. I just separated myself. The one Holy Grail that I remember was that Tales From the QuadeaD Zone, it’s an anthology movie that was filmed in the 80s by this guy Chester Turner that’s like insanely weird and fun. That one I know, from Scarecrow Video, sold for $1,000.
GL: Woah, a VHS tape?
NM: Yeah, but that’s how collectors’ markets happen. I don’t know how much money people spend on stuff now, but it’s all about having the biggest gold chain or whatever. It just makes me sad. So my own collection makes me sad too in a way.
GL: Talk about that a little bit more.
NM: Unless you’re trying to get all of something, you’re never done. It’s really hard to not let it crush you. The second I get a tape I want, it doesn’t matter anymore. Essentially, I’ve quit buying them because it shouldn’t be about owning the thing. Some of them I bought I don’t even want to watch because I don’t want to hurt them. Well, what’s the point of that? Sometimes the collection just bums me out. I’m just carrying these things all around from apartment to apartment or from state to state. Every time I do it, I wonder why I’m taking it with me.
GL: Yeah. It’s almost like a collection can veer pretty close to the edge of obsession.
NM: Oh, I’ve completely been there. Looking every day looking on Craigslist. Something will happen in my life that’s really rough or bad, and I’ll just buy as much as I can, you know, in ways that makes me feel better. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with a healthy distraction, because the reality of life is very bad. But it can get to the point where it’s like, you have to constantly be asking yourself why?
GL: Yeah, and be willing to maybe let go of some too, I mean, you are doing that now.
NM: Yeah, and its hard looking at all the ones I’m getting rid of, but I don’t need any of those, you know? In the past few years, after all that stuff went down, I’ve tried to focus on making stuff, writing music or collages. It just seems like a way better use of my life then spending $40 on some tape.
GL: And a lot of those tapes will not be able to work eventually, right?
NM: Yeah, they degrade in time.
GL: How long do you think for some of the tapes that you have, how long do you think it would take for them to get to that point?
NM: I don’t know. The oldest tape that I have is my own family home video from Christmas 1984 and it looks good still.
GL: That’s good. So who knows?
NM: I don’t care if they fade out. By the time they’re fading out, I’ll be fading out too. So I’ll go with them.