LM: How did Exhumed Films come into being?
JAG: We (Dan Fraga, Harry Guerro, Jesse Nelson and I) came together as four friends who loved horror films and wanted to take advantage of the fact that we had access to a dilapidated old movie theatre, the Harwan in Mt. Ephraim, NJ, to show two of them (ZOMBIE and GATES OF HELL) in 1997. As we often say, we were absolutely shocked to see the number of people who came out. This was in the early days of the internet being used by the general public and we relied on flyers and word of mouth to get a great number of folks out, some of whom are still with us today. When we saw there was an audience of weirdos like us out there, we tentatively (then wholeheartedly) set forth to screen rare movies on film in theatres in the NJ/Philly area (and sometimes beyond). And here we are in 2011.
LM: What all goes into the process of putting a screening together?
JAG: These days most of our films come from EF member Harry Guerro. He’s a dedicated film print collector who works with many of the players on the print collector and screening scene. His personal collection is mind-blowing. We only wish we could show 1/10 of what he owns or has access to. It’s been gratifying to the four of us that we’ve been able to run some of his more obscure oddities at our past and forthcoming marathons. I don’t think people would necessarily come out in droves to see these films based on their titles, but when they see them projected on the big screen surrounded by hundreds of other aficionados, they are tickled by the all-encompassing awesome.
LM: If you could screen any film, what would it be and why?
JAG: We’ve been at this so long that we’ve really been able to show almost everything we’ve wanted screen. Just look at our master list of every movie we’ve shown. I think as a group we look forward to showing the most obscure of the obscure within our marathons. Personally, I’d like to screen some of the more challenging films on the outskirts of the genre, like Zulawski’s POSSESSION, or some of the Czech and Russian fantasy and fairy tale films I adore.
LM: What is on the agenda for 2011 as far as Exhumed and solo shows go?
JAG: We’ve got GARGOYLES (featuring Dr. Steve Karpf, the originator and screenwriter of the telemovie) and THE INCUBUS coming up very soon. May brings the eX-Fest marathon, which is nearly sold out, and in the end of the July we have the Go Ape! PLANET OF THE APES marathon, which is not just the five films but some other ape-y odds ‘n’ sods running between the feature films. Halloween week will be the latest 24-hour horrorthon. The future is bigger events and less double-features. For my solo shows, I’m working on something for late in 2011 that I’m REALLY hoping comes together. There will be other shows, but since my events are sometimes on video, they come about more spontaneously and in rather out-there venues.
LM: What recent horror and cult films do you feel have been important to the genre?
JAG: This is a tough one. Despite having access to SO much through Exhumed, the Diabolik DVD business I co-own with EF-er Jesse Nelson, and my personal network of connections, I find very little coming out of the horror genre that is at all of interest to me. A few gems, like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, slip in now and again, but I mostly find few genre films have any appeal to me. In all of my years in hardcore punk and horror films, I’ve never felt like a lonely, depressed outsider. I think much of what is targeted to genre fans is aimed towards miserable, angry people. There is little intelligence or imagination and a festering overabundance of torture and “transgressive” humiliation and degradation with the intent to titillate. It doesn’t offend me. It bores me. It’s a death metal mentality excreted for misshapen nerds to feast upon. Barf.
LM: What are the major differences between the Exhumed screenings and your solo shows?
JAG: All of the Exhumed Films shows are decided upon by the four of us. In my solo shows I can exercise my personal taste, which tends towards the somewhat more cerebral and artistic. I also like to incorporate live music in my events when possible, as I come as much from an underground/DIY music background as from cinema. I appreciate and try to create events that entertain and (I hope) stimulate. At these events I like to have all manner of folks who engage in projects I respect and support (vegan coffeehouses like the Grindcore House, graphic designers like HauntLove/Justin Miller, vegan/vegetarian bakers, folks who rescue and adopt animals, etc.) in the lobby doing what they do so well. As with the Cabbage Collective group I was a part of in the ’90s, I think forging a sense of community is absolutely crucial in any grassroots events. I’m glad this spirit has carried on in Exhumed Films, too.
LM: What is a fun, little known fact about you that fans of yours and readers of my blog may like to know?
JAG: When I walk in the forest I love to turn over rocks and see what’s squirming beneath them. In the dark, the moist, the small, the hidden, there is beauty.