11:17PM Oct 31, 2020
On this very special episode of pot of madness, I co host the show with my favorite blue monster van from the Austin public libraries the van show. We interview Austin based filmmakers and writers on Edgerton and see Robert Cargill. I met them about seven years ago, when I wrote for the now defunct, but still much beloved movie blog called slacker would. A reunion episode is filled with the trappings of a successful horror sequel. There's a well developed cast, we've raised the stakes with van the puppet, and we didn't mess with the original. Listen for yourself. If you did, okay, okay. I had to say it. Thanks, guys, for being on my wacky harebrained video podcasts, whatever this might be. I started pot of madness a few months ago, as a way to sort of shake things up in terms of accessibility to horror. And you know, as a woman who loves horror, I've had some interesting experiences of not finding too many women involved in the genre, I could definitely be wrong. But that's one of my first questions that I've talked Owen before Cargill. And we talked a little bit about this, too, with my harebrained idea for a Deborah Hill documentary. But that's a whole other side story, but wanted to talk about some stellar both in the genre, both in text and in film, a little bit about your experiences working with women in the genre. And if you want to name drop for me and everyone else to hear of some great women filmmakers and horror writers and horror, I'd love to start the conversation out that way.
I'll jump in right now with just two of my favorite I mean, these are my two my favorite people working in film right now and genre overall, but but they happen to be women as well. But Isa Lopez, who is the writer, director of tigers, not afraid is brilliant. She's actually a brilliant writer, novelist and, and a filmmaker, and I kind of moved into genre. I don't know, she knew she was doing such kick ass genre, but type is not afraid is brilliant, and she's fabulous and just sort of a powerhouse of a personality. I love her. And then Jennifer Kent is another one I think, you know, Bobby Lucas, maybe her most famous work but I just am so impressed with what she brings to a film she terrifies me. Those are the two that that I think of and then of course there's all these people who are not necessarily the writers of the directors, but are doing incredible stuff too. I I end up working with with a lot of writers and people in my production like Ellen Fenton has been my cinematographer for two of my movies and I just love her I she's just a great, she's got a great eye for things that are spooky.
The thing with women and genre is there are so many of them. And the problem is they just don't get enough ink and attention. And that's really where we are right now. Like, you know, oh and mentioned Isa, who's just a wonderful human and is so freakin talented. But you know clawed her way up from telenovelas like she she was writing soap operas 20 years ago, and and now she's finally gotten the recognition she deserves. But there's so many other women that I'm going to, I'm going to leave so many out. But like Gigi Guerrero and Jen Wexler, the sofka, sisters, the
and Zelda Williams, there's so many women working today that we're just not paying enough attention to and who are struggling. Because you know that the issue with genre is you are either very successful. Or you if there are two tracks from if you're not hyper successful. If you if you're a white guy, and you're not so successful, you can typically keep working in the space and your various friends can help keeping you keep getting you work. But if you're a person of color or a woman, you often end up being forced towards the television track where it's very hard to break through. And once you kind of get put on that track, you can get work but your name isn't getting out there in the same way. And so it's very, very much a struggle in the community right now to shine a light on all of these incredible women who are just not getting the work that they deserve. And Isa is one of the rare examples where she's you know, finally, tigers are not afraid was so good that the studio's couldn't ignore her. And as a result, she's got a couple of different movie projects going on the same way as a number of her white male compatriots have going on. But so many of the other women are struggling just to get noticed. And, and it's really a thing that we have to change.
This has always been the case. I mean, Cargill makes a really good point. Like, at some point there wasn't like, Oh gosh, I guess you know, we should have more women doing this. There's always He's been women doing this. And and as cargo said, like they just haven't had the spotlight or the ink spend on them. But but it's even like the elements that that we're still seeing it mean the fact that we every year have how many Frankenstein movies based on an eight a teenage woman's novel debut novel is reminiscent like that's evidence or how about Shirley Jackson? You know how about like, you know, my Pleven is an amazing filmmaker. But you know, Shirley Jackson gave us these stories that we're still retelling and everything like that way. There's always been these women doing incredible things are telling terrifying stories. We just haven't given them enough attention in this in the spotlight.
Yeah. And hey, if y'all have a list of names of people that you think I should interview or that you want to get out there, please send me over those names do that I am always looking and I would love to be able to to lend a hand where I can with with women, filmmakers and writers. So so yes. And speaking of putting in connections, I suppose that Cargill, something randomly I just have to acknowledge that your assistant will gos. I am pretty certain I'm related to him. I am I really, really close. So my last name is gospel Ray, but I spell it ga SS and he spells it glss. But we have a branch of the family that didn't want to be called gas at some point. So they change the spelling, but we're all from South Central Texas. So I'm pretty certain I'm gonna find.
Yeah, you're gonna find you're gonna find that missing link between you and my assistant.
Yes, yes, that's my my next thing on my list of things to do. But anyway, I thought I just would shout that out. But I don't want to leave the puppet there alone. He looks very sad and lonely. One of the conversations that I was hoping to have. I'm sure y'all are very familiar with the puppet master franchise, right? Yes. Okay, so did y'all see the latest installment for at Fangoria did in 2018? the littlest reign Reich? Yeah, the littlest right? Yeah, y'all Saw that?
Yeah, it was playing. It was playing in a number of different fests, I had a film playing and a lot of the same festivals. So yeah,
it made me angry. And I just wanted just to kind of walk things through to one getting your thoughts on why puppets seem to be a figure of a lot of horror movies, even outside of the puppet master franchise, because one of the things that is terrified me since I was a child is any sort of doll puppet ventriloquist dummy that comes to life. But getting your thoughts on on why puppets for instance, have have sort of a bad rap in horror. And we can also have the puppet get involved in this conversation too.
Yeah, might have a few thoughts on that, but I'll let you guys go first.
You know, it goes back, it goes back to folktales. It goes back to the story of the homunculus. And it goes back to the the the classic Jewish tale of the Golem, that we create these things that are in our image. And invariably, they get out of our control and have some malevolence to them in some way, shape or form. And there's there's there are, you know, stories of it going back thousands of years, one of my favorites comes from the, the Aboriginal Australians, where they, they have a thing about putting together a kind of Golem like creature made of Deadwood and, and mud, that then kind of loses control. And we just, it's something that has always been kind of programmed into us to fear our own images or images that are somehow off like us. And, and it's just, it's rooted in that folk kind of tale, like we all have that. I have a story in which me and Jess actually moved into our house two years ago, and someone made a couple years back made a Cargill puppet. And so I have a puppet of my own. And, and it was in my office. And I was like, Well, you know, I'm driving some stuff over to the house across town. I'll just take the puppet over, brought it in, put it on the floor in my office and just did not know this happened and came in a few hours later and sees this thing. Like with it like its head back because I have it on the stand. Yeah, as our puppet is doing. As she sees it. She screams she goes to run out of the house and then in her her head puts it all together. It's like, that's Cargill is puppet. It's silly. Okay, it's okay. It's okay. She goes in a pizza. And she's like, Oh, damn it.
Oh, I think it's also like it owes us to do well, it's a little bit like clowns are scary, too. It's the uncanny valley, right? You've heard of the uncanny valley where it's like, it's like something Olmos looks like human, but something's off and anything. anytime something is off. It becomes uncanny. It's close to reality, but everything slightly off. And there's some there's some people who study this. You say the reason we have this primitive fear of that is actually a fear of sickness, that we would see someone in our own tribe or own community. And we could tell, oh, there's something off about them. I don't know what, but there's something off, they're sick, my instinct is saying they're sick. And if I get near them, I'll be sick. And so we step away from that. I don't know, if it's exactly true, I think it's more that we are kind of scared of ourselves, if we see ourselves as other, you know, other with a capital O, in which every one of us is in some way other. And so I think, you know, puppets and dolls kind of fall into that. Also, they're meant to be objects of innocence, like a doll of puppet and we look at this cute little blue guy there objects of innocence. And and anytime an object of innocence becomes an object of violence. It's it's all the more terrifying because we expect a gun to kill us, we expect to mean looking fella to attack us. But when it's a cute little doll, or harmless toy, or a child, that that becomes even more terrifying.
Yeah, and I'm glad you said that, because I was actually thinking that I think humans are inherently afraid of their own children. And I think that's really where the the puppet thing comes from, is that like, humans create the puppets. And then the puppets go out of control. And then they can't control them just like humans make little humans. And then eventually, they can't control those little humans anymore because they can't become their own big humans. I think it's I think that's really where this this kind of inherent fear of puppetry comes from. It's not nothing to do with us. We didn't do it. It's your fault. Oh, wow.
I do for my children. I do fear.
Yeah. Children, well, you'd be terrified to cargoes man. There's scary.
Oh, my goodness. Oh, well, I had said you know to that puppets or doll movies like Chucky Child's Play, that whole franchise terrifies me to this day that I keep saying that I want to do an episode where I can actually meet one of the dolls on the set of because we're doing a TV series sometime soon for Child's Play, to confront my fear face to face with the doll. But I'm curious in what movie disquieted, you terrified you as a child that maybe there's still some lingering fears into adulthood that you may have?
I mean, I think I think Ellen and I are gonna have the same answer because we're roughly the same age. Poltergeist messed us all up as kids. Like it was rated PG so they could play that in the daytime. And they did. And that mess like, you got a whole litany of things in there. You got scary trees, you've got scary clowns. You've got ghosts. You've got a guy peeling his own face off. Like that is a heavy heavy trip delay on a seven year old kid. Yeah,
Poltergeist is super, totally. I saw that in the theater. And I was with a friend. And I remember thinking, Oh, no, oh, no, I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be here. I also I watched like, I cargo might be the same experience for him to like, what? Sometimes people think like, Oh, you write horror movies. You make those movies. So you're not scared of them? Like, no, I'm terrified of them. Which is why I love them. You know, I was just watching hereditary last night. I'm still scared of that movie. I've seen it a bunch of times. I get scared. And I move and I flinch and I scream during movies. If I'm sitting next to somebody, I grabbed them, whether I know them or not. It's got me asked to leave from several different theaters. I saw everything and I used to stay up late and watch the black and white films, you know, Vincent Price on the fly. Or I remember very clearly watching A Night of the Living Dead the first time like late at night because it was playing on TV. And I was like, Oh my God, when the little girl stabs her mother with the gardening. Oh, geez. It's just too much. And so I'm a sucker. I'm a sucker for all those things. And they all stuck with me.
Yeah, I would. I would also add in there. I was at a sleep over when I was 10 years old. And we were changing channel and on HBO was playing A Nightmare on Elm Street. And it was the scene in which Johnny Depp is on his bed. And that moment as a 10 year old kid is forever burned in my brain like that is that just messed me up? I could not sleep for weeks. I was crying. I called my mother I had to go home. I had to go home. I had to go home man that I mean, imagine being 10 years old and Freddie's hand comes out of the mattress. You're not even sleeping on your own mattress in your own bed pulls them in and there's gusher of blood just shoots. It's just Oh, oh, too much when I was a kid,
and it was Johnny Depp. Ah, goodness, great. And you know, Jordan, maybe this is it to like you were talking about like Why? Why little dolls scary. Why are puppets scary to us? But like, heart has done a really great job, especially in the 70s and 80s. But they're basically like take anything that was called Safe anything that the world was telling children This is safe. And and just like Americans had been learning like, Oh, we can't really trust our government. Look at Vietnam, we can't trust it. You know, there's no good war, all these different things. We were starting to become cynical. We just sort of started dismantling through horror movies, every safe zone. So like suburbia with white picket fences. That's not safe. It's where Michael Myers comes from. And the toys coming back to summer camp summer camp safe, like, Oh, no, it's not. No, it's not Jason's mom is hanging out, and there's a kid in the lake Euler, or dreams or dreams are safe. You know, we can have no we can't, those aren't safe either. Like, all the safe zones, even Johnny Depp's bed, there's no safe zone.
But so, like speaking to that, how does Hellraiser fit in? Because, like, Hellraiser took something that's already terrifying, and made it way more terrifying. Like, there's nothing innocent about hell. And yet, like, somehow that that movie made it way more scary than any church ever, like, made it to me.
Well, that's the interesting thing about Hellraiser. What why Hellraiser functionally works is Hellraiser is entirely about transgression. And it's, it's all about transgressing, and then earning yourself damnation. But why those movies work is that the people who are curious, simply curious, end up being considered to have transgressed. And so it's the idea that your curiosity could get you killed by these beings that will hunt you through eternity and torment you forever. Just because you were curious. is scary.
You go Yep. Yep. You know, as as a kid, the movie that really terrified me, and I think this is more circumstantial. I don't remember it was either troll one or troll two. I don't remember which of the two
Well, it was it was it was the little door. That terrified me because my grandma had a little door in her basement. And so like, after I saw that movie, I was terrified to go to my grandma's house, because of that little door in the basement. Right?
There's a similar movie that kind of messed with me as a kid that had Drew Barrymore in it called cat's eye, where there's this little troll that actually breaks up in the wall goes through and then the wall heals up. Yeah, it's like, oh,
how I've sort of worked through my fear of especially the Child's Play Movies, as an adult is like, Oh, it's a metaphor on capitalism. Like if I'm gonna watch, you know, it's like, oh, some hot, more high falutin idea that maybe they did mean, or maybe they didn't mean but like, that's what it's about. It's not just the terrifying doll, that that will come and kill you and who's just really, really mean, but I wanted to go back to Hellraiser real quick. Just a shout out that I actually was not afraid during Hellraiser. And it's weirdly enough I sympathize with pinhead a lot which is why I wasn't afraid of that movie. I just like yeah, if I'm alone in sympathizing with with pinhead. I felt really bad for him him.
I mean, by the end of, of Hellraiser two, you're supposed to sympathize with the death of the cenobites is actually showing, you know, their origins. So yeah, no, there's nothing wrong with sympathizing with them. It's it's interesting that the concept of the cenobites themselves is scary from the outside. But when you kind of look at it, cosmically and the role they play, they, they're just dutifully doing what they think you want them to do. And that's the thing is they think you want to experience, the craziest stuff the universe has to offer and you asked for it. So now we've got to give it to you because there is no safe word in hell. And And so ultimately, they're not bad dudes, but I still argue that they're bad enough dudes that I my biggest problem, honestly, with Hellraiser is that hell is sexist. Because every set of bite gets a name except female cenobite
even in the Hell,
even how the hell you know your glassy, like seven cents of the dollar.
But I think we have a new tagline for the next Hellraiser movie about there not being a safe
word in hell.
I wouldn't watch that. Oh, my goodness. Uh, oh, man. But I want to just to take a step back real quick. So for folks that don't know that the two of you own and cargo that you actually know each other and that you both live in Austin? Well, the three of you I'm the odd one out, but how did y'all meet? I don't even know exactly how y'all met. I don't
even know. I don't even know how either. I don't think either of us can remember the first time we ran across each other. We were just we both came up at the exact same time. He was a member of master pancake. it you know, at the early draft house, I was one of the early Drafthouse regulars who is a member of vainikolo News. I was always at events, he was always at events, and we just kept running into each other until we finally learned each other's names. And and then we both went on very similar paths as screenwriters and novelists. In fact, we we joked about it, I think I think the ship has sailed on this. I think we're a little too old. But for years, we talked about doing a fantastic debates, where we argued who is the best screenwriter and novelist in Austin, where I would argue that it's always man, I would argue that it was me and then we would box it out. And but i think i think that time has passed.
It'll be like, yeah, like a rocky five, we'll do it in an alleyway. That sort of thing.
Rocky five wasn't one of the good ones, though. Well, that's true.
All right. So origin story, the first day that you'll met sort of unknown, all right, but you've known each other for a long time. Oh, we're talking
about like, we're talking like two decades. So it's like, wow, which party We met at which screening We met at, like, we were literally like, you know, both part of the very early Austin Drafthouse scene, like a lot of people don't realize the Austin film scene, a lot of it came together because of the draft house. And they, the draft house started as a purely Repertory Theater. So you know, they would only be showing stuff, either in its second run, or showing older movies. And so all of the film geeks would come out and go here. And, I mean, this is so long ago that you could still smoke in the lobby. And so we would be standing in the, in the lobby smoking cigarettes. And we you it was, you know, you're all just packed in there. So everybody would get to know everybody. And it's like, Who's that loud guy? Oh, that's Cargill. Um, you just have to tune him out. And
he's a short guy. Oh, that's Oh,
yeah. But yeah, so I mean, this is this is we've known each other so long, and then just both ended up, you know, working at blumhouse. And both ended up writing books, and we keep ending up at things. And then of course, we had become good friends. And then people keep going, Hey, we're having an event. And we want Austin filmmakers. Can we have un Oh, and then it's like, yeah, sure, we, we can progress.
It does happen a lot. But it was it was a really cool time of like, I mean, as like cargo was saying that that old Alamo, which was, you know, just one screen, you know, a lot of times the movies cost $1. And, and, and then you'd also get like Quentin Tarantino kind of loved the place and, and he would be filming in town. And he'd be like, I just got it, I got to bring everybody inside to see this random movie from 1970 that I just love and put it on the screen. And then also, you know, you'd do these, like all night long things sometimes. And it was just like a lot of geeks, you know, getting together and and just sort of enjoying each other's company and sharing stuff. Like, oh my gosh, you haven't seen this movie. And this was a time and when there wasn't Netflix, there wasn't a way to stream it. This was before YouTube. So people would be like, oh, here is a VHS copy of this movie Trolls too. For example, like you're gonna see trolls too now, because I'm handing you a copy of it. And I stole from Vulcan video
that, you know, it's it's interesting. A lot of this community came together from a thing called weird Wednesday. That was very different than because what originally happened was Tim Leake had bought 200 different movies from a closed drive in. And he didn't know what shape they were in. So everyone
knew what they were. Some of them didn't have labels. Yeah.
So at midnight, every Wednesday night, they had a free showing, but there was no promises if it was any good. And so we would just show up on Wednesday nights to watch whatever. And sometimes it would be something really cool. Sometimes it would be something goofy like super fuzz. And then sometimes it would be an unwatchable comedy. Like Can I do it until I have to wear glasses, that's only notable because it's the first appearance of Robin Williams on film, like it. Like, it's like, you would just see weird stuff like that. And then sometimes you'd walk out groaning with the rest of the audience going, that was terrible, but then you talk about it for 20 minutes outside. And then sometimes you would really see these amazing gems that you'd have to run out and tell your friends. Oh, my God, you have to find this thing. And, and that's really kind of the genesis of where a lot of the Austin film community of this generation got to know each other.
Right, I just got a pop up message telling me about my free zoom account that we have 10 minutes left, because this is what happens when you're a journalist and you don't pay for the premium accounts. But, Bob, but I did want to also discuss because you talk about the interconnectedness of Austin. And I know that cargo for instance, that you have a project in the works that was announced I think a few months ago correct with Elijah Wood, who also has a residence in Austin. And I feel like everybody has met him at some point and he is the nicest celebrity I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing was super nice, but want to throw it at you if you wanted to talk a little bit about That project that you have with him I I just know, Ted Bundy FBI agent. The floor service.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no. alijah is a super down to earth and a hardcore film nerd. And so he's been coming to a lot of the Drafthouse events for years as well. And and so like most of the film community knows him by on a first name basis. And he knows them because he is one of the nicest guys. Yeah, this is a it's a weird little film that I'm really proud of. We'll see. We just wrapped shooting, we're gonna see how it comes out from the Edit because you never know. But it's essentially the true story of an FBI agent named Bill hag Meyer, who became Ted Bundy, his best friend, and, and in the lat and a large part half of the movie is about how they got to know each other, and how that relationship developed over the course of years. And then the other half is about the last seven days of Ted Bundy, his life, and all the weird things that he tried to do to wiggle out of the electric chair. And in the course of that last week, Bundy admitted everything to bill. And like, he just laid it all out, like how he did it, and what he did. And the thing is, is there have been a lot of movies and a lot of media made about Ted Bundy. And one of the things that bugged me a lot was that it's all kind of selling the myth of Ted Bundy, and kind of glorifying him in a certain way. And the deeper you dig into the story, you realize there's nothing to mystify here, there's nothing amazing about him. In fact, I honestly believe that if Ted Bundy were born, you know, in the 70s, and were a serial killer today, he would have been caught after his first or second attempt. He wasn't that good. He was very good for the 1970s, when states didn't talk to each other police departments didn't talk to each other. And the FBI hadn't taken over coordinating those. And that he was a very sad and angry guy behind the scenes and I wanted to deconstruct the monster and write a piece about like that, you got to the point where, you know, a lot of people have gone in reading the script going wide. Does anyone want to make another Ted Bundy movie, and then they get to the end of the script, and they go, Oh, well, I never need to see another Ted Bundy movie. But this is the one that I needed to see. And so that's the hope of what will we'll accomplish is that we deconstruct that myth and lay out. And it's done almost entirely based upon FBI transcripts and audio recordings, and the recollections of Bill who is in the room with Ted. And so this isn't this isn't somebody else's recollections, this is literally the guy who is in the room, laying out who Ted Bundy is. And so alijah is playing. Bill, I don't think we're allowed to talk about who played Ted, but I'm really excited. It's it's a very, it's a very exciting choice that when people see it, they're going to be kind of floored by how much the performance feels authentic. So I'm very I'm very excited to see how this comes out.
Yeah, that's awesome. And, Ellen, that you have mercy block that's on Netflix. And what else do you have going on in the works? I think in between our last conversation, there's
Yes, but I'm not allowed to talk about course. Of course.
Of course. Well, when you are allowed to talk about it, let me know. I will. I will. Yeah. And cargo. I was telling ban our lovely puppet over there, too, that you should just whisper in Elijah Woods ear that he should do a storytime for children at the Austin Public Library. Um, I think it would be a very nice, sweet, sweet thing.
I will mention it to him. I saw that he put his house up for sale recently. So he may, he just had a kid. And yeah, he's in LA. And so he may just be like, you know what, I think I'm just gonna do the LA thing now, which would make me sad, but we'll see. But I know his brother still lives here. So he'll still be visiting. So I will put that bug in his ear.
Yeah. And if he ever wants to come on the band show and talk to me. I'm more than happy to I interview mostly authors and illustrators, but I'd be more than happy to talk to an actor.
Oh, no, no, no. Elijah does not talk to puppets.
What? No, no, he's a he's a speciesist. He's a
Yes. He's a puppet. Yes. Yeah.
Oh, my goodness.
Well, I do so as a real shame. I have five minutes. Oh, before before the zoom, the zoom will kick every everyone off. So I just wanted to have my closing remarks. Just as a thanks to y'all. Um, and my my last final question to each of you is that if you could be any horror movie villain, who would it be? I'm gonna be I'm gonna be pinhead because I said I sympathize with pinhead.
a horror movie villain. That's really
um, I would pick the the black slime from creep show because it wins in the end.
It does. Does
I guess I'm gonna go I'm gonna go with Larry Talbot. The Wolf Man, because he's so tortured the whole time. And I don't want to kill people but I keep killing people. I I you know, I can relate to that. sympathetic. Yeah.
You know what? I'm gonna I'm gonna take an oddball choice. I'm gonna go with Julian sans Warlock.
Oh, that is a stretch. Yeah.
I mean, first of all, you get to look like Julian sans because that is a beautiful, beautiful man. But also the warlock the warlock was a pretty cool villain. And I'm surprised those movies have not stayed in the consciousness.
Yeah, but how many?
there? I know there was at least two. I think they may have continued without Julian sands, but I'm not 100%. Sure.
Yeah, I recently realized there were four pumpkin heads.
Oh, yeah. Well, I think kind of, I think two and three counters video. I think they were video games and are counted in the series. But I don't know.
I read that too. But it turns out I think they went straight to TV. And then they also had a video games but they were actually movies. Okay. Yeah. I kind of just did a dive in it recently.
Was it wasn't it was it. Christopher Lambert, wasn't he? The Warlock might totally off base might.
No, no, no, that Julian sands was the warlock and then the guy who fought the warlock is still around you from Withnail and I, and really popular on Twitter and I'm blanking on his name all of a sudden.
Well, y'all to have connections with blumhouse. So I think I'll remake y'all should be talking about writing a script for a remake to Warlock. Let's do it. There you go. All right. Well, thank you all very much. Um, and yeah, we got two minutes. So I just want to say as well to be able to send me those recordings via email whenever you get the chance to and I can start putting this all together. Great. Awesome. Cool. Send over tricks and treats to Jordan at pot of madness calm. You can also find the show on Twitter and Instagram at pot of madness. A big thanks to oh and Edgerton, see Robert Cargill, and puppeteer Gabriel ransom Berg for being on the show. If you want to see van the puppet live and in color, watch the video on pot of madness calm. Now, did you think you were going to walk away from a very special episode without a PSA? Do like Jason and Michael and wear a mask. Thanks for listening and keep it real. You shouldn't believe everything you see in the movie.