Schlock and the Snob: An Interview With Brad Jones - Dread Central
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Schlock and the Snob: An Interview With Brad Jones

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It was the mid-‘80s. In the backroom of a video rental store called Armchair Video, I sat as a child with unlimited access to hundreds of VHS titles. As we can tell by the website for which I write, horror films were the most influential on my young mind. From slasher to schlock, those days of childcare via video exposed yours truly to the best and absolute worst that our beloved genre had to offer.

Many years later I started hunting down some of those classic titles and came across a gentleman named Brad Jones on a YouTube channel called ‘Stoned Gremlin Productions.’ It was apparent that Jones was subjected to the same catalog of catastrophe as I and had created a character who reviews the forgotten sinful celluloid: The Cinema Snob.

Brad Jones in character as The Cinema Snob.

Brad Jones in character as The Cinema Snob.

We recently reached out to Brad Jones to find out more about the man, mind and madness behind the Snob.

Where did the love of horror stem from?

From growing up with them as a kid.  Growing up in the 80s, I think there were probably a lot more parents who were of the “eh, just let the kids watch what they want” type.  We had toys for Robocop, cartoons for Rambo, and we were all about the slasher films.  That totally worked out for me growing up, it shaped my taste and my career!  When I first started getting into horror movies, it was during the slasher boom, so I would rent them by the truckloads at the video store, and it’s how I spent most of my week nights.  

How did the Snob character come about?

Kind of as a lark honestly.  I had made a few movies before doing The Cinema Snob.  They were all exploitation films, since that’s the kind of director I wanted to be, and I still love making them too.  In 2007, I had a lot of down time since I was between movie projects, and my day job back then was part time.  So, to fill some time I created The Cinema Snob character, who was meant to be a satire of a high brow art critic who’s forced to review exploitation films.  It was inspired heavily off of the Siskel & Ebert review of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, as well as some people I knew in the local film scene here in Springfield IL.  I had no idea it would take off, but it did, which made me really glad.  It brought in an audience for the movies we were making ourselves, and made us able to do other series and projects as well.  I love playing the character, I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years, and it’s still a lot of fun.

What’s the process for creating a Cinema Snob video?

It’s pretty easy.  I have a list of movies that I’ve kept over the years, and I basically just choose something from that list.  An episode can either be a riff-heavy episode, or an episode where you can tell there’s deep love through the movie, but spoken through the satirical voice of this character.  Sometimes though the movie is just bad.  I watch the movie on my laptop, I have one window open for the movie, and another to take notes.  When I’m done with the movie and my notes, I write the episode, and then I’ll film it that evening, which takes about an hour to film.  The next day I’ll spend editing, which from editing to posting takes about 8 hours.  My turn around time is fairly quick since my show doesn’t involve a lot of post-production effects.

Speaking of bad movies, what is the truly worst movie you’ve ever had to sit through?

Nukie.  It’s a 1987 E.T. ripoff, and it was the most frustrating thing I’ve sat through.  From a filmmaking standpoint, and an annoyance standpoint, it was near impossible to watch, especially with those horrifying snot covered costumes.  It took me a couple of days to get through it, since I got halfway through and had to get out of the house and rethink my life.

Since the VHS market is long dead, do you think the “mockbuster” is the true successor of “Shot On Shiteo?”

I think the rise of mockbusters may be the spiritual successors of the foreign ripoff exploitation flicks, like Bruno Mattei’s Terminator 2, or Alien 2: On Earth.  The successor of Shot on Shiteo movies I think is people like myself and others who really wanted to work with a microbudget, grab a house camera, and film whatever kind of movie we had a desire to make.  I’ve done far more movies that can be considered Shot on Shiteo than ones that aren’t.

We’ve certainly seen some major Hollywood films that feel like direct-to-video schlock; what trends in current horror movies would you like to see improve or change?

In terms of theatrically released horror films, I would love to see more variety.  8 times out of 10 it’s typically a ghost movie or a haunted house movie.  Some of them are still good, but every once in a while I’d just love to see a slasher film or a serial killer movie get thrown into the mix, good or bad.

Looking through your Cinema Snob films, there are a couple ultra-violent religious films. Are religious propaganda movies more terrifying than anything the horror genre has to offer?

Ha!  Depends on what decade they’re from.  The religious films now days are more often than not just really corny with a major persecution complex.  But if we get into some early-mid ’70s stuff, like the Ron Ormond films like “If Footmen Tire You What will Horses Do” or “The Burning Hell,” it looks like the kind of super-8 film that’s always playing on a bed sheet in a serial killer’s house in a movie.  They’ve incredibly fire and brimstone fundamentalist sermons spliced in with reenactments with graphic violence.  There’s something really unsettling about it, like any minute now a human sacrifice is going to take place.

It looks like those more recent films are being lampooned in a new project of yours. Can you tell us about your new project ‘Jesus Bro?’

It’s my first parody film.  For one of my shows called Midnight Screenings, where we go see week’s pre-screenings and then talk about them in the car afterwards, we’ve had to see a lot of religious films from Pure Flix and others.  Stuff like “God’s Not Dead” or “War Room.”  We’ve had to see so many that it was easy to pick up on the tropes of them, like the strawman atheist and the persecuted Christian that we would joke about actually making a parody of these movies that really highlighted and went after the tropes of these movies.  When I wrote the script, I wanted it to feel legit, like someone could accidentally come across this and think it’s real.  I wanted to do a parody film in the style of parodies I grew up with, like High Anxiety or Young Frankenstein, and less like the “Movie Movies.”  So there’s going to be no point in this movie where suddenly “hey guys, it’s Iron Man!”

When creating a parody film about religion, how does one decide just how far to go and what (if anything) is off limits?

It was honestly easy to go about that, because it’s not necessarily a parody of religion itself, but instead a parody of the current trend of religious movies.  It was more about highlighting all the tropes and clichés of these movies, and not making something that just attacks religion.  

What is the status of ‘Jesus Bro’ at this time?

We have a day or two left on the movie’s Indiegogo campaign, and we’ve already hit our goal, so we’re incredibly happy and excited about that.  Right now, the goal is to film the movie in November with an early 2017 release.  Right now we’re assembling our crew for the movie, and also locations and remaining characters that need to be cast.

How can viewers help to make this project a reality?

The movie still has at least a day on the crowdfunding campaign, so please donate if you can.  The more we get, the better the film will look!  If the campaign has ended by the time you read this, then follow along with the movie on our website, and give it a watch when it’s finally released.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Brad! Be sure to check out Stoned Gremlin Production’s channel and head on over to Indiegogo if you’re feeling generous and want to help fund ‘Jesus Bro.’

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmb0jqmtE5w?list=PLuI7ruqihRHy8_bTmEFqpGU-mAYg89zmt]

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For those of you who might not know, Billie Lourd is the daughter of Carrie Fisher. She was one of the stars of Ryan Murphy’s horror-comedy series Scream Queens and has since followed Murphy over to the world of American Horror Story.

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