A Conversation with Larry Blamire

Writer/director/actor Larry Blamire is a cult hero whose movies include The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, and Dark and Stormy Night. These movies are so funny, you might just laugh yourself to death, or die trying.

Jeremy C. Shipp:  First of all, I should ask you the question that everyone’s expecting me to ask. Can you see the pictures in those magic eye books?

Larry Blamire:  Only if I hold them up to a mirror and spin fast enough to catch myself.

J: Unlike most sequels, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again feels fresh and new. My question is, why didn’t you do what most filmmakers do these days and simply rehash the plot, jokes and ideas from the original film?

L: I’m sorry to disappoint but you’re right, we wanted fresh and new.  One of my pet peeves is the sequel rehash–even more general than that–the reliance on safe, done, tried and true.  I wish more films would dare to take us more places.  I mean, hell, a movie can transport us to anywhere the writer or director wants us to–I mean, anything they DREAM, we can SEE.  So much wasted opportunity.  In fact, I’ll bet what filmmakers dream, has far more imagination than what they make.

For LSRA we certainly wanted to create a different experience that would compliment the first film, and not disappoint its fans, while also not insulting them.

J: If Paul Armstrong were a mad scientist à la Doctor Frankenstein, what would his first creation be?

L: A living, breathing creature created from a hundred omelets.  Don’t you see?  think of it…The Hundred Omelet Man.  Now I must write it.

J: How does Dark and Stormy Night differ from the Skeleton films?

L: The biggest difference is; the first LOST SKELETON spoofed/emulated a very cheap low budget–yes bad–movie, while the sequel was a better budget jungle B picture.  DASN is spoofing (and being) a 1930s old dark house mystery.  Not a “bad” movie, just an old movie.  The old dark house films (and they still make them, in various guises) were good, bad, cheap, expensive–all over the map.  We wanted–and got–nice sets and costumes.  And what fun to let the ensemble riff 1930s style.

J: One thing I love about your films is that they’re kind-hearted and family friendly. What motivates you to make such movies?

L: I think especially today audiences should at least have the option of seeing purely fun films.  I like the idea there’s at least SOME horror/scifi kids can see today.  Jen and I sometimes check out the endless CSI/LAW AND ORDER shows–after a while it becomes dismal and dispiriting.  And some horror movies make you want to take a bath afterward.  I’m not a prude when it comes to gore that works within context.  Not at all saying ban torture-porn; I’m for freedom for whatever people want.  Just let’s have a fun option.  Also, it’s funny, I absolutely love 70s edgy paranoia in film (PARALLAX VIEW, MARATHON MAN, THE CONVERSATION, etc) yet mostly despise cynicism.  Go figure.  Yeah, I guess there’s no meanness in our films.  That makes sense; meanness often seems today an easy and simplistic way to manipulate an audience’s emotions.

J: Do you have an evil twin? If so, what kind of work does he do? Is he married to Jennifer Blaire’s evil twin?

L: Bizarro Larry.  Him make sensitive, meaningful films.  Me hate him.  Jennifer Blaire has a twin, but I think it’s herself.  I mean, she’s the same.  You know?  Know what I mean?  She IS herself.

J: What role does music play in your creative process? Who are your favorite composers?

L: I love writing or painting to music, though sometimes with scripts I need quiet, especially if it’s more about dialog than mood then you want the words to be your music.  Big 20th Century classical fan: Vaughan Williams, Prokofiev, Martinu, Nielsen, Sibelius–I guess a lot of symphonists.  Movie scores, especially Bernard Herrmann.

J: If you could have any accent, which one would you choose?

L: Saturnian cracks me up, so that I guess, with a bit of Titanian twang, like I slummed there a while.

J: What was the first low budget cult film you ever saw? What are a few of your favorites? What draws you to these types of movies?

L: As a kid, I wasn’t aware that ROBOT MONSTER was–or was about to become–a cult film.  I just thought it was very strange.  I still enjoy it.  As an adult, discovering PLAN 9…well, what can you say?  It led me to Ed Wood’s GLEN OR GLENDA, a fascinating and dreamlike oddity to behold.  Don’t let anyone tell you Wood had no talent–his performance in that is sincere and understated.

J: If you were a super villain, who would you want as your minions?

L: Conrad Veidt, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Basil Rathbone, John Dehner, Curly Howard, Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Emil Sitka, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Billy Gilbert.  The challenge: organization.

J: One project of yours that I’m especially excited about is your gritty, rusty sci-fi action adventure:  STEAM WARS.  Can you tell us a little about this project? Any new developments?

L: I finally found time to complete the script last year, and so it’s getting shopped around.  We’re about to–any minute now, keep watching–overhaul the website http://www.steamwars.com and I want to do a new piece of art for it.  I can SEE that film, and it WILL be made.

J: What other projects do you have in the works?

L: TV LIFE is a really fun mockumentary showing the history of television.  Recreating old TV show snippets will be a blast, particularly capturing styles from cheap 50s kids show to 80s T&A sitcom.  Be worth it for “Uncle Tree” alone.  And THE RESTROOM; what happens when 8 people in a diner search for a girl they think went in the restroom but doesn’t exist.  Then try to recreate her disappearance.  A farce to be sure.  And I am working on script for LOST SKELETON 3.  Had an idea I just couldn’t refuse.

J: What creature would you most want to transform into during a full moon?

L: Something I guess that’s half library, half tractor?  Can’t resist.

J: Do you own any yard gnomes?

L: Jeremy, I like to think you know me better than that.  Or…wait–was that a trick question, you sly rascal you?

J: You caught me. People can’t really own a yard gnome, any more than they can own a couch. Do you agree?

L: Absolutely. If I had a nickel for every “couch trail” I’ve spotted in our neighborhood, where they drag themselves along the sidewalk, well, I’d have a number of nickels.

J: I read somewhere that you’re passionate about creating new myth. This is something I feel strongly about as well, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

L: Myth of all kinds is fodder for film.  Unfortunately the well needs replenishing.  Examples: the vampire, the zombie, etc.  PAN’S LABYRINTH is an example of new myth.  Filmmakers can do this.  But chances are so seldom taken, because money dictates toward the familiar.  Another thing: in literature there’s a wealth of unexplored, unmined resource.  It’s not all King Arthur or Zeus.

J: Where did I leave my keys?

L: Another trick question–and one I appreciate, since you knew it would lead me to finding my own, which had fallen to the floor.  Good timing, I might add, since I need to open that cabinet I keep in the air.

2 thoughts on “A Conversation with Larry Blamire

  1. K. A. Laity

    Well, of course you’re a Sibelius fan; that’s a given. Steam Wars sounds a delight and TV Life, too. If Lost Skeleton and Returns were not such delights, I would never imagine cheering for another sequel, but I am. Cheers — I’ll be in line waiting for your next release.

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