Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Paradise Profiles: Lost Highway

A while ago I did a post on some of the best-designed horror blogs out there and one of them was The Lost Highway. I have been a fan of Lost Highway for about a year now and I had the pleasure to talk to Steve (the owner) via Twitter. Well, about a few weeks ago I asked him if he would like to answer a few questions from me so that I can file him under my Paradise Profiles. Well, next to the Amanda Norman interview I think I came up with a really good questionnaire for Steve and he came back with exactly what I wanted him to say. Hell, the answers he gave me are very quotable and I might have to use them later on in some of my posts.

So, with that said I give you my interview with the Lost Highway (I bet some of you didn’t know that highways can talk):

Why are you attracted to horror movies?
With so many horrifying things in the real world I consider it a sort of escape from the day the day. I personally don't like the torture porn type of stuff or horror that's just so vile that it makes you want to take a shower after watching it. I typically like the fun horror film that doesn't take itself too seriously but can still give me a few good scares. If I thought a guy in a hockey mask was going to actually try to kill me on a camping trip then I probably wouldn't be watching these types of films to begin with and fortunately I'm not prone to skinny dipping or having premarital sex just ask my wife. These are a world of fantasy pure and simple just like science fiction novels and government intelligence.

Considering Halloween 3 was the first horror movie you saw, what is your opinion on it now as you are older?
I remember seeing the film at a friend’s sleepover party when I was 9 years old and watched most of it from the protective cover of my sleeping bag. It scared me enough that I refused to wear a halloween mask that year for fear snakes would come out of the eyeholes. I can't really say it's very scary to me anymore but neither are dark basements, thunderstorms and clowns… ok maybe still clowns but I do consider Halloween 3 a good campy b-movie and I gotta give them credit for trying something different. I guess it was the new Coke of the Halloween series and yes I still check the back of masks for that Shamrock logo just in case.

Why are you drawn to b-movies out of all the horror sub-genres?
b-movies to me really encompass a pretty broad set of genres with traditional horror, sci-fi, campy bad movies, exploitation, and grindhouse falling into the mix. But I think most b-movies don't take themselves too seriously most of the time and it's a type of movie you can have fun with or make fun of with a group of buddies. There's also some sort of pure raw creativity in a lot of these films. They didn't have the budgets or the big studio backings so you'll see a lot of creative ways they handled things. In a lot of ways it was true independent gorilla film making which can often create the best results.

Would you say there is a certain kind of vintage aspect in watching obscure 70s and 80s horror movies? In other words, do those kinds of movies bring you back to your childhood days?
Absolutely. I saw a most of these types of films in my childhood and it takes me back to a time when life wasn't so stressful, not so many responsibilities. Things were simpler and slower back then. *leans back in my rocking chair* "well I remember walking to school uphill both ways and writing on a shovel and we ate dirt and by golly we liked it that way."

How did Mystery Science Theater 3000 mold you into who you are now?
I started watching MST3K since season 1 back when Comedy Central was called the Comedy Channel… you know when cable was actually good? So not only did it expose me to a lot of vintage b-movies but greatly influenced my strange sense of humor. Though I still don't get 90% of the actor references they make though but that's what Google’s for.

What got you started in graphic design?
I started out as an illustrator when I was younger so there was lots of drawing of fast cars, monsters, and boobies… oh the boobies. I was actually going to go to college for biomedical illustration but I got squeamish with the idea of going to see the corpses in the medical lab for extra credit. So yeah failed that class. Funny how I can watch a guy get his head eaten by a zombie but if I see real drop of blood then I pass out like a little girl. Fortunately this whole Internet thing came along so I went with web design and it's been keeping my family fed ever since. I still do illustration work with my b-movie posters and t-shirt designs which has been a lot of fun.

Out of all your website design and logo work, what has to be your best design?
Hmmm‚ that's a tough call. I've never been a big fan of my own design work. I usually look at it a month or so later and I'll be like "what poor blind monkey designed this?" However I think my Halloween poster is probably my best illustration work thus far. Ironically my first b-movie poster I did but I think I just haven't gotten back to that same level yet. I guess I had no expectations when I drew that which gives you a sort of creative freedom when you don't place expectations on what it should looks like. But I love b-movies and drawing so it's the perfect value combo meal.

What made you want to start a blog?
It was mostly to just see if I could write… well anything. Designers make horrible editors we can barely spell or use basic tools. Thankfully we got that whole opposable thumb thing going on for us. It's been a very unique and rewarding creative experience for me to write about my b-movie passion. It's almost like drawing. You have to build your review up just like you build a drawing… oh and there's lots of erasing.

What was the inspiration behind a 'Lost highway' theme?
I never actually heard of the movie with the same title when I had started putting the site together. Call me a Lynch virgin at the time. This was back in the day when the site was more a glorified links page attached to my portfolio website. I just wanted something that would be off the main road of the "information super highway!" yeah I know it was 90's give me a break. Strangely I finally saw the movie a while back for the first time and afterwards was like "oh yeah this movie is soooo lost highway" just add a touch of grindhouse you got what we're all about.

How did you meet Drive-In Dan?
Dan actually hired me to design him a horror logo a few years back. You can still see it in my portfolio its called Goreopolis. We got chatting about what I wanted to do with Lost Highway and turns out he's just as crazy as I am. More importantly he has a passion for b-movies and wants to make Lost Highway awesome-tastic. We get into these fun conversations about movies because our tastes aren't identical in films. Our conversation about the movie Grindhouse will be passed on to generations. Dan is also a great guy and his Rosen's drive-in is really doing well down in North Carolina. I get down there for a double-decker chilidog from the snack shop when I can and help him run ticket sales.

Out of all the b-movies that you've seen, what is you favorite and what is your least favorite?
Favorite movie of all time would easily be "The Warriors." hands down the greatest film ever made. It's one of the few films I can watch over and over again and thoroughly enjoy. I think it just exemplifies what is great in a b-movie; the campiness attitude of 70's films, the great dialog, the grittiness. My 3-year-old daughter even says "Warrior's come out and play." gosh that makes a daddy proud.

Least favorite? Well there are so many b-movies that scrap the bottom of the barrel. Manos: The Hands of Fate is tremendously painful without some good MST3K riffing. I think I'd have to go with Bloodshack though as my pick. It was directed by the same guy that made the Incredibly Strange Creature That Stopped Living and Became A Mixed Up Zombie; The only movie whose title is actually more interesting than the film. I can't give you specifics of the plot of Bloodshack because I don't think there really was one. There's a guy, and a shack, a rodeo, and some stained wallpaper, that's about it. I think the movie really hates humanity.

By any chance, did MST3K influence your comical commentary on snapshots of certain b-movies?
Yes definitely. MST3K is the greatest TV show ever made or will ever be made. Yes even better than "Charles in Charge" or "Manimal." I use to do these comedy sketched on video cassettes in Jr. High where we'd record shows off the TV and add our own commentary track over the audio. It was pre MST3k days so I'm just waiting for my royalties check from Best Brains. I still watch an episode about every night before bed. It's like a comfort food but less fattening.

What was the most rewarding thing that came out of blogging?
Talking to other people who have a similar passion for this b-movie stuff like me: entertaining the unwashed masses, oh and the money… so much money. I just roll around in it at night. Roll, roll, roll.

If Kevin Murphy and Michael Nelson were to read this interview, what would you want to say to them?
"How do you eat and breathe and other science facts?"

How do you relax? Or, what do you do in your spare time?
Between a full time job, 3 kids, and freelance design business my spare time is pretty much what I devote to Lost Highway and b-movie watching. I try to watch at least a couple b-movies a week so at least if one is so horrible I can't bare to speak of it again the other movie will be the film I review by default. It's like Olympic training so I got to pace myself. It’s usually late at night but I find that's the best creative time without a tiny person using me as a jungle gym. I don't watch television now so I get a heck of a lot more done with the little spare time I do have. My wife and I are also big Roller Derby fans so we try to get down to the Detroit Derby Girl bouts as much as we can. My wife is joining a local derby league so she's pretty hardcore. I'm more like Richie Cunnigham from Happy Days so she could kick my ass at any moment.

To visit the Lost Highway, click here
To visit the Retro DC Portfolio, click here
Follow Steve on Twitter
Become a fan of the Lost Highway on Facebook


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