Interview: Adam West (2011)

What’s the difference between being typecast and becoming a pop culture icon? For Adam West, it all comes down to a knowing wink to the audience. In 1966 he went from bit-part actor in TV shows and spaghetti westerns to getting a dream role: To bring a four-color version of DC’s Batman to TV. It’s hard to overestimate the show’s impact on pop culture and on West. The producers cranked out 120 episodes and one 90 minute film of knockabout dayglo fun in under three years, creating catchphrases that resonate with people who have never seen the show and boxing West into a niche as campy, hammy actor. It’s been almost 46 years since the Batman film got its world premier, and it seems that West has finally made peace with the role that defined his career. Now the circle is complete: Instead of him being associated with Batman, Batman stands in his shadow as he has become the ultimate post-modern film star.  “The movie has withstood the test of time,” he said, “And so have I.”


Richard Whittaker: Between the film, the original series, and cameos in cartoons, Batman has been part of your life for four decades. How did you get the part?

Adam West: I’d been in Europe doing some films (including The Relentless Four) after doing a series (The Detectives) here with the late Robert Taylor for NBC. Before I left, I did a series of commercials for Nestlé in which I did sort of a James Bond spoof. I found out late that the producers at Fox and ABC had seen those commercials, and evidently I impressed them in so far as they thought, “Hey, this is the turkey to play Batman.” I think they liked my sense of humor. You might too, if you get to know me. Continue reading Interview: Adam West (2011)

Interview: Mick Foley (2003)

(Back in 2003, I had the chance to sit down with legendary wrestler Mick Foley. A WWE Hall of Famer, the former king of the death match had defied expectations by becoming a household name, and then pushed expectations even further by becoming a best-selling writer through his autobiographies. I talked with him just as his debut novel, Tietem Brown, was being published.)

Richard Whittaker: So what inspired your new book, Tietam Brown?

Mick Foley: It was actually inspired by the movie Affliction, with Nick Nolte and James Coburn. I really loved the movie, but thought it was flat-out miserable. There was really never any sense of hope whatsoever. So I wanted to do a father/son story, but I wanted to make the father considerably more charming than the James Coburn character was. At the same time, I wanted to write him with the potential to be equally as horrible.

RW: It’s pretty dark, and a far cry from the more entertaining world of pro-wrestling.

MF: I think for a while in my book, it is a fun world. There are glimpses of that world, and the main character, Andy, has the potential to really be happy. I don’t why it got so damn dark, but it was written just after September 11, and I think I wanted to write a book about hope in the face of hopelessness.

RW: There does seem to be quite a lot of you, Mick Foley, in the book. Was that a conscious decision when you were writing it?

MF: I realized that what people really liked about the autobiographies was the voice, and the fact that it really felt like they were hanging out with me. Except it was more exciting, because in truth I’m not all that cool to hang out with. I thought well, if I’m a pretty good story teller and people like my voice when I’m using it for real, then I’m not going to re-invent the wheel. I took a trip to China and I was writing a short story. At the end of the writing, I kept having to go back and changing the ‘I’s and ‘my’s to ‘he’s and ‘his’s. So I re-did the short story as a novel and just kept it in the first person. Continue reading Interview: Mick Foley (2003)

Review: Tetsuo, the Iron Man (2010)

You never forget your first Tetsuo. Director Shinya Tsukamoto‘s 1989 industrial classic The Iron Man was a cold, hard slap across the face of film and music. Nearly two decades after the sequel, Body Hammer, he returns to his searing indictment of modernity and destructive capitalism.

The tetsuo – the iron man whose body is in rebellion as the organic transforms into metal – is different in every film. Photographer-turned-actor Eric Bossick takes the lead this time as Anthony, an American salaryman and familyman living in Tokyo with his Japanese wife and their child.

Continue reading Review: Tetsuo, the Iron Man (2010)

Review: The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2010)

Part of the remit of Fantastic Fest is to shock: And it’s hard to imagine that anything this year will push more buttons than Serbia’s The Life and Death of A Porno Gang.

Porno Gang treads very similar ground to A Serbian Film, the extreme shocker that stretched even the hardest of genre fans to breaking point at this year’s SXSW. Both deal with the traumatic melding of sex and death in the post-civil war Balkans, as a bunch of sexual libertines get themselves caught up in the strange and fetid world of snuff cinema. That said, Porno Gang is far less gruesome than Serbian Film. That also being said, that’s rather like describing a blast furnace as cooler than the surface of the sun.

Continue reading Review: The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2010)