Category Archives: Interviews

BRINGING US TOGETHER: A CONVERSATION WITH ‘METAL AND MONSTERS’ HOST MATT “COUNT D” MONTGOMERY

“Honestly man, I miss the days when we could get together on things.”

For Matt “Count D” Montgomery, long known as the bassist for Rob Zombie, the vision for METAL AND MONSTERS–Gibson TV’s brand new show dedicated to the worlds of heavy metal and monster culture–really is just that simple.

Two years ago there came a tapping at his Lyft door as he was leaving John Carpenter’s Halloween Nights show at the Hollywood Palladium when Gibson TV Content and Director Todd Harapiak, rapped Montgomery’s shoulder. Harapiak offered his card and an invitation to give him a call.

For the next year, Harapiak and Montgomery traded records and got to know one another. Then just before the pandemic began, Montgomery got a call that changed everything.

“I’m thinking about a show where we combine our love for heavy metal and maybe your love for monster culture and stuff it into one thing. What do you think?” Harapiak said.

And just like that, METAL AND MONSTERS was born. Nearly every day for the next two-and-a-half years Montgomery and Harapiak were on the phone planning the show. Before long they were location scouting, then a crew was assembled, and finally they started reaching out to horror and metal legends for a 60-minute program which Montgomery would host.

“Before I knew it, last October, there we were in the Los Angeles Theatre with a coffee table we built from scratch, with a set that we designed for the show, and [Robert Englund and Don Dokken] sitting in front of me,” Montgomery said. “It’s one of the coolest bands I’ve ever been in.

It’s the most honest thing I can be doing with my time. I’ve celebrated the elements of this show literally my whole life.” Montgomery continued, “I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be a host of this campfire, so to speak. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done because I feel like I’ve been studying for it my whole life.”

Which brings us back to Montgomery’s vision.

“When I grew up, Thursday nights on NBC were a thing, Saturday morning cartoons were a thing,” Montgomery said. “We all used to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night. We all used to watch the Carson show, and we’d all go to work or school the next day talking about who was on Johnny Carson the night before. It brought us together.

As different as we could be politically or religiously or whatever it was, we could come together on things. We could meet. Even if it was for five minutes by the water cooler, we could meet up on stuff.”

Whether it was “did you see the game?” or “did you see Orson Welles on the Carson show last night?” it was the mutual geek sessions that resulted from a shared experience that Montgomery wanted to recreate, or to put it in horror terms, re-imagine.

(Photo credit: Todd Harapiak)

“I miss the unity that used to come from something as dumb as television,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it’s dumb, but some people think it’s dumb. That was my intention with the show.”

Intent is one thing, but an endeavor such as METAL AND MONSTERS required a level of expertise from its host that would be difficult to meet.

“It just so happens that I can speak to all of that stuff and I can be a little bit of a ringleader by being a curator with all of the elements that are in this peanut butter & jelly sandwich,” Montgomery said. “The intent was really to bring people together for an hour. Especially now, man. We’re such a mess as a culture. To be able to sit down for an hour and just talk about Dokken or Freddy Krueger. If we could all shut up and put our differences aside for five minutes or an hour, and just sit around a campfire warming our hands, it’s a good day at work.”

The pilot episode reunites Robert Englund and Don Dokken, who Harapiak describes as “two pillars of the metal and monster genre” to celebrate the 35th anniversary of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987).

Dokken penned “Dream Warriors” exclusively for the film that featured Englund’s third turn as one of horror’s most iconic characters.

(Photo by: Mark Weiss)

And as you might suspect, METAL AND MONSTERS’ tagline says it all: “If you like blast beats and things that go bump in the night, this is the show for you.”

When Harapiak’s idea met Montgomery’s vision, it presented the opportunity to test Count D’s theory.

“I think if you’re a fan of horror or you’re a fan of metal, your mind is open to the possibility of suspending disbelief to storytelling, you’re open to fantastic ideas,” Montgomery said. “If you buy, for two seconds, that there’s a movie about a dream demon in a red-and-green sweater that haunts your dreams, and if he kills you in your dreams, you’re really dead–if you buy a ticket to that movie and make it all the way through, and you walk out of it and enjoyed where you’ve been for an hour-and-a-half–you’re more likely to be accepting of imagination, of fiction, of science fiction, of entertainment in general.

On the second Metallica record, there’s an instrumental song called “Call of Cthulhu” based on H.P. Lovecraft. And then Master of Puppets, you’ve got “The Thing That Should Not Be,” a song about a fuckin’ sea monster. Lady Gaga’s not writing songs about sea monsters,” Montgomery said. “There’s an element of fantasy there, in heavy metal and in horror, that we, as fans of both of those genres, we want to be entertained by great stories and by interesting characters and by history.

I mean, For Whom the Bell Tolls, another Metallica example–that’s classic literature (by Ernest Hemingway). That was a famous book before it was a Metallica song. Horror fans and heavy metal fans are some of the most well-read, intelligent people in the world because they don’t limit themselves to every day realism. I mean, we all have to live in the real world, but let’s be honest, the real world is pretty fucking horrifying. But, there’s something fun about studying history and there’s something to be learned from that. There’s something fun going to a mythical place like Oz, or Freddy’s lair; there’s something fun about going somewhere you can’t get in your car and go to. And if you’re willing to accept that, then you’re one of us and you’re along for the ride I think, with heavy metal and horror.”

(Photo credit: Ross Halfin)

And because, as Montgomery pointed out, “somebody had the forethought to go ‘you know who’s watching these movies? Teenagers. And you know what teenagers love? Rock and roll. So, we need some rock music in this movie.’ The result, as they say–in this case Dokken on Elm Street–is history.

“You know what was a happy accident? Robert was early,” Montgomery said. “I consider him the Vincent Price of my generation. At a young age, my mom got me hip to Vincent Price. I started with the [Roger] Corman [Edgar Allan] Poe pictures that AIP (American International Pictures) made in the ’60s and became obsessed with those movies. I knew who Robert Englund once at a young age, too, because he was on V, and those were Friday nights for me in elementary school.

To be sitting there with him after loving him for so long, and he just talked. He told me stories like he was my uncle. It was crazy, he was completely at ease with himself and with me, and I had my stack of Fangoria magazines and Freddy poster magazines there,” Montgomery said. “And [Englund would] be like ‘you know, in NIGHTMARE 5’, and he told me things I probably shouldn’t know,, but he just felt so candid.

So, by the time we got to the stage, we were loose and had already touched on things. He brought up different things in the interview when we were filming, and that was all very natural. I had questions to kind of kick the ball back onto the field, but I didn’t have to. One of the things going into the show was going to be that the secret sauce was going to be whoever we paired together. If we put any thought into who to pair together, we knew that whatever happened between those two people, would be completely organic and / or magical in its own way, and that’s exactly what it was. I didn’t know that they both [Englund and Dokken] had spent so much time in New Mexico, so they had this whole conversation with themselves about New Mexico while we were there, and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.’ It’s those happy accidents that come from two people and their own organic chemistry being near each other, and all I have to do is open the can and get out of the way.”

Super7 Iron Maiden action figures as seen in the “Terror Trek” segment of METAL AND MONSTERS.

Montgomery geeked out listening to Englund and Dokken, and anticipates a similar reaction from the legions who also possess stacks of Fangorias and vinyls of their own.

“There’s so many surprises that come by just putting two people in the room and the relationship that they may or may not have together, it makes for good TV,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes I’m as surprised as the viewer will be. I’m like ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that!’ and everybody else is gonna go ‘huh. I didn’t know that.’ I guess that’s the reward of a good interview, is that you walk away from it having learned something you didn’t know.

Robert told the story about ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and Bill Haley {& His Comets) and “Rock Around the Clock” when that came out, and how teenagers had never heard rock and roll played that loud, and how it worked them up and got the adrenaline pumping in the theatre. It was the same reaction I had as a kid seeing DREAM WARRIORS. Hearing Dokken loud on a Friday night. Man, it was exciting! I love those feelings. And I love it when people get excited about being in the moment. I think there’s more of that to come with the show. I think people will see that there’s an excitement in the air when the combination of these elements get together. It’s kind of like watching the jelly melt into the peanut butter and the peanut butter melt into the jelly — it becomes its own flavor.”

And it will be 60 minutes of METAL AND MONSTERS that calls everybody to the dinner table, ready for their ration of peanut butter & jelly. Ready for the explosion of that unique flavor. Ready to remember. Ready to rock. Together.

[Interview] Dark Artist and Poet Andy Sciazko Talks New Book

Absolutely! In addition to drawing inspiration from the films I’m dissecting, imagery from a few other favorites definitely trickled in. There are vibes of “Don’t Look Now” (1973) and “The Changeling” (1980) in some of my illustrations.

Without trying to sound too cliché, every so often an artist comes around that defines a generation with his/her deep, and meaningful contributions to society in the artistic form. Dark artist Andy Sciazko seems to be that “dark” horse in the running with his compelling illustrations that have graced numerous publications that scream both nostalgia and speak to your soul on a deeper level than feel-good fuzzies. Personally speaking, he first made waves with me when I discovered his art through a new book release in conjunction with author Jake Tri entitled Nightmare Soup back in 2016; and this Scary Stories-esque collection of tales with art rivaling that of Stephen Gammell, sent my nostalgic heart into a whirlwind. The stories were on par. The art, incredible. So yeah, I was hooked and have been following ever since.

Sciazko’s new art book, “The Calibration of Old Wounds”, is a fifty page ode to letting go and the impact felt by the very powerful force of nostalgia. In combination with his love for the morbid and horror, the pages are filled with the kind of art that makes you really reflect on how humanity perceives these feelings. The poetry entailed within, grabs you by the balls; unearthing your full-attention with a craving to decipher every word strung along in the sentence.

It’s a really wild, and humbling ride throughout the artist’s perspective that I think a lot of us in the horror genre, can really relate to. This collection, along with his other art book, “We’ve Always Been Here/This Was Never Yours” ode to Witchcraft, are two pieces that I will forever cherish in my gothic reserves.

Image via: Patti Pauley

In promoting the new book, Reflectingonacoda.com was released last month, filled with hidden content for those who signed up early and fans of Sciazco’s work. The ciphers you’ll find on each page that need to be decoded will lead you down a rabbit hole. A select few have solved it to the very end (I’m not one of them).

Like with many things that fascinate us, I had to ask a few questions about this artistic process to the creator himself.

NN: What or who inspired you to put this collection together?

AS: Years ago I decided to compile a bunch of old writing/poetry to coincide with illustrations into a book, which I titled
“A Lyric Booklet.” I loved the little extras (additional album art, hidden tracks, lyric inspiration) you would find in most vinyls or CD inserts booklets. While compiling, I noticed that most of my writing dissected films, books, and the stories they were portraying thematically. Deciding to run with that idea, it eventually became the foundation for my subsequent releases “We’ve Always Been Here//This Was Never Yours,” “I Have Seen the Dark and I Long For its Ache,” and my latest “The Calibration of Old Wounds.”
Each book breaks down a collection of films with similar themes and imagery. For instance, if you look closely at WABH//TWNY you’ll find that all the films I picked have a strong female lead character.

NN: What message or conversation are you trying to tell/ start with your audience?

AS: While at the end of the day everyone will have their own interpretation of the book, I’m hoping the illustrations and entries create an immersive experience for the reader. Like with my previous releases, I never flat out state which films I’m referencing, but I’m sure to include Director/Writer’s names on the “Thank You” page of each book as hints. Narrowing down on the films will give new light to the artwork titles and entries for anyone that is interested.

NN: This collection strikes me as a deep and thought provoking battle with several mental illnesses. Maybe I’m looking into it too deep, and this is what my subconscious sees, but is there any truth to that?

AS: There is definitely some truth to that! With “The Calibration of Old Wounds,” I wanted to explore the idea of time as both an over abundant and fleeting resource. Why are certain events in our lives nostalgic to us? Did we somehow know living in the moment of the event that it would have such a nostalgic impact? And because all memory becomes muddled and worn, are we even recalling the events correctly? One of the films i dissect is Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York which is riddled with references and allusions to mental illness and delusion.

NN: Some of the art seems to be on par with throwing back to a few classic nostalgic horror films- care to share any Easter eggs in there?

AS: Absolutely! In addition to drawing inspiration from the films I’m dissecting, imagery from a few other favorites definitely trickled in. There are vibes of “Don’t Look Now” (1973) and “The Changeling” (1980) in some of my illustrations.

“The Calibration of Old Wounds” drops in Andy Sciazko’s dark art shop at AndySciazko.com on June 21st, 2021.

Still a Dead-Eye 35 Years On: A CHOPPING MALL Interview with Kelli Maroney

When Season 2 of The Last Drive-In opened with a shot of CHOPPING MALL spelled out on the marquee over Joe Bob Briggs’ shoulder last April I nearly squealed. Okay, I might have squealed. But it was only because CHOPPING MALL is perhaps my favorite drive-in movie of all-time, and knowing that Barbara Crampton had already been on the show meant that we’d be getting a dose of Kelli Maroney had me straight up giddy with anticipation.

And judging by the reaction on Twitter, I was not alone. While it’s hard to believe that it’s been three-and-a-half decades since we spent the night with a group of horny teenagers taking on a gang of killbots, it isn’t difficult to understand why the film seems to grow in popularity the further it gets from its original release date of March 21, 1986. It hits the ground running and never stops.

With titles like FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) and NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984) to her credit, Kelli Maroney is a bona fide queen of ’80s cinema, but CHOPPING MALL holds a special place in the hearts of many, including the star of the film.

“How could you not be delighted that people enjoy something as much as they seem to enjoy CHOPPING MALL? The appreciation and the gratitude is off the charts.”

Our appreciation and gratitude too is off the charts, not only for 77 minutes of awesome, but that Ms. Maroney shared a few moments with us over the phone in early February to discuss her memories of the shoot, her confusion over why no one ever told her Joe Bob was a fox, the status of a possible television series, and she even shared a personal tidbit about the picture that she’d never told anyone before.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kelli f***ing Maroney.

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: Can you believe it’s been 35 years?

KELLI MARONEY: That’s what I always say. If you had told me in 1986 that in 2021 I’d be giving five interviews this week for CHOPPING MALL? (laughs) I would’ve said “What are you smokin’?” because it wouldn’t have been real to me. It used to be more NIGHT OF THE COMET but now it’s CHOPPING MALL. Even Joe Bob Briggs said “What’s the deal with CHOPPING MALL?” and his producer said “Dude, it’s the most popular thing.”

Even I said to (director) Jim Wynorski “Can you believe this? I can’t get over it. I can never get over it.” It never gets old, it’s always stunning. I’m tickled, I’m delighted and really touched because that’s the whole point of doing this is to connect with people and give them something that they enjoy. And this is beyond anybody’s wildest dreams to have done something that people like so much, but I had no idea it was going to be CHOPPING MALL.

NN: It almost felt like the anniversary celebrations began last year when CHOPPING MALL opened Season 2 of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. We’re not going to rehash that conversation, but give us a peek behind the curtain of being on one of horror’s biggest stages.

KM: It was amazing. First of all, I got a message from (Briggs) on Twitter and I thought “this isn’t really Joe Bob Briggs,” but it was, it was John (Bloom). He’s a lovely guy and he’s extremely smart. And Joe Bob is a character obviously, but it’s just heightened. If John was always in his sense of humor, and it was just heightened and a little more Southern, it’s still him. So, you get there and everybody is so nice. At first I met Diana (Prince) — Darcy the Mail GIrl — and my friend Felissa Rose had been on before, so I reached out because I was excited. If you’re on Joe Bob you’re a horror fixture in that community otherwise you wouldn’t be there.

First of all, I had never met him before, so when he was on MonsterVision I had never seen that so I thought Joe Bob, what is he a big, fat guy with a beer belly that talks about boobs all the time? I had no interest. I didn’t know what he was doing because I’d never seen it, but no one ever told me he was a babe (laughs). Seriously, no one had ever said anything to change that perception that I had.

He’s a very big supporter of the Chattanooga Film Festival, which is lovely, and they gave me an award once, First Joe Bob did a little riff on NIGHT OF THE COMET — well, it wasn’t a little riff because that dude gets seriously in depth and it’s never little, he always gives a full talk — but my award was a paper mache slice of pizza designed by a local artist who is told what the recipient means to the festival and then the artist creates it. And I said, pizza? And Chris Dortch, who owns and runs the festival and presented the award, said “Yes, you’re like pepperoni pizza. You make everything better that you’re in.” I said “awww, that’s adorable. That’s so sweet!” So, I took a picture with Joe Bob, and even with my huge high heels on I am half his size because he’s tall and I”m petite.

So, back to Felissa. I asked her advice on guesting for the show and she said “don’t tell him something you’ve already told everybody else in interviews” So, I took that as don’t tell the same old story about how I wanted to be an actor since I was a little girl. Don’t bore Joe Job. Be entertaining. And Felissa has no problem just saying things, so she set the bar so high.

Sometime as actors you get all serious about things and nobody cares, they want you to be fun. And as you can see, I’ll just talk as long, until you tell me to stop (laughs).

I love when fans feel like they’re a part of things, and that’s what’s so great about The Last Drive-In. The whole Mutant Family gets on Twitter and it’s a lot of fun. But I was extremely thrilled when I found out it was true. In fact, Darcy direct messaged me on Twitter saying “let me know if you’d don’t hear from them because I’m not doing CHOPPING MALL if you’re not there.”

NN: You’ve probably seen tons of CHOPPING MALL cosplay over the years, but has anyone done it better than Darcy?

KM: No. No. And we had a long girl conversation about “can you even find this blouse anymore?” and the shoes that were closest to what I had worn were $100 so we weren’t doing that, but in two million years I never thought I’d be having a set conversation about that outfit (laughs). She had it down. She even had the patch, and she even did the limp — like at the end when I was limping — it was a thing of beauty. You can really tell she doesn’t just do it because it’s in the movie and she sees what they’re wearing, she’s got the whole thing down.

NN: Is it uncomfortable maneuvering around with a flare in your bra?

KM: You know I forgot all about it. It fit perfectly in there and I forgot all about it (laughs). As did Allison, she almost forgot she had it, too! She looks down and she’s like “oh yeah, I’ve got a flare!” I don’t know, it just fit right.

NN: You never know what movies are going to resonate with audiences, and 35 years later we’re still talking about CHOPPING MALL as you said, but did your head kind of explode like Suzee Slater’s when Liam Carroll posted his piece for The Spool (which you shared on Twitter) outlining how the film had helped him through anxiety attacks and depression. When you read something like that about a drive-in , B-movie that obviously means something to people, how does that make you feel?

KM: Through the internet and doing conventions you hear these kinds of stories a lot and that’s why you want to be an actor. You put up with the lifestyle and the uncertainty and everything that goes along with it because we just have that driving need to connect with other people. It’s such extreme validation to hear that back, that something I put my heart and soul into and it comes back in a wave. I wasn’t out there acting into a void, it’s hitting people and it means something to them. I’ve given them something and they’ve given me something, and it means that I didn’t waste my life doing something that didn’t mean anything, people like CHOPPING MALL (laughs).

NN: There were some rumors a few years ago about CHOPPING MALL doing a television series, and unless I missed something, did anything ever come of that or something that might still happen?

KM: Wynorski’s in charge of that. We were getting set to do a tease, and then I’m not sure exactly what happened because I think he had several meetings with Lionsgate but as they say in the industry, put a pin in it, which means put a pin in it like on a bulletin board and save it for later. It’s just a risky venture I would think, so I don’t know I haven’t heard anything about it for quite a while.

NN: We’re not going to ask you what your favorite scene or line from the film is because I know you’ve answered those questions a thousand times, but I am interested to know what your lasting image is. When you’re thinking about CHOPPING MALL and not being interviewed about it, what comes back to you most?

KM: I’m going to tell you something that I’ve never told anyone.

NN: I like to hear that.

KM: Ready?

NN: I am.

KM: Sometimes that song, the CHOPPING MALL theme goes through my head when I’m doing my makeup or driving around (laughs). And that is true, it is absolutely true (laughs).

NN: I introduced a friend of mine to CHOPPING MALL and he appreciates it as a B-movie, but I refer to it as a classic and one day he said “you know what, CHOPPING MALL is not a classic.” So, I said I’m going to be interviewing the star of the movie and we’ll see. His name is Chad, so if you have message for Chad as to why CHOPPING MALL is a classic, I’d love to hear it.

KM: Hey Chad, sorry you got dragged into this, but since you are (laughs), you can like it or not like it but I don’t like THE SOUND OF MUSIC particularly, but it’s a classic so you’re just going to have to eat this one on CHOPPING MALL. I’m sorry (laughs).