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July 11, 2011

Interview: Wild Eye Releasing's Keith Crocker

James DePaolo locks horns with cult film director and Wild Eye Releasing president Keith Crocker. These guys let it all hang out folks. Enjoy!

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1. At Wild Eye, what is your and Rob's mission statement?

KJC: James, our mission statement is very simple. To deliver quality, independent cinema to the movie aficionado who has watched all the lame garbage that passes for independent cinema these days. Bear in mind that QUALITY is the key word here, we are not offering lame, shot in one-week video product that makes a lame attempt to compete with Hollywood product simply by being “polished”. If you look at all the titles that have been released, each one was hand picked out of countless submissions. We stand behind all these titles personally; I can give you countless reasons why they are heads and shoulders above the rest of the offerings out there. As far as my personal mission statement as a filmmaker, whatever I make is done in the services of the humanities. The bulk of the people in my immediate family are social workers. My films are my contributions to humanity. They are pieces of a puzzle that at the time of my death should be viewed as one huge road map to life. It’s the only way I can make a difference in this life. The two films that I am currently trying to pick up financing for are Three Slices of Delirium and Rasputin on Campus. The Three Slices of Delirium promo trailer is already done, the Rasputin on Campus trailer is shot but still being edited. Three Slices is a period piece in the tradition of Brothers Grimm only grimmer. But there is not one story in that anthology that no one will be able to not relate to. Rasputin is very different in its approach, but it signifies the way things never change, at least not completely. We are all sort of locked in a whirlpool where things appear to change but in reality nothing really happens that can qualify as change. Anyhow, I hope I haven’t bored you. I can make a “big dick” joke if you’d like?

2. Do you think people understand the concept of what an indie film truly is? I mean, half of them think when a Fox or Warner Brothers puts out a 2 million dollar art film that it is indie filmmaking.

KJC: James, you're dead on with that statement. A Sophia Coppola film is not an independent film, how could it be, her father is one of the most revered directors in the world. A true indie film is what I do, or what Mike Schneider did with Night of the Living Dead Reanimated, or just about any of the titles Wildeye has released. Not to say that a well funded indie film isn’t a true indie film, of course it is, there is good work being done in the low millions cost range. But when Hollywood hands are involved, whether they are visible or invisible, well then no, that’s not true independently financed film. I try not to bad mouth Hollywood much. In many ways, they provide tons of employment for millions and millions of people, and they help keep the world turning. The fact that they do useless remakes and literally shit in our mouths with their God awful “slick” product is nothing I have any control over, the masses are stupid and eat Hollywood garbage up by the truckload. All I can do is stand up for the silent ones among us who want to be challenged intellectually. I have no hope for you James but I’m going to keep trying ;)!

3. This is my hardest question..I did not even want to ask this…God what a fucking set up eh...All jokes aside, me, you and Rob are all 3 proud sons of New York. How do you feel about them rebuilding where the towers once stood?

KJC: James, Rob is a Jersey Boy! As far as rebuilding goes, there is a very healthy attitude in transforming a site that represents a very ugly moment in history into something beautiful (I’d suggest a memorial park with lots of green, but I was a former landscaper so that’s just the green in me coming out). If you’re talking “Should a mosque go there”, out of respect for what happened, hell no, a mosque should not go up anywhere near the 9/11 site. Just my point of view.

4. Do you think when a film maker or star blames the budget or time frame on why the film was bad, that is a fair gripe?

KJC: Lack of time and money can drastically affect a film, no doubt about it. However, if you’re clever, real cleaver, you can make a masterpiece on pennies. It really all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. To blame a failure on that is really sorta a cheap way out for your own shortcomings, however, I can honestly say that if I had better financing my films might have turned out better than they did, or at least certain scenes would have. On the other hand, the lack of money also gives them their charm; they are authentic to what they are. You never really know…

5. Do you watch shows like Apprentice and they show NY in some fake realm that everyone is rich and successful, that if you work hard and have this vision it will work and if it does was all your fault. Does this bother you that so many people come to NY like LA with their hearts set on this false reality that TV sells?

KJC: I never watch TV period. Reality TV does nothing for me, it went right by me like White Castle Hamburgers go right through me. Everything on TV is bullshit, bear in mind they are trying to please the masses, and the masses are stupid, the individual is the only thing that counts. When I was a lefty, a liberal, many years ago, I believed in the masses, organized labor, etc. Now I realize that talk is all a ruse for crypto fascists with control fantasies. I treat the world like it’s the wild west now, I’m a lone gunman, and I will shoot you if I have to. I would love it if all the “do gooders” would get the fuck out of my face!

6. This question scares me badly. Keith Crocker is our new president of the United States...ok can we fix the economy?

KJC: We’d need to do mass executions on a scale unheard of…Have you heard enough yet?!

7. Now, me and you are both fans of classic music. You are a major fan of what BTO, Cream and Canned Heat. I am a major Zep fan, Hollies, The Doors, ELO, The Byrds and etc. Me personally I think the rock and roll hall of fame is a fucking pathetic joke..what are your feelings?

KJC: James, I like Zepplin, Hollies, Doors, Byrds. I even saw a line up of the Byrds with a drunk Mike Clarke on drums and Skip Battin on bass. Never cared much for BTO because I never could stand two rhinos charging each other on the stage. But I do love The Guess Who, I saw them in 2002 a Randy Bachman looked great, dropped a ton of weight and was playing like the Devil. Of course the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a joke, so is the Academy Awards, it’s a bunch of rich assholes giving themselves a big pat on the back. Fuck all the award shows.

8. Keith, we are almost from the same generation. Do you think a show like All in the Family in today's mindset could be a hit?

KJC: Most likely not, but do you know what I’d love to see James? I’d love to see a Jewish, Black or Muslim Archie Bunker. Better yet, I’d love to see a liberal democrat Archie, spitting out their own brand of bigotry. Norman Lear once said that Archie was somewhat based on Lear’s own father, if that’s the case then, why wasn’t Archie Jewish? I kind of find it funny that the Christian white male is always the boogie man in today’s society. But you can’t show the Muslim being a scum bag because that would be racist! Funny world that we live in James, it really is.

9. Keith, I did know about Archie Bunker being based on a Jew, but did you know the reason why Archie was not Jewish on the network, was that the Jews at the network opposed the idea thought it would put them in a bad light and that the financial backers of the network would pull out at the embarrassment of their people being label racist and evil. But, did you know Siskel and Ebert both hated Jaws on its initial run. That to me is the best film ever. And that Roger Ebert hated get this Star if Ebert said your film was not good, and I said it was good..Do you think Roger Ebert should have more merit than me as a critic?

KJC: James, I'm super aware that the Jews in Hollywood are not going to paint themselves in an unpleasant light, you don't have to tell me about that. Regarding Ebert, he's not a filmmaker. He did write screenplays, but that doesn't make him a filmmaker, so in answer to your question no, I take no stock in Siskel and Ebert, I thought they sucked years ago. Ebert wrote for Russ Meyer, the plots were quite weak, not at all like the early Meyer stuff. Ebert is an idiot. Now, if you feel that you are on the same level as them professionally, you're not going to win that argument. Both of those guys were writing for major newspapers for ages before they ever were given a TV show. They were paid for their writings; they earned their positions through their work. The internet is so easily accessible that anyone can get on there and write. That doesn't make the person good. Not everyone is good at everything. For instance, for many years I worked renovating movie theaters. I'm a lousy carpenter, hence I don't do that type of work anymore. I'm lucky I didn't electrocute myself wiring wall sconces. Now, just because I did that work doesn't make me good at it. A person cannot come into something and immediately say "hey, I'm really good at this". I say "prove it". Same thing stands in regards to me as a filmmaker, I can't say "Hey, I'm good". I have no clue if I'm good or not. Public reaction to my films have been decent. They sell. They continue to sell. My product is in stores like FYE and J&R Music World. Now, I make my living from filmmaking. I direct training videos. I teach filmmaking. I'm earning whatever it is I have coming. For a writer to have more prestige, they need to be published. Now, just because they are published doesn't make them good. The current people who write for Fangoria are morons. They make you look like Ernest Hemingway. Politics most likely got them their jobs. The danger of that is they degrade the quality of writing that makes published periodicals stand out. The truth is that the idiots will inherit the earth, and the earth will perish. But James, we like you, you're rough around the edges but you're a cowboy, you speak your mind and we like that. Can I go now?

10. As a lot of people know Rutger Hauer just tried to make a Mickey Rourke comeback in Hobo with a Shotgun..What yesterday star would you like to see make a comeback and is worthy?

KJC: We are in desperate need of good character actors these days, and my fave was John Carradine. Since he’s dead, I’d need to juice him up with some electricity and stick him in a wheel chair but I’d love to roll him through each and every film I make. I’ll take his kids as well, in fact I’d have to give the same treatment to David but it would be worth it!

11. Wild Eye Releasing is releasing an Andy Kaufman doc on July 26th. Anything you want to share with us, like what this will contain in terms of content and special features? How long has it been since the last one 87- 88; was it something like I am with Hollywood or something?

KJC: James, I understand the first part of this question, but I can’t make heads or tails of the second part. The Andy Kaufman doc appealed to me because there is a tremendous sense of death and sorrow that runs throughout the tale of this amazing man who was so full of life. When I interviewed the director for the disc, he was a personification of “death realized” to me. And I don’t mean that as an insult, I simply mean that this guy knows death and the poetry of dying, he knows it better than any filmmaker out there. Andy Kaufman is a major curiosity piece to so many, he was also a master prankster. The documentary addresses the concept believed by many that Andy faked his death. But the sense of death that pervades this film would have Edgar Allan Poe envious. And yes, Rob never lets anyone down, he’s got extras on there, he knows the importance of that, but he knows first and foremost that the film has to be good and well worth watching. The extras are only window dressing compared to a good feature. A good feature is like a good meal, a good smoke, or a good fuck. Or better yet a good blow job. You should feel very satisfied after the experience. Now, as far as the second part of your question goes, we manage to get out about three titles a year. We’d love to do more but the expense is crazy and often the reward is non-existent. If there are any big wheels out there who wants to finance the arts, simply touch base with us, we’ll but your money to work better than any financial advisor, plus you’ll have the joy of funding the arts. As far as Hollywood, and us the two don’t go together. I wouldn’t mind having their salary though. James, can I beat you to death now?

12. I know Kaufman had that wrestling faze of his career. Where he went on The Late Show and got into some fight with Debbie Harry of Blondie, which turned into a feud with Jerry Lawler and a wrestling match. I remember watching that as a kid, and thinking this dude is you think this was the right move at that point in his career or this is what led to his downfall? Also what did you think of Jim Carrey's Man on the Moon film?

KJC: As a performance artist, it was the right move, politically it wasn't, but Andy was sincere about his art. That type of stunt would go over like a led balloon these days with PC Hollywood. Believe it or not, I never saw the Tim Carey film. The director was Milos Forman, who I like, but Carey has grown on my nerves over the past 20 years, so I had to pass. Did I miss anything by not seeing it?

13. Do you think Andy Kaufman could have been a star with today's mindset that everything is so watered down and so pc?

KJC: Shit James, they hated him then and we weren’t even fully immersed in this PC bullshit like we are today. The Andy Kaufman doc exposes the dislike for him during the years he was operating. No, Andy would be looked at as an impossible odd ball these days; he’d be a remembrance, not a reality today.

14. Do you even go to half of these blogs and websites, you guys mail stuff to? Or listen to their podcasts?

KJC: Not really. There have been times I have wanted to answer something someone has written, whether it be about me or politics, or anything in my area of interest. But for the most part, I chose to remain out of the arguments, they are not worth my time. I blogged many years ago before it became the thing to do. In fact, I was pulled in kicking and screaming, I started blogging as a favor to two website hosts who I owed something to, and truth be told it was more of a headache than it was worth. Seems you can't say anything without offending someone these days. So fuck it, my opinion isn't going to change anything, who gives a rip roaring fuck. Let my movies speak for me.

15. This is a idea I have mentioned to quite a few people, do you think if a critic hates a film so much that he or she is freely sent, they should mail it back and take down the review?

KJC: If a so called critic wants to review films, they should purchase them like the rest of the buying audience out there. Then they can really rip them apart because they spent their hard earned money on them. I do believe that a film festival (and most film festivals are quick scams but on by upper class assholes out to make a quick buck) if it refuses your film, should mail back the entry fee and your film. But that will never happen so why should I even talk about. I only do film festivals I’m invited to…

16. Back to Wild Eye, do you think critics are fair with your films? Or do you think that some of them go into a film just wanting to hate it and not even giving it a fair chance?

KJC: Yeah, for the most part Rob and I feel we’ve been given a fair shot. Yes, some folks have gone out of their way to rip us up, but those folks are obvious, and as I said they give us lots of press with their hate. They are welcome to keep it up. Hey, everyone has an opinion, they are welcome to speak up, the more the merrier. I’m proud of the films I’ve made, and I’ll be making more, some asswipe not liking my work isn’t going to stop it.

17. You are one of the very few people I know who makes even a bad review seem like good press. I have to ask you...personally are you puzzled that more people did not get into the animated Night of the Living Dead?

KJC: James, I’ll repeat this again, this day and age, a bad review is a good review. Damage to a film only occurs when you ignore it. A bad review challenges people to see it. When I was younger, I went to every movie that got bad reviews. The newspapers hated the type of stuff I loved. Now, because of the Internet, the whole world thinks they are critics. Any idiot can come on and write whatever they want. Now, the only folks who truly have the right to be critics are filmmakers who truly understand the process. But even then, a critics true job should be to steer people to the type of movies they want to see, sort of help them understand what a movies about. Now years ago, I did a magazine called the Exploitation Journal. I covered all the current cinema at my own cost. I was making films at the same time that I was reviewing current and older films. These days, if all the internet critics had to put up their own money to do a fanzine, they wouldn’t do it, it’s too much work. Hence why I don’t take internet critics seriously, they have no history or background. They pop up thinking they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they burn as brightly as a fire in the sun. Same goes for the internet era filmmaker. If these guys had to shoot film as opposed to digital video or HD, they wouldn’t do it. Everything is easy today, hence the expression “Fools rush in”. Now, regarding Night of the Living Dead Reanimated, I’m still the most proud of that film as far as the Wildeye library goes. Mike Schneider is a very, very bright guy. Anything that man does is going to shine. Mikes an artist, he’s not in this for a quick buck. Most people who purchase NOTLDR know what they are in for and love it. Folks who don’t like simply can’t grove on Mike’s choice to keep altering the method of animation. But Mikes choice to do that is what made it brilliant. In the long run, NOTLDR will be considered a classic. And I do think more people appreciated it than we even know.

18. Okay Keith, you think all critics are jokes and have no merit. You are entitled to your opinion and I respect the balls to say that. But, I have to ask if this is truly your opinion, why do you guys always post links to reviews by these so called jokes on your pages?

KJC: Now that answer is simple, to spread the publicity. As I said, the more people that talk about your film, the more people will hear about it. And I wont say that I think all critics are a joke. Some folks really give their reviews lots of insight, they really take their time and take each part of the film apart, analyzing everything, really trying to understand it, and I respect that. Usually Rob and I are very careful about what links we post, but not based on if the person liked the film or not, but rather how funny or insightful there review is.

19. If film makers truly are the only ones who should be critics...Ok Keith, let us put this in perspective. So if filmmakers hate your films, you can honestly sit there and tell me you would put merit and respect into their hatred as opposed to someone like me, who has been more than fair to you and Wild Eye?

KJC: What I would expect from another filmmaker is challenging criticism, because they know how much work goes into these films, they should be able to lift out the highs and lows of a film and criticize it on that level. In other words, "this part was great, this you could have done better". But your opinion is very important James, because you are viewing it from the common person perspective, and my films are aiming at everyone, I don't have an audience in mind. However, Rob, when he's selling my films, has to have an audience in mind. Once that loyal audience starts buying the film, word will spread and some folks outside those circles will pick it up. Wildeye says Bloody Ape is a grindhouse film. And Blitzkrieg is Nazispoiltation. Personally, I don't believe grindhouse or nazisploitation. Bloody Ape is an updating of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Blitzkrieg is a WWII based drama. Nothing more, nothing less. So yes, you have your importance in spreading the word. Am I going to be offended if you don't like my films? no, not at all. Am I happy if you like my films? Yes, I'm glad they pleased you. What I'm saying is a fellow filmmaker might be able to bring up points or give me advice that could be useful. I still don't think folks know what goes into filmmaking unless they make a film themselves.

20. No Wild Eye films..Keith, I will put you on the spot. What was the last film Mr Critic.. you watched you can say..what a masterpiece 10 out of 10...since you are a director and the only true critic on this fucking earth who matters...and on the flipside and you can add Wild Eye to this list. ( ha ha joke) What was the worst piece of shit you ever watched all the way thru?

KJC: As far as pieces of shit goes, you have no clue how many films I rejected that were submitted to Wildeye for release. Everybody is a filmmaker now because digital video and HD are affordable. I haven't been able to give a recent film a 10 out of 10 review because most genre films are quite awful. I base films on their re-watch-ability factor. Most recent movies you watch once, you enjoy it once, but you really don't want to watch it again. Yet I have a collection of movies that I can put on anytime I want. And I do. Because they have soul, magic, style, or lack those things but lack then in a way that makes the film stand out as unique. Nothing is really unique anymore. Everything is regurgitation. Basically, our entertainment these days is vomit.

21. About Wild Eye Releasing, what made you want to distribute films like NOTLD, Gothkill and Dolla Morte? These films seem like big gambles for such a company like Wild Eye that promotes old school films like Bloody Ape, Andy Kaufman, and Jamie Gillis?

KJC: It’s just what you said James, we are taking a chance, a really big chance, and yes, we do get hurt with some titles, and some give plenty. But the point is that we have prestige, we have built a label that means something. Old school is fine, nothing wrong with it, but if you get hung up in that mentality you are missing the boat. It should always be a combo of old and new school. Bloody Ape is old school. NOTLDR is new school made out of the old school. Dolla Morte is new school. Mix it up and see what ya get, there’s a prize in every box.

22. I have to ask, cause as you and Rob know I am a big supporter of Dolla Morte and love this a lot. Did you think the maybe some of it went over that line between taste and offensive? I mean the religious stabs and jokes, and the race jokes. Thinking about it, forget some of it, do you think fucking all of it went over the line?

KJC: As far as Bill Zebub goes, Dolla Morte is his best flick, hands down. I say this because it’s ambitious, he did it all with dolls hence he really put effort into it, it wasn’t easy to do. The biggest problem with Bill is he’s a one shot joke, you see one of his films you’ve seen them all. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t funny, they are, but one is enough. Personally, I don’t believe in making films offensive strictly for that reason. Bill’s stuff has some funny social commentary; hence I think his stuff is more legitimate than some folks who try to shock people just for the hell of it. Being gross or perverted for just that reason means nothing. It simply shows you’re not very bright and you don’t know how to make a good film. Everything an artist signs their name to should have some sense of meaning. You should always have a reason for doing whatever it is you do. I think Bill does but I also think it’s time for him to move on to a different scenario. He now needs to really make something that will shock in a different way; something G rated would do it…

23. Now you knew this was coming I think. You and Rob talk a lot of shit to me on Facebook but I have to draw the line.
Facebook in Feb. James-“hey guys I am working on a script. I am trying to sell it.” Wild Eye responds-“We are working on one as well about a hack critic and interviewer who thinks he has talent.” So I have to ask this, why are you guys talking about Jeff Dolniak like this, what has he done to you guys; because this cannot be about me?

KJC: James, thank you for this, you really are very funny. Rob has a bone to pick with Jeff and felt he wanted to torment him. I didn’t really know much about Jeff but I did know that you called me another name during the first interview and I vowed I would have revenge. Hence, Rob is after Jeff and I’m after you ;) Actually, all kidding aside, Rob is very fond of Jeff. I wish I could say the same about you ;)

24. All jokes aside, this is always a honor as you know. And I know you have a lot you want to talk the floor is all you..thank you so much...

KJC: James, the pleasure was really all mine, I do get a huge kick out of you and you have been great to both Rob and myself. First off, I’m always going to ask the public to back Wildeye, give the Wildeye titles a chance, and visit the website and keep up on what they are doing: . I would also love it if folks checked out the Blitzkrieg: Escape From Stalag 69 and Bloody Ape websites:
and . And now it’s time for me to offer some things to your lovely readers. As you know James, I run my own video/DVD company called Cinefear Video: I’ve been running Cinefear since 1990. We’ve been transferring rare 16mm film to tape/disc and we’ve been acquiring rare and out of print European titles since the year of the flood. We carry rare live music concerts: . We carry vintage adult films, yeah, we have it all. I’m offering any customer that comes to me via Cinema Head Cheese to order five of any product, and they’ll receive five additional titles of their choice free. All they have to do is list their five free choices on the “Special Instructions” section of the shopping cart. But this great deal doesn’t end there. I’d love to have folks visit the Exploitation Journal page: . If they order any three back issues, they can gladly have an additional three free. You can’t beat this with a rubber hose. But they do have to state they came to my website via yours, and they can do this in the “Special Instructions” section of the shopping cart. Nothing makes me feel better than turning people on to the strange and unusual. I’m at your service 24 and 7.

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