In this week's Scene, Coco Hames talks to Bob Murawski, Oscar-winning film editor and longtime Sam Raimi collaborator by day, exploitation-movie connoisseur and B-movie buccaneer by night. When he isn't cutting movies like The Hurt Locker and the Spider-Man sagas, Murawski's baby is Grindhouse Releasing, the imprint he founded with the late Sage Stallone. His mission is rescuing the extremes of cinema from obscurity, whether it's an indescribable kidnapping caper directed by "the King of Palm Springs" (Duke Mitchell's Gone with the Pope) or the godfather of hippie splatter movies (David Durston's I Drink Your Blood).
His latest find, a 1972 epic called An American Hippie in Israel, screens midnight tonight and tomorrow at The Belcourt on the heels of the trailer above (which may permanently damage your retinas). An excerpt from his convo with Coco:
You and Grindhouse Releasing appreciate, track down, compile, and restore these cult classic exploitation and horror movies (especially the '70s and '80s Italian ones I'm not allowed to see). What is it that thrills you most about Grindhouse, and particularly, Hippie?
First and foremost, I love the movies. My heart has always been in low-budget exploitation films. The more shocking and outrageous the better. So it's a thrill to be able to do great, studio-quality releases of obscure films that have never had a decent presentation. There is more entertainment to be found in any 10 minutes of An American Hippie in Israel than you would find in a dozen studio movies.
Is there a hippie-horror genre? And if so, what are some other films that relate to Hippie?
Mostly the Manson related subgenre — David Durston's classic I Drink Your Blood, Sweet Savior (aka The Love Thrill Murders) starring Troy Donahue, and of course The Manson Massacre. ("Helter Skelter was only the beginning. The Manson Massacre takes you all the way!")
What's an annoying/incorrect generalization people often make about Hippie or other Grindhouse pictures?
The whole "so bad they're good" attitude toward these films drives me crazy. I want to punch these people in the head and tell them that the movies are so good they're great. They may be low-budget and a little rough around the edges, but they're full of great ideas and hugely entertaining. Yeah, there are sometimes some strange ideas of plot, pacing and characterization, and maybe some bad acting, but the makers of these movies put their heart and soul into them 100 percent and made them with absolute sincerity. So stop thinking you're so superior, you know-it-all jerks!
I've run into a lot of people who cannot or will not "get" Hippie when I explain it to them. Do you have an elevator pitch?
The greatest movie you've never seen! A movie like Hippie literally defies description and categorization. That's what makes it so incredible and unique. The director couldn't get it distributed when he finished it in 1972. Everyone thought it was too weird and far-out. I'm hoping audiences can finally handle it 40 years later.