This edition SGM's Alan and Mike chat to Carl Daft and David Gregory - two of the harding work crew at the hottest new production company 'Blue Underground'...
SGM: Many SGM readers will be familiar with both your work with Exploited on producing such excellent documentaries as 'TCM: The Shocking Truth' and Bill Lustig's work on producing similar material for Anchor Bay USA, but how did this very welcome joint venture of 'Blue Underground' as we know it today come about?
Carl Daft: David and I first collaborated with Bill on the WICKER MAN ENIGMA. Of course we had previously licensed VIGILANTE and MANIAC (which was rejected outright under Fermann) from Bill for the Exploited label. Bill saw THE SHOCKING TRUTH and liked it, he then hired us to do the featurette for THE WICKER MAN shortly afterwards. Since then, the majority of AB featurettes and commentaries have passed through BU, with David now working full-time with Bill in L.A. This close working relationship has since spawned Bill's Blue Underground distribution label, launched in September.
SGM: And while we're mentioning 'Exploited', now Blue Underground is here is this the last we'll be hearing from Exploited in the UK?
Carl Daft: I think that the Exploited label has pretty much run its course. We want to concentrate more on the production side of things - we are currently working on a bunch of high-profile Warner's releases, for example - as well as develop further the Blue Underground label.
SGM: The release line up for Blue Underground is both very diverse in theme (albeit cult genre driven) and refreshingly original in choice (i.e. we're not being offered yet another release of Fulci's Zombie or The Evil Dead), so what was the process in deciding what titles to pick up for release?
Carl Daft: Bill takes the responsibility for selecting the titles. His encyclopaedic knowledge of film, along with well-developed contacts over the years has led to a varied and interesting slate.
SGM: As well as selecting some very exciting titles for release on DVD, Blue Underground are producing some of the finest featurette/documentary material out there. The process of tracking down rare old film prints must be hard enough, but many readers are also fascinated by the process of locating the folk behind these productions for interviews (and the travels that must ensue tracking them down).
Carl Daft: That's the fun side of the whole business. It still gives us a buzz when we get a name attached to a project, or when we un-earth some lost footage. Most participants are happy to take part and are really welcoming and forthcoming to us as young film-makers; others would rather the films were never made and won't talk, whilst others still will turn up on a professional basis if the money is right.
SGM: Perhaps the only dark moment in Blue Underground's rise to glory this year would have been the disgraceful actions of the morons at the BBFC with their dogged determination to disrupt 'Last House on the Left's UK release on DVD. In an age where most of the civilised world have no problem with releasing uncut what is in fact "only a movie", these events must have been a deeply frustrating one for yourself and the Blue Underground team. How now do you look back on those events and in what way has this affected plans for Blue Underground in the UK?
Carl Daft: The BBFC's behaviour and attitude throughout the whole process was nothing short of disgraceful and really left a sick taste in the mouth. The VAC's decision was absolutely bereft of both fact and logic, and their misguided pomposity really did get the Board out of jail.
I've been through the whole thing so many times that I'll point readers towards Julian Petley's upcoming six-page article in the special 100th edition of THE DARK SIDE. There are also good links and comment on both the Melonfarmers and FilmFour web-sites.
SGM: With Anchor Bay in the UK picking up Blue Underground's UK distribution rights, what can we expect to see here in the UK? Of particular interest will no doubt be the UK release of 'Last House' which on paper seems to have promised so much more than MGM delivered with their US release?
Carl Daft: AB UK picked up a number of the BU titles and start releasing them here in January with the Franco pairing of JUSTINE and EUGENIE...THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION. LAST HOUSE is tentatively slated for either March or May of next year. It will be the full bells-and-whistles edition as BU were preparing, that will include audio-commentary, our own 40 minute doc, TV / radio spots, out-takes, world exclusive of early Wes Craven short TALES THAT WILL TEAR YOUR HEART OUT and, in a limited-edition, the rare alternate cut KRUG AND COMPANY. I will be fully involved in the release and I hope that readers will lend their support to the project.
SGM: 'Exploited' were always keen supporters of the work of Jim Van Bebber and word is that Blue Underground are key in helping the long overdue and much anticipated 'Charlies Family' at last see the light of day (the rough cut footage SGM has seen is stunning). So what is the latest with this production and what plans do Blue Underground have for this title?
David Gregory: First and foremost to get it finished. We are on track for its completion by the end of the year, then take it to the festivals and markets in the early part of next year. The various bootlegs which have been circulating for years will seem like watching dailies compared to the finished piece. It may shock and offend some (not SGM readers obviously) because the murder sequences are probably among the most graphic in cinema. Others may be confused by the multiple viewpoint story telling. But many will be blown away by the most hard core, demented docu-drama of all time!
SGM: With the advent of Luigi Cozzi's CONTAMINATION on disc, is there a likelihood to delve further into many of the Italian post-apocalypse/MAD MAX clones & sci-fi? Although tenuous by link, Aldo Lado's THE HUMANOID and Cozzi's own STAR CRASH haven't really seen any sort of high-profile release since their original International theatrical & video debuts, but however stemmed from the same release period ('78 - '80).
David Gregory: No plans right now but not out of the question.
SGM: Of the post apocalypse titles, surely with the liberal sprinkling of gratuitous gore and punchy pacing, wouldn't there be a market for the original versions of Enzo Castellari's NEW BARBARIANS, Ruggero Deodato's RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS, as well as Castellari's BRONX WARRIORS duet? Or maybe even a full length print of Avi Nesher's Italian-British co-production SHE, although undoubtedly music copyright may signify a marginal snafu with that title...
David Gregory: New Barbarians and Bronx Warriors are possible but nothing's been signed.
SGM: More as a personal question, than a direct one for the readership: simple confirmation of two of the Jacopetti titles. MONDO CANE 2 is indeed that title, and not the inferior MONDO PAZZO (which was marketed as MC2 in some? AFRICA ADDIO will be the original 120+m version?
David Gregory: I'm not sure of the difference between Mondo Cane 2 and Mondo Pazzo, but all the Jacopetti/Prosperi features will be Jacopetti's approved versions. He has disassociated himself from MC2, claiming it was only a contractual obligation and doesn't represent him as a filmmaker. However, Africa Addio represents what J and P consider to be their greatest cinematic achievement and Jacopetti will be involved in the transfer of elements and we will be including the Italian narration track which Jacopetti informs us is drastically different politically than the English language track. Incidentally, Jacopetti and Prosperi were both interviewed on camera extensively for the supplements on the discs as were other participants in the making of their official mondo movies.
SGM: Joseph Larraz' VAMPYRES has been listed on the BU site as up for re-release "restored and remastered". Although speculation was widespread across the internet (a spurious source of information at the best of times), does this infer that the print supplied by Brian Smedley-Aston was indeed incomplete? Although the original AB release was more complete than most versions released internationally, conjecture was commonplace that it was not truly a FULLY complete print. I'd anticipate that "restored" points towards this conjecture belying some truth?
David Gregory: Unbeknownst to Brian Smedley- Aston and Jose Larraz, there was indeed some gore footage missing from the previous release of Vampyres. Also Marianne Morris and Anulka will be participating in this disc.
SGM: With the eventual release of what could only be the 130m version of Tinto Brass' SALON KITTY, does this bode imminent that other "lesser" entries of the Italian Nazi atrocity cycle may see the light of day through the label? No specific titles in mind, just curious...
David Gregory: you never know.
SGM: With the advent of a new label dedicated to largely European and cult cinema, the inevitable questions will arise from genre fans as to the possibility of the release of titles that many of us have only ever read about over the years, or managed to source in severely compromised, or truncated, form. The release of Corrado Farina's BABA YAGA finally answers one of those eternal burning questions, but what lies on the horizon?
David Gregory: the web site will release the info as and when we can make these announcements but there are plenty of goodies in the pipeline.
SGM: Finally (for a bit of fun), if you could get hold of any film print or access to any late great director or actor, what would your dream Blue Underground release be? (me, I'd be after Hitchcock and his unfinished Kaleidoscope sex killer movie!)
David Gregory: Browning's London After Midnight, Jodorowsky's Dune, Waters' Flamingos Forever, I'm sure there are others, just can't think of them right now.
SGM: Many thanks guys - good luck...not that you'll need it!!
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