Here we have the first-ever interview with me, Adam Groves, on the occasion of an important (to me) anniversary.
So, Adam, how long have you been writing about movies and books?
15 years as of 2011.
Have you always had an interest in journalism and/or criticism?
I’ve always liked reading reviews and articles, but growing up the only writing I was interested in practicing was fiction or screenwriting. My sole prior experience as a journalist was a high school journalism class I dropped after a week.
So you’re saying you have no qualifications as a film/book reviewer?
Yes, that’s what I’m saying.
Then how the hell did you get started writing reviews?
Back in 1996 my aunt, knowing I was a horror buff, asked me to write some movie reviews for a horror site she manned.
Was that site this one?
It was. The Fright Site (www.fright.com) has been around since the early nineties, making it one of the oldest horror sites on the web. It may even be the oldest.
But evidently it lacked a film reviewer…
Until that day in 1996, yes. I agreed to the job because, basically, it seemed like a more productive activity than faxing out resumes and waiting for the phone to ring. Of course, had you informed me a day earlier that I’d be spending much of the next 15 years writing reviews, and doing most of that writing on the internet, I’d have laughed your ass out the door and up the street!
Doesn’t sound like you were too enthused about the job.
Actually, I viewed it as a fun diversion that probably wouldn’t last very long. Yet somehow I’ve continued knocking out reviews and commentary throughout the ensuing years, during which time the site died and was reborn no less than three times, and changed ownership at least once.
You’ve also written for several other online and print publications, no?
I’ve written for Gauntlet magazine, Shock Cinema…
Shock Cinema? You mean the finest cult movie mag on the planet?
The very one! I’ve been a proud contributor since 1997, in addition to a half-dozen other print and online resources. It all came about, however, due to the confidence and know-how I gained from writing for this site.
You also write blogs…
You’ll find “blog” used nowhere in my repertoire. There was no such word when I started writing commentary for the Fright Site, and commentaries are what I still write. I don’t like the term blog or the disordered ramblings that tend to constitute such writing.
I stand corrected. So how many reviews and “commentaries” have you published altogether, in print and online?
At last count, almost 2000.
You come from a writing background, no?
Has your dad scripted anything I might have seen?
Say what? THE GOLDEN SEAGULL? BIG AL’S ADVENTURES IN THYME?
Neither film was a huge moneymaker, but THE GOLDEN SEAL and BIGGLES: ADVENTURES IN TIME both have sizeable cult followings. Incidentally, BIGGLES, a fun time travel flick directed by the Hammer veteran John Hough, is the one to see.
Got it. Any other famous folk in you family?
Well, I understand my great-great-great grandfather peddled a homemade cold medicine called “Snot Not.”
Wow. With such an illustrious family background it’s hard to believe you’re publishing on the internet!
Ha, ha. Can I leave now?
A few more questions. First, as a movie reviewer what current movies do you recommend?
DRIVE, THE CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH, ANOTHER EARTH, MELANCHOLIA and BRIDESMAIDS.
I remind you, sir, that this is a horror site. Any horror movies you recommend?
Frankly, I haven’t found this year’s genre offerings all that inspiring overall. INSIDIOUS and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK in my view were just okay, while most of the rest flat-out stank–don’t even get me started on PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 or THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2! As often happens, the really good horror fare was rather elusive, and not always classified as such: BELLFLOWER, TAKE SHELTER, THE LAST CIRCUS and THE WOMAN.
Would you say the genre is in a slump?
Absolutely, although the problems with recent horror movies are those of the American film industry as a whole: a lack of ambition, an over-reliance on tired formulas and too goddamn many remakes! The fact that most of 2011’s horror movies failed to make any impact at the box office suggests I’m not the only one who feels this way.
How about the publishing industry? Are there any recent horror novels you recommend?
WILLY by Robert Dunbar, DEATH AND DESIRE IN THE AGE OF WOMEN by Michael Louis Calvillo and MIDNIGHT MOVIE by Tobe Hooper and Alan Goldsher. I’m also pleased to report that I enjoyed Stephen King’s 11/22/63 enormously.
So I take it the publishing industry is in better shape than Hollywood?
The publishing industry is in trouble, but it’s always been in trouble. As a kid I recall hearing many of the same gripes people air about the business today, and that was back in the eighties. That doesn’t lessen publishers’ troubles, of course, but at least the industry is alive and kicking. I’m not sure I can say the same for Hollywood, which may still be alive but stopped kicking long ago.
Over the past 15 years, how exactly would you say the online landscape has changed–or not?
There’ve obviously been quite a few monumental changes on the internet since 1996, including the rise of the so-called internet superstars–Harry Knowles, etc.–and geek culture in general. One thing that hasn’t changed all that much, unfortunately, is the quality of the writing on the net. I recall looking at horror websites back in 1996 and coming away under whelmed by all the misinformation and shitty prose. Checking out today’s horror sites I find those problems are still very much in evidence.
And you feel your writing is better?
I like to think I’m doing what I can to help improve the situation.
How long do you plan on continuing?
Until I run out of things to write about.
Any idea when that might be?
Don’t hold your breath!