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RiffWiki Interviews: Rick Sloane - Hobgoblins & Vice Academy

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This week, we're interviewing cinema legend Rick Sloane, director of the MST3K classic, Hobgoblins, and the USA Network late-night movie series, Vice Academy!


RiffWiki: Let's get to know a little bit more about the Rick behind the Rick Sloane. Tell us a bit about your life before venturing into the world of making movies.

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Rick Sloane: I had originally planned on becoming an animator. I was rejected by Cal Arts for three consecutive years, so I guess it wasn't meant to be. I went to Los Angeles City College instead, where most of the teachers made fun of the type of movies i choose to make. Other students were trying to make festival films, I was into grindhouse horror. My short films had titles like Amputee Hookers and Chainsaw Chicks, which never found their audience at LACC.

RW: Do you remember what it was that first made you want to be a director of moving pictures? What movies would you say have had the biggest influence on your work?

RS: On the last day of class, one of the instructors screened Roger Corman's "Hollywood Boulevard," as a joke. Introduced as a film that was shot in a week for $25,000 and comprised of stock footage from other movies. I was in awe while the film ran, everyone else in class laughed at it. I instantly decided that I wanted to make films exactly like it. John Waters films were a major influence on me. I loved the shock value of hearing an entire audience gasp at the same time at an offensive joke. I also watched almost every horror flick that was released between 1978 - 1984. That was an amazing period for American Horror, right before censorship issues forced out the most graphic material.


RW: How did your first film, Blood Theatre, come to be?

TRAILER- "Blood Theater" (1984) From The Director of HOBGOBLINS02:06

TRAILER- "Blood Theater" (1984) From The Director of HOBGOBLINS

RS: I was only 21 years old, still at film school and I had never made any film longer than 2 minutes, or shot with actual dialogue. I used a fake ten page script to get the production started. I was the only one shooting on 35mm, but no on paid attention to what I was doing. I had to get a crew from American Film Institute, since none of my own classmates would work on my film. The smartest thing I did was getting Mary Woronov to play the lead. I sent her the script and never expected her to say, "yes," but she did and I'm still grateful to her to this day, She did a huge favor for me when I was just starting out, I doubt Blood Theatre would have ever been released without Mary in it.


RW: What lessons from your experience with Blood Theatre did you take into the making of The Visitants, Hobgoblins, Vice Academy, and so on?

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RS: Basically, every technique I learned in film school wasn't the way people made film sin the industry. Camera movement is nice, but not if you spend half the day getting one only shot. I got work offers because I learned how to shoot 14 pages of script per day. Film students are lucky to if the shoot 2 pages a day.

So, I unlearned all the heavy handed technique and pretension and focused on making the same kind of films that I would want to go and see.

RW: You directed your first three movies (Blood Theatre, The Visitants and Hobgoblins) before you turned 25. Did you ever get flak on the set for being such a young director? Like, oh I don't know, from any McCreedy types in the cast or crew, you young whipper-snapper!

RS: I've been hassled for looking young well past my first three feature films. There would always be some extra on every set who would walk up and ask if this was my first film. This continued even after I had directed well over ten features. Looking young also had its benefits such as the cops not shutting us down for having no permits, since I still looked like a film student for decades.


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RW: Lets talk a bit about Vice Academy. Was it originally intended to be six movies long, or did that just kind of happen? Are you happy with the legacy of the series?


RS: Vice Academy was only planned as one movie. The film did so well, that the domestic US video company, the US cable station and the foreign distributor all signed on for Vice 2 before I had even written the sequel. I had a script to Hobgoblins 2 which was going to be made, but Vice trumped it. The first Vice Academy is still my most successful film, way beyond Hobgoblins. When I made Vice 2, I expected there would be a third film, so I left the script open ended. The I thought Part 3 would end the series, but three years later, I returned and shot another three installments. They're very episodic if you watch the series in order.


RW: Before we talk about Hobgoblins, I want to get your opinion on the state of "trash cinema" and B-movies. It's something that the major studios don't really want to invest in anymore. Most of these kinds of movies are independent productions, the largest and most successful of these kinds of studios being The Asylum, who is now most famous for Sharknado. Are you at all concerned that these kinds of movies are a bit of an endangered species?

RS: The Golden Age of trashy B-Movies on video and cable ended in the early 90's. I've been waiting for another show like USA Network's Up All Night to take its place, but so far, nothing has come close.

RW: Which directors and/or what movies do you think are exceptional examples of "trash cinema?" Past, present and possibly future?

RS: The Asylum would be the closest contender to replace the Up All Night series. Everything is done in house, so their films are extremely similar. Sharknado had decent special effects, but even I couldn't sit thru some of their earlier monster flicks with Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.


MST3K - Best of Hobgoblins-007:45

MST3K - Best of Hobgoblins-0

RW: Okay, Hobgoblins. The legend of the making of the film and its submission to MST3K has been well documented. After it had been released and before it was featured on MST3K, were there any other plans or ideas of how to use the movie? Any international distribution, TV deals or anything of that (or much more interesting) nature discussed or attempted?

RS: Hobgoblins made most of its money from overseas sales. I think it's been dubbed in almost fifty languages. The film had faded into oblivion once I started making the Vice series. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was solely responsible for giving the movie its second fame. They did a great job with the movie, I laugh every time I see it, except for the end credit jokes they made about me.

RW: How much fun was it making Hobgoblins 2 after being away from the material and characters for so long? Was it a challenge, or did it come more or less naturally?

TRAILER- "Hobgoblins 2" (2009)02:07

TRAILER- "Hobgoblins 2" (2009)

RS: Hobgoblins 2 was a tricky film to make. I revisited Vice Academy many times and the storyline had easily lent itself to sequels. It wasn't as simple for Hobgoblins 2, it had been twenty years since I made the first film. I had the original script to Hobgoblins 2 which I had written back in 1989. When I realized that I would have to recast all the actors, I decided to rewrite most of the script, almost to the point where it was became more of a remake.


RW: Since MST3K, Hobgoblins has been labeled as one of "the worst films ever made." Personally, I think that's a heaping load of crap. 1) If nothing else, it's a fun movie. 2) There have been WAY WORSE movies in the last three years alone. Did you see The Master? That mess was AWFUL! But anyway, the label of being among the "worst ever" brings with it A LOT of attention the movie would not have otherwise, making it a stealth success. Do you ever point this irony out to people who rip on it, or do you just kind of keep that to yourself?

RS: It spoils the fun for fans if they think I was in on the joke. On the first day of filming, we did the garden tool fight and the first puppet attack scene where Daphne rolls across the lawn. I knew we were in big trouble, I didn't have to wait for the dailies to come back from the lab. I'm very self-aware as a film maker, I never included Hobgoblins on my director's reel.

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RW: Hobgoblins will be entering new territory soon. Tell us about that.

RS: As we speak, the final touches are being added to Elvira's version of Hobgoblins. I've wanted Elvira to host one of my films for thirty years, it was such an honor that she choose Hobgoblins out of 400 titles. It is premiering on Hulu on October 22.

RW: Keeping with the "movies worse than Hobgoblins" theme, if you could choose three movies for the RiffTrax guys to take on, what would they be?

TRAILER- "Visitants" (1986) From The Director of HOBGOBLINS01:44

TRAILER- "Visitants" (1986) From The Director of HOBGOBLINS

RS: Two of the worst films I've ever seen are Death Tunnel and Ghost Lake. It's impossible to describe how bad they are unless you see them. Both titles caused me physical pain from watching them.

I still would like RiffTrax to do another of my films, hopefully The Visitants, one of my lesser known films which I made less than a year before Hobgoblins. Or possibly, Blood Theatre, my very first film. They're both bad in their own ways.

RW: Where can people go on the internet to partake of your creative wares in exchange for legal tender?

RS: Search for the Hobgoblins soundtrack CD on ebay and you'll find my stuff.

RW: Is there anything else happening in the world of Rick Sloane? Any projects or anything else we need to be looking out for?

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RS: I always have something I'm working on. The one I really wanted to make in 2013 was called Bad Girls Vs Zombies, it was a parody of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes doing community service work at the morgue on the day the dead come back to life.

I'm rewriting it with new characters and no zombies, so with any luck, it may go into production for 2015. I'm also planning to release the uncut version of House On The Edge Of Hell with Wings Hauser and Ginger Lynn. The uncensored version is very graphic and has never been released in its entirety. See the trailer here.

RW: We can't thank you enough for talking to us.

RS: Thanks for thinking of me and enjoying my films!

Rick Sloane 10/2/14

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