Over the years, here on HeroPress, I've talked about how I was inspired to become a journalist by the adventures of Tintin and Clark Kent, and that it was reading a reprint of Fantastic Four #17 that got me hooked on comics, I've talked about my favourite authors (e.g. Philip Reeve, HP Lovecraft et al) and my introduction to the wonderful world of roleplaying games many decades ago.
But I'm pretty sure I've never discussed the man that inspired me to start reviewing movies - particularly movies that other people might consider "bad" (such as trashy horror flicks).
That man was the one and only Joe Bob Briggs (aka film critic John Bloom), and, in particular, his first book, Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In - a collection of his tongue-in-cheek reviews from The Dallas Times-Herald.
|Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In|
At that time, mainstream movie critics, epitomised by the BBC's Barry Norman, felt completely disconencted to my own movie-watching experience.
They were a snobbish elite who either ignored the sort of films I loved or looked down their noses at them, dismissing with snarky asides and patronising put-downs.
All they ever praised - it seemed to me - were dull, earnest films that I had zero interest in.
Then I read Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In.
And suddenly I knew how I wanted to review films.
Joe Bob, for instance, coined the phrase "spam-in-a-cabin" - which I use freely on HeroPress and in conversation - to describe a certain style of horror film where the protagonists are trapped in a small environment by their attackers - supernatural or otherwise - and anyone can die at any time.
He was funny, clever, crass, and carefree. He'd talk about the T&A content in a film as well as the volume of blood spilled and body count.
Suddenly film reviews didn't have to read like dry, academic dissertations in Sight & Sound (a magazine designed to suck the fun out of films since 1932).
Seriously, if you love horror movies, trash cinema, drive-in fodder, you need to find a copy of Joe Bob's book and read it now.
I was surprisingly lucky that when I was allowed to create the position of "film critic" on the local newspaper that I worked for, I was pretty much given free reign.
Although I was never clever enough to go full Joe Bob, I'm pretty sure I was the first to use the phrase "spam-in-a-cabin" in the pages of the Kent & Sussex Courier.
My guru's inspiration shone through even brighter when I broadened my reviewing to the latest, trashy VHS tapes. I somehow got myself onto the mailing lists of several "low budget" video houses and, for a time, was reviewing three or four low-budget sci-fi/horror/action flicks a week.
It was in seeking to ape Joe Bob's style that I found the first inklings of my own "voice".