OWW-WOOOOO!! Hi there, culture gang! Didn't expect me back so soon, did ya? This is your favorite wolf-Grrl Harriet Von Lupin reporting for Tales From The Monster Shop, and today we're going to do a special interview with the host of the renowned late-night cult-movie show Cinema Insomnia, Mr. Lobo! This dude is like the guy to know in cult-movie and horror circles, and next year he'll be doing his tenth year of hosting Cinema Insomnia, which began on an ABC station in Sacramento, California and is now a nationally-syndicated phenomenon for fans of horror and classic B-movies.
Mr. Lobo, who is also from Sacramento and is of indeterminate age, is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, stuck in a conundrum, tied up with sudoku and... and... well, let's just say he's a really mysterious dude. (Sort of like that Rod Serling guy on that old TV show The Twilight Zone, but with these cool funky glasses.) He oversees Cinema Insomnia from a formless void that's got its own rocking chair, showing not only classic B-movies but also doing comedy skits, monster movie trailers, vintage commercials, short films from independent filmmakers, and all sorts of bizarreness! (Plus, when I heard he used to be a werewolf, I just had to talk to this guy!) So read on for all the skinny... and also to find out how you (yes, you, and you, and you, and that guy over there) can help make this the grooviest year in Cinema Insomnia's history!
Dude, thanks for giving me an audience with Mr. Lobo! Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what made you decide to be a horror host?
Harriet, it’s a personal pleasure to be interviewed by my favorite MonsterGrrl! Mr. Lobo has dated and married a few monsters, so I have a feeling that this is going to be a very stimulating conversation!
As you said, Mr. Lobo is a horror movie host and I have a nationally syndicated TV show called Cinema Insomnia which I tape here in Sacramento, California, and at monster film fests, conventions, and horror happenings across the country. It’s hard to pin down a moment where I actually really decided to be a horror host—I “decided” to be “Chewbacca” when I was 7 years old but I never got the opportunity to try it.
When I was your age, I always used to “play host” in the mirror and later I did skits with my friends who ran 16mm films as a hobby. I got a lot of encouragement and pushes from friends and heroes. Meeting my childhood host Bob Wilkins of Creature Features as an adult changed my life. He suggested that I take a stab at horror hosting. I also had a friend at a local ABC-TV station here in Sacramento, Mike, who also pushed me to do my own show. The station ran a movie at 3 a.m. that ran 20 minutes short every week. With the courage given to me by my friend Mike, Bob and others, I offered to fill the extra time and started producing Cinema Insomnia episodes… once I started, I couldn’t stop and I found I really loved it. You have to love the job and love the movies… you have to open your mind to the possibility that they are not bad movies, just misunderstood…
That is so cool! But you say that the movies you show are not "bad" but "misunderstood." Can you please explain or provide evidence?
Harriet, you are as smart as you are attractive! You know how to put your horror host in the hot seat. With films like Superwheels and Invasion Of The Neptune Men in our pen, it’s sometimes hard to stand up for Misunderstood Movies. This motto has become a guiding principle of the show. We do kid the movies—but more gently than other shows. Mr. Lobo has grown to love all the films we’ve done on the show because I now have a positive association with them.
I really hate classifying films like they’re quantifiable commodities or sports statistics. Movies are subjective; what we see in them is based on your mood and life experience. I have a theory that every movie is someone’s least favorite movie and every film is somebody’s most favorite movie. Making fun of the films, which used to be counter culture, had become the popular wisdom by the time Mr. Lobo got started with Cinema Insomnia and I like to challenge the status quo. On Mystery Science Theater 3000, their attitude toward the movies seemed like “Let’s take the ugliest girl to the dance and make fun of her.” On Cinema Insomnia, it’s more like “You know if you put a nice dress on the gal, maybe wax the uni-brow a bit, she’s probably a great date…and has some good stories to tell.” When I said “They’re not bad movies—Just Misunderstood” for the first time on the show it was a breath of fresh air for a lot of movie fans who were used to hearing their favorite films being ruthlessly bagged on for decades.
I am like so impressed with you right now--with your intelligence, your nerve, your compassion, and your willingness to stick up for the uni-brow, since that's my most charming feature! But when did Cinema Insomnia get started?
When Mr. Lobo was your age, I was doing comedy skits on home video and audio recorders and I always desired some kind of vehicle for my artwork and comedy. In my mind, several years before the real opportunity presented itself, I had been wishing and hoping for a show of some kind as I had a friend at the local ABC-TV station who noticed my talents. I wasn’t sure if I would be reviewing movies, showing trailers or even if they would be horror films. I had been drawing the hypnotic eye and toying with the title “Insomniac Theater.”
Finally in 2001, when I also had a job at the same TV station, they had that 3 a.m. movie that I told you about. We had to change the name to Cinema Insomnia because there was an overnight movie in another town called Insomniac Theater, and also we didn’t want to be confused with Dave Attel’s new show Insomniac in the TV guide. Our first show aired July 28th, 2001 and we have been showing broken down Sci-Fi, Cult and Horror Movies ever since.
Well, Cinema Insomnia sounds cooler, in my opinion. But let's talk movies for a minute. What's your favorite horror film, Mr. L?
Oh, Harriet—that’s like picking a favorite child! There are so many subgenres and my tastes change depending on my mood. I really love Plan 9 From Outer Space. When you watch it, it always feels like it's three in the morning and Mr. Lobo likes that feeling.
As far as films that normal folks would consider of “quality,” I enjoy Son Of Frankenstein and the original Invisible Man. Return Of The Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and An American Werewolf In London is my favorite werewolf movie. (I figured that you would want to know that, Harriet.)
I like that one too! Cinema Insomnia is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year. What are you going to do to celebrate?
I’m so glad you asked, Harriet. Mr. Lobo is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of my late night movie show that is syndicated on broadcast TV stations across the nation by producing a full season of 26 all new shows!
Groovy! But I'm sure all our readers know that it takes a lot of money to do a TV show, and word is that you have a project on Kickstarter to raise money for your show. Can you provide info and tell my readers how they (and them, and them, and that guy over there--HEY! Come back here or I'll punch you in the arm!) can help out?
We are hoping to boost the budget for this special 26 episode season with a Kickstarter campaign. There are many levels of donations, all with great thank-you goodies. You can get a CINEMA INSOMNIA 10th ANNIVERSARY button, T-shirt, signed 8X10, one of my neckties, or props from the show, you can get your name in the credits of the shows or said by Mr. Lobo on the air, you can have a framed photo of you on the set, even be a co-host for an episode! To be a part of this celebration, go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cinemainsomnia/cinema-insomnia-10-year-anniversary. (or just click the banner below)
And all you guys who are reading this have to do is click on that link up there to make your donations now! But I've got one more question for you, and it's confession time. My sources (well, the Mad Doctor, anyway) tell me that you are actually a reformed werewolf. What's that about?
I prefer the term “Recovering Werewolf.” You stop changing on the outside--you never change anything on the inside... except for your mind and your heart.
I was in the grips of lycanthropy where all that was important for me was the next prey. It wasn’t until he found himself reeking of urine and chewing a thigh bone alone beneath the staircase of a project in a Portugese ghetto that Mr. Lobo thought he might have hit rock bottom. I had lost a lot: lost relationships, lost family, lost shoes, and was losing my home.
I decided to tell my parents everything. Not my wolf pack family--my real parents. A friend of the family, Reverend Steve, asked me to go with him to The Church Of Ed Wood, a place where people had gone for help with problems similar to mine. They had a Werewolves Anonymous meeting and weenie roast on Tuesdays. I recognized a Wolf Man I knew from the neighborhood by the awful marks on his arm, and he told his story of how he beat lycanthropy and hadn’t changed in four moon cycles. I was like, ‘How can he be smiling and crying at the same time?’ I didn’t understand, and then it hit me that he was experiencing something that I wanted.
Reverend Steve is my sponsor to this day and on some full moon nights I call him if I feel I might slip. I have a 25 year WA chip in my pocket and I haven’t bitten anyone in years. I know how it feels to be a young werewolf and have the townsfolk call you “dog boy” “fang-puss” or “hairy butt” or laugh at your ripped clothes—but I’m here to say, Harriet… it gets better.
And that's our interview! So if you wanna show some love to a worthy cause and do something really good for everybody, go to Mr. Lobo's Kickstarter project and post a donation! You'll pick up cool swag and help one of the greatest TV spookshows ever! And you can also click our title link on this post to go straight to Cinema Insomnia's website to get more info, find out about show times and listings and get T-shirts, DVDs and other neat stuff!
See you guys later, 'cause I'm gonna pop some corn and check out some of these cool B-movies! OOWWW-WOOOOOOO!!!!
Love to all,
Harriet Von Lupin
POST-MORTEM: Hey gang, tomorrow (November 27) is Mr. Lobo's birthday! Make it a happy birthday for him and donate to the cause!
Also, if you're already a fan and wanna show your love to others, November Fire has a cool Cinema Insomnia T-shirt for sale. Click here to check it out and purchase! --H.V.L.