Colin Sannes is hooked on trash cinema, the cheesier and sleazier the better. And the 38-year-old Tacoman can trace his addiction back to junior high, circa 1985, in North Dakota.
“There was this local bad-movie host (on Fox-TV) where I lived. It turned out he was the dad of a guy I was in band with,” recalled Sannes, a striking figure at 6-foot-7 with a ZZ Top beard and a penchant for kilts. “A friend of mine turned me onto it ’cause he watched it religiously.”
It was a gateway show.
Before long, Sannes was satisfying his so-bad-they’re-good movie fix with USA network’s “Commander USA’s Groovie Movies.”
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“A little bit later, the Chicago channel started showing Elvira’s ‘Movie Macabre,’” he said. “So if I could do things right, I could watch three bad movie programs each weekend. And I frequently did.”
Several years and thousands of DVDs, VHS tapes and laser discs later, Sannes has parlayed his love of shlock cinema into an increasingly popular monthly B-movie night that he’s hosted since April at the Acme Grub Cage, 1310 Tacoma Ave., in downtown Tacoma.
The event, which he organizes with local artist Mary K. Johnson and Mad Hat Tea Co. owner Tobin Ropes, is organized thematically.
Double feature screenings have highlighted ’70s biker films, prison flicks and most recently “inadvertent cannibalism.”
Sannes is a walking B-movie encyclopedia, able to drop trivia about everything from “The Toxic Avenger” to Ed Wood’s kitsch classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” in casual conversation.
So we caught up with him at Tacoma’s Puget Sound Pizza (where he hosts karaoke as DJ Colin) to talk about a few flicks and directors that he recommends checking out at your local movie store:
“Spider Baby” (1968): “I’m a large proponent of ‘Spider Baby.’ I still think it would be fun to make ‘Spider Baby: The Musical.’
“It was written by a guy named Jack Hill who probably is best known for a film he did in the ’70s called ‘Switchblade Sisters,’ which Quentin Tarantino brought out on VHS for his Rolling Thunder film company. This is one of his early films that starred a very young Sid Hague (‘House of 1,000 Corpses,’ ‘Devil’s Rejects’) and a very old Lon Chaney Jr. It’s really good. Actually it’s ‘good, good.’ But it’s made on a very low budget; definite drive-in type B-movie.”
“Fascination” (1979): “I haven’t seen it for a long time. There’s almost like a bacchanalian aspect to it. It almost makes me think of the tail end of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I think that’s what really draws me to that one.
“The basic premise is there’s this guy. He’s on the run from this band of people. I’m uncertain if he was part of some kind of heist. He’s trying to hide … and he finds this castle (with) two women.
“Things just kind of go wrong from there. They’re in some kind of a blood cult, actually. I think once a year they have to drink blood to fight off anemia or something.”
Anything starring Mexican wrestling star Santo: “I was just earlier today talking about some of our possibilities for our next theme. I’m almost kind of leaning toward Mexican wrestling films next.
“You’ve gotta love lucha libre, especially the Santo films. Santo was probably one of the best-known Mexican wrestlers. He did films for over 30 years, sometimes by himself, sometimes with other people. There’s ‘Santo Meets the Daughter of Frankenstein.’
“He always had a silver mask. Actually, a friend of mine was telling me that whenever Santo would travel, he would be wearing his silver mask. And whenever he would fly into, say, another country, instead of having him unmask in front of everybody, they would pull him off into his own little room. They would go check his passport, have him take his mask off and let him go. Basically, nobody knew what his real name was until he died.
The works of director Ray Dennis Steckler: “We haven’t showed any of his stuff. But maybe if we did, like, a superhero night, I’ll pull out ‘Rat PFink a Boo Boo.’ Part of it is a Batman and Robin parody. But it starts off following this rock musician. And (the actor) was actually this old rockabilly musician, Ron Haydock, who had this group called Ron Haydock & the Boppers that actually did some great stuff.
“It combines these two premises: following around a rock ’n’ roll star and a superhero team. It’s like he tried to make two different movies and couldn’t really go anywhere with either of them and just put ’em together and said, ‘OK.’”
And, of course, the king of bad movies, Ed Wood: “I’m actually starting to have weird second thoughts about Ed Wood, though. Part of me is actually thinking that he purposely made really bad movies so that he could tackle issues he thought were really important that he knew he wouldn’t be able to tackle otherwise.
“(In Wood’s 1953 movie) ‘Glen or Glenda’ you have the whole cross-dressing thing. Who the hell would have touched that back then? ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space,’ government cover-up for UFOs. Almost everything he did that springs to mind, up until his later years when he was basically making movies for booze money.”
Ernest A. Jasmin: 253-274-7389