Contradicting Popular Opinion Presents:
8 Questions with Reggie Bannister
Next up in our summer series of “8 Questions” is the world’s most badass ice cream man, Reggie Bannister.
A Vietnam vet, the Regman is probably most famous for playing “Reggie”, killer of mini-zombies and innovator of “the streetsweeper”, in Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm
series. Apart from acting, he has also gotten into producing, directing, and composing for movies, as well as finding the time to release 5 albums.
He also might just be the nicest person with whom I’ve ever conversed online.
For this issue of 8 Questions, we talked to Mr. Bannister about horror flicks, new media, R-rated family films, midgets, monkeys, and the CW’s “Supernatural”.
8 Questions with Reggie Bannister
1. First, so we can pimp, plug and promote it, what are you up to?
IMDB has you in SEVEN movies this year; is that right?
Reggie: Dude! I had to go to imdb to see exactly which ones you were talking about. My work ethic is to keep your head down and plow away. Most of those pictures have just come out of post in the last few months so the mission for them now is to find distribution. ‘Gangs Of The Dead,’ AKA ‘Last Rites’ got a deal with Universal and can currently be seen on PPV. ‘Acts Of Death,’ AKA ‘The Final Curtain’ is to be released by Lions Gate at the end of August and Bob Kurtzman’s ‘The Rage’ will be featured at the ‘Fantasia Film Festival’ in Montreal this month and will undoubtably find distribution before the end of the year… think Halloween. Of course Jeff Thomas’s ‘Fallen Angels’ is on the verge of a deal and we might see that about the same time. Jeff’s picture was fun to shoot ’cause it’s chock full of friends. Michael Berryman, Bill Mosely, Kane Hodder, David Hess, Kevin McCarthy… name somebody. Oh yeah… Ruth Buzzi and Martin Kove. Wanna’ see this picture?
I’ve got several films lining up between now and the end of the year and I stay busy in between films making appearances to promote the work.
2. Horror movies seem more popular and mainstream now than ten years ago. At the same time, a good deal of today’s horror flicks are remakes of Japanese movies, remakes of classic ’70s films, sequels to those remakes or what have you. Is this a good time for the genre?
Reggie: Great time! I can’t remember a more positive time for the genre. If I had to take a guess as to why it is I’d have to say it has to do with the way our world has changed in the last few years. Horror or, the machination of evil acting out, is all around us today. I believe we live in a horror world. There’s not much to enjoy about what one sees when they pick up a newspaper or turn on the nightly news. The human culture right now is saturated with war, abject poverty and genocide so, I believe human nature tries to find a way to control uncontrollable horror by creating a type of entertainment that’s horrible. It makes them jump, want to cover their eyes, scream and almost wet their pants but nobody gets hurt. You get out of your seat at the end of the movie and walk out with your friends laughing and talking about what you all just went through together. It’s a controlled, shared experience and people are digging it right now and personally, I think it’s a great cathartic therapy.
3. Which non-horror series would you most like to see crossover with Phantasm? (Personally, I would’ve watched “Six Feet Under” had it featured the Tall Man.)
Reggie: Since ‘Phantasm’ came out in ’79 I Think there’s been a lot of extrapolation on the theme, “Is this a dream or reality?” That concept has crept into any number of non-horror series. It’s not exactly a non-horror series but, ‘Supernatural’ comes about as close to anything I’ve ever seen to copping the whole ‘Phantasm’ story. Two brothers running around the country in a muscle car looking for their father and kickin’ zombie butt. I personally would like to see Reggie jammin’ into ‘Jericho’ or ‘Heroes’ in the ‘Cuda with some kind of explanation and plan to defeat the evil forces driving those story lines… I think that’d be fun.
What it might look like if Phantasm were to crossover with “The L Wor-” I mean “Supernatural.”
4. Thirty years ago if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to a theater or wait for it to (possibly) show up on TV. Nowadays, not only are there endless ways to get hold of movies, but also to make and share one’s own amateur movie efforts. How might this affect the current crop of film-makers?
Reggie: It already has. New video technology has and is changing everything. Film making was an exclusive club just a few years ago. If you wanted to make a film you had to have beaucoup-bucks to play with the big boys. The playing field has been greatly leveled with the advent of digital video and now hi-def. Not to mention the software programs that are available for edit and CGI. Want to make a film these days?… just do it! 35mm film is an expensive medium to shoot in. It can take more than $200k of a budget for the stock and processing. In the last three years I’ve worked in front of a 35mm camera only twice. I’m about to work with one in August when Paul Bunnel shoots his movie, ‘The Ghastly Love Of Johnny X.’ Paul’s actually shooting that in 35mm B&W stock.
5. In the movie Van Helsing, Dracula is shown to have cloaked midget helpers. Did he steal them from Star Wars or the Tall Man? Or are little people assistants in hooded caftans just a good thing for anybody to have around?
Reggie: Absolutely! I always pack a couple in my bag whenever I go out of town. Actually, Don Coscarelli and I were recently at the Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors in Burbank and He was asked about the relationship between the ‘Phantasm’ dwarves and the ‘Star Wars’ jawas. It turns out that both Don, and I can only assume, George Lucas were quite surprised to have dreamed up
the same basic character concept at the same time without knowing it.
Something about ‘Great minds.’
6. I contend that Don Coscarelli essentially makes R-rated family films. Bubba-Ho-tep is a story of redemption, Survival Quest espouses the value of teamwork, and Phantasm tells the story of coping with a broken family. Mike, Jody and Reggie deal with the troubles around them by relying on their ingenuity, loyalty, problem solving skills, and love for one another. Sure, there is swearing and sexuality, but these things exist in the real world as well. In a sense, that which garners the R rating merely enhances the relevance of the parable.
Or am I just nuts?
Reggie: You are not nuts my friend but we must remember that no picture unless it’s porn goes out with an X rating so the R rating represents a mighty big bucket. I believe that parents should always see an R rated film before they allow their children to se it. Then there’s the question of the age of the child VS the intensity of the picture. I remember taking my daughter Ellen to see ‘Raiders Of The Lost Arc’ when she was about four years old. I remember looking over at her about the time all the spirits came out and attacked the Nazis. I cannot describe the horrified look on her face. I knew at that moment that I had f*cked up. Fortunately, one film experience does not a healthy, wonderful human make.
7. What is the greatest film nobody ever talks about?
Reggie: I’m afraid they are too numerous to mention. I guess that of the more conceptually twisted pictures that no one seems to talk about I’d have to say ‘Angel Heart’ with Micky Rourke. I’ve always thought that those type of plotlines were incredibly frightening and ‘Angel Heart’ I believe, was the model for pictures like ‘Fight Club’ or even ‘Falling Down’ which I also don’t think got the respect it deserved. I thought ‘Memento’ was Great. And Stuart Gordon directed a picture called ‘Edmond’ starring William H. Macy that’s on cable right now which is again very similar in concept to ‘Angel Heart.’ My theory about why these films don’t get talked about is that they are too disturbing… hit too close to home psychologically.
8. And finally, my good friend Sawyer (the biggest Phantasm fan I know) wants to ask: What’s the deal with the Spider-monkey in (the yet-to-be-made) Phantasm V?
Reggie: All I know Sawyer is, that if that picture ever gets made that little dude better not piss on me!
While self-professed “movie buff” might like to play 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, I play the 4 degrees of Reggie Bannister!
Don’t believe me? Watch this:
Reggie to Bela Lugosi
Reggie Bannister was in Bubba Ho-tep with Ossie Davis.
Ossie Davis was in 14 Hours with Grace Kelly.
Grace Kelly was in High Noon with Lon Chaney, jr.
Lon Chaney Jr was in The Wolf Man with Bela Lugosi.
Mind you I went through Ossie Davis and Grace Kelly, meaning that you can easily connect Reggie to the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper or Cary Grant.
Or you could go through Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-tep and jump immediately to Paul Newman.
Reggie Bannister to George Clooney?
Reg to Lance Henriksen via Survival Quest.
Lance to Ahnold via The Terminator.
Arnold to Clooney via Batman and Robin
If you went to Catherine Keener in Survival Quest, you could jump to Brad Pitt via Johnny Suede, then get to Clooney via an Ocean.
This also means you could easily connect Reggie to Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, etc.
I’m telling you: this game will sweep the nation.
Here is the link to our previous 8 Questions, with Joe Bob Briggs.
Watch for more “8 Questions” in the coming weeks.