Shootin' the Shit with Cream of the Crap: David and Jaimz Tear into the Worst & Weirdest VHS Atrocities
GW: It’s a pleasure to be chatting with the Cream of the Crap crew. Tell me about yourselves.
David Knipe: Cream of the Crap was started by Jaimz Asmundson and myself, and we’re its two regular hosts. We’re often joined on stage by Amanda Kindzierski and James Korba, as well as other special guests from time-to-time.
GW: And what’s Cream of the Crap all about?
Jaimz Asmundson: Cream of the Crap is kind of like a drunken Mystery Science Theatre. We play films that have the perfect ratio of authenticity and ineptitude (the cream of the crap!), which are an absolute joy to watch with a big group of people.
GW: How do you prep for an event like this?
David: Preparation involves many hours of careful, considered, and in-depth viewing of total crap on VHS! Jaimz and I usually draw upon our extensive VHS collections to come up with a shortlist of potential crap-worthy titles for an upcoming event. Many hours, beers, and laughs, plus a few snores later, we’ve (hopefully) narrowed the list down to a couple of bad movies. The final choice is very difficult to make, but luckily there are plenty of terrifically terribly bad movies out there, so we have no shortage of fitting options.
Once the final choice has been made, we research the film’s production history, random facts, creator bios, critical and popular reception, etc. to develop drinking games, trivia, and contests for the event. The other two co-hosts have often not seen the film before the event, and part of the fun is experiencing their honest first reactions in real time with an audience.
GW: Why VHS? What makes VHS so great?
Jaimz: I don’t think VHS is that great! It’s fuzzy and low-res, and is definitely one of the least optimal ways to watch a film. However, since the video store craze of the 80s/early 90s was so huge there were so many bargain bin titles released that were completely lost to the format. VHS is sometimes the only way to watch these films, so there are a lot of sunken treasures out there. And of course, the fuzzy pixels and noisy audio of VHS definitely bring us back to a simpler time of the video store era where bargain basement films sat side-by-side with big studio blockbusters, and the only way to decide what to watch was based on the (often misleading) cover art.
GW: What’s a made-up genre that you would use to describe your fav type of film? For example "Chaotic Found Family" or “Stanley Tucci Being a Dilf.”
Jaimz: Either “post-apocalyptic goopy mutants” or “robot hand action films” or anything where someone starts to melt!
David: I’m intrigued by this Stanley Tucci Being a Dilf genre—tell me more about that!
GW: Oh, you know…it’s every movie he’s been in. Except for The Lovely Bones, of course. But he felt bad about that role. Just watch the YouTube confession aptly titled, “Stanley Tucci Felt Really Awful About Being A Creep.”...What's your favourite piece of movie trivia?
Jaimz: I think it’s quite admirable how YK Kim, the star, writer, producer and co-director of Miami Connection, saw the film as some kind of tool to bring about world peace through Tae Kwon Do.
GW: Film seems to play a big part of your lives. What’s a lesson film has taught you?
David: To always lead one’s life with curiosity, empathy, and forthrightness. Film is the best medium for transporting oneself; to learn about a different perspective, way of life, or experience. It’s this endless capacity for education and stimulation that makes film totally unique and worthy of a life-long pursuit.
GW: Do you have a favourite line from a movie?
Jaimz: “I worry that you’ll work in an office… have children… celebrate wedding anniversaries. The world of heterosexuals is a sick and boring life!” - Edith Massey, Female Trouble.
GW: Is there any film you’d want to live in?
Jaimz: I don’t know if I’d necessarily really want to live in it, but I could literally watch American Movie on a loop for the rest of my life and die happy.
GW: Can you describe your most memorable movie-watching experience?
Jaimz: Probably seeing Fellini’s Amarcord at Cinematheque with a small crowd who all seemed to be straight out of a Fellini movie. There was a man loudly conducting the film score in front of me, a woman having a VERY loud conversation on her phone the entire time, and a woman wearing like 700 metal bracelets that sounded like someone jingling keys every time she’d eat popcorn. My friend and I just decided to relax and go with it. It was like watching the film in 4D!
GW: What about the first movie you remember seeing?
David: I’m not sure I could pinpoint the first, as movies were always there for me, but one early and seminal viewing memory I have is when my Dad sat me on his lap to watch the TV premiere of the It miniseries. Through shielded eyes I vividly recall fountains spewing blood, kids wandering the sewers at night, and of course, that absolutely terrifying opening scene with that little girl’s unfortunate introduction to Pennywise in the rain.
GW: What are some dos and don’ts for enhancing a movie-watching experience?
David: Depends on the film, viewing situation, company you’re with, etc, but some general tips are:
- Go in with an open mind; meet the film and filmmakers on their terms first.
- Remember that “bad” movie watching experiences can be just as informative and fun as “good” ones.
- Make sure to be fully prepared with the necessary snacks.
- Be mindful of other people experiencing the movie with you, especially in a cinema - it’s not your living room so don’t treat it as such!
- Don’t be afraid of going out to see a movie solo. It can be the most rewarding experience a person can have!
GW: Noted. We’re used to music around here, but music and film go hand-in-hand. What movie do you think has the best soundtrack?
Jaimz: I mean, if we’re talking bad movies then I don’t think anything can possibly match the terrible roster of original songs in Champagne and Bullets (aka GetEven) that were all written and performed by the lead actor/writer/director/producer John De Hart!
GW: What’s the difference between “crap” and a “bad movie”?
Jaimz: I think the difference here is that a bad movie is something that is so heartless and carelessly made that no one can find any enjoyment in watching it. Something that is “crap” or “good-bad” was made by someone who really wanted to and tried to make a good film but just didn’t quite know how to direct actors; use a camera; or even how to tell a coherent story. So the end result is just unlike anything else and is like a glimpse into a bizarro-world alternate reality where the traditional mechanics of filmmaking don’t exist as we know them. They’re quite endearing!
GW: Why is crap so entertaining?
David: Everyone gets a kick out of sitting back and watching a disaster of someone else’s making. There’s something totally liberating and exhilarating about being insulated from the train wreck and being able to throw gasoline on the fire as it burns. It makes us feel alive and in touch with our own mortality!
GW: What good can crap do? How does it benefit its audience?
Jaimz: If you’ve ever attended one of our events before, you’ll know how much joy watching these shitty films together can bring! What other film screenings do you leave with a huge smile on your face and feel like you bonded over the (fun) trauma of watching a terrible movie with a like-minded group of people?
GW: Sounds like a blast. Remind the people when the event is?
David: VHSunday, July 17th! We’ll start with a VHSwap at 6pm for those who want to stock up on dead media, and then start the VHSecret Screening at 7pm! Get your tickets.