One of my go-to movie critics is Scott Weinberg. He’s one of the few critics that review even the most obscure horror movies while still being honest enough to admit when he likes those great summer popcorn flicks. He sat down with us and gave some great answers to our questions. Once you’re done, you can check out more of his reviews here.
1. Does it get old when people ask you what you thought of a movie? Is that like asking a masseuse for a shoulder rub?
No! “Movies” is my favorite topic and I’m flattered that people want my opinion. The annoying question is, “What movie should I waaaaaatch?” I don’t know! What have you seen? What do you like? Are you a dummy or a genius? What’s available?!? Aaaaargh! So I usually just say Jaws.
2. What was the first movie you ever saw in the theater?
I definitely saw Star Wars in 1977. My sister loves to tell people how I wouldn’t sit still for ten seconds but then told EVERYONE how great the movie was. She hated me. That wasn’t the very first movie but it’s a cool story, I guess. I think a Charlie Brown movie may have been the first. My mom took me to a late-’70s re-release of Young Frankenstein that was also very awesome.
3. Have you ever gotten contacted by a filmmaker or actor regarding a bad review?
S***, yes. “Contacted” would be nice. I’ve been trashed (by name!) on Twitter and Facebook, on podcasts, in documentary films. But..! I’ve found that most filmmakers take criticism quite well, to be honest. They often have a problem with tone and attitude. And frankly I don’t blame them.
Here’s a story (cue flashback wiggle):
I once met Jonathan Levine not 12 hours after I knocked his second film (The Wackness) and he was nothing but cool about it. He said I had fair criticisms, he remembered that I liked his first movie (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), and he thanked me for reviewing the new one. That 4-minute conversation taught me a lot. (His newer movies, 50/50 and Warm Bodies, are also quite good, for the record. Go JL.) One of the producers on The Wackness, Brian Udovich, has become a close friend of mine over the years. And I know for a fact that he didn’t love my review when he read it.
Tone is key, really. Smugness and superiority are garbage. Not long ago Scott Derrickson (director of Sinister and a painfully cool man) said to me “Critics, filmmakers, and movie buffs all pray to the same god.” I consider that when I write my film reviews now. A professional critic should pretend that everyone who worked on the film will read their review. Temper THAT with an honest opinion (and hopefully some personality) and you’re probably a good film critic.
4. Is there really such a thing as objective film criticism?
No way. There’s no formula for beautiful art, nor should there ever be an attempt to design one. Every critic brings their own life experience and personality to a movie and their review. All that matters to me is A) do they write well? B) are they honest and intelligent? C) do they know their s**t, movie-wise? — I couldn’t care less if I disagree with a film critic’s opinion. I just want to read a good article from a high-end film buff who can write.
5. What are a few underrated horror movies that most readers probably missed?
My automatic answers are always Ravenous (1999), Session 9 (2001), Frailty (2001), and May (2002). But I don’t know how horror-savvy a person might be. To even a younger horror buff, those could be pretty obvious choices. Here’s a list I put together that I call “Quality Indie Horror on Instant Netflix,” so that might help a little.
6. Can you describe the strangest celebrity encounter you’ve ever had?
I can say that Bill Pullman knows how to party.
7. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write well. Be yourself or be a character. Foster your own personality. There are billions of movie fans but only like 70 million good writers. Maybe 68 million.
It’s a Sesame Street message, but the thing that makes you different is you. So work on that. Lord knows I do.
8. Are there any movies that you’ve rewatched and changed your opinion on?
Not many, actually. I do remember revisiting the first Wrong Turn (2003) and thinking “Why was I so hard on this flick? I like it!” Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (the first one, 1999) also qualifies. I still think it has problems but it’s really grown on me over the years. I sincerely dig it now.
It’s a good question, though. People don’t like to admit when they change their mind on a movie, as if they’re admitting they were wrong about something. Still can’t remember why I disliked Wrong Turn though. It’s pretty bad-ass for a studio horror movie.
9. What songs are getting the most plays on your iPod right now?
Zeppelin, always. Also the new Daft Punk, which I don’t love like their other stuff, but I think it’ll grow on me. Did I mention Zeppelin? When I’m writing, which is painful as f***, I listen to movie scores like Moon (Clint Mansell), Star Trek (Michael Giacchino), or any random thing from Bear McCreary.
Free advice to all writers: music with lyrics is your enemy. You need wordless music.
10. What is your favorite thing about me?
You write for some websites I don’t, which means I may be able to hit you up for work later. Also your horror movie list was pretty keen. Do you have a cat? I love cats.
Rob Fee is a writer and comedian best known for writing and telling jokes. You can follow him on Twitter @RobFee to read more of these jokes or go to Del Taco. He’s probably there.