Tue. Feb 27th, 2024


What got cut from the seven-hour version?

I miss some of the movies we had in it. We used to have “I Was A Teenage Werewolf,” “Return of the Ape Man,” some really funny stuff. It is what it is now. It has a lot of stuff that dates all the way back to the very beginning, but some of the stuff was different.

I’m trying to picture the editing room you had back in the day with reels everywhere. Do you have an image in your head about that time period?

Well, it’s all edited on 16mm, spliced, and taped. It was very awkward because we had a lot of film. Every time we found something new, we had to splice it in and run it to see if it worked. It was very time-consuming. The reason we did this is because, at that time, in the late ‘60s, there was this whole idea of “camp.” Susan Sontag popularized this phrase meaning it was stuff people were laughing at that was supposed to be taken seriously. 

I wanted to ask you about that because the film came out in 1968, with many of the films and TV shows featured in it that were made not too long before that. I’m guessing that throughout the late ‘60s and into the ‘70s, the film must’ve played like a nostalgia reel for its young viewers, but today it plays like an absurdist window into the past. Have you seen a vast difference in the response to the film over the years and different generations seeing it? 

The only difference I’ve seen is the popularity of the thing, originally, was based on the fact that so much stuff in it was stuff from their childhoods that they hadn’t seen since they were kids, and it was now unlocked in their brains. Oh my god, “Tales of the Texas Ranger,” I used to watch that when I was seven. Or Froggy the Gremlin, all that stuff that resonated with people because it was something they remembered. Today, most of that stuff is just … weird. I remember we ran it at the Museum of Modern Art, and my niece, who was about 14 years old and was with one of her friends, and at about the hour-and-a-half mark, I saw her and I asked, “Is this not working for you?” and she said, “I don’t understand any of this.” [laughs] And I imagine there’s a large contingent of people who would look at this thing today and say, “I don’t know what the hell they’re trying to do here.” It is an early YouTube mashup kind of thing. 

Since you’ve always had a fondness for monster movies and sci-fi B-movies, does it ever bother you when today’s audiences laugh at some of the stuff from the clips in the film? I know you’re not a fan of MST3K and audiences who go to old movies just to snicker at them, but “The Movie Orgy seems set up in a way where laughter is permitted. Do you feel that way about it? Are you ever conflicted about it? 

No, I’m never conflicted about it. I always felt “The Movie Orgy” was a celebration of this stuff as opposed to simply making fun of it. If you’re just going to make fun of something for five hours, that’s kinda nihilistic. The idea is there’s a lot of humor involved in the foibles of the things that we always venerated when we were kids and how it’s changed when we get older and politically how things changed, things like the Defenders of America cards, how they look today as opposed to how they looked then. So, it’s a time capsule. There are some slow stretches in it, mostly during “College Confidential.” Still, I think it’s a very entertaining way to spend five hours. 

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.