Written by Dr. Jose
When you hear the name “Mick Garris”, perhaps you think of “Garris, the director of several Stephen King projects, including Sleepwalkers and the television version of The Shining”. Or perhaps you think of “Garris, the creator of Showtime’s hit horror anthology program, Masters of Horror”. Or maybe you just think of “Garris, owner of the most beautiful mane in Hollywood”. (Seriously, I’d kill for that hair.) But let’s not forget perhaps the most important Garris of all: “Garris, the fun-loving horror fanatic who got his start making horror documentaries and interviewing legends of the spooky screen.”
Yes, before he was directing, producing, and conditioning those long, silver locks (no joke, I love Mick’s hair), Garris was making behind-the-scenes documentaries for Avco-Embassy Pictures on their many genre films, which in turn led to a gig hosting The Fantasy Film Festival, a talk show on LA’s beloved (and now defunct) Z Channel*. Garris was an early addition to the channel and helped solidify its legitimacy among film fanatics. From 1979 until the show wrapped in 1982, Garris was able to interview stars like Jamie Lee Curtis and Scatman Crothers. He also interviewed directors like Spielberg, Landis, Dante, and Corman – among many others.
After taking a 30 year break to direct films and produce television shows, he returned to the interviewer’s seat for Post Mortem, which aired on (the now defunct) Fearnet. With Post Mortem, the cameras got an upgrade and Garris was able to interview some new faces; while a few of his guests originally appeared on The Fantasy Film Festival all those years ago, Garris was able to get new discussions with Wes Craven, Rick Baker, and Rob Zombie – among others.
Despite those channels ceasing to exist, all the episodes, thankfully, have not been lost to the mists of time. No, quite the contrary – they’ve been preserved! And on Mick’s own website, no less! In 2014, Garris posted all the episodes – even the Fantasy Film Festival ones, which had long since been seen – to both his website and his personal Youtube channel. The videos are a treasure; if you’ve never seen them, prepare to spend all weekend watching them. And if you have seen them, you know what I’m talking about (and should probably give them another watch).
Below is a clip where Garris interviews genre legends Barbara Steele, Joe Dante, and Paul Bartel. You can view the rest of the interviews on Garris’ Youtube channel or his aptly titled website, Mick Garris Interviews.
*For those unaware, Z Channel was one of the first pay channels in the United States; it championed cinema, and would influence directors like Jim Jarmusch and, later, Quentin Tarantino.