Horror Host, The Basement Sublet of Horror with your host Gunther Dedmund  
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a Lawrencian interview by Anne Tangeman

Joel Sanderson, computer whiz, artist, and long-time film archivist, has resurrected the legacy of the late night TV horror fest, with a twist, to Lawrence’s public access channel. Public access channel? Yes—channel 99, which comes with basic cable, is usually a steady stream of religious programming and QVC shopping shows. Joel was able to land the sweet spot of 11 p.m. Friday nights to broadcast his “Basement Sublet of Horror,” a classic late-night horror show complete with scary host Gunther Dedmund. Sanderson “frankensteins” an old horror film—cutting out the parts that drag and adding in bits of film from industrial and educational films from years gone by. It’s classic fright-night fun with many surprises.

The debut episode featured “Atom Age Vampire“ interspersed with “duck and cover” nuclear preparedness films, how to make the perfect cup of coffee, and a dainty bit with a 1950s teen getting advice from her mom about burgeoning feelings towards boys. Joel, who has been cutting up films for years with his Escape’ Drive In and MT Pockets Budget Film Fest, spoke with me recently about his
latest project.

How did you come up with the host, Gunther Dedmund?
The characters come to me in dreams I have. Gunther Dedmund— the name was in a dream—hosting a TV show. This was a dream I had in the early ’80s. It always just kind of stuck—and that someday I wanted to do a TV show.

Did you ever do horror make-up and such when you were a kid?
Yeah. I had all the Famous Monsters of Filmland makeup magazines…Tom Savini’s book…I had all the stuff. I used to do like Harold and Maude… all sorts of gruesome things. I tried to take a course in makeup in college but I was asked to leave because the instructor didn’t really like monster stuff.

Where do the films come from that you are using?
I’m using some of the films I have but in order to broadcast it, they all have to be public domain and they all have to have no copyright restrictions. That eliminates a lot of stuff I already have. (The room where BSOH is filmed) that’s my work area in the basement. That’s just one part of it too. I wanted to a more elaborate show. The premise was about a TV set that’s kind of evil or haunted. If you were in the show say, you’d walk in the back door and there would be a TV with like a roulette wheel on it that spins around and has letters that spell out a genre. If it spells out ‘horror’ the TV comes on and it’s Gunther Dedmund. Then there’s a science fiction host, an adventure host…I didn’t really want to be stuck in one genre, but in order to pull off the show, the cheapest way was the horror one because my basement is a ready-made set. I didn’t have to build a set; I can just go down there and turn the camera on. Everything else is more elaborate. If this goes anywhere, like the next season, I might like to expand it into the full show.

How long is the season?
Ten weeks; then they’re replayed. Ten weeks puts me to the first week of school in fall, then the replays put me one week before Halloween, so I can have a Halloween show.

What kind of cable access do people have to have to watch?
It used to be on a lower numbered channel but they just moved public access to channel 99. At this time, as far as I know, there’s nothing but local religious programming on. I think I’m the only show that is something different, so they were actually kind of interested—they want more people to do stuff but there’s a whole approval process you have to go through. You can’t do anything commercial, you can’t do anything political, so once you pass, and get producer approval— your public access producer—you can go ahead with your show. The time slots just depend on when they have an opening. For me they picked Friday at 11 p.m., which is perfect. That’s what I wanted. They don’t stay on past midnight, so that was perfect. I was surprised that a lot of people applied for it, but very few actually come through.

It’s a lot of work.
I was shocked by how much work it really took.

It looks very professional. When you were growing up did you have shows in Wichita that were like creature features?
Actually the opening of this show is a parody of Wichita’s horror host because I was planning on doing this in Wichita too but Wichita isn’t going to do public access anymore. The horror host show in Wichita was called “The Host and Rodney.” The later shows had a house on a hill, the camera would zoom in, there was a light on in the dungeon and the camera would zoom up to that window and cross fade into the dungeon set. So, that’s my joke, since I live in a ranch house and grew up in a ranch house, it’s just funny to me to have it be a ranch house.

What’s in store for the next few episodes?
"House on Haunted Hill," "The Magnificent Gladiator," "The Brain that Wouldn't Die," and "The Last Man on Earth." I’d like to do a “Carnival of Souls” tribute, where I condense the film down and interview whoever is left in town—so do one serious show. And some friends of mine bought the “Carnival of Souls” house, so I could shoot the hosting stuff there. I’ve already got permission to do that.

Where do you get the films?
The majority of the films are from www.archive.org. It’s a massive online information resource. They started carrying feature films. About a year and a half ago they started carrying DVD quality films. I can download those—it’s already in digital form—and I can just edit that down. Plus, they list the copyright of the films. That gives me a ready-made documentation. The other films, starting in the late ’80s, all the film libraries were converting to video. My name got out as a guy who would come pick up the film for free, so I drove all over the Midwest going to film libraries with my truck picking up all this stuff. There ‘s just tons and tons of film that got thrown away. At one point, two-thirds of my basement was full of film and even I couldn’t stand it, so I wound up getting rid of a lot of it. That film is harder to use because I have to run copyright searches on everything and provide documentation. It’s easier for me to download from archive.org because I can just print out copyright status. Anyone can go there and download stuff and make their own TV show.

How difficult was it to get on public access?
They get a lot of applications, but very few people actually end up doing it. I show them documentation and they preview it and if it meets their standards of quality and their standards of decency. If you pass those two, there’s no problem. There’s some political stuff in the background of some of these films, but it’s so slight—like the atomic footage…

Do you do it all yourself?
It would be nice to have some help, but up to this point, I didn’t want to—it’s so much time that I didn’t want to commit people. There’s no money. I’ve asked several people to help, but right now people just don’t have the time. The biggest problem is shooting the bridging segments because I’m just sitting there with the camera and a monitor doing it over and over again. The other problem is that I can’t see that well without my glasses. The glasses I’m wearing are my glasses from junior high, so I can’t see a thing. So, it takes a lot of time. Plus keeping track of the sound levels, etc.

What’s the hardest thing about it all?
Just being the host I think. I have a monitor next to the camera, but it’s hard not to look at the monitor and talk to that. The majority of the footage I host is outtakes…

Who would someone talk to if they wanted to do a public access show?
The thing to do would be to go to the sunflower broadband site, go to the Free State Productions page and there’s a public access link on that page that gives a complete breakdown of the rules.

Check out the Basement Sublet of Horror on Channel 99 Fridays at 11 p.m.
Explore Joel’s other work and more details on the Basement Sublet of Horror at his website:
To learn more about public access TV in Lawrence: www.freestatestudios.com/ publicaccess



© Copyright 2013, Joel Sanderson & Demolition Kitchen Video