on the macabre
TV host showcases rotten films in fresh way
September 1, 2006
a lonely cliff in Lawrence rests a ranch-style house under the shadow
of a TV signal tower.
In its basement
lurks Gunther Dedmund, a pasty, gray-haired, bloodshot-eyed scholar
of horror cinema. Each week Dedmund unearths a "gem" from his collection
- with titles such as "Atom Age Vampire" and "The Killer Shrews"
- and presents it for the viewing pleasure and/or disdain of his
have entered "The Basement Sublet of Horror".
At least thatís
what Joel Sanderson would have you believe.
the alter ego of Dedmund. The Lawrence resident has almost single-handedly
brought "The Basement Sublet of Horror" ("BSOH") to the screen,
where it airs at 11 p.m. every Friday night on Sunflower Broadband
have real experience with bad basement apartments, which is something
that students in Lawrence can relate to," Sanderson says.
"My first apartment
(in his hometown of Wichita) was a really horrifying basement where
the shower was just a taped-off square in the corner. There were
bugs and everything. It was a storage room where all the pipes and
plumbing ran through the apartment, so I could hear the noise from
all the apartments upstairs."
this familiarity as inspiration for an unlikely horror show, which
veers from the more typical spooky locales like graveyards or morgues.
"BSOH" is shot entirely in Sandersonís own basement, with limited
is a ready-made movie-host set, anyway. Itís full of films and all
types of media. What you see on the video is pretty much as is,"
But the quirkiness
of the setting also is matched by the quirkiness of the show. "BSOH,"
which made its debut in June, isnít just another Elvira-like program
featuring a snarky host airing stinky movies. Sanderson dramatically
alters these flicks by using a variety of cut-and-paste and found-art
techniques. The end result is a clever and often hilarious spin
on B-movie culture.
types of films, it doesnít hurt them at all if you trim them down
a bit. This actually makes them more watchable," he explains.
that Sanderson goes through to compile a show involves a lot of
time and research.
His first step
is condensing the featured movie down from a typical hour and a
half to around 40 minutes.
"Then I watch
that to make sure I have a little bit of continuity," he says. "If
Iíve lost the continuity, thatís another reason why I intercut clips:
to distract people. Because if the film comes back in later and
the entire cast has changed, people donít notice as much."
he chooses a theme from something that appears in the movie - hitchhiking,
proms, a specific product - he starts scouring the Internet or his
personal collection of movie reels to find elements to insert. He
then secures releases for the material, the majority of which are
in the public domain.
and there are no commercials, but I really enjoy the way he splices
everything," says Janelle Williams, a recent Kansas University graduate
in art history who is a die-hard fan of "BSOH."
"You can never
tell if it was part of the movie or a different clip. It keeps you
on your toes."
to the educational shorts, cooking shows, gladiator movies and occasional
stag films (minus the nudity) that Sanderson implements, he has
stumbled across a particularly obscure ingredient: soundies.
a lost treasure," he says. "They were the original music videos.
Soundies were basically a jukebox that played film clips. You would
go into a bar and put your money in and it would play one of these
short music films. They were shot on an incredibly low budget and
usually only in one take."
introduced to soundies after running across a man who did maintenance
on those machines in the 1950s. He donated two reels that had been
stored in his garage.
He says, "A
lot of celebrities show up in them. Iíve got one with Liberace."
49, has been fascinated with bad cinema for decades.
He first dabbled
with the idea of celluloid tampering while managing a drive-in theater
in Emporia in the early 1980s. He experimented by turning the intermission
reels into chaotic art pieces, much to the chagrin of flustered
he established "Escapeí Drive-in," an outdoor gathering in Vinland
that mixed bad movies with live music. The show moved to Lawrence
in the early í90s when Free State Brewery opened a beer garden that
was supposed to be an extra theater for Liberty Hall. The M.T. Pockets
Budget Film Festival lasted three years there before Sanderson brought
his act to the Wichita Center for the Arts for a six-year run.
"This is the
next step by taking it to a TV show," says Sanderson, who earned
a degree in sculpture from KU in 1992.
spent the first few shows this season doing everything himself,
including running the camera, he is expanding his work force as
the series gains popularity.
always watched it, but as itís gone along my role has become more
active," says Lawrence musician and horror fan (unnamed). "Now Iím
actually in the show."
is tackling multiple roles in the Sept. 15 episode of "BSOH" ("Attack
of the Monsters").
play a really bad version of Dedmund after a weird cloning accident
whose name is Renfield Chromosome," (unnamed) reveals. "Then I play
his neighbor and a landlord."
cites the "Night of the Blood Beast" and "The Brain That Wouldnít
Die" as his favorite episodes. He is quite complimentary of Sandersonís
ability to doctor these B-movie rejects, and in the process create
something entirely fresh.
taken out of context, like cooking shows, work really well with
horror. It makes it even more gruesome on some level," (unnamed)
Sublet of Horror" will debut five new episodes in September before
switching to repeats in October. (The series also is airing on public
access Channel 7 in Wichita.)
It seems Gunther
Dedmund will be cooped up for quite a while in his grungy basement
"I think people want something like this on TV: a strange thing
late at night they can have fun with."