Preserving the glory days of grindhouse
Film preservation isn't just for classic mainstream movies like Ben Hur and Vertigo.
With the companies Grindhouse and now Blue Underground, Dave Szulkin has been bringing great gore classic back to the silver screen, and in restored DVD editions, for years now. With similar companies collapsing along with the economy, Szulkin and his partners have actually been doing very well for themselves.
Grindhouse was founded by Bob Murawski, the Academy Award winning editor of The Hurt Locker who has been editing Sam Raimi's films since 2000, and Sage Stallone, yes, son of Sly. Dave Szulkin handles theatrical distribution and publicity.
"[Of course], nobody is getting rich off these theatrical screenings. But the real measure of success here is that we've managed to keep these movies alive on the big screen, as they were intended to be shown," Szulkin says.
"We've had some great sold-out shows in cities all over the country. The feedback we've received from fans who attend these screenings tell me that our efforts are successful. With so many so-called platforms for entertainment - Internet, Blu-Ray, DVD, cable on demand - available, our mission has always been to present these often maligned and select cult films in theaters as they were originally intended to be seen."
At Grindhouse, Szulkin worked on the re-releases of Cannibal Holocaust, Pieces, The Beyond, Evil Dead, and recently in conjunction with Blue Underground, he also helped bring back Zombie on a successful theatrical run, along with Maniac. There have been a lot of companies restoring and reissuing grindhouse movies, and many of them have been suffering with the recession.
As Szulkin says, "I can't speak for any other companies, but in general, the home video industry got over-saturated with a lot of bad product. There was a boom in DVDs, and that era is clearly over. But we've always approached this as a labor of love, and the survival of this company has everything to do with the commitment to excellence and hard work that Bob and Sage have maintained since the beginning."
Grindhouse films are a niche market, which could also be another reason why a lot of similar companies went in the toilet with the collapse of the economy.
When asked whether he feels grindhouse screenings will continue to do well, and / or be rediscovered by the next generation, Szulkin says, "The audience for these films will always be there. We get a lot of hardcore fans who grew up with these movies, some have only seen them on video, so it's cool for them to be able to watch them on 35mm in a theater.
"We also get younger people who have never seen them before. I think people love these movies because they're unique and entertaining – it's simple as that. They deliver the goods and they make an impact, whereas a lot of mainstream Hollywood junk is forgotten a week after it premieres."