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The Independent Critic

 Greydon Clark Interview 
From the blaxploitation double whammy of The Bad Bunch and Black Shampoo to the delightful raunchiness of Joysticks, the slasher spoof Wacko and a stunningly diverse array of other low-budget indie flicks, drive-in pics and exploitation fare, legendary indie Greydon Clark has had quite the amazing career helming nearly 20 films that have earned a permanent place in the hearts of the hardcore fans of late night and straight-to-video fare starting with 1973's Tom through 1998's sci-fi Stargames starring Tony Curtis.

Greydon Clark, who was born in Niles, Michigan and attended Valparaiso University, will be back in the Hoosier state for the upcoming HorrorHound Weekend at the Indianapolis Marriott East, 7202 East 21st Street, from March 25-27, 2011. Clark recently spent some time with The Independent Critic talking about his life behind the camera.
  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    You're proof that a filmmaker can be faithful to a genre such as horror/exploitation, while maintaining a social awareness. How hard is it to balance that? Is it something that's intentional on your part? How would you respond to the notion that films with such violence can't possibly be socially responsible? You've described yourself in interviews as a political person and howthat your personal views come out in your films. I'm wondering if there are subjects or themes you've always wanted to make but couldn't? Or are  there any subjects that would be off limits for you?


  • GREYDON CLARK

    I came from a small town in Michigan with very few minorities, little poverty; a very conservative area. I never paid much attention to politics until JFK ran for the presidency in my senior year in high school.  My college years were in the turbulent 1960s.  Social change was everywhere.  Civil rights, Viet Nam, poverty, etc. headlined the news and I responded to the changes on campus and in society in general.  As my horizons broadened I turned away from the conservatism of the area I grew up in and embraced liberal causes. I was particularly interested in civil rights.  Dr. Martin Luther King came to South Bend, Indiana and I participated in the parade honoring him. It’s one of the proudest moments in my life.  I feel lucky to have been part of liberal causes all of my adult life.  If my films represent my thinking regarding society, I proudly embrace those feelings.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    As of last year, you were working with MGM on putting together a "Without Warning" remake. Any update on that project or pending projects?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    MGM has been undergoing major changes.  Dealing with major studios is always difficult at best.  It’s still on my schedule… we’ll see.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    I've always been intrigued by how an indie director attracts "name" talent, something you've done consistently throughout your career. How have you done it?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    I’ve been very lucky to have worked with “name” actors throughout my career.  Getting those actors to commit to a project can be tricky.  It often comes down to two basic things; a script and/or part they’d like to be involved with and meeting the price that their agent demands.  In the beginning agents were reluctant to even read a script submitted by me, but I assured them I had the funding to make the picture… sometimes I may have exaggerated that part.  Once the agent felt secure that the picture was a go they’d submit the script to their client.  Luckily, the actor would usually like the script and I’d get a commitment.  After I’d done a few pictures, the agents began to accept my scripts for their clients. 

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    One of the things that most surprised me, in all honesty, when I first started really covering the indie film scene is just how many people truly do make a "career" out of it. There's a ton of folks who work their entire lives in film outside the Hollywood studio machine...You've made 20 films or so over the course of your career by making the films you really wanted to make. Do you ever have regrets for not going a more traditional "Hollywood" route? While the studios are bigger than ever, it seems like
    there's also an indie scene that's just as vibrant as ever...Is it still possible to have the kind of career you've had?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    Making independent films is always a challenge.  Budgets and financing are two of the bigger difficulties. The budget simply does not allow for certain types of films to be made.  A major studio has unlimited production funds.  All filmmakers would be happy to have bigger budgets.  I had to deal with the reality created by funding.  I’ve had friends who made a couple of independent films and then decided to go the route of major studios.  Not one was able to comb their way through that mysterious web. They were unable to get the major studio to give them the green light.   I decided early on that I would not wait for an executive to give the go ahead on a project.  If I came across a concept that I thought would make a good film I set about creating the script, raising the funding and making the picture.  Distribution is another mine field facing independent film makers.  There are lots of reasons a project can be successful or not.  Independent films are, and always have been, a difficult road to travel.  I enjoyed the freedom it gave me and I was very lucky to have a long career.  I do think that as the internet blossoms independents will get more exposure for their product.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    Some people would call you a "cult filmmaker." Is that accurate? How do you see yourself?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    If people like the expression “cult filmmaker” that’s fine by me. I see myself as a working filmmaker who got very lucky early on in my career and was able to hang around for quite awhile.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    I'm wondering if you'd be willing to share, perhaps, brief thoughts onmaybe 2-3 of your films. Favorite memories? moments? Thoughts about thefilms years later? How about "Black Shampoo," a film with an obvioussocial message to it? Or your films for Menachem Golan? I believe"Joysticks" was the first film of yours I saw, and I sort of worked myway back with a special fondness for "Black Shampoo" and "Satan'sCheerleaders."

  • GREYDON CLARK

    “Black Shampoo” came about because of the success I had with my previous picture, “The Bad Bunch”. The distributors wanted another “Blaxploitation” film.  I wanted to do a film where the African-American hero was an upper class businessman.  Warren Beatty’s “Shampoo” was about to be released.  I thought I’d capitalize on that publicity and made “Black Shampoo”.  It was the third film I made and was very well received.  “Satan’s Cheerleaders” followed. The “Exorcist” and Cheerleader films were very popular at the time.  I’ve always been fond of comedy and try to fill my films with as much humor as possible.  To combine the horror and cheerleader genres seemed a natural.  Once again, the audience seemed to agree.  I’ve tried to make all my films appeal to me first and hope the audience sees things the same way.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    You make a lot of personal appearances at gaming/video/horror type conventions. How important is this circuit, especially for the indie filmmaker? There's also a growing movement of horror film festivals, it seems.

  • GREYDON CLARK

    I like meeting film fans.  The conventions and festivals are a great way to say hello and thanks for all the support I’ve had over the years.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    What was it like to have Final Justice get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    I’ve liked many of the Mystery Science Theater treatments.  Some of the jokes are hilarious… others miss their marks.   The same could be said about scenes in all my films.  If more people get to see my films because of their show, fine by me.

  • THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

    What else matters to you? My website is very much based on the idea that film can make a difference in the world. So, I'm always intrigued by someone's political or community involvement. Is there something that people would be surprised to learn about Greydon Clark?

  • GREYDON CLARK

    I don’t know what people know or don’t know.  I’ll let my films speak for themselves.  I’ve mentioned that I’m a political liberal… maybe that’s a cliché; a Hollywood director who’s a liberal.  I think that a person who can feel for other’s conditions might make a good director… and a good liberal.


    For more information on Greydon Clark's appearance at Indianapolis's HorrorHound Weekend, visit the HorrorHound Weekend website. For additional information on Clark and other upcoming appearances, visit his own website.


    © Interview by Richard Propes
    The Independent Critic 












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