david j. moore Unleashes an Amazingly Comprehensive History of Action Films / Stars with His New Book THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY via Schiffer Publishing! Exclusive Interview with the Author!
The more attentive and well-read Tapeheads are apt to recognize David’s name from the pages of Lunchmeat as he’s been a regular contributor for the bulk of our existence, while also making a name for himself in a number of other influential genre mags including FilmFax, Fangoria and Famous Monsters of Filmland. Fans of post-apocalyptic films should also be aware of Moore and his incredibly exhaustive exploration of the genre with his book WORLD GONE WILD. If you still don’t know him by name, his newest book will soon change that. Moore is just about ready to unleash an amazingly comprehensive look at the history of action films and the stars that made them shine with his newest book THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY. It’s only been a little under two years since the publication of his incredible effort WORLD GONE WILD, but David’s breakneck pace and gritty determination to keep the flow of centralized film genre info going has allowed him to cover the gamut of action film champions and help to fully define this absolutely mammoth genre in such little time. Read on, my fellow, Videovores, and prepare yourself to get all VHSweaty, because this veritable tome of action film history is here to PUMP… YOU UP!!
Probably our favorite pic of david j. moore ever. We've used it more than once. For obvious reasons.
For those unfamiliar with your work, can you give us a little background on yourself and your various writing endeavors over the years? You’ve already written a tremendous book called WORLD GONE WILD, focusing on post-apocalyptic film. Can you tell us a little about that, as well?
Well, I'm just like you, man. I've always had an intense love affair with movies in all its formats. I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1980's, and I was surrounded by the glamor of it all. Before there were video stores, my parents took me to the movies every day or every other day, and so that whole movie blood was a part of my everyday diet. When video stores and VCRs came around, I was already very much into the entire culture of movies. I vividly remember those first few trips to the brand new video stores that began popping up in Hollywood. I still have dreams where I'm passing by those mountainous piles of Goonies and Beverly Hills Cop tapes. I still remember every detail. So, after years of consuming film and TV shows, I eventually began pursuing film journalism almost by accident. That was about six or seven years ago. If I'd known there was a niche career out there like that sooner, I would probably be much further along than I am now, but I'm getting there. I've written for most of the remaining film-related magazines that are still being published, like Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fangoria, FilmFax, and VideoScope, and I've also written for most of the martial arts magazines like Black Belt, Kung Fu Tai Chi, and Tae Kwon Do Times, which is weird considering I don't practice any martial arts. At some point I started getting opportunities to travel around the world to visit movie sets as a journalist, and I guess at that point I started calling myself a professional. My first book WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES took eight years to write and it came from my love for watching movies like After the Fall of New York and Land of Doom on VHS, and I did my very best to make that book the definitive end-of-the-world movie guide. From the feedback I've gotten from complete strangers and colleagues, I think I succeeded on that front.
david's first book, WORLD GONE WILD. This is a post-apocalyptic film fan essential, man.
You most certainly did, dude. So, tell us about the inspiration for your upcoming book THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY. What prompted you to tackle this mammoth genre?
So, while I was writing WORLD GONE WILD, I had the idea to write a similar book about action stars. I remember writing reviews for all the Terminator movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, for Cyborg with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and other things like Fist of Steel with Dale "Apollo" Cook, and Hell Comes to Frogtown with Roddy Piper, and a chord struck somewhere in my spirit, and I thought, “Hey, there's another book here somewhere.” I quickly began to imagine my heart's desire, which was to write another book that focused only on action stars. Not action movies, per se, but the action stars themselves. I should be up front about this: I've always loved guys like Stallone, Arnold, Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Jeff Speakman, and all the rest of the men and women who really changed the face of the VHS era. Chuck Norris, Cynthia Rothrock, Brian Bosworth, Dolph Lundgren, that whole bunch. I've always been an incredibly devoted fan of all these people in almost equal measure. I go out of my way to watch every single new movie this group stars in, and as they've gotten older, the movie world seems to have moved on without them. Most of them make direct-to-video movies these days, and some of them never even had theatrical careers, which is actually kind of interesting to me. As their fans have grown up or become disinterested in their latest films, I've stayed true, and it felt important for someone to write a huge book that celebrated what they've done and accomplished as action stars.
But there was a big challenge to me, and that was how do I define what an action star is? I had to think very carefully what the common denominator was for each and every one of them, so that the book wouldn't get too out of control. I had to understand the exact kind of people I would cover, because rules are really important for this kind of book. I learned that with WORLD GONE WILD. Once I was able to define exactly what made an action star - that I would only cover men and women who'd crossed over from the world of martial arts, sports, bodybuilding, wrestling, or any other professional avenue where physicality played a vital role in their careers before they started making movies - then I was able to move forward in a clear and orderly fashion. Once you get your hands on the book, you'll see and hopefully understand the love I have for these people. They're champions! They're winners! But I also had to make some exceptions to the rule, like including Stallone and Charles Bronson simply because those guys help define the modern concept of "an action star."
A look at THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY from david j. moore and Schiffer Publishing. Photo courtesy of DJM's Twitter.
Yeah, man, have to wholeheartedly agree with you there. Can you describe the process of making this book? How long did it take to complete?
I literally did not take a break in between WORLD GONE WILD and THE GOOD, THE TOUGH, AND THE DEADLY. A friend of mine who wrote another essential movie guide told me he had postpartum depression after turning his book in, but by the time he told me that, I was already on full planning mode for book 2, so I didn't have time to reflect on anything but the task at hand. I had plenty of time to work on WORLD GONE WILD, which has something like 850 film reviews, 60 interviews, and a big subgenre index, but I bulldozed through GTD so that it would come out 18 months after the release of WORLD GONE WILD. I turned the book in on time under incredible pressure, and I got shingles because I was so stressed out. That said, my publisher had a tremendous task in editing the book, so they gave me almost a year to keep adding new stuff to it as they edited it. This book has somewhere around 1500 reviews (I'm not sure what the exact count is), 70 interviews, and a really big action star index in the back. In order to get this book done in the amount of time I had allowed myself to do it, I called upon some friends and colleagues to contribute reviews and a few interviews. There is no way this would have happened in such a short time span if guys like Corey Danna, Vern, Zack Carlson, Mike McPadden, and a few others hadn't happily joined in and lent me their reviewing skills. So this book is being released almost exactly two years to the day after my first one, and this book is almost twice the size.
Action Star Jeff Speakman from THE PERFECT WEAPON and STREET KNIGHT, with david j. moore! Photo by Kady Moore.
You review all kinds of media in the book, but there are a number of VHS tapes reviewed in here. Did you go to the VHS when a DVD / Blu release wasn’t available? How many of the reviews are VHS tapes, if you could give an estimate?
Yeah, my first instinct when reviewing a film is to locate a DVD or a Blu-Ray, but there are dozens upon dozens of movies that were reviewed for this book that were only available on VHS. There are still whole catalogues worth of titles from distribution companies like Imperial, Republic, and Vidmark that have never been transferred to DVD, so I had to stock up on those tapes if I didn't already own them. When I'm watching these action films with big stunts or fight scenes, I really prefer to see that stuff in widescreen, but there's certainly nostalgia when watching things in the pan and scan format. I've always been an advocate of VHS, but as soon as that movie comes out on DVD in a widescreen format, I set that tape aside and probably never watch it again. We also watched laserdiscs, but when I reference the distribution company in the review, I always made sure that I referenced the easiest format for readers to track down. One example of that is when I watched the laserdisc of Albert Pyun's Ravenhawk because it was the only way to see that film in the widescreen format, but I referenced the videotape that Columbia released years ago. There were so many films we reviewed from the late '80s and early '90s that have never been released to DVD, but I couldn't tell you how many. I'd say at least a hundred. Probably a lot more.
A radical slab of AIP Studio action on VHS in the form of BLOOD RING starring Dale "Apollo" Cook. You know we can dig it.
When and where can we pick up THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY?
It's available to buy anywhere books are sold, and you can order the book from Amazon.
Do you have any signing / release events planned for the book?
I'm kicking off the book tour at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Sunday, June 26th at 2PM. I've invited a bunch of the men and women I interviewed for the book, and I can tell you for a fact that the event will kick ass. Many of the action stars and filmmakers I interviewed will be sitting at tables with me, and will be signing it with me. You can also pre-order the book directly from Dark Delicacies: http://www.darkdel.com
Action Star Jalal Merhi from TIGER CLAWS and BLACK PEARLS holding a VHS copy of FEARLESS TIGER! Photo by and courtesy of david j. moore!
Where can we keep up with you, david? What’s next?
You can follow me on twitter @videovalhalla85 or you can go to Facebook and "like" one of my pages for The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly: Action Movies and Stars, World Gone Wild: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, or my movie news page Video Valhalla. In the meantime, I'm almost finished with writing a novel, which will be the next book that gets published, but I've also got three more giant movie review books in the works. One of those three is coming along very well, but I'm going to be quiet about it until I'm further along. I guarantee that it's going to appeal to the same demographics my first two books did. It takes a while to wrap my head around an entire genre, but once I've gotten a grip on it, I conquer and tame that genre. That's what this is all about. It's fun, but it's exhaustive.
A look at the raw cover artwork for THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY, painted by the extremely talented (and prolific VHS cover artist) Keith Batcheller.
Anything else you’d like to shout out to all the analog action lovers here in Lunchmeat Land?
Honestly, it's really bizarre to me that no one else has done movie books on these subjects before. I'm writing these things to the best of my abilities, and THE GOOD, THE TOUGH, AND THE DEADLY is a much more accomplished book than my first one, and I gave it as much love that these action stars deserve. I wrote these books for everyone who grew up idolizing these incredible men and women, and I truly do hope that it lives up to your expectations. I'm very, very proud of it. Fans of these people deserve a book like this. If you buy it and like it, please help spread the word. Reach out to me and let me know what you think!
We’re VHSure they will, David! In case it hasn’t fully soaked in already, the information awaiting you in this book is absolutely exhaustive within the genre and is sure to delight each and every action film fan in the most extreme sense. As DJM mentioned above, the book is currently available on Amazon, and very soon, wherever fine books are sold. And don’t forget to follow David on Twitter and follow his Facebook pages to stay updated on his upcoming writing endeavors as they’re sure to be just as encyclopedic and absolutely awesome as his newest and most excellent release to date THE GOOD, TOUGH AND THE DEADLY. Don’t miss this one, Tapeheads. This massive tome offers an abundance of amazing insight on all the action you can handle. We give you our rewind word. Plus, it doubles as a deadly weapon. And that’s pretty groovy, man.