Michale Graves at Oasis on the River in Sanford, FL on 10/23/21 By Jesse Striewski (Photos by Brooke and Jacob Striewski)

Somehow, it’s been over twenty years since I last saw Rewind It Magazine interviewee Michale Graves perform on stage with the Misfits (one of my absolute favorite punk bands during my formative years, who I’ve personally seen live more than any other band in my lifetime – a half a dozen times from 1999-2003, plus a Misfits set during a 2005 Danzig show with guitarist Doyle as a special guest, and now Graves solo). And although “they”have tried to cancel him for having views that simply don’t fit in with what they’re “supposed to be” these days, it was apparent he was more than welcomed by the crowd at Oasis on the River/Oasis After Dark in Sanford, FL this past Saturday, October 23.

Upon arrival, Graves had already started his set (we came directly from another engagement we had already committed to prior to learning of the show earlier last week), fully in the middle of a passionate performance of “I Believe.” The night was much more low key than the last time we visited Oasis (for Stevie B), and the light breeze and outdoor, ocean back drop added to the overall atmosphere of the evening. Another more recent solo track in the form of “American Prayer” followed before going into the Misfits track “Descending Angel.” Another Famous Monsters-era Misfits number, “Die Monster Die,” found itself tucked in between “Locked Away” and “Dawn of the Dead.”

A couple of favorites from the American Psycho album, “Resurrection” and “Dig up Her Bones” (the latter of which Graves gave the crowd a little back story on how it was written) before a cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” found it’s way into the set list. Graves then broke out a harmonica for “Lucifer I am,” before another couple of Misfits songs, “Scream” and “Saturday Night,” segued into two more final solo tracks, “The World Turned Upside Down” and “New Song.” By the time he was finished, I realized I actually prefer this more stripped-down version of Graves, then the one I saw fronting the Misfits so long ago.

Rewind It Magazine’s Brooke (left) and Jesse Striewski with Michale Graves after his set.

After his set, Graves stuck around to of course mingle with guests for awhile. An unexpected after party show of sorts with local rockers FYRE Insyde actually kept the party going. Their arena-rock presence coupled with anthems like “The Truth Behind the Lies” (which could compete with any of the generic rock that gets played on mainstream radio these days) was a sheer, welcomed surprise.

But something else happened this evening I felt I needed to address; much like when I interviewed Graves last year, I once again found myself being attacked and harassed online – while still there – for supporting someone with conservative beliefs. Since starting Rewind It Magazine in late 2017, I have always maintained as open a mind as possible, and have worked with/interviewed clients of all walks of life. And unlike larger mainstream media outlets with biased agendas, I have tried keeping politics as neutral – or completely out of all together – our work (we are after all, an entertainment publication). These hypocritical morons in the punk and metal scenes don’t even know what it is they actually hate about Graves and other conservatives, just that their herd leaders have brainwashed them so deeply to hate anyone that doesn’t comply with their same conformist views, even to the point of applauding their deaths (so much for “freedom” or “individuality,”right?).

I honestly have a deep respect for Graves – and anyone else willing to stand up for their beliefs against the grain – especially these goons in the scene with their group think mentalities. Open your eyes, and see who the real fascists are that you should be fighting against.

FYRE Insyde performing (photo by Jacob Striewski).

Film Review: 13 Fanboy (Voorhees Films)

By: Jesse Striewski

Although I was lucky enough to speak with two of the key factors of 13 Fanboy on behalf of Rewind It Magazine last year – Actress Dee Wallace, and Director/Writer/Actress Deborah Voorhees – I still only had a vague understanding of what to expect from the film. But almost immediately after sitting down to watch it, I completely understood what the filmmakers were trying to achieve with this one, which was to simply bring back the basic, root elements to a horror movie.

Without giving away too many details, 13 Fanboy follows fictional versions of real-life horror film stars (mostly alumni from the Friday the 13th series) such as Kane Hodder, Judie Aronson, Lar Park Lincoln, C.J. Graham, and Tracie Savage (among others) and newcomer Hayley Greenbauer, as they are stalked (and in some cases, slaughtered) by an obsessive fan with plenty of ‘whodunit’ -ness done in perfect fashion (Corey Feldman also makes a notable appearance as a sleazy producer). Extremely meta in its delivery, it’s part Scream, part Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and for the most part, all fun (something hard to come by in the genre these days).

The gore is there, but it’s not over-the-top/unnecessarily violent. And although it might lack the big budget of such Hollywood blockbusters as the the recent Halloween Kills, it more than makes up for it with heart and atmosphere. And there’s almost no effort to weave in comedy, which can be “okay” if done correctly, but often overused in horror films these days. In short, 13 Fanboy is the perfect late night fright flick to watch in the dark with your significant other (or even by yourself), especially this time of year.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Interview with Actor Keith Coogan By Jesse Striewski

Chances are if you grew up in the late ’80s/early ’90s such as myself, you remember actor Keith Coogan. Not only did he appear in numerous commercials (his first acting job was a spot for McDonnald’s), and popular shows on TV at the time such as Knight Rider and Silver Spoons, he was also lucky enough to work alongside two of the most memorable bombshells of their time, Elizabeth Shue in 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, and Christina Applegate in 1991’s Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Recently, I was able to sit down and speak with Coogan during a candid phone conversation about these experiences, and so much more.

I instantly wanted to start at the beginning and discuss what it was like making his first movie, a voice role in the 1981 Disney film The Fox and the Hound. He told me; “Yeah, no real huge memories of that! I came from a real big showbiz family with my great-grandfather in Vaudeville, then my grandfather in silent films and television, and my mother was a comedy writer, so they knew it’s a hard way to make an easy living. And I had worked my way up through TV, doing lots of commercials and guest appearances on great shows like CHiPS, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Eight is Enough, Mork & Mindy, and Laverne & Shirley. My mom, or “momager” was the one that took me around, and almost everything with a kid in it I auditioned for. And we got a voiceover job for Disney when I was eight; it was thrilling, but really only like three or four days of work spread over months and months. And they recorded the voices singularly…it wasn’t until Robin Williams was doing Aladdin years later that they decided to bring in whoever he was doing a scene with due to his improv nature.”

He continued; “We started in ’78, and of course the hound was played by Corey Feldman, who I’ve been friends with for decades now. And then Don Bluth left the production and took a lot of animators with him, and they had to shut down before hiring new people to finish the film. And by the time it came out in ’81, I was eleven and had been doing more TV and stuff, so it was kind of an after thought like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s out’ (Laughs). I know how grateful I am to be in a Disney movie, and some say it’s their last classically-animated film before they used computers full-blown on their next production. I think it’s a terrific, sweet film, and I think it made $64 million dollars at the box office, which was a record for them at the time, too.” He added one final thought; “And despite what it says on IMDB, Kurt Russell did NOT record his dialogue wearing Snake Plissken’s jacket (Laughs).”

I also wanted to get into some of those old TV roles he took part of, starting with working with the late Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy; “Oh gosh, working with him, and Jonathan Winters, and of course the anchor holding the show down, Pam Dawber, was so great! And this was actually the last episode to ever air, and they knew they weren’t necessarily going to get picked up for another season, so the set kind of had a dire mood to it. But there was still that spark of creativity there from Williams and Winters, although Jonathan was much more on his own planet (Laughs).”

Of course I had to ask him about Silver Spoons as well; “Rick managed a rock band called Splat, which I was the keyboard player for. And they were going to go on a Star Search kind of thing before their singer got sick, and so Rick had to sing, hence the title of the episode, “Rick Sings.” It was kind of a precursor to future roles I would play, but it was more surfer rather than stoner. I also got to work with Alfonso Ribeiro and Billy Jayne, and it was a welcoming, fun set with the video games and the train, and I think I got about ten feet into the house before three guys came up to me with their satin ’80s jackets (Laughs). And all of the video games on the set had unlimited credits, so you could just walk up and play any one of them! But they didn’t typically have the train out and lying around, so there was probably a ‘no riding the train’ rule!” He went on; “But the audiences on sitcoms used to throw me off. I probably did six or seven more of them, too, including Growing Pains and Just the Ten of Us. And they always were nerve racking in front of a live audience! I remember my entrance I did for the Laverne & Shirley episode I did; I opened the door and just cracked up, so we had to re-shoot it at the end of the night (Laughs).”

And aside from sitcoms, he was also on another favorite ’80s show, the previously-mentioned Knight Rider; “That was amazing! David Hasselhoff was particularity awesome and fun to work with, and I worked with my uncle Don Stroud, who played one of the biker gang members. We shot around southern California, and one of the coolest shots we did was at Mockingbird Square, which was Clock Tower Square at Universal Studios. And the bait shop we filmed in was the diner from Back to the Future. So that was fun to not only get to shoot there, but also ride around in K.I.T.T.!”

As far as his movies go, I asked if he felt Adventures in Babysitting is the one he will always be best remembered for; “It’s entirely subjective to people, but I think for me, it’s a split between that and Don’t Tell Mom...And regarding its 2016 remake, he said; “It was the one-hundredth Disney Channel original movie, and I went to the premiere when it came out, and it was great, lots of fun! The original was stretching the PG-13 and was limited to a certain audience, whereas the G-rated version was more for a younger generation. But it rings a lot of nostalgia bells with some of the little Easter eggs in there. But still, totally different story and tone, but I loved it! And Coogan even explained a little what co-star Elizabeth Shue has been up to recently (despite not having kept in contact with her); “She was involved with a recent article on all the things you ever wanted to know about Adventures in Babysitting answered, and it’s fantastic! They cover everything from the dance scene in the beginning, to the Playboy, to “Babysitter’s Blues.”‘

I also wondered if he had kept in touch with his former Don’t Tell Mom…co-star Christina Applegate, who recently announced a MS diagnosis; “We actually spent some time running in the same circles before shooting the movie, so it was a great pleasure to get to work with her, having already known how talented she was. She’s a total professional, and it’s interesting that both of these films kind of rest these huge budgets on the shoulders of teenagers! But I know that she’s gone through a lot, but she’s a trooper, and just fantastic, and I wish her all the best…sending out good vibes to her. And as far as how close Coogan was in reality to his character Kenny in the film? He tells me; “I was a nerd, a geek, and a “Dexter” as we used to call it in middle and high school (Laughs). So I wasn’t much like my character at all, I didn’t listen to the rock music like Kenny, or the punk music like Mitch in Cousins. But director Stephen Herek was very supportive in helping me find my character. But I loved it, and there was no way I was passing up the role of Kenny.”

One thing often somewhat forgotten about Coogan are his brushes with the action genre, such as the 1991 film Toy Soldiers; “I think they wanted to forget it when it came out (laughs), meaning it did good business, but you know, nothing to write home about. But Louis Gossett, Jr., what a legend, and Denholm Elliot, another legend! I had a great cast to work with, from Sean Astin to Wil Wheaton, and Shawn Phelan who has now passed. There was also Andrew Divoff who is pretty “method,” I don’t think I saw him smile once until we were done shooting (laughs). And the late R. Lee Ermey; at this point I had already done Adventures in Babysitting with Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket, but now I’m working with the Gunnery Sergeant himself, so I was just over the top! But it was an interesting mix-and-match movie…basically Die Hard meets Dead Poets Society (Laughs).”

In more recent times, Coogan even appeared as himself in the 2019 Kevin Smith film Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, and I asked him to briefly tell me about the experience; “Kevin had said something interesting along the lines of, ‘before I started making movies, I watched a lot of movies.’ So he really has a soft spot for nostalgia and for anyone that came before him. And having Chris Hemsworth at the end credits say – as Thor – “The dishes are done man,” I crapped my pants a little when I first saw that! (Laughs).”

While I could continue even further with more from our hour-long conversation, I’ll end things on this note due to time (perhaps I’ll get to the rest in future pieces), but those in the New Jersey area can actually catch Coogan at the Chiller Theatre Expo in Parsippany from the 29th-31st of this month. Regarding this event he stated; “It’s their anniversary for the convention, and it’s going to be a riot and a huge blowout! A lot of great guests, cosplay, and screenings, so it should be amazing!”

Retrospective: 30 Years Since we saw ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ By Shawn McKee

For most of us who grew up with him, Jim Varney was Ernest P. Worrell. He embodied the goofy, oblivious, and patently good-natured everyman whose antics were ripe for a barrage of movies throughout the eighties and nineties. Ernest resonated predominantly with children during his heyday but was just as popular with adults taken with his abrasive harassing of unseen counterpart “Vern” in dozens of commercials leading up to his movie success. “KnowWhutImean, Vern?” was a catchphrase for the ages.

It was hard to imagine that Ernest was just one character of many from a versatile impressionist. Varney had a long, established career in stand-up comedy, television, and commercials long before his breakout character. He found fame as Ernest after staring in several commercials for the Nashville-based Carden and Cherry advertising agency. Executive vice president of the company, John R. Cherry III, helped conceive the character and would later direct the surprise hit Ernest Goes to Camp in 1987 and every Ernest film to follow. Disney’s Touchstone Pictures produced and distributed four theatrically released Ernest films, ending with the 1991 Halloween-themed extravaganza Ernest Scared Stupid.

Ernest’s latest adventure begins with a clever montage of black-and-white horror/science-fiction movies, effectively setting the tone. Our hero sneaks around the darkness, reacting to clips from Nosferatu (1922), White Zombie (1932), and several other chiller classics as the opening credits roll. We’re then given some elaborate backstory about a 19th century killer troll vanquished by the townspeople, with Ernest’s own ancestor among them. The captured troll places a curse on the Worrell village elder, promising that his lineage will grow dumber with each new generation. Fast forward to the present, we find Ernest working in sanitation, not far removed from his job as a janitor in earlier films. We also learn that he lives in the same 19th century town that had sealed the captured troll under an oak tree.

Through inadvertent stupidity, Ernest releases the troll, while innocently helping some kids who built a treehouse upon its tomb. Once released, the troll captures children by turning them into wooden dolls and feasting on their energy, which is creepy enough. There’s also a wild performance by Eartha Kitt, singer of the classic song “Santa Baby,” playing Francis “Old Lady” Hackmore, replete with dark, low angled shots throughout her lair. Bill Byrge, one half of the hilarious Chuck and Bobby duo, returns once more as the silent Bobby. His brother Chuck (Gail Sartain), who Bobby had been paired with since the Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! days, is absent this go-round, replaced in this entry by his “cousin,” Tom (John Cadenhead).

Scared Stupid stands out easily as the most bizarre Ernest outing, and as a Halloween movie, it works. The trolls soon multiply and attack the entire town, but not before a scene between Ernest and lead troll, Trantor, where Trantor beats the complete crap out of Ernest during a school Halloween party. Ernest took a lot of abuse in his movies, starting with the beatdown he received in Ernest Goes to Camp by a burly, sociopathic construction worker he had the misfortune of provoking.

On the set of Ernest Scared Stupid. L to R; Actors Bill Byrge, Eartha Kitt, John Cadenhead, and Jim Varney.

After his umpteenth savage beating, Ernest soon discovers that milk destroys the trolls. This scene, of course, follows a humorous segment of Ernest’s misreading of milk as “miak” in ancient scrolls and proudly displaying a jar of seasonal Bulgarian “miak” to a ward off the head troll. A dizzying, climatic spectacle preludes Ernest’s eventual defeat of the troll army as he saves the day and brings peace to the cursed town.

Perhaps the most eerie thing about the film is that all the children turned into wooden dolls by the trolls are presumed dead until the very end. Even Ernest’s beloved Rimshot (the feisty, lovable terrier seen both in this movie and Ernest Goes to Jail) falls prey to the ensuing troll rampage, only to be brought back to life in the end. And by the end, we’ve seen enough trolls and goo for a nice, long shower.

Scared Stupid rivaled the ambition of Ernest Goes to Jail, where Varney played multiple roles, including murderous convict and Ernest look-alike, Felix Nash. This latest Ernest movie would contain the most elaborate special effects and makeup of any of his previous films. It would also be the last of the Disney-back theatrically released films before Ernest went straight-to-video. Varney pumped out five additional Ernest films before tragically dying of lung cancer in 2000.

The Scared Stupid commercials back then ran nonstop, with Ernest taunting an evil troll, moments before backing over him in a pickup truck and saying, “How about a bumper sandwich, booger lips?” Were these movies dumb? Sure. Were they reviled by critics from the start? Absolutely. But something lost on any “serious moviegoer” back then was the sheer amount of fun Ernest films offered impressionable youths. It may have been just another holiday cash-grab, following Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), but it was also the closest we would get to seeing Ernest in a semi-horror film. In a time where culture is so seriously grim, we could all use a little Ernest P. Worrell to lighten the mood.

Film Review: Halloween Kills (Miramax/Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

I can’t honestly say I was impressed at all with the last Halloween film released in 2018; not only was it derivative and borrowed heavily from previous entries that it supposedly ignores (it was essentially a redux of 1998’s H2O), it asked us to accept far too many idiotic and implausible situations and concepts; from giving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) a daughter other than Jamie Llyod from parts 4-6, to the fact we’re supposed to believe that Michael Myers is somehow remembered as a great notorious figure (sure, we know who he is as an audience, but if we’re supposed to ignore the events from all of the sequels actually happened, wouldn’t he just be some guy who killed a few people decades ago, and not as revered of a murderer?). And then there was that ridiculous plot twist with the doctor assuming the role of Michael Myers for a second (don’t even get me started on that).

For a brief moment, I was actually intrigued and lost within the onset of Halloween Kills; the flashback sequences tackling aspects from that fateful Halloween in 1978 were admittedly interesting at first. If the whole film could have just somehow stayed in that reality, maybe something could have been salvaged here. But things quickly become a joke, and the updated treatment of the late Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis in these flashbacks are some of the most insulting scenes ever put on screen.

And despite having the returning Curtis paired with other series alumni from earlier films such as Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett, Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers, and Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace, it does zero to add to this dying series. Even having Anthony Michael Hall portray the character of Tommy Doyle from the first film was as out of place as it gets, and by the time it gets to the point of him leading an angry lynch mob through a hospital, chanting “Evil dies tonight,” it felt as though I was watching a parody of the Halloween films, similar to the likes of Sharknado. There’s no drama left for any of the characters to have, just mean-spirited intentions spewing awful dialogue.

The worst is how certain elements are treated; Myers is now an even more ruthless killing machine than ever, torturing his victims mercilessly in some of the most brutal fashions imaginable (at one point he repeatedly stabs a victim with multiple knives even after killing them). Any sense of suspense is taken away in place of more blood and gore in hopes of appealing to the lowest common denominator (and yet that’s somehow supposed to be better for us to see on screen than the gratuitous nudity once so prevalent in these films that has been replaced by by mindless bloodshed?!). The reason The Shape was so menacing to begin with in the original films was not because of the quantity of outrageous kills on the screen, but the motivation behind it.

But judging by the audience reaction on opening night, small details like these are trivial matters to them at best, and do not matter to them one bit. Where there should be screams during kills, there was plenty of hootin’ and hollerin’ instead. Even the most mundane situations were enough to invoke unfounded laughter (a woman picks up a wine bottle to defend herself?! What a hilarious concept!). But it quickly became clear I’m very much alone in not accepting these trashy new dumbed down incarnations.

The flimmakers could have actually done something different with the material here. Hell, it would have been better had they even took the route of 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch (the best film in the entire series in my opinion, yes, even more than the original) and introduced an entirely new concept, instead of beating this dead horse of a storyline into the ground for so long. But director David Gordon Green has taken this franchise into unforgivable territory ALMOST as atrocious as the Rob Zombie remake films. But until we stop embracing regurgitated garbage being spoon feed to us like this, they will continue churning out soulless entries as long as we continue accepting them. We deserve better than this. Yes, evil really should die, along with this entire franchise (and yet, we still have at least one more film to endure next year).

Rating: 1/5 Stars

Retrospective: 40 Years Since we first Encountered ‘The Evil Dead’ By Jesse Striewski

If ever there were a “little horror film that could,” it’s Sam Raimi’s 1981 gorefest, The Evil Dead. It took years of sweat equity and hustling with investors/distributors, but after non-stop persistence, director/writer Raimi eventually saw his vision realized.

The Evil Dead began as a passion project in the truest sense; Raimi and producer Robert Tapert recruited friends Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss to star in his 1978 short film Within the Woods, which acted as a promo for potential investors. The gimmick slowly but surely worked, and the film finally saw a worldwide release on October 15, 1981.

The plot was as straight-to-the-point as it gets; five college-aged friends (lead by Campbell in his soon-to-be iconic role as Ash Williams) travel to a remote Tennessee cabin for some down time. There they discover the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead, and quickly unleash a fury of demonic evil that consumes each and everyone of them one by one.

What ensues is an onslaught of stop-motion animation and practical effects so unseen up until that point that even horror master Stephen King himself became an early supporter of the film. Viewers are transported into a harrowing reality that never lets up until its eventual blood-soaked conclusion.

While only a modest hit at the time of its release, The Evil Dead would eventually spawn a franchise that continues until this day. Two direct sequels, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) continued the storyline of Ash with Campbell as the face of the dead before a reboot/sequel simply titled Evil Dead revived the series in 2013. Since then, Campbell has since reclaimed his rightful throne with the more comedy-driven series Ash vs. Evil Dead from 2015-18 .

But no matter where the series goes from here, nothing will ever top the rush brought on from popping a copy of the original film in the VCR in a shroud of darkness and experiencing the sheer thrill of it all for the first time. Thankfully, I’ve managed to hold on to my personal copy on VHS since high school, and can still do just that at any given time.

Book Review: Twisted Business: Lessons From My Life in Rock ‘n’ Roll By Jay Jay French and Steve Farber

By: Jesse Striewski

Part memoir, part motivational material, Lessons From My Life in Rock ‘n’ Roll dives deep into the life of Twisted Sister guitarist (and one time Rewind It Magazine interviewee) Jay Jay French and what ultimately lead him to rock stardom, falling into obscurity, then rising to the top again.

From start to finish, it’s a fascinating look at a life that once started ordinarily enough, and it’s easy to relate to his years as a rebellious teenager in New York, taking and dealing drugs, and causing unrest for teachers and authority figures alike.

And his path to rock warrior status was far from the easy route that most would expect; French (with the help of Farber) details how it was a long, hard fought road, filled with numerous ups and downs along the way. But he shares his learned experiences and wisdom with readers in hopes of just maybe enlightening some of them a little.

Although I might not see eye-to-eye with him on every issue (at least not as far as politics are concerned), French is someone I do have great respect for. His book goes to show, that although you may think you know the performer you see on stage every night, there’s sometimes far more to them than simply what meets the eye.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Album Review: KK’s Priest – Sermons of the Sinner (EX1 Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

Originally I had debated reviewing a certain other metal album that also came out last week, but swiftly decided I’d rather spend my time on some good, non-preachy metal that’s not actually lead by some delusional, hypocritical tool (sorry, Al). I’m beyond glad I went with KK’s Priests’ Sermons of the Sinner instead, which reaches epic proportions in no time.

When guitarist K.K. Downing originally left Judas Priest in 2011, I was legitimately disappointed; in my book, he was the driving force behind the band, and as irreplaceable as Keith Richards is to The Rolling Stones. But I was glad to hear of this new project of his called KK’s Priest, which also features one time Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals. To say what K.K. has assembled here is a winning combo would be an understatement.

Like the last effort from counterparts Iron Maiden, unrelenting guitar riffs and empowering lyrics are immediately in full swing here, even with album opener “Hellfire Thunderbolt” being one of the weakest numbers throughout. Tracks like “Raise Your Fists,” “Metal Through and Through,” and “All Hail the Priest” reawaken that primal, youthful spirit in a way that only metal truly can.

Is it perfect? No. But Sermons of the Sinner is without a doubt the Judas Priest album I’ve been hoping for for years now. And if the two factions can’t find a way to ever merge forces again, I suppose this really is the next best thing.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Interview with Film Producer/Writer Paul Maslansky By Jesse Striewski

When legendary film producer/writer Paul Maslansky originally agreed to speak with Rewind It Magazine, I doubt he knew the extensive knowledge I had on such films of his like Police Academy and Ski Patrol. And no doubt he was unaware how endlessly I watched these films when I was hospitalized for many months after a freak car accident when I was just eleven years old (something I rarely mention), or how I wanted to be a police officer for the longest time “when I grew up” thanks to the Police Academy films (I would come close, working many years side-by-side with law enforcement in the security field, in addition to journalism).

So when Maslansky begun recounting to me recently over the phone the story of how he initially came up with the idea for Police Academy on the set of 1983’s The Right Stuff after seeing a group of misfit police cadets, I was already prepared with a question, and asked if he thought he still would have came up with the idea or not that would ultimately spark an entire franchise had he not been there that day to see those inspiring recruits. He seemed genuinely surprised and impressed; “You know, that’s a damn good question…I’ve never been asked that before! But I I always wanted to make “gang” comedies ever since Animal House, which I thought was extraordinarily good, and that was an inspiration in many ways. So I don’t know whether or not I would have ever come around to it. It was really the moment, when I saw what was happening right in front of me that inspired me to write the story. Damn good question, though.”

I also wanted to know just how it was possible to churn out so many films in one series six consecutive years (from 1984-1989) in a row. He informed me; “It was almost like a sitcom; You had Hugh Wilson who came from WKRP in Cincinnati, and then Jerry Paris who was of course Gary Marshall’s guy. And that’s really why we were prepared for it; we had a cast that was steady, and every year everything was just serendipitously there, and the studio kept asking to make another one because the results were just so damn good, and the costs for these pictures was not that much. It was just really smooth operation, and I had the right directors, production managers, and just overall people in general all of the time.”

And does he have a film in the series other than the original that’s his personal favorite?; “I do have a favorite other than the first, and it’s because it was under great difficulties making it, and that was the last one in Russia. I made a number of films in the Soviet Union, and then I decided to bring Police Academy there for Mission to Moscow, and Warner Bros. said they wouldn’t finance it. But eventually they agreed, and then we went over, and it was then they had the counter revolution in the middle of the picture (Laughs). But we managed to complete it, and it’s really a silly movie that a lot of people seem to enjoy.”

I also asked a little about his background and how he got into filmmaking. He informed me; “I went to one year of law school at NYU, and I have to admit it wasn’t my calling, so we decided it would be best to part company (Laughs). But I met some terrific people at that time, and up until even quite recently they remained friends of mine, but sadly most have passed on. But I did go to an extraordinary undergraduate school, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, before I went to Kansas City University after I got out of the military. But I was a C student at best, because I had so many other interests, especially music, and played jazz trumpet.”

He continued; “Once I left school, I decided to play music in Paris, and I was successful at that. I eventually met a young Danish film student, Benny Corsone, who was studying in film school at the time. He had to make a documentary film for his class, and he asked me to produce it. The film won a modest prize at Cannes, and in any event, a producer by the name of Charlie Schneer, was working on a film called Jason and the Argonauts, and had seen my film, and called and asked me to interview…and from there I became his assistant and we shot it in Italy. And that was really my baptism by fire and start in serious filmmaking. And eventually I decided to produce myself, and made a picture in Rome with Christopher Lee called Castle of the Living Dead with a guy named Warren Kiefer.”

But the whole reason for my conversation with Maslansky in the first place was thanks to recent interviewee and Ski Patrol star Roger Rose, who told me of their plans to remake the film. Maslansky filled me in a bit more; “Roger came to me a couple of months ago and said there were some people really interested in getting Ski Patrol going again, and I said, ‘Why not?’ So now we’re in the process of trying to get MGM, which we discovered wound up with the underline rights to the film. It’s gone through a couple of different hands over the years, and MGM is in the process of being taken over by a different group, so it’s been difficult to get to the right people there at the moment. But I have a feeling that ultimately, we’ll be able to pursue it properly. And we’ve also got the interest in of group called the Workaholics; it was one of their favorite films, and they would very much like to do that.”

He then gave me some background on how the original film came to be; “One of my neighbors at the time, Wink Roberts, was a stuntman and a damn good skier, and said, ‘Let’s make a movie called Ski Patrol,’ and the next thing you know, we’re making the movie (Laughs). It helped at that time that the Police Academy films were a great success, so it was easy to produce another gang comedy. And that’s really the genesis of it all. And then Roger came to me about doing it again with the Workaholics guys, and they were so enthusiastic about doing it that I said, ‘Let’s proceed!’ But I think nearly any ski resort in the country would be happy to have us film there right now, because I think unfortunately there’s been a bit of a decline in the sport recently, certainly because of Covid.”

And when asked if Rose will show up in the new film or not, he assured me; “Oh yeah, I very much want Roger to appear in it, and maybe get some of the older guys from the original film to make appearances, too. A lot of them are still around, but it’s different with Police Academy, every year we seem to lose more. We just lost a wonderful guy, Art Metrano (Captain Mauser from the second and third installments, who passed away earlier this month on September 8 at age 84), who lived down there in Florida. We’ve lost so many more of them, including Bubba Smith, George Gaynes, Marion Ramsey, David Graf, and said directors Hugh Wilson and Jerry Paris.”

I asked Maslansky to tell me a little about Metrano, with which I’ll end on; “Art was a tough Brooklyn guy, and had one of the quickest wits, but also had a wonderful comedy act. He was a religious man, and a damn good father. We were buddies and used to hang out, and he was as brave a man that you could find after his horrific accident that paralyzed him in the late ’80s. But through it all, his sense of humor was infectious, and he used it to make people laugh during the many months he spent in that hospital ward. It was remarkable the amount of good cheer there was as a result of Art’s presence. And working together with Lance Kinsey in the two Police Academy films he did, they were just a terrific pair. I sure will miss him.”

Stevie B at Oasis on the River in Sanford, FL on 9/25/21 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I can vividly remember being a kid in New Jersey and riding in my older sister’s convertible, listening to her Stevie B tape of Party Your Body while riding with the top down. One of the few things I knew about Stevie B at the time was that he was from this mystical place called Florida, so as far as my young mind was concerned, that was what “Florida music” was exactly supposed to sound like.

It’s funny how life works sometimes; not only do I now reside in Florida myself, but I can even watch Stevie B perform in the very state I once thought was so exotic so many years ago. That’s exactly what happened this past Saturday, September 25, when the freestyle legend himself graced the stage at Oasis on the River in Sanford, FL. And between the large pool nearby the stage and bikini-clad bartenders/waitresses, the Miami-vibe was no doubt alive and well, too.

The night started just after 7:00 pm, with live music being provided by a revolving door of DJ’s such as DJ Frank Dee, DJ Daggett, and DJ Mark Sanchez. Now, it’s no secret I’m more of a “rock” guy, so admittedly I don’t know a whole lot about DJ’s (nor quite understand why anyone would want to hear yet another riveting rendition of “This is How We Do It” for the umpteenth time, but that’s just me). But I suppose each DJ possessed their own uniqueness, and the crowd no doubt responded to them with plenty of enthusiasm.

At some point during all of those beats, local newcomer John Skoolyaad was invited onto the stage to sing an obscure Stevie B song in the form of “Running For Miles.” The young performer oozed style and professionalism, and brought a different level of talent to the stage before Stevie B’s own DJ Slice kept the party going for what seemed like an excessive amount of time (even if he was the most talented of all the DJ’s that night – would have definitely preferred a longer set from Stevie B in place of the numerous opening acts).

Local singer John Skoolyaad performing shortly before Stevie B’s set.

Finally, the man of the hour himself, Stevie B, took the stage at approximately 11:35 pm (call me an old man, but that’s about two hours later than a desired start time for this guy, considering I’m up no later than 7:00 am seven days a week). But the entire night instantly became worthwhile as he kicked things off with the club anthem “Party Your Body.”

More hits continued, including “Dreamin’ of Love,” “I Wanna Be the One,” and the massive 1990 number one ballad, “Because I Love You (The Postman’s Song).” Another song or two (which the names of escape me at the moment) followed before Stevie took it back to 1988 (his own words) and ended the night with the freestyle/dance classic, “Spring Love.”

Beyond exhausted by the end of his set, my always lovely photographer/assistant (who also happens to be my wife) and I took just a few extra minutes to mingle before exiting. In the process, we ran into not only said singer John Skoolyaad, but also ’90s pop star Rockell (best remembered for her 1997 dance hit “In a Dream”), who was watching Stevie B’s set from the stage the entire time. It was the perfect high-note ending to a very, very long night.

Rewind It’s Jesse Striewski (right) with singers Rockell and John Skoolyaad.