INTERVIEW: Podcast host Brandon A. Lane

Rants From The Black Lodge host Brandon A. Lane delivers one of the best openers of any horror podcast.

“Recording live from the Black Lodge, it’s me. The freewheel burnin’, head turnin’, ass-kicking, machismo-dripping master podcaster and mouthpiece of the Southeast Brandon A. Lane.”

The fact his beginning is preceded with a kicker from Anthrax’s “I Am the Law” only adds to the heavy metal heart of Lane’s passion for horror movies.

Lane’s Rants From The Black Lodge is “a cult film commentary audio podcast” that debuted in August 2017 with his favorite film of all time, 1984’s Ghostbusters. Since then, the monthly podcast has dissected nearly 50 movies, including Frankenhooker and The Toxic Avenger. Lane’s podcasts often open with an introduction by one of the stars in the film he’s reviewing. He’s had actors from Miko Hughes, who played Gage Creed in 1989’s Pet Sematary, to Felissa Rose, the star of Sleepaway Camp, to open his show.

Lane with Sleepaway Camp star Felissa Rose

Available on the Project Louder network, Lane’s podcast is based out of his home in Sevierville, Tennessee, amidst the Smoky Mountains. The Black Lodge is the nickname for his home, a nod to the Twin Peaks TV series.

Here’s an exclusive HorrorAddicts.net interview with Lane.

Q: Ghostbusters was your first show. I know it’s your favorite movie of all time. What about that film still captivates you nearly 40 years after its release?

LANE: Ghostbusters is more than just my favorite movie; it’s my favorite thing period. Often, in an effort to explain how much I love Ghostbusters, I’ll use this framework: “I like the worst aspects of Ghostbusters more than you love the best aspects of your favorite thing.”

Some people take that as a joke, but I really do mean it! It would be too time-consuming to yammer on about the many reasons I love the film, but in broadest terms Ghostbusters persist in my life because I’ve able to reevaluate it throughout my life. As a child, it was appealing on a surface level – eye-catching special effects, cool costumes and memorable theme song.

As a teenager, I came to appreciate the biting snark of the comedic performances (most of which flew over my head as a kid). The “this man has no dick” line alone warrants consideration of one of cinema’s greatest insults.

As an adult, I’ve become cognizant of how truly off the film is in terms of its structure. Nobody has a character arch, the villain (Gozer) doesn’t show up to the last 20 minutes of the movie and the main obstacle of the film isn’t ghost or interdimensional demigods, it’s governmental bureaucracy in the form of the EPA.

When people refer to something as a once-in-a-lifetime, lightning-in-a-bottle scenario, I would equate that sentiment to Ghostbusters – a perfect film.

Q: As a teen during the ‘80s, I love that you review older horror movies. How do you choose the films you review for your podcast?

LANE: The boring answer is that I reach out on social media and see who from the film world wants to participate in either a podcast introduction or interview and that will guide me towards a particular film.

I suppose the more interesting answer would be tracking down how many of our existing podcast segments would be applicable for a given movie. For instance, does this film have an interesting backstory or production? Have any of the principal players, in front or behind the camera, had careers beyond the film? Was the film released in a year where there was a lot of competition in its genre? Does the film have subtext? Can elements of the film be debatable, such as casting, performance, relevance, and legacy? There are other considerations, but if a film can check all or most of those boxes, it ends up on my short list.

Q: You have a huge collection of horror movies and memorabilia. What is the most cherished item in your collection?

LANE: My life previous to hosting the Rants From the Black Lodge podcast was spent as a copy editor and graphic designer in the newspaper industry. In addition to my designing duties, I also would write a bi-weekly column called “Welcome to My Nightmare” which served as a prototype of sort for the podcast I host now. Because of this column I caught the attention of Shane Marr who had directed a film about the infamous Tennessee legend, the Bell Witch.

It just so happens that the voice of the titular witch of his film was none other than the legendary Betsy Palmer. For the 1 percent of you who don’t know who Betsy Palmer was, she was the killer in the original Friday the 13th, which just happens to stand as my second favorite film of all time. Shane reached out to me to do a review of his film, which I happily did and was lucky enough to get to interview Mrs. Palmer herself for my column.

The column comes out, it’s well received, and life goes on normally until one day I received a call asking me to come down Shane’s studio because he had a package for me. I stroll down there on my lunch break and am floored to find not only an autographed 8-by-10 but more specially a handwritten letter from Betsy thanking me for the column. I have a lot of things in my collection, that if I were to lose would devastate me but the only one that I would be crying over would be that letter because it’s irreplaceable.

Q: You review a lot of sequels and classics. Many of those classics have been remade or reimagined. What are your feelings about rebooting franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street?

LANE: One of the long-running gags on the podcast comes courtesy of my co-host, Fat Tony, who would continually give me shit for refusing to watch the Evil Dead remake. For the benefit of those of you out there who don’t know, I grew up in Morristown, Tennessee, where the original Evil Dead was filmed. Growing up Evil Dead wasn’t a movie to me; it was a badge of honor. Our little nothing town was known for two things: Davy Crockett lived there for a short time and this little splatter film the city likes to ignore was filmed there.

Eventually, I relented and saw the film and it was okay. That being said, remakes are not a foregone conclusion of bad quality, but it is more likely they will be. There are tons of exceptions like David Cronenberg’s The Fly or John Carpenter’s The Thing, but generally we end up with dreck like the remake of Prom Night. If you’re looking for recommendations for a couple of really good remakes in the past few years, I’d check out Suspiria and Maniac.

Q: You must love the Shudder channel and the fact Joe Bob Briggs is back. How much has Joe Bob influenced you?

LANE: To fans of cult films, Joe Bob Briggs isn’t just an authority, he’s a god. A good deal of the affinity I have for many of my favorite films comes from late nights of my youth spent watching MonsterVision on TNT which was hosted by none other than the man himself. Many of things we do on the podcast are directly ripped off from his schtick, and if you’ve gotta steal, you might as well steal from best.

Q: You do deep dives into the background of the movies you showcase. Has any of the behind-the-scenes facts you discover surprised you and changed your opinion about a movie or an actor?

LANE: We as viewers only see the finished product and rarely understand the sheer difficulty that goes into making a film. Budget cuts, actor conflicts, schedule mishaps … it’s amazing that movies of any quality get made. 

That being said, some things about what makes a film great are objective and others are subjective. Objective qualities include lighting, editing, sound, etc. But the subjective elements are harder to define. Subjective qualities, oftentimes, simply come down to personal taste. 

A particular film that we’ve covered that I’m not a fan of is Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. I have an appreciation for Rob Zombie as a director … just not as a writer. On a personal level I despise some of his choices he made in the film, but I can’t deny his perspective of there being no point in doing a remake without justifying it with its own flavor. Just so happens it’s a flavor I couldn’t stomach, but I’d be foolish not to acknowledge that some people love it. If films were universally loved, there would be no cult films, so I welcome everyone’s opinion. I might not agree with your viewpoint, but I’m also open to a good old-fashioned film debate.”

Visit https://projectlouder.net/rants-from-the-black-lodge to listen to Rants From The Black Lodge.

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