Andrew Bonazelli is one of those shitheads who in school would do his homework on Friday so he had his weekend free while you were happy to sweat it out until 1st Period Monday. But that sort of ridiculous work ethic is how the man can be Decibel‘s managing editor, blog guru, social media bitch, probably a couple other things he’s never told me about and still have the time to write an as-yet-to-be-produced screenplay and four novels. The latest of these is DTV, an action movie fan-fiction taken to its logical end, as two washed-up Hollywood asskickers see what happens when the glass stops being breakaway and the one-liners don’t come as easy as they used to.
It’s a crass, violent, drug-filled, utterly human look at what we want to be after the chance has clearly passed us by. And it has a soundtrack.
As you can see from the above video, hard-fucking-hitters like Graf Orlock, the Austerity Program and Wolvhammer help turn this into a something special even if you still don’t get that whole “reading” craze.
Five questions with Andrew (including the five best action movie clips of all time) after the jump.
The packaging for this is ingenious—were you always planning to present the book
in a less traditional way?
I dunno—I mean, I have a “DTV” folder in Gmail with 200 conversations, but it’s always
hard for me to remember the chronology of a project once it’s done. I do recall feeling
guilty for putting out two novels on Vitriol Records (Justin from Graf Orlock’s label) that didn’t have much to do with their politics or sense of humor. When they put out the Doombox EP, which their drummer Adam designed, I reacted like probably every moronic Hollywood exec who saw The Descendants: “Please work with me—you can do whatever you want.” Short answer: I think I came up with the basic visual parameters for DTV—paperback housed in VHS clamshell with music in there somehow—but Adam was given total carte blanche and, unsurprisingly, kicked the shit out of it.
How did you deal with the tight-wire act of talking about over-the-hill action stars
without dipping too far into full-on parody?
I feel like The Expendables and Hot Fuzz pretty much covered, respectively, the unintentional and intentional self-parody aspect of this stuff, and since I was disappointed by both of them, that provided easy parameters for what not to do, what targets were too broad. Mind you, the protagonists of DTV are heavily informed by Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, so it would be a disservice not to satirize their, uh, elocution, but I actually tried to reward the fellow loser who’s seen Lionheart 70 times with (somewhat) more subtle elbows in the ribs. Actually, the main reason I wrote this is that nobody was giving real-life Van Damme or Seagal anything legitimately cool to do anymore. I’m not sure if “cool” meant “brutal,” “surreal,” “self-aware,” “disturbing” or some combination thereof, but I just wanted to take it a few steps beyond the JCVD movie.
You’ve had a pretty consistent literary output (Mechaniks, A Regular, The Dreamt and Deathless Obscene). Was this just another novel or do you feel like you’ve reached a certain level with DTV?
I just wanted to have some fun and not hate existence for the year it takes to bang one of these things out. Then again, I assume Celtic Frost felt the same way when they made Cold Lake…
What was the evolution of the soundtrack, from conceit to execution?
Originally, I just wanted to corral a bunch of bands I like into covering the Bloodsport OST track-for-track. That’s a pretty fucking stupid idea, but this was my chance. Anyway, I believe it was one Shane Mehling of soundtrack contributor Great Falls who suggested simply asking the bands to cover their favorite action movie theme, vintage or modern. Totally sensible, but when you work with 14 different bands, they all have varying ideas and comfort zones. For example, the first song we debuted, the Atlas Moth covering “Black Trees” by Hooray for Earth, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at face value. What happened is I was going back-and-forth with their singer Stavros, and we interpreted the original as something similarly evocative and morose as most of the Drive soundtrack. Then the Moth’s version of it turned out crushing and funereal—not in the doom sense, just “funereal” by its usual definition—and there you go. That’s the toughest one to explain. As for the rest, the originals (TFD, Old Head) work with one of the novel’s many bar fights. As for the not-immediately-identifiable covers, Wolvhammer did “Burn” from The Crow soundtrack, which is what made me want to execute this facet of the project in the first place. God bless them all, Matthew Widener composed an original actually based on DTV, and Lauderdale and
Majeure interpreted music from Van Damme and Seagal movies. Those are the cherries on top for me.
Finally, your top five action scenes.
I’ll limit it to Van Damme and Seagal. The first not just five, but five billion should be
This one should be prefaced by the fact that Bolo Yeung beat the living Christ out of this
particular JCVD twin earlier in the movie, hence the hissed “Shit…” when he realizes
he’s lost his gun.
See the sick sucker-punch “Paco” executes here from 0:15 – 0:19? I was trying to
demonstrate it at the bar where I’ll hopefully have a release party in a few weeks, and COMPLETELY decimated a pint glass hanging above the bartender. I still feel like dying for that. It wasn’t cool.
As usual, Ruthless Reviews (which I wish would review this
book and not hate it) says it so much better than I ever could: “Also amusing is the fact
that the faceless foot soldiers will jump out and say something Jamaican before Seagal
fucks them up. Some guy will leap out with a knife and be like, ‘I’m onna beeet you like
a steel drum, mon!’ and then Seagal kicks him in the nuts. Then the next guy jumps out
and says, ‘eh, no problem, mon!’ and Seagal snaps his neck. And so on.”