After a stint on Blip.TV, Cecil Trachenburg moved his channel over to YouTube. Called Good Bad Flicks, it provides multiple looks at various genre films that are undiscovered gems, forgotten oddities, or unfairly maligned by most. With over 680 videos, 288,000+ followers on YouTube, and over 69 million views (nice)—Mr. Trachenburg is a well-known figure in the world of eclipsed exploitation and genre cinema. We recently spoke with Mr. Trachenburg about his channel, some of his favorite overlooked films, and, as with every conversation, 1983’s 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS.
Daily Grindhouse: What is your background?
Cecil Trachenburg: I’m a professionally trained editor, but I don’t have a background in film per se. Nothing beyond, really, a combination of love of cinema and also me and some friends—over the course of many years—shot little nothing budget, stupid things for fun. We shot horror movies and comedy bits and all kinds of junk that has accumulated over the years.
But, really, I understand the minutiae of filmmaking. And a friend of mine used to work for Miramax and he provided a lot of insight into the way things work in the film industry. So, while I don’t have any expertise in actually making films, I understand how it is done.
Daily Grindhouse: How would you describe your channel?
Cecil Trachenburg: The elevator pitch is I celebrate the underdogs of movies. I like to talk about the movies no one else is really talking about. And I like to highlight movies that, for one reason or another—they’ve gotten screwed over by the studio, the version most people are familiar with is not the actual version of the film.
For example, the theatrical cut of REINDEER GAMES versus the director’s cut of that. Everybody says, “oh that movie is garbage” but it’s like “no, no, no—watch the director’s cut.” Same with something like DAREDEVIL. I know people who have hated DAREDEVIL, and then saw the director’s cut and were like “why didn’t they just release this?”
Daily Grindhouse: What prompted you to start doing this?
Cecil Trachenburg: Sometime in the late 2000s, I loved watching the Angry Video Game Nerd. He covered video games and also did Monster Madness—he’s a passionate guy that likes a lot of the same stuff I do. Then, at the time, there was this big push for reviewers—but they were all doing the same thing; they were all talking the low-hanging fruit and would just badmouth it. It was terrible.
I started working originally on Blip TV—a competitor of YouTube that has since gone out of business. Initially I was just getting comments from my friends and relatives that were watching the show. And then, as time went on, I started to get comments and messages from people who I didn’t know. That’s when I thought, “all right, maybe I got something here” and decided to expand and moved over to YouTube and it kind of blew up from there.
Daily Grindhouse: How do you decide on a title to cover?
Cecil Trachenburg: It’s a combination of things. I have an obscenely long list of films that I want to do. The last time I checked it was over 1600 films—and that’s movies I want to do, movies that have been requested, etc. But really it comes down to a feeling.
The “Good Bad Flicks” are the videos where I recap and riff on a particular tile; those I can crank out in about two weeks. They’re fun as they kind of give me a break because if I did nothing but the “Exploring” videos (where I dive into a movie’s inception, production, and reception) all the time—as much as I enjoy making them—I would burn myself out. They are exhausting—the longest “Exploring” video (and I’m not 100% on this) that it took me to research and create was for NOTHING BUT TROUBLE. I started that in either 2014 or 2016, and I didn’t put that out until November 2018.
Daily Grindhouse: Was that just due to scrambling through the various drafts and stories around the production?
Cecil Trachenburg: First of all, trying to find someone that wanted to talk about it! A lot of the people that worked on NOTHING BUT TROUBLE are still in the industry. That’s always a roadblock with me—with some of the older films and a director who is retired, he’s going to be more open to talk about the film because he’s not vested in it anymore.
But if you’re talking about a film where a lot of people are still working in the industry—and it’s a sore spot—they don’t want to talk about it because…Hollywood is very fussy. And they don’t like people badmouthing things; everything is all rose-colored and everything is wonderful, and they don’t want anything looked upon negatively.
And I like to dig up the true story, as possible, of what happened. So that took a while, and then just putting everything together, getting all the information, and making sure the timeline was as correct as possible before getting it out there.
Daily Grindhouse: If people reading this haven’t watched one of your works before, where would you suggest they start with your channel? A “Good Bad Flicks” entry or an “Exploring” video, or one of each? Basically, which episode best exemplifies your tone and spirit?
Cecil Trachenburg: If you’re looking for something sort of more serious/documentary style, I would say check out my video I did on THE THING (2011) prequel because the story behind that is great but it’s also incredibly depressing. It really shows how much the studio bungled that film. Like they ruined it and really screwed up the director’s career in the process.
If you’re looking for something a little more fun, a little more Mystery Science Theater 3000 style—I think THE BEES, that I did last year. I had a lot of fun doing THE BEES. And a lot of people really enjoyed that. I mean, god, you have John Carradine talking to bees. It’s a very silly movie.
Daily Grindhouse: Even with various prints being destroyed or vanishing, there are still some that randomly appear. Over 90 years later and they are still discovering “missing” scenes from Lang’s METROPOLIS. So, barring impossibility of vanished prints, what is the one Director’s Cut do you wish was found/restored/released?
Cecil Trachenburg: It’s either BLAIR WITCH 2 or the “Pilot Version” of THE THING (2011), because both of those have their merits. The sad thing about the director’s cut of BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 is that I have it—the director’s cut exists, it’s just a matter of taking the movie that was released, rearranging it to put it in the correct order and fixing the soundtrack. People do not understand just how much rearranging the movie and putting it the way the director intended completely changes the tone of the film.
And then the “Pilot Version” of THE THING prequel is the other one because that’s the version with all of the practical f/x, the original third act intact, with the whole proper ending to the film instead of the CGI mishmash that we got.
Beyond that, I would really like THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS restored. Because that—oh my god—40 minutes cut out of the film, scenes reshot that shouldn’t have been there. Harvey Weinstein strikes again. Really, really destroyed that movie and it’s a damn shame.
The reason why the director [Tim Pope] took the job in the first place, was because he said “look, I’m going to do this—but the first movie is already a classic. I don’t want to do the same movie again. I want to do it similar, but in a whole different story.” The studio said fine, and he shot it, and then the studio was like “wait a minute, this isn’t like the first movie at all!” And it’s like—YES! That was the whole point!
Daily Grindhouse: With so many boutique home video labels out there (Criterion, Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, Severin, Scream Factory, Garagehouse Pictures, and more), more films are being seemingly resurrected for film nerds. What titles do you really hope comes out on home video this year?
Cecil Trachenburg: This year I’m going to be very disappointed if 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS doesn’t come out. For crying out loud! It’s 2020!
Daily Grindhouse: It’s a layup!
Cecil Trachenburg: I know! It just needs to happen. I’m friendly with a lot of the boutique companies so I bug them—so of course they can’t say. But I’ll be like “hey, uh, any of you guys gonna put out 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS?” and no one is saying anything. And I’m just like COME ON!!!
That’s a big one. There’s a movie I love but it never made it past VHS called TEENAGE BONNIE AND KLEPTO CLYDE. I would love for a restored print to come out of that. That was with Scott Wolf in 1993. It’s a very ‘90s film, but I love it dearly and I would love for a restored print of that to come out.
Thankfully a lot of the movies that I’ve been wishing for have started to come out. There’s a great one called SHE that just came out last year. THE PERILS OF GWENDOLINE IN THE LAND OF THE YIK-YAK, THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION…these awesome oddball movies that like me and five other people have seen have started making their way out and I couldn’t be happier.
Daily Grindhouse: I know you’re a big Full Moon fan. With the recent American Genre Film Archive/Full Moon announcement—that AGFA is restoring a ton of Full Moon films for theatrical screenings—what is the number 1 Full Moon title you want to see on the big screen?
Cecil Trachenburg: Probably…god, there’s so many. If I had to narrow it down to one, I would probably go with the movie that made me fall in love with Full Moon and that is TRANCERS II. I would absolutely love to go see that on the big screen with a bunch of fellow Full Moon fans. And beyond that? I would go PUPPET MASTER II and PUPPET MASTER III.
TRANCERS II would be really enjoyable just simply because I love it. But I think PUPPET MASTER III would probably be the Full Moon title that would be the most theatrical. A lot of people consider that to be Full Moon’s best movie ever—and it’s hard to argue with that. It’s really well done and just a genuinely good movie.
I would really love to see and experience them—because I have never seen any of them on the big screen. They were all, pretty much, direct-to-video.
Daily Grindhouse: As you mentioned, you tend to spotlight films that were either glossed over or unfairly dismissed. What do you think are some the most underseen, under-discussed, or under-appreciated genre films that you think people will re-assess and truly appreciate again?
Cecil Trachenburg: The SUPER MARIO BROS. movie has really seen a big renaissance in the past few years. There is a website, the SUPER MARIO BROS Movie Archive, that started getting approached by people that worked on the film and people who owned props and people who had stories behind the scenes and everything. Thousands of people joined their forums and were like, “I know this movie is badmouthed, but I love it.” And I think despite all the shenanigans that the filmmakers went through, the movie ended up being entertaining (in spite of itself). It’s far removed from what they were initially going to make but it’s such a good looking, oddly constructed but still fascinating, movie.
Daily Grindhouse: I believe you have done a few commentaries. But if you could toss your hat in the ring to do a commentary on any movie, what would you choose?
Cecil Trachenburg: I would love to do a commentary for SHE—honestly most any post-apocalyptic film because I have such a passion for it and know more than most people would even want to know about some of these films.
Hell, I’m putting it out there: I will do the commentary for 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS! C’mon, guys! Make it happen!
Daily Grindhouse: Nice. Put it out there and shoot your shot. (Author’s Note: Please see below following the interview)
Cecil Trachenburg: I will continue talking well after the movie is over…about 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS. Just still talking.
Daily Grindhouse: Looking forward—what topics or sub-genre types can people expect from you this year? You don’t have to give specific titles, but like…werewolf pictures, or vampire films, or killer puppets that are either Anti-Nazi or Nazis themselves (depending on who is making it).
If you like werewolf pictures, I’m not going to say what movie but I’m going to say I will be doing a video very soon on what is often considered one of the best werewolf films. That’s probably coming out within the next couple of weeks.
Then—more Full Moon movies, weird movies you never heard of, possibly more movies where bees are killing people.
Daily Grindhouse: You can’t go wrong with more bees. Where can people find you around the net?
Cecil Trachenburg: Obviously there’s my YouTube channel. I also have a Twitch channel—which I’m getting back into as it’s a fun way to interact with folks and talk about stuff. And of course there’s my Twitter account and the channel’s Facebook page.
Daily Grindhouse: Excellent. Thank you so much for your time!
How YOU Can Help
Proving that democracy CAN work, below is the link to Change.org petition that I started to get some company (ownership of the rights seem to be a bit of a mystery at the moment) to not only release 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS on blu-ray, but also to have Mr. Trachenburg provide a commentary on that disc. Please sign and share—let your voice be heard! You know 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS would do it for you, if the roles were reversed.
Tags: 2020 Texas Gladiators, AGFA, Angry Video Game Nerd, Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Cecil Trachenburg, Full Moon Entertainment, Good Bad Flicks, Nothing But Trouble, Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge, Reindeer Games, She, Super Mario Bros Movie, Teenage Bonnie And Klepto Clyde, The Crow: City of Angels, The Thing (2011), Trancers II, YouTube