The latest release from Stakhanov is Clash Of The Titles, a new podcast based entirely around movies. The podcast is presented by broadcaster Alex Zane, screenwriter Vicky Crompton and journalist Chris Tilly, who will now explain the show’s concept in greater detail and also discuss their love of all things film.
How did the three of you come together?
Alex: Well Chris I’d met numerous times at various film events over the last 10 years. He once came in first place at a pretty tough quiz I hosted at the launch of a Pixar movie, so I knew his movie knowledge was sound—at least, as far as animated films went.
Chris: Actually, it was a Richard Linklater quiz.
Alex: Oh yeah, sorry, that’s much cooler. Vicky and I were on the same film/media course at Goldsmiths college; we lived together in a student house on Old Kent Road right next to a 24hr petrol station—ate a lot of Quavers at 3am. Thankfully, their shared love and knowledge of movies meant that when I introduced them for the first time they really got on and lo… after six short months of bickering about the name, the artwork and anything else you can possibly think of (the WhatsApp group is its own time capsule of passive aggressiveness) Clash Of The Titles was born.
What is Clash of the Titles?
Chris: The show takes two movies – from any genre or era – and pits them against each other in a fight to the death. It’s savage combat or, as Alex likes to call it, “com-chat.” The only criteria is that they have to have something in common: a connection that can be obvious or better still, weirdly tenuous. We then debate the relative merits of each film, discussing everything from plot and trivia to box office and behind the scenes drama—then vote for our favourite at the end.
How do you go about picking the films for each show?
Vicky: Usually it’s seeing a connection that makes us laugh: so, movies where the internet looks old, or bizarre mismatched cop movies. But we’re not above shoehorning in a shared trait just so we can talk about films we love for an hour. We take it in turns to pick the films each week, assigning them to our co-hosts and revealing the link in the next episode.
What’s your earliest movie memory?
Chris: Seeing ET when I was five and my brother was four. When ET “died” my brother cried so much we had to leave the cinema and go home. But then he missed ET and that made him cry so we had to take him back. This Spielbergian cycle of grief happened several times, meaning I think I spent more time watching ET than not watching it that Christmas.
Alex: Mine was a Spielberg film too, although at age five I was watching Jaws, I want to say like a badass… sadly that’s not the case. I begged my Mum to let me watch it when it was on TV and her response was “Well don’t say I didn’t warn you” which I’m not sure was the best thing to say as 5-year-olds don’t really understand the concept of jeopardy. Anyway 10 minutes in—and I’m terrified. That was 1985 and I have never been in the sea since. I also failed my 25 metre swimming exam because I climbed out halfway through convinced there was a shark in the pool. There was also a brief period when I couldn’t have bubbles in the bath because I needed to see the bottom in case a trap door opened and a shark swam up.
Vicky: For me, it was watching Cinderella at the cinema when I was very little. I thought it was magical—the velvet screen curtain, the ice-cream lady during the interval; all so majestic and polite. It’s either that or when my parents went to see Dances with Wolves at that same cinema and I was convinced they weren’t coming back because they were gone so long.
What’s your favourite movie genre?
Chris: I grew up being a total wimp when it came to scary movies, I avoided them like the plague. But when I started covering film for a living, I realised that horror screenings are a blast, horror audiences are the best, and horror filmmakers are the funniest. The movies still give me nightmares, but I love writing and talking about them. So expect lots of horror on Clash!
Vicky: Is this the wrong time to say I’m not a massive fan of horror?
Alex: Hahahaha… no, you can say that, but I also love horror. I love being scared, although it gets more difficult to recreate that dizzying terror you felt as a kid watching something like A Nightmare On Elm Street or Tim Curry as Pennywise the dancing clown when you’re an adult. I guess sci-fi is the genre I watch the most—unless we’re allowed to call an entire decade a ‘genre’, in which case it’s the 80s. Ghostbusters, Back To The Future, Die Hard… pass me my pipe and slippers, let me tell you how cinema used to be.
Is there a film you definitely don’t want to discuss on the show?
Vicky: I’m nervous about Alien because I wasn’t allowed to watch past the chestburster scene when I was young (too young to be watching Alien) so I have a bit of a mental block with that film…I can’t really watch it without feeling petrified, then very annoyed.
Chris: Superman 3. And more specifically, the bit where the woman turns into a robot and all the wires go in her mouth. Bloody terrifying – I’m freaking out thinking about it right now! Weirdly, Superman 3 actually came up in our first record, but mercifully there was no mention of scary robot lady.
Alex: Sorry, I’m just trying to find a connection between Superman 3 and Alien for next week’s show! For me, and I know I mentioned it already, but I was writing a piece on horror the other day and I was meant to rewatch A Nightmare On Elm Street and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even watch Johnny Depp’s geyser of blood death on YouTube because I knew it would bring back all the memories of that movie. Freddy Krueger was my childhood boogeyman. The whole premise was genius, normally as a kid the way you escape from the fear of having watched a terrifying movie was going to sleep and waking up on a bright new day… but sleep is when Freddy gets you. Screwed. Me. Up.
What makes a great Clash of the Titles?
Alex: I guess when the films we’re talking about have an interesting history, it’s always the most fun. I love how films came to be, the stories of how they got made and why. I really love what the filmmakers set out to create and how often the finished product differs from that, whether it was through studio-meddling or a star’s power changing the script. With Clash of the Titles however, I love that we add to that idea of two films tackling the same subject in some way and just how completely different the results can be.
Vicky: I enjoy an episode in which the film I like the best wins.
What should listeners expect from future episodes?
Alex: I think there’s a whole reservoir of video game to movie adaptations we can dip into, some good, some very, very bad; from Street Fighter to Silent Hill to Doom… so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to further down the line when the connection between the two films might start becoming slightly tenuous: ‘Films in which a character called Alan eats a yoghurt, slowly.’ Plus once we’ve settled in, I need to get on the phone and start asking some movie friends if they’d like to be a guest.
Chris: We’ll actually be discussing a yoghurt movie in a future episode Alex, I just haven’t figured out what to pair it with yet. Also I love monkeys so expect an episode on primates. Plus all three of us grew up in the 80s so I’m sure there will be lots of nostalgia for that decade.
Vicky: I’ll be hitting mid-90s high concept and/or courtroom thrillers quite hard. It would also be amazing to screen some of the films live as a double bill, followed by a chat with the audience and maybe some special guests. That would be the perfect Clash of the Titles night.