Commodore Gilgamesh of Everything Is Terrible! on ‘The Great Satan’ & Video Mixtape Madness

Over the last ten years, Everything Is Terrible! has reinterpreted our shared memory into 3,000+ daily web videos, collected 15,000 Jerry Maguire VHS tapes, and forever altered the collective consciousness of like-minded movie weirdos. Now – in partnership with their longtime collaborator, Lucifer – Everything Is Terrible! has ingested over 2,000 Satanic Panic, religious kook, and D-horror VHS tapes, and re-contextualized them into a narrative feature. The film, titled The Great Satan, reminds us all who we are, why we are here, and what we should be doing with our paltry time on this dumb planet.

It’s a whirlwind of imagery, and while we can point out just a few of the films and videos excerpted (Demon Wind, Society, Michael, Hack-O-Lantern, Idle Hands, and Black Roses, to name but a miniscule handful), it’s the variety of obscure Christian children’s videos from the ’80s and ’90s that will really warp your mind.

So now, they invite you to be an initiate of the psychedelic devotion of EIT! As you take your blood oath, your journey will brim with evangelical ducks, goopy ghouls, and sad white men who believe that Dungeons & Dragons summon actual horned demons. We spoke with Commodore Gilgamesh of Everything Is Terrible! via email about the new feature and its touring live show, and were treated with some fantastic insights into video mixtapes and thematic ideas.

Puppets AND costumes: does the live show serve to make this something more than a roomful of people watching a screen?

Yes, of course! When we started EIT! ten years ago and began having opportunities to show our movies, we decided that we’d never let them be shown without us being there! And since we get bored very easily, we quickly decided that it would be way better if instead of us being there with our dumb and offensive faces, we would create characters and eventually an entire universe around all of the footage that we love so much! Now we view the live shows as a kind of right of passage for our cult members, not necessarily the final test of their loyalty to EIT!, but definitely those Duaniacs who make it out to live shows are an elevated class over those who just enjoy our videos via cables and tubes!

When showing stuff live, how do you find the reaction changes from venue to venue? Do movie theaters respond differently than rock clubs?

The reactions very greatly from city to city and between venues! The experience of the live portion is way more fun in rock venues while the video quality tends to suffer, and vice versa. Generally though people act differently depending on their environment. At movie theaters with food, oh boy, people just stare at you and munch munch munch, but pack a rock club and they’ll be screaming and trying to tear your mask off! Both have their benefits!

The number of movies and videos I recognized while watching The Great Satan was mind-boggling. Do you start out with a selection of stuff you know will work and branch out from there?

When we start on a new movie, we just try to get everything! The Great Satan contains over 2,000 sources! We’ll get them from wherever we can too! For this, we spent a year just capturing and buying VHS, downloading torrents, and ripping DVDs and web vids! We’re actually not very choosy during this stage of the process! We just take in everything that we feel could fit! Then as we’re actually editing, we start to find stuff that fits into the cut or people remind us that we missed!

Similarly, do you have a list of topics on which you start collecting clips? I imagine that one Satanic clip, then another, just kind of started a snowball effect.

Yes, for this we started by collecting anything Satan related, but we also had the original intention of including all of our christian material as well because you can’t have a hero (Satan) without a villain (Christians)! And from there we added horror footage to the mix because we’ve never really had a chance to use it and we thought this would be a nice opportunity to dig into such a huge and insane genre!

For example, I imagine EIT has a pretty solid collection of Christian videos, just because. Would I be correct in assuming that those are instant comedy gold, especially as the “Christian” tag easily outnumbers everything else on your site?

Ha, we’re so bad at remembering to tag our videos! I bet there are three times as many Christian videos on there!!! Yeah, we have so many it is depressing! We have to force ourselves to make non-Christian videos so that we don’t look like pissed off teens shaking our fists at the ceiling and screaming, “Fuck you, God!”

photo by Jim Newberry

How do you all counterbalance hours of watching VHS tapes? Is there an exercise regimen?

I jump rope and do pull-ups, but my mind is totally mush now! And I have absolutely lost my ability to enjoy TV or movies!

For me, the appeal of EIT is seeing clips of things I absolutely know cheek and jowl with half-remembered things I saw years ago. Does this stuff connect with audiences who might not have grown up, forced to watch moralizing videotapes in their daycare?

EIT! taps into a cultural memory that we all share even if we are too young or old to have actually had to sit through Psalty tapes! It is that haunting familiarity that really helps us hook people! We bait them with dumb nostalgia, then show them that our culture is actually total garbage! It was in the 1980s, and is now too! I think tearing off the mask, the shiny veneer, and exposing our own disfigured ghoulish self is what EIT! does best! And since we made this stuff, we watch this stuff, it is us who is sick! So the viewer is laughing and having fun, but hopefully there is a creeping dread consuming them as the take their journey!

After over ten years online, how do you find that the internet has changed in terms of how it responds to your videos?

The internet has changed in so many ways! It is nuts! There are the obvious changes, involving corporations and governments colluding to consolidate and strengthen their control of the internet, like YouTube becoming more and more populated with videos from NBC instead of dummies in their garage, which we all saw coming. And we’ve had a lot of personal internet tragedies like losing all of our followers when our pages get shut down for copyright infringement or when Vine decides to just go away, which caused us to lose a million followers!

But, the change that I love the most is how excited people are now to show up in an EIT! video! In the beginning people would be furious and threaten to sue us! Now we have the Bibleman commenting on our Facebook page about how funny it all is! We had the cat massage lady come out to our 10th birthday party to receive the lifetime achievement award and she was so pumped! We’re even working on performing a memorial service for the star of the Rappin’ Granny video in Plano, TX while on tour! She had said that she wanted her remaining funds to go towards the Jerrypyramid! It is all so overwhelming and really does inspire us to keep doing it!

When EIT started, so much of what you offered could only be found on videocassette. Is there a challenge to finding new material now, both due to time and regular reissues of long-lost films via labels like Vinegar Syndrome or Mondo Macabro?

We’ve never really had a hard time finding footage. And since everything truly is terrible, it doesn’t seem like schlock is gonna stop being produced anytime soon! So basically as thrift stores begin to view VHS as trash rather than profit, we’ll just continue to move more into DVDs, downloads, and ripping YouTube vids. It is very liberating that we don’t have any real rules about the footage that we use, so we’ll be fine.

The latest feature from Everything Is Terrible!, The Great Satan, is touring the country starting on Wednesday, February 7, and hits PhilaMOCA in Philadelphia on Monday, March 5. Tour dates for all their shows can be found below.

2/7 – Long Beach, CA @ The Art Theatre

2/8 – San Francisco, CA @ The Alamo Drafthouse

2/9 – Oakland, CA @ The New Parkway

2/10 – Portland, OR @ TBD

2/11 – Seattle, WA @ Central Cinema

2/12 – Seattle, WA @ Central Cinema

2/13 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre

2/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Brewvies

2/16 – Denver, CO @ Sie Film Center

2/17 – Omaha, NE @ The Sydney Bar

2/18 – Kansas City, KS @ recordBar

2/19 – St. Paul, MN @ Amsterdam Hall

2/20 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall

2/21 – Milwaukee, MN @ TBD

2/22 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room

2/23 – Bloomington, IN @ The Back Door

2/24 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Woodward Theater

2/25 – Columbus, OH @ Studio 35

2/26 – Detroit, MI @ Ant Hall

2/27 – Toronto, ON @ The Royal Cinema

2/28 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Hollywood Theater Dormont

3/1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Bell House

3/2 – Boston, MA @ Brattle Theatre

3/3 – Providence, RI @ AS220

3/4 – Portland, ME – The Apohadion

3/5 – Philadelphia, PA @  PhilaMOCA

3/6 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter

3/7 – Baltimore, MD @ The Parkway

3/8 – Greensboro, NC @ Geeksboro Coffee Cinema

3/9 – Asheville, NC @ Mothlight

3/10 – Athens, GA @ TBD

3/11 – Nashville, TN @ Belcourt

3/12 – Chattanooga, TN @ Palace Picture House

3/13 – Atlanta, GA @ Mammal Gallery

3/14 – Jacksonville, FL @ SunRay Cinema

3/15 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub

3/16 – Mobile, AL @ Crescent Theater

3/17 – Houston, TX @ Secret Group

3/18 – San Antonio, TX @ TBD

3/19 – Austin, TX @ AFS Cinema

3/20 – Dallas, TX @ Texas Theatre

3/21 – Tulsa, OK @ Circle Cinema

3/23 – Albuquerque, NM @ The Guild

3/24 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf

3/25 – Tucson, AZ @ The Loft Cinema

3/26 – Phoenix, AZ @ FilmBar

3/27 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah

3/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek writes about films scores in his monthly OST column for Starburst Magazine (http://www.starburstmagazine.com), and can be found talking about movie soundtracks via the From & Inspired By podcast (http:///www.fromandinspiredby.com). He was once a punk, but realized you can't be hardcore and use the word "adorable" as often as he does.
Nick Spacek

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