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They're BaaAAack
'Brains on Film' poised to take over the web
By Steven Tweddell

What's the greatest movie ever made? Citizen Kane? The Godfather? Lawrence of Arabia?

"Poor White Trash Part II is the greatest film ever made," says George Maranville. Really? "I'm serious," says Maranville. "It's a white trash parlor drama, a super ugly version of Tennessee Williams."

That's the thinking behind BRAINSONFILM.COM, the latest... uhhh... brainchild... from local boys Larry Joe Treadway, Joe Turner, and Maranville. As the website says, "The mission of BRAINSONFILM.COM is to become the definitive, one-stop desktop resource for commentary and critique of what is affectionately known as 'the drive-in movie.'"

Some may recognize Maranville as the producer of the local film, 100 Proof. He will start directing a feature, Seersucker Blues, in the spring. Treadway is the graphic arts director for Samaritan Hospital and a talk show host for WLXG 1300 AM. Joe Turner is, well, Joe Turner.

The three have a bit of an... eclectic taste in film, to say the least. They like the psychotronic stuff - movies that tend to veer off the beaten path - namely movies without big budgets. In other words, they have more respect for Curse of the Swamp Creature, The Baby, and The Todd Killings than they do for Schindler's List or Shakespeare in Love. It's no contest to them. It's just the way they see things. Another indication of their taste is the filmmakers to whom they give the thumbs up. On the new website, they are taking a poll to see who their visitors think is the best filmmaker ever. The choices are people like Tobe Hooper, Roger Corman, and the great Ed Wood.

Brother George, Professor Tread, and Jumpin' Joe, as they are known on the website, have no time for the likes of Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. People have called their original show a spoof of Siskel and Ebert, but they tend to think of the show as a little more serious than that. Though they're clearly out to entertain. And with the slack regulations on the Internet, they don't have to worry about being forced off the air for obscenity. "A little bit racy. A little bit of profanity. And a little nudity," says Treadway. Turner adds, "Nudity won't be any big deal because any 10-year-old kid can get on the web and find a picture of a woman blowing a goat. So sure we'll put a little nudity on there."

The premier episode is "Jungle/Swamp Night," with future episodes like "We Love Kids Night" and "Tribute to Ross Hagen" (who, incidentally, Turner says is the best actor in American film with credits like The Hellcats and Women of Transplant Island). And with past episodes for the cable access show having names like "Homophobia Night," "Acid 60s Night," and "A Butt-load of Backwoods Buffoonery," one can imagine the hijinks the hosts are capable of. Though they may not be serious on the show, they are, serious about the films that they praise on the show.

"I feel we're legitimately giving an alternative to movies that are much maligned and deserve better treatment," says Maranville. "I elevate these films to a higher level than some people say they deserve." Maranville explains that he likes these movies even though most were put together strictly for monetary gain. The filmmakers had no money, talentless actors, and subpar equipment, but within these limits, "there will be moments of brilliance. Sometimes I think the brilliance gets by the filmmakers themselves."

In 1989, Maranville and Treadway started a television program that they showed on the local public-access channel. Brains on Film. It was their chance to praise those films they thought weren't getting the credit they deserve while tearing mainstream Hollywood a new one. They were able to make and air 13 episodes. "TeleCable hated our guts," says Treadway. "But they couldn't stop it by law." That is until the FCC gave the companies the right to deem something obscene. And neither Treadway or Maranville had the money to hire lawyers and fight. "We both had full-time jobs and were busting our butts to put the show out," says Treadway. "We weren't making any money, so we quit and started a band."

Some may remember that band - Ted Bundy's Volkswagen. ("Brains on Film" also remained a popular film review column in Ace for much of the early 90s.) However, before they quit, they were close to taking the show to the next level.

According to Treadway, they had some contacts at the Comedy Channel, and just about when everything was growing enough to take it to the next level, HA! Comedy Network merged with the Comedy Channel and became Comedy Central. The people at HA! had been negotiating with the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Treadway admits that MST was much more advanced than the Brains so they ended up getting the gig. Treadway also has a disdain for the way they (MST) treated most movies "with the incessant unfunny blather."

And now, a decade later, Maranville, Treadway, and Turner are positive about the interest the web-based show can drum up, especially with their initial brush with success. However, they aren't doing it because they think they can get rich. "This is something I do until six in the morning with a smile on my face," says Maranville. "I'd do it if nobody watched it at all. It's something innate in both Larry and [me]."

The website is up, and the second episode is almost there. Maranville promises it will be ready. "I'll probably have to edit three nights in a row, but it will definitely be ready." The question is: Will the public be ready? "A lot of people think this will be the greatest thing in the history of the Internet, says Turner, "but I think it will be the greatest thing in all of recorded history. Either this or the polio vaccine."

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