Memory Lanes #8 – Masebrothers – Mathieu Caillière
Driven by the sincerest and purest of passions for all things retro and badass, the Masebrothers demonstrate the very best of what Indie filmmaking has to offer on Youtube. Their skits and short films blend comedy, action and a whole lot of DIY props, bringing
Driven by the sincerest and purest of passions for all things retro and badass, the Masebrothers demonstrate the very best of what Indie filmmaking has to offer on Youtube. Their skits and short films blend comedy, action and a whole lot of DIY props, bringing you back to a time when every household object was a prop and figurine and plush toy was an actor in your self-directed action movie fantasy. With their crowdfunded Spaghetti Sci-fi film Cyborg : Deadly Machine nearing completion, we caught up with Masebrother Mathieu Caillière for a quick chat about old-school action heroes and current projects.
Hi Mathieu! What’ve got to recommend to fans and readers today?
I’m going to go with Last Action Hero. I’m a huge fan of this film. If I were to name a single film as a point of reference in my work, it would be this film. It’s a beautiful representation of its own era.. It marks somewhat of a shift for action movies. The film plays around with old movie tropes whilst also forewarning what Hollywood movies would later become and what it is today as a formatted medium. It’s really cool. Schwarzenegger is in top form in it. The film got mixed reviews and wasn’t very successful, but it later went on to achieve cult status. It’s my go-to film that still makes me smile. It’s full of great quotes and the characters are awesome. It’s got a sense of humor that I like and that inspires me with what I do. It’s fun, it has a great soundtrack and it simply encapsulates the Eighties cinema that I love.
The film is from 1993 yet it was already subverting Eighties action movie tropes. It’s crazy.
Yeah. The film is about this kid who uses a magic ticket to transport into the fictional universe of his favourite movie, which is a typical Eighties action movie with lots of corny one-liners, infinite ammo and gratuitous violence. He is taking into this fictional world, where he realizes the full extent of its absurdity. The whole thing is simply a caricature of tropes you’d find in movies like Commando. It’s pretty funny, because if you watch Commando again, you realize that the movie is practically a parody in-and-of-itself. It’s very naïve. The protagonist Danny travels to this world where everything is over the top, where cartoon characters work for law enforcement and whatnot. Later on, the opposite happens and the fictional action hero travels back to the real world with him, where he is confronted with a much darker world. In the fictional universe, everything is beautiful, all of the women are gorgeous … There’re a lot of fun details in the film.
Do you remember your first time watching it ? Did you see it in theatres ?
I didn’t get to see it in theatres. I got it at a video rental. I loved the movie, but a lot of people didn’t « get it » at the time of its release, which is why it wasn’t very successful. I think audiences in the early Nineties still took action movies at face value. Seeing Schwarzenegger make fun of himself must’ve caught some people off-guard. We see it everywhere now, though. Even the retro scene does it on films like Kung Fury.
Schwarzenegger was probably one of the first action heroes to openly laugh at his own image and the kind of movies he represented.
He was poking fun at his bodybuilder image way before that. I actually re-watched Commando recently, and I remember seeing him joking about his muscle mass in the behind-the-scenes footage. He’s pretty self-conscious. There’s actually this pretty cool scene in Last Action Hero where his character meets the real Schwarzenegger at a movie premiere. There’s this confrontation between the actor and the character that is pretty interesting. The film was directed by John McTiernan, who also made Predator and Die Hard, so you know it’s well made and well thought out.
Do you have a favourite Arnold quote ?
There’s this scene in the movie where his character meets the antagonist Benedict for the first time and tells him « Why am I wasting my time with silly putz like you when I could be doing something more dangerous – like rearranging my sock drawer? Two, how exactly are you going to snap your fingers, after I rip off both of your thumbs? ».
That’s some classic action movie dialogue you don’t hear too much of today!
That’s true, you don’t hear these kinds of lines anymore [Laughs]. Schwarzenegger had a lot of one-liners. I’m not sure if these were actor ad-libs or if they were actually planned and scripted. Today’s action movies are a lot less fun, in my opinion.
Were these one-liners taken more seriously at the time?
I think they included them because they thought it was cool. They were actually trying.
They were supposed to be like witty James Bond one-liners.
Yeah, they were supposed to make the characters look cool, not ridiculous. It later became a gimmick when people realized that it amused people. I think they were supposed to be taken more seriously back then.
For this quickfire round, I’m going to name a few action movie actors and I want you to tell me the first things that come to mind.
As far as action movies go, I think he was a much better actor than Schwarzenegger. His early roles were more visceral, but I think he eventually became a caricature of himself through the movie formats he got stuck in. He could’ve been a greater actor. He’s a pretty good actor when he takes on more dramatic roles. I’m fond of Stallone and his performances. He made some good choices and took some risks with movies like Cop Land. People often compare him to Schwarzenegger, and I guess you can if you’re talking Rambo II and Commando, but Stallone clearly has some acting chops when you look at other facets of his career.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
I have a lot of sympathy for him. I was the kid on the school playground that love his movies. I’m fond of the guy, but I sometimes feel bad when I hear his recent interviews and see what he later became [Laughs]. I liked the Eighties Van Damme, back when I was a kid. He’s not a bad actor either, actually. He’s pretty spot on in certain roles, but he simply doesn’t choose the right films. JCVD, for instance, which is a portrait piece on Van Damme, is a very touching movie. He used to be taken more seriously back in the day because of his martial art skills. But this kind of actors eventually created a film ‘format’ that the studios kept wanting to repeat endlessly. You can definitely see how Eighties and Nineties movies eventually became bloated and became ‘too much’. The Lethal Weapon franchise, for example, goes completely over the top by the time it reaches the third movie. This was often the case. These actors eventually turn into a caricature of their own selves with each subsequent movie role.
For a long time, I was definitely not a fan of his. I don’t know why, I just didn’t like his persona. Later on, I came to appreciate his films for the corny fun factor, with movies like Above the Law and Out of Justice. Then again, I’ve never been a huge fan of his. He came along a little bit later, too.
I actually just finished reading his autobiography. I’m a big fan. He’s the one that got me into video and movies. I’m hoping we’ll get to pay tribute to Eighties and Nineties action films from Hong Kong one day through our videos. I used to rent all of his movies. I’m really fond of his and am very impressed by his films and skills. He made real action movies, with guys who took real risks. If you want real action movies, look no further. It’s the real deal.
I love what he did with his Hong Kong movies and I was really happy to see him return to these productions. The fight scenes are a lot more impressive than in his Hollywood productions. Hollywood used to actually bring these guys over to shoot action movies, which changed the game for action cinema as we know it. They’re part of action film history.
Definitely. It’s a shame that Martial arts and stunt movies have for the most part vanished.
Yeah. Even in Hong Kong, CGI got rid of it all. It made moviemaking easier. People got things done that way because they didn’t have any other option at the time. They’ve since learned from Hollywood and have had to adapt to the new CGI norms. It would be tricky to go back to a more ‘traditional’ style of moviemaking. Jackie Chan actually says it in his book. The audience is always out for more. Maybe I’m being an old fart, but I think people are a little less perceptive to this. It’s why I struggle with modern cinema and its over-use of CGI, even with newer Hong Kong action films. I zone out whenever I lose the impression that I’m watching a real actor risking his ass over an explosion [Laughs].
Moving on, I’d like to congratulate the Masebrothers team for your amazing work on the ‘Heart Demolition’ music video. How did that come about?
Thank you! We got an e-mail from Herman Li back in May. He offered us an opportunity to direct a music video for their new album. He gave us a choice of three songs and gave us free rein to do whatever we wanted. The album is very retro-oriented and features awesome artwork by Stan W. Decker. The guys are also big fans of video games. Herman Li actually has a Twitch channel where he occasionally plays games. We got to meet the band and we definitely felt their passion for retro culture. They really loved the Megadrive-themed video we pitched to them. We invited a bunch of characters from our previous stories and even made a fictional Dragonforce video game, created by our talented VFX artist Jeremy Vazzoli. They really dug it and I think it was pretty well received, too. It was a great experience.
Finishing off, how are your projects coming along? What’s new? Any updates on Cyborg: Deadly Machine?
We recently released a new video on our channel that we shot during the quarantine, for those retro fans who might want to check that out. We set ourselves a little challenge and needed to take our mind off things. We’re still paying homage to the retro subculture.
As for Cyborg, we recently finished shooting with our actors. We actually launched the Kickstarter project a year ago, and we were able to reach our goal in part thanks to you guys, so thank you! We started shooting back in June and finished right before the start of the quarantine in early March. We had 14 days of shooting, which is a lot for a medium-length film. We’ve had a few setbacks. I actually hurt my back, which pushed things back. Our production artist also had to pull out for health reasons. We keep our backers up to date through social media and kept them informed of all of this. We just have a few last prop shots to shoot once the lockdown is over. We’re currently using our free time to edit the film and prepare the props. We already have 45 minutes of footage and we’ve got some really cool things in store. Right now, we’re focusing on the French version but we’re also preparing the English version. The film will be translated into several languages. We’re making progress and we’re really happy with the results. We’ve got a lot of great things in store made in traditional retro sci-fi fashion. We’ve also got Meteor and Fixions working on the film score, which will also be released on Vinyl. They’ve already given us some amazing stuff and we can’t wait to share it with you all!
Be sure to check out the Masebrothers on social media and subscribe to their Youtube channel for more awesome content.